By Casey Barber, CNN

I’ve a kitchen stuffed to the rafters with all types of cookware. As an expert recipe developer and meals author, I can declare it’s for work. However my cast-iron skillet is the pan I exploit extra usually than another.

A cast-iron pan is likely one of the most versatile and dependable items of kitchen tools for any prepare dinner, and in contrast to most digital kitchen must-haves, it may possibly final for generations. (I’m taking a look at you, air fryer.)

As a result of it may possibly deal with excessive temperatures and retains warmth effectively, I really like that forged iron can go from stovetop to oven. It’s simply pretty much as good for searing steaks or rooster breasts as it’s for scrambling eggs, stir-frying greens, cooking home made tortillas and even baking a fruit cobbler.

It’s additionally an inexpensive piece of cookware — so gathering forged iron would possibly develop into an obsession. I really like restoring classic cast-iron pans I discover in vintage retailers, however novice cast-iron cooks can choose up a Lodge skillet, made within the nation’s oldest and longest-running cast-iron foundry in Tennessee, for lower than $30.

Regardless of what you might need heard, I can guarantee you that cast-iron pans are extremely simple to take care of. You don’t want greater than scorching water to scrub them, together with a bit of kosher salt to wash off any cussed bits. How’s that for sustainable?

Pissed off cooks usually ask me what they will do about their scratched nonstick pans, and I wholeheartedly advocate forged iron as a sturdy alternative. In contrast to coated nonstick pans, the end on a cast-iron pan doesn’t degrade over time. The truth is, the nonstick properties of forged iron enhance with repeated use, because the oils utilized in cooking develop into a part of the pan itself.

There’s no want to fret about utilizing steel utensils on forged iron, both. For those who by chance scratch the end, you can reseason cast-iron skillets simply with warmth and vegetable oil.

One word: Till you’ve constructed up the pan’s seasoning, keep away from cooking extremely acidic meals similar to tomatoes, vinegar, wine or citrus within the pan. The acid can eat away on the end, however a well-seasoned pan can deal with a short simmer with these elements. (Use enameled cast-iron items similar to a Dutch oven for dishes that require longer cooking, like tomato sauce.)

What to make in your cast-iron skillet

For many meals, a 10-inch, high-sided cast-iron skillet is the pan you’ll wish to seize repeatedly. When you begin utilizing it, you’ll discover it making its manner onto the range (or into the oven) for a lot of a meal, however listed below are some options to get going.

Shepherd’s pie

There’s no want to tug out a casserole dish when making this hearty and rustic dish. Sauté and simmer floor meat (or lentils, for a vegetarian option) and greens within the skillet with wine and broth, then prime with mashed potatoes and switch the pan to the oven.

And whereas the names are often used interchangeably, shepherd’s pie historically refers to a lamb-based model of the dish, whereas cottage pie refers back to the beef-based model. To make the variation referred to as Cumberland pie, prime your mashed potatoes with shredded cheese and breadcrumbs.

Macaroni and cheese

Although many recipes name for boiling and cooking pasta individually from the creamy cheese sauce, you are able to do it multi function cast-iron skillet for a creamy one-pot meal with crispy broiled bits. Who wants boxed mac and cheese when you’ve gotten this stovetop choice?

When the longing for mac and cheese strikes in the course of the summer time, there’s no have to warmth up the oven. Use your cast-iron skillet to make a effervescent baked mac and cheese dish right on your grill.

Roast rooster and greens

Whereas roasting a complete rooster is all the time a consolation meals winner, bone-in rooster breasts and thighs are perfect for a cast-iron skillet meal as a result of it’s simple to get a crispy-skinned end on the cuts.

The only methodology is that this: Brown the rooster pores and skin facet down in oil or butter over medium excessive warmth (it takes about three or 4 minutes), then put aside and briefly sauté greens within the pan drippings. Return the rooster to the pan, pores and skin facet up and bake at 400 levels Fahrenheit till the rooster reaches 165 levels on a meat thermometer.

The variations on this meal template are almost infinite, however you can begin with chicken and wild mushrooms, Greek-style chicken thighs with olives and lemon or roasted chicken and potatoes with pan sauce.

Pan pizza

While you desire a thick and chewy crust for household pizza night time, ditch the baking stone and use the cast-iron skillet as an alternative. Preheating the skillet within the oven offers dough a scorching floor that helps the pizza puff as much as pillowy heights.

When utilizing store-bought pizza dough, convey dough to room temperature earlier than stretching it out. Doing so helps stop the dreaded bounce-back response that retains the dough from absolutely filling out the pan.

Or for a pizza that may take you again to the times of red-checkered tablecloths, Tiffany-style lamps (and the E-book It! program for millennials), make your personal pan pizza dough.

Dutch infants

For a weekend breakfast — or a weeknight breakfast for dinner — bust out the cast-iron skillet to make a powerful wanting Dutch child. This family-size pancake puffs up within the oven, then deflates to create a bowl-shaped pastry that’s excellent for topping with candy or savory elements.

Strive a candy maple buttermilk Dutch baby topped with berries and cream or a savory Dutch baby topped with poached eggs and ham.


Whether or not you prefer it sweetened with sugar or honey, loaded with contemporary corn or jalapeño peppers or slathered in butter, cornbread baked in a cast-iron skillet is even higher due to the crunchy browned crust.

Preheat the pan within the oven, then add sufficient oil or fats (similar to bacon drippings) to cowl the underside of the pan earlier than pouring within the batter. Any cornbread recipe sized for a 9-inch baking dish can even work in a skillet. Do this extra crunchy version made with each polenta and millet.


This conventional Persian rice dish is legendary for its crispy golden backside layer, and that’s a feat you may obtain with ease in a cast-iron skillet. As a result of it holds on to warmth, the pan helps the rice prepare dinner to a crunchy end with out burning or scorching in spots.

Make the rice as a facet dish or serve it as a meal of its personal topped with turmeric chickpeas and greens or spiced chicken.

Skillet brownies and cookies

For those who make one huge Oreo-studded brownie or chocolate chip cookie in a cast-iron skillet, is it thought of a single serving? Whether or not you like the crispy, chewy edges or the gooey, wealthy heart — or a bit of of each — these desserts ship. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream on prime.

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Casey Barber is a meals author, artist and editor of the web site Good. Meals. Tales.

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