Cast iron cookware – Is it worth it?

posted 2 years ago in Cooking
Post # 16
Member
294 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: May 2017

We cook with a mixture of vintage cast iron – check craigslist and garage sales for awesome deals – and All Clad stainless steel cookware. I grew up cooking with cast iron and even though I tried to like non-stick cookware it doesn’t compare!

Post # 17
Member
477 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2017

I have a really nice stainless steel cookware set, but I bought myself one cast iron skillet and a cast iron grill plate to “play” with. I’d never want cast iron alone, but having these two pieces is really great. 

Post # 18
Member
1048 posts
Bumble bee

There is a huge difference.  And it is ABSOLUTELY a great idea to have at least one or two pieces. I noticed it most with searing/braising meat, so I can see how a guy would definitely want a whole set of these.  They are heavy, which is especially noticeable if you buy a Dutch/French oven and make stove top to oven meals.  And they get very hot to the touch, unlike nonstick pans.  You really should get to know your cooking styles and go-to habits before you invest in converting over entirely to cast iron though.

My husband and I used to buy those boxed 8-12 piece sets of nonstick cooking pans of varying degrees of quality. It started when we first were making our life together and it just seemed easiest to pick an “everything in one box” kit.  In a few years, they would wear out. And we kept replacing them, repeating the process.  We then switched to the more expensive brands and picked individual pieces and they still didn’t seem to have a ton of life.

I was gifted a Le Creuset dutch oven as a wedding present and that was IT for me.  No more nonstick pans in my life.  I loved it so much I now have 9 pieces from the brand.  One of them actually came from a second-hand store similar to a Salvation Army/Good Will and was $10.  Whoever had it must have decided it was heavy and dirty.  I cleaned it up and it is like new.  Several other pieces I picked up at a Le Creuset Outlet on sale, and they were about 40% off the list price on their website or Williams-Sonoma.  So you can actually pick up a piece of Le Creuset for less than you think!  But my collection went definitely out of hand in excess of what a normal human would use. You only need one or two staple pieces.  Seriously.

I think you should try one or two cast iron pans.  If you are in the USA, you can buy the Lodge brand.  The PP that said they have “texture” these days is right, so it is best if you can touch them to pick one out because they can be hit or miss in quality.  Marshalls/TJMaxx/Homegoods in the US carries the Lodge brand for a bit cheaper than Amazon and other places.  I would suggest starting out with a slightly deep 12″ or 10″ skillet, and a grill style pan (the kind with “grill mark” lines in them).  That way you can get to know the seasoning process and experiment with how they cook meat and react to your cooking surface.   You will also get a better idea of whether or not they are too heavy for every day use for you. The Dutch ovens filled with food become surprisingly heavy.  And, your Darling Husband can play around with cooking techniques.

For me, the seasoned cast iron pans were too much work.  So we went with those two cast iron pans by Lodge for him (at around $20 a piece), and the Le Creuset enameled pans for me so that I still have a version of a “nonstick” pan that didn’t have the seasoning and maintenance involved.  For Le Creuset or something enameled, my favorite go-to pans are my braiser and a Dutch oven. It is true that you do not need many pieces.  The Le Creuset pans are nice in the sense that they really do serve multiple purposes and you sort of get to know their best uses. 

So:

Lodge “for men” for your husband to try (if he doesn’t already have a brand and pan type he wants to start with):

Lodge L8SGP3 Cast Iron Square Grill Pan, Pre-Seasoned, 10.5-inch

Lodge LCS3 Cast Iron Chef’s Skillet, Pre-Seasoned, 10-inch

Le Creuset if you like nonstick:

Braiser

Dutch Oven

It looks like Lodge and several other brands have versions of enameled cast iron as well, but I can’t speak to how well they work.  And some people are cast iron “purists” and think that the enameled pans defeat the purpose of having a cast iron pan. 

To me, they wildly improved my cooking of meat especially and that alone was enough for my husband to jump on board with supporting a pretty large collection. I could not get a sear on a piece of meat and had trouble cooking things in our first apartment because it had an electric stovetop from the 1970s.  I definitely felt like a better cook with better pans.  A good pan and a good knife in your kitchen really makes a world of difference in your cooking skills and your feelings about the task of making a meal. Try one first, then make the switch later if you like them!

 

Post # 19
Member
1498 posts
Bumble bee

annabananabee :  Exactly!

mtlgirl :  For cast iron, I would start with a 10″ pan. It’s really kind of a good all around size. As far as brand, as you can see by my post upthread I am a big vintage fan. I don’t know much about the new stuff other than it’s rough and will take awhile to season. That being said, if I were buying new I would stick with Lodge.

I don’t have any enameled cast iron, but if I were in the market… yup, vintage 🙂

Post # 20
Member
1048 posts
Bumble bee

katebluestone :  I am fan-girling all over the idea of your vintage cast iron set with deep seasoning and that collector website.  My grandfather had a cast iron pan that was “his pan” and it was the most amazing piece of cookware.  They do not make them like that anymore, and I would think of the meals made in them too!

