3

votes

Are expensive cast iron pans worth it?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created April 27, 2011 at 2:14 PM

I'm in the market for new pots and pans, including a new cast iron pan. My last one was like $25 from Target and it was ok. I noticed that I had to maintain the "seasoning" quit frequently, otherwise foods would stick. My question is are the more expensive cast iron pans worth the money? I see them range from $20-100 for a large pan.

7c379a865738d2b373a362dc0f1d9459

(357)

on September 17, 2012
at 07:37 AM

I second this I love lodge that some people have said they don't like. Nothing sticks to mine. Coat them with fat! Do not wash! You are left with a wonderful pan. I have a huge collection, some Wagner too and I see no difference.

3058079ae822f066c06e55071d74b634

(164)

on March 26, 2012
at 07:27 PM

Yup. Great and cheap. There's a reason our grandparents held onto their cast iron skillets for life.

Fc6a9e07f6056d465573c8969d3a2ddd

(370)

on March 26, 2012
at 06:31 PM

For some people that's a pro, not a con.

1398eff69b192c35de5e0dbaad59052a

(2024)

on March 26, 2012
at 03:21 PM

Le crueset is overrated.

1398eff69b192c35de5e0dbaad59052a

(2024)

on March 26, 2012
at 03:20 PM

Ditto on this. I have two cast iron pans that I use regularly--one old lodge without the bumpiness and one new lodge with. It's taken me three years of regular use to get a good season on the bumpy one and now things don't stick. But the roughness is still there.

Medium avatar

(2923)

on March 26, 2012
at 05:29 AM

Don't think I've heard "expensive" used to describe cast-iron pans before ... but then if people are willing to pay $150 plus for a nonstick pan that's available for under $30 at a restaurant supply store ...

2b3edde3c7b9393fe36a2dd9c8acf473

(284)

on March 26, 2012
at 04:14 AM

I second this. I have an old Lodge which is fairly smooth, and a really old of unknown brand with a mirror smooth finish. My new lodge logic 12" is super rough and everything sticks to it. Back in the day the pans were cast, then milled smooth, but that hasn't been the case for something like 60 years.

E7be2ce38158357f5dacae07b43d1b29

on April 29, 2011
at 01:03 AM

Same here. My first cast iron pans were hand-me-downs from my mom. I've added to the collection via thrift stores. I revived a rusty crusty looking one I paid $3 for, and now it's one of my favorites. Vintage pans are always better quality. I also Lodge, too. I got a nice, ridiculously heavy grill pan for $14 from TJ Maxx. It's so heavy that I couldn't use it upside anyone's head if I wanted to, and brings the taste of outdoor grilling indoors. I have a nice "sandwich" press which fits it perfectly I paid about $10 and use for thick cuts of meats. No need to pay big$ for good cast iron.

1b81384cf6519d1fd092c293b050cd1f

(270)

on April 28, 2011
at 08:42 PM

i salvaged mine from a goodwill for about $5. Luckily didn't take much clean up, just a lot of seasoning.today it is my favorite skillet!

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on April 28, 2011
at 07:41 PM

Read this post on seasoning and hopefully you won't have to re-season too much: http://paleohacks.com/questions/5031/how-to-season-maintain-a-cast-iron-skillet But I only recently seasoned my pan, so I don't know how long I'll be able to go before I have to touch it up.

22212e9ba2a041e6da6c963d4d41615a

(5773)

on April 28, 2011
at 01:47 PM

hot water and sponge.

Ab19df3ededa28f7bf7daeba8435b205

(1471)

on April 27, 2011
at 09:29 PM

How are you cleaning yours?

611e074aee99c1d529b1e5c08e8ad925

on April 27, 2011
at 08:59 PM

Maybe..........

91c2e2a35e578e2e79ce7d631b753879

(2081)

on April 27, 2011
at 06:44 PM

I agree - all of my cast iron (a considerable collection) is Lodge. I love the stuff, and wish you could still buy the unseasoned pieces - the ones I seasoned myself are more non-stick than the Lodge Logic. I also have several of their enameled pieces as well, and it is every bit as good as Le Creuset at a fraction of the price.

