Skillet Skillz: How to Cook With Your Cast Iron Skillet

As a long time subscriber to the magazine, Vegetarian Times, one of my favorite parts to read is the contributors section. Each contributor is profiled and asked a few questions about what they love most about cooking, what inspires them, etc. Inevitably, someone is asked: “What’s your favorite piece of cookware?” And, just as reliable as the question, is the response: something really, really expensive. (As an experiment after writing that last statement, I went to my cookbook shelf, pulled out an old issue at random, opened it up to the contributors section and found someone who was asked this question. The guys response? A $300 Le Creuset covered pot.)

I love to cook. I mean, I really, really love to cook. What inspires me? Hunger mostly. But also a desire to eat well. And what is my favorite piece of cookware? It is not an expensive Le Creuset pot, or a fancy appliance that whips, blends or purees. No no no. My all-time, go-to piece of cookware is my 12 inch cast iron skillet. I love that skillet.

I grew up with a grandma that knew her way around a cast iron skillet. And to this day, I believe that what makes her breakfasts so tasty and enjoyable is her cookware. So, I was incredibly excited when she bought me my first piece of cast iron cookware. It was the 12 inch skillet that I mentioned earlier.

What makes cooking in a cast iron skillet so special? I’m so glad you asked!

1. This type of cookware gets really, really hot, so its great for searing, frying, or charring vegetables (like you would find in a fajita).

2. You can use it on the  stove, then move it right to the oven to finish cooking. For example, I have a casserole recipe where I sauté all my veggies, grains and sauce together on top of the stove, then I spoon a cornbread topping over the filling and move the  whole skillet to the oven to finish baking. One-dish cooking means a lot less clean up!

3. Clean up is a snap. You can’t use soap, so all you need is hot water and something to scrub with!

4. When you cook in a cast iron skillet, your food gets a crisp outer coating that adds flavor and texture.

5. The coolest thing about this kind of cookware is a little known health benefit. (Well, at least I didn’t know about it.) The skillet actually adds iron into the food that is cooked in it! When I was pregnant with my first son, my doctor told me to cook in my cast iron skillet as much as possible to help avoid iron deficiency.

♥I didn’t want to get you all excited about cast iron cooking but leave you directionless, so I will leave you with a few ways to use this type of cookware. Otherwise, I know the only idea that immediately comes to mind is cooking baked beans over an open flame, right? Well that just wont do, so here are a few things you could try if you are interested in venturing into cast iron cooking:

1. Make a pizza! I use the crust recipe found here and then top according to whatever I’m in the mood for! Skillet Skillz: How to Cook With Your Cast Iron Skillet

2. Cinnamon rolls: This week, I used a recipe from the blog, Chelsea’s Messy Apron. This recipe is quick, easy, and a great way to start out cooking in a cast iron skillet if you’ve never used one before.
Skillet Skillz: How to Cook With Your Cast Iron Skillet

3. Roast potatoes: Again, this is a great way to use your skillet if you are new to cast iron cooking. Simply pour oil to coat the pan, sprinkle kosher salt (or coarse sea salt) and dried herbs of your choice over the oil (I use parsley and rosemary) and then spread  quartered red skinned potatoes in a single layer over top. Bake in a 425° oven for about 40 minutes and you have potatoes that are wonderfully crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside!
Skillet Skillz: How to Cook With Your Cast Iron SkilletSkillet Skillz: How to Cook With Your Cast Iron Skillet

4. Chocolate Chip Cookie: I will let you in on a little secret. I hate baking cookies. All that mixing and scooping just to have to wait on one batch at a time is too tedious and time consuming for me. So here is a way to get your cookie fix with half the work! There are a lot of recipes for making a chocolate chip cookie in your cast iron skillet, but I like to use one from Gimme Some Oven.
Skillet Skillz: How to Cook With Your Cast Iron SkilletSkillet Skillz: How to Cook With Your Cast Iron Skillet

5. But my favorite way to use my skillet is…..to use it any way you would a normal skillet! You don’t need to wait for a special “cast iron specific” recipe, just take something you enjoy making and try making it in a cast iron skillet instead! If you do, be sure to let me know how it turns out. I’d love to hear from you. Enjoy!

17 thoughts on “Skillet Skillz: How to Cook With Your Cast Iron Skillet

  1. Thank you! I love your pizza in a cