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Apr 27, 2009 06:19 AM

Best Cast Iron Skillet?

Hey all I am buying my mom a cast iron skillet for Mother's Day and wanted to know who makes the best for aorund $50 max. I see Emeril and Paula Deen both have cast iron skillets... are these any good? Food is seeling Paula's for 50- $20 mail in rebate so basically $30 and it is pre seasoned. Emeril's is also around $30.. so price is same what about quality? Or should I go with something else instead.

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  1. A lot of people swear by Lodge. I have my grandmother's which are Griswold, and they seem to be holding up just fine (and apparently are collectibles - who knew?).

    41 Replies
    1. re: leek

      I bought a 10" and 12" skillet at Sears back in the mid eighties when I ws in college. They were VERY cheap. They say simply "Classic" on the bottom. They are now well seasoned and work wonderfully. The 10" has a semi-permanent home on my cooktop. It's what I always use to make grilled cheese sandwiches, among other things.

      You don't need to spend alot of money on a cast iron pan. The technology is very basic. Just make sure that the pans are THICK. I've seen quite a few very thin cast iron pans and they don't hold heat as well.

      Lodge is a good brand but realistically they are the All Clad of the cast iron world. A 12" Lodge cast iron skillet runs about $30 at Amazon. The Bayou Classic skillet in the same size is about $13 at Amazon. In fact, you can get a set of three Bayou Classic skillets for about $40 there. Don't let the 'pre-seasoned' BS fool you. You still need to season the Lodge cookware or cook with it for quite awhile before it gets the nice smooth patina of a well seasoned pan. My Lodge 'pre-seasoned' cook top griddle was simply coated in oil. Everything still sticks to it. That's not 'seasoned'. My 10" skillet is like teflon--the center is smooth as glass from more than 20 years of use.

      1. re: meadandale

        Just thinking this through. If she already is a cast iron user, I would hit the antique shops and flea markets and try to find an old Griswold or Wagner skillet (caveat emptor.)

        If your mom doesn't already use cast iron, I think I would look at the Lodge enamelled. It looks awesome (nice bright colors: blue, red, green and brown) and it is easy to care for -- no fooling around with seasoning and the like.

        Target has on sale for $35-40 on their website.

        Also make sure you get a handle cover or four -- the handles on cast iron get hot. I think that everyone forgets this...ONCE!

        If buying plain/pre-seasoned cast iron, you don't have to get Lodge to get a good quality piece. That said, there is a lot of junk out there, and buying Lodge sidesteps the quality issue. Cast iron is so cheap, the premium for Lodge is really not a big deal.

        The pre-seasoning is really a good thing...I don't miss having to scrub the wax off and then smoking up the whole house. Still takes a bit of use before ready to take on an egg or hash browns.

        1. re: meadandale

          Amazon's prices are usually good, but they're out of line on this one. Wal-Mart sells the Lodge 12" pre-seasoned skillet for about $19, and I it at Target last weekend for $20. I agree that the pre-seasoning is basically BS, but I haven't had any complaints about mine, given that I didn't expect it to behave like a pan that had been seasoned through actual use.

          1. re: Miss Priss

            The Kroger store near me also sells Lodge cast iron, rather cheaply. About the same price as the Walmart that is near me.
            I don't have much experiance with any cast iron (except for some very old, unidentified cast iron that I have) but Lodge. I like Lodge so I just keep buying that if I need a piece of cast iron. That would be bare cast iron. My enalmeld cast iron is Le Creuset.

          2. re: meadandale

            steakrules: Meadandale's post makes the most sense (except of course mine below). LOL. I cook with cast iron almost exclusively.

            1. re: Ambimom

              Wow, lots of really bad information here.

              Griswold and Wagner as mentioned by many, are the best. But any piece that is 60+ years old is probably going to be great. EBay is really the best place to find any type of old cast iron, there is a lot of it there.

              Lodge is junk. Compare the casting quality of it to real vintage iron, and it looks like a 4 year old made it. It's incredibly rough, way too heavy, and made with recycled iron contaminated with plastics, metals other than iron, and god knows what else.

              Contrary to what is said below heavier is not better with cast iron. The thinner the cast the more skilled the caster. With cast iron even a "thin" cast has a ton of thermal mass between you and the burner. Only difference is with a 1/2 inch thick Lodge skillet you sit there all day waiting for it to heat up or cool down.

              Also no cast iron is forged, that's why it's called cast iron. Cast, forged. Two different things.

              The only modern cast iron that you should consider buying is a Mineral B Element Pan made by De Buyer in France. They are on Amazon though. Made from real virgin ore not recycled engine blocks.

              Summation: Only the French make good cast iron anymore.

