Cast iron is one of the best cooking materials available. It offers outstanding heat distribution and retention, can be used with any cooking method, is long-lasting enough to last a lifetime, and produces superb cuisine while being naturally nonstick.
Because it’s difficult to go wrong with cast iron, this list focuses on which items stand out among a sea of excellent but pretty generic sets, bringing it down to the most fascinating and greatest cast iron cookware sets.
What Qualities Do I Look for in Cast Iron?
Unless the maker makes a serious error, most cast iron cookware is virtually identical, with the exception of a few small adjustments and features. So, what constitutes a decent set comes down to how much is included in the set against the asking price.
On average, a package with three to five pieces will cost between $60 and $80. That’s the essentials, and there aren’t any kitchen utensils yet.
The fundamental question is why use cast iron in the first place.
What Characterizes Cast Iron?
Cast iron combines the greatest features of both ceramic and steel cookware. It, like steel, can withstand extremely high temperatures without cracking. It’s therefore suitable for both baking and searing. Our cast iron versus stainless steel cookware comparison goes into greater detail.
It’s also inherently nonstick when properly seasoned, making cleaning a breeze. It also combines steel’s relative endurance with that feature, allowing it to outperform either in almost every way.
So why don’t more people use cast iron?
It does, however, have some disadvantages. To begin with, cast iron is a sensitive material. Even without the use of an oven, seasoning a skillet can be a lengthy process, and that seasoning must be maintained using extremely specific maintenance guidelines (cast iron is one of the few things you can over wash or wash wrong). The nonstick characteristics are not seen without such attention.
Cast iron is also not dishwasher safe and must be stored in a dry environment, which is inconvenient if you live in a humid region like I do. It’s also quite hefty, making it more difficult to maneuver than any other sort of cookware.
While cast iron is objectively superior to other low-maintenance materials for cooking and baking, it’s simple to see why it’s gone out of favor in favor of lower-maintenance alternatives. However, there is still a lot of value in cooking with cast iron, if only because so many various types of dishes taste great when cooked in it.
This is a fantastic set, featuring 5 pieces of high-quality cast iron that provide a lot of variety.
Each component is pre-seasoned and ready to use, which is convenient if you just want to get started. With the exception of a casserole dish, you have everything you need to prepare almost anything.
These have nice handles. At first glance, they look like any other cast iron skillet handle, but closer inspection reveals that they’re a little thicker and more gently curved, making them easier on the hands; cast iron skillet handles are notorious for hurting your fingers due to the weight, so it’s nice to see a set that avoids this problem.
In every way, it’s difficult to top this collection. The variety, quality, and affordability are all leagues ahead of most other sets on the market, thanks in part to the fact that few brands sell cast iron sets at all, and if they do, it’s only a few different sized skillets.
This is a fascinating topic. It’s debatable whether or not this can be considered a “set.” A Dutch oven with a lid is technically one piece.
The lid, on the other hand, has a unique flat shape that allows it to be used as a standalone cast iron pan.
Both are really nicely made, with a lovely red enamel on the outside that is still safe for all heat sources, including induction stoves and open flame cooking (like a campfire).
There’s also an enameled interior, which is a bit of a mixed bag. It means the cast iron is sort of “always seasoned” and nonstick, but you lose a little of the pure cast iron flare, and it does imply that there is a point of failure here that other cast iron cookware doesn’t have, notably that the enamel can break and flake. Sure, it’s a decent enamel, but even the best will erode over time, leaving you with a pitted surface that pales in comparison to a well-seasoned pure cast iron skillet or Dutch oven.
On the other hand, it’s easier to clean and maintain, so it’s a bit of a tradeoff.
In conclusion, this is an excellent package to own…
However, it is unlikely to be passed on through the generations.
Another Bruntmor cast iron set with two parts, this time a casserole dish and a wonderful griddle pan that also acts as the lid.
The construction is good, but it is defective for the same reasons as the other set. However, in this situation, the enamel is much more welcoming. Casseroles are notoriously sticky, regardless of how “nonstick” your surface is, so any help is appreciated. Washing a typical cast iron with a tomato-based sauce and browned cheese without any kind of coating gives me the creeps, and this makes that daunting chore a lot easier.
