Cast iron pans....what to get.

gmcman
gmcman Posts: 1,661
Looking for a good 12" iron frying pan. Too many reviews that aren't consistent to items listed.

Looked at Lodge, ScanPan, I dont have any preference except for high quality. Curious what the consensus is with a good non-stick pan...if non-stick is even needed.
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  • Jstas
    Jstas Posts: 14,484
    I know of no cast iron pans with a non-stick coating. Cast iron has the potential to get tremendously hot, hot enough for a non-stick coating to separate from the pan. But, at the same time, a non-stick coating would take away many of the benefits of cast iron.

    Unless you are referring to an enameled coating. Those are ceramic coatings, often "non-stick" but not like a teflon coating, that are put over the cast iron to protect it. You get many of the benefits of heat retention from cast iron but, you can't do certain things either or the finish will be damaged.

    For modern stuff, Lodge is ubiquitous but I've never liked the textured finish they have. It causes hot spots and sometimes, stuff will stick, despite seasoning. There's smooth surface stuff out there but it's expensive, typically $50-$250 a piece. Which is kind of absurd for cast iron. There is a company out there called Victoria which gets good reviews and is fairly inexpensive, especially compared to Lodge.

    This 12" skillet from Victoria is only about $20, $15 if you have Prime and the free shipping.

    https://www.amazon.com/Victoria-Cast-Skillet-Seasoned-Large/dp/B01726HD72/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&linkCode=sl1&tag=epicuriousfig-20&linkId=6936351a5a6369551c07b8f1ab03cc52&language=en_US

    That's an inexpensive foray into cast iron since it seems you have little experience with it.

    Unenameled cast iron has specific care instructions, though. You'll need to maintain seasoning so it doesn't rust and that seasoning can end up being the most non-stick, non-stick coating you've ever used. You can't use soap on it or it will ruin your seasoning and force you to have to reseason it. You can't store it wet either.

    Take care of it, though, and it will last long enough for your kid's grandkids to use it.

    Speaking of which, you can often head to a yard sale, flea market or antique shop and find old Griswold or Wagner Wear cast iron pans for fairly cheap. Even if it's rusted, you can resurface them. You can't fix a cracked one, though. But rust, as long as it isn't pitted, can be sanded down and reseasoned. I have a Griswold pan that I found at a flea market for $15 rusted to hell. I got the guy down to $10 and I brought it home, cleaned off the rust with my air sanders, reseasoned it and have been using it ever since along with my great grandmother's 100 year old Griswold pans.
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  • rooftop59
    rooftop59 Posts: 7,434
    I had this one for 4+ years: https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B000N5017E?psc=1&ref=ppx_pop_mob_b_asin_title
    It worked well at first, but the enamel quickly ceased to be non stick, which makes it worse than a well seasoned plain ole cast iron pan.

    Then I finally sucked it up and bought this: https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B01AH21CWK?psc=1&ref=ppx_pop_mob_b_asin_image
    So far it is FAR superior. Cleans up better and is over the first year staying non stick. So far, definitely worth the money.

    I love these casserole sized pans with lids because you can easily finish things in the oven. I make a lemon and Parmesan chicken and risotto that starts in the stovetop and finishes in the oven which makes risotto so make less of a hassle and it turns out delicious and the pan cleans easily...and the kids will eat it. All round win!
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  • Jimbo18
    Jimbo18 Posts: 2,266
    I have little experience with them, but just very recently bought a new Lodge 10 1/2 in. pan. It came preseasoned, and I then cleaned it as recommended, and seasoned it twice before using it to pan sear a ribeye.

    It does have the textured finish mentioned above, and from what I have read, getting a vintage, smooth surface Wagner or Griswold is the way to go. However, I wanted to start out with a cheap pan to see if I thought the extra care cast iron requires was worth it.

    The steak came out nicely seared, and tasty, but the house filled with smoke that took a while to clear. I actually carried the pan to the grill to finish it outside.

    Clean up took longer than I expected, there was residue burnt on the pan, but it wasn't too bad. Presumably, this gets better and the seasoning improves with use. I used a wooden spatula to scrap some of it off and finished by scrubbing it with salt, then added a fresh coat of oil.

    My suggestion would be to go with a cheaper pan to make sure you are willing to put the time into keeping it clean and rust free. Then, if you like it, go for a vintage, smooth surface pan.
  • gmcman
    gmcman Posts: 1,661
    Makes sense about a non-stick coating on cast iron not mating well. We had a decent iron pan after we were married...cannot remember what kind it was but I haven't replaced it yet with a decent pan.

    I don't mind spending $100-200 for a good heavy pan if it lasts, hoping to stay around $100 if possible. The textured finish I'm not sure either if it will go the distance.
  • Jimbo18
    Jimbo18 Posts: 2,266
    gmcman wrote: »
    Makes sense about a non-stick coating on cast iron not mating well. We had a decent iron pan after we were married...cannot remember what kind it was but I haven't replaced it yet with a decent pan.

