Cast iron cookware: the best pieces to buy for 2022

When it comes to durability, there’s no beating the best cast iron cookware. From casseroles to skillets, it’s perfectly possible to complete your entire kitchen with cast iron, and while some of the more premium picks from Staub and Le Creuset can set you back a fair bit, we’ve selected a variety of products that come in at under £100.

We think that cast iron cookware is the ultimate gift for those who take cooking seriously. You could opt for something enamelled that will look eye-catching in any kitchen, or go for a cast iron skillet that will season over time. Either way, these durable and enduringly stylish picks will cook up a perfect stew or hearty chilli, or sear your steak perfectly. What’s more, we’ve only included products that we’ve been fortunate enough to test in our kitchens for a prolonged period of time, so here is our complete lowdown of the best cast iron cookware you need for your kitchen.

While they are a little more high-mainetenance than the best non-stick frying pans or the best saucepan sets, the best cast iron cookware will last a lifetime and often comes with a guarantee to confirm just that. Even if you’re a non-stick lover, we recommend having at least one cast iron piece to get that seasoned flavour in your steak that other pans just can’t achieve.

Best cast iron cookware 2022

1. Samuel Groves Cast Iron Double Handle Skillet

Best cast iron skillet

Finish: Pre-seasoned
Suitable for: Gas, ceramic, electric, induction, BBQ & open fires
Weight: 1.43Kg at 20cm
Reasons to buy:
• Made in the UK
• Lifetime guarantee
• Hand-finished, artisan feel
• Pre-seasoned

Reasons to avoid:
• Quite weighty for the size

The Britannia New Cast Iron Frying Pan Skillet from Samuel Groves ticks just about all of our boxes: it’s made from 70% recycled material right here in the UK and is covered the brand’s Pan For Life scheme, meaning it can be refurbished. It’s also got a lifetime guarantee, because cast iron really is meant to last a lifetime. We liked that this skillet came pre-seasoned, and the hand finished design does give it a more rustic feel.

As with all of our cast iron, clean this one by hand and be sure to make sure it’s fully dried when you’re done. Samuel Groves has shared more expert cast iron tips which you can read below. For such a small cast iron (we tried the 20cm option with two handles) it was quite heavy, but this didn’t bother us too much. The lack of a long handle actually meant it worked very well on the BBQ, and could fit into the oven alongside a roasting tray or another pan.

Ideal Home rated 5 out of 5 stars

2. Le Creuset Cast Iron Shallow Casserole

Best enamelled cast iron casserole

Finish: Enamel
Suitable for: Oven and grill, gas, induction, ceramic and electric hobs
Weight: 5.56 kg at 30cm
Reasons to buy:
• Huge range of finishes
• Retains heat very well
• Dishwasher-safe
• Very versatile

Reasons to avoid:
• Use with caution at high temperatures

You know we had to include some Le Creuset, and the shallow casserole is our top pick. Why? Well for a start, it’s just so versatile. We love using it with the lid off in the place of a deep frying pan: ideal for shakshuka or an orzo bake. And when you do add the lid, it will easily slot into the oven to finish cooking your chicken or even baking a loaf of sourdough. Le Creuset warns that you should keep temperature at a medium, and always put your cast iron onto a cold hob before you start to warm it up. This is likely to prevent any shock or sudden temperature-changes, which can lead to cracking. Although they’re very durable, if you don’t follow these instructions you could compromise your new casserole, so stick to a more thin cast iron to sear your steaks.

The heat retention is unmatched, and because it’s enamel-coated it can go in the dishwasher – yay! As with Samuel Groves, the Le Creuset range is covered by a lifetime guarantee meaning it can be replaced if you have any mishaps. And you can choose from a mind-boggling range of colours. We’ve very keen on the latest shade, bamboo…

Ideal Home rated 5 out of 5 stars

3. Kuhn Rikon Black Star Cast Iron Frying Pan

Best cast iron frying pan

Finish: Pre-seasoned
Suitable for: All hobs, as well as ovens and grills
Weight: 1 kg at 20cm
Reasons to buy:
• Comparatively lightweight
• Easy to care for
• Great value
• Long, sturdy handle

Reasons to avoid:
• The handle will heat up

Coming into testing the Kuhn Rikon was definitely the black horse of our cast iron competition. It’s technically spun iron (explained below), but comes so well finished that we were instantly impressed when it came to using it. It’s comparatively quite an inexpensive choice, and although it’s very sturdy it’s also one of the lightest pieces we tested, which is ideal for those who would struggle to lift a weighty Le Creuset onto the shelf.

