Kitchn Love Letters

I Do Everything in This Huge Lodge Cast Iron Skillet — And I Believe You Need a Giant One, Too

updated Feb 25, 2021
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Credit: Photo: Tara Donne; Food Styling: Cyd McDowell

Having a huge, heavy cast iron skillet in your kitchen might not be the most practical choice. It won’t heat quickly; it’s more tedious to clean (especially because you can’t soak it and you absolutely shouldn’t put it in the dishwasher); and, compared with a Dutch oven in a pretty shade of blue or flame-red or even an enameled cast iron skillet, it’s not, like, the prettiest piece of cookware. But I adore mine.

I was browsing Target one day, with no particular purpose, when the largest pan I had ever seen — a Lodge 13.25-inch cast iron skillet — practically leapt off the shelf and into my shopping cart. Right then and there, I decided that if someone is going to make a skillet this big and brawny (it weighs, like, 11 pounds), it must be good for something. 

Boy, was I right. I love to cook with this thing. And the more I use it, the more its capabilities shine through. Sure, it takes a while to get hot. But once it is, it’s raring to go. And here’s the thing: For the amount of heat it can produce, nothing beats it.  

Why is this so important? Think of it like this: Mega heat surrounds and penetrates the food, not just wherever it touches the pan. This results in flawless grilled cheese sandwiches and quesadillas, as the pan sizzles and browns the outer layer and thoroughly melts the cheese within. It gives you bacon that crisps up all over and even works great for the thick-cut variety, which can be harder to get perfectly crisped. As far as heat retention goes, a cast iron skillet just has no parallel — unless you’re talking about a giant one (then it’s even better!).

The extra-large surface of this skillet is also perfect for roasting a whole chicken — just heat the pan up in the oven, gently place the bird onto the hot surface, and hear the sizzle.  Plus, there’s enough room left over in the pan to surround the bird with Broccolini, cauliflower, or potatoes that’ll get all nicely browned and delicious as they cook in the chicken’s juices.

Credit: Amy Graves
Some glazed salmon in my giant skillet!

Truly, there isn’t much I wouldn’t make in this pan. I won’t tell you that I make scramble eggs for myself in it (it’s a bit too big for, say, just two eggs), but it’s great for pancakes and excels at glazed salmon (all the crispy skin!) and even enchiladas (the crusty edges of which are divine). 

Yes, cleaning up the skillet can be a chore. It’s a few inches bigger than most cast iron (the usual size is 10.25 to 12 inches), so it’s a few pounds heavier and obviously more difficult to maneuver in the sink when it comes to cleanup. However, its size also means it can accommodate recipes that serve five or six, fit an extra portion or two of protein, and possibly eliminate the need to pan-fry in batches, which means it’s worth it in my book.

So, yeah, while bigger is definitely not always better, this huge skillet definitely packs a lot of bang for its buck. And for less than $40, I’d recommend it to almost everyone I know. Breakfast, lunch, dinner — it can do it all.

What’s your favorite cast iron skillet size? Tell us in the comments below!