The 5 Best Cast Iron Pans (and Tips for How to Care for Them)

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Though professional chefs and experienced home cooks alike rave about the wonders of the cast iron pan, common misconceptions about the versatile tool intimidate many people from actually using one themselves. Rumors about the difficulty of seasoning and forbidden soap instill all kinds of fear, yet such myths are easily busted. Once you learn the truth, the possibilities of the cast iron pan will shine through.

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According to Smithey Ironware Co. vice president of sales Will Copenhaver, all you need to do to season your cast iron is cook with it. "As oils and fats from your food mix with the heat of the cast iron, seasoning will naturally develop," he explains. "A well-used pan becomes a well-seasoned pan."

Copenhaver also insists that cleaning your cast iron with a little bit of soap is totally fine. As long as you steer clear of the dishwasher and make sure to completely dry your pan, its longevity is nearly guaranteed. (An easy way to dry it quickly is to pat it dry with a dish towel and then put it on your burner on low to remove any remaining moisture.) "Cast iron will last a lifetime — frankly longer," he reveals. "It's one of the few special possessions in a household that can be passed down from generation to generation."

Now that the cast iron pan has been demystified, it's time to invest in one of your own. We rounded up the five best cast iron pans that you can buy and if you want more guidance on how to care for it, reference this trusty guide. Happy cooking!

1. Smithey No. 10 Cast Iron Skillet, $160

Based in Charleston, South Carolina, Smithey was born out of founder Isaac Morton's hobby for restoring beautiful vintage cookware. The small company combines old-world quality with modern technology to manufacture heirloom-style, hand-polished cast iron pieces. With a flawless nonstick surface, convenient pour spouts, and a user-friendly helper handle, its No. 10 skillet is an everyday essential.

2. Lodge 12-Inch Cast Iron Skillet, $31.95

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For over 120 years, Lodge Cast Iron has been a leading creator of cast iron cookware. The company was founded in South Pittsburg, Tennessee in 1896 and it has a loyal following to prove it. Its 12-inch cast iron skillet is extremely reasonably priced but will last for years to come, remaining a go-to for cooking family dinners like perfectly roasted chicken and expertly seared steak.

3. Victoria 12-Inch Cast Iron Skillet, $29.99

Victoria is another brand with a long history of producing high-quality cast iron cookware. The three-generation family business is located in Medellín, Colombia and began with 16-year-old Raúl Mejía crafting metallic toy soldiers and decorative crosses in a tiny garage. Now, its 12-inch skillet is among the top choices, with a flaxseed oil seasoned coating, a long, curved handle, and large, contoured pour spouts.

4. Field Company No. 8 Cast Iron Skillet, $125

Brothers Stephen and Chris Muscarella treasured the 1930s cast iron pans they inherited from their family and wanted to invent a new cast iron pan that would mirror the excellence of such heirlooms. They were able to achieve thinness and smoothness by casting iron by hand and stripping the material with an electrolysis tank. The result is a super light (for cast iron) skillet that truly feels vintage. The No. 8 is ideal for your daily eggs, whether you're home or by the campfire.

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5. Le Creuset 10 1/4-Inch Signature Skillet, $180

While French cookware brand Le Creuset is famous for its Dutch ovens, its enameled cast iron skillets are equally impressive. The black satin interior enamel is what truly sets them apart because this finish completely eliminates the need for the traditional seasoning and maintenance of raw cast iron. At the same time, the material provides even heat distribution and stellar heat retention for a reliable cook every single time.

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Morgan Goldberg is a writer based in Los Angeles. She likes pasta, hiking, and crossword puzzles.