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Where Can I Buy Lodge Cast Iron Cookware

The best cast-iron skilletThe best budget cast-iron skilletConventional versus vintage-style cast ironHow we testedWhat we looked forOther cast-iron skillets we testedThe takeawayHow to season a cast-iron skilletHow to clean a cast-iron skillet

where can i buy lodge cast iron cookware

For a long time we were in the (very large) camp that favored inexpensive cast-iron pans like Lodge and Victoria over the upmarket vintage-style cast iron. These vintage-style pans can cost hundreds of dollars, sometimes 10 times more than those old school brands. Lodge and Victoria do make excellent cast-iron pans, and we still recommend them for anybody new to cast iron who wants something affordable. However, this cast-iron skillet from Lancaster Cast Iron, a small company producing beautiful cast-iron pans entirely out of southeastern Pennsylvania, proved to us that even something great has plenty room for improvement.

If you are accustomed to thick and heavy cast-iron pans, the Lancaster might take you by surprise. At 4 pounds it was the lightest cast-iron pan we tested (For reference: A standard Lodge this size weighs 5.2 pounds), and was easy to maneuver with one hand. The pan's thin cast walls and base make for, not only a lighter weight pan, but one that heats up faster and more consistently than a conventional cast-iron pan. Thicker cast iron can require up to 10 minutes of preheating on the stovetop before it gets hot enough, the Lancaster reached an ideal temperature a little more than a minute, faster than its competition. This also means that the pan cools down faster, which made us wonder if the pan would still be able to achieve crispy edges on things like corn bread or spoon cakes. It definitely did. The Lancaster has two ample pour spouts, but there's no helper handle on the front of the pan. The lack of a helper handle wasn't a huge deal since the No. 8 pan is so lightweight. (The same can't be said for Lancaster's 12-inch No. 10 pan, which is also without a helper handle, but weighs a heftier 6 pounds.)

Like many of the other new, vintage-style cast-iron brands (read more about what vintage-style means below) Lancaster pans have a glassy, smooth cooking surface. Because of this, there's a baseline level of nonstick that the pan has, which makes it more forgiving if you happen to accidentally strip the seasoning (which we did) or fail to use enough oil. As a result, fried eggs stuck to the Lancaster the least of any of the pans we tested. We did worry that the smooth surface would mean the sear would be less textured than that of a rougher pan, but seared chicken thighs came out perfectly burnished and crispy, and the tall side walls are ideal for shallow frying something like crab cakes or deep-frying fried chicken.

Ultimately we found that the sum of all of the Lancaster pan's design features added up to something that's much more user friendly than a conventional cast iron pan. It's light-weight, provides even heat distribution, has an incredibly forgiving smooth surface, and will last you a lifetime.

Back in the day, cast-iron pans were ground down and polished to have a smooth, glassy cooking surface, whereas the rougher textured cast-iron pans most people are familiar with typically come straight from the mold. The advantages of a polished cooking surface are that it heats more quickly and conducts more evenly, is easier to clean, and offers a nonstick surface that can't be accidentally scrubbed away like the seasoning on rough cast-iron pans. Vintage pans also tend to be thinner and lighter weight, making them easier to handle. Through the later half of the 20th century, these pans fell out of style in favor of the cheaper, easier to produce, rough cast-iron pans.

Proponents of the rougher-style cast iron say that in addition to being much more affordable, they are easier to season (most come liberally pre-seasoned), and impart a better sear to meat. These pans also tend to be heavier, and take a longer time to get to an appropriate cooking temperature, but they maintain the heat for longer.

If rough cast iron is cheaper, easier to season, and sears better, why consider polished cast iron at all? Well, through testing we learned that those claims about the benefits of the rough stuff aren't quite true. While polished pans do take longer to build up a consistent seasoning, by nature of being smooth, they weren't any less nonstick out of the box compared to the pre-seasoned rough pans. In fact, we discovered that food is much more likely to stick to an under-seasoned rough textured pan than an under-seasoned polished pan, since the smooth surface is inherently more nonstick. We also noticed no discernible differences in the quality of the sear between the two styles when using well-seasoned pans, and that thinner, polished cast iron provides a more forgiving cooking surface.