    I don't mind spending $100-200 for a good heavy pan if it lasts, hoping to stay around $100 if possible. The textured finish I'm not sure either if it will go the distance.

    This gets good reviews and it has a smooth finish, despite being new.

    https://fieldcompany.com/products/field-cast-iron-skillet?variant=4483653664795
  • cincycat13
    cincycat13 Posts: 874
    Oh the flashbacks. My wife has a fridge magnet that says "I have a kitchen in my house because the house came with it". I got a well seasoned 8" skillet from my mother in law. I like it because it will take a good size piece of salmon that I can just add oil and place straight into the oven and get a great result. I left it on the stove, and my wife placed it in the dishwasher...

    Anyway back on topic. I did research after this as I had to reseason. I tried the Crisco and didn't like the results and lard isn't as easy to find. I ended up filtering my own bacon fat and using that. If you season hot enough it will smoke the house, but shouldn't smoke the house when actually cooking. My pan is smooth surface with non stick results. I clean with coarse salt.

    There are PAGES of options available on e-bay if you just want to get you feet wet before spending big money.
  • F1nut
    F1nut Posts: 46,989
    Get an old Griswold or Wagner. I had a complete set of Griswold's at one time. Sold off all but one 12" because ya gots ta have at least one.
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  • codycatalist
    codycatalist Posts: 2,663
    edited June 2019
    What type of oil did you use with cooking your ribeye? Some oils have a higher or lower burning point and that could have been the issue. I have never smoked out the house either seasoning or cooking steak (sometimes 3). I either use vegetable oil, plain olive oil (not extra virgin) or avacado oil if if I'm feeling fancy. Finish it off with butter which helps keep the oil from smoking as much and keeps the steak from drying out. The spooning method only took 2 burns before I got it down pat.

    Cast iron to me is worth it, cook, let it cool, scrub it out with some water, pat dry, oil it up and let it go until the oil starts to smoke and all done.

    There is no cook quite like the even heating surface of a cast iron.
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  • Jimbo18
    Jimbo18 Posts: 2,266
    What type of oil did you use with cooking your ribeye? Some oils have a higher or lower burning point and that could have been the issue. I have never smoked out the house either seasoning or cooking steak (sometimes 3). I either use vegetable oil, plain olive oil (not extra virgin) or avacado oil if if I'm feeling fancy. Finish it off with butter which helps keep the oil from smoking as much and keeps the steak from drying out. The spooning method only took 2 burns before I got it down pat.

    Cast iron to me is worth it, cook, let it cool, scrub it out with some water, pat dry, oil it up and let it go until the oil starts to smoke and all done.

    There is no cook quite like the even heating surface of a cast iron.

    I didn't use any oil when cooking the steak. I used canola oil (higher smoke point than vegetable oil) to season the pan, twice, then let it cool completely in the oven. When I cooked the ribeye, I heated the pan very hot and put the steak on it with no oil. Smoked like crazy.
  • pitdogg2
    pitdogg2 Posts: 20,704
    The older Lodge stuff was not textured like it is today. IIRC it is something about the sand they now use. I've bought new lodge and used a grinder with a sanding disc to smooth them out but it's a hassle to have to do on a new item. I do grab up the older cast iron pans I see that are smooth as you never know can't have too many and once in awhile I'll give one to the kids. I've seasoned a lot of CI and learned you do not need it to be hot enough to smoke. I do 375 in an oven upside down on the rack with a sheet pan under to catch the oil coming off. there is also some newer chainmail scrubbers to clean cast iron, I go with the ones without the rubber in the middle. like this one.

    https://cookinghacks.com/chain-mail-scrubber-review/

    I dry mine on the stove after washing personally I think it works better than a towel.

    My dad found an old long rectangular cast iron Dutch over like thing with a lid that was rusted horrible, Some elbow grease and sand paper and that thing looked like new. I have no idea what I'll ever use it for but you could fix a meal in it on a fire out camping and did I mention it is heavy, HEAVY as HE77 :D
  • mhardy6647
    mhardy6647 Posts: 29,488
    edited June 2019
    F1nut wrote: »
    Get an old Griswold or Wagner. I had a complete set of Griswold's at one time. Sold off all but one 12" because ya gots ta have at least one.

    Like many kinds of hifi ;) the way to go for cast iron cookware is vintage, and the prices of vintage cast iron reflect it.

    Note also that properly seasoned cast iron is effectively non-stick.

    Plus, cast iron can be weaponized if the need arises.
    What's not to love?

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    PS Besides a cast iron skillet, a cast iron Dutch oven* is a really, really nice thing to have. Use it for braising/pot roasts, soups, chili, rice or bean dishes, etc. We use ours all of the time, especially in the winter. In fact, if I could have only one piece of stovetop cookware, I could make do with just that Dutch oven.

