The Best Cast Iron Skillet For Frying Fish In 2021

Cast iron skillets are a great option for frying up fish. The material all but guarantees an intense crunch to the outside of the meat, and is safe to put in the oven for longer bakes too.

What’s the best cast iron skillet for frying fish though? In this article, I’ve highlighted a selection of the most popular options.

I’ve also included a helpful buyer’s guide, which will help you go further with your own research.

(If you want to explore more of my cookware content, take a look at the home cookware guide I have on the site.)

Recommendations

If you’re in a hurry and need a quick summary of the best options, here’s a quick snapshot of what you need to know:

BEST OVERALL – Lodge Cast Iron Skillet

For the best possible balance between budget and performance, it’s hard to go wrong with a Lodge cast iron skillet. It’s also available in a wide range of sizes, making it easy to pick just the right fish skillet for your own household.

Lodge L14SK3 15-Inch Pre-Seasoned Cast-Iron...
  • Foundry seasoned, ready to use upon purchase
  • Use on all cooking surfaces, grills and campfires
  • Oven safe

BEST BUDGET – Utopia Cast Iron Skillet

The Utopia cast iron skillet sacrifices little in performance, but you can make some significant savings here. It’s also lighter than the other skillets, making it a great option for those of you with limited strength. It won’t sit so solidly on the stovetop as a result though.

Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet - Utopia...
  • PRESEASONED CAST IRON SKILLET – The 12.5 inch Cast Iron Skillet comes preseasoned making it ready for...
  • EVEN HEAT DISTRIBUTION – This cast iron pan is ideal for both frying and baking. The cast iron pan...
  • SAFETY INSTRUCTIONS – Always season the skillet with any vegetable oil before use. Cool the skillet...

BEST PREMIUM – Le Creuset Cast Iron Skillet

Le Creuset is a premium cookware brand, but the enamel layering does a great job of protecting that cast iron surface. Fish releases from the surface easily, you don’t have to worry about seasoning the pan, and it can even go in the dishwasher!

Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Signature Iron...
  • Heavyweight fry pan requires very little oil, making it an excellent choice for low-fat cooking
  • Optimized for steady, even heat, Le Creusets improved enamel interior resists staining, dulling, and wear...
  • Black enamel interior requires no additional seasoning, unlike other cast-iron cookware

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Buying Guide

Before we look at the three shortlisted skillets, there are a few things to look for when you’re shopping around for this kind of cookware.

Heat Conduction, Retention & Oven-Safety

Most of the fish you’ll be frying in a skillet need to be cooked at a very high heat. If it takes too long though, you’ll end up burning the oil you’re working with.

For this reason it’s important that the skillet conducts and retains heat well.

Get the right kind of skillet, and you’ll have a quickly cooked fish that nevertheless has a crisp outside.

If you want to be able to transfer the skillet to the oven for certain meals, then make sure all components of the skillet are advertised as oven-safe.

Pay close attention to the maximum temperature tolerances as well.

The Size Of The Skillet

Think about the largest piece of fish you’re likely to fry in your skillet, and then expand that size considerably!

This will give you plenty of room to work the fish around any sauces you want to include.

Then there’s the issue of moisture and steam to consider. If you put too much fish into too small a pan, you’ll struggle to crisp the skin up properly before the insides have cooked through.

If you’re cooking for four family members, a big skillet will handle several pieces of fish.

If you’re likely to be entertaining guests and go above this number, you may need to consider buying two skillets.

Get A Handle On Things

If you’re planning to finish your fish off in the oven, you’ll want a skillet that includes oven-proof handles.

Even if you don’t think you’re going to need this, it’s worth making the extra investment in a skillet that’s truly oven-proof. There’s nothing worse than having to buy two separate pans for similar jobs.

If you want to be able to add the skillet to the oven easily, a shorter handle is better. Measure up and make sure you have the clearance!

A bigger handle means you’ll need to angle the skillet in. It’s not a deal-breaker, but it’s a little more fiddly when you need to keep your hands away from the oven shelf.

How Much Weight Can You Tolerate?

Cast iron is quite a heavyweight material, and that only becomes more problematic when you’re transferring a full skillet around the kitchen.

Some skillets are lighter than others, and this is an important consideration if you’re buying it for someone with limited strength in their hands.

A heavier skillet does have its advantages though!

By sitting solidly on the stovetop, they keep the heat evenly distributed. They’re also less prone to tipping over, and potentially spilling hot oil on the floor (or worse).

Seasoned Or Non-Stick?

Whether you go for “raw” cast iron (which requires regular seasoning) or an enamel-layered surface will depend on your confidence in the kitchen.

An untreated cast iron cooking surface requires a delicate touch if you’re to remove the fish without leaving half of it in the skillet.

Enamel surfaces are much easier to use, and the fried fish will lift from the skillet much more easily.

If you’re a seasoned home cook, you’ll have no trouble working with untreated cast iron.

