10 best cast-iron skillets and pans
A good quality cast-iron frying pan can be a solid investment and useful addition to your kitchen. Here, we’ve reviewed popular skillets from classic, heavy-duty fryers to sleek pans
This guide is regularly updated with new models that have been tried, tested and top-rated by BBC Good Food's reviews experts. Those featured earned their place based on their performance during rigorous impartial product testing. Included is a selection of new releases and firm favourites that continuously hold their position against new brand models. We will only ever feature cast-iron skillets and pans that prove to be good value for money. The newest additions were tested and reviewed by Elaine Lemm.
When it comes to achieving the perfect finish on steaks, a trusty cast-iron skillet is the pan of choice for any seasoned chef. But they’re not just reserved for steaks – these versatile pans can elevate a range of dishes when used correctly.
Cast-iron skillets work wonders when creating crispy chicken thighs in a delicious pan-fried chicken in mushroom sauce, crafting just-set frittatas, or even whipping up a classic tarte tatin. Their durability and sturdiness means they're not limited to the confines of the kitchen; in fact, some of these cast-iron powerhouses can be taken outdoors and used on barbecues, fire pits or even in pizza ovens.
However, don't be fooled by their tough reputation – these pans do require proper care. Regular seasoning with oil or fat, along with correct cleaning, drying and storage practices is paramount. Neglect in any of these areas could lead to rust or the gradual disappearance of the coveted non-stick patina. If you treat your cast iron with care, it will reward you with flavour-packed dishes that are sure to impress and will last a very long time.
Our expert-tested top performers have earned their spot as quality pans. With their ability to produce a beautifully crisp layer of fat and golden crust that gives way to a moist centre on meat, these pans rival even the most accomplished barbecues.
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As is often the case with kitchen equipment, the cast-iron pans with the higher price tag won the day here. But, we also have some wallet-friendly options that are perfect for those with a lower budget. Remember, when it comes to choosing your pan, it's wise to invest if you can.
To find out more about our reviews, head over to our how we test and review products page.
- Best cast-iron skillets at a glance
- Best cast-iron skillets to buy in 2024
- How to choose the best cast-iron skillet
- What is a cast-iron skillet?
- What can a cast-iron skillet be used for?
- How do I season a cast-iron skillet?
- How do I care for my cast-iron skillet?
- What's the difference between a cast-iron skillet and cast-iron frying pan?
- How we tested cast iron skillets
- Best for weight and stay-cool handle: Solidteknic 26cm Quenched seamless iron frying pan, £139
- Best for versatility: Cast-iron Always pan, £135
- Best for vintage good looks and quality materials: Staub 28cm cast-iron black frying pan, £169
- Best lidded skillet for good looks: Kato – the skillet, £120
- Best results at a budget price: ProCook cast-iron skillet, £39
- Best for artisanal, handcrafted quality: Skeppshult Cast-Iron Frying Pan 28cm, £129
- Best lightweight skillet pan: Kuhn Rikon Black Star iron frying pan, from £139.97
- Best non-stick skillet: Staub cast-iron frying pan, £159
- Best small skillet: Judge cast-iron skillet, £15.30
- Best skillet pan for beginners: Le Creuset Signature cast-iron skillet, from £105
Solidteknic 26cm Quenched seamless iron frying pan
- Available from Buy Me Once (£139)
Best for weight and stay-cool handle
- Smooth, pre-seasoned surface
- Lightweight for an iron pan
- Multi-century guarantee
- Might not fit inside all ovens
Star rating: 5/5
There is so much to love about the Australian seamless pan from Solidteknic, including its good looks; smooth, pre-seasoned surface and incredible lightness, which performs like the best cast iron, without weight.
The pan comes in almost all recyclable packaging, tucked inside a cotton bag. It's made from one piece of 3mm wrought iron and seasoned using non-GMO rice bran oil. So, after a quick rinse, we were able to use this at once. What is impressive is how light the pan is to hold – despite being 53cm in total length (check your oven before buying) and 5cm deep, it only weighs 1.6kg. So, carrying and moving around is very easy.