              1. re: JayJayMack

                Most of the Chinese cast iron woks I've seen for sale here are really thin and I understand they're even more brittle than western cast iron so maybe thinner isn't always better. I have one Mineral B Element pan but I tend to think of both Mineral lines as dB's "take" on cast iron rather than cast iron per se. I think they're still considered carbon steel; they're mostly iron, so I don't think they contain enough alloy to qualify as proper CI (even seasoned, my pan doesn't put me in mind of any CI I own or have seen). You're right, though, that they're terrific pans.

                1. re: JayJayMack

                  De Buyer "Mineral" pans are not cast iron, they are steel.

                  I agree about Lodge being rough. I saw one in a store awhile back and was surprised at the poor finish of the interior surface. My point of reference is a Griswold in my mother's kitchen which I think has not been used in about 40 years (and probably not much before that). That's the one I want.

                  1. re: GH1618

                    They are indeed steel and (scroll down)...............

                  2. re: JayJayMack

                    Have to vehemently disagree about your assertion that recycled iron and steel are inferior. Metallurgy has advanced tremendously in the last half century...a foundry like Lodge most likely has very stringent quality control and assurance. That Griswold was able to produce excellent castings back in the days when metallurgy was basically a black art is a testament to the workers. Not sure where you found your half-inch thick Lodge...pretty sure my skillets are nowhere near that thick. (Chinese-made Emeril cast iron, though, could very well be that thick...that stuff is really heavy).

                    1. re: JayJayMack

                      Thanks so much for the info. I just ended a love affair with a cast iron skillet I bought 40+ years ago by melting the plastic handle of the spatula all down the side. I am shopping for a new skillet to season myself. Your info is helpful about the materials used. I will shop for De Buyer.

                      1. re: c_edwards

                        De Buyer Mineral pans are very good.

                        However, why are you giving up your love affair with that 40+ year old skillet? Put it through the self clean cycle in your oven, re-season, and continue the love affair.

                        1. re: Sid Post

                          self clean oven is not good for cast iron

                            1. re: MathairAnn

                              I cant agree. Every single one of these pans has been through the self cleaning cycle at least once - I've refurbished over 35 pieces without a single problem. It is the easiest way to strip an old pan for reseasoning.

                        2. re: JayJayMack

                          DeBuyer Mineral B are not cast iron, they are stamped carbon steel! Lodge iron is not contaminated. At the temps it takes to cast the iron any "plastics" are vaporized. Lodge is good cookware "IF" you know how to use it!!!

                          1. re: hamnhock

                            THANK YOU. The Mineral line is dB's "take" on CI and as you stated, it's not cast. As far as "roughness" goes, my only CI pieces that didn't start out rough (and still are, a bit) are the Griswolds--glassy CI was, after almost 60 years of being exposed to CI cookware, a novelty. People are cogitating on this 'way too much. CI is "homely" cookware that was developed to perform for a long time and stand up to abuse. ALL of my CI, varying in age from 40 to 100+ years, looks crude, none of it, regardless of heft, takes all day to heat, including on my beyond-crummy range.

                            I can only imagine the reactions of our settler antecedents if they could read this thread (assuming they had the time).

                            1. re: hamnhock

                              My Lodge skillet is getting smoother everyday. I just keep building up a carbon coating that fills the pits. Soon it will be like glass....

                              1. re: hamnhock

                                I hate to say it. But you have to try to misuse cast iron

                          2. re: meadandale

                            I see them at T-J Max all the time for ~$15, if you have one close by.

                            1. re: jahimbo

                              I just bought a Lodge @ Target for $20. It is a 7.5 LB. 12" cast iron skillet. It came pre-seasoned, but I used LARD (pork Fat) to enhance it. Just heat on high until lard is smoking. Better open the windows, because I set my central fire alarm off 5:50am in the morning on that day twice! LOLOLOL

                              I would never spend $100's on a piece of cookware that I would use for cooking.

                              Only difference between today's CI and CI of old is the texture. Today's is a little more rough. But with enough carbon build up through use.... It will end up glass smooth in no time. Plus the Lodge has two handles instead of one.

                              Nothing beats cast iron for cooking food....


                              1. re: HUNGRYMAN8

                                I have to respectfully disagree. In addition to surface smoothness, my very old Griswolds are much lighter in weight than my newer (but still old and rougher) skillets. They're quite easy to handle for cast iron.

                                1. re: MacGuffin

                                  Wish I owned some nice Griswolds due to the weight difference.

                                  I have used them and totally agree there is a big difference in weight. These lighter skillets will be more responsive to heat. Less thermal mass so depending on what you're use to using some adjustment in heat settings and times are warranted.