This one came pre-seasoned and it’s one of the easiest ones we found to keep seasoned. After every use, it polished up beautifully, and we also love the angle of the handle, which can go into the oven after you’ve got that lovely sear on the hob. A true all-rounder, and immense value for money given the quality Swiss construction.

Ideal Home rated 5 out of 5 stars

4. Stellar Cast Iron Grill Pan

Best cast iron grill pan

Finish: Enamel underside, cast iron grill
Suitable for: Gas, halogen, ceramic, induction & solid plate grills, and BBQs
Weight: 3.1 kg at 27cm
Reasons to buy:
• Deep grill lines for perfect char
• Enamel underside makes it easy to clean
• Reasonably priced

Reasons to avoid:
• Very heavy
• Marks are hard to remove

You just can’t beat those grill lines on a juicy steak or sliced aubergine. They replicate the grill marks of one of the best BBQs but with a lot less prep time. We got on very well with the Stellar Cast Iron Grill Pan. It’s hefty at over 3kg, but very sturdy, and the handle helps to balance the pan when in use.

There are pouring grooves on either side of the pan which will come in handy if you’re making a tasty sauce to go with your steak or saving juices for another dish. The underside is enamelled which saves a job when cleaning, but we did find it tricky to get marks off the inside of the pan when we’d used it for some char-grilling.

Ideal Home rated 4 out of 5 stars

5. Staub 24cm Round Cast Iron Cocotte

Best round cast iron casserole

Finish: Enamel coating
Suitable for: Induction, gas, electric / steel plate hobs, glass ceramic hobs and ovens
Weight: 4.6 kg at 24cm
Reasons to buy:
• Thoughtful French design
• Particularly good for baking bread
• Retains heat very well

Reasons to avoid:

• Unclear cleaning instructions
• A limited amount of sizes and colours

Another classic brand that’s known for its amazing cast iron, Staub really impressed us with its thoughtful design. The round cast iron roaster has a lid that can be flipped upside down to slot into the base, making for easy and secure storage. It’s understated, yes, but still a statement, and the French-made construction is resistant to scratches and daily wear-and-tear.

We also enjoy the grooves on the lid, which are designed to circulate steam and cook food evenly when in the oven or on the hob. Staub recommends placing ice cubes in these grooves to make this more effective. It’s more textured than the Le Creuset, but still dishwasher-safe thanks to the enamelled design. Although the website says it’s dishwasher-safe, it also says to clean by hand with soapy water. We opted for the latter and the Cocotte cleaned up well, but we didn’t feel confident that it would go through the dishwasher.

Ideal Home rated 4.5 out of 5 stars

6. Samuel Groves Enamel Cast Iron Oval Covered Casserole Dish

Best cast iron casserole for roasts

Finish: Enamel coating
Suitable for: Induction, gas, electric ,ceramic hobs and ovens
Weight: 5.12 kg at 27cm
Reasons to buy:
• A good size for roasts
• Versatile lid
• Dishwasher-safe
• Lifetime guarantee

Reasons to avoid:

• Limited colour choices
• Handles could be grippier

Another pick from British brand Samuel Groves, but this time not from its Britannia range. The set only comes black or in grey and white, but we thought that the grey exterior and white interior would slot perfectly into a lot of kitchen designs. We particularly love the lid on this one: it can be turned over and used as a shallower cooking surface if you wish, and it also sits securely to keep moisture in while you’re roasting.

Although it’s dishwasher-safe, the brand recommends hand-washing to keep the cast iron intact. This is true of any enamelled brand, but it’s nice to have the option of dishwasher cleaning if you’re in a rush. The range is extensive – we also like the look of the matching roasting dish, although we’ve not tried that one. It’s also a great price for a product that comes with a lifetime guarantee.

