Who makes the best 12-inch cast iron skillet?
In this post, we’ve researched, reviewed, and compared the 6 best cast iron skillets, to help you make the best choice for your kitchen and your family.
Skillets with a diameter of 10-12 inches give enough cooking surface for most of your home cooking needs and are best for families of three or more.
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What's In Here
- 1 Top Pick
- 2 How to Chose a 12-inch Cast Iron Skillet
- 3 What is the Best 12-inch Cast Iron Skillet?
- 3.1 1. Stargazer 12 Inch Cast Iron Skillet Best Overall
- 3.2 2. Lodge 12″ Cast Iron Skillet Most Popular
- 3.3 3. Victoria Cast Iron Skillet Budget Pick
- 3.4 4. AmazonBasics Cast Iron Skillet Best Deep Skillet
- 3.5 5. Utopia Kitchen Cast Iron Skillet Best PreSeasoning
- 3.6 6. Field Cast Iron Skillet Smoothest Surface
- 4 Cast Iron Skillet Benefits
- 5 How Do You Season a Cast Iron Skillet?
- 6 How Do You Clean a Cast-Iron Skillet?
- 7 How Are Cast Iron Skillets Made?
Our top pick for 2023 is the Stargazer 12-inch cast-iron skillet, which is machine-smoothed for the best non-stick performance and can last forever if you treat it right. Here are more reasons:
- The perfect balance between weight and performance (only 6 pounds)
- 100% made in America
- All-natural – no toxic chemicals, just iron
- Stay cool handle
The runner-up and budget-friendly option is the popular Lodge cast iron skillet ($29 on Amazon), which is also USA-made, and reasonably priced.
How to Chose a 12-inch Cast Iron Skillet
The first time I tried to cook an egg in a cast iron skillet, let me tell you, it was a disaster.
I ended up with a scrambled egg that looked more like a meteor impact.
But, once you get the hang of it, cooking with a cast iron skillet is like magic.
Your food comes out evenly cooked and with a crispy crust that’s to die for – that is if you know how to choose a good one.
1. Iron Quality
High-quality cast iron skillets are typically made of pure or high-grade iron, with minimal impurities.
They should also have a smooth, polished surface and consistent thickness throughout the pan, allowing for even heat distribution and a long lifespan.
Cast iron pans made with ductile iron, a type of cast iron that has a higher amount of graphite, are considered to be of higher quality as they are more durable and less prone to cracking.
The presence of other metals, such as nickel or chromium, can also indicate a high-quality cast iron pan.
2. Design & Weight
We’ve also judged the Skillets based on their shape, design, and overall structure of the handles and sprouts.
Deeper cooking pans are preferred for casseroles and most baking uses, but what if they don’t have a firm handle as well as a helper handle on the opposite side for a firm grip?
The weight of the skillets matters as well; you’ll find it very difficult to toss your food around the skillet if it’s too heavy.
A handle that fits comfortably in your hand, is not too heavy, and has a non-slip grip is ideal.
This will allow you to cook with ease and avoid any discomfort or hand fatigue while using the pan.
The handles should also be able to stand up against high temperatures without becoming too hot to touch.
Look for handles made of heat-resistant materials like silicone or wood, or those that are double-riveted for added stability.
And if you’re looking to save space, a skillet with a detachable handle, like the Ooni Cast Iron Skillet.
Should You Buy a 10-inch or 12-inch Cast Iron Skillet?
A 10-inch skillet is the best size for cooking eggs and other small and quick meals, while a 12-inch pan is best for larger meals, is more versatile, and is the best size for frying, roasting, and searing for 3 or more people.
Once you go bigger than 12 inches, you get a cooking surface with hot and cold spots and the weight may become too heavy to toss food in and may strain your hands.
What is the Best 12-inch Cast Iron Skillet?