                                  I will say that today's CI skillets like Lodge which are heavier and rougher are fine and will perform well and you don't need to seek out the old pans which are crazy expensive on ebay

                                  1. re: scubadoo97

                                    I bought my Griswolds quite awhile before people started posting about their virtues on sites like Chowhound, driving the prices to ridiculous heights; I didn't pay very much for mine and they're both well over 100 years old. Keep your eyes open and I'll keep my fingers crossed for you--I've picked up some slammin' deals on eBay, e.g. this on some years back for ~$30 with shipping to my friend's London address (men's 36, fits fine). The exact same coat in very distressed condition had sold for about 3X that just a few hours before. And just last month I FINALLY found a copy of Madame Romaine de Lyon's The Art of Cooking Omelettes for <$15 with shipping; I'd wanted it for years and online retailing geniuses usually don't list it for <$80 and usually much more. Trust me, miracles can happen. :)

                                  2. re: MacGuffin

                                    That is fine, but the heavier weight does not bother me and it will not warp as easy as the Griswolds. I find many of the old ones wobble.

                                    1. re: HUNGRYMAN8

                                      Gee, then I guess I'm just lucky because mine are perfectly flat and aren't warped in the least. And I didn't suggest that weight was an issue; you claimed the only difference was superficial to which I responded with a different difference. It wasn't an attempt at one-upmanship.

                                      1. re: HUNGRYMAN8

                                        The lodg brand in the store seems unfinished so the store can get a better deal. But you can smooth it out with hard rice

                                        1. re: whoeverdroid

                                          I took a grinding stone attached to a drill and smoothed mine out. Slowly getting it to season. But I'm getting there.....

                                          1. re: HUNGRYMAN8

                                            That works too, I rhink rice is recommended because there is little to no chancs of damaging the pan
                                            also you can season by coating in lard and placing it upsidown on a cookie sheet in an oven at 425° for 20 min

                                            1. re: whoeverdroid

                                              Thanks who.... I used lard but not upside down and I had a flash over LOL. Good advice. If I ever need to season again, I will do it your way.

                                              I used a grinding stone only because I wanted to smooth out the surface of the iron faster. I still have pits, but at least the bumps are gone. Then I cleaned with white vinegar and rinsed before seasoning.

                                              The problem with NEW cast iron is that Lodge does not use a fine enough media (sand) when they cast their iron. It leaves the pans rough. This is why people like the older ones.

                                              1. re: HUNGRYMAN8

                                                Isnt that the storie wirh all copmanies they all cut corners some completely round them off (tb)

                                                1. re: whoeverdroid

                                                  Yep, it is a bad way of thinking. Years ago companies sold more at less profit but provided quality and they did great. Today the bean counters think it is better in the short term to sell less with more profit. The latter only creates less and less customers over time.

                                                  1. re: HUNGRYMAN8

                                                    And possibly kill them of too and you still sell less product

                                                2. re: HUNGRYMAN8

                                                  Sorry abit the flash over the sheet pan should had caught the lard ... maybee a little less on the unside next time

                                                  1. re: whoeverdroid

                                                    Remember I had the pan upright. I think upside down is better the way you suggest. 450 degree's should do it.

                                                      1. re: whoeverdroid

                                                        If I have to touch it up... I will just use more lard.

                                      2. re: HUNGRYMAN8

                                        And you got the diff between old and new ci

                                        1. re: whoeverdroid

                                          Cheap Lodge work great. Get many pans for the price of a few expensive alternatives. Paid $20 for my 12" Lodge fry pan at a local retailer and happy. Thick and / or heavy is good for thermal retention and browning. Get a work out cleaning. Do not get one too large or will be difficult to lift with one hand to wash - my 14" Lodge is too heavy for some. I also have a 10" Lodge. My 10" and 12" Lodge get some of the most use in this kitchen. They stack well. The 14" Lodge is too big for most stove top burners, heavy when clean, and bigger is more prone to warp especially on small burners if not moved around.

                                          Finish on new cast iron not what used to be but will gets amazingly non-stick in time. They get totally black with use. Found a little abuse including rust will help make any cast pan smooth without power tool use.

                                          If do not clean or leave water in cast iron a few days have seen the rust to re-season. Learned not to leave my cast pans in a pile of dishes then go away. Or even with water in it (the well water here is slightly acidic with some salt content). Or put away slightly wet.

                                          Is best to clean cast iron shortly after use and then somehow immediately dry completely. Rust on cast happens fast. Cleaning within a few hours is faster before food sets. Saves time in the long run. We have a dedicated 'special brush' deformed by melt from cleaning hot cast pans hanging by sink. Often dry with a towel best possible then put pan on a burner turned to Hi for a few minutes.