44348571d9bc70c02ac2975cc500f154

(5853)

on April 27, 2011
at 05:44 PM

Indeed buy some vintage cast iron skillets that have good smooth seasoning already. They get better with use, so if it has been used like 50 years, its good as gold:) They are better than new.

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25472)

on April 27, 2011
at 04:25 PM

Nope...........

1cbb6b2a813475d6c0b17fd5e898dc50

(1248)

on April 27, 2011
at 03:53 PM

This sounds like a good plan.....I have a cheap walmart pan and the surface seems really rough.

A89f9751a97c3082802dc0bcbe4e9208

(13978)

on April 27, 2011
at 03:38 PM

Love Lodge Logic! I own two items from them and and buying a new one soon.

03fa485bfd54734522755f47a5e6597e

(3944)

on April 27, 2011
at 03:25 PM

Same here; bought a stack of Wagner skillets at a farm auction for $1. Make sure it's hot before adding anything, even the fat you're cooking in. I wash it about once a year, whether it needs it or not.

9cafefbce8a135e66c3cb50a2ccc18a7

(60)

on April 27, 2011
at 03:17 PM

ive been cooking with cheap cast iron pans for a few years now and have found out that learning how to cook wtih them is what makes a huge difference. its really important to always let the pan heat up all the way before putting the food in. food will always stick if I forget to do this, and I have found that this is the key. then just use hot water and a dedicated scrub brush to clean it up afterwards. really quick and easy. also look at some of the oils you are using to season it with. some fats hold up to higher heat than others, thes are the ones you want to use, im my experience.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on April 27, 2011
at 02:29 PM

same here. i have been using mine for at least three years. I've never once had to reseason it. I just use it 5-6 days per week and never ever use soap to clean it.

1da74185531d6d4c7182fb9ee417f97f

(10904)

on April 27, 2011
at 02:25 PM

Yes. They are. :-)

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15 Answers

11
Ef9f83cb4e1826261a44c173f733789e

on April 27, 2011
at 02:22 PM

I'm a dedicated Lodge guy. A 12" Lodge skillet w/lid will cost you only 40 bucks and last long enough for your offspring's offspring to fight over.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on April 27, 2011
at 02:29 PM

same here. i have been using mine for at least three years. I've never once had to reseason it. I just use it 5-6 days per week and never ever use soap to clean it.

91c2e2a35e578e2e79ce7d631b753879

(2081)

on April 27, 2011
at 06:44 PM

I agree - all of my cast iron (a considerable collection) is Lodge. I love the stuff, and wish you could still buy the unseasoned pieces - the ones I seasoned myself are more non-stick than the Lodge Logic. I also have several of their enameled pieces as well, and it is every bit as good as Le Creuset at a fraction of the price.

A89f9751a97c3082802dc0bcbe4e9208

(13978)

on April 27, 2011
at 03:38 PM

Love Lodge Logic! I own two items from them and and buying a new one soon.

3058079ae822f066c06e55071d74b634

(164)

on March 26, 2012
at 07:27 PM

Yup. Great and cheap. There's a reason our grandparents held onto their cast iron skillets for life.

5
Medium avatar

(4878)

on April 27, 2011
at 02:26 PM

Yes.

If you want a cheaper source, look for them on Craiglist or at garage sales where you might pay $5-10 depending on the size. Even if they haven't been used for years and are covered in rust, you can clean them up, season them, and they'll work great. In fact the rusty, old ones are often better quality and most people don't know they are fixable.

1b81384cf6519d1fd092c293b050cd1f

(270)

on April 28, 2011
at 08:42 PM

i salvaged mine from a goodwill for about $5. Luckily didn't take much clean up, just a lot of seasoning.today it is my favorite skillet!

E7be2ce38158357f5dacae07b43d1b29

on April 29, 2011
at 01:03 AM

Same here. My first cast iron pans were hand-me-downs from my mom. I've added to the collection via thrift stores. I revived a rusty crusty looking one I paid $3 for, and now it's one of my favorites. Vintage pans are always better quality. I also Lodge, too. I got a nice, ridiculously heavy grill pan for $14 from TJ Maxx. It's so heavy that I couldn't use it upside anyone's head if I wanted to, and brings the taste of outdoor grilling indoors. I have a nice "sandwich" press which fits it perfectly I paid about $10 and use for thick cuts of meats. No need to pay big$ for good cast iron.

