Which Cast-Iron Pan is Best for You?

A Cast Iron Personality Test

Once you’ve decided to buy a cast-iron skillet, there are some other choices you’ll face. One of the biggest questions is whether you want a traditional skillet (the classic black kind that you probably picture when you hear the words “cast-iron skillet,” shown on left) or an enameled skillet.

Take the quiz below to figure out which cast-iron option best fits you and your kitchen, and then check out our equipment testing results to see which models we recommend.

PICK THE STATEMENT THAT BEST DESCRIBES YOU:

When it comes to price

A) I don’t mind spending more for extra features.
B) I’m a thrifty shopper and I love a bargain above all.

If I’m washing something

A) I feel like long soaking times and using plenty of soap are the only ways to get it totally clean.
B) I think that hot water and scrubbing are enough, so I’m OK with using little-to-no soap and no soaking.

If my pans could talk

A) They’d probably be pretty happy—I’m fairly careful with my things.
B) They might complain a little—I’m kind of tough on them!

My kitchen style could be summed up as

A) I’m always interested in trying the newest thing and I tend to collect gadgets.
B) I try to keep my collection pretty minimalist; if it’s not broken, I don’t fix it.

My patience level for a pan that needs some work is

A) I’d rather have something that performs consistently right out of the box.
B) I’m willing to put in some extra effort for something I really like, as long as it’s going to pay off in the end.

I want my cast-iron skillet to be

A) A specialty tool I use for recipes that really benefit from its singular characteristics.
B) Basically a complete replacement for my nonstick skillet whenever possible.

If you mostly picked option A:

Try one of the newer enameled cast-iron skillets. You’ll pay a slightly higher price, but seasoning is never an issue and cleanup is much more straightforward. Plus, you can color coordinate! Our recommended 12-inch enameled skillets range from $50 to $180.

Le Creuset Cast-Iron SkilletOur Winning Enameled Skillet
Le Creuset Signature 11 3/4″ Iron Handle Skillet

With flaring sides, an oversize helper handle, wide pour spouts, a satiny interior, and balanced weight, this expensive but beautifully made pan is a pleasure to cook in. Our only quibbles: A small piece of cornbread crust stuck and tore when we flipped the pan, and scrambled eggs stuck a little (but scrubbed out easily). After abuse testing, the pan still looked nearly new. Buy now on Amazon

If you mostly picked option B:

Stick with a traditional skillet. They’re hardy, inexpensive, and long-lasting, with just a few simple rules to follow about care and maintenance to keep them in perfect working order. Our favorite 12-inch traditional skillet costs around $30 and lasts a lifetime—or longer.

Lodge Cast-Iron SkilletOur Winning Traditional Skillet
Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12″

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace. Buy now on Amazon

See How We Tested Cast-Iron Skillets

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