A great steak demands a great skillet, one which can spread heat around the cooking surface quickly, and ensure that heat stays evenly spread too.
What’s the best cast iron skillet for steaks, then?
If you just want a quick recommendation for everyday use, then you really can’t go wrong with a Lodge skillet in my experience.
The company’s 12 inch skillet in particular is a true classic, and delivered by a brand that many consider to be the final word in affordable cast iron cookware.
The heat performance from this pan is excellent for steaks, and Lodge delivers that performance at a price that makes the competition blush.
(If you want to explore more of my cookware content, take a look at the home cookware guide I have on the site.)
Steak Cast Iron Skillet Reviews
Here’s a closer look at my overall top pick, as well as the other options I think you should consider.
If you’re having trouble choosing between them, you’ll find a more detailed buying guide below these reviews. That’ll help you narrow down your choice to the best steak skillet for your kitchen!
BEST OVERALL – LODGE CAST IRON SKILLET
(Heads up! If you click on a product link and make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you. I never recommend a product I wouldn’t use in my own kitchen, and this helps keep the site running. Thank you.)
Lodge is one of the go-to brands for many home cooks, and many happy customers have a 12 inch Lodge skillet in their collection. They’re perfect for frying steaks to perfection, while offering plenty of versatility for other meals too.
Despite the relatively low cost, Lodge cast iron cookware provides some of the best heating performance, period. Heat is distributed evenly around the pan, and it’s retained well too.
You can use a Lodge skillet on just about anything. It can go in the oven (minus the silicone handle sleeve), on the grill, or on any type of stovetop – including induction surfaces.
The Lodge 12 inch skillet features a short handle, but that’s compensated for by a helper handle on the other side.
You get a silicone sleeve for the main handle out of the box, but you’ll want your oven mitt to hand if you’re making use of the helper handle.
The Lodge skillet surface is untreated “raw” cast iron, but is supplied pre-seasoned.
Food releases cleanly from the cooking surface, but you’ll need to occasionally top up the seasoning surface.
There’s a pouring spout on the edge of the Lodge, which is helpful if you want to make a lovely sauce out of your leftover steak juices!
Lodge skillets are affordable, but don’t compromise on performance as a result. It’s this combination that makes Lodge an easy best pick for this article.
Watch This Video – 2m 13s
BEST WITH LID – CUISINEL CAST IRON SKILLET
- PRECISION HEAT DISTRIBUTION – This cast iron skillet has a smooth finish to help provide even heat...
- TRUE COOKING VERSATILITY – The Cuisinel cast iron skillet pan can be used for frying, baking, grilling,...
- SUPERIOR CRAFTSMANSHIP – Each all-purpose fajita skillet is crafted with seasoned cast iron that can...
Cuisinel’s another popular option for home cooks, and its 12 inch skillet comes with a heat-resistant lid.
You’ll likely be making more than just steaks with your new skillet, and having a lid that fits just right is always helpful.
The Cuisinel 12 inch skillet features a smoother finish to help with even heat distribution. That helps food release from the pan more easily as well, which is particularly useful when you want to quickly turn a steak.
Like the Lodge skillet, the Cuisinel is compatible with all kinds of stovetops, including induction plates.
The Cuisinel skillet features a short handle, which can be covered with a silicone sleeve for safe handling.
There’s also a helper handle on the other side, which helps with stability when transferring the skillet around the kitchen.
Like the Lodge, the Cuisinel has a raw cast iron cooking surface, and performs in much the same way as its competitor.
It’s also supplied pre-seasoned, but the manufacturer recommends you season it again once it arrives in your kitchen.
A pouring spout is included with the Cuisinel, making it easy to turn those steak juices into a simple sauce that can be prepared while the steak is resting.
The Cuisinel brand compares favorably to Lodge when it comes to a balance between cost and performance. I feel Lodge has the edge on both these issues, however.
Watch This Video – 0m 47s
BEST ENAMEL – LE CREUSET ENAMEL CAST IRON SKILLET
- 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
Le Creuset’s skillet differs from the other by making use of a protective enamel layer. This prevents the pan from dulling over time, or from taking surface damage from utensils. This layer also means its dishwasher-safe, which is helpful for busy cooks!
Le Creuset skillets provide better heat performance than other coated cookware, but there’s still a little bit of a trade-off compared to working with the untreated cast iron favored by the other brands. It’s not a big deal, but it’s something to be aware of for cooking steaks in particular.
Le Creuset skillets can be used on any kind of kitchen stovetop. Whatever you have in your own home, you’ll have no trouble frying a steak with this piece of cookware.
The Le Creuset skillet features a short main handle, and a helper handle that’s significantly larger than that found on the Lodge & Cuisinal pans. It’s much easier to fit an oven mitt through, and if stability is important for you, this skillet gains a big edge.
The enamel-layering means you don’t have to keep seasoning the Le Creuset to maintain that non-stick surface. Another bonus? Unlike the Lodge and the Cuisinel, this skillet can go in the dishwasher, as you don’t have to worry about rust developing on an unprotected cast iron surface.
