A good quality cast iron frying pan can be a solid investment and useful edition to your kitchen. Here, we’ve reviewed popular skillets from classic, heavy-duty fryers to sleek-looking pans.
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A cast iron skillet pan should essentially act as an all-round next level, versatile frying pan. It should be hard-wearing and last you a lifetime.
The key distinguishing qualities of a skillet are their excellent ability to sear and brown meat effectively, a higher lipped edge, efficiency at retaining heat and the handy feature of being able to be transferred directly into a hot oven. These pans can be used beyond frying.
We've tested the best of the skillet pan world to bring you our top three favourites. We scored the pans against a checklist of criteria, including handle comfort, heat distribution, non-stick qualities, weight and ease of cleaning. Read on to discover our results.
VonShef seasoned cast iron skillet (25cm)
We were really impressed by this classic skillet pan by VonShef. With its high edges, weighty feel and non-stick surface we felt it was a perfect all round winner. It's pre-seasoned with natural oils, meaning it's ready to use straight away and requires less maintenance. It feels incredibly hard wearing and fit for repeated searing and frying.
The handle is short and can easily be hung up or tucked away in a kitchen drawer. It can be cooked in, then transferred to a hot oven or grill without damaging the pan.
It is a great size, wide enough to fit 3 steaks or 4 eggs, and a good depth for stir-frying or baking. It gave an incredible deep, dark finish to meat when searing and crisped up eggs beautifully whilst still being wonderfully non-stick.
The VonShef pan is a great all round buy. If you're serious about skillet cooking, this is the one for you. The best thing about this pan, after we tested it we were told it comes in at an incredibly reasonable price. An absolute steal.
Le Creuset Signature cast iron skillet (23cm)
Best for beginners
Le Creuset's Signature cast iron skillet is a great choice for those easing themselves in to 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 wanting a slightly smaller pan that’s easy to store. 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 would be 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 easiest to clean, didn’t mark easily and didn’t require any scraping to clean off.
Best non-stick skillet
This Nordic-style skillet from Fiskars was the sleekest-looking of the bunch – it has a beautiful matte finish and wooden handle.
We loved how comfortable the handle was on this pan and how heatproof it was when using on the stovetop. However, it can't easily be transferred to the oven without removing the handle.
What struck us the most about that pan was how non-stick it was. Eggs easily slid out of the pan and when we fried steak in it, we achieved a beautifully dark crust. A huge selling point.
This pan is a great size, perfect for browning large cuts of meat or cooking whole fry-ups. It also has a two handles, making it easy to lift up. This pan is very heavy, but feels durable.
A great one for a dedicated home cook, or to add to your collection of classic skillets. It works well as an all-round frying pan and would look good in your kitchen, too.
Buy from Nordic Nest (£113)
Why buy a cast iron skillet pan?
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.
How we tested cast iron skillet pans
We tested a sample of skillets in our Test Kitchen using eggs and steak. We marked the pans against the following criteria:
• All round comfort
• Heat distribution
• How non-stick they were
• How heatproof they were
• Weight of the pan
• If they could easily be transferred to the oven
• How quickly they heated up
• How easy they were to clean and store
• How well they browned meat
What to cook in your cast iron skillet pan
The best pans, tried and tested
This review was last updated in May 2019. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.