A cast iron pan is an essential piece of equipment for any cook. It not only transitions from grill to stovetop to oven with ease, but it’s versatile enough to sear steaks and seafood or bake fluffy frittatas and cakes. What’s more, the durable material improves over time, forming a natural nonstick seasoning that’s even better than chemical coatings. Cast iron is practically indestructible, so long as you know how to clean and handle it.
There are many different shapes, styles, and strengths of cast iron skillets, so it can be hard to decide which one is worth adding to your kitchen. To help you find the best cast iron pans for your needs, we turned to reviews from real customers who have purchased and tried these pans for themselves.
Top 10 Best cast iron pans in UK 2021
Here are the 10 best cast iron pans, according to customer reviews
1. Lodge 12-Inch Cast Iron Skillet
Lodge is a giant in the cast iron world, and for good reason. Founded in 1896 by Joseph Lodge in Tennessee, the company has gained a dedicated following over the decades because of its quality but affordable cast iron cookware. Today, it still produces American-made cast iron skillets in nearly every size you can imagine, from extra small for personal cookie skillets to large 15-inch pans for crowd-pleasing casseroles. For most cooks, the company’s standard 12-inch skillet is the everyday essential guaranteed to become a family heirloom.
Big enough to roast a whole chicken or sear multiple steaks at once, it features both an assist handle and a silicone holder that protects from heat up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. It comes pre-seasoned for a natural, easy release (although seasoning it wouldn’t hurt). Lodge’s popular pans are Amazon best-sellers, earning more than 75,000 five-star ratings. Users praise the cookware’s heat distribution, versatility, and durability.
“The Lodge pan is solid and heavy,” a user wrote. “It cleans up super easily. After a few uses, it has proven to be just about as non-stick as any of my non-stick pans, but cooks better, more evenly, browns nicely, and cleanup is a breeze.”
Another added, “Can see why this skillet could be passed down for generations. It is heavy cast iron that is very versatile as it can be used in ovens, stove tops, outdoors, grills (or just open campfire), and high heat temps.”
2. Utopia Kitchen 3-Piece Cast Iron Skillet Set
One of the best features of cast iron cookware is its affordability. And while quality skillets can cost less than $50, true bargain hunters will want to check out this set from Utopia Kitchen. The three-pan collection costs just $40—that’s just over $13 each for 10-inch, 8-inch, and 6-inch pans that come pre-seasoned from the factory. They all boast easy-grip handles and dual pour spouts to drain grease, too.
More than 4,200 Amazon shoppers have given the Utopia Kitchen set a perfect rating, saying the pans are reliable, versatile, and an excellent value. “The sizes cover everything I’m cooking,” a reviewer said. “They are substantial in weight, but not super heavy. Exactly what I hoped they would be.”
3. Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Reversible Grill/Griddle
This pan is just as at home on the stovetop as it is on the grill or the campfire. With one smooth side for flipping flapjacks and one ribbed side for grilling steaks with perfect sear marks. At 20 x 10.5 inches, it’s large enough to serve a family (it’ll cover two burners on the stovetop), but it’s less than an inch thick, so it’s a cinch to store. The space it does require is well worth it considering it’s essentially two pans in one. However, our reviewer did note that it’s pretty heavy.
Like all Lodge cast irons, this grill/griddle combo takes a little while to heat up but boasts terrific heat retention. It’s wonderfully affordable and comes preseasoned for an easy cooking and cleanup process.
4. Le Creuset Cast Iron Crepe Pan
Like the rest of Le Creuset’s cookware, this cast iron crepe pan doesn’t disappoint in terms of aesthetics and durability. It has a gorgeous enamel exterior and a high-quality nonstick surface, meaning that, unlike raw cast iron, it doesn’t need to be seasoned before use and can be popped into the dishwasher.
However, according to our tester, it does take a bit of practice to make the perfect crepes. This is because, while the pan holds heat extremely well, it’s not even, with the areas of the pan that overlap with the stovetop being hotter than the edges. Our tester says this is easily solved by making smaller crepes. And the accompanying pastry spreader and crepe turner, which has beveled edges and a pointed tip, are also very helpful, she adds.