See our short comparison table below, or jump to our cast iron skillets reviews and top picks!
|Cast Iron Skillet||Bottom Line||Weight/Depth||Price|
|Stargazer Cast Iron Skillet||🥇Best Overall||6.5 lbs|
2.3 inches deep
|✅ $145 at StarGazer
|Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet||Most Popular||8 lbs|
2 inches deep
|✅ $29 on Amazon|
|Victoria cast iron skillet||Budget Pick||7.5 lbs|
2.75 inches deep
|✅ $17 on Amazon|
|AmazonBasics Cast Iron Skillet||Deepest Skillet||8.4 lbs|
3.3 inches deep
|✅ $45 on Amazon|
|Utopia Kitchen Cast Iron Skillet||Best Pre-Seasoning||8 lbs|
2.3 inches deep
|✅ $22 on Amazon|
|Field Cast Iron Skillet||Smoothest Surface|
1.37 inches deep
|✅ $162 at Field Company
Discount at checkout!
Below you’ll find the 6 best selling 12″ cast iron skillets – reviewed and compared, and our top picks for 2023:
RELATED: Cast Iron vs. Carbon Steel Pans – what’s better?
1. Stargazer 12 Inch Cast Iron Skillet Best Overall
- Cooking surface – 9.4″
- Weight – 6.5 pounds
Through our research, the Stargazer is probably the best 12-inch cast iron skillet on this list and offers the best balance between weight and performance.
The surface is as non-stick as cast iron can get – out of the box. And, you can use it for almost anything you’ll cook (grill, induction, open fire) – with minimal oil.
The handle is designed so you can place your utensil on it – without it falling off.
The forked design of the handle exposes more iron to the air, allowing the heat to dissipate before it reaches your hand – the stay-cool handles truly stay cool.
This family-size skillet is 2.3 inches deep and can contain 13.8 cups of liquid.
Best of all:
This USA-based company focuses on sustainability and uses recycled iron, recycled sand for its casting molds, and recycled paper for its shipping box.
And did we mention the lifetime warranty and excellent customer service?
✅ Available at Stargazer ($145 with free shipping)
2. Lodge 12″ Cast Iron Skillet Most Popular
- Cooking surface – 11.75″
- Weight – 7.9 lbs.
✅ $29 on Amazon
Lodge has been a family-owned, USA-based company for over 120 years, and is well known for its high-quality cookware.
The Lodge pre-seasoned cast iron skillet comes with an assist silicone handle holder that protects your hands from heat up to 500 degrees F and can be used on any heat source, from the stovetop to a campfire, as long as you know how to season it and clean it.
Though it comes pre-seasoned (with natural vegetable oil), some users recommend seasoning it again before your first use and cleaning it only with mild soap.
This 12-inch deep skillet (that weighs 8 pounds) gets better the more you use it, and cooks like a champ, but is heavier and less smooth than the next skillet you’ll find on this list.
✅ Available on Amazon ($29)
if you want a cast iron skillet with a lid, here’s the Lodge 12-inch with a lid, which costs $76 on Amazon:
3. Victoria Cast Iron Skillet Budget Pick
- Cooking surface -10″
- Weight – 7.5 lbs.
✅ $17 on Amazon
The Victoria 12-inch cast iron skillet, made by the Colombia-based family business (since 1939), weighs 7.5 pounds and is made with recycled cast iron that’s completely purified to its rawest form.
The safer handles are larger, curvier, and more ergonomic than average, and allow for a better grip while handling hot iron.
No wonder it gets such high user ratings on Amazon.
Victoria’s large spouts allow you to pour off hot oil without a single drip. Its slightly sloped sides make the capacity a little more generous.
👉 The only con is that the handle can get too hot to touch, and its long design makes it seem heavier than it is. We recommend ordering the silicone handle cover from the same brand.
✅ Available on Amazon ($17)
4. AmazonBasics Cast Iron Skillet Best Deep Skillet
- Cooking surface – 12″
- Weight – 8.38 lbs.
✅ $45 on Amazon
One of the best-selling cast iron skillets on Amazon is the AmazonBasics 12″ preseasoned skillet, and it’s the deepest cast iron skillet on this list.
However, it “pays” for it with weight – this skillet weighs about 8 pounds, which is heavier than others on this list.
The Amazon Basics is oven-safe to 500 degrees F and you can use it on any cooking surface, including the broiler, barbecue, stovetop, oven, and more.
The heat spreads across the base and up the sides for the best cooking results and Amazon recommends using it on medium heat with a small amount of oil on the cooking surface.
