Best cast iron pans and dishes for healthy cooking

Discover traditional cookware that imparts extra goodness in your food.

Woman's Hand Spreading Frosting Across Cinnamon Rolls in Skillet

by Natalie Knowles |
Updated on

The best cast iron pans and dishes are durable and offer excellent heat retention. Whilst non-stick cookware is made with safe coatings these days, cast iron is an attractive alternative because it's natural and imparts some iron content in the cooked food. While not typically included in pan sets, a cast iron dish is an essential that every culinary enthusiast should have in their kitchen arsenal.

Cast iron pots come in a variety of sizes for a range of cooking needs; from dishes for individual portions to larger Dutch ovens and frying pans that are perfect for family meals. Think homely comfort food – like veggie pie – cast iron pans and dishes are perfect for stove-top suppers and wholesome casseroles.

Best cast iron pans and dishes at a glance:

Best overall cast iron pot: Le Creuset Enamelled Cast Iron Signature Round Dutch Oven – Buy now on Amazon UK
Best cast iron skillet: ProCook Cast Iron Skillet – Buy now on ProCook
Best cast iron cookware set: Staub 3-pcs Pot Set – Buy now on Zwilling

It's slow food at its best. Home-cooked for hours in a cast iron pot, enjoy flavoursome stews and pot roasts that even Jamie Oliver would be proud of. Moreover, cast iron pots are available in an array of colours to match with every kitchen aesthetic. The iconic volcanic red Le Creuset casserole pot now comes in a rainbow of colours. Whether you favour a classy sage hue, or desire a splash of vibrancy with saffron or vermillion blue, there's a cast iron pot to match every taste.

Use a cast iron skillet to make a cookie dough dessert or a griddle pan to sear steaks; cast iron cookware is designed to be used on a hob or in an oven. Known for its slow heating process, may not be the ideal choice for food in a hurry. Traditional cast iron, lacks protective coatings inside and out, so it needs seasoning. More on that in the FAQ section below.

Best cast iron pans and dishes

Best overall cast iron pot

Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Signature Round Dutch OvenAmazon/Le Creuset
Price: $168.75 (was £225)

Sausage casserole served with creamy mashed potato is as iconic as this Le Creuset Enamelled Cast Iron Signature Round Dutch Oven. Crafted in France, it features a tight-fitting lid to lock in moisture, flavours and develop delicious aromas. This 20cm pot is ideal for serving 2-3 people. Its interior enamel ensures food doesn't stick and is easier to maintain than uncoated cast iron. Additionally, it allows for simmering or slow cooking, while ensuring even and lasting heat retention. With easy-grip handles and dishwasher-safe enamel, it's effortless to use and clean.

Customer review: "This is our third LE CREUSET over 20 years (all different sizes) and continue to be pleased with heat distribution, ability to move from stove top to oven, and its ease in cleaning. Lots of colours to choose from."

Pros

  • Iconic brand
  • Excellent heat retention
  • Enamel-coated
  • Lifetime guarantee
  • Available in 13 different colours

Cons

  • Heavy

Best cast iron skillet

ProCook Cast Iron SkilletProCook
Price: £39 (was £79)

www.procook.co.uk

Prepare a speedy skillet lasagne or a healthy stir-fry in the versatile ProCook Cast Iron Skillet. ProCook's cast iron cookware range is known for its quality and durability, with various sizes and shapes available. This 26cm cast iron skillet offers exceptional heat retention and distribution – perfect for charring, frying and browning. It has a smooth enamel interior, long handle and helper handle for easy handling; ideal for finishing off a cheesy pasta dish under the grill. Procook's cast iron range is machine-cast to the highest standards.

Customer review: "Retain heat well and cooks evenly the extra handle is good as it helps when removing from oven. Good product."

Pros

  • Enamel coating for easy cleaning and rust-free maintenance
  • Exceptional heat retention
  • High quality

Cons

  • Hand wash only

Best cast iron cookware set

Staub 3-pcs Pot setZwilling/Staub

One-pot roast dinners, seared salmon and homemade gravy are all possible with this Staub 3-pcs Pot Set... all at the same time! The set comprises of a cocotte, braiser, frying pan and lid. The lid is self-basting with an "aroma rain function" and it fits all the cookware in the set. The set includes a griddle pan for searing and frying. There is a braiser for medium-size casseroles and a cocotte for large dishes, such as pot roast. All the dishes can be stacked and rim protectors placed between each piece prevent chipping.

Customer review: "Does all the things we want and stacks beautifully."

