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Best food to cook in a cast iron pan

I just obtained a cast iron skillet and do not know what I can do with it.

Does anyone have any suggestions on their favourite food to cook in one? Or any unique ideas?

Thanks so much :)

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  1. Just about anything that needs a nice crispy brown sear. I also use it to roast things in the oven, whole chicken, vegetables etc...

    1 Reply
    1. re: roux42

      Home fries and chicken under a brick are favorite uses for my nearly 100-year-old pan. Upside down cakes also work well.

    2. Hi, chef55:

      My personal favorites are:

      (1) oven-roasted whole chicken;
      (2) pan-fried Spencer steaks; and
      (3) Craig Claiborne's Dutch Babies.


      1. I don't really have a favourite food to cook in my CI, what I usually use it for is anything that doesn't involve acidic ingredients or any type of sauce (you can cook sauces in cast iron, but I don't like to do that, I stick with my stainless for that).

        1. Best food? There are so many.
          Cornbread works well...
          Frying Chicken or Bacon, or etc, etc, etc
          Browning meat, ground or other wise....

          1. Sear pork chops and finish in the pan in the oven.
            Same with steaks.
            Hashbrowns brown fantastically in cast iron, or par cooked quartered potatoes
            Baked cornbread or clafoutis.
            Pineapple upside down cake
            Fried chicken
            The list is endless.

            1. If you had 2 CI pans , you could make those grilled cheese things that have a fancy name I can't spell....panenees

              2 Replies
              1. re: Raffles

                Paninis are fine to make in one cast iron skillet; just use any other heavy flat-bottomed pan or pot to sit on the top of the bread. Or even a not-so-heavy saucepan with some water in it for weight.

                1. re: ellabee

                  A brick wrapped in foil is my *press*

              2. Steak
                Roasted vegetables

                  1. I agree with roux. Anything which require a good deep sear.

                    1. fry: bacon, eggs, burgers, cheesesteak
                      sauté: onions
                      roast: pizza, pot pie, broccoli, prime rib

                      but above all... steak

                      1. Bake cornbread. Fry good quality bacon.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: sueatmo

                          Especially early on in your pan's life, these are great for building seasoning.

                        2. The Silver Palate's Peach Cake recipe

                            1. If you cast iron is new it will LOVE you for cooking bacon and frying things - in turn your seasoning will mature and you will come to love your pan.

                              One thing that you will find great is that many things that left you major cleanup - roasting, frying, searing etc actually improve your CI - once your seasoning is good and slick you will be able to do all sorts of things with easy cleanup

                              Last night I used a CI skillet as a roasting pan for chicken - then made gravy from the drippings in it and it cleaned up without the need to scrub anything.

                              ci skillet is my go to pan for

                              quick breads
                              yeast breads
                              deep dish pizza

                              enoy - the more you use it the better it will work

                              1. Fried anything.

                                Corn bread.

                                Deserts or breads with a caramel glaze.


                                1. BACON and lots of it to assist in seasoning your new CI skillet. You will want to rinse it with hot water after cooking and dry it on a cooktop burner, no need to wipe it dry. Using it for fatty foods at the beginning of its life will make a difference in its lifelong ability to resist sticking.

                                  I know there are people who scramble their eggs in a CI pan but I'm not one of them.

                                  Once the pan is nicely seasoned, you will find that it cooks/bakes/broils very well and may become your go-to choice.

                                  1. It's great for stir fry. Just let it get really hot.
                                    I use it to pan fry things like clamcakes, corncakes, etc.
                                    I also think it works great for roasted vegetables.
                                    Just not anything with acid--wine, tomatoes--don't work so well. They interact with the iron and you wind up with a slightly metallic taste. Spinach is sometimes a problem this way, too.

                                      1. I am just going to say once again, since St Pat's day is on the horizon, my grandmother from County Cavin made the best Irish Soda Bread in her very aged well seasoned skillet. That pan would get a pretty penny at an auction it had so many years of seasoning. When it's time to pass it on once again, I say, you keep the condo, I'll take the pan!

                                        1. Cornbread is really good in cast iron. I would not no what else could be used in place of the CI. I have several CI skillets of different sizes, 8" and 10" are most handy, and well seasoned and several cornbread stick pans of different sizes.

                                          The cornbread I make has NO SUGAR and no flour (generally). Set your oven to 425 F. and add lard or Crisco, Bacon fat is good too. Put the pan in the oven and get it smoking hot before pouring in the batter. The batter should sizzle and fry when it hits the pan.

                                          I also fry chicken in CI. Again, use a fat that is solid at room temp. To get your pan seasoned fry bacon in it, several times. Wipe out the inside with a paper towel, reserve to bacon grease. After a few batches you should have a nicely seasoned pan.