                                          Can be a kitchen hazard to some. Try to avoid the nasty burns possible when learning to use or forgetting how hot cast iron gets. No thermal handle is great to go in the oven, but bad for handling if too hot without protection.

                                          1. re: smaki

                                            After cooking, I just wipe the debris and excess oil out leaving a film and they never rust.

                                    2. re: meadandale

                                      I got my first CI skillet - a Lodge factory second - at Marshall's. The logo wasn't on the helper handle = $12 for 10" skillet...

                                      I suppose you can undercut this with some cheaper pieces... But not by much. I'll pay the marginal premium - owning American made cookware means something to me.

                                    1. re: ThreeGigs

                                      They have a awesome 16" Reversible Griddle I am pinching to buy (but must wait 'til later). Camp Chef offerings seem to be a bit more expansive than Lodge.

                                    2. MikeB3542 has it exactly right. My mother had a Griswold "spider" (she called it) frypan when I was growing up in the 1940s and 1950s, and used it all the time. When our family needed one in 1980, I purchased a new Lodge griddle, read up on how to season it, and did everything I was "supposed" to do for 29 years, and the dang thing never got "right" the way my mother's old skillet was. So -- finally, and none too soon -- three months ago, I went on eBay, searched on the search terms Griswold and Erie, and scored a #9 skillet for all of $16, including shipping. Cut to the chase: the circa 1940 Griswold is simply WONDERFUL. As a result, the Lodge, underperformer for 29 years, has been banished from our household.

                                      There is a lot of Griswold cast iron offered on eBay. There are three things to know when selecting items for bidding: (1) there are some Griswold items that are "collectibles," and collectors will bid the prices out of sight: avoid those, because they don't cook any better, they just have value as antiques; (2) a few years after Wagner of Sidney, Ohio, went out of business, the company that had acquired Wagner's assets acquired Griswold also, shut down the Griswold production in Erie, PA, and shifted production to Sidney: all "real" Griswold has the word "Erie" on the underside; (3) the magic words describing condition are "sits flat": if the eBay listing does not say "sits flat," pass on the listing and look for another one.

                                      However, if yiou are skittish about purchasing used cookware, you might look into this skillet, from the Nambu (now Morioka) area of Japan, where they have been perfecting their cast iron skills for about four centuries, and have got it very right; it is not merely cast, it is also forged.

                                      38 Replies
                                      1. re: Politeness

                                        I agree 100% with the above poster. I love cast iron cookware, both enameled and raw: and for me there is no skillet like a Griswold skillet. They're perfection. Just follow the tips already posted since you're buying to cook with, not to be displayed as an antique.

                                        1. re: Politeness

                                          Politeness, what do you mean by forged, and not merely cast? As I understand it, those two terms indicate necessarily separate methods of construction.

                                          Do you mean that it was, like the Griswolds, machined for smoothness of interior? You clearly know your stuff, I was just wondering what distinguishes this particular pan.

                                          1. re: dfmickley

                                            dfmickley, Close your eyes and conjure the image of the village smithy standing under the spreading chestnut tree. The smithy has a hammer in his hand that pounds the red-hot iron that he has pulled from the fire and placed atop an anvil; he is FORGING the iron to make it stronger as he also shapes it. Forging is an additional step, not inconsistent with casting, but enhancing it.

                                            Most cast iron cookware is simply pulled from the hot furnace, and after it has cooled a bit, its sand mold is broken off and the cast iron's rough burrs may be ground off before sending it off for sale. A forged item is subjected to beating, probably in a punch and die, to shape and strengthen the metal. Speculating now, for cookware, possible benefits might be to reduce porosity to allow a thinner profile without losing structural integrity and for more uniform density throughout the piece for more even distribution of heat.

                                            1. re: Politeness

                                              Politeness, I appreciate the explanation. I am mostly a Cooks Illustrated lemming, but you have tweaked the inner cookware fiend that lurks within me. Also, after a brief time imagining the craftsman, in a zen-like state honing his product and his art, under a golden sun, the light refracting upon endless fields of rice - well, I was transported, lulled, and then promptly passed out, and got a good nap in. Thanks for both.

                                              I looked at your other posts and you support three different foreign-made cast iron companies, with particular adherence to a tempura pot. I'd like to ask you two minimizing, distinctly American questions:

                                              1. Prior to reading your posts, I was going to buy two skillets: a pre-seasoned lodge 10" and 12". I have a demeyere saute pan and saucier already, and with those four items, plus an eventual enameled CI dutch oven, I was ready to feel all secure and giddy to gallivant about the cookery world. But you have, as earlier stated, sunk my cast iron battleship.