Ideal Home rated 4.5 out of 5 stars

7. Judge Speciality Cookware JST10 Skillet

Best value cast iron

Finish: Unseasoned
Suitable for: Induction, gas, electric, ceramic hobs, BBQs and ovens
Weight: ‎1.34 kg at 18cm
Reasons to buy:
• Reasonable price
• Doesn’t take up much space
• Well-balanced

Reasons to avoid:

• Handle heats up fast
• Needs seasoning

The Judge skillet is charming and inexpensive. It’s got an unusually short handle – in fact, we wonder if it’s so short that it’s essentially ineffective, so make sure you use an oven glove when removing from the oven. On the plus side, the short handle makes it very storage-friendly and well-balanced.

You’ll have to season it yourself which is to be expected for the price, but once you do it will develop a natural non-stick that’s great for searing meat or placing straight into the oven.

Ideal Home rated 3.5 out of 5 stars

How to look after your cast iron

If you’re new to the wonderful world of cast iron, there are some things you should know before getting started. Number one on this list is how to keep your cast iron well cared for, to make sure it lasts as long as possible. We spoke to Pam Ballone from Samuel Groves to bring you all their tips before you make your investment.

What is the best way to care for cast iron cookware?

“The best way to stop rusting is to season your pan and keep it in a dry place. To do this you need to apply a thin coat of a good quality vegetable oil, heat in the oven at 240 degrees centigrade for an hour or heat on a hob to a medium heat, for an hour, and leave to cool.

Once cool, wipe out any surplus oil and leave it in a cool dry place. Moisture causes cast iron cookware to rust, so it’s important you store it in a dry area, away from steam and water”

Can cast iron go in the dishwasher?

“Placing cast iron in the dishwasher will strip the seasoning from the pan and is not recommended, It is best to wash by hand in hot soapy water, rinse then dry and apply a thin coat of vegetable oil.”

Of course, a lot of the best cast iron cookware can also come enamelled, which means it has a layer protecting it from rusting, and won’t season in the same way. In this case, be sure to check with the manufacturer, but most of the time you can put it through the dishwasher.

What are the advantages of cooking on cast iron?

“High temperatures can be obtained with cast iron, so it’s ideal for searing steaks or grilling. Moreover, as the seasoning builds and absorbs into the pan there are desirable flavours build to make the tastiest burgers and steaks.

Cast Iron has amazing thermal properties and retains heat so it’s also very good as cook-and-serve ware and cooking casseroles at low long temperatures.”

How is cast iron cookware made?

“There is something incredibly alluring about watching the process of producing cast iron cookware. Red-hot molten iron and in the case of Samuel Groves, 70% of the molten iron comes recycled steel, including waste from the company’s own cook and bakeware lines. The molten iron is poured into a mould, which then rapidly cools to become an indestructible item of cookware. Samuel Groves are so proud to produce in the UK, what is more, it helps reduce carbon footprints, secure UK jobs and skills and provide a truly sustainable product ideal for back-to-basics cooking and Michelin Star Restaurants.

The production of cast-iron cannot be rushed; time, patience and skill can only be acquired over many years to create the perfect product. Britannia is created in a modest but scalable production process, that can be easily replicated with demand. The result is premium quality battleship-build pans manufactured, and hand-finished in the Midlands.”

What is the difference between cast iron and spun iron?

We chatted to Paul Marchant from Kuhn Rikon to find out about the different types of cast iron. Here’s what he had to say:

“Spun Steel, otherwise known as Black Iron (which is neither black nor iron!) or Blue Steel, is made of plain steel, either pressed or spun.  These are mostly used in restaurants as they are cheap and tough. They are not generally washed but are wiped clean. This helps to build a natural non-stick surface.

Cast Iron on the other hand is often coated with black enamel to make cleaning easier. Cast iron takes much longer to heat up than spun steel but has the benefit of holding heat well once it is hot. The cheaper cast iron products can suffer from uneven mould-filling resulting in cookware doesn’t heat evenly and is vulnerable to thermal shock.” This will mean it can crack when there is a sudden change in temperature, so be careful about submerging hot cast iron in water or putting it in the fridge when still warm.

According to Marchant, “Spun iron is the most expensive option as it needs highly skilled craftsmen to make. The Kuhn Rikon Black Star range is Swiss-made which also substantially mitigates the environmental impact. Spinning allows for very accurate manufacture and for thinner sides to cut down on weight. Spun iron will have a highly consistent material density, which gives very even cooking.”

Another difference between spun and cast iron is the weight. Generally speaking, a spun item will be lighter than cast iron, although products vary massively.”

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