The next surprise (and the feature we love most) is how the metal handle is designed: it stays cool, so there's no reaching for the hand towel or oven gloves (unless you take the pan from the oven), making it useful for all.
The cooked food was excellent – the steak had lovely caramelisation and colour, the egg was the best on the test and the pan washed out quickly and easily. Such is the confidence of this pan, it comes with a multi-century guarantee.
Cast-iron Always pan
Best for versatility
- Integrated spatula
Star rating: 5/5
The cast-iron Always pan is superb; even at first glance, it's impressive. The enamelled exterior is a lovely, shiny dark grey, and it has a glass-domed lid and included wooden spatula that cleverly slots onto the handle of the pan.
The pan boasts eight cooking functions, including searing, frying and sautéing. Thanks to the glass lid, you can bake and steam in it, as well as use it as a casserole. It can also go under a grill and be taken seamlessly from the oven to the table using the excellent silicone handle covers for both the long and grab handles. At 27.6cm with a 1.8-litre capacity, it's a helpful size but not overly heavy, and we especially like its the excellent balance and secure feel when moving it around the kitchen.
Other significant aspects are its softly curved sides, which help with sliding food out and its even heat distribution. Our steak was impressively cooked with a great crust, even colouring and delicious caramelisation. The egg did not stick to the pan, and the spatula made removing the egg easy.
The versatility of this multifunctional pan makes it suitable for all situations, and it's so well made that it should last for many years.
Staub 28cm cast-iron black frying pan
- Available from Zwilling (£169)
Best for vintage good looks and quality materials
- Comfortable stay-cool handle
- Pan not oven-friendly due to wooden handle
Star rating: 4.5/5
The Staub 28cm cast-iron pan may be top-end for price, but its quality, design and fabulous lifetime guarantee make it a keeper.
The pan is a vintage design from Staub’s heritage range and, at 2.75 kilos, is weighty but not unbearably so. There’s a tapered 16cm wooden handle that's comfortable to hold and stays cool on the hob, but it means the pan can't be used in the oven. We love the smooth, enamelled, rounded base, which helps reduce scratching of delicate cooking surfaces.
Cooking with the Staub pan was superb – it heated up and seared the steak quickly, delivering even caramelisation and colouring. The fried egg also cooked quickly and evenly, lifting straight from the pan without fuss thanks to the high-quality enamelling of the pan surface. The good looks and heat retention of the Staub pan means food can be served directly from it, as it keeps it hot for longer. This is an all-around superb pan, even if it can’t go on the oven.
Katto – the skillet
- Available from Katto (£120)
Best lidded skillet for good looks
- Sleek design
- Good non-stick straight from box
- Very heavy
Star rating: 4.5/5
We love the skillet from Katto. The pan arrives in eco packaging and, when taking it out, we were quickly taken with its superb shape, as it gently curves from the bottom up to straight sides. It also has a lid, which is super-helpful.
The pan is small at 23cm in diameter and only 4.5cm deep. It's shallow, but still cooks both the steaks and the egg well. Both are easy to lift out, turn and flip, and the egg, though crispy on the bottom of the pan, lifted away easily.
The pan is a valuable size for both a smaller household and to use as an additional smaller pan. Be warned, though: it is heavy for its size at 3.8kg and there is no grab handle, so though well-balanced, it needs attention when moving around or taking in and out of the oven.
This French-made pan can be used on all hob types, including induction, needs occasional seasoning to keep it non-stick, must always be hand-washed and should last a lifetime with care. We also think it should live on the worktop or a shelf – it's far too pretty to put into a cupboard.
ProCook cast-iron skillet
Best results at a budget price
- 25-year guarantee
- Great quality at an affordable price
- Slightly unbalanced for lifting with one hand
Star rating: 4.5/5
The ProCook cast-iron skillet may be the cheapest pan and potentially, at 26cm, one of the smaller on the test, but do not let that fool you. This is a well-built, enamelled pan that's easy to use and clean, and has an impressive 25-year guarantee.