Pros

  • Stackable and space-saving design
  • Durable and coated for easy maintenance
  • Premium quality

Cons

  • Hand wash only

Best multifunctional cast iron cookware

Lodge Cast Iron Double Dutch OvenLakeland/Lodge

Cook a traditional pot roast in the Lodge Cast Iron Double Dutch Oven. It has the capacity to serve serves up meals for six people. Plus, its lid doubles as a 26cm frying pan, so it's ideal for small kitchens or travel. Lodge's iconic cast iron cookware offers versatility, durability and superb heat retention. Founded in 1896, Lodge produces heirloom-quality cookware with a pre-seasoned finish. Lodge's cookware is suitable for all stovetops, ovens and outdoor cooking.

Pros

  • Versatile
  • Strong and durable
  • Iconic American cookware brand

Cons

  • No reviews

Best value cast iron casserole dish

ProCook Cast Iron CasseroleProCook
Price: £59 (RRP £119)

www.procook.co.uk

Tuck into a tender chicken and vegetable stew, served with crusty bread for a warming supper. The ProCook Cast Iron Casserole Dish is best for durability and value. This 20cm casserole dish has a 2.7L capacity and ideal for smaller families and couples. It's robust lid is self-basting, making meats exceptionally tender. Plus, the ergonomic handles make it easy to maneuverer from hob to oven, or from oven to dinner table. It offers versatility for sweet and savoury dishes and is bound to be the centrepiece of many warming suppers for years to come.

Customer review: "Good quality and size for two people."

Pros

  • Self-basting lid
  • Available in six colours
  • Dishwasher-safe
  • Enamelled inside and out

Cons

  • Hand wash only

Best trending cast iron pot

Our Place Cast Iron Perfect PotOur Place

Braised meats, chilli and homemade soups are just the beginning, with the Our Place Cast Iron Perfect Pot. Available in six stylish colours, this beautifully designed cook pot will take pride of place at the dinner table. It's made from high-quality cast iron with a matte enamelled surface so it's easy to maintain. The distinctive dome-shaped lid self-bastes food which is ideal for slow-cooked roasts. The thoughtful design means the complimentary Beechwood scraper rests on the handle of the pot for convenience.

Customer review: "So far, everything has been amazing and we're really enjoying our cast iron pot. My wife cooked short ribs with carrots in it and it was very easy to clean afterwards."

Pros

  • No seasoning required
  • Family-size and can fit a whole chicken
  • Includes silicone hot grips, a Beechwood scraper and a self-basting lid
  • Popular and trending

Cons

  • Heavy (6.25kg with lid)

Best shallow cast iron pan

John Lewis Cast Iron Shallow CasseroleJohn Lewis

Enjoy baked pasta dishes, chicken pot pie or comforting vegetable gratin in this elegant green John Lewis Cast Iron Shallow Casserole. The beauty of this versatile piece of cookware is that it can be used to sear, brown and sauté – then slow cook on the hob or bake and roast in an oven. The durable porcelain enamel exterior is easy to clean, while the domed lid retains moisture for succulent results. It's a stylish piece of cookware with practical safety metal handles.

Customer review: "A great colour, very solid, and heats up beautifully, even on a halogen ringed cooker. Did not stain, even with those usual 'burnt on' bits of food liable to stick to the edges of the pad. Cleans up really easily which is a massive help."

Pros

  • Robust and heat-retaining
  • Easy to clean
  • Suitable for use on all hobs
  • Great heat retention for energy-efficient cooking

Cons

  • It is not non-stick

Best high-end cast iron pot

 STAUB Round Cast Iron CocotteWayfair/Staub
Price: £183.12 (was £319)

www.wayfair.co.uk

Make a classic French Coq au Vin or a delicious ratatouille in the STAUB Round Cast Iron Cocotte. This cookware is designed for both professional chefs and home cooks. It offers the benefits of healthy and flavourful cooking. The lid has a special drop texture to baste food while it's cooking. The durable black enamel interior is versatile for searing, crisp frying and slow cooking. Additionally, there is matching Staub cast iron cookware also available.

Customer review: "This is my third Staub pot. I love them for their durable finish and for superb cooking results. Heat is distributed evenly and holds the warmth of the dish after cook time ends."

Pros

  • Premium cookware
  • Cool touch handles
  • Metal utensil safe
  • Induction compatible

Cons

  • Hand wash

Best value cast iron Dutch oven

Amazon Basics Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Dutch OvenAmazon
Price: $29.45

Mouth-watering slow-cooked beef stew and no-knead bread cooked to perfection thanks to the heat retention of the Amazon Basics Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Dutch Oven. Following each use, wash this cast iron cookware with a soft brush and hot water, plus a mild soap. Avoid prolonged soaking. Once washed, let it air dry completely, then apply a light coating of cooking oil to the surface to preserve the seasoning.

