The 6 Best Cast Iron Skillets of 2023

We like the Calphalon Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron 12-Inch Skillet for its generously sized handles, pre-seasoned surface, and affordable price point.

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two cast iron skillets

Real Simple / Marcus Millan

There’s a place for a cast iron skillet in every well-stocked kitchen. These durable pans have a multitude of uses, and with proper care, they will last for decades.

“Cast iron cookware is very versatile,” says Michael Handal, chef-instructor of Culinary Arts at the Institute of Culinary Education. “It can meet the demands of high-heat searing of steaks and roasts, while also baking a golden-brown pan of cornbread. Foods that need a controlled and measured source of heat, such as scrambled eggs and frittatas, may also benefit from cast iron. And nothing beats fried chicken cooked in cast iron.” You can also use a cast iron skillet on almost any type of cooktop. Most work on gas, electric, and induction stovetops, as well as in the oven, on a grill, and even over an open flame. 

For this piece we spent hours researching different cast iron skillets, evaluating them on size, weight, and design. Handal weighed in on what to consider when you’re selecting a skillet, the benefits of cast iron, and how long a cast iron skillet will last. 

Our best overall pick was the Calphalon Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron 12-Inch Skillet. The size is great for couples or households, and the dual-handle design makes it easy to maneuver. It’s also pre-seasoned, so you can cook with it right out of the box.

Best Overall Cast Iron Skillet

Calphalon 12-Inch Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet

Calphalon Cast Iron Skillet, Pre-Seasoned Cookware


Who it’s for: People who want a versatile pan that’s easy to move from one cooking surface to the next. 

Who it’s not for: People who mostly cook for one. 

This 12-inch skillet has two oversized handles and two pour spouts, making it incredibly versatile. The handles let you move it between burners or in and out of the oven securely, and the pour spouts are useful for draining off extra liquid. The size is a good pick for couples or families, since you can fit more ingredients in it at once. 

This skillet also comes pre-seasoned, making it ideal for people who want to be able to use their pan right out of the box. The seasoning helps prevent food from sticking even when you are cooking at extremely high heat. 

Price at time of publish: $50 

Product Details:

  • Weight: 6.8 pounds 
  • Diameter: 12 inches 
  • Depth: 2.5 inches

Best Budget Cast Iron Skillet

Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet

Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet


Who it’s for: People who want a no-frills skillet from a reputable brand. 

Who it’s not for: People who want a cast iron skillet with a large pour spout.  

You don’t need to spend a lot of money to get a reliable cast iron skillet. Lodge’s 10.25-inch pan is just right for smaller households. It comes pre-seasoned with 100 percent natural vegetable oil—to maintain it, just hand wash, wipe dry, and wipe with a little bit of vegetable oil. 

This cast iron skillet has two handles, the smaller of which has a cut-out design to make it easier to grab. Plus, the handle gives you the option to keep the pan stored on a hook or peg in your kitchen—a big plus when you’re keeping pots and pans organized. While it does come with pour spouts on each side, they're relatively small, which can make draining off liquid a bit of a challenge. 

Price at time of publish: $24 for 10.25-inch

Product Details:

  • Weight: 0.6-12.3 pounds
  • Diameter: 3.5, 5, 6.5, 8, 9, 10.25, 12, 13.25, or 15 inches 
  • Depth: 0.9-2.8 inches

Best Splurge Cast Iron Skillet

Smithey No. 12 Cast Iron Skillet



Who it’s for: People who want a cast iron skillet with a polished interior. 

Who it’s not for: People who would rather wait for their skillet to develop a smooth finish than splurge on an expensive pan. 

Smithey cast iron skillets are American-designed and -crafted, and they have a vintage look and heirloom quality. Their 10- and 12-inch skillets are kitchen workhorses, and each comes with an ergonomic handle, two pour spouts, and holes on either side for hanging.

Unlike most cast iron cookware, Smithey pans come with a smooth, polished surface that makes it ideal for cooking delicate foods such as fried eggs or fish (although regular seasoning is necessary to maintain this surface). The pan also comes pre-seasoned with grapeseed oil, and the brand has a service where you can send damaged pans to be professionally restored. Just note that this skillet is heavier than some of the other cast iron skillets out there, weighing around seven pounds. 

Price at time of publish: $210 for 12-inch

Product Details:

  • Weight: 7 -7.5 pounds
  • Diameter: 10 or 12 inches 
  • Depth: 1.6-2.25 inches

Best Lightweight Cast Iron Skillet

Vermicular Frying Pan

Vermicular Frying Pan


Who it’s for: People with limited grip strength and people who want a cast iron skillet that does not require seasoning. 

Who it’s not for: People who want an oven-safe cast iron skillet. 

Given that cast iron cookware is extremely heavy by nature, it can be difficult to maneuver for those with limited grip strength or arthritis. That’s where a lightweight design can come in handy, like that of the Vermicular Frying Pan, which weighs just 2.4 pounds so you can lift it with one hand. 

The body is made from a thin, enameled cast iron, so you don’t have to season it. You can use it on any type of stovetop, but you can’t put it inside the oven—that’s due to the wood handle, which comes in either oak or walnut. 

Price at time of publish: $175 for 10.2-inch

Product Details:

  • Weight: 1.5-2.6 pounds 
  • Diameter: 7.9, 9.4, 10.2, or 11 inches 
  • Depth: 1.4-1.6 inches

Best Enameled Cast Iron Skillet

Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast Iron Skillet

Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast Iron Skillet


Who it’s for: People who don’t want to have to season or hand wash their cast iron skillet. 

