The Best Cast Iron Cookware of 2023, Tested and Reviewed


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Nov 06, 2023

The Best Cast Iron Cookware of 2023, Tested and Reviewed

Invest in cookware that’s not only versatile but will last a lifetime. Jump to a

Invest in cookware that's not only versatile but will last a lifetime.

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Food and Wine / Russell Kilgore

What do cast iron cookware and wine have in common? They both get better with age. The more you use your cast iron cookware, the better results.

It might be tempting to keep buying new nonstick pans, but cast iron pieces will last you a lifetime. In addition to its practically indestructible design, the dense metal offers superior heat retention, even cooking, and versatility, allowing you to use it on the stovetop, the grill, and in the oven.

With so many cast iron brands on the market, it can be hard to know which are the best — the ones that make pieces that truly stand the test of time. Enameled or non-enameled? Pre-seasoned or unseasoned? Just one skillet or an entire set? Below, we answer these questions with our favorite cast iron cookware pieces loved by our test kitchen and editors.


Pros: It offers superior heat distribution when cooking and gives foods even browning.

Cons: It has a small pour spout and could cause drippage.

Lodge manufactures high-quality cast iron cookware pieces at affordable prices, and this skillet is one of our favorites from the brand, earning a perfect score during our tests. It outperformed more expensive skillets by giving a thick cut of pork a beautiful crust without sticking to the pan. We also found that it consistently produced high, even heat throughout the tests and that it was easier to clean than others.

What's more, you get a comfortable silicone handle cover for safe and smooth transitions between the stove, oven, grill, and table. The skillet is pre-seasoned, compatible with induction cooktops, and has an attractive tag everyone can appreciate.

Price at time of publish: $41

Food & Wine / Russell Kilgore


Pros: This set is a budget-friendly way to start using more cast iron cookware pieces.

Cons: A hot handle cover is not included with this set.

On a budget but eager to outfit your kitchen with a few essential cast iron cookware pieces? Lodge's 4-piece set includes our test kitchen-approved 10.25-inch skillet, a 10.5-inch round griddle, a 5-quart Dutch oven, and an accompanying lid (which also fits on the skillet) to serve just about every purpose in the kitchen. Plus, they’re suitable for campfire cooking, enabling you to enjoy delicious meals on your adventures.

Lodge seasons their cookware with 100% vegetable oil, so you can get straight to cooking after taking this set out of the box. Prepare pancakes for breakfast on the griddle, soup for lunch in the Dutch oven, and steaks for dinner in the classic skillet, all without breaking the bank.

Price at time of publish: $132


Pros: This is a heritage set of pieces that comes with a limited lifetime warranty.

Cons: The set doesn't offer as much variety for the cost.

After comparing this set to all the other cast iron cookware collections on the market, we named it our favorite because of the craftsmanship the brand has become synonymous with. The enameled cast iron requires no seasoning and is easy to rinse clean — yes, you can technically place it in the dishwasher, but we prefer handwashing for longevity. Every piece, including the knobs, is oven-safe, stain-, and chip-resistant, so you don't have to worry about damaging your investment.

Though Le Creuset's products are on the expensive side, the quality speaks for itself. Including a limited lifetime warranty, this set features a 9-inch signature skillet, a 5.5-quart Dutch oven with a lid, and a 1.75-quart saucepan with a lid.

Price at time of publish: $575


Pros: This is an ideal size for small spaces or those cooking for one to two people.

Cons: This will not fit large cuts of meat or meals for a family.

For just $10, you can experience the quality of Lodge cast iron cookware. This 6.5-inch skillet offers all the benefits of the larger version, our best overall pick, including being pre-seasoned, induction compatible, and able to withstand temperatures up to 500° F.

Even though it's on the small side, Food & Wine Commerce Writer Elisabeth Sherman testifies to its endless versatility and ability to cook various dishes with ease, including two fried eggs or a low-maintenance dinner for two "without any overcrowding." Plus, the hole in the handle allows this mini skillet to be a piece of decor on your wall or counter when not in use.

Price at time of publish: $10


Pros: It's our favorite Dutch oven because of its thoughtful design and delicious results during our in-house tests.

Cons: Foods might stick to the surface, but it's nothing a little oil can't fix.

Chili, roast chicken, and sourdough bread are just a few delicious recipes you can make using this editor-loved Staub Dutch oven. We put it to the test against other popular Dutch ovens, including ones from brands like Le Creuset and Emile Henry, and it came out on top, producing evenly browned chicken and perfectly cooked rice.

