Kitchn Love Letters

I Love This Gorgeous Pan Way More than Any Cast Iron Skillet

updated May 28, 2021
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Credit: Courtesy of Lockhart Ironworks, LLC

In my mind, I have a dreamy vision of cooking everything in a cast iron skillet — a perfectly seared steak, skillet-fried chicken, crispy-edged golden cornbread. But, I didn’t think that was my reality. Because, personally, a cast iron skillet is just too heavy for me.

And then I found Lockhart Ironworks and their hand-forged steel skillets. Like most cast iron skillets, Lockhart Ironworks’ skillets come pre-seasoned. And if you just keep using them (and you will), they become more seasoned and nonstick with every use.

They’re similar to cast iron too, with some key differences: They’re lighter, they don’t take as long to heat up (but retain heat just as well), the handle doesn’t get hot on the stovetop (because it’s riveted to the pan instead of cast along with it), and they’re even more nonstick. That’s because cast iron is made with a series of tiny ridges and pores that can catch your food and burn it, while these skillets are smooth and flat.

Credit: Jennifer Billock

Lockhart Ironworks is located Logan, Ohio, and one of only a handful of companies in the country making actual hand-forged cookware (watch how they do it here!). When I visited, I got a tour of the workshop from the main blacksmith himself, Doug Lockhart. I also met his daughter, Danielle, another skilled blacksmith making pans for the company. After watching them sweat from the heat of the forges while hand-hammering pan handles, I snagged a 12-inch skillet from the showroom. Don’t worry, though: You can also buy them online.

I made a Dutch baby pancake as soon as I got home. And then I made pannukakku, a Finnish oven pancake. (Apparently I have a thing for pancakes.) I’ve continued to use this skillet for pretty much everything. I’ve made eggs, sautéed vegetables, fried corned beef hash made from scratch, cooked sausages, and seared tuna steaks (they were everything-bagel-seasoning-crusted). I only wish I had gone for a smaller size, like the 10-inch skillet. I can cook breakfast for four people at once in the 12-inch one — and only two people live in my house.

If you get one and decide you hate it, which I truly doubt will happen, Lockhart Ironworks has a lifetime satisfaction guarantee. Again, I doubt you’ll need to use it!

Do you have a cast iron alternative you love? Tell us about it in the comments!