10-Inch Cast-Iron Skillets
How we tested
While 12 inches is our preferred size for a cast-iron skillet, as it’s spacious enough to accommodate family-size portions, smaller skillets have their uses, too. We particularly like a 10-inch cast-iron skillet for making baked goods such as Cast Iron Apple Pie and Cast Iron Hot Fudge Pudding Cake, since these smaller skillets are similar in size to a cake pan or pie plate. These pans can also be more manageable when cooking for two; they offer the heat retention and durability we love but are a couple of pounds lighter than their 12-inch counterparts.
In our review of full-size cast-iron skillets, we gave top marks to two pans: a traditional cast iron by Lodge and an enamel-coated cast iron by Le Creuset. We concluded that which type you should buy depends on your priorities: Traditional cast iron is cheaper and practically indestructible but requires some maintenance, while enameled cast iron is more expensive but doesn’t need any regular upkeep—though you do have to be careful not to damage the enamel. To see if the same recommendations held true for smaller sizes, we tested the 10-inch versions of the Lodge and Le Creuset skillets and used them to make scrambled eggs, bake an apple pie, and sear steak and make a pan sauce from the drippings.
The Lodge 10-inch skillet impressed us with its preseasoned interior (which meant that we didn’t have to season it before its first use). The pan weighed a little more than 5½ pounds (the 12-inch pan is close to 7½ pounds), making it a tad heavier than the Le Creuset but still manageable. We loved its ability to brown food deeply, just like the 12-inch version does. It took a little more work to coax scrambled eggs and pie slices out of the pan (although this will improve over time as the surface becomes more seasoned with use), and we had to maintain its seasoning by wiping cooking oil on its surface after every use. Still, those are minor drawbacks for a budget-friendly pan that will last a lifetime and get more nonstick with use.
Like the 12-inch version, the 10-inch Le Creuset had a satiny interior that testers loved. It weighs a little more than 5 pounds (the 12-inch pan is about 7 pounds): It’s light enough that you can pick it up with one hand when it’s empty, but for heavier tasks, such as taking an apple pie out of the oven, the large helper handle makes maneuvering effortless. This pan performed beautifully, too: Scrambled eggs slid right onto a plate, steak browned evenly, pan sauce was deeply flavored, and apple pie was golden brown all over.
We highly recommend both skillets as a lighter, smaller alternative to a 12-inch cast-iron pan. If you don’t want to have to do any upkeep and are willing to spend a fair amount more, we suggest the Le Creuset Signature 10¼ Inch Iron Handle Skillet. For a traditional cast-iron pan that doesn’t cost a lot but does require maintenance, we recommend the Lodge 10.25-Inch Cast Iron Skillet.
We tested the 10-inch versions of our top-rated traditional and enameled cast-iron skillets, using them to make Scrambled Eggs for Two, sear steak and build a pan sauce, and bake Cast Iron Apple Pie. To assess how the 10-inch skillets compared to our top-rated 12-inch versions, we weighed, measured, and visually compared the four skillets. Pans were purchased online and appear in order of preference.
Browning: We seared one whole flap-meat steak and made an acidic pan sauce in each pan, looking for good crust on the steak and rich flavor in the pan sauce without any off-notes from the cast iron. We also monitored browning of pie crust as we baked Cast Iron Apple Pie, giving top marks to pans that produced evenly browned, tender bottom crust.
Sticking: We scrambled eggs to evaluate the pans’ nonstick abilities.
Ease of Use: Top marks went to pans that were easy to lift and move around, had a comfortable handle, and were easy to clean and maintain.
Capacity: We took note of how much food could comfortably fit in each skillet, and whether it could accommodate our recipes that call for a 10-inch pan.