Here’s why a cast-iron skillet is the best thing you’ll ever buy for your kitchen and the smartest investment you’ll ever make in cookware.
Let’s Talk Cooking with Cast Iron
In this episode of The SavvyCast podcast, I talk about why I love cast-iron, how I clean it, and what my favorite recipes are for using my cast-iron skillet.
What is a cast-iron skillet?
A cast-iron skillet is made from molten metal that is poured into a cast that forms it into a one-piece pan. Cast-iron is made mostly from Iron ore that has a high carbon content. The only company still making cast-iron cookware in the U.S. today is Lodge Manufacturing in South Pittsburg, Tennessee.
Cast-iron skillets are tried and true.
Until World War II, the term “cast-iron skillet” was redundant, as every skillet was in fact made from cast-iron. In the 1960’s, non-stick coatings entered the cookware scene and became all the rage, and by 2006, roughly 85% of skillets sold were “non-stick” Teflon. But concerns of toxicity from some non-stick pans has brought a new love for and appreciation of traditional cast iron. Cook’s today now see what cooks long ago already knew~a cast-iron skillet is the best skillet any cook can own.
Cast iron has many advantages.
- Health benefits. Some healthful dietary iron leaches into food that is cooked in cast-iron.
- Nonstick properties. Well seasoned cast-iron is beautifully non-stick but without harmful coatings that might emit toxic chemicals.
- Inexpensive. A good cast-iron skillet can be bought for as little as $20. It is a fraction of the cost of many other types of cookware.
- Durability. A well maintained cast-iron skillet will last a lifetime~or many lifetimes~and can stay in a family for generations.
- Versatility. Cast-iron skillets can go from stove to oven to table. They are freezer-friendly, and can also be used on an open fire (for campers).
- Cooking superiority. Many types of food just taste and look better when cooked in cast-iron (i.e. cornbread, fried chicken, sauteed vegetables).
How to clean a cast-iron skillet.
- Remove stuck-on food with a spatula (metal is fine and won’t harm cast-iron).
- Run hot water over the skillet.
- Scrub with a stiff natural or plastic brush. Kosher salt can be sprinkled in the skillet first for added scrubbing power.
- Rinse thoroughly and completely.
- Dry completely immediately after washing.
- Place skillet on the stove over low heat until all hints of moisture disappear and the skillet is completely dry (optional but optimal).
- With a clean cloth or paper towel, rub a light coating of oil on the entire inside surface of the skillet.
- With a clean cloth or paper towel, rub again to remove any traces of excess oil.
- Store the skillet in a dry place.
Can you use dish soap to clean a cast-iron skillet?
Although most “rules” say not to use dish soap, I use lightly sudsy water for heavy, fishy smells. An easy way to elminate most unpleasant odors that does not involve soap or suds is simple. Place the skillet in a 400 F oven for 15 minutes. This typically causes the smells to evaporate with the heat.
Should I buy seasoned or unseasoned cast-iron?
If you inherit a cast-iron skillet from a family member, it will definitely be seasoned from years of use. I would highly recommend buying a pre-seasoned cast-iron skillet. Lodge pre-seasons all of its skillets, which is a huge plus.
What is the best cast-iron skillet you can buy?
If you buy a cast-iron skillet, the best and only brand that I would recommend is Lodge. I love cast-iron and have an assortment of Lodge skillets in various sizes. I link to the ones I have below as well as a few other options for various cooking needs. Be aware when scrolling on amazon that other brands will pop-up and appear to be Lodge. Make sure you are buying Lodge for the best product.
What is the best size cast-iron skillet to buy?
The size that I use most often is my 12″ cast-iron skillet. Whether cooking for two or twenty, this is the skillet I most often use. For one, I like for my pan to be spacious so that food doesn’t crowd. Another reason is that I like my cobblers, cornbread and such to be on the thinner side. A 10″ skillet is probably the most common size cast-iron skillet, as it will do most large jobs and also be easier to pull out for smaller things like grilled cheese sandwiches. I share some of my favorite skillets and sizes below.
A few favorite cast-iron skillet recipes.
Although I cook almost everything in my cast-iron skillet, there are a few favorite recipes that I make that are exclusive to a cast-iron skillet. In other words, they just wouldn’t be the same cooked in anything else.
- Easy Cajun sausage & vegetable one-skillet meal.
- Mimi’s Famous Skillet Blackberry Cobbler.
- Skillet Apple Crisp A La Mode
- Perfect Chicken Tenders in a Skillet
- Crispy Chicken Thighs in a Skillet
- Crispy potatoes in a cast-iron skillet.
I hope this information is helpful in making your cast-iron choices! As always, feel free to reach out with comments or questions. Thanks so much for stopping by. Be blessed, and stay savvy!!!