Cast iron pans are fantastic investment pieces, loved by chefs for their heavy duty bases with even heat distribution and efficient heat retention properties. However, choosing the right cast iron pan can be confusing. In our comprehensive buyer’s guide, we break down everything you need to know about cast iron cookware, including the best brands to buy and how care for your pans to ensure they last forever.
What are cast iron pans?
Cast iron pans are incredibly durable, with fantastic heat retention properties – this makes them a popular choice with bakers who want to achieve the perfect rise on their sourdough loaves. Unlike other materials, cast iron improves with age, creating a natural patina: a non-stick surface that makes it easy to release food from the pan.
Which is the best cast iron pan to buy?
Best cast iron pan for frying pan pizzas
Use the cast iron gratin dish and frying pan from Skeppshult on the hob, in the oven, under the grill and even over an open fire. The double-handled pan is perfect for bubbling, cheese-topped gratins, sweet skillet-pan baking such as clafoutis, delicate crepes and fluffy Dutch babies, or for searing meat and fish before roasting in the oven.
Best cast iron pan to last a lifetime
The Skeppshult cast iron frying pan is a serious piece of kitchen kit. With its slanted sides, this pan is ideal for cooking pancakes, fried eggs and omelettes. The long Swedish beech wood handle doesn’t conduct heat, meaning you can move the pan without using a glove.
Best cast iron pan for everyday use
Use Lodge Blacklock’s cast iron skillet pan to sear steak, cook shakshuka and bake giant choc chip cookies. Made in the USA, this cast iron pan comes pre-seasoned with 100% natural vegetable oil, so it’s ready to use straight away.
Best cast iron pan for sauces
Use the Skeppshult traditional cast iron saucepan for making silky bechamel sauces, or to gently heat through a rich ragu. At 16cm wide, this endlessly useful pan is one that you’ll reach for again and again for everyday cooking.
Best cast iron pan for campfire cooking
The Skeppshult cast iron casserole Dutch oven is the ultimate pan for campfire cooking, and dishing up hearty slow-cooked casseroles and stews. The stainless steel handle means you can hang the pan from a frame over your fire for wonderfully smoky flame-cooked recipes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which brand of cast iron is best?
Here at Sous Chef, we love Skeppshult cast iron cookware. The Swedish company has been making cast iron products by hand since 1906. The process starts with raw iron that is heated to a searing 1,500°C in the furnaces. The molten iron is then cast into special moulds made from sand, which can withstand the extreme temperatures.
Sand moulds can only be used once, meaning each product is unique.. Skeppshult season their cast iron with rapeseed oil (also called canola oil) from Osterlen to protect it from damage, which his also gives the cast iron its natural non-stick properties.
If you’re after a cast iron pan for everyday use, choose Lodge, a family-run American brand that makes pre-seasoned cast iron cookware. What sets Lodge apart from other cast iron brands is that the cookware comes already triple seasoned, is lightweight and has raised handles, making it practical for everyday use.
Can you ruin a cast iron pan?
Cast iron pans can be damaged, but with a little care and knowhow, they can last a lifetime. After cooking, it’s important you wash your pans in warm water without any detergent, and make sure the pan is completely dry after washing. We also strongly recommend you don’t put your cast iron pans in the dishwasher. For more tips on caring for cast iron, read our guide here.
What should you not cook in cast iron?
Some acidic foods can damage your cast iron pan’s patina, such as tomato sauces or dishes containing a a lot of wine. However, re-seasoning your pan will prevent any long term damage. You may want to wait until your cast iron pan has developed a nonstick coating before cooking delicate ingredients, such as fish or gyoza.
Ellie Edwards is a food writer for Sous Chef. Previously she worked at olive magazine, writing about exciting new ingredients, UK restaurants and travelling the world to find the best cinnamon buns. When she's not exploring the likes of Belize, Kerala and Zanzibar, Ellie loves rustling up a feast in her London kitchen, with a particular passion for porridge, sourdough and negronis.