If you’re at a relatively early stage of your cooking journey, you’ll favor a protected surface. There’s nothing worse for your confidence than cooking something great that you then struggle to serve…

Once you’ve gained confidence, you can always consider investing in a raw cast iron skillet when the non-stick skillet is past its best.

Reviews

In this section I’m going to highlight three very popular skillets. If you just want a quick recommendation, just head to the section further up the page.

Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet

Lodge is one of the best-known brands in the world of cast iron cookware. It’s earned a loyal army of fans thanks to its high quality skillets that won’t break the bank.

This skillet is foundry-seasoned at the company’s US manufacturing plant, and is built to last.

Lodge L14SK3 15-Inch Pre-Seasoned Cast-Iron...
  • Foundry seasoned, ready to use upon purchase
  • Use on all cooking surfaces, grills and campfires
  • Oven safe

It’s also very versatile, and capable of searing, frying and baking your fish however you want to prepare it.

Helpfully, it’s also available in a number of different sizes. These range from 3.5 inches to 15 inches.

If you decide this is the skillet for you, you’ll not struggle to get the right size for your own household.

Although it’s supplied as a pre-seasoned piece of cookware, I recommend seasoning it at home when it arrives. All manner of bumps and scrapes can occur between production and arrival, after all.

This is a no-frills, yet highly effective cast iron skillet. If you just need a basic skillet for frying fish at home, you really can’t go wrong here.

  • Rating: Best Overall
  • Size: 3.5 – 15 inches
  • Handles: 1 x Main, 1 x Helper
  • Weight: 11.5 lbs (15 inch model)
  • Surface Type: Pre-seasoned cast iron

Utopia Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet

Utopia isn’t as well-known a brand as Lodge, but you can make some significant savings by choosing this skillet for your fishy dishes.

It’s an all-round excellent option if you really need to make your kitchen budget work harder for you.

Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet - Utopia...
  • PRESEASONED CAST IRON SKILLET – The 12.5 inch Cast Iron Skillet comes preseasoned making it ready for...
  • EVEN HEAT DISTRIBUTION – This cast iron pan is ideal for both frying and baking. The cast iron pan...
  • SAFETY INSTRUCTIONS – Always season the skillet with any vegetable oil before use. Cool the skillet...

Like the Lodge it can be used on just about any type of cooktop, and it’s safe to transfer to the oven too.

The main limiting factor here is the size. At the time of publishing this article, the Utopia skillet is only available in a single size of 12.5 inches.

Because of this, you might need more than one of them if you’re going to be entertaining guests.

Where it has an advantage over the Lodge skillet though is its weight. Although it’s only slightly smaller than the largest Lodge skillet, it’s significantly lighter at just under eight pounds.

I think Lodge has the overall edge in terms of production quality and performance, but if you’ve limited strength this may be a big selling point for you.

  • Rating: Best Budget
  • Size: 12.5 inches
  • Handles: 1 x Main, 1 x Helper
  • Weight: 7.83 lbs
  • Surface Type: Pre-seasoned cast iron

Le Creuset Signature Cast Iron Skillet

You need deep pockets to add a Le Creuset skillet to your cookware collection, but for many home cooks nothing else will do.

What sets this skillet apart from the rest of the pack is the protective enamel layer that sits over the cast iron surface.

Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Signature Iron...
  • Heavyweight fry pan requires very little oil, making it an excellent choice for low-fat cooking
  • Optimized for steady, even heat, Le Creusets improved enamel interior resists staining, dulling, and wear...
  • Black enamel interior requires no additional seasoning, unlike other cast-iron cookware

This means you never need to season the pan, and the cooking surface itself is protected from dulling, fading and general wear and tear.

Normally, cast iron cookware can’t go anywhere near a dishwasher. The combination of heat and variable humidity creates far too great a risk of rust.

That’s not the case here, as the enamel layer protects the raw cast iron. 

Even the best skillets can end up looking like a real mess after cooking fish. Cleaning up can be a real mess, but that’s not the case here.

For convenience as well as cooking performance, the Le Creuset is definitely worth at least considering.

(Have a read of my Le Creuset skillet review if you’d like more insight into this high-end option.)

  • Rating: Best Premium
  • Size: 11.75 inches
  • Handles: 1 x Main, 1 x Helper
  • Weight: 6.8 lbs
  • Surface Type: Enamel-layered cast iron

Wrapping Up

All three of the cast iron skillets featured in this guide will be perfect for frying up a killer fish dish at home!

If you’re cooking for one or two people, you’ll be very well served by the Utopia skillet. It’s the most affordable in the round-up, which means you can make your kitchen budget stretch further.

Although I would probably consider the Le Creuset to be the best overall, I lean towards recommending the Lodge skillet for most readers. It offers the best balance between cost and performance.

With that said, there’s certainly a lot to love about the Le Creuset. Check out the product listing first, as you may find that extra convenience justifies the extra cost.

Happy cooking!