8-Inch Cast-Iron Skillets
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.
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.
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.