My almost comprehensive, Lodge 12 inch cast iron skillet review. It is my go to cookware for breakfast or lunch, brunch. It is my safe, non-toxic, non-stick pan alternative. I cook eggs, pancakes and any dish that needs a bit of non-stick magic.

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I needed something that I can use to cook eggs with as my stainless steel pan is not doing a great job with it. There is a way to make a stainless steel pan a little bit non-stick but it’s not so practical.

 

Stainless steel pan can be non-stick

To make a stainless steel pan have non-stick properties, you need oil to season the surface of the pan. Heat up a good amount of oil on the stainless steel pan. Let it smoke a little bit and take it off heat.

 

Throw away the old oil and start wiping the surface of the pan with a towel. Be careful dealing with very hot oil. Accident with a boiling oil is very, very bad. 

 

I was astonished when I tried it.This method actually freaking works. I cooked eggs with it and they slide like air hockey discs. Not really, but it didn’t stick, that alone makes it incredible!

 

It’s a one trick pony

The only problem is that the seasoning doesn’t last. It is a one hit wonder. After washing the pan the seasoning gets washed away and requires another seasoning. You do this after every single cook.  

 

I can honestly tell you that I have been doing this to my stainless steel pans before I bought my cast iron skillet. I used to set off the smoke alarm because I keep forgetting about the smoking oil in the pan. 

 

Things I do to avoid toxic cookwares. I finally threw in the towel after a month. So I did a little bit of research and found that cast iron can make a very good non-stick pan. 

 

Cast irons have been around since the 19th century. What?! I thought I was onto something new here.

 

They were a very popular cookware of choice until the lighter, toxic heavy non-stick pans came out in the 1960’s and 70’s. When you go to kitchenware stores today, there are hardly any cast iron cookwares on display.

 

Lodge MFG

lodge 12 inch cast iron skillet review

The only cast iron company that still makes this safe cookware is Lodge manufacturing company. They have started making cast iron pan cookware since 1896. I’m pretty sure they know a little thing or two about cast iron pans. 

 

Lodge makes their pans in the US and they still do. The only Lodge product not being made inside the US are the cast iron enameled pans. These enameled pans are being manufactured in China. 

 

After doing my research on the Lodge 12 inch cast iron skillet. I finally decided to buy one. Couldn’t really find one in our local stores so decided to buy one from Amazon. Which took about one and a half weeks to be delivered straight to my door. Which is quite impressive coming from America.

 

First impression

When it arrived, I was so happy to finally see and touch it in person. Built like a tank came to mind when I first laid eyes upon it. The pan really looked like a solid unit.

 

Lifting it with my hand confirms that this thing is a tank. It is so heavy that I can use this as my dumbbells. This thing falls on your head, you would die. 

 

Jokes aside, this weighs about 8.5 lbs or 4 kg. It’s not tremendously heavy, my girlfriend can lift it with one hand and she is a petite, 45 kg girl. Once you add food in it though then it will obviously get heavier. That is when the extra handle comes into play.

 

Cooking with a Lodge 12 inch cast iron pan

I opted for the big 12 inch skillet because it saves me time. What I generally do is cook 2 eggs in different ways. One egg can be scrambled and the other, sunny side up or however you want it.

 

While these two eggs are cooking, I would also cut up tomatoes and fry them on the same pan. This is why I love big pans, just saves so much time.

 

I also eat a lot and tend to always cook more than my appetite.

 

Don’t buy a 12 inch pan if you will only be cooking in small batches, eg. cook one egg or bacon. Your pan will just be burning oil and other bits. Leaving you with so much mess to clean up.

 

Instead, choose a smaller pan like a 9 inch. I think this pan is the most versatile. It sort of meets in the middle. But if you are like me that loves eating a lot then buy the 12 inch Lodge cast iron pan. You can always get a smaller one for times when you feel like going on a diet.

 

The design of the pan transfers heat in every section, yes the handle too. You know how many times I have burnt my hands handling this cast iron pan? Only once. That’s because I learnt my lesson. When buying a cast iron pan, you must buy a silicone hot handle holder. It saves fingers.

 

Tossing is a no no

The problem with a large pan is that it can be very heavy. It’s alright when it’s just sitting on the stove top, but when it comes to tossing, forget it. You need two hands and a lot of effort to lift the pan to toss vegetables or pancakes. 