A bonus? This pan isn’t a single-use tool. “It has a raised edge that allows you to make omelets, sausage, or pancakes,” she raves.
5. Lodge 10.25-Inch Cast Iron Round Skillet
This cast iron skillet, made in Tennessee, is a bestseller in the US. It’s a great size, with plenty of surface area to cook on, but not so huge that it’s impossible to lift.
The Lodge Cast Iron Round Skillet is really versatile and can be used on the stove, in the oven, on the barbecue or even over an open fire, so it’s great for keen campers.
It has some useful design features, such as an assist handle, which makes lifting and manoeuvring the pan easier, as well as two side lips for pouring. It also comes pre-seasoned.
Robust and durable the Lodge should last a lifetime if cared for properly, which for under £50 seems like a good deal to us. Look out for online deals – we’ve seen it at almost half price on Amazon.
6. Victoria Mini Cast Iron Skillet
A durable cast iron skillet that comes in a range of sizes starting at 6.5 inches, the Victoria is ideal if you’re only cooking small amounts. There are pouring lips on each side of the pan which makes it easy to tip off any liquid, and the design means your food will stay hot for at least 10 minutes.
It comes ready-seasoned and is suitable for use on the hob, in the oven and on campfires. The smallest size would be perfect for any camping trip.
7. Matfer Bourgeat Black Steel Round Frying Pan
Making a lightweight cast iron skillet means making a thin cast iron skillet, which winds up defeating the point of making a skillet out of cast iron: The material’s thickness and heft afford it unmatched heat retention and distribution.
If you want something that cooks like a cast-iron skillet but won’t sprain your wrist when you try to flip a pancake, we recommend looking into a skillet made of carbon steel. For one thing, its chemical makeup is actually quite similar to that of traditional cast iron. It also requires regular seasonings to keep it nonstick, and that coating of seasoning shouldn’t be exposed to anything highly acidic.
The biggest difference between the two materials is their ability to retain heat: Since there’s less mass in a thin, light carbon steel skillet, it doesn’t do as good a job with long-cooked foods.
As far as brands go, Matfer Bourgeat, a family-owned French manufacturer that’s been in the culinary biz for over 200 years. Its carbon steel cookware is remarkably durable and distributes heat quite well — plus, its 10.25-inch Black Steel Frying Pan weighs just 1.41 kilograms, which is about half the weight of your average same-size cast iron skillet.
8. Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Combo Cooker
A fancy Le Creuset skillet doesn’t belong in the great outdoors — leave that puppy sitting on your hob or hanging on the wall for everyone to admire.
A versatile, no-frills, extra-tough pan that can hold up to an open flame and withstand some scrubbing to remove the resulting soot makes a much better camping buddy when you’re roughing it in the woods.
To literally no one’s surprise, Lodge makes a budget-friendly pan that fits the bill. Its Cast Iron Combo Cooker is a 10.25-inch, moderately deep skillet that comes with a multipurpose lid. You can place that lid on top of the skillet to transform it into a casserole dish, or cook with the lid separately as a shallow skillet or griddle. Realistically, it’s the only cookware you’ll need to pack.
9. Spun Iron Prospector Pan by Netherton Foundry
Made in Shropshire and beloved of the cooking elite (it features on the cover of Diana Henry’s From The Oven To The Table), we can see why the Prospector pan is such a staple for serious cooks.
Not only is it incredibly well made and tough, it’s also so much lighter than many of the traditional skillets we tested.
The difference here is that the iron is spun rather than cast, before being coated with organic flax oil.
The two-handled Prospector has all the heat distribution qualities we’d look for in a skillet, and the 26cm version we tried from the range was perfect for a one-pan dinner for two, breakfast eggs or a couple of large steaks.
The searing capabilities are superb – our rib-eyes cooked evenly with a crisp crust after we prepared the pan slowly over a low heat and worked it up to searing temperature.
This pan will work hard for you in the kitchen, but also looks great on the table. Our favourite of all the iron skillets we tested, this classic is going to stay firmly in place in our kitchen armoury.
10. Jean Patrique non-stick cast iron skillet pan
Something to brighten up the kitchen if you’re not a fan of the utilitarian look of most skillets, this version came with a cheerful blue enamel coating and inner lining.