                                          5 Replies
                                          1. re: Candy

                                            "fry bacon in it, several times"
                                            This is such a good idea on so many levels.

                                            1. re: Candy

                                              even though my 5-10 year old cast iron skillet has, i think, a very developed patina and decent seasoning, it is not smooth as glass and has some texture to it. I find paper towel rips and leaves paper towel lint all over my cast iron.

                                              am i doing something wrong?

                                              i now just use my hand and hot water to scrub

                                              1. re: filtered

                                                Hi filtered,
                                                You're not doing anything wrong, its a manufacturing difference. The great cast iron of old was finished much more smoothly than the stuff of today. Your modern skillet is never going to have that glass like surface. You could sand it down or something, but I'm not convinced it would be worth the work. My 12" is a little older than yours (maybe 15 years?) and I pretty much do the same as you. I will use a paper towel gently, but that's about it. Best solution, keep your eyes open for truly vintage CI!

                                                1. re: harrism


                                                  one more photo: burger night!

                                              2. re: Candy

                                                I'd like your no flour cornbread recipe if you care to share. My grandmother always fried her skinned chicken in cast iron and finished it in the oven, it was the best fried chicken ever. Have never been able to duplicate it as good as I remember it tasted.

                                              3. The best way to roast a chicken is in a preheated cast iron skillet. You slice open the web of skin connecting the drumstick to the point of the breast, then fold the leg/thigh open like you're opening a book. Lever it out until you feel the thigh bone pop out of the hip joint. This gives the dark meat side of the bird maximum contact with the hot skillet, allowing you to crisp the bottom skin and precook the dark meat on the stovetop. By jump-starting the dark meat temperature in the hot pan, you can ensure that it hits a palatable 180F just as the middle of the breast hits 140F. This also makes the bird MUCH easier to carve, as the thigh is already dislocated and all you have to do is slip the carving knife through the gap between bones.

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: RealMenJulienne

                                                  how bout spatchcocking by cutting out the backbone?

                                                  1. re: Bellachefa

                                                    Spatchcocking basically accomplishes the same thing as my method but in reverse. Instead of folding the thigh skin-down to expose it to the hot pan, with spatchcocking you are folding it skin-up to expose it to the hot oven air. Spatchcocking works fine but I like having the crispy-skinned roast backbone to gnaw on. That's the kitchen worker's reward that never makes it to the dinner table.

                                                  2. re: RealMenJulienne

                                                    I do the Zuni method and it gives me a perfectly cooked chicken every time.


                                                  3. Fried chicken. In shortening or if you have enough, bacon fat. It'll leave you with a wonderfully seasoned pan and fantastic chicken.

                                                    1. In addition to frequent use for cornbread and roasted chicken, my favorite use is for mac and cheese on the grill. Smokey, cheesey, goodness.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                        1. I am now super hungry after reading over this thread.

                                                          My wife uses it to make cast iron cookies which are fantastic. It ends up basically making a flat perfectly toasted giant cookie and then we cut it into slices.

                                                          1. A few Saturdays ago I cooked bacon for breakfast, left the grease in the skillet, then made a Chicken Pot Pie for supper. Heavenly.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: Smarttyparty

                                                              I started using that exact technique, mostly out of laziness. I can cook two meals and only have to clean up once!

                                                            2. The most important that the cast iron has been seasoned, and NEVER cook something that is "soupy or watery" in it. Of course,you can, but it will remove the seasoning. Also do NOT put in the dishwasher. Do Not wash the pan _ever! (There's a phrase used by iron diehards "If what you cook tastes like Gramma used to cook, because there's still something she cooked is still in it!".

                                                              To clean, you can use a scraper made for cast; or a spatula like a an icing tool. Just google "cast iron cleaning", and you'll get lots more advise.

                                                              Now to answer your question: Of course I use cast for bacon and eggs. But I also cook steaks, pork chops, every kind of breakfast meat. My favorite is to saute onions to mix with hash browns, cook my Sirloin Steak. Add the onions and to your on top of the steak a couple minutes minutes, the flavors will mix nicely. I often cook some mushrooms, and add the onion mix. All of the items should be cooked in cast. That's why I have several cast skillets.

                                                              You can cook almost EVERYTHING in cast, as long as it's not soupy!

                                                              Hope this helps.

                                                                1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                  Wow. Some great looking dishes. I love that site.

                                                                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                    The Turnip Greens Fritatta in that link looks good.

                                                                  2. There are many threads about this on the Home Cooking and General Topics boards.

                                                                    1. Chicken. I know that some have said notbto cook acidic foods in CI but I noticed that when I use fresh lemon juice...the flavor bursts with flavor...unlike SS where flavors seem to get lost...any ideas why or is it in my head?

                                                                      1 Reply