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Best cast iron cookware: griddle pans, casserole dishes, Dutch ovens, skillets

Published: August 31, 2022 at 3:05 pm
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Find your next cast iron favourite with this cookware that will last through the decades.

Known for being durable, holding on to heat and often heavy, cast iron may be more expensive but it lasts decades when properly looked after -- making it a staple for sustainable kitchens.

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We have rounded up a list of the best cast iron cookware tried and tested by BBC Good Food reviews experts that will stand the test of time, including a griddle pan to sear steaks such as this rump steak recipe or cooking Mediterranean vegetables, a cast iron casserole dish for curries or stews and even more unlikely cast iron cookware including paella pans, woks, pancake pans and fondue pots.

Health editor at BBC Good Food Tracey Raye notes that cooking on an iron pan is ideal for those who have low iron levels or who are on certain diets such as vegeterians as it means some of the iron from your cookware will transfer onto your food when cooking with it. Cooking with your cast iron pots, pans and dishes may increase the iron content of your food by 16%.

Here at BBC Good Food, cast iron is one of our favourite sustainable materials – the nature of the material means it can be recycled without losing any of its properties or quality. Most importantly, however, it is very durable, so it will last for years. Cast iron oxidises slowly making it look better for longer, too, plus it is seasoned rather than soaked or washed with water. Find out below how to properly season your cast iron cookware and how to clean your cast iron pan to make it last the years.

In our list we've included classic brands including Le Creuset and Staub, and highlighted some star cast iron cookware from Vonshef and Kuhn-Rikon. For more cast iron reviews, read our full guide to the best casseroles dishes for stylish deep-pans and heavy-duty pots or check out our list of the best cast iron skillets and pans for tried and tested investment cookware.

Visit our reviews section and discover more than 600 practical buyer's guides offering unbiased advice on what equipment is worth investing in. Find everything from counter-top appliances such as the best food processors and best toasters, through to larger white goods such as the best microwaves and best dishwashers.

Best cast iron cookware at a glance

Casserole dishes and Dutch ovens

  • Best shallow casserole dish: Le Creuset signature 26cm shallow casserole dish, £146
  • Best large casserole dish: VonShef 3.8-litre cast iron casserole dish, £29.99
  • Best blow-out Dutch oven for BBQ: Netherton Foundry Dutch Oven, £225.70

Roasting dishes

  • Best dish for heat retention: Staub 3.5l roasting dish, £129
  • Best classic roasting dish: Le Creuset Signature cast iron roaster, £205

Skillets and frying pans

  • Best ergonomic pan: Kuhn Rikon Black Star iron frying pan, £159.96
  • Best lighter skillet: Netherton Foundry 12-inch Prospector pan, £74.95
  • Best heavy-set skillet: Lodge cast iron skillet, £49.99
  • Best individual pan: Crane C2 pan, £145
  • Best for searing: Le Creuset Signature cast iron grillit, £103.99
  • Best for crepes: Staub Cast Iron Pancake Frying Pan, £94.95
  • Best for frying: Tramontina Trento 32cm cast iron wok, £59.75

Accessories

  • Best cast iron fondue set: Le Creuset enamelled cast iron fondue set, £278.99
  • Best cast iron press: KitchenCraft cast iron grill press, £16.99

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Best cast iron cookware to buy in 2022

Casserole dishes and dutch ovens

Le Creuset signature 26cm shallow casserole dish

Best shallow casserole dish

Le Creuset’s cast iron pans and dishes come in a range of shapes and sizes, perfect for any occasion. This dish is expensive, but we can say from experience that the brand’s products stand the test of time and the cooking results are excellent. Plus there is a lifetime guarantee

With efficient heat distribution, these pans don’t need as much oil compared to other cast iron brands and build up a natural patina with prolonged use that helps with non-stick.

We chose this shallow pan for occasions for when you want the heft of a casserole dish but the shape of a deep frying pan. This enamelled cast iron would work for a risotto such as our tomato and mascarpone risotto, or our meatballs in tomato soup or curries including this curried cod. The surface area is key here and not depth, and would also be a great option for pilaf rice, gratins and roasting whole chickens. Use this casserole dish to try Sabrina Ghayour's recipe for Persian basmati rice (tahdig) for a crispy, saffron showstopper.

Overall, this casserole dish is stylish (and shallow) enough to keep on the table, ready to feed up to six people.