Who it’s not for: People who want a more utilitarian skillet that can be used for outdoor cooking. 

“Enameled pans offer all of the cooking benefits of their non-enameled brothers, with some of the concerns removed,” says Michael Handal, chef-instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education. “The enamel covers the exposed metal and acts as a buffer, while still allowing for all of the benefits associated with cast iron cooking.” Handal explains that you don’t need to season an enameled cast iron skillet or worry too much about scratching it. 

Due to the enamel coating, this product can be washed in the dishwasher, unlike most cast iron skillets. Just bear in mind that enamel can chip or crack if you drop it. And it’s not suitable for use over an open fire, such as a campfire. However, for most other purposes, it’s an heirloom piece that you’ll want to pass down for generations.

Price at time of publish: $175 for 9-inch

Product Details:

  • Weight: 2.5-6.9 pounds 
  • Diameter: 6.33, 9, 10.25, or 11.75 inches 
  • Depth: 1.75-2 inches

Best Cast Iron Skillet Set

Lodge Seasoned Cast Iron 5-Piece Set

Lodge Seasoned Cast Iron 5-Piece Set


Who it’s for: People who want to start a collection of cast iron cookware. 

Who it’s not for: People who already have a reliable cookware set. 

If you regularly cook with cast iron, you might benefit from a set. This five-piece set from Lodge contains a griddle, two skillets, and a Dutch oven with a lid—enough to cook almost anything. These pans come pre-seasoned, although regular seasoning is necessary to maintain them. This set is particularly handy for people who camp or cook outdoors frequently, as all of the pieces are suitable for cooking on a grill or over a campfire. 

Price at time of publish: $150 

Product Details: 

  • 10.5-inch griddle: 4.5 pounds
  • 8-inch skillet: 3.2 pounds
  • 10.25-inch skillet: 5.3 pounds
  • 10.25-inch Dutch oven: 12.7 pounds
  • 10.25-inch lid: 3.8 pounds

Final Verdict

Our selection for the best overall cast iron skillet is the Calphalon Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron 12-Inch Skillet. It comes pre-seasoned, with a dual-handle design for easy use, in a size that will suit most buyers. For a more budget-friendly option, the Lodge 10.25-Inch Cast Iron Skillet is a great choice for smaller households, and it is manufactured by a company widely known as the benchmark for cast iron cookware. 

How to Shop for Cast Iron Skillets Like a Pro


The best type of cast iron skillet for you depends on what you want to cook in it, how many people you’ll be cooking for, and whether you’re confident seasoning it. A few things to consider:

Size: If you want a cast iron skillet for small tasks like frying a single egg or baking small treats, a miniature skillet between 5 and 6 inches in diameter will suit you. If you need a workhorse to feed a crowd, you might size up to something like 15 inches—just be warned, it will be heavy.

Enameled vs. Non-enameled: An enameled cast iron skillet does not need to be seasoned, and some models are dishwasher-friendly (although hand washing enameled cookware will extend its lifespan). However, enameled cookware is not always safe for use over an open flame, and its coating may chip over time. 

Pre-seasoned vs. Unseasoned: This just comes down to a matter of personal preference—whether you want to season a pan yourself, or want to start cooking with it right away without worrying about food sticking. If you do damage a pan, seasoned or not, be assured that you can almost always salvage it. “Even if a pan has been used with acidic foods, or has been cleaned with harsh chemicals or abrasive utensils, cast iron has the resiliency which allows it to be re-seasoned with relative ease,” says Handal. Just follow the manufacturer’s instructions. 


Handal says that weight is something to consider when you’re selecting a cast iron skillet. “The average 10.25 inch skillet—a very popular size—can weigh anywhere from 5-6 pounds,” he says. “Moving this from a cabinet to stove-top to sink and back to its resting place, can be a daunting proposition.”

He recommends taking extra care when you’re moving or lifting a cast iron skillet, especially if it contains hot food or oil. “Choosing a cast iron pan with a longer handle could provide a better grip, as well as possibly offer enough space for a two-handed grip when holding and moving the pan,” Handal says. “Many cast iron pans also offer a shorter, smaller handle on the opposite side of the traditional handle, giving the cook added support and lifting comfort. From personal experience, this is definitely a very nice option and one I would choose every time.”

Questions You Might Ask

What are the benefits of cooking with cast iron?

Cast iron cookware is extremely versatile, and can be used to create a huge variety of recipes. And if you care for a cast iron skillet properly, it will last for years if not decades. But even if you damage a cast iron skillet, most cast iron cookware can be restored. 

Do I need to preseason a cast iron skillet?

You should follow the manufacturer’s instructions for how to prep your skillet before you start cooking with it. Some skillets will require seasoning before use, and others won’t. If you do need to season your skillet, the brand should provide steps on the best way to do that for their particular products. Need a more general guide? Here’s how to clean and season cast iron skillets

What is the lifespan of a cast iron skillet?

Many cast iron skillets come with a lifetime guarantee. If cared for properly, a cast iron skillet can last for decades. Handal says that this is because every time you use the pan, it “adds to the seasoning built into the pan from the previous use.” He explains: “These continuously building layers of fat create a process that ensures a seasoned skillet for the life of the pan, which is potentially multi-generational.” 

Take Our Word for It

This article was written by Nina Bahadur, a writer with over 10 years of experience writing about food, home, health, and culture topics. For this piece, she spent hours researching cast iron skillets of various sizes and weights. She also tapped Michael Handal, chef-instructor of Culinary Arts at the Institute of Culinary Education, for expert tips on how to select and care for a cast iron skillet. 

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