Get Started Cooking with Cast Iron

Cooking with cast iron cookware is more popular than ever and learning how is easy.

Cast iron cookware on a grill.
Created centuries ago, cast iron cookware has seen a resurgance in popularity in recent decades.Lodge

Cast iron cookware, popular through the 18th and 19th centuries, fell prey to technology and added convenience with the introduction of other cooking materials like aluminum in the 20th century. For the next several decades, cooking with cast iron was seen as old-fashioned or even silly. Fast forward several decades and cast iron has once again become the favored cookware of many cooks, from famous chefs to amateurs whipping up a delicious dish in their home kitchen. If you haven’t jumped into the world of cast iron cooking yet, consider these options to get started.

Cast Iron Skillet

Lodge 10.25 Inch Cast Iron Skillet
This cast iron skillet is pre-seasoned and comes with a silicon hot handle holder.Lodge

Nearly indestructible, cast iron skillets have become somewhat of a family heirloom passed down through generations. After all, who wouldn’t want to cook a meal in a cast iron skillet their great grandmother used back in the 1800s. Iron is a great heat retainer, so once you get a cast iron skillet heated up, it’ll stay that way without much temperature fluctuation, providing a more even cooking surface than some materials. One important consideration in choosing a cast iron skillet is size. Eight-inch skillets are only large enough to prepare food for one person. Ten and 12-inch skillets are better for couples or large families. Many experts don’t recommend skillets over 12 inches as hotter and colder spots often develop. Another suggestion: Get a hot handle holder for easier handling of your skillet when it is extremely hot.

Cast Iron Griddle

Lodge LPGI3 Pro-Grid Cast Iron Reversible 20" x 10" Grill/Griddle Pan
This pre-seasoned, reversible griddle is made to use over two stovetop burners and provides 200 square inches of cooking surface.Lodge

Cast iron griddles provide a better option than skillets for certain specialized cooking tasks. Like cast iron skillets, they provide good heat distribution for a very even cooking surface. Most are round like skillets, and many are ridged for grilling steaks, chops, and other tasty cuts of meat. Some are large, rectangular griddles that can be used over two stove burners or on a gas grill to accommodate more food at once. Reversible griddles that are smooth on one side and ridged on the other are more versatile. You can use your reversible griddle to make pancakes and scrambled eggs for breakfast, then use it flipped over to sear a ribeye for dinner with the ridged side. Cast iron griddles make excellent camping cookware, as you can leave most of your other pots and pans at home.

Dutch Oven

AmazonBasics Enameled Cast Iron Covered Dutch Oven
This cast iron Dutch oven is enamel coated for easy cleaning.AmazonBasics

Once mainly the realm of campers wanting to prepare delicious desserts in the woods, cast iron Dutch ovens have become mainstream. Dutch ovens are larger, much deeper pots that are excellent for everything from cooking a whole chicken to simmering a pot of beans to cooking a delicious peach cobbler to top off your meal. A good Dutch oven will have a tight-fitting lid and handles that are easy to grasp. Many modern cooks use them for stewing and braising. That said, they’re still great for camping! Note that cast iron griddles, skillets, Dutch ovens and other cookware should be seasoned before use if you don’t purchase a pre-seasoned model. To season cast iron cookware, apply a thin layer of neutral, high-smoke-point oil like vegetable or canola across the surface and bake at 400 degrees for one hour. Using your skillet regularly will help keep it seasoned.