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Cast iron skillets can do everything from sear steaks to bake cornbread, and most chefs consider them kitchen essentials. Case in point: Chef Robyn McArthur of the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts in Austin, Texas said of her cast iron skillet, “I keep mine on my stove at all times and use it every day. It is versatile, easy to maintain, and cooks everything beautifully.” Like Chef McArthur, my cast iron skillet lives on my stovetop and I use it for nearly every meal.
Not only can you cook almost anything on cast iron skillets, they get better with time. Cast iron actually improves with age as seasoning builds up on the surface, said Atara Bernstein, co-founder of Pineapple Collaborative. These pans often become legacy pieces, passed down from one generation of cooks to the next. However, cast iron can be an investment — if not in price, then in the maintenance of the seasoning and difficulty maneuvering the heavy pan. It’s important to get the best one for you and your style of cooking.
In support of my testing, I spoke with Chef Robyn McArthur, Atara Berstein, and Ariel Pasternak, the other co-founder of Pineapple Collaborative, about their experiences with cast iron and why it is a chef favorite. I then cooked nine steaks, nine cornbreads, and nine sunny side-up eggs to determine the best cast iron skillets of 2022.
Here are the best cast iron skillets of 2022
Best cast iron skillet overall: Field 10.25″ Cast Iron Skillet, $145 from the Field Company
The Field 10.25″ Cast Iron Skillet is the ideal cast iron skillet to have in your kitchen; it sears as well as it bakes, and develops a smooth, nonstick surface after just a few uses.
Best budget cast iron skillet: Lodge 10.25″ Classic Cast Iron Skillet, $19.90 from Amazon
The affordable Lodge 10.25″ Cast Iron Skillet excels in everything you expect cast iron to do, from retaining heat to providing a naturally nonstick surface.
Best enameled cast iron skillet: Le Creuset 10″ Signature Skillet, $201.99 from Amazon
The Le Creuset 10″ Signature Skillet is a must-have for meat-eaters, searing steak to perfection quicker than any other pans we tested.
Best lightweight cast iron skillet: GSI 10″ Guidecast Fry Pan, $27.95 from GSI
Weighing less than four pounds, the GSI Guidecast Fry Pan has a remarkably lightweight body that retains heat and sears meat just as well as heavier cast iron pans.