The 4 Best Cast Iron Pans of 2023, Tested and Reviewed

The 10.5-inch skillet from Stargazer was the clear winner

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cast iron pans
Photo: People/Tara Donne

Cast iron pans have become a new kitchen essential. These super-durable and extremely versatile skillets can be used to make just about anything, on the grill, in the oven or even over a campfire. The same high-heat non-stick cast iron pan can sear a beautiful ribeye, roast a whole chicken and bake buttery cornbread. And unlike nonstick and stainless steel pans, cast iron is virtually indestructible. If you know how to care for and clean cast iron pans, they can last your entire lifetime — and may even be passed down as a treasured heirloom to children and grandchildren.

That's why buying cast iron pans and skillets should be viewed as an investment. To that end, we PEOPLE Tested 11 cast iron pans in our Lab, and the four pans below outperformed in testing. The clear winner is the Stargazer 10.5-Inch Cast Iron Skillet because of its comfortable, lightweight design and outstanding performance in both the nonstick and sear tests.

The cast iron pans below were considered the best that PEOPLE Tested.

Best Overall: Stargazer 10.5-Inch Cast Iron Skillet

cast iron pans

Pros: The Stargazer 10.5-Inch Cast Iron Skillet is lightweight and features a long-forked handle that stays cool for easier maneuvering, and there's no residue left behind after cooking.

Cons: It's the smallest pan on this list, which means there's less room to cook up your favorites.

Though this pan was impressive on all accounts, it was the egg test that made Stargazer stand out in a crowded field. In this nonstick frying test, testers used just one tablespoon of oil heated over medium heat until shimmering, then added an egg and fried it. Testers then observed whether or not the whites stuck. "Not one bit of the egg white was left behind on the pan," a tester said, also noting it was the first pan to achieve this impressive goal. The same was said after the cornbread test, where testers baked cornbread on the pan and recorded how deeply and evenly it cooked. This pan also exceeded expectations when searing steak, as testers achieved a perfect "brown but not over browned" crust.

As for this pan's design, testers also raved about its comfortable and practical features. Though this pan does not include pour spouts like others, it does include a rolled rim around it which allows for easy pouring and prevents drips from reaching the table. In addition, the handle is a long-forked handle that stayed cooler for longer and therefore allowed testers to hold onto it and easily move the pan around the stovetop.

This skillet's design also scored high points in aesthetics too. One tester even stated that its "sleek attractive design" would be perfect " to show off on your stovetop or hang on the wall in style."

In terms of size, this pan is the smallest of all our favorites. This pan measures 8.5 inches in the bottom diameter and 9.5 inches on top. This skillet weighs 5 pounds and 9 ounces, a comfortable weight to move around in the kitchen. For our testers, this pan's smaller size meant it was lightweight and easy to lift in and out of the oven.

All in all, if you want a comfortable, easy to use and effortless option, this is a great way to go.

Weight 5 lb 0.9 oz
Finishes Seasoned or Bare
Spouts None
Bottom Diameter 8.5 inches
best cast iron pans
People/Tara Donne

Best Budget: Lodge Cast Iron Skillet

cast iron pans

Pros: The price point works for many budgets, and the silicone handle holder helps prevent unwanted burns.

Cons: The two pour spouts are shallow and don't avoid drippage, and food residue easily sticks to the pan.

For the price tag on this pan, it's hard to continue looking elsewhere. This pan is not only available promptly on Amazon, but it's distinctly cheaper than all our other tested favorites. And, even though it's a little heavier than some of the other options out there, it performs as well as anything else we tested and has a price that's hard to argue with.

Starting with the pros, this pan peaked in terms of comfort. Testers raved about one fundamental aspect to this product: the silicone handle holder. This red hard-to-lose gadget was a life-saver to moving this pan around the stove and in and out of the oven with no concern of ever burning yourself.

