Cast iron cookware: the best pieces to buy for your kitchen

From skillets to casseroles, the best cast iron cookware will last a lifetime and look the part in any kitchen space. Featuring Le Creuset, Staub, and more

Le Creuset orange cast iron pot
(Image credit: Le Creuset)

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-maintenance 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

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How we chose the best cast iron cookware

We selected our top picks by testing them hands-on. Each and every one of these pans has been used to roast, sear, grill, or simmer. Basically, whatever they were designed to do, we put to the test.

Although classic cast iron brands can set you back a few hundred pounds, we were impressed by a few of the more affordable cast iron options we tested, so there is a good variety in the prices you'll find with our top picks. 

Reviewed by
Millie Fender
Reviewed by
Millie Fender

Our Head of Reviews Millie tested every piece of cast iron cookware you'll see in this guide from her own South London flat. As our resident cooking expert, she spends a lot of time working on new recipes, so every entry into this guide has been tested heavily before being featured in our guide. 

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."

Millie Fender
Head of Reviews

Millie Fender is Head of Reviews at Ideal Home. She joined Ideal Home as an Ecommerce Editor in 2021, covering all of the site's small appliance and cookware shopping content. Millie formerly worked at Top Ten Reviews, another Future site, where she produced review and buying guides across a range of home products, from fridges to blenders. As Head of Reviews, her job is to test all the wackiest product launches, whether they're air fryers, bread makers, or juicers, and give you her honest experience.