I Tried Lodge’s Vintage-Inspired Cast Iron Skillet — Here’s What I Thought
Everyone loves a good cast iron skillet, and everyone loves a good story. Lodge’s new-ish Blacklock line offers both. It launched in July 2019 as a modern alternative to the growing demand for antique cast iron skillets. As cooks drooled over the super-smooth, lightweight Griswolds and Wagners on eBay, manufacturers like Field Company, and now Lodge, answered with newly made products that replicated those old-timey brands, but in their own way.
For Lodge, that meant blending the company’s history into each piece. Not only is the line named after the original Lodge foundry, but each piece is also named after pivotal points in the company’s timeline. The 7-inch skillet is named 63, a nod to the year 1863, when young Joseph Lodge first left home to find work as a machinist. The versatile 10.25-inch skillet is named 96, for the year when he opened his first foundry. Each piece comes in a special cardboard box with a booklet that tells the stories, and the undersides of the pieces are all embedded with the special Blacklock logo.
The cookware line seems designed with the Lodge enthusiast in mind, or at least for gift-giving, but those extras and embellishments mean the pieces cost about double what you’d pay for a Lodge classic or Chef’s Collection piece. Still, the Blacklock line is cheaper than what you’d pay for a true, well-maintained antique. To find out if Blacklock is worth it, I decided to try one out.
I got a 12-inch skillet and immediately noticed how easy it was to lift and use, even for its generous size. At 5 pounds, 6 ounces, it’s about 2 pounds lighter than my classic 12-inch Lodge, but only about a pound lighter than the Chef’s Collection.
Like the Chef’s Collection, it also has sloped sides, which makes it easier to get a spatula into the pan and flip. It also means nothing gets stuck in the corner and burns. I fried up a bunch of eggs, burgers, pork chops and bacon, as well as mushrooms, fried rice, and tofu. I had no trouble maneuvering the food. Best of all, the pan preheated in about half the time as my classic Lodge, and responded quicker to temperature changes because it’s so much thinner.
Thicker cast iron retains more heat, which is great for searing, especially when you turn the protein over. (In stainless steel pans the second side often has trouble getting as good of a sear as the first.) But I didn’t have any trouble getting a good sear on both sides of my chops in this pan.
Also, pouring the grease out after frying bacon worked great, thanks to the helper handle and the spouts on either side of the pan. Plus, the looped handle has a higher arc, so it’s more ergonomic. It feels much better than the straight handle of my classic. And its loop design really helps it stay cooler longer.
The Blacklock skillet isn’t nearly as smooth as my vintage Griswold or modern Field Company skillet, although it is similarly lightweight. But the pebbly surface didn’t pose any problems — even when frying eggs. Nothing I cooked stuck in this pan and I didn’t have to use much oil. Maybe that’s because the Blacklock line comes triple seasoned. Unlike other brand-new cast iron pans I’ve tried out, this one didn’t lose its seasoning after the first couple things I made. Its surface looks as shiny and black as when I took it out of the box. And if my classic Lodge is any indication, this one will just get better, and smoother every time I cook.
My final takeaway: I love it. I especially love it as a gift for anyone who’s been chasing vintage cast iron or has trouble picking up traditional cast iron. I also love it for anyone who is intimated by having to season cast iron.
Have you tried this new-ish line from Lodge? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.