Are you fed up with using pans that lose their heat far too quickly? Maybe your pans aren’t delivering the long-term use that you were expecting them to and you regularly find yourself purchasing new ones.
If any of the above sounds familiar to you, it may be time to invest in some cast iron cookware. This material excels when it comes to even heat distribution. Once heated up, cast iron will retain and spread the heat so that your food is cooked evenly. As a dense metal, it is also highly resistant to damage so you can be sure that your pans are going to see you through many uses.
There are many cast iron cookware sets on the market and this makes it difficult to know which one is best for your cooking requirements. We have reviewed our top 5 picks of the best offerings below accounting for performance, quality, versatility, and durability.
Below, we have also provided you with a useful buyer’s guide where we have outlined all of our top tips for selecting the best product and factors that you should look out for in high-quality cookware.
OUR TOP PICK
Offering quality and affordability, the Cuisinel Cast Iron Cookware set consists of 11 pieces and provides you with all that you need for a great cooking experience. This includes 3 skillets of various sizes with glass lids, a multicooker, a grill pan and griddle, a pizza pan, and a pan rack to store them all in one place.
The smooth finish effectively distributes the heat for improved results. As for compatibility, each of the pans can be used on stoves, induction cooktops, and even grills and campfires. Regardless of where your cooking takes you, these pans will have you covered. All of the pans have also been pre-seasoned to prevent them from rusting whilst they are sitting idle, although it is recommended that you season them prior to initial use.
As versatile pans, they are suitable for a range of cooking applications. Whether you are looking to fry, bake, grill, broil, saute or braise your food you will find a pan to cater to this. The tempered glass lids will effectively retain heat and will also stop your food from splashing and messing up your cooking station.
- Handle holders - with heat resistant and non-slip properties these handles will protect your hands when holding onto hot pans.
- Pan scraper - this tool makes it easier to remove stubborn remnants of food from the pan’s surface.
- Versatility - impressively, these pans are suitable for indoor and outdoor use.
- Weight - some may find these pans quite heavy and difficult to maneuver to different kitchen stations.
Manufactured by a well-known brand, the Lodge Cast Iron 4 piece cookware set is a strong contender. It contains a skillet, a round griddle, a dutch oven, and a dutch oven lid which can be used to bake, broil, braise, saute, simmer, roast, and grill your food. As such, you are provided with many resources to cater to all of your cooking requirements.
All of the pans in this set have been seasoned with vegetable oil which isn’t synthetic and doesn’t contain any chemicals. This seasoning will preserve the quality of your pans by protecting them against rust. Frequent use of your cookware will enhance the noticeability of this seasoning.
As these are versatile pans, they can be used on most heat sources such as induction cooktops, ovens, gas, and electric stoves, and even outdoors on campfires and BBQs. Suitable for dishwashing, each of the pans can be cleaned with ease following use. The toughness of the cast iron also creates pans that are incredibly durable and made to deliver long-lasting use.
- Made in the USA - the cast iron parts of the pans have been made in the USA so you can be confident in the source of your purchase.
- Performance - these pans are effective in retaining and distributing heat.
- Versatile - these pans are suitable for a range of cooking applications.
- Quality - some customers have reported that these pans are prone to rusting after a few uses.
The Amazon Basics Cast Iron Cookware set consists of 5 pieces, this includes a griddle, an 8” skillet, a 10.25” skillet, and a dutch oven with an accompanying lid. Thanks to this generous selection of pans, all of your cooking needs have been catered to.
Renowned for its ability to distribute and retain heat, the cast iron material will cook your food evenly. Similar to our previous picks, each of the pans have been pre-seasoned to enhance their longevity. They can also withstand exposure to heat up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
To maintain the quality of these pans, they will need to be hand-washed in between uses. Failing to wash them correctly, may cause them to deteriorate sooner than you are likely expecting.
- Cost - these pans are an excellent budget option as they retail within a very affordable price range.
- Quality - made from robust materials, these are high-quality pans that are going to see you through many uses.
- Maintenance - they are easy to soak and clean in between uses.
- Size - these pans are on the smaller side so they may not cater to every customer's preferences.
The Simple Chef Cast Iron Cookware Set contains 3 skillets of various sizes. Along with a 10” pan, you are also provided with an 8” pan and a 6” pan. Thanks to their heavy-duty construction these pans are likely to last for many years and this material is also going to be effective in retaining heat and distributing it evenly.
All of the pans have been pre-seasoned and this prevents them from scratching and protects them against rust. The flavoring will transfer to your food to enhance the richness and leave it with a great taste. Aside from this, these pans claim to be virtually non-stick so you needn’t worry about your food clinging to the surface and tearing.
As multifunctional pans, they are suitable for use in a range of settings. Not only can they be used indoors on your stovetop or in the oven, but they can also be used outdoors over a campfire. Whether you intend to saute, grill, or fry your food you can be sure that these pans will accommodate your needs.
- Guarantee - this set is backed by a satisfaction guarantee, so if you are unsatisfied with the quality you can return them to receive a refund.
- Durability - made to a high standard, each of these pans are of great quality and expected to deliver long-lasting use.
- Sizes - as you are provided with the same pan in various sizes you can easily cook different foods.
- Pre-seasoning - although these pans have already been pre-seasoned you may need to season them again before your first use.
If you are looking for a high-quality cookware set look no further than this offering from Stansport. This 6 piece set consists of a frying pan, a 3 quart chicken fryer and lid, a dutch oven and dutch oven lid lifter, and a hot handle holder. Whilst the lid lifter allows you to remove the hot lids safely, the handle holder will protect you as you hold onto the pans.
