A cast iron skillet has been an essential tool in kitchens for generations. You can cook in it, bake in it, even grill it. It is the ultimate multi-purpose workhorse pan that is virtually indestructible. Take good care of yours and it will last forever.
What is the best skillet to buy?
You'll notice that cast iron skillets come in a wide range of prices and sizes. For a basic, non-enameled, cast iron skillet, you do not need to buy the most expensive one in the store.
An affordable, standard cast iron skillet will function just as well - especially if you take care of it! My favorite brand for a standard skillet is Lodge.
Tips and Tricks!
What temperature can my cast iron skillet handle?
The great thing about cast iron is that it holds heat very well and can handle high temperatures. With a standard skillet that is not enameled, there are no worries about the enamel cracking.
The skillet can go from stove to hot oven with no problems. You can even use the skillet on the grill! In a standard home oven, it can handle whatever temperature you give it!
How to best clean it?
This is typically what scares people away, but it shouldn't! Cleaning cast iron is so simple. The typical rule is do NOT use soap and do NOT put it in the dishwasher.
After using, especially while it is still warm, warm/hot water and a scrub with a standard dish brush is all it should need. Then dry thoroughly - this is KEY!
I recommend placing it back on the stove over medium-low for a few minutes to ensure that it is fully dry and then wipe a very thin layer of a neutral oil to maintain the seasoning.
If there are stubborn bits that the hot water and brush or sponge aren't removing, there are a few options..
- Bring a thin layer of water to a simmer in the skillet and use a wooden spoon or spatula to scrape any bits off the bottom.
- Use an 'exfoliant' such as salt to scrub off any bits.
How do I season my cast iron?
If you're buying a new cast iron skillet at the store, it likely is already seasoned. The seasoning is the smooth, shiny black finish. This provides the protective coating in between your food and the cast iron itself.
And over time, as the seasoning continues to build up with cooking, the skillet becomes practically nonstick.
IF your skillet rusted or if you're trying to restore an old skillet, you can scrub off any leftover seasoning/rust and re-season the pan by coating it with oil and baking in the oven. Here are some great instructions!
Recipes to make in your Cast Iron Skillet
Skillet S'Mores Dip
All the s’mores flavor made in your oven – no bonfire needed! Melted chocolate and toasted marshmallows all from just a few minutes in the oven. Doesn’t get easier! This dip is family friendly AND it lets you have s’mores year-round!
Cheesy Jalapeño Popper Dip
heesy, easy to make in advance, and a crowd pleaser. The spice level is very customizable to your preference and this recipe is super easy to make. It’s the perfect appetizer for any holiday party – prep it the day before then bake it right before eating.
Irish Soda Bread
An easy quick bread. No yeast required! Buttermilk and baking soda help the bread rise. This recipe yields a bread that is dense, soft, and has a crispy, golden crust.
Quinoa Chicken Fajita Bake
Full of fajita flavor, veggies, quinoa, salsa, and cheese… how could you go wrong? We use one skillet to cook everything up (minus the quinoa) and then bake it all in the same pan. Easy recipe, easy cleanup, big flavor.
Leftover Turkey Skillet Pot Pie
After a big Thanksgiving meal, I’m always on the hunt for leftover turkey recipes! I love making this Leftover Turkey Pot Pie. It’s made in one skillet for easy clean up and uses store bought biscuits for the topping. Don’t have leftover turkey? Leftover shredded chicken works too!
Cheesy Sausage Baked Gnocchi
he perfect easy weeknight dinner. Loaded with comforting Italian flavors and made in under 45 minutes with less than 10 minutes of hands on time. Made in one skillet for an easy clean up.
Some of my other favorite cast iron uses:
- Homemade pizza! Hello pan pizza. Either on the grill or in a hot oven.
- Steaks! Because cast iron gets so hot, it's a great choice for searing steaks. I love to cook my steaks in a sous vide and then finish by searing in a skillet. But you can cook them start to finish in the skillet.
- Any protein! It's a great pan for cooking any meat. Chicken breasts, burgers, bacon for breakfast, and more.
- Stir Fry! Don't have a wok? A large cast iron skillet is a great substitute. You'll be able to heat it up to get good browned bits on the veggies and protein.
- Fajitas! Get that pan hot hot hot and make some smoking fajitas.
- Browning Meat before Slow Cooking! Making a slow cooker pot roast? I highly recommend browning your roast in the skillet before adding to the crock pot. A major flavor upgrade.
- Frying! Due to its ability to retain and handle heat, it's a great choice for frying. And bonus points - cooking with all that fat helps reinforce your pan's seasoning.
- Crispy Potatoes or Hashbrowns
- Skillet Cookie. Turn your favorite cookie dough into an incredible skillet dessert.
Have other Cast Iron Questions? Leave them in the comments and I'm happy to help!
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