As for the cons, this product failed in many of its nonstick ability tests. In the egg frying test, for example, one tester claimed the pans was "spitty" halfway through frying and though it was easy to remove from the pan when done, a "decent amount" of egg whites still stuck to the pan. For the steak test, a tester said an "intense sizzle" arose when the pan was too hot, causing the steak to become slightly too dark in some areas. The same can be said about the cornbread experiment, where the edges of the bread were pulling away from the pan at the end while the bottom got "stuck very lightly at the very center."

In addition, this product has two spouts, which is usually very desirable for pouring, but they didn't work as well as expected. "Pour went wider than the spout with some drippage over the edge," a tester said.

Overall, this is a great pan for its price point. Though it may not be perfect, it might just be the ideal pan for someone on a budget or someone starting out in their cast-iron journey.

Weight 4 lb 14.7 oz
Finishes Seasoned
Spouts 2
Bottom Diameter 9 inches
best cast iron pans
People/Tara Donne

Best Splurge: Smithey No. 10 Cast Iron Skillet

cast iron pans

Pros: The pan's spouts are efficient for pouring and the pan's high sides help minimize splatter on your stovetop.

Cons: The nonstick component could be better considering egg whites stuck to the pan during our testing.

Smithey Ironware Co. founder Issac Morton started his business in cast iron cookware by saving and restoring rusty pans that were otherwise destined for a scrapyard. After a few years of this, where he was up close and personal with a variety of ironware, he decided to begin making his own line of pans that reflected the classic techniques of decades-old ironware but made with today's technology and know-how.

With the company's history in mind, it's no surprise that it has ranked among our favorites. Though with a higher price tag than the others on our list, it's an investment we think is worth splurging for.

A highlight, for example, was its pouring performance. Scoring a 5 out of 5 in this category, this pan's spouts were described as "perfect" by testers, an important feature if you tend to cook with sauces or oils. And, albeit not necessary, though the extra handle on top provides another place to hold the pan, testers claimed it is not very useful for grabbing and pouring.

As for its non-stick abilities, this pan was less consistent. In the egg frying test, unfortunately, the oil became too spitty at the end and broke the yolk, a true crime for runny yolk lovers out there. In addition, "decent amounts" of egg whites were also recorded. As for the pan's searing skills, it cooked the steaks to perfection, even making the testers hungry. "The steak had a deep brown crust," a tester noted, "it looked really good."

If you are willing to make the investment, this pan will provide delicious meals and will add an elegantly designed accessory to your kitchen.

Weight 5 lbs 10.6 oz
Finishes Seasoned
Spouts 2
Bottom Diameter 9 inches

Best Design: Field Company No.8 Cast Iron Skillet

Pros: The pan is lightweight and comfortable to use, and its sleek design makes it a welcome addition to any kitchen.

Cons: Oil splatters easily, and there are no spouts for pouring.

On the Field Company website, reviews are all raving about this product. Testers also loved this pan, claiming it was comfortable to use and had a seasoning that seemed to develop easily.

In our egg frying test, oil spitting was a big problem. Though only some egg white stuck to the pan at the end, oil splatters are an enemy to a clean kitchen. As for its pour performance, this design does not include spouts causing drips to inevitably occur.

With that said, this product impressed testers with how little it smoked even in higher temperatures. In addition, cleaning up is easy as it doesn't hurt your arm because of its lightweight feel.

Weight 5 lbs 12.4 oz
Finishes Seasoned
Spouts None
Bottom Diameter 10 inches
best cast iron pans
People/Tara Donne

Things to Consider Before Buying a Cast Iron Pan


Cast iron pans can be bought in two finishes: bare or seasoned. The more seasoned a pan is, the more nonstick it will be. Unseasoned skillets are ideal for those who either consider themselves cast iron veterans or DIYers as they should be ready to season it themselves before its first use. In some cases, if ordered bare, the skillet is dipped in mineral oil to protect it in transit but a simple wash with water will wash it all off and be ready to season. If ordered seasoned, the pans will have already been seasoned by the seller with coats of oil, which may include canola, grapeseed, or sunflower oil. Unlike the bare option, a seasoned skillet will arrive ready to cook, right out of the box.