It's a bit weighty at 2kg, but has a secure handle and sizeable grab handle, too, so is easy to carry with two hands. With one, we found it a little unbalanced. It's oven-safe up to 260C, which is very useful. Even though enamelled, hand-washing only is recommended, which is customary for most cast-iron.
Not only is this pan affordable, it's a good performer on all heat types, reaching temperatures very quickly and evenly across the whole pan.
You cannot go wrong with this pan for anyone on a budget or just starting out – maybe a student or someone setting up a first home. The steak was excellent, and the egg, though it did stick a little at first over a lower heat, was okay but needed careful watching. Overall, these are great results at a bargain price.
Skeppshult Cast-Iron Frying Pan, 28cm
Best for artisanal, hand crafted quality
- Dual-use pouring lip and handle
- A great heirloom piece
- Not oven safe due to the handle
Star rating: 4.5/5
The Skeppshult pan is a genuinely artisanal pan, handcrafted in Sweden, made today as it always has according to ancient methods since 1906. Even though it is still made that way, it is a handsome-looking pan at home now, just as it was back then.
There is a beautiful walnut tapered heat-isolating handle, which is comfortable to hold. The clever pouring lip on the other side doubles up as the grab handle, making it secure to carry, which is essential as it weighs just over 3 kilos, which isn’t too heavy given that the pan is 28 cm across.
The Skeppshult comes pre-seasoned with canola oil and is ready to use after a quick wash straight from the box. We were impressed with the steak and the exemplary cooking. Our first egg, however, stuck and went very crispy on the bottom. We tested again using the pan on low heat, and it was perfect.
The pan’s surface is quite textured; some may not like it. Also, the pan cannot go in the oven because of the handle. Otherwise, this gorgeous heirloom piece will give many years of great cooking if looked after.
Kuhn Rikon Black Star iron frying pan
- Available from Kuhn Rikon (£139.97)
Best lightweight skillet pan
- Stunning high-quality design
- Large flat base
- Easy to season
Star rating: 4.5/5
Unlike many other skillets on this list, this Kuhn Rikon pan is made from spun iron, like the Netherton Foundry pan above, so it's noticeably lighter than its cast-iron counterparts. This pan does need to be pre-seasoned before use, thankfully detailed instructions are available with the pan and on the Kuhn Rikon website. This pan is available in four different sizes: 24, 28, 32, and 36cm. In addition to being suitable for all hob types, this versatile pan is also great for barbecues or fire pits.
The Black Star pan is a joy to cook with. It has a long and slim ergonomic handle and the main pan is distinctly thinner than standard cast-iron. This meant the pan was quicker to heat up.
After just one round of seasoning, this pan was brilliantly non-stick. We managed to cook our fried egg gently, producing the crisp, lacy edge we were after. The egg slipped right out of the pan. For the steak, we let the pan get ripping hot. The sear produced was fantastic! Our ribeyes achieved a deep rich crust and again, there was no sticking.
Read our full Kuhn Rikon Black Star iron frying pan review.
Staub cast-iron frying pan
Best non-stick skillet
Star rating: 4.5/5
It was an absolute pleasure to cook with this pan. It has all the appeal of the rough-and-ready iron skillets in our round-up but has a silky smooth black enamelled interior that makes ingredients glide around.
With the best non-stick abilities of all the pans we tried, eggs slid onto the plate straight from the pan, with a minimum amount of oil used. There was no need to top up the pre-seasoning before our first dish.
This heavy model was a generous depth and featured a holding bar stamped with the Staub logo opposite the handle, so transferring a pan stuffed with braised chicken and potatoes to the oven was made easier by being able to use two hands.
The matching Staub roasting pan we’ve tested also got top marks. This is a range for serious cooks looking for top-quality kit. It comes in black, grey, and red too.