4
Aead76beb5fc7b762a6b4ddc234f6051

(15239)

on April 28, 2011
at 05:50 PM

i actually HATE HATE HATE lodge pans. they are pockmarked, rough and lumpy. i use my great grandmothers griswold cast iron and its beautiful- smooth as glass and i get an incredible sear. i highly recommend buying some up at garage sales, flea markets, antique stores, craigslist and ebay. WARNING: griswolds are expensive as hall now that people have caught on. dealers charge hundreds and even thousands of dollars for them. wagner bought griswold in the early 40s and their pans are just as good, but not as collectible so the prices are much more reasonable if youre using it for cooking. i usually score mine for pennies at garage sales when people dont realize what they have.

2b3edde3c7b9393fe36a2dd9c8acf473

(284)

on March 26, 2012
at 04:14 AM

I second this. I have an old Lodge which is fairly smooth, and a really old of unknown brand with a mirror smooth finish. My new lodge logic 12" is super rough and everything sticks to it. Back in the day the pans were cast, then milled smooth, but that hasn't been the case for something like 60 years.

1398eff69b192c35de5e0dbaad59052a

(2024)

on March 26, 2012
at 03:20 PM

Ditto on this. I have two cast iron pans that I use regularly--one old lodge without the bumpiness and one new lodge with. It's taken me three years of regular use to get a good season on the bumpy one and now things don't stick. But the roughness is still there.

4
Cf626d3fba66c18297b3f1116a920e58

(3417)

on April 27, 2011
at 02:18 PM

I bought a Le Creuset enameled cast iron fry pan last September, and it's been fantastic. I cook almost all of my meals in it. Clean up is no problem, and I haven't had to keep up with seasoning it. It isn't non-stick, but sticking generally isn't much of a problem if I use enough oil.

3
4354745cc31c9e0c58f1a396bea962f1

on April 27, 2011
at 03:33 PM

A good way to make a cheap pan nice. Use a random orbital sander on it to smooth it out real nice. Then season it will be just like a expensive one.

1cbb6b2a813475d6c0b17fd5e898dc50

(1248)

on April 27, 2011
at 03:53 PM

This sounds like a good plan.....I have a cheap walmart pan and the surface seems really rough.

1
07c86972a3bea0b0dc17752e9d2f5642

on March 26, 2012
at 04:14 AM

Don't ever wash them, even with plain hot water, except once when you first get it. When they are new, cook bacon in them for awhile and meat that is cooked in lots of fat. Scrape out anything that sticks and leave some of the rendered fat in it. It will transform from a bumpy sticky pan to a smooth non stick surface. Then you'll be able to cook other things like potatoes and eggs and things with a lot less fat without it sticking. If something sticks to it that a nylon scraper won't take off, use steel wool and wipe out it out with a paper towel and a little fat.

7c379a865738d2b373a362dc0f1d9459

(357)

on September 17, 2012
at 07:37 AM

I second this I love lodge that some people have said they don't like. Nothing sticks to mine. Coat them with fat! Do not wash! You are left with a wonderful pan. I have a huge collection, some Wagner too and I see no difference.

1
Ed2157b3a5560af0f2c507c8fc4f5a2a

on March 26, 2012
at 03:21 AM

If you can, try to get a cast iron from Argentina. It will be cheap, will last forever, and makes food taste AMAZING.

I still have the old one that belonged to my grandmother and any food that touches it turns to GOLD.

1
661fd72c601aa67be69e90c8ecb88b9f

on April 27, 2011
at 09:23 PM

The Black Iron Dude blog (sadly on hiatus): http://blackirondude.blogspot.com/ has lots of great information about using and seasoning your cast iron.

1
Da8e709acde269e8b8bfbc09d1737841

(1906)

on April 27, 2011
at 05:08 PM

We vote "no;" cheap department-store cast iron cookware may have some concern with leaking of chemicals, but we're talking cast iron, which lasts forever. So, you can get a quality vintage piece that's decades old (and likely already seasoned) from various places, at a cheaper price than you'd find a new piece for.

Le Creuset pieces are nice, but unless you can't live without pristine enamel, the price isn't worth it; they don't cook better than any other quality cast iron piece.