    ________
    * A middle aged Wagner; my parents gave it to us when we got married :)

  • treitz3
    treitz3 Posts: 15,166
    You either have non-stick pan or you have a CI pan, which you can season to be non-stick. You cannot have both in the same.

    Enameled CI is for cooking with tomato baste products, basting for long periods of time, cooking with fish if you don't like the smell clinging to the pan, etc.

    Best bet is to have all 3. Each one serves its own purpose.

    Older CI, so long as it hasn't been warped, damaged by fire cleaning or had lead contamination is generally preferred over the new stuff, unless you are looking at Finex or similar product.

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  • kharp1
    kharp1 Posts: 3,453
    Echo what has been stated, CI older is better usually. Check for warping. Enamel coated iron is good for some things. Another natural non-stick is the carbon steel pans which must be seasoned like cast iron. They are standard in the restaurant industry. A properly seasoned carbon pan is slick as anything out there. That's what I try my eggs in and they come out clean.

    https://www.matferbourgeatusa.com/black-steel-round-frying-pan-10
  • codycatalist
    codycatalist Posts: 2,663
    Jimbo18 wrote: »
    What type of oil did you use with cooking your ribeye? Some oils have a higher or lower burning point and that could have been the issue. I have never smoked out the house either seasoning or cooking steak (sometimes 3). I either use vegetable oil, plain olive oil (not extra virgin) or avacado oil if if I'm feeling fancy. Finish it off with butter which helps keep the oil from smoking as much and keeps the steak from drying out. The spooning method only took 2 burns before I got it down pat.

    Cast iron to me is worth it, cook, let it cool, scrub it out with some water, pat dry, oil it up and let it go until the oil starts to smoke and all done.

    There is no cook quite like the even heating surface of a cast iron.

    I didn't use any oil when cooking the steak. I used canola oil (higher smoke point than vegetable oil) to season the pan, twice, then let it cool completely in the oven. When I cooked the ribeye, I heated the pan very hot and put the steak on it with no oil. Smoked like crazy.

    Granted this is my experience but when I say rub it with oil and heat it till smoking, I mean till you barely see a hint of smoke and just take off heat. Never had any issues.

    I can't say I have cooked a steak without some sort of oil in the pan. I don't get it VERY hot maybe a 6/10 so on the higher end of medium high. Initially about 2 minutes a side without touching then flip over again, add butter and baste for another 2 minutes each side.

    Usually when I do 3 steaks is when it gets a little smokey in the house but I mean that's a lot of oil burning off so I guess to be expected.

    I do have one of the newer lodges, for about 4 years now and no issues.

    Although I did get it on sale at my local grocery store, 12 inch for $15 bucks.
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  • helipilotdoug
    helipilotdoug Posts: 1,229
    You'll pay a premium for a good pan, but believe me when I say they are well worth it. Don't waste your money on a lower cost skillet with a rough interior cooking surface. You might end up paying a couple of hundred for a good skillet but you'll thank yourself. Do a search for cast iron skillets and there is a world of info on what to look for when buying older cast iron. Prices can be affected by collectors of the old skillets, but you can find good ones out there that will serve you well. Even looking around Good Will can be rewarding when looking for the old cast iron.

    I've got 3 old Griswold's that have served me well for many years, a 14, a 10, and a 4. I use the big one for making roux and frying chicken. Cast iron takes some care, but will serve you for many years. Lots of info out there on how to care for your cast iron.
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  • afterburnt
    afterburnt Posts: 7,892
    txcoastal1 wrote: »
    My buddy had taken his favorite CI skillet over to his girlfriends house and a couple weeks after, her house burnt to the ground. A few days after the fire they were walking the through the rubble, and they found the skillet which was one of the very few things that survived.

    It was a well seasoned pan before, but the fire made it perfect.

    Don't try this at home!
  • afterburnt
    afterburnt Posts: 7,892
    I have a bunch of Lodge stuff and the two I use the most were really smooth after not even a year of not all that frequent use. I use a flat edged stainless spatula, that smooths the bottoms out nicely.
  • tonyp063
    tonyp063 Posts: 930
    edited June 2019
    Don't be afraid of the Lodge. After a bit of use it becomes a very good pan.
    As good as a a vintage Griswald or Wagner, no.
    But it's still very good. Pebble finish & all.

    A carbon steel is another discussion.
  • delkal
    delkal Posts: 764
    Like others have mentioned the best cast iron pans are the vintage Griswold or Wagner Ware pans. This was the golden age of cast iron and making them is a lost art. They are extremely well made with a very smooth interior and are not too clunky and heavy. There are other classic brands but these are the most common brands you will see at a flea market. With a little shopping you can find the common sized for $10-20. Just make sure there are no cracks, the bottom is flat and there are no pits on the inside. And don't worry it it is covered in black crud to the point you can barely see the logo. While this black stuff is someones prized seasoning to a new owner it is usually regarded as crud. You can clean it yourself with EZ off or Lye.