Judge cast-iron skillet
Best small skillet
Judge have a couple of sizes of well-priced cast-iron skillets, and we liked their 18cm version for its no-nonsense design and the quality of the finish.
Slightly more shallow than some of the others here, it could’ve done with slightly more pronounced pouring lips, as the rounded edges meant there was a bit of escaped sauce when we poured onto the plate. That said, there were no hotspots or cooler patches on the surface, and we found its fuss-free shape easy to clean, with no tricky areas to dry off once washed. The inner coating felt rough to the touch but once seasoned it started to build up a nice, non-stick patina.
The smaller size is worth considering if you’re a solo cook or want to use a skillet for side dishes or individual servings. It’s the perfect size for a single steak or for creating an oven dish, retaining heat well as it sat on the dinner table.
Le Creuset Signature cast-iron skillet
Best skillet pan for beginners
The Le Creuset is a great choice for those easing themselves into the world of skillets. It was slightly lighter in weight than many of the other pans we tested, which has the benefit of making it easier to handle.
We highly rated its non-stick surface, comfortable handle, even heat distribution as well as the general aesthetic. As it comes in various colours, it would make a good gift.
At 23cm wide, this pan would be great for a couple, or those with less cupboard space. We loved that it had a handle on each side, making it especially easy to lift up and out of the oven. It also has spouts on either side which are really useful when needing to pour off excess oil.
A great aspect was how non-stick it was when testing. Once it had heated up (very quickly), it had fantastic heat distribution. It was also the simplest to clean, didn’t mark easily and didn’t require any scraping to remove food.
Other cast-iron skillets tried and tested
- Netherton Foundry 12-inch Prospector pan, £74.95
- Fiskars Norden 26cm non-stick cast-iron skillet, £105
Cast-iron skillets tend to be made from one single forged piece of iron. They’re more heavy-duty than a standard frying pan, making them resistant to knocks and scrapes. They’re also the go-to pan for travelling and camping, as they can be used on pretty much every heat source.
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.
These hardy and versatile pans can be used for a whole host of different dishes or used in place of your frying pan, roasting tray or pie dish.
Create golden-crusted chicken thighs for this pan-fried chicken in mushroom sauce or try our aubergine, halloumi and harissa skillet bake. These pans are ideal for one-pot dishes like frittatas, our one-pot thai green salmon or this protein-packed butter bean, chorizo and spinach baked eggs.
But cast-iron skillets aren’t just reserved for savoury dishes; swap out your cake tin and make strawberry, almond and polenta skillet cake or this sticky ginger skillet parkin. How about a classic tarte tatin? Or impress kids and adults alike with this indulgent giant cookie.
What to look out for when buying a skillet pan
- Size: make sure it’s the right size for you and your family. As a general guide, a 10-inch (25cm) pan is perfect for two, a 12-inch (30cm) pan is ideal for four. For larger families, opting for a larger pan is of undoubtedly the better choice.
- Weight: keep in mind that the size of the pan directly affects its weight, and these pans can be weighty. If you anticipate any difficulty in handling a heavy pan, its wise to opt for a smaller size. Look out for pans with thoughtful additions, such as long handles or lug handles – these clever features make carrying the pan easier and provide added convenience.
- Pouring spouts: look for skillets that come equipped with pouring spouts as they prove incredibly useful when it comes to disposing of fat or grease or when making a delicious gravy or sauce, as these spouts allow for mess-free pouring. Spouts on either side of the pan mean they’re easy to use for both left- and right-handed users.
- Enamelled or non-enamelled: enamelled pans not only add a touch of visual appeal with their range of vibrant colours, but they also offer easier cleaning due to their finished surface. However, it's important to remember that you won’t be able to build up the same patina on an enamelled pan because of it’s finished surface, and therefore will miss out on the flavour and natural improvement over time that non-enamelled cast-iron brings.
