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10 Reasons Why You Should Have a Cast~Iron Skillet

I’ve been using one of my very favorite tools, the cast iron skillet, so much lately that I though it would be a good time to revisit it. I hope you are fortunate enough to have inherited a cast iron skillet from your mother or grandmother. I did and I’m so grateful. Sweet Shark and I have several sizes and each one has its special use. Nothing is better for making cornbread, fried chicken or an upside down apple pie, or pan~frying. It is my go~to skillet almost anytime I am going to sauté, sear, or stir~fry. If you don’t have a cast~iron skillet and want to know why, I have 10 reasons why you should have a cast~iron skillet. And I’ll show you how to prepare a new one and how to clean one you already have.

10 Reasons Why You Should Have a Cast Iron Skillet

Here’s some different size skillets that you may want to consider.

This 8-inch skillet was my mom’s and is perfect for a fried egg or crepes or a single serving.

Why You Should Have a Cast~Iron Skillet

This 9 1/2-inch Le Creuset cast iron skillet is perfect for 2 fried eggs, scrambled eggs, 2 chicken breasts or a filet.

Why You Should Have a Cast~Iron Skillet

This 10 1/2-inch skillet is exactly like the one that I inherited from my mom and it’s not only very special, but my most used skillet because of its versatile size.

Why You Should Have a Cast~Iron Skillet

This 12-inch, 3 1/2-inch deep skillet is our go-to for deep frying anything, especially fried chicken.  It has a lid so I’ve also used it as a Dutch oven.
Why You Should Have a Cast~Iron Skillet

10 Reasons Why You Should Have a Cast~Iron Skillet

Number 1

First of all, a cast iron skillet is practically indestructible. You can drop it and it won’t be damaged. You don’t have to worry about scratching it or discoloring it. It’s possible that it can rust, but you can easily clean it (See below.).  Cast iron skillets will take any and all abuse and still last forever. In fact, your skillet will probably outlast even you. (That’s another reason to be nice to your grandmother.)

Number 2

A cast iron skillet can take heat.  Very high heat ~ as in as hot as your oven can go. Want a serious sear on a steak? Cast iron is your best bet.  I love my All-Clad skillets and saucepans, but you can’t put them in the oven at over 400°F. And then you’ll be scrubbing the char off for days. Cast iron? You can cook with it on an open campfire or your outdoor grill.

Number 3

Cast iron skillets are nonstick if you season them correctly.  (See below for how to season a new skillet.) Try a fried egg on it. Or fish or anything.

Number 4

Cast iron skillets are inexpensive, not as in low quality, but because they are economical to make which makes them a great bargain, but not cheap.  A new skillet, depending on size, shouldn’t cost more than $40. Not to mention that a lot of people sell perfectly good cast iron skillets at yard sales.

Number 5

It’s versatile. You can cook and bake hundreds of different recipes in this one pan.  You can sauté (onions -remember how here), pan fry (catfish, chicken breasts, potatoes), deep fry (fried chicken, French fries, doughnuts, hushpuppies), bake (cornbread, biscuits, apple pie), sear (steak, pork tenderloin, pork chops, lamb chops), stir-fry (vegetables, shrimp).  Really, the uses are endless.

Number 6

Save on Soap. Once your skillet is seasoned, it actually is better not to use soap, which can break up the tiny oil molecules that are embedded on the pan and make it not-so-nonstick. It’s also possible that the next thing you cook in it will have a slightly soapy taste. So save on the soap! If you need to scrub your cast iron pan, use salt.

Number 7

It’s got some health benefits since it’s made out of iron.  A little bit of mineral iron does get transferred into food during cooking.  Because a seasoned cast iron skillet is naturally non-stick, you avoid the chemicals in commercially produced non-stick skillets that contain PFCs that are released during cooking. Those have been linked to some pretty bad health issues.