VonShef 3.8-litre cast iron casserole dish

Best large casserole dish

This is a small and weighty addition to the pan cupboard – but with a more contemporary design and feel. The cast iron construction holds and spreads heat very efficiently. It also has high sides for some good depth to the dish and counteracts its small footprint, being just 25cm in width. Arguably, one of the main differences between the Le Creuset and this dish is the price. The VonShef is considerably cheaper than most cast iron cookware at under £40 but it has not compromised on quality.

It’s not the largest casserole dish but you would get four meals out of its capacity – a great option for individuals or couples wanting a cost-efficient casserole dish for hob and oven. Looking for more options? Read our guide to the best tried and tested casserole dishes.

Available from:
VonShef (£29.99)

Netherton Foundry Dutch Oven

Best blow-out Dutch oven for BBQ

This British-made Dutch oven is designed for outdoor cooking and sitting among hot coals, so can definitely handle the heat of a sizzling barbecue. It’s a great pot for keeping food warm or cooking more liquid dishes such as Boston beans. It’s heavy, so avoid resting on cheap, lightweight or disposable barbecues. You can easily use this in an oven, use it to bake some bread or keep it on the stove for a good stew. This would be a long-lasting investment that will build its own non-stick patina with repeated use. A stand is also available to buy alongside this model.

Available from:
Netherton Foundry (£225.70)

Roasting dishes

Staub 3.5l roasting dish

Best dish for heat retention

Uniquely, Staub pans are made of cast iron that has been poured into a sand mould so there is a slightly rough feeling of the interior surface. Although this pan is not a non-stick roaster, we found that chicken, garlic and potatoes crisped nicely on its enamelled interior, with great heat distribution and no big hot spots. This roasting dish scores extra for keeping dishes hot for far longer than thinner, metal tins, so it’s ideal for moussaka, lasagne or oven-to-table dishes. To avoid any damage, heat the pan dry (without oil) in the oven and never pour cold water directly onto it when hot. Overall, this dish is a hefty weight and investment but should last to make it great value for money.

Available from:
Amazon (£129)

Le Creuset Signature cast iron roaster

Best classic roasting dish

In a choice of standard and modern colours, they look great on the table, and available in a range of sizes, too, it would be a beautiful choice for bringing out at big family dinners or holidays such as Christmas. Cast iron with enamelled coating, the pans can be used on all types of hobs, its material means it is ideal for baking as it spreads heat evenly, plus this dish comes with a lifetime warranty. Browse our top-rated roasting tins tested by cookware expert Lesley Jones.

Skillets and frying pans

Kuhn Rikon Black Star iron frying pan

Best ergonomic pan

Star rating: 4.5/5

Another skillet made from spun iron, the Kuhn Rikon pan does need to be pre-seasoned before use but there are detailed instructions are available with the pan and on the Kuhn Rikon website. To get an introduction into seasoning a pan and what it is, read on below. This pan is available in four different sizes: 24cm, 28cm, 32cm and 36cm. In addition to being suitable for all hob types, this versatile pan is also great for barbecues or fire pits.

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As it is distinctly thinner than standard cast iron, this meant the pan was quicker to heat up and it has a thin ergonomic handle. Testers found that after just one round of seasoning, this pan was completely non-stick and their fried eggs were cooked gently and produced a crisp, lacy edge and easily slipped out of the pan. For the steak, once the pan was ripping hot, it produced a fantastic sear and the ribeyes achieved a deep rich crust without any sticking.

Read our full Kuhn Rikon Black Star iron frying pan review

Available from:
Kuhn Rikon (£159.96)

Netherton Foundry 12-inch Prospector pan

Best lighter skillet

Made in Shropshire, this iron pan from Netherton Foundry is incredibly well made and tough, and it’s also so much lighter than many of the traditional skillets that were tested.

A key difference is that the iron is spun rather than cast, before being coated with organic flax oil. Read on to discover the difference between cast and spun iron.

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 which when tested seared very well.

Available from:
Netherton Foundry (£74.95)

Lodge cast iron skillet

Best heavy-set skillet

Rated highly in our list of 1o of the best cast iron skillets and pans, this skillet from Lodge is a top seller in the US. Lodge have been shaping their pans from sand moulds in Tennessee since 1896 and have a solid understanding of what makes a great skillet. It’s heavy, with rounded pouring lips on either side and a sturdy handle with large hanging loop. This is a heavy pan, so the generous ‘assist handle’ on one side was well received and it meant it was more stable to carry around or move from hob to oven.

