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8-Inch Cast-Iron Skillets

Published January 2019
More on the Best Cast-Iron Skillets
We also love the 10-inch and 12-inch versions of these pans. You can read our in-depth review of cast-iron skillets complete with brand comparisons here.

How we tested

While 12 inches is our preferred size for a cast-iron skillet (spacious enough to accommodate portions for a whole family), smaller skillets have their benefits. We particularly like an 8-inch cast-iron skillet when cooking for one person—scrambling one or two portions of eggs or cooking a single hamburger—and for other tasks that require just a bit of pan space, such as toasting nuts.

In our review of full-size cast-iron skillets, we gave top marks to two pans: a traditional cast-iron model by Lodge and an enamel-coated cast-iron model by Le Creuset. We concluded that which one 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 upkeep. To see if our recommendations held true for smaller sizes, we tested the 8-inch version of our top-rated traditional cast-iron skillet and the 9-inch version of our top-rated enameled cast-iron skillet (Le Creuset does not make an 8-inch pan, so we tested the closest available size). We used them to make Perfect Scrambled Eggs for One, to toast almonds, and to bake cornbread, using a recipe that calls for an 8-inch cast-iron pan.

Like the 12-inch and 10-inch versions, the Lodge 8-Inch Cast Iron Skillet, which costs about $10, impressed us with its preseasoned interior and bargain price. The pan weighed a little over 3 pounds (the 12-inch pan is close to 7.5 pounds), so it was light enough to move with one hand even when filled with cornbread batter. As with the 12-inch and 10-inch versions, we loved the 8-inch skillet’s ability to brown food deeply—and cornbread emerged golden. It took a little more work to coax scrambled eggs out of the new pan, and cornbread stuck to the surface a bit, but it also evenly toasted nuts and was easy to maneuver. While we had to carefully dry it and oil it lightly it after every use, those are minor steps for a pan that will last a lifetime and costs less than $10. In addition, traditional cast iron becomes more nonstick the more you cook in it, so we expect that this slight sticking of food in our new pan will disappear as the pan acquires more seasoning over time.

We also loved the satiny-smooth interior of the Le Creuset 9 Inch Signature Skillet, which costs around $150. The pan’s glossy surface kept scrambled eggs from sticking, and cornbread came out golden brown all over and easily released from the pan. Almonds fit in a single layer and toasted evenly, The lightweight skillet (which weighs 4 pounds, 6 ounces, while the 12-inch version is close to 7 pounds) was easy to maneuver. For added security, the generously sized helper handle was large enough to grasp securely with an oven mitt and allowed us to move cornbread in and out of the oven with ease.

If you’re looking for a smaller alternative to a 12- or 10-inch cast-iron pan, we can highly recommend both skillets. For a traditional cast-iron pan that you don’t have to spend a lot on (and don’t mind maintaining), we recommend the Lodge 8-Inch Cast Iron Skillet. If you don’t want to have to do any upkeep, are willing to spend a fair amount more, and want a tad more cooking space, we recommend the Le Creuset 9 Inch Signature Skillet.


Methodology

We tested the 8- and 9-inch versions of our top-rated traditional and enameled cast-iron skillets, using them to make Perfect Scrambled Eggs for One, to toast almonds, and to bake Southern-Style Skillet Cornbread. To assess how the smaller skillets compared with our top-rated 12-inch and 10-inch versions, we weighed, measured, and visually compared the four skillets. Pans were purchased online.

Rating Criteria

Browning: We baked skillet cornbread in each pan, looking for even, golden-brown coloring all over. We also monitored almonds as they toasted, making sure they were evenly colored.

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 the stovetop, had comfortable handles, 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 a recipe that calls for an 8-inch pan.  

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The Results

Winner
Recommended

Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

Admittedly expensive, this handsome block certainly seemed to live up to its billing as “the last knife block you ever have to buy.” The heaviest model in our testing, this block was ultrastable, and its durable bamboo exterior was a breeze to clean. Well-placed medium-strength magnets made it easy to attach all our knives, and a rotating base gave us quick access to them. One tiny quibble: The blade of our 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a little.

$248.64*
Recommended

Schmidt Brothers Downtown Block

This roomy block completely sheathed our entire winning knife set using just one of its two sides—and quite securely, thanks to long, medium-strength magnet bars. Heavy, with a grippy base, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard made this model extra-safe but also made it a little trickier to insert knives and to clean; the wood block itself showed some minor cosmetic scratching during use.

$141.90*

Schmidt Brothers Midtown Block

This smaller version of the Downtown Block secured all our knives nicely, though the blade of the slicing knife stuck out a bit. With a base lined with grippy material, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard afforded extra protection against contact with blades but made it a little harder to insert knives and to clean; the wood itself got a little scratched during use.

$67.99*
Recommended with Reservations

Swissmar Bamboo Magnetic Knife Block

This small, scratch-resistant model had a stable, rubber-lined base and could hold all our knives, though the blade of the 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a bit. But inch-long gaps between its small magnets made coverage uneven and forced us to find the magnetic hot spots in order to secure the knives. Its acrylic guard made it safer to use but harder to insert knives and to clean.

$49.93*
Not Recommended

Messermeister Walnut Magnet Block

This handsome block was done in by its shape—a tippy, top-heavy quarter-circle that wasn’t tall or broad enough to keep the blades of three knives from poking out. It lacked a nonslip base, and its extra-strong magnets made it unnerving to attach or remove our heavy cleaver. Finally, it got a bit scratched after extensive use.

$129.95*

Epicurean Standing Knife Rack 12"

This magnetic block sheathed all our knives completely, though with a bit of crowding. But it was hard to insert each knife without hitting the block’s decorative slats on way down, and because the block was light and narrow, it wobbled when bumped. Worse, we couldn’t take it apart, so splatters that hit the interior were there to stay. Additionally, the outside stained easily, and when we wiped it down, the unit smelled like wet dog.

$99.95*

Kapoosh Rondelle Knife Block

This model stabilized knives with a mass of stiff, spaghetti-like bristles that shed and nicked easily after extensive use, covering our knives with plastic debris. While all our knives fit securely, several of the blades stuck out, making this unit feel less safe overall. Finally, though the bristles could be removed and cleaned in the dishwasher, their nooks and crannies made this block hard to wash by hand.

$24.99*

Kuhn Rikon Vision Knife Block, Clear

This plastic block required us to aim each knife into the folds of an accordion-pleated insert that was removable for easy cleaning but got nicked easily with repeated use. Because we could only insert the knives vertically, longer knife blades stuck out; a cleaver was too wide to fit. The lightest model in our lineup, this block was dangerously top-heavy when loaded with knives.

$35.88*