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Finex Cast Iron Skillet

Published July 2019

How we tested

We were astonished at the price of the Finex 12'' Cast Iron Skillet with Cover: It costs nearly nine times as much as our favorite 12-inch cast-iron skillet. Its octagonal shape and thick steel coil–covered handle with a brass tip give it a striking appearance, but could this unusual pan offer nine times the performance? 

 It arrived lightly seasoned, with a pebbly finish on the sides (which stuck to foods) and a smooth cooking surface (with slightly better release). As we did with our lineup of traditional and enameled cast-iron skillets, we used this pan to scramble eggs, sear steaks, make a tomato-caper pan sauce (to see if its acidity reacted with the pan’s surface), skillet-roast thick fish fillets that went from stove to oven, bake cornbread, and shallow-fry breaded chicken cutlets. At the end of testing, we scrambled more eggs to see whether its surface had become more nonstick with use. We also abuse-tested the pan by heating it and then plunging it into ice water, banging it with a metal spoon, cutting in it with a chef’s knife, and scraping it with a metal spatula. 

 Our conclusion? This pan seared steak nicely, producing good fond and flavorful sauce, and cornbread emerged from the pan intact. But the steel-coil handle that promised to stay cool became hot, and it was fat and slippery, making it difficult to grip with a potholder. Eggs and fish stuck, and it took a lot of scrubbing to get the pan clean. In the end, its innovative octagonal design didn’t really pay off. The shape was touted as offering “eight pouring spouts,” six more than we needed, and we chased food around all those extra corners; on the plus side, the squared-off shape made the pan more compact on a crowded stove. While this is a decent cast-iron skillet, at this price, we think the pan should be perfect.

Methodology

We tested the 12-inch Finex cast-iron skillet. Pan was purchased online. Oven-safe temperature rating is from manufacturer.

RATING CRITERIA

Browning: We seared steaks and made an acidic sauce, looking for good crust and flavor without off-notes. We rated browning with skillet-roasted fish fillets, shallow-fried breaded chicken cutlets, and cornbread.

Sticking: We cooked thick fish fillets and baked cornbread; we scrambled eggs as first and last tests to evaluate changes in the pans’ surfaces.

Ease of Use: We considered features that helped make the pan easy to use and clean.

Durability: We heated the pan to 400 degrees and then plunged it into ice water, made five cuts inside with a chef ’s knife, scraped with a metal spatula 10 times, and whacked a metal spoon five times on the rims and sides of the 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*