The vegetable oil pre-seasoning on this model was great – food slid easily from its sleek surface from the get-go and only became more non-stick as we cooked in it. When you are done with it, simply hand-wash, dry and top up with a quick wipe of oil before storing.

Crane C2 sauté pan

black saute pan with gold badge

Best individual pan

Star rating: 4.5/5

Coming in totally plastic-free packaging, where even the padding is recycled cardboard, the Crane C2 pan has extra sustainability points. The pan is small but stylish and another advantage is that it is made out of 30% recycled materials. It manages heat very well that keeping the stove on low worked best for this pan especially when frying, and it also means dishes get cooked speedily. Overall, this pan may not be family-sized, but is a stylish and useful addition to the kitchen.

Available from:
The Room Service (£145)

Le Creuset Signature cast iron grillit

Best for searing

This Signature Cast Iron Grillit from Le Creuset is built to last. Once heated up to temperature, you can seal meat and veg quickly to lock in flavour and moisture while also giving slices those iconic griddle marks. The Grillit is heat resistant up to 250C making it a versatile option if you’d like a pan you can move from stove top to oven or BBQ. The additional handle on its far side makes moving the pan far easier, though as it is cast iron it is still quite heavy.

STAUB 28cm cast iron pancake pan

Best for crêpes

For an alternative way to cook pancakes, this cast iron thin crêpe pan comes with a wooden spooner and spatula for easy turning. It heats up a bit slower than your average pan and naturally needs a bit of practice to get right but the results give large, thin crepes almost every time which are evenly cooked. Just be aware of the heaviness of this pan as it may make it tough to clean in a small sink. If you're after more pans for pancakes, our list of the best pancake pans, whether you want to make easy crêpes or fluffy American pancakes, has you covered.

Tramontina Trento 32cm cast iron wok

TRAMONTINA - Trento Enamelled Cast Iron Cookware - Wok

Best for frying

From Brazillian brand Tramontina, this enamelled cast iron work is magnificent. It has a sturdiness that is great for deep-frying anything from donuts to tempura. It’s also going to keep heat in your dish with its stainless-steel handled lid so it is ideal if you are making fried noodles a bit in advance. It would be great to showcase on a table as a rustic centrepiece. This is a pan that will only get better over time, adding flavour to dishes if you allow it to build up a patina and keep it oiled every month or so.

Accessories

Le Creuset enamelled cast iron fondue set

The enamelled interior makes it easy to clean after a cheese feast. Fit for grill, oven, hob and induction, and with an adjustable burner, there are plenty of ways to heat up cheese or chocolate in this model. It is a large set at 1.6 litres and is on the heavy side but it has carry handles attached, ready to be taken to the dining table to take place as an attractive centrepiece.

KitchenCraft cast iron grill press

Best cast iron press

Grill presses are ideal for pressing meat like burgers and steaks while they cook over a barbecue. The result should be evenly seared meat that's packed with barbecue flavour. This grill press by KitchenCraft has a good surface area and, being cast iron, can be heated on the barbecue to sear the meat from above while it cooks from below. In the kitchen, you can use this grill press as a weight to press down on cheese toasties or any grilled sandwiches. Plus it will leave some aesthetically-pleasing grill marks. But if you're looking for accessories to help you cook outdoors, we have a full tried and tested guide to the best BBQ tools.

How we tested cast iron cookware

Durability: Cast iron cookware that will be worth the price and last for years.
Surface area: For cookware such as skillets, casserole pots, woks, roasting dishes and paella pans, surface area is an important consideration for enabling even browning for ingredients including chicken thighs, ground meat and potatoes.
Good heat distribution: This is key to teasing out a richness of flavour from ingredients.
Looks: As cast iron cookware is on the heavy side, lots of people prefer them to remain on the stove top, so good-looking kit is essential.
Heat: The hotter the dish can handle, the better.

When testing products for BBC Good Food, an extensive selection of products gathered from detailed research are tested in every category to cover different budgets, looks and uses. Read more about why you can trust our reviews in our description of how we test and review products at BBC Good Food.

