What is durable, reliable, endlessly useful, and ruggedly handsome? A cast iron fry pan!
If you are looking to have a good sear on a piece of meat or add minerals to your food, this is the skillet for you.
How Cooking With Cast Iron Is Different
Cast iron pans are no ordinary pan – they are a workhorse. You can go from stove top to oven in a minute, and you can cook everything from fried eggs and cornbread to pizza and apple pie in these wonderful pans.
Studies show that cooking in these pans imparts iron into your food that you just won’t get with an ordinary pan. They also concluded that cast iron and glass seem to be best for the consumer’s nutritional health.
Seasoning Your Pan
Seasoning your pan is what makes these beauties non-stick. When you buy a cast iron skillet for the first time, you must ensure that your cast iron pan is seasoned. Even if they come pre-seasoned, it is still a good idea to do this.
Pre-seasoning means that the manufacturer has coated the pan with oil or fat to keep it from rusting on the shelf.
To season your new pan, coat your pan with oil and put it into the oven. This cooks the oil onto the surface of the pan creating a layer of polymerized fat. Every time you use your cast iron pan, clean it while warm and add oil to the inside surface. The more often you use and clean your pan the more non-stick it becomes.
If you are fortunate enough to have inherited or found an old cast iron pan, it is most likely already seasoned. My inherited pans are my favorite as they are made differently now. The material is the same, but the way they make them now has changed.
Shop For Vintage Options
When I am looking for a cast iron pan, I always look for a vintage model. Old vintage cast iron was produced using sand based molds then polished to a smooth velvety finish.
The cast iron pans of today are not polished, so modern cast iron pans have a pebbled surface. This will not change the non-stick qualities of the pan, provided you have seasoned your pan properly, but the new pans will never be as non-stick as the vintage ones.
So if you can get grandma’s old cast iron or find a vintage pan on your travels, grab it up. These pans are true gems and will always be more non-stick then their modern counterparts.
You’ll also want to keep in mind the size when purchasing one of these pans as they are quite heavy. I like having a few different sizes, and I have one for savory cooking and one for sweet desserts.
How To Clean Your Cast Iron
As soon as you are done cooking, while the pan is still warm, rinse under hot water and wipe it out. Next, let the cast iron dry on a warm burner, and when all the water has evaporated, add a little oil to your pan and rub it all over the inside.
If you have cooked something that has really stuck on your pan, add some water to your pan and place it back on the heat. This will allow the debris to loosen up. Rinse the pan with hot water and wipe clean. Feel free to use a utensil to scrape off really stubborn bits.
Another good way to clean cast iron is with salt. Pour some salt into the pan, scrub, and rinse. Then let the pan dry and oil it before storing it away.
I sometimes use a little dish soap and water and have found that on my older pans it makes no difference at all.
The two things you never want to do with a cast iron pan are let it soak in the sink or put it in a dishwasher as this can cause your cast iron to rust.
Our Favorite Cast Iron Pans On Amazon
While finding a vintage cast iron skillet is ideal, it can be a bit difficult. Believe it or not, people really like these things and like to hold onto them! So if you do need to purchase a new one, make sure its one of high quality that will last for generations.
With so many cast iron options available, it can be hard to choose which one is right for you. Here are a few of our favorite options on Amazon.
Lodge Cast Iron Skillet With Silicone Handle Holder
At 12 inches, this is a great starter cast iron skillet. This option comes pre-seasoned and features a rubber handle cover that is sure to make cooking not only safer but easier.
Lodge Cast Iron Dutch Oven
Featuring a pre-seasoned surface and an iron cover, this dutch oven is perfect for cooking not only in the kitchen but on the grill and over a campfire too.
9 quarts gives you plenty of room for a wide variety of dishes, and the wire handle makes carrying your culinary masterpieces a breeze. This is definitely one that’s on my wish list!
Cast Iron Square Grill Pan
If you’re specifically looking to bring a bit of the outdoors in, this pan is perfect for grilling meats and veggies indoors — or outdoors if you prefer. At 10 1/2 inches, this pan will easily fit 2-3 large chicken breasts or steaks.
The bottom of the pan is ribbed to collect excess fat, and the cast iron ensures that your food is cooked evenly. Perfect!
Cast Iron Recipes
When cooking with cast iron it is a good idea to warm the pan first. This way if you are adding anything sticky, like eggs, they won’t stick.
Cast Iron Skillet Cornbread
This skillet cornbread is so rich and delicious, you won’t be able to stop yourself from coming back for more. It is wonderful served with a side of your favorite chili!
Cast Iron Skillet Frittata
This frittata cooked in a cast iron skillet is perfect for breakfast, brunch or supper! The cast iron goes from stove top to oven in this delightful recipe!
Cast Iron Skillet Salmon With Creamy Greens
Salmon in cast iron? Yeah, you can! This recipe gently steams the salmon on top of onion rings for a delicious heart-healthy meal!
Cast Iron Skillet Apple Pie
Dessert in a cast iron skillet – what more could one ask for? This apple pie is so good people won’t believe it is homemade!
Cauliflower Skillet Pizza
Everyone loves a good pizza, and you won’t believe it, but this one is gluten-free and so delicious you will wonder why you haven’t made it earlier!
Heather is the owner of Vibrant Food Vibrant You. She believes that getting healthy starts from the ground up. She loves to garden, cook for friends and family, and can be found on the weekends playing with her dogs or wandering around farmer’s markets.