Number 8

Since a cast~iron skillet develops a “patina” over time and becomes a non~stick surface, you’ll use less oil than a stainless or aluminum skillet.

Number 9

It’s great at heat distribution. This is may be one of the most important reasons you should use a cast~iron skillet. It is the best material for even distribution of heat. Ever wonder why food gets done on one side and not the other? Some pans have hot spots so half of your food is burned and the other half raw.  You’ll never have this problem with cast iron.

Number 10

A cast~iron skillet will last forever. Unless you allow it to rust (which can be fixed) by leaving it out with moisture in it, melt it in your furnace (we don’t have furnaces), or throw it under the proverbial bus, you can’t ruin or destroy a cast~iron skillet.

The most popular brand is Lodge, which has been making cast iron skillet forever.

How to Prepare a New Cast~Iron Skillet

Many cooks seem a little hesitant about cast iron ~ not the cooking, but the care of the skillet.  So here is the definitive method, straight from Lodge Manufacturing Co., the best seller of cast iron, to prepare new cookware.

1.  If you haven’t already heated your oven for other cooking, preheat the oven to 350°F.
2.  Wash skillet inside and out with very hot, hot water  and a stiff brush. Rinse and dry thoroughly.
Why You Should Have a Cast~Iron Skillet
3.  Cover the entire surface, inside and out, with melted shortening or vegetable spray.  I like to use a paper towel to wipe the oil all over the skillet.
4.  Place skillet upside down on the oven’s middle rack and bake for one hour.   Turn oven off, but leave skillet in the oven until it is cool enough to handle.  YOU’RE READY TO GO!
Why You Should Have a Cast~Iron Skillet
5.  Once your cast~iron skillet is pre-seasoned, for continued care, simply wash only with HOT water and a stiff brush.  Don’t use detergent.  Maybe just 1 squirt of Dawn ONLY if you think the skillet is really greasy. Towel dry or place the skillet in a warm oven.  Wipe again with oil before storing.  After many uses, you won’t have to add additional oil.  The skillet will develop a non-stick surface.
There you have it. I think those are 10 great reasons why you should have a cast~iron skillet. Let me know if you find one at a good price. I’ll always have room for one more.

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13 Comments

    1. Hi Linda. Treat the skillet as if it were new. Then for several usages, wipe it with oil afterwards. That should bring to up to speed.

  1. Love my cast iron skillet, and Dutch oven, too. Among other things, the Dutch oven pot, inverted on a baking stone and pre-heated, makes a fantastic bread oven within the oven to ensure a nice crust on round breads.

  2. I have avoided cast iron skillets because I thought they were too much trouble. One came with my cookware and it is square with a grill surface. Thanks for giving me the confidence to pull it out and get going with it. We shall see…

    1. Rev, cast iron skillets are actually the easiest in the world to cook in and clean up. I also have a square grill cast iron piece that I use for indoor grilling. For everything else a good “old” 8~inch or 10~inch skillet is your must have. Jump in with both feet and you’ll never look back.

  3. My mom used to saute potatoes in a cast iron pan and they tasted amazing. Mine in a non-stick pan are good, but not amazing. I think I may need a cast iron pan. Thanks for all the tips.

    1. Eilis, cast iron imparts flavor to food from the build up over the years. It can’t be replicated in a non~stick pan. Try to find one at a garage sale and try your mom’s potatoes. I bet you’ll notice a difference. I love sharing tips!

  4. Cast iron is my all-time favorite cookware. I cook it in every single day, usually twice a day. I have inherited skillets from my mom, grandmother & grandmother-in-law.

    I’ve been considering a cast iron reversible griddle to get a more grilled result on our meats & veggies.

    1. Jen, you are so lucky! Ours are inherited too. I try to use my 8 and 10-inch ones anytime I am sautéing or searing. Nothing beats it. And the clean~up is a breeze. I also have a square cast iron griddle pan and a stove top cast iron griddle. Love them all.

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