Kitchn Love Letters

I Cook for a Living, and This Is the Trusted Cast Iron Pan I Use Daily (Bonus: It’s on Sale!)

published May 13, 2022
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Credit: Photo: Tara Donne; Food Styling: Cyd McDowell

I have a slight issue when it comes to cookware: I can’t stop buying it! And the pieces that I seek out for my kitchen usually come with a pretty hefty price tag. So, that leads me to spend more time than most Goodwill hunting for discounts on name brand kitchenware to find the hidden gems (it’s a weird habit). And if Le Creuset is running a sale, it’s likely I’m adding another piece to my collection of Dutch ovens (I can’t help it). But luckily, there’s one brand I turn to that doesn’t break the bank while upholding my high cookware standards: Lodge. I’ve had my Lodge 10.25-inch Cast Iron Skillet for years, and I’ve dished out so many incredible meals thanks to it. So when I noticed that it’s currently on sale for over 30 percent off on Amazon, I thought I’d clue you in on the wonders of cast-iron cooking in my favorite skillet.

First and foremost, I love this heavy-bottomed skillet for the amount of cooking I can accomplish in just one pan. I use it for everything from searing steaks with perfect crusts to baking frittatas that flip out of the pan in one piece. And the size is just right, since it’s small enough to easily maneuver around my stovetop but not too small that it can’t handle dinner for four. For instance, I’ve roasted a whole chicken directly in this skillet with fingerling potatoes and quartered fennel nestled underneath to catch all the delicious drippings. I’ll even bring it out to the grill for an alternate flat surface for smoky vegetables that won’t fall through the grates next to hamburgers and hot dogs.

In addition, I store the skillet directly in the oven, which is a safe, small-space friendly option that doesn’t take up extra cabinet real estate (and isn’t a fire hazard). Plus, if I ever happen to have the inkling to bake a Dutch baby pancake, which requires preheating a 10-inch cast iron skillet before pouring in the batter, I’m already halfway there. And to that point, there are certain foods that just taste better with the touch of cast-iron cookware, like corn bread or a potato breakfast hash. My Lodge skillet gives those simple dishes an instant upgrade!

My trusted method for how to season a cast-iron pan is really quite simple. I coat it with a thin layer of vegetable oil and let it hang out in a hot oven at 350 degrees for about an hour or so. The more I use the skillet to cook fatty things like bacon, steak, or skin-on chicken, the more nonstick it becomes to cook anything — we’re talking scrambled eggs over here!

Now, when it comes to how to clean a cast-iron skillet, everyone has their preferences (or heated opinions), but it’s not as scary as the internet can make it seem. It’s actually easier to clean than my other skillets, which I love! Sometimes all it takes is a paper towel to wipe clean. Other times I opt for hot water until the water runs clear and set it over a lit stove to dry. I’ve even used soap and steel wool for bigger cleaning tasks (and no, my skillet didn’t rust or fail me). After a soapy wash, the key is to re-season with the easy oven trick, and then it’s good to go. Trust me, these pans are built to last. My pan has certainly held up through even the most adventurous of my cooking projects.

So, if you’ve yet to join the cast-iron bandwagon, this Lodge 10.25-inch skillet is exactly where you should start. And while you’re at it, you might as well grab two, since Father’s Day is right around the corner.

Buy: Lodge 10.25-inch Cast Iron Skillet, $19.90 (normally $29.85)