                                              If you were to purchase a 10" and 12" skillet from one of your sources, which would they be, and why?

                                              2. What do you use that tempura pan for? Why do you love it so?

                                              I will add that I harbor pacifistic tendencies and you can tantalize at will with no fear of armed robbery.

                                              1. re: dfmickley

                                                My goodness. I have just realized that I bought my Demeyere saucier on your recommendation over on Egullet about a year ago.

                                                Do you have an open position for an apprenticeship, cooking sensei?

                                                1. re: dfmickley

                                                  dfmickley: "I have just realized that I bought my Demeyere saucier on your recommendation over on Egullet about a year ago.."

                                                  You're telling me that I have a doppelganger?

                                                  1. re: Politeness

                                                    An error, then. A year ago, I went through a which-copper-core odyssey, and found myself reading that 40 page cookware monstrosity on Egullet, which convinced me to go with Demeyere. Someone wrote with extraordinary knowledge and facility about heat transference and mentioned that the saucier was their most-used pan, and after reading one of your posts here on Chow about the Fournier effect , and a mention of saucier love, I assumed you were the same person.

                                                    Bear in mind that this revelation came through the vague haze of last year's memories, during which I have exposed myself to endless vices, carcinogenically likely flakings from my nonstick egg skillet, and the repressed 11th grade physics memories unleashed by this recent exposure to scientific jargon, all of which have left me in a state of perpetual stupor.

                                                2. re: dfmickley

                                                  dfmickley, I wish I could bottle your writing style and market it as a cure for the blues; great stuff.

                                                  We both own a Demeyere saucier -- we use ours probably as much as any pot in our kitchen -- so we share something in common.

                                                  Our Iwachu Nambutetsu tempura pot gets very diverse uses. Unsurprisingly, my spouse makes tempura in it. Full disclosure requires that I inform you that we more often make tempura in the lower part of our Copco (Morsø) Michael Lax enameled cast iron Dutch oven. For my part, I love to make Dutch babies (German soufflé pancakes), and there simply is no better instrument in the world for the making of a Dutch baby than the Iwachu tempura pot. We also use the Iwachu tempura pot for various stews, and, occasionally, to braise a steak. It has an indestructible mirror-smooth inner surface that from the beginning was as nonstick as any seasoned cast iron. I do not know if I would call it "preseasoned," because the process to bring it to that state may have differed from traditional cast iron seasoning, but it always has been nonstick with excellent release of anything cooked on/in it. We also have a smaller edition of a Nambutetsu nabe, a little over half the size of the tempura pot, that has perfect proportions; you can see its underside (not its best angle) here: It is an aesthetic marvel.

                                                  My assumption is that the Iwachu walled skillet would have similar even heating and nonstick qualities, and, were it not that we have a surfeit of skillets, I would consider the Iwachu Nambutetsu skillet at the very top of my list for skillet acquisition.

                                                  If, as you have written, you have read my other posts here, then you know that early in 2009, we ditched a Lodge "flat" (no side walls, only a lip) cast iron skillet that never got right in 29 years in favor of a Griswold Erie flat #9 skillet that we purchased via eBay. We do not regret that exchange for one minute. The circa 1940 Griswold is orders of magnitude superior to the circa 1980 Lodge. (The 1980 Lodge we gave to close friends for whom it was an upgrade from a steel skillet; they, too, feel as if they have upgraded significantly.) We use the Griswold to fry eggs; to scramble eggs, we use a small (about 8") enameled cast iron Copco Michael Lax frying pan, because we simply prefer the taste of scrambled eggs that have been made in butter, and the curved sides of the small enameled frying pan keep the butter under the eggs as they are being cooked.

                                                  1. re: Politeness

                                                    Well, stupor or no stupor, you've hooked me. Superior cooking qualities aside, I like the notion of supporting a fading artisanal breed. I spent some months in Tokyo and admired and was inspired by the lifelong adherence to craft-as-art that I was lucky enough to see.

                                                    My one concern, then, is that the natural import company website states that the diameter is 9.5 inches, which seems prohibitively small - I'm cooking for two 95% of the time, but occasionally for guests, and the 10" and 12" seemed to be the way to go. I saw that someone else bought one on and set about investigating sizes there, but I was unable to navigate the Kanji, being flagrantly isolationist in my lingual tendencies.

                                                    I could begin the Griswold ebay hunt to supplement the Nambutetsu, and I don't have a problem putting in the effort and money for that. When it comes to cookware, they are less tools than old friends.

                                                    I am with you on buttery eggs. (Have you ever been to Shopsin's, in New York?) I will keep an eye out for that pan on ebay. I made a strong effort to sell myself on the tempura pot, and while it could conceivably be used as a faux dutch oven(?), I have never had or made a dutch baby, and have a generally amorphous headpace when I think of potential uses.