    Some general rules on what to look for. You want something made before 1957 when Griswold went out of business. The pans will have a number on the handle usually 3-10 and "Erie Pa" somewhere on the back. Any pan marked with a size in inches or that says "Made in USA" are post 1957. While these pans can work there is an obvious difference in quality and they are not recommended. Avoid anything cast iron from Asia. European pans are way too expensive (and not as good).

    And don't even think about getting cast iron that is coated with anything. If it is nonstick it will burn off and if it is enameled it will never season correctly and always stick.
  • Mikey081057
    Mikey081057 Posts: 7,127
    The secret to food not sticking to pans of any type is:

    Hot pan, cool oil.

    Heat the pan before adding the oil/fat then add the food... works every time with any un-coated pan.

    But doing that with a teflon pan will release "unhealthy potentially toxic vapors"

    I am not a big fan of teflon pans.
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  • Upstatemax
    Upstatemax Posts: 2,530
    I’ve been very happy with my De Buyer Mineral B pans.

    Not really a cast iron pan, it’s a carbon steel pan instead. Holds less odors and creates an awesome cooking surface. They are also a little lighter than cast iron but still have amazing heat retention.

    Smooth cooking surface and nicely built.

    7lv0uqeu1eja.jpeg


    No odor even after cooking fish once I rinse the pan, wipe it down with oil and heat it back up.
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  • delkal
    delkal Posts: 764
    edited June 2019
    One other thing about cast iron pans. After it is seasoned you should NEVER put any soap on it. Soap instantly kills the naturally non stick seasoning. Not one drop or even that soapy sponge that is hanging in your sink.

    To clean just soak in hot water for a few min and wipe with a clean dishrag or paper towel. Let it dry on a rack. You might have a problem convincing your wife/girlfriend/kids about this rule. But one they hear me spouting off and going ballistic when it happens it should only happen once!

    And when you season it put the smallest amount of oil on it, let it sit, THEN WIPE IT ALL OFF. Thick coats get sticky. Then bake at 300 for about an hour and repeat a few times. Occasionally give a seasoned pan a lite coat of oil then wipe it all off. But you shouldn't have to bake it (unless it saw that drop of soap).
  • delkal
    delkal Posts: 764
    aprazer402 wrote: »
    I'm a Griswold man myself. I do have some "Clark W." tendencies unfortunately. :) Smoothest cast iron ever made. Great lid for basting too. Good resale market on these puppies (hooter's, did I say hooter's?) :) Will only use on a gas burner outside rather than scratch my cook top. Doesn't see much use these days.

    qs8ohs88dncw.jpg
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    jzkurr0ud6y8.jpg

    Very nice piece. Skillet lids are uncommon and go for a lot more than the skillet. And a number 12 skillet is a premium too. Make sure you pass it on to someone who appreciates it or sell it for BIG bucks.
  • audioluvr
    audioluvr Posts: 4,152
    aprazer402 wrote: »
    I'm a Griswold man myself.
    edj3rxo55uws.jpg

    Love those chicken cookers! I have a full set of the glass lids for my pans and two or three "drip drop" roasters. Took me two years to get a complete set. Went with the Wagners because Griswold are at least 50% more expensive due to their devout following. I probably have a couple grand in what I got including rare trivets, muffin pans, waffle makers, griddles etc. That's what you do when you are laid off in the winter with a bunch of money in the bank...

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  • kharp1
    kharp1 Posts: 3,453
    Just like with audio equipment, I'm usually too late for the CI at the yard sales.
  • gmcman
    gmcman Posts: 1,661
    aprazer402 wrote: »
    I'm a Griswold man myself. I do have some "Clark W." tendencies unfortunately. :) Smoothest cast iron ever made. Great lid for basting too. Good resale market on these puppies (hooter's, did I say hooter's?) :) Will only use on a gas burner outside rather than scratch my cook top. Doesn't see much use these days.

    qs8ohs88dncw.jpg
    edj3rxo55uws.jpg
    jzkurr0ud6y8.jpg

    I believe I have the exact range you do and was also curious about the possible damage to the cooktop. I figure it would scratch the surface so had plans to use them on the grill if needed.

    We need to replace ours soon anyway as it's been acting up more than we like,.mainly then oven and the temp control

    I have no problem using the iron pans on the grill if it comes to that, but we may go back to regular calrod cooking surfaces as the heat retention on these smooth cooktops makes it more difficult to regulate the temps.

    I appreciate all the input on the pans, I will try to source some of the earlier Griswolds. Might pick up a Lodge for the time being.