Customer review: "Really solid cast iron pan with good instructions on seasoning it. Decent size (was worried it would be very small but it's very practical actually)."

Pros

  • Good even heat distribution and retention
  • Ideal for one to two people
  • Traditional cast iron cookware

Cons

  • Needs seasoning to preserve it and hand wash only

Best value cast iron griddle

Habitat Large Cast Iron Grill PanArgos/Habitat

From crispy golden-brown grilled cheese sandwiches to perfectly charred peppers, the Habitat Large Cast Iron Grill Pan is a large and versatile piece of cookware. Use it in the oven or on the hob. It really comes into its own if you have an induction hob with flexible space, so you can devote one half of the hob to griddling. It's heavy, robust and stylish as well as being very good value for money.

Customer review: "Bought this and it’s amazing easy to clean."

Pros

  • Attractive cookware
  • Suitable for all hobs
  • 10 year warranty

Cons

  • Heavy

FAQs

What are the benefits of cooking with cast iron?

Cast iron has numerous benefits as a cooking material. It offers superb conduction and heat distribution; minimising hot spots and uneven cooking. Furthermore, its heat retention guarantees that dishes remain warm so you can bring the pot to the dinner table and enjoy piping-hot seconds. It also means that you can cook some dishes using the residual heat from the hob or oven, making it an energy-efficient way of cooking.

Concerns regarding toxic "Forever Chemicals," historically present in non-stick coatings, has revived interest in cast iron pans and dishes. Cast iron adds small amounts of iron to food, enhancing nutrition. The NHS website lists the benefits of iron and how much we should have every day. But note, it's important not to have too much iron as it can cause side effects.

Cast iron cookware is perfect for satisfying comfort food. If you're in need of recipes check out the Hairy Bikers one-pot wonders. We're here for the Full English Shakshuka.

Cast iron has great durability, surpassing the life span of other cookware. Despite the higher cost, investing in cast iron ensures a cooking pot that can withstand a lifetime of use.

What are the cons of cast iron cookware?

Maintaining uncoated cast iron demands attention to prevent rust and preserve the seasoning. It's not dishwasher safe and it requires thorough drying. Moreover, due to their weight, cast iron cookware can be cumbersome and might pose lifting challenges; therefore aluminium can be an appealing lightweight option. Also, be sure to wear extra thick oven mitts when handling hot cast iron as it retains heat for a long time. Cast iron pots are suitable for use on gas, electric and induction hobs. However, take care when using them on glass or ceramic hobs as it can cause scratches.

What should I avoid cooking in cast iron?

Avoid cooking highly acidic foods like tomatoes for long periods, as it can break down the seasoning and impart a metallic taste. Delicate fish dishes may also stick due to the rough surface. Boiling water in cast iron is generally fine, but it may cause the seasoning to degrade in time. Regularly boiling water might require more frequent re-seasoning to maintain the non-stick surface.

How do I season cast iron cookware?

Seasoning involves applying oil and baking it onto the cookware to make it a natural non-stick surface. Cast iron pots and pans are crafted from a single piece of material, so be sure to treat the entire pan – both inside and out.

Preheat your oven to its maximum temperature setting. If the cast iron is new, use warm soapy water to remove any manufacturing residues. If you're re-seasoning an old piece of cookware, wash it to eliminate any food residue or rust. A non-abrasive scouring pad will remove stubborn debris. Rinse thoroughly and completely dry the cookware using paper towels or a clean cloth. Heat the pan on the stove to evaporate any remaining moisture.

Using a paper towel, spread a thin layer of cooking oil all over the cast iron. Remove surplus oil, leaving only a very thin layer behind.

Position the oiled cookware upside-down on the oven rack in the centre of the oven. Place a sheet of foil on the lower rack to catch any drips. Allow the skillet to bake in the oven for one hour. This process creates a smooth non-stick coating on the cast iron as the oil breaks down and bonds with it.

Allow the cookware to cool down slowly. Do not to hasten this process, as sudden cooling may lead to cracks in the seasoning. When done, you'll achieve a matte finish on the cast iron.

If you're using your cookware daily and cleaning it correctly, seasoning it occasionally should suffice. However, if food is sticking or the pot is looking lacklustre, it may be time to re-season it.

Seasoning cast iron is essential for preserving its non-stick surface and warding off rust. Through diligent cleaning and frequent use, your cast iron cookware will cultivate a long-lasting non-stick layer.

Natalie Knowles is a Homes & Garden Product Writer for Yours, specialising in home appliances. When she's not testing sparkling water makers, she flexes her creative flair as an artist.

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