                                                    1. re: dfmickley

                                                      If you would rather skip the eBay search and don't mind paying a little extra for a Griswold, The Brooklyn Kitchen often has them in stock. The website doesn't seem to be entirely up to date, so I would call them or stop in the shop if you're in the New York area to see what is actually in stock. Usually they have more than what is on the website. Info at .

                                                      1. re: David A. Goldfarb

                                                        Thanks, David. I'll probably make a trip of it next week. I just looked on Ebay and found a range of #10s, but hell if I can figure out whether or not the heat ring is irrelevant in the modern era of stovetops, which production period the logo corresponds to and if there is any genuine fluctuation in the quality of iron, etc. The Chowhound threads are universally pro-Griswold, but I couldn't find specifics on this stuff outside of the collector zealots.

                                                        Trusting Politeness, it seems like anything with Erie on the bottom that sits flat is a safe bet, but even so, parsing through this information from the perspective of a cook instead of a collector is borderline spiritually painful, and I may delegate it to one of those helpful Brooklynites.

                                                        1. re: dfmickley

                                                          griswold has the name but also the price. i have a lot of cast iron skillets, all old ones. wagner (or wagner ware, same company, different years) are good. so are Piqua, Wapak, and a number of others. there were many, many foundries that produced fine cast iron cookware, decades ago. like the late 1800s thru the 1940s or even 50s. (two of my favorite cooking skillets are griswold small logo ones from the 50s- not collectible and half the price of the others, but man they are nice to cook on!)
                                                          also, some pans are fine but do not even have a name on the back.'
                                                          best advise is to get one as old as you can afford. make sure the ad says "sits flat" and also that the inside cooking surface is level! they leave that part out a lot. ask. have them place a small level or ruler or something in side the pan and make sure light does not show around anywhere.

                                                    2. re: Politeness

                                                      And if you have a suggestion for a pristine dutch baby in New York, or a preferred recipe I could whip up, I'm all ears.

                                                      1. re: dfmickley

                                                        dfmickley: The "preferred recipe" for a Dutch baby could hardly be simpler.

                                                        4 eggs
                                                        1 cup milk
                                                        1 cup flour
                                                        1/4 cup butter (½ cube) or its equivalent
                                                        [Optional: a pinch of nutmeg and a couple of drops of vanilla]

                                                        Preheat the oven (not in convection mode) to 450°.

                                                        In the following steps, the timing of your guests' readiness to eat is the most important thing, because when the Dutch baby is done, it must be consumed immediately.

                                                        Put the "butter" (we actually use about 1" to 1½" of a cube of butter, plus about 1 tablespoon peanut oil) into the Nambutetsu tempura pot and put the pot into the preheated oven to get the pot hot and the butter melted. (Depending on how fast you work, you may need to delay the next few steps to ensure that the pot reaches full heat; if you are a slow worker, then you need not delay.) Don't worry about scorching the butter; it WILL scorch.

                                                        While the pot is heating in the oven, break the eggs into a blender and whip at the blender's highest speed for 30 seconds.

                                                        Open the lid of the blender and add the milk (and optional vanilla) to the blender while it is still spinning at the highest speed that it can be set without getting stuff all over your counter.

                                                        With the blender still spinning, add the flour (and optional nutmeg) slowly to keep it from getting mashed as a lump on the sides of the blender.

                                                        Turn the blender back up to its highest speed and whip for another 30 seconds.

                                                        Without removing the Nambutetsu from the oven (just slide the rack out a bit), pour the entire contents of the blender into the melted oil at the bottom of the heated Nambutetsu, push the shelf back in, and shut the oven door. The basic idea is to minimize the length of time that the oven door is open.

                                                        Turn the oven down to 425° and bake until the top of the Dutch baby at its outer edges is really brown (the middle will be just past golden brown), about 15-20 minutes. After you have done this a few times, you will find that the smell of the baking Dutch baby gives the most accurate indication of when it is done, and saves you having to open the oven door to peek. You want to minimize the number and length of times you open the oven door.

                                                        Now, the most important part: Before you remove the Dutch baby from the oven, make sure your guests or family are present to watch it as it emerges, tall and puffy. The taste of the Dutch baby is immensely enhanced by the absorption of "ooohs" and "aahhhs". I cannot emphasize this enough.

                                                        Cut into slices and serve immediately -- really immediately -- with lemon slices (or fresh-squeezed lemon juice) and powdered sugar.

                                                        In a pinch, you can use an enameled cast iron Dutch oven (without its lid) for the baking vessel; we have done that, and it works, sort of -- but the Nambutetsu works much better.