 

I actually tried tossing it with one hand. I do have some guns, so why not?

 

-Oh my god, don’t even try it.

 

It got really messy after trying to toss a half cooked pancake into the air. The cleaning up was not fun at all.

 

The weight is not really the problem when it comes to tossing food on the Lodge pan. The design of the pan itself is a hindrance. These pans do have a slant but only ever so slightly and more straight sides. It doesn’t have that great degree of slope like a wok has or a proper skillet. Instead it’s just an almost straight vertical mass of metal. This pan has the characteristics of a sautee pan in terms of it’s slightly slanted, straight sides. 

 

Great for searing meats

One of the great things about this pan is how much it holds heat for a long period. Generally once you put in something on a pan, the temperature reduces significantly.

 

In a cast iron, it can store a lot of heat and hold it for much longer. Putting one or two steak will reduce the heat but that decrease is minimal, due to it’s high heat volume. That’s why they are the chosen cookware for steak loving foodies. They know what it’s all about.

 

It also has a large surface area due to it being designed like a sautee pan. This means more meat on the barbie or in this case the pan.

 

Non-stick enough

I can be honest and say that it’s not as non-stick as a Teflon pan. My pan have been seasoned well due to it being used almost everyday for breakfast. It is my go to breakfast pan after all.

 

No matter how well your cast iron pan is seasoned, it won’t be as non-stick like a Teflon pan. Try cooking an over easy egg without oil. You might as well scramble it or make it over hard, because you will break that yolk when you turn it over.

 

It is non-stick enough for me. As long as you pre-heat the pan and use oil, you will be sweet. 

 

Don’t be a saucier with cast irons

These types of pans can leach out great amount of iron into the food. This can be either good or bad for you. If you have iron deficiency then obviously you need a cast iron pan. People that has iron overload problems, avoid this at all cost. I want to promote safe cookware, not kill people. 

 

There have been comparisons that shows amount of iron in a sauce, cooked in cast iron pan, compared to stainless steel. The number was scary high. The amount of iron in the sauce cooked in the cast iron pan was more than 4 times of that of the stainless steel pan.

 

Hence I never ever cook sauces in a cast iron pan. Please don’t do sauces in cast irons. I leave the sauce jobs for my stainless steel, then again, stainless steel leaches metal too. Not as much as a cast iron pan leaching iron.

 

The nickel that stainless steel leaches is of nominal value but it still going in your body. Really need to buy myself a ceramic pot or something, I will be buying soon. 

 

Cleaning a 12 inch Lodge cast iron pan

One of the things that I hate is cleaning up. I love cooking but when it’s time for cleaning, I cry. My second thoughts about buying a cast iron skillet was due to the fact that the maintenance and cleaning up is considerably higher compared to a normal skillet.

 

The fact that this is the closest safe alternative to a Teflon pan I could ever get is worth the pain and sadness from cleaning up. I’m going to have to sacrifice my time and emotions to cook in a safe cookware.

 

Initial coating

The first thing you should do is to thoroughly clean your new cast iron skillet. You can use a metal scrub for this instance but only for this instance. After that, never ever use it on this cast iron skillet ever again. You will just be taking off the coating with a metal scrub. Only use plastic scrubs.

 

After cleaning your cast iron skillet to the bare metal. You don’t have to really, just a bit of scrub with a hard sponge is enough. Dry it completely, cast irons hate water, then apply thin layer of oil all over it.

 

Once that is done put it in your oven upside down and bake it for 1 hour in a preheated 325℉ oven. Make sure you put something at the bottom of the skillet to catch and drips. 

 

You can do this a few times but found that once was enough for me. You should end up with a glistening, shiny, almost non-stick cast iron pan. Do this twice a year or when food gets sticky or your pan looks old and grubby.

 

For more detailed instructions read how to season a cast iron skillet.

 

The dreary part of cooking

Yes, this is it, the sad bit. Once you enjoyed your cooking and food, it is now time to clean. Yay!

 

So you are so full after eating your massive breakfast and all you want to do is relax for the whole day. Then you see the kitchen sink full of dirty pans and dishes. You feel so deflated that you can’t relax just yet. So you wash the dirty dishes then you see your massive cast iron pan waiting on your stove top yelling, clean me! I just want to shout at it and say noooooooooo!

 

This happens to me, a lot. I now worked out a way to avoid this insane, sad, sad problem. I now clean on the go thus reducing the amount of cleaning up after cooking or eating. This trick does wonders for your kitchen life.