Skillets take a bit of love and attention in order to improve with age. The majority of our final selection came pre-seasoned, but ensuring you add further oil before storing will help in building up a shiny patina that will make your pan non-stick and add to the flavour of dishes, all without the use of artificial or chemical additives. Most new pans will come with seasoning instructions.
Coat brand-new pans lightly in flax or vegetable oil before placing in a hot oven for an hour to seal a new surface, if needed.
Barney Desmazery's guide to how to season cast-iron contains everything you need to know.
Once used, hand wash in warm water – skip the washing-up liquid and use a bristled brush – ensuring the pan has cooled down thoroughly after cooking.
Plunging a hot pan into water is a bad idea as the cast iron can warp. Dropping it could see it crack or break, so handle with care, especially when hot.
Rust is the enemy, but this is simple to prevent once you get into skillet-saving habits. You won’t be able to put them in the dishwasher or bung them back in a cupboard, damp from the draining board. Any rust spots that do appear can be rubbed away with fine-grade sandpaper before cleaning.
When cooking with acidic foods, such as citrus fruits or vinegars, give your skillet a further protective seasoning by wiping with some oil on kitchen paper to make a light coating that will help protect it from damaging chemical reactions.
The terms “cast-iron skillet” and “cast iron-frying pan” are often used interchangeably, but there are subtle differences between the two.
A cast-iron skillet tends to features high sides and a broad cooking surface, making it a versatile tool for different cooking techniques like sautéing and simmering. They are also brilliant at searing meats, and their versatility means they’re great for one-pot dishes.
Cast-iron frying pans usually have lower sides and a smaller cooking surface. Heat is circulated better in a frying pan and the sides make flipping and tossing ingredients easy. Cast-iron frying pans are a better choice when cooking dishes that require movement: stir-fries, pancakes, or scrambled eggs.
Ultimately, the distinction between cast-iron skillets and cast-iron frying pans lies in their intended use and shape. But, regardless of whether you choose a cast-iron skillet or a cast-iron frying pan, both offer unparalleled heat retention and versatility.
To put our cast-iron skillets to the test, we cooked a simple fried egg. This allowed us to determine how easy it was to regulate the heat of the pan, how non-stick it was, and if the pan could cook food gently.
A cast-iron skillet that can’t cook a mean steak frankly isn’t worth owning. We also cooked a thick cut ribeye steak to see if the pan produced the hard sear and deep, rich crust we were looking for. But we wanted to ensure that the outside of the steak wasn’t just seared – we looked for a perfectly pink medium rare inside. Of course, we didn’t want any part of the steak to stick either. As well as the cooking tests, we marked the pans against the following criteria:
- All-round comfort: we expected these pans to be heavy, but we wanted to see that considerations had been made to make using these pans a more comfortable experience. For example, appropriate length handles, extra lug handles.
- Heat distribution: although hardy pieces of kit, we still expect quality craftsmanship and performance. Even heat distribution means food cooks at the same temperature.
- How non-stick they were: the majority of the pans we tested were pre-seasoned, meaning they should be non-stick straight out of the box. We put this to the test. We also wanted the pan to include clear seasoning instructions as this is an integral part of the pans upkeep.
- How heatproof they were: usually made from one solid piece of cast iron, these pans do get hot, but long or thin handles help to stop it reaching the ripping temperatures of the main pan.
- If they could easily be transferred to the oven: most cast-iron skillet pans are oven-safe, but we wanted to make sure that going from hob to oven or even oven to table, was safe and easy.
- How quickly they heated up: four to five minutes is a decent amount of time to wait for a cast-iron skillet to heat up. We didn’t want to see pans that came to temperature disconcertingly fast or indeed painfully slow.
- How easy they were to clean and store: cleaning a cast-iron pan is pretty simple, just wipe clean, rinse and coat in a thin layer of oil. We made sure that there was no rusting after cleaning and looked for useful additions, like hanging holes in the handles.
Cast-iron skillet recipes and related content
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