                                                        This recipe can be scaled down to 3 eggs, and 3/4 cup each of the milk and flour, but does not scale up very well; better to make two 3-egg Dutch babies than one 6-egg Dutch baby.

                                                        1. re: Politeness

                                                          I will be attempting a Dutch Baby as soon as I can locate a suitable vessel. I hope my girlfriend, or federal authorities, never locate this post.

                                                          I emailed the owner of the Natural Import site about purchasing a larger model of the pan. Fingers crossed. If that fails, I'll just get the 9.5" - in the worst case scenario, I could present a Griswold v. Nambu comparison that should endear me to the ultra-investigative niche within the already-eclectic Chowhound cast iron niche of the cookware enthusiast niche, which I imagine will land me on Iron Chef sooner rather than later.

                                                          1. re: Politeness

                                                            Well, the Dutch Baby recipe just compelled me to buy the Nambutetsu tempura set and an additional cast iron pan from the site. I have also been surfing for Griswold pans and griddles. I would love a pan that has 100 years of seasoning (well, 100 years of the iron being smoothed to glass). I have an induction cooktop, and am looking forward to trying out these pans.

                                                            One question, I do not see here is any comment of the American Culinary Wagner polished cast iron pans. I would imagine that, although these are new and would require seasoning from scratch, the polished surface would be much better in time than starting with a Lodge pebbled surface.

                                                            Any comments?

                                                            1. re: Waynedude

                                                              Waynedude: "the Dutch Baby recipe just compelled me to buy the Nambutetsu tempura set and an additional cast iron pan from the site."

                                                              There is no finer cast iron made in our era (and perhaps never was any finer in any other era) than Nambutetsu; you will not regret your purchases. And -- as I suggested a year ago -- the Iwachu tempura pot is, simply, the _perfect_ vessel for making Dutch babies.

                                                    3. re: Politeness

                                                      Incorrect. Forged means the pan gets its shaped from being pressed, like with a giant stamp and die. If it was forged, it wouldn't be cast. The impeccable casting quality of the old pans is what makes them unique.

                                                      1. re: JayJayMack

                                                        I think the interiors of the old cast iron pans were machined to make a smooth surface.

                                                        1. re: GH1618

                                                          Old and new cast iron uses (usually) sand molds. That is, a die is pressed into a box full of sand (it may be wet), and molten iron is poured into that (actually 2 halves). Something similar is done to make cornstarch molds for chocolates and candies. When solid, the mold is opened, and sand broken off.

                                                          With sand casting a rough, pebbly surface is normal. The casting can be sand blasted, machined, or polished. That fact that machining requires an extra step, and usually a labor intensive one, in part accounts for Lodge skipping that with most of their modern products. Years ago they must have put each pan into a lathe, where a skilled machinist shaved off the rough interior. Now that could easily be done with a computer controlled machine tool, but those aren't any cheaper than a good machinist.

                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                            I agree. It comes to marketing price point too. If Lodge is to include the machining smoothing step, the cost will go up noticeably. Will average customers pay extra for a smoother pan? I don't know.

                                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                              >Will average customers pay more<

                                                              The way some go on about how much better the vintage CI is because it is so smooth, I would say yes. (Though i would not) I mean look how much more some of us are willing to pay for lecreuset, or copper cookware or any other high end cooking tools.

                                                              1. re: dixiegal

                                                                <I would say yes>

                                                                I wasn't being clear. I guess I meant if there will be enough of a market to worth the change. I feel the vintage CI market is very small. The entire cast iron cookware is not that big to begin with. Truth to be told, there are some really high quality smooth surface cast iron made in Japan. They don't seem to sell well in US.



                                                                I do agree with you on Le Cresust. It is a respectable market. As for copper cookware, I feel it is a high end market, but a very small one. In other words, I don't think there are many copper cookware in people's home. It is like Toyota vs Ferrari. Toyota may not get the same respect as Ferrai, but Toyota is a 1.5 trillion annual revenue company. Ferrai is 2.2 billion -- 700 times in difference.

                                                            2. re: paulj

                                                              Modern casting still uses sand, but for smaller pieces, a continuous DISA process is most is a sort of automated continuous casting process where the back of the previous casting serves as the front of the next casting. Casting into a box with two halves (so-called "cope and drag" casting) is the traditional sand casting method, but only used for larger more complicated casting....think engine blocks and machine frames.

                                                          2. re: JayJayMack

                                                            .........they're not cast. In fact, there's a manufacturer's video of skillets being stamped and pressed in the factory which puts the kibosh on "only the French make good cast iron" assertion.