(Don’t forget to use oven mitts with this one, it gets hot very fast)
✅ Available on Amazon ($45)
5. Utopia Kitchen Cast Iron Skillet Best PreSeasoning
- Cooking surface – 10.5″
- Weight – 7.8 lbs.
✅ $22 on Amazon
The Utopia Kitchen 12.5-inch cast iron skillet pre-seasoning (with soy-based oil) is equivalent to about 10 rounds of normal home seasoning and is ready to use out of the box.
It is compatible with every heat source, including ovens, stoves (gas/electric), ceramic glass-top stoves, grills, or over a campfire.
The larger-than-average size makes it a bit heavier than 12-inch skillets (8 pounds), but it has high sides, a helper handle, and high consumer ratings.
The price is also almost unbeatable, and we think it is very similar to the Lodge skillet. However, it is not made in the USA.
✅ Available on Amazon ($22)
6. Field Cast Iron Skillet Smoothest Surface
- Cooking surface – 9.7″
- Weight – 6 lbs.
✅ $162 at Field Company (discount applied at checkout)
The Field Company 12-inch skillet is the closest modern cast iron skillet that reminds us of vintage cast iron skillets (such as Griswold and Wagner’s) – on this list.
And the best news?
The Field Cast is the lightest skillet on this list (only 6 pounds), and it has the smoothest surface. The lighter weight is important for people with arthritic hands.
The great craftsmanship is apparent with the smooth, natural nonstick surface, and the ease of cleaning.
This skillet can contain 11.3 cups of liquid, or 3 steaks, or 6 fried eggs – perfectly.
(RELATED: The Top 4 American-Made Steak Knives)
The only improvement we can think of is to add pour sprouts. It’s not the lowest-cost cast iron skillet, but we think it’s worth every penny and can last for generations to come.
✅ Available at Field Company ($162 with discount applied at checkout)
Cast Iron Skillet Benefits
Most of us know that cast iron cookware is non-toxic, stays hot longer, and is very hard to destroy. But, there are a few more benefits that some of us are not aware of:
- Cast iron skillets are long-lasting and can withstand high heat, making them ideal for stovetop, oven, and campfire cooking
- A cast-iron skillet cooks your food evenly and will keep your food warm longer (up to 30 minutes!)
- Cast Iron skillets are completely toxin-free
- The more you use it, the better seasoning it gets
- If adequately seasoned, food won’t stick to the skillet, and it’ll be easy to clean.
- During the cooking process, a small amount of iron is absorbed into the foods (free iron supplementation)
- Cast iron skillets can help retain the nutrients in food due to their high heat retention and even heating
- When you bake with a cast-iron skillet, you don’t need to preheat it.
- Cast iron skillets are relatively inexpensive compared to other cookware options, and they can last for generations with proper care.
How Do You Season a Cast Iron Skillet?
To season a cast iron skillet, first clean and dry thoroughly.
Then apply a thin layer of vegetable oil to the dry inner surface. Place it upside down on a middle oven rack at 375°.
Bake for 1 hour and let cool in the oven.
The best cast iron skillets are preseasoned and can be used out of the box.
The best oils to season a cast iron skillet are vegetable oils such as grapeseed oil, Flaxseed oil, olive oil, and Sunflower oil. Use non-GMO oils.
Here’s a good demonstration by professional chef Frank Proto:
How Do You Clean a Cast-Iron Skillet?
To clean a cast iron optimally, start cleaning immediately after use, while it is still warm.
Wash the skillet by hand using hot water and a sponge (no soap). Scrub off stuck-on food with a paste of coarse kosher salt and water.
Then rinse or wipe with a paper towel until fully dry.
How Are Cast Iron Skillets Made?
The manufacturing of cast iron skillets starts off with a mixture of pig iron, recycled steel, and recycled cast iron.
All three metals are melted into a molten form which usually takes around 15 minutes in a 2,800 degrees Fahrenheit furnace.
Once melted, a chemical, Vermiculite, is added to remove any impurities from the metals.
The melted form is then poured into sand molds in the shape of the desired skillet.
Then, it is grounded, polished, and rinsed.
Some brands follow the drying sessions with a uniform seasoning process with vegetable oil across the surface.
The KM Team