 

No wonder Masterchef are always going on about clean as you go. I always thought it was stupid .Now I know, I’m the stupid one.

 

Cleaning your cast iron skillet

It’s actually easy cleaning up, sometimes it will take me just under 5 seconds. You must be saying, what! 5 seconds? Bullpoo!

 

The trick is, I don’t wash my pan when there aren’t really anything to wash. If there are burnt bits that stuck on the pan then I just clean it with a brush under hot running water. Let your pan cool down just a little bit though before you do this.

 

This is where the hot silicone handle cover comes into great use again. Holding a hot pan can be hard while cleaning it.

lodge silicone hot handle holder

An extremely hot pan can bow when it hits cold temperature abruptly. So let your pan cool a little and use hot water to at least match your pan’s temperature.

 

When I cook pancakes, nothing gets stuck onto the pan. What I do is just wipe it with a paper towel and that’s it. Clean, shiny, glistening, seasoned pan.

 

I can see you cringing your nose and face. Before you close this browser and start vomiting, think about it. Bacteria dies at the temperatures of over 120℉. Your pan can go up to 375℉ after 5 minutes of heat on your stove top. Die bacteria, die!

 

Of course you won’t always be cooking pancakes. You might sear stakes, stir fry or make a teriyaki sauce. There will be burnt bits and pieces that you need to take off.  At most it takes me 1 minute to clean and reapply oil on it. Which really is nothing worth complaining about. 

 

Steps to clean your cast iron skillet
  • Let it cool a little bit, maybe just a little over a minute.
  • Clean it under hot water using a brush so you don’t get scolded.
  • Once all gunk and dirties are washed off, dry it off completely. Water is the enemy and it will rust your cast iron skillet. Make sure it is dry.
  • No need to put it back on heat because the pan itself is still hot/warm.
  • Apply oil and wipe it all over the pan.

This process should not take you more than 2 minutes.

For a little more detailed version read how to clean a cast iron skillet.

 

This pan may outlast you

These things are robust and can last years if taken care of properly. I have heard of grandmothers passing this down to their children’s children. Then their children would pass it on to the next generation.

 

There have been records of Lodge cast iron skillets being around for more than 75 years and still being used to this day. Imagine owning a piece of kitchenware that is handed down from generation to generation. Imagine the history of wonderful cooks that have made great dishes in that cast iron pan. 

 

Imagine you start a legacy with this cast iron skillet right now and hand it over to your love one to continue that legacy. Imagine the emotion when your great Grandchild is producing great food, cooking on the same pan that you have handed down to your child a long time ago.

 

Likes and dislikes about the cast iron skillet

Just to reiterate what I have said already in a list form to summarize the whole review.

 

Making it easier for some to see the pros and cons when deciding whether they should buy a Lodge cast iron skillet.

 

What I liked about the Lodge 12 inch cast iron skillet

  1. No toxic materials like what Teflon uses.
  2. You can cook in big batches to save time.
  3. Great for searing meats because it holds a lot of heat.
  4. It is non-stick enough to cook things like eggs and pancakes.
  5. Robust and solid.
  6. Lasts for a long time.
  7. Cleaning sometimes take me just under 5 seconds, 1 minute at most.

 

What I disliked about the Lodge 12 inch cast iron skillet and remedies 

  1. The handle gets too hot, but can be remedied by buying a silicone hot handle holder.
  2. Can’t toss food like you would normally do in a properly slanted skillet because it is heavy and its straight sides prevent you from doing so.
  3. Leaches high amount of iron when cooking sauces. The remedy to this is not cook sauces at all in this pan. I have my stainless steel pans for sauces.

 

Final thoughts

Whether you go ahead with buying the Lodge 12 inch cast iron skillet or go another route. Please make sure to choose the safe cookware route.

 

I initially thought that the hard part of owning a cast iron pan is the maintenance side of things. I couldn’t even be more wrong. Like I said, I can clean my cast iron pan in just 5 seconds and at most 1 minute.

 

I also get the peace of mind that I am not ingesting any toxic into my body causing long term harm. I must stress though that if your body have trouble metabolizing iron then this is not for you. 

 

It’s great for people who lacks iron though. One of the best alternative to Teflon’s non-stick pans. Absolutely one of the best safe cookware I would recommend to anyone.