The high-quality cast iron is effective in retaining and distributing the heat so that all of your food is cooked evenly. When secured on the pan, the lid will help to keep your food moist to prevent it from drying out.
Whilst these pans can be used for indoor cooking purposes, they are suitable for outdoor cooking too. They are also really versatile. Not only can they be used for roasting foods, but they can also even be used for making cakes and biscuits, etc.
These pans are easy to clean. Though they need to be washed by hand it is an easy process. Simply soak them in hot water and then remove any stubborn remnants of food using a stiff cleaning brush.
- Accessories - the lid lifter and handle holder are provided to make the handles safer to use.
- Durable - robustly constructed, these pans are likely to see you through many uses in the future.
- Easy to clean - these pans can easily be cleaned to preserve their quality following each use.
- Size - some customers have reported that these pans were slightly smaller than they were expecting them to be.
Best Cast Iron Cookware Buying Guide
Before selecting your cast iron cookware there are a few things you should consider. As this cookware can be quite a hefty investment, it is important to ensure that the contents of the set have been made to a high standard.
We have identified some criteria below that will likely prove helpful during the process of selecting your cast iron cookware.
The Contents Of The Set
Cookware sets typically contain around 5 to 12 pieces. Whilst some will provide you with the same pan in multiple sizes, others will provide you with a more varied assortment.
It is important to make sure that your set of choice comes with all of the pans that you require, otherwise, they are going to be ineffective in catering to your culinary needs. The provision of multiple pans means that you have all that you need on hand to tackle a range of cooking tasks.
Pre Seasoned Surface
The majority of pans in cast iron cookware sets have pre-seasoned surfaces. In most cases, this means that some sort of wax or vegetable oil has been applied to the cookware to prevent it from rusting in between uses.
Often, this seasoning will transfer to the food that you are cooking and this will help to enhance the richness and flavor of your dish. You will likely find that you will need to season the pans at home before their first use. Over time, the seasoning should then become more noticeable.
Cast iron is rather weighty, however, this is to be expected from cookware that has been constructed to retain heat and perform well. Those that feel surprisingly lightweight aren’t likely to last as long as you would expect.
Of course, if your pans are too heavy, they are going to be difficult for you to carry between the different stations in your kitchen. Because of this, you will need to establish a balance between robust pans that aren’t overly weighty.
It is important to consider the size of the pans. Though some may appear large virtually, in-person they may be smaller. To gauge the true size of the pans, it is worth reading customer reviews beforehand which relate to this matter.
If your cooking takes you to different locations, you will likely benefit from smaller pans that aren’t as bulky because this will make them much easier to transport. Depending on the set, you may be equipped with one pan in various sizes and this is great for catering to different types of foods.
Ease To Clean
After spending time cooking up a delicious meal, the thought of cleaning up messy cookware can seem like a tiring chore. A great thing about most cast iron cookware sets is that they are fairly easy to clean.
The majority need to be hand washed and you will find very few that are suitable for dishwashing. Once you have finished using them you will simply need to soak them in hot water and then use a cleaning tool to remove any stubborn bits of food.
If you are uncertain about how you should go about cleaning your cookware, you will likely find that there is guidance provided in the product specifications.
The quality of your cookware is going to influence how long you should expect them to last. Although each set comes under the same umbrella of ‘’cast iron cookware’’ they aren’t all going to have been made to the same standard.
Your cast iron cookware should be robust and resistant to frequent use and rust. You will find that a common issue with cast iron cookware is that it is prone to rusting easily so you will need to make sure that you maintain it properly in between uses.
Aside from this, you will also need to make sure that you abide by the specifications regarding the temperatures that the pans can withstand.
Some brands will provide you with additional accessories along with the cookware. This typically includes handle holders and it may sometimes include a lid lifter too.
As expected, the handle holders will protect your hands when you are carrying pans that are still hot. The lid lifter also allows you to raise the lids from a safe distance. The majority of sets contain lids too.
These lids will keep the moisture inside of the pans to prevent your food from drying out. They will also prevent your food from splattering onto your surrounding kitchen countertops.
A great thing about many pans is that they are very versatile. Most can be used for a range of cooking purposes, e.g frying, baking, broiling, etc and many are suitable for indoor and outdoor cooking.
You must check that your chosen cookware is suitable for your cooking appliance. The majority can be used on induction cooktops, gas or electric stoves, ovens, campfires, and BBQs, however, it is worth double checking the product packaging beforehand to confirm their suitability.
Many brands within the cooking sphere are renowned for producing high-quality cookware. Because of their reputation, you may feel inclined to make your purchase with these popular brands.
On the other hand, many less-known brands offer some great quality products that are strong contenders too.
Before browsing the market for your cast iron cookware, it is worth setting yourself a budget. Some sets are pretty affordable but others can retail for more than $100. Having a budget in mind will allow you to focus your search on the best cookware for your needs.
While you do not need to break the bank to enjoy good quality cookware, it is important to ensure that you don’t compromise on performance and usability for affordability.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is cast iron cookware good for health?
Cast iron can leach some iron into your food and this can be beneficial for those with an iron deficiency as it increases the content of iron.
However, you must also be cautious of this because for some people it can lead to too much in their system.
When should I throw away my cast iron pan?
Your pans will likely show noticeable signs of deterioration which will indicate that they need to be replaced. Following regular exposure to heat, it is likely that your pans will begin to crack.
Over time, these cracks will become difficult to clean. You may also notice that your pans begin to rust as they wear.