Pre-seasoned before packing, we still gave it a further coating of flax oil as the inside of the pan was not as smooth as other enamelled models.
This resulted in perfect fried eggs, transferring easily to the plate and will, of course, only get better over time.
The handle was longer and thinner on the Jean Patrique model than many other pans, so we were doubly careful not to wash it until it had cooled down thoroughly – any weaker spots in cast iron can break if dropped or if they cool too rapidly. It also got in the way a bit when transferring to the table to serve.
How to look for a cast iron pan
Enameled or Uncoated
Enameled cast iron pans never need seasoning, and some can even be washed in the dishwasher for easier cleaning. The enamel coating prevents the food from making contact with the raw metal, so you can use enameled cookware with any type of food, including acidic foods like tomatoes or citrus. The downside to enameled cookware is that the coating can crack or chip, rendering the cookware unfit for cooking. Enameled cast iron cookware can be used on any cooktop, and is oven safe as well, but the knobs on the lids of some cookware may not be able to handle extremely high oven heat.
Uncoated cast iron may come preseasoned so it can be used immediately, but it becomes even more nonstick with additional seasoning and use. Other uncoated cast iron cookware is not preseasoned but arrives with an oil coating that protects it from rusting. Before use, it must be washed, dried, and seasoned. Cast iron cookware is virtually indestructible, and even if the seasoning is somehow damaged, the pan can be re-seasoned easily, and you can even use it on your outdoor grill or on a campfire. Cast iron cookware needs different care than your typical stainless steel or aluminum cookware, but once you learn how to handle it, it’s just as easy as any other pots or pans you own.
The one downside to uncoated cast iron is that it’s a reactive metal, and the seasoning can be damaged if you cook acidic foods in it for long periods of time, and then the food can take on a metallic taste. A well-seasoned pan will have no problem with short-term cooking of acidic foods, but if you’re planning on a long braise with tomatoes, you might want to choose a different pan.
One of the downsides to cast iron is that it is much heavier than cookware of a similar size that’s made from other materials. While bigger is often better, allowing you to cook more food in the pot or pan, when you’re buying cast iron cookware it’s wise to keep the weight in mind so you don’t buy something that you can’t lift after you’ve filled it with food. The weight might also affect your storage options, since shelves need to be strong enough, and you probably won’t want to stack any but the smallest pots or pans.
Type of Pan
Cast iron cookware is great for specific purposes, which is why you won’t see entire cookware sets made from cast iron. Frying pans are one of the most popular uncoated cast iron pans, while Dutch ovens are one of the most popular enameled products. Consider what you’re going to cook, then find the pan that fits the purpose, whether you want to grill, fry, or braise. There are also a number of specialty cast iron pots and pans available. While those might not be your first pick in a new kitchen, they can be great additions to expand your cooking repertoire.
Until recently, all cast iron cookware was relatively thick, which helped with its heat retention properties, but that also increased the weight. Today, there are some manufacturers that are producing cast iron cookware made from thinner material. This cookware is lighter in weight, so it’s easier to handle, but it doesn’t heat quite as evenly as thicker cookware and it won’t retain heat as long. The difference is minimal, so if weight is a concern, it’s worth looking at some of the lighter pans.
Since cast iron is heavy and it retains heat, the handle configuration is important. The handles need to be sturdy, and they need to be large enough to make them easy to hold onto when using oven mitts or potholders. Frying pans tend to have a single long handle with a helper handle on the opposite side to make it easier to move and empty the pan. Smaller or less expensive frying pans might omit the helper handle, so you might need to use a two-handed grip on the long handle.
A cast iron skillet is more heavy-duty than a standard frying pan, making it resistant to knocks and scrapes. While non-stick frying pans are great for preventing food getting stuck, they are often coated in an artificial non-stick formula.
Cast iron pans are more ‘natural’ and seasoned with oil to optimise the quality of the surface – although if you want the pan to last, you need to keep up with maintenance and season it regularly. Cast iron is an effective heat distributor, plus these sorts of pans are unlikely to have plastic handles so can be transferred to an oven like a casserole dish.