Cast iron skillets tend to be very heavy, and the larger they are, the heavier they will be. To make carrying or moving these hefty pans from place to place in the kitchen easier, many manufacturers have added forked handles across from the long, narrow handle on any pan. If lifting weighty objects is difficult for you, purchase a cast iron skillet that's made with these supplemental handles or those that have a naturally lighter weight.


The typical cast iron skillet is 10 inches, but they can also vary from 8 to 12 inches. Larger sizes are available but may require special ordering. Recipes like cakes and cornbread may call for a specific size, so it's important to be aware of what you'll be cooking and what size they require in order to get the best results. Beyond that, it's a matter of preference. The bigger the skillet, the heavier it is. But the bigger the skillet, the more surface area you have for cooking chicken, steak, and more.


A non-scratch sponge, dish soap, and a little elbow grease will get your pan clean without stripping away any hard-earned layers of seasoning. With that said, it's important to immediately dry the pan well and oil it over moderate heat. In addition to cleaning extra food from the pans, rust can build up on a cast iron if the pan has not been properly cared for. If you soak cast iron pans for hours or overnight before cleaning them, you'll likely notice rust on the cooking surfaces, sides, or bottom of the pan. Ditto if you let your pans air dry in the dish rack after cleaning. The appearance of rust is annoying, but it doesn't mean you should toss out your pan. It's just a sign that the layers of seasoning have broken down, and you'll need to get rid of the rust.

How We Tested Cast Iron Pans

To assess the 11 different highly-reviewed pans we collected, we focused on tasks that would reveal how well each cast iron skillet performed its most important functions: searing, frying and sautéing, and baking. Among these tests, we seared a steak, fried an egg and baked a delicious cornbread recipe. Each tester scored the tests out of 5.

We also measured heat conduction over time at both the center and edge of each pan, and recorded each one's weight, bottom thickness and diameter, and smoothness, in case any of those attributes might help explain how the pans performed in the more practical tests.


How long do cast iron pans last?

One of the best things about cast iron pans is that when properly cared for, they can last a lifetime and beyond. The pan's seasoning gets better with repeated use making them excellent family heirlooms.

What kind of oil should you use in cast iron?

The best oils to season cast iron are highly unsaturated fats such as grapeseed or canola oil, as mentioned above. Once the pan is seasoned, any oil or fats can be used while cooking.

Can you use soap in a cast iron skillet?

Yes, actually you can. One of the biggest myths about cast iron is that soap is the mortal enemy of its seasoning. And while a well-seasoned pan often doesn't need to be cleaned with soap after every use, it won't damage the pan or the seasoning. When the fatty acids in the oils are heated, they react and become polymerized creating the nonstick surface or seasoning. Once established, regular dish soap will not strip the coating.

Can cast iron rust?

Yes, cast iron will rust if left wet for too long. Unlike soap, water and time are the enemies of cast iron. We recommend drying and re-seasoning cast iron immediately after cleaning.

Can you put a cast iron pan in the oven?

Yes, cast iron is oven-safe up to 600ºF (315ºC). The only exception is in the case of handles made with different material, such as wood.

What Is PEOPLE Tested?

We created the PEOPLE Tested seal of approval to help you find the very best products for your life. We use our unique methodology to test products in three labs across the country and with our network of home testers to determine their effectiveness, durability, ease of use, and so much more. Based on the results, we rate and recommend products so you can find the right one for your needs.

But we don't stop there: We also regularly re-review the categories in which we've awarded the PEOPLE Tested seal of approval — because the best product of today might not be the best of tomorrow. And by the way, companies can never buy our recommendation: Their products must earn it, fair and square.

In short, PEOPLE Tested provides recommendations you can trust — every day, every purchase.

Want more product recommendations? Check out all of our People Tested content.

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