We can't forget about the lid: It's tight-fitting design retains moisture, so your food comes out full of flavor, and the bumps on the inside return juices to your food for optimal tenderness. Offered in an array of elegant enamel finishes, this heirloom kitchen piece makes a beautiful accent on your stovetop.

Price at time of publish: $464

Food & Wine / Will Dickey


Pros: This two-in-one product offers versatility, saves space, and is a great price.

Cons: Depending on your stovetop, it can be challenging to get even heat across the griddle.

Yet another Lodge cast iron piece we can't get enough of is this reversible griddle we named our favorite cast iron pick because of its thanks to its outstanding functionality. One side is a smooth surface, and the other features raised ridges to give foods a beautiful sear. We love using the griddle for breakfast favorites, like pancakes and eggs, and the grill for meats and vegetables.

Since it fits across two stovetop burners, there might be some hot and cold spots. Keep this in mind when placing your food in different areas. Like other Lodge products, this comes pre-seasoned and requires gentle handwashing.

Price at time of publish: $50

If we could only recommend one piece of cast iron, it would be the Lodge 10.25-Inch Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet. During our tests, it earned perfect scores across the board for its performance, design, comfort, and ease of cleaning. For a true one-pot wonder, go for the beautiful enameled Staub 5.5-Quart Dutch Oven.

In addition to a classic cast iron skillet, consider adding a few other cast iron cookware pieces to your kitchen repertoire. A reversible griddle/grill allows you to flip pancakes on one side and grill meat and vegetables on the other. An enameled cast iron pot (aka a Dutch oven) is ideal for simmering and slow cooking because of its consistent heat circulation that cooks food evenly, so you don't have to constantly check on it.

Even if your pan is well-seasoned, there are a few foods to avoid cooking in cast iron skillets. For example, tomatoes and other acidic foods: As tomatoes break down and get soft, tiny metal particles can be pulled from the pan into your food if it's been cooking for too long. While these aren't hard and fast rules (exceptions exist), you can prolong the life of your cast iron by being careful about what you cook.

Cast iron cookware pieces can be used on almost any cooktop without causing damage to the pan or the stove, including glass and induction cooktops. An induction cooktop may look similar to a glass cooktop, but they operate a little differently. Induction cooktops use electromagnetic fields to directly heat cookware, while glass cooktops use electricity. If your pots and pans are not magnetic, they will not work on an induction cooktop.

To prevent damage or scratching on your glass stovetop, lift your cast iron when placing it down or picking it up instead of dropping it down. Do not drag it on the surface or shake it while cooking, and remove your cast iron from the stove after cooking.

The price of cast iron cookware pieces can vary greatly, with our favorites costing between $10 and $575. Keep in mind that a higher price tag doesn't necessarily mean you’re getting a better quality product. If you’re sticking to a budget and can't afford a legacy brand like Le Creuset or Staub, cast iron cookware by Lodge is a favorite across the board and is more affordable.

Don't be intimidated when it comes time to clean your cast iron cookware. Here are some easy steps to keep your cast iron cookware looking and performing its best:

Although cast iron skillets and cookware pieces are durable, they need proper care to maintain their quality over time. While some come pre-seasoned, you’ll still need to season them if you notice dry, gray, or patchy spots after continued use. Here are the steps to season a cast iron skillet:

A good way to confirm if your pan is well-seasoned is to allow water to hit the pan when it is heated thoroughly. If the water droplet beads up, the pan is hot and seasoned enough for cooking. If this doesn't happen, repeat the seasoning steps as needed, or cook fatty foods to help coat the pan.

The oil used to season a cast iron pan should have a high smoke point and be neutral in flavor. While just about any cooking oil can be used, one that won't make a smoky mess in the kitchen is ideal. Try using vegetable oil, grapeseed oil, vegetable shortening, or lard.

As seen on our list, Lodge, Staub, and Le Creuset are three favorite cast iron cookware brands proven to stand the test of time. Other brands we love are Smithey Ironware, Stargazer Cast Iron, and Butter Pat.

Jacqueline Weiss is a professional food writer with over five years of experience and a lifelong passion for working in the kitchen. Her writing has appeared in Eat This Not That, EatingWell, AllRecipes, Simply Recipes, and more. For this article, she used insights from our editor-led tests to determine which cast iron cookware pieces are worth the investment.

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