1398eff69b192c35de5e0dbaad59052a

(2024)

on March 26, 2012
at 03:21 PM

Le crueset is overrated.

1
Medium avatar

on April 27, 2011
at 03:55 PM

I really love the old Belgian Descoware enameled iron pots and pans. Don't have to season them, even heat transfer like cast iron, you can wash them. Plus they come in cool colors! All mine are yellow, and I got them at thrift stores for $3-$5, even the monster 12" pan! Oh and they all have removable wooden handles so you can put them in the oven.

http://descoware.com/
http://shop.ebay.com/?_from=R40&_trksid=p5197.m570.l1313&_nkw=descoware&_sacat=See-All-Categories

1
3edf46d729f17cfff798b66eaa1ecb02

on April 27, 2011
at 03:08 PM

we picked up a bunch of Wagner skillets at garage sales. they hold the seasoning very well, as long as you use lots of fat while cooking, don't use soap on hem. just rinse and scrub with a soft brush, dry, and keep in a dry place (stacked in the oven works well!). I love them.

9cafefbce8a135e66c3cb50a2ccc18a7

(60)

on April 27, 2011
at 03:17 PM

ive been cooking with cheap cast iron pans for a few years now and have found out that learning how to cook wtih them is what makes a huge difference. its really important to always let the pan heat up all the way before putting the food in. food will always stick if I forget to do this, and I have found that this is the key. then just use hot water and a dedicated scrub brush to clean it up afterwards. really quick and easy. also look at some of the oils you are using to season it with. some fats hold up to higher heat than others, thes are the ones you want to use, im my experience.

03fa485bfd54734522755f47a5e6597e

(3944)

on April 27, 2011
at 03:25 PM

Same here; bought a stack of Wagner skillets at a farm auction for $1. Make sure it's hot before adding anything, even the fat you're cooking in. I wash it about once a year, whether it needs it or not.

44348571d9bc70c02ac2975cc500f154

(5853)

on April 27, 2011
at 05:44 PM

Indeed buy some vintage cast iron skillets that have good smooth seasoning already. They get better with use, so if it has been used like 50 years, its good as gold:) They are better than new.

1
B4ec9ce369e43ea83f06ee645169cee0

on April 27, 2011
at 02:36 PM

With the Lodge brand, you won't get that perfectly smooth seasoned non-stick surface. It is fine but in my opinion, the more expensive pans are worth it. I mean you're going to have them forever, and then your kids/family will have them! I agree with buying at a garage sale, just make sure it's not Lodge.

0
Bb2adc4df725b56e99e0652c0feb4640

(254)

on March 26, 2012
at 02:59 AM

The catch is probably the increase in iron consumption due to cooking stuff in these pans.

Fc6a9e07f6056d465573c8969d3a2ddd

(370)

on March 26, 2012
at 06:31 PM

For some people that's a pro, not a con.

0
002d074ab094fefc344bf0d1f36091ec

on April 27, 2011
at 05:47 PM

For the longest time I have been using and investing in the Corningware Visions glass cookware, but recently I bought my first cast iron piece at our local grocery store. It's a bright green enamel covered dutch oven, and I love it. I often make stews or soups with this. Best part is that it only cost me $25. I saw something comparable at Walmart for $70 the other day (BHG brand). I store mine with an old dish towel wrapped around the lid to prevent chipping of the enamel when shuffling through the cupboard. I am looking forward to investing in my next cast iron piece: a skillet. Thanks for the Descoware info! Looks to be a perfect match to my pot. :)

0
741862d51f4709ea726113db7926576f

(605)

on April 27, 2011
at 04:06 PM

Yes, they are. 1.) Lifetime warranty. 2.) Versatility of use (oven-safe, refrigerator, freezer safe) 3.) Heat distribution 4.) No concern of leaching of chemicals 5.) Can do "low and slow" beautifully in an oven no problem 6.) retains heat for long period of time - perfect for pot luck suppers 7.) If buying enameled cast iron, the surface enables you to get a nice fond, and is awesome for things like short ribs, pot roast, etc, 8.) No seasoning required for the Le Creuset.

Keep an eye on CraigsList or Ebay for deals...

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