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First Cast Iron Skillet - what size?

Alison Apr 12, 2006 05:54 PM

I'm considering buying a cast iron skillet. I've never bought one before.

If I can only have one cast iron skillet, what size would you recommend - 10 in., 12 in.?

I don't really know what I want to make in it - I want one more to have it for when I need it. I think I'd like making frittatas and maybe pineapple upside down cake.


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  1. a
    Aaron RE: Alison Apr 12, 2006 05:57 PM

    I'd go for a 10 inch. It's the standard size of most cake recipes that call for a cast-iron pan, but also a great size for cooking in. Bigger ones are nicer to fry in, but a bit too large for doing cakes. A 10-inch won't rule any recipes out.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Aaron
      Seattle Rose RE: Aaron Apr 12, 2006 06:12 PM

      I agree with Aaron -- 10 inch. I've had mine for a hundred years. Well, not QUITE that long!

      1. re: Seattle Rose
        Robert RE: Seattle Rose Apr 12, 2006 06:57 PM

        This is the second time I've heard of making Pineapple Upside Down Cake in a CI fry pan. I've never tried it.

        10" for sure. Once you get into it you might find yourself looking for a 6" which is great for certain things.



        1. re: Robert
          pilotgirl210 RE: Robert Apr 12, 2006 08:04 PM

          My skillet and its lid are from the 1860s and I treasure them! They are 10-inch and there is little I can't make (or bake) in them. I have a favorite recipe where you saute together veggies in quantity, cover them with the juice of one lemon, place a butterflied whole chicken on top, season the top of the chicken, place the lid on the skillet and put the whole thing in the oven for an hour. It is sooooooo yummy!!

          1. re: pilotgirl210
            SarahT RE: pilotgirl210 Apr 12, 2006 11:35 PM

            Sounds like a new fav' for our house- now where is that skillet lid?

          2. re: Robert
            sudiepav RE: Robert Apr 13, 2006 11:33 AM

            I'm going along with the 10" crowd. I use mine several times a week. I have a 12" which gets a bit of use, but my next best favorite is my 6" which is great for 2 scrambled or fried eggs, toasting nuts on the stovetop, and cooking a single burger or several link sausages. I'd hate to be without that little guy!

          3. re: Seattle Rose
            cheapskate RE: Seattle Rose Apr 13, 2006 08:38 AM

            Another vote for the 10 inch. Large ones start to get kind of heavy to hold, and while the 8 inch is nice for small amounts of food, its just not even half as versatile.

            Once you have it, you'll wonder what to do with all your other pans. I don't really use anything but cast iron for frying, and if I could find some cast iron breadpans, I'd buy them in a heartbeat.

            Your next purchase is the dutch oven....

        2. c
          Christine RE: Alison Apr 12, 2006 11:01 PM

          If there's any way you can save up for a Le Creuset frying pan, do it. All the benefits of cast iron and none of the problems. No seasoning required, they can go in the oven, stick proof, you can leave liquid in them and they won't rust.

          I will never, never go back.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Christine
            lynn RE: Christine Apr 13, 2006 07:31 AM

            save your money. well worth the time and effort to season a couple of cast iron pans properly. i have two 8' (i live alone and use it all the time) and 10". they don't stick, go in the over up tp 500-degrees -- and unlike le creuset, cast iron DOES NOT CHIP.

            1. re: lynn
              Akatonbo RE: lynn Apr 13, 2006 08:40 AM

              I agree - cast iron is the way to go. Once you get them seasoned they only get better. My cast iron skillets have rich black patinas that I believe they aquired from my always using them to cook refritos (my theory is that it's from the starch in the beans).

              If you want to use it to cook fritattas and upside-down cakes, than I suggest a 10" size. This was my only size for a long time. Then I bought a 12" in an antique store (already seasoned - just had to be "rehabilitated"). We then inherited another 12" from my husband's grandmother. I use them for so many things - fried chicken, making tinga or refritos - even acidic tomato-based dishes, because the patina keeps the cast iron from interacting with the acid of the tomato.

              You can put them in the oven, or under the broiler. I "wash" them by pouring salt into them after each use, and rubbing it around to loosen the oil and food bits. I then rinse the salt out briefly with warm water and dry them at once.

          2. t
            Tugboat RE: Alison Apr 13, 2006 08:59 AM

            If you were only going to buy one, I would say 10".

            But they are so cheap (and you can find cheap sets of Lodge at local mega-marts)that it is worth getting more than one.

            1. j
              jetlag RE: Alison Apr 13, 2006 09:37 AM

              I have an 18 inch pan that I got from mmy mother that is a ton of weight but I would never part with. How else can you fry 2 chickens at one time. It is worth its weight in gold. I have 6, 8 and 10 inch ones as well. Nothing does a steak like a 10 inch covered in kosher salt and heated until the salt browns before dropping in a dry steak.

              1. n
                Niki Rothman RE: Alison Apr 13, 2006 11:04 AM

                Definitely the 12.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Niki Rothman
                  nooodles RE: Niki Rothman Apr 14, 2006 10:23 AM

                  12 is great for most cast iron tasks (frying chicken, making most breakfast items), but does anyone really make a 12" upside down cake? I'm wondering because I've never done it and it seems huge.

                  1. re: nooodles
                    Niki Rothman RE: nooodles Apr 14, 2006 06:04 PM

                    Well, you're right. I just looked at a ruler and a 10" upside-down cake seems more reasonable. That's something I've always wanted to make too.

                    1. re: Niki Rothman
                      Niki Rothman RE: Niki Rothman Apr 14, 2006 06:06 PM

                      Trader Joe's has maraschino cherries without any dyes or chemicals (for inside the pineapple rings).

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