As a result, I prefer this set for its own purposes over the first Bruntmor set we looked at, but it ranks lower on the list due to its lack of adaptability. Sure, having a casserole dish handy when making a casserole is convenient, but what about other times? Similarly, having a griddle is nice and all, but how frequently are you going to use it? I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve used my cast iron griddle in the previous ten years.
This, combined with the price (which is the same as our winner, a far more versatile 5-piece set), makes it tough to recommend this set unless you plan to prepare a lot of casseroles and utilize the griddle function frequently. If so, it’s an excellent investment. If not, seek for a cast iron cookware set elsewhere.
This pair of pans is a decent compromise between the standard skillet and the servers above.
They’re well-made and durable, as you’d expect from Lodge, and they’re factory pre-seasoned so you can use them straight away.
While the typical sizes are the same as your standard skillets, these pans have a pair of looped handles, one on each side, that provide a sturdy grip.
This makes these pans good for any purpose you’d use a skillet for on the stovetop (and the larger ones have a handy spout for pouring off grease and other liquids), but they’re especially good for baking, as they’re far more easily removable than a cast iron pan with a single handle, which can be unwieldy at times).
In a nutshell, they’re slightly worse on the stuff, but far chevalier in the oven. In some ways, this set is superior than our winner if you plan to use your cast iron mostly for baking. If not, I’d go with that option.
There are two cast iron skillets included in this set: a 10″ skillet and a 12″ skillet. While the number of different types of cookware is limited, these are more than adequate for cooking just about anything with cast iron. They’re ideal for baking, searing (see searing blue steak), and stovetop cooking, and they’re incredibly well crafted with excellent heat distribution and longevity.
The pans are pre-seasoned for quick and easy usage, and they’re made with all-natural vegetable oil, so there are no chemicals leaching into your meal.
A great price and a “forever warranty” back up the durability. If you manage to break the cast iron, it will be replaced for free for the rest of your life. You’re unlikely to require it in its current state, and you’re more likely to need to replace the beautiful slip-on silicone handle covers than the skillets themselves.
This isn’t my first choice for a major cast iron set, but it’s a fun set to add to your existing cookware collection.
They’re ideal for “stove to table” food delivery. You may prepare a batch of eggs and breakfast sausage in them according to each person’s preferences, then slide them in front of whoever wants them right off the stove (with a pot holder, of course). It’s a multi-purpose cooking appliance that can prepare delectable foods for everyone.
As I previously stated, it definitely shouldn’t be your first choice of cast iron, but the simple design belies an enormous level of versatility in allowing you to use your cast iron as both a cooking and serving dish, saving time and effort.
They’re also great for little pies, individual cornbreads, and other unique foods that can be eaten right from the server. It’s a very attractive design.
This is a strange one. It’s actually a very decent set on its own, with a good selection of cookware and a square grill pan that none of the other sets we’ve discussed today have.
With the comfortable curved handles and useful opposite end handles I liked in the other 5 piece Lodge set, our winner, the craftsmanship is top notch.
It’s pre-seasoned and ready to use, and it’s all good…except for one tiny issue. They cost just under twice as much as a standard set of this type.
Normally, this would rule a set out of consideration for a list like this, but I eventually determined it deserved to be included. As you can see, the price increase is completely due to the ornamental inscriptions on the cast iron’s bottom. As a result, these pans and skillets are not only functional, but also fashionable.
Buying cookware for your kitchen is frequently a decorative as well as a functional venture, so the price increase may be justified if it meets your aesthetic sweet spot, and the set itself is standard for Lodge’s cast iron (i.e. great).
To summarize, if you like the appearance, go for it. Get our winner if not.
If you want to know how to clean and organize your kitchen, you need start with the correct cookware. The Lodge 5 piece cookware set is still my favorite because it’s simple to use and store, but there are a few other good rivals in the mix. Each of these cast iron sets is beautifully crafted and priced similarly. Whether you get one or the other will most likely come down to personal preference and usage.
The set of 14 ounce mini servers, which are fantastic but not as your only or first set, and the Lodge Wildlife Series, which is a great set but costly unless you really enjoy the engravings, are the only “weak links” I’d say.
Otherwise, choose the option you believe you will utilize the most.
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