A cast-iron skillet is great for everything from searing a T-bone to roasting a chicken, and it will become naturally nonstick over time. We’ve tested 16 skillets since 2017 and think the Lodge Chef Collection 12 Inch Skillet is the best. It's lighter than other cast-iron skillets, better at searing, comes with a good factory seasoning, and has easy-to-grip handles.
Looking for something to cook in your cast-iron skillet? Try these recipes for cast-iron steak, sourdough pancakes, or brown butter skillet cornbread from NYT Cooking.
The Lodge Chef Collection 12 Inch Skillet delivered evenly browned steaks, crisp golden cornbread, and sunny-side-up eggs that slipped right out of the pan. At 6½ pounds versus the 8½ pounds of the classic Lodge, it’s more manageable to maneuver than traditional cast iron, and the slightly lower, gently sloped sides make stirring foods and maneuvering a spatula easier. Just note that since it’s shallower than the classic Lodge, this skillet is not as good for deep-frying—if that’s something you do often, go for the original design instead. Although it’s priced a little higher than the classic Lodge, the Chef Collection skillet is still affordable and is also made in the USA.
If you want to deep-fry and don’t mind doing a little heavy lifting, we think the Lodge Pre-Seasoned 12-inch Cast Iron Skillet is an excellent choice. It seared steak, fried eggs, and released cornbread well in our tests. And though it weighs about 2 pounds more than the brand’s Chef Collection skillet and has a shorter (though still comfortable) handle, it’s about a quarter inch deeper, which makes it better for frying chicken or preparing shallow braises. It’s also a little less expensive than the Chef Collection skillet.
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