Welcome to One Simply Terrific Thing, our ongoing series highlighting the small tools and kitchen goods that make life better.
I recently moved across the Atlantic, and couldn’t bring all of my belongings with me. The moment I settled into my new place, there was one item on the top of the list of kitchen essentials to replace right away: a Lodge 10.25-inch cast iron skillet. That’s because if I could choose only one pan for all my kitchen needs, I’d choose this specific skillet. Here’s why.
Cast iron skillets are sturdy pans cast as a single piece of iron. They are heavy compared to most pans, and the Lodge is no exception. Because of this, they retain heat exceptionally well. Their heft makes them reliable and long-lasting, and their heat retention helps achieve crisper, thicker crusts (Hello, pork chops!).
They work on the stovetop (electric, gas, and induction), in the oven, or over a fire, which makes them ideal for shifting one-skillet meals from stove to oven to table, like for this skillet eggplant parm. Plus, it’s the ideal size for most one-skillet dinners—enough to feed four to six.
My dad always packed one on our camping trips, and every meal was cooked in cast iron on the grates over the fire. Serving in your cast-iron pan makes for a convenient and rustic presentation, and keeps the food hot.
Cast iron skillets are also incredibly versatile. So, what do I make in mine? Deeply seared steaks on the stove and roast whole chickens in the oven. One of my favorite tricks is to use it as a makeshift panini press for Cuban sandwiches. Dark, crisp crust of cornbread baked in a skillet is a must, and so is baking rustic cakes, flaky pies, and the chewiest chocolate chip skillet cookie.
You Don’t Need To Buy an Expensive Skillet
Lodge has been making cast iron cookware for over 125 years, and you absolutely can’t beat the quality for the price—it’s only $20. Name a better price for a kitchen workhorse that can last your entire life!
When shopping for cast iron pans, avid cooks glorify vintage skillets for their smooth surface. But they often come with high price tags and a serious cleaning and re-seasoning project—who has the time for that? Plus, even then, the pricey pans may become warped or pitted.
There’s no need to shell out for an ultra-premium one unless it has a particular feature you’re yearning for, such as being extra-lightweight, enameled, or having a specific design aesthetic.
This Is How I Care For My Lodge Cast Iron Skillet
True, it requires a little maintenance but, cast iron skillets aren’t as arduous to care for as you may think. The most important rules for maintaining a cast-iron skillet are to never put it in the dishwasher and to never put it away wet, which will cause your skillet to rust.
I use a paper towel to apply a very light coat of oil to the inside of the skillet after washing by hand in the sink with soap and a sponge, heat the pan over medium heat for a minute or two, then let it cool right on the stovetop before storing.
This ensures the skillet is completely dry and upholds the seasoning. Don’t worry; if you make a mistake in your cast-iron care, you can rescue it by reseasoning it.
BUY IT: Lodge 10.25-inch Cast Iron Skillet