                                                            1. re: MacGuffin

                                                              what videos do you have in mind?

                                                                1. re: MacGuffin

                                                                  I see 'mineral' videos that show how carbon steel pans are cut, stamped, trimmed, polished, and finished.

                                                                  Here is a Lodge cast iron video

                                                                  1. re: paulj


                                                                    I admitted that I was confused at first, but MacGuffin may not be saying that Debuyer steel pans are cast iron. I think, he may be saying that some people may confused cast iron vs carbon steel -- including DeBuyer. I wasn't able to locate the video where "only the French make good cast iron"

                                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                      The only French cast iron that has much of a reputation is of the enameled variety.

                                                                      For quality bare cast iron, I'd look to Japan (such as the pieces the Snow Peak markets).

                                                                      There is some thinner cast iron on the market now. I've looked at a few pieces at TJMaxx. I don't recall where they are made.

                                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                                        <For quality bare cast iron, I'd look to Japan>

                                                                        Expensive stuffs. :)

                                                                        But look at how beautiful they are:



                                                                        I do agree with you. For high quality modern cast iron cookware, Japan is probably the best place to look for:


                                                                      2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                        "only the French make good cast iron" is an opinion in a post referring to the Mineral B line to which I responded, not a video. The de Buyer video demonstrates that their skillets aren't cast and it has already been determined that the Mineral lines are steel, hence these particular French aren't making any cast iron, good or otherwise.

                                                                        1. re: MacGuffin

                                                                          I see. Again, thanks for clarifying for me.

                                                                2. re: MacGuffin

                                                                  Hmm, it kind of sound like carbon steel cookware.

                                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                    Yes, I made that observation in a previous post.

                                                                    1. re: MacGuffin

                                                                      I don't think DeBuyer makes cast iron cookware. DeBuyer makes carbon steel cookware (or best known for carbon steel cookware). So I think you are correct that DeBuyer may use a very different definition than we do. Thanks for clearing this up for me.

                                                            2. re: Politeness

                                                              My Erie #9 cast iron skillet has a crack from the middle of the pan right up the side, this broke my heart when I discovered it. I used this skillet practically everyday. I have another cast iron skillet but it's too thick, heavy and it's not deep enough. I loved my Erie and I'm so happy I read your post. You have given me hope to find another one. Before reading your post I had no idea who made my skillet, I had never given it much thought until now. Thank you.

                                                            3. Add me to the list supporting the antique shop/fleas market idea. You will DEFINITELY get a better pan if its vintage. If you have an autoclean oven, stick the pan in the oven and run the full 2 pr 3 hour cleaning cycle. You'll then have a practically new pan ready to season. The LODGE brand pans are useless (to me anyway) with that rough, pebbly inside surface.

                                                              4 Replies
                                                              1. re: The Professor

                                                                you can crack your pan that way!!! please do not put an old, irreplaceable one thru the oven cleaner cycle! if it breaks, there goes a piece of history!!!
                                                                many other ways to clean up a pan. easy to find on the web. they do take a bit of elbow grease but soooo worth it!
                                                                i use the oven cleaner in a bag method, personally. again, easy to find instructions on the web. just type in "how to clean a cast iron skillet" or something like that.

                                                                1. re: jackie57

                                                                  Whatever works for you.
                                                                  Some of my iron pans are 75 years old (or older) and for close to 40 years I've been doing them in the oven cleaning cycle when necessary (mainly for newly acquired vintage pans). I have yet to ruin a pan using this method.

                                                                  The oven method was recommended to me years ago and far as I'm concerned (and in my experience as well as other folks who've tried it), it's hands-down the best (and most hassle free) way to recondition an old classic cast iron pan.

                                                                  1. re: jackie57

                                                                    This is good advice. Even though most pans will survive this abuse most of the time, occasionally one will fracture. There is no need to take the risk.

                                                                  2. re: The Professor

                                                                    when i get an old cast iron skillet, i only clean it down to bare iron if it is really, really crusty. i do not see the point in doing it otherwise, only to start the seasoning process again. i like the memories of all the generations of cooks who used it, cooking i hope with love for their families.
                                                                    i prefer only to have to use an old skillet a couple of times, to kinda "refresh" the seasoning that others have done. less work and a great result, so far.

                                                                  3. I have two US-made Wagners that I bought in the early 80's at Zabar's that I use ALL the time, as well as two 100+-year-old Griswolds that I bought on eBay; I like them a lot because they're much lighter in weight than pans made later. I absolutely would avoid anything made in China--buy a new Lodge or head to eBay. The Japanese pan mentioned above looks very interesting but make sure it's actually manufactured in Japan rather than contracted out elsewhere (like China or Thailand).