Le Creuset’s pan features two pouring spouts of different sizes. They’re located at 90 degrees from the main handle, and looped helper handle.
You pay for the benefits this enamel coating provides! Although there are often deals to be had with Le Creuset, you should expect to pay significantly more here than with the other brands.
Still, you might find the extra money is a worthwhile investment.
Watch This Video – 1m 17s
Benefits of Using a Cast Iron Skillet For Cooking Steaks
Flavor is everything when you’re working with a single ingredient like steak, even if you’re making a delicious sauce to go with it! You really need that base experience to be nothing short of spectacular.
Cast iron is perfect for this job, because it provides high temperatures that are quickly achieved, and evenly distributed around the cooking surface.
The end result is a steak that has that all important sear on the outside, while remaining tender and sumptuous on the inside.
The nature of the seasoning surface also makes it easy to turn food sitting inside cast iron cookware. That’s crucial when you don’t want to play with the steak too much, but do need to turn it quickly and cleanly.
What’s The Best Size Cast Iron Steak Skillet?
Size matters when it comes to choosing a cast iron skillet for your steaks!
If you’re preparing a single steak each time, a 10 inch skillet will give you plenty of room to work with. Two at a time? Go for a 12 inch skillet instead. You won’t have as much room to play with, but this is ample for cooking a pair of steaks.
My biggest piece of advice here is not to go above the 12 inch size, and accept that you can only cook two steaks at a time in a single pan. Once you go above 12 inches, you’ll start to lose some of the benefits of heat distribution and performance.
Does It Need A Pouring Spout?
Pouring spouts aren’t a deal-breaker, but are particularly useful when you want to make rich sauces from your steak juices.
That said, you may simply be happy to deglaze the pan with butter and stock. That pushes the problem down the road though, as you’ll need to pour out the pan stock.
Having trouble choosing between two steak skillets, and only one has a pouring spout? Go for the one with the spout!
As you gain more confidence in the kitchen, you’ll definitely want to use those delicious juices for a show-stopping sauce.
Let’s Talk About Enamel Layers
Some of the more expensive cast iron skillets feature enamel layering over the cooking surface. This makes them easier to clean and care for, and you don’t have to worry about re-seasoning the pan either.
These layers do impact the heat performance of the skillet, however. It’s not a deal-breaker by any means, but you should seriously consider whether convenience really is more important to you than performance.
How About The Handle?
Cast iron skillets can be quite heavy, so unless you’ve got a lot of arm strength, consider buying one with a shorter handle.
Shorter handles give you less leverage when you’re transferring the skillet around the kitchen, but they do help keep the overall weight down.
There is one feature you might like to look for that helps out here – a helper handle. This sits opposite from the main handle, allowing you to carry the skillet with both hands.
How Much Maintenance Is Required?
You need to show them a little more TLC than other cookware requires.
It’s just part and parcel of enjoying the benefits of this material, and there’s no easy way around it.
There are two main things to be aware of in this context: cleaning and seasoning.
Cleaning A Cast Iron Skillet
It’s easy to become a little lazy about the washing up, but these are the steps you need to follow:
- Clean the cast iron skillet before it cools down completely. That will stop any gunk from settling into the surface.
- Wash by hand, using hot water, and a non-abrasive sponge. Cast iron hates moisture, so the heat and humidity of a dishwasher is a strict no-no. Rusty skillets can be a nightmare to bring back to life.
- If there is any stubborn grub sticking to the skillet, soak it in warm water, but not for too long.
- Once your cast iron skillet is clean, dry it thoroughly. Again, it’s very important to make sure there’s no moisture left on the pan before putting it away.
(It’s worth mentioning here as well that storing your cast iron skillet correctly is also important. See that guide for more tips on setting aside space for all your cast iron cookware.)
Seasoning A Cast Iron Skillet
New cooks in particular can be a little nervous about using cast iron, because of the need to keep it well-seasoned. It’s essential for maintaining a non-stick surface, but don’t be intimidated!
Just follow these instructions when you buy a new cast iron pan, so you break it in properly:
- Pre-heat your oven to 350F / 177C.
- Add a few drops of vegetable oil to the cleaned and dried surface of your cast iron skillet.
- Work it into the cooking surface using a piece of kitchen towel. It should look glossy, but not feel sticky to the touch.
- Turn the skillet upside down and place it in the oven for 45 minutes. You might like to add a baking tray underneath to catch any oil drips.
- Turn the oven off and wait for the skillet to cool completely before taking it out.
(If you use too much oil, your cast iron skillet will smoke the next time you use it. You need just enough oil to add a slight sheen to the surface, but no more than that!)
If you’re still not sure which one of these skillets is best for making steaks in your own kitchen, have another read through the buying guide!
After that, go back to the three products I’ve reviewed and I think you’ll find it pretty easy to make the right choice.
My advice if you’re still uncertain? Go for the Lodge as a basic all-rounder.