All that being said, we still think that for most people, a standard cast-iron pan is still an excellent cooking tool, and a well-seasoned, well-cared for specimen will deliver all that you want. The surface alone isn't enough to justify getting a higher end pan, which is why we weren't crazy about all the new cast-iron brands on the market. Rather, the advantage of an upmarket cast-iron pan comes from adding all the design differences together. They make for a pan that's just more enjoyable to use and one that's worth splurging on.

Next, also with a bit of oil, we seared half a potato, cut side down, in each pan for four minutes. This test allowed us to assess how evenly the cast-iron skillet browned food, how quickly it heated up, and it put each pan's nonstick capabilities to the test one last time.

To narrow our testing perimeters, we no longer consider enameled cast iron skillets, like those made my Le Creuset, Staub, or Vermicular, in this category, as the enameled finish gives the pan qualities that are quite different from bare cast iron. Enamel is easier to clean, but is also prone to chipping, more fragile at high heat, and cannot develop a nonstick seasoned surface. We also chose to exclude any sorts of griddles or cast iron grill pans, focusing on the classic pan. Sizing varies from company to company, but mainly we chose to compare 10 inch cast iron skillets, as it is the most common option out there.

The price of the skillets we tested ranged from $18 to $350. Since so many cast-iron skillets are inexpensive, we were curious to see if the extra expense of high-end pans translated into better performance.

The Camp Chef Cast-Iron Skillet also turned out to be a pre-seasoned pan that wasn't especially nonstick straight out of the box. However, it responded remarkably well to additional seasoning: It was easier to achieve an even coat of seasoning on the surface of this pan than the classic Lodge. And after just one round of seasoning, the surface became very nonstick. This is a perfectly good option for an inexpensive cast-iron skillet, though the brand doesn't have as strong a reputation as some others we tested.

The Lodge Pro-Logic Seasoned Cast-Iron Skillet had the same surface and seasoning as the standard Lodge cast-iron, but a sloped handle and curved sides intended to make it more comfortable to use. The handle has a thumb print similar to the Amazon Basics pan, and it's easy to grip and maneuver. There's also a large helper handle (though no pouring spouts). The curved interior should have been great for flipping, but the pan weighed 5.1 pounds, so it was more cumbersome to move around.

The Finex Cast-Iron Skillet was a unique addition to the test; the product comes from the Portland, Oregon-based company that has made a few changes to the design of traditional cast-iron skillets. First, the pan is octagonal, designed to provide eight easy access points for flipping food; second, it has a stainless steel spring that wraps around its handle to prevent it from getting hot. It also has that smooth surface of the vintage style pans. Ultimately, we found the larger handle cumbersome to hold and preferred pre-seasoned models for cooking with right out of the box.

The Stargazer Cast-Iron Skillet was a lovely pan to use. It has a generous helper handle, a smooth cooking surface that came nonstick right out of the box, and a curved lip in lieu of a pour spout that does a great job of pouring without dribble. It was on the heavier end of the spectrum though (5.2 pounds), and we ultimately found ourselves drawn to the lighter weight pans. However, this is still an excellent pan, and as far as polished-cast iron prices go, is very reasonable.

The smooth surface of this pan fried up an egg with no sticking, but the handle was a little too short and clunky. On a cosmetic level, there were some unsightly edges, seams, and nicks in the metal cast that a cast iron pan at this price should probably not have.

A relatively new addition to the Kitchenaid product lineup, they currently only offer a large 12 inch skillet. It has a more modern shape with a nice long handle. The cooking surface however is roughly the same quality as a Lodge cast iron skillet, but at twice the price.

Butter Pat Industries make cast-iron pans for real aficionados. A lot of care goes into their manufacturing process, which comes through in their pans' thin cast body and smooth cooking surface. Butter Pat has a broader range of sizes and accessories than Lancaster, including gorgeous glass lids for braising. That said, they aren't the lightest out of the bunch, and the handle drew mixed reactions from our testing crew. All in all, it's still a great pan that will satisfy a true cast-iron enthusiast. It just didn't win our top marks.

The Ooni Cast Iron Skillet Pan came with a detachable handle that's actually genius for in-oven baking. It has super shallow walls which makes it more suitable for making pizzas (makes sense since this is a pizza oven company) or pancakes, and for sautéing or searing on the stovetop. But if you want a cast iron pan for those purposes, instead of, say, deep frying, this is a good one to get. 041b061a72


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