1. Best Deal: Lodge 10.25 Inch Cast Iron Skillet (with hot handle holder)
Lodge is a household name around the country, and for good reason. This style of handle is less common among their skillets, but I actually prefer the slight curvature of the handle as it’s easier to sent down gently on the stovetop than the straight handles, which is great if you have a fragile cooktop. Lodge skillets are also available pre-seasoned, taking away some of the chore for cast iron beginners, but some of the tradition for connoisseurs. Seasoning is an integral part of the allure and effectiveness of cast iron for cooking, and it’s great that the seasoning Lodge uses is free of allergens and animal products, making it a safe choice for vegans/vegetarians as well as carnivores.
2. Highest Quality: Finex 12 Inch Skillet (with or without lid)
Finex may not be as well known as Lodge, but they are quite probably the finest cast iron pan ever made. “You get what you pay for” has never been more true than this case however, and you’ll shell out between five and ten Lodge skillets’ worth for one single Finex. But if you take cooking seriously, you really might consider investing in one of these hand-polished beauties; an aged Finex adds so much taste and tradition to every meal that you might well forget about the cost early on. Bonus points for the eight edged design, which makes baking with these a dream, as cornbread or whatever you dream up sticks much less than with a typical round cast iron.
3. Most Luxurious: Smithey No. 12 Cast Iron Skillet
Smithey comes into our list with fantastic manufacturing, perhaps the most non-stick surface possible with cast iron (when seasoned properly), and last but not least, the highest price tag. You now probably realize that the world of cast iron skillets revolves around much more than just a simple cooking vessel; there is an entire culture and tradition that you buy into when purchasing one. That’s not to say, of course, that an average user will be noticeably worse off with something simple and cheap, but an experienced user will definitely notice the benefits of a high quality, hand engineered skillet– especially over time.
4. Most Prestigious: Griswold And Sons Cast Iron Skillet
There’s a reason why a Griswold and Sons carries such intrigue and passion among chefs and household cooks alike, and it’s because they haven’t been authentically produced for almost a half-century. Probably the most collectible piece of cast iron on Earth, they are still widely available secondhand (or third-hand, or fourth-hand) however, and you can often find one for under $150 on sites such as eBay. Buyer beware, though, as reproductions are common and you can easily find yourself purchasing a fraudulently manufactured G&W; the most common signs are blurred lettering, and a grainy finish throughout.
5. Highest Rated: Field Company #12 Cast Iron Skillet
Almost 800 five star reviews say that the Field Company #12 skillet is the highest rated of all our choices, and for good reason. Field Company brings pure, long lasting quality without the frills or panache of Finex or Smithy. What looks like a basic, straightforward cast iron piece hides a brilliant legacy, and uncontested performance. But again, such brilliance comes at a price, with the FC#12 coming in at a whopping $215 before tax, making it one to be bought in Oregon when possible.