Post # 21
Member
1498 posts
Bumble bee

notmeeither :  Go for it! Learn about the different marks on pans that identify when it was made and hit up garage sales and family run estate sales. They don’t price them crazy like professional estate people. Just make sure the pan is not warped or cracked. My first purchase was really well seasoned – I didn’t go through the process of removing it and doing it over, just a basic wash and light re-oil. I got a hard side-eye from one of my sisters –  she thought the seasoning from someone else was disgusting. I had to explain polymerization to her but I don’t think she was convinced. undecided

 

 

 

 

Post # 22
Member
9613 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: September 2015

IMO you dont need a full set of cast iron, in fact thatd be annoying. Just one big cast iron skillet will do ya. And an enameled cast iron dutch oven is great to have as well. 

Post # 23
Member
9333 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: August 2012

I can’t imagine really needing more than one cast iron skillet.

Personally I tried it and don’t care for it. It really weirds me out not to actually wash my pans with soap, and I didn’t notice any major flavor differences.

We got a copper set for our wedding that is amazing though.

Post # 24
Member
388 posts
Helper bee

I LOVE my cast iron! It was my wedding gift from my parents. In fact, we didn’t register for any pots or pans because most come in sets, and while I’d like some nice saucepans and a soup pot, I couldn’t really justify buying an entire set then never using the skillets. 😛 

Mine are all Lodge brand. I have a dutch oven, 12-inch skillet, 12-inch griddle, and a small frying pan just big enough for 2-3 fried eggs. Mom also found me a pig-shaped bacon press (vintage) since the husband loooves his bacon. 😉 

I struggle some with remembering to wash the cast iron after it’s cooled on the stove. Bad habit, I know, but it tends to sit there for a while. BUT, I’ve found it to be pretty forgiving if I have to scrub it out and re-oil it. I really don’t think it’s more difficult to maintain than stainless steel and such. It’s definitely worth the cost and upkeep, and is sturdy enough to be passed down to kids/grandkids/etc!

Post # 25
Member
6083 posts
Bee Keeper

I LOVE my le creuset! I also have a lodge cast iron and use it frquently, but not as often. 

I prefer the le cresuet enameled cast iron because its easier to clean. I agree that a whole set probably isnt worth it, but getting a few sizes of dutch oven and a fry pan is great. 

Post # 26
Member
138 posts
Blushing bee

I bought an old Cast iron skillet pan from ebay.  A griswold.. they are super smooth on the inside and not as heavy as newer ones.  I use it all the time.  Highly recommend!  I use non stick pans as well but the cast iron is really good for browning and shallow frying. Also the more you use them and properly clean them the more non stick they get.  Mine is now more non stick than my nonstick pan!

Post # 27
Member
2408 posts
Buzzing bee

I love my Le Creuset, but I certainly wouldn’t want an entire set of it, nor would I want ONLY cast iron.

We cook a lot and we consider ourselves foodies.  What works for us is a mixture (stainless steel, copper, cast iron, enameled cast iron, etc).  What is the best tool for the thing we are going to cook? 

Post # 28
Member
2546 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: July 2013

I have alot of cast iron & we use it alot… It doesn’t have to be expensive tho- most of my pieces are hand me downs or were super cheap at a thirft store because they were super nasty… It’s actually really easy to restore them (even if rusty) and keep them clean & seasoned. Once you get a good seasoning coat on there as long as you don’t really wash it with soap all you really need to do is wipe it down. For really nasty messes (like burnt on steak grease) I heat up the pan with water a few times & gently wipe down the inside… By 3-4 wipings its ready to dry, then that night i’ll wipe it down with a little of the leftover grease or olive oil & put it in the oven at 400 for 45 mins to add to the seasoning coat… Never used an enamel covered cast iron. We have a lodge piece that I LOVE that is a deep fry pan on bottom & a shallow pan on top (so together they make a small dutch oven). 

 

Post # 29
Member
2181 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: May 2013

another vote for the mix and match approach – buy the pots/pans for what you actually make not a pre-defined set.

For instance for me I know that stir frys, pan-searing/oven finish, soup and braising are often used methods in what I cook and that I also like to make omelets so I have a big stir fry wok (flat bottom tri-ply stainless), a large (13″) and small (9″) stainless frying pan and a medium cast iron frying pan (11″) for the pan sear/oven finsh, two large stainless stock pots, two big enameled dutch ovens and a small non stick (8″) for eggs and then a few older small/medium sauce pans for heating stuff up (marshalls/tj maxx finds)

 

what do you guys normally cook? who cooks? do you see this changing (ie expecting kids so you are going to cook more often at home)

Post # 30
Member
2523 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: July 2014

We invested in a really high quality cast iron frying pan during a black friday sale.  We were so excited about it at first, but now a couple years later and a lot more on our plates we never use it.  If your cast iron pan is well season, it does provide a bit of an advantage for meats.. not really much else.  It usually isn’t worth the hassle of cleaning or maintence to us.  I know some people LOVE it though.  If you decide to try it, I would just invest in a dutch oven or frying pan- not a whole set.  

Leave a comment


Find Amazing Vendors