What to look out for when choosing a piece of cast iron cookware

Size: Make sure your cast iron cookware is the right size for you and your family. As a general guide, a 10 inch (25cm) pan is great for two, a 12 inch (30cm) piece is ideal for four, and anything larger is, of course, a better option for bigger families.
Weight: The larger the pan, the heavier it is – and these pans can be weighty. If you’re likely to struggle, opt for a smaller size and look out for pans with additions such as long handles or lug handles – these will make carrying the pan a lot easier.
Pouring spouts: Some cast iron skillets and pans have spouts which are ideal for pouring away fat or grease. If you’re using the pan to make a gravy or sauce, use the spouts to decant mess-free. Spouts on either side of the pan mean they’re easy to use for both left- and right-handed users.

What’s the difference between cast iron and enamelled cast iron

A cast iron, with its black appearance, is a heavy-duty material which makes cookware that has excellent heat retention and is non-stick when properly seasoned. Enamelled cast iron means that you have the same heat retention capabilities in your cookware but the cast iron itself is covered in an enamel glaze that prevents it from rusting. Enamelled pans are generally easier to clean thanks to their smooth surface, but many enamelled cast iron brands such as Le Creuset offer their products in a variety of colours, whereas cast iron comes only in black. One thing to note is that on an enamelled cast iron you won’t be able to build up the same patina on an enamelled pan because of its finished surface, and therefore will miss out on the flavour and natural improvement over time that non-enamelled cast iron brings. Enamelled cast iron also does not require seasoning as the enamelled glaze protects the cast iron from rust already.

What's the difference between cast and spun iron?

An alternative to cast iron, spun iron is made from spinning discs of iron onto lathes while cast iron is formed over moulds. A great advantage to spun iron is its lightness while still keeping a great level of heat retention like cast iron cookware. The Netherton Foundry 12-inch Prospector pan and the Kuhn Rikon Black Star iron frying pan are some of our top picks for spun iron pans. Yet for those who favour the classics from brands including Staub and Le Creuset are most highly rated. A particular plus 0f non-enamelled cast iron is the the ability to build a patina for more hearty sears on steaks.

How to season cast iron

Seasoning, does not refer to a spice rub or similar but signifies the very thin layer of fat on the cast iron base that has been heated and bonded to the metal, meaning the fat converts to a layer of natural non-stick – think of it like a type of polish for your cast iron cookware. BBC Good Food's magazine editor Lulu Grimes says that a good indicator of a seasoned iron pan is when they look black and shiny.

For pans and cast iron cookware that are not seasoned, coat them lightly in vegetable or sunflower oil – choose oils specifically for their high smoking point and neutral flavour, suggests our skills and shows editor Barney Desmazery, before placing in a hot oven for an hour to seal a new surface, if needed. Recipe developer Ailsa Burt emphasises the importance of a thin layer of oil, to avoid your pan getting sticky.

For pre-seasoned cast iron, upkeep is essential but luckily it is part of the cooking process – add lots of oil when cooking to keep the layer. Once there has been enough layers of seasoning or fat, the cast iron forms a hard blackened base that protects the metal and gives it nonstick properties, great for both searing meats and frying eggs. When in doubt check with the brand as instructions may vary.

How to clean cast iron and how to remove rust from cast iron

After use, hand wash in warm water, not hot as that can cause the cast iron to warp – skip the washing-up liquid and use a bristled brush – ensuring the pan has cooled down thoroughly after cooking.

Make sure you thoroughly dry your cast iron cookware to avoid any rust. Any rust spots that do appear can be rubbed away with fine-grade sandpaper before cleaning. You can also season your pan once more if rust comes up or if your cast iron is looking a little dull.

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.

Overall, the best way to look after your cast iron cookware is to use it often, so it always getting some oil and heat so that it becomes more non-stick over time.

Is cast iron sustainable?

The short answer is yes. Cast iron, with its labour-intensive production, sometimes conjures up images of bright and burning furnaces suggesting sustainability is out of the question, but there is a value in buying cast iron cookware because of the longevity of the material. While there is often a substantial price tag, cast iron is made to last a lifetime. Yet if you choose to recycle cast iron, the strength of the material means that it does not loose any of its properties or qualities when recycled. Plus the excellent heat retention of cast iron allows you to cook off the heat once thoroughly heated, or cook on a really low heat without much effort.

Cast iron recipes

One-pot recipes
Frying pan sausage hotpot
Perfect sautéed potatoes
Frying pan pizza pie
How to cook the perfect steak
Giant skillet pan cookie
How to make the best fried eggs

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Related reviews:

10 of the best cast iron skillets and pans
11 of the best roasting tins
10 best fondue sets to buy
The best sauté pans
9 of the best paella pans
The best woks for making stir-fried food
The best pressure cookers
Best oven thermometers

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