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A cast iron skillet is an essential cooking item. We’ve been using our cast iron skillet exclusively (we got rid of all the others) for over a year now, and our food tastes better than ever before! Read these 11 reasons for keeping one (or two) cast iron skillets in your cooking arsenal. Look for buying tips and recommended accessories at the bottom of the post.
reasons to buy a cast iron
1) heats evenly
The beauty of a cast iron skillet is that it cooks food evenly. It will take a little longer to heat up than other skillets, but once it’s hot it will cook your food evenly. So no more moving things around your pan to make sure half of your chicken isn’t burnt and the other half raw.
2) Cast Iron Skillets are Non Toxic
When I was pregnant, my midwife told me if I cook some tomato sauce in my cast iron, I might get a little boost of iron from the pan. Because that’s what happens when you cook something acidic like tomatoes in a cast iron skillet. Sometimes a little iron leaches into the food (not a bad thing).
When a nonstick skillet leaches stuff into your food, it’s toxic. You don’t want that in your food. That’s why if you ever see your non stick skillets flaking, you need to get rid of it immediately.
3) Your cast iron skillet will last a lifetime
Stainless and non stick skillets can easily get scratched or burned if they get too hot. Not a cast iron! You can use it for years, then pass it on to your kids and grandkids! We use these metal spatulas with no fear of ruining our pans.
4) It’s nonstick when used properly
You don’t have to buy a nonstick skillet to keep your food from sticking. When treated properly, a cast iron won’t stick. Make sure it’s hot enough and has a little oil.
5) The only pan you’ll ever need
I haven’t found a food that you CAN’T make in a cast iron. Like I said, we got rid of the non-stick pans over a year ago, and there hasn’t been a time where I’ve needed anything different.
6) You can bring it camping
Bring your cast iron camping and use it over the campfire to cook something delicious. Remember to wipe off the bottom when you’re done or you’ll get black char all over. Ask me how I know.
7) Best steak
We’ve tried a lot of steak recipes, but it’s hard to beat the steak cooked in a cast iron. Sear the steak in the hot cast iron, then move it to the oven to finish. So juicy. So delicious. Yumm.
8) Cast Iron is Easy to Care for
Contrary to what you might have heard, caring for a cast iron is really quite simple. Just wash it out after using it (you can use soap with water). Then heat it up to dry it off and pour a little oil in it when it gets hot.
To be totally honest, we often just re-use the pan without the wash, heat, oil process. Leave it on the stove and it’s ready when you want it!
9) Put it in the oven
You can definitely use your cast iron in the oven. We make frittata, steak, and a whole chicken in our cast iron in the oven. It’s an amazing thing. Also…cast iron pizza. Yumm.
10) Cooks scrambled eggs FAST
Back when we used non-stick cookware, I remember reading you’re supposed to cook scrambled eggs SLOWLY. I don’t know why that was the recommended method, maybe the eggs turn rubbery or something if you cook them too fast.
These days we use our cast iron skillet to cook scrambled eggs and they cook FAST. And it’s awesome. To get over the problem of your eggs sticking, just make sure your pan is hot enough and you have some oil in the pan (or butter) before you pour the eggs in. They’ll bubble up and pull away from the pan really easily if you do this. Our scrambled eggs are delicious and cooked in less than a minute (so helpful on busy mornings).
11) Better Flavor
There’s something about cooking in a cast iron skillet that just makes food taste better. I’m not sure what it is about it…but I really believe this is true. Maybe it’s the fact that it can get super hot, or maybe something else.
Which Cast Iron to Buy?
What to Look for
Look for a pre-seasoned cast iron skillet in the size you’re looking for.
Which size of cast iron skillet is best?
We have two sizes of cast iron skillets. For our everyday cooking, we use the smaller one (about 10″ diameter across the top) because it’s a little lighter and is just about the perfect size. But the big one (about 12″ diameter) is nice to have, too (like when we roast a whole chicken in the cast iron, or make a big frittata or pizza).
Where should you buy your cast iron skillet?
You can get a cast iron skillet pretty much anywhere that kitchen items are sold. Here are three places to look.
1) Garage Sales/ Thrift Stores
If you’re lucky you can find AWESOME cast iron skillets that are old and wonderfully smooth and seasoned buried in a garage sale.
If you don’t frequent garage sales or maybe you haven’t had much luck, Target usually has one or two cast irons in their kitchen department in the store. Or you can order one online.
And of course, there’s Amazon! Is there anything Amazon doesn’t sell? Here’s the kind we have.
Is there anything else I need?
Once you’ve decided to get a cast iron skillet, you might be wondering if there’s anything else you need. My answer: Just one thing to keep you safe.
Most cast iron pans have handles that heat up with the pan. And if you’ve ever grabbed a searing hot cast iron handle, you probably bought these right away (to keep you from ever doing it again).
I recommend getting a set of these handle covers. We take them off when we put the cast iron in the oven, but on the stove top when the cast iron is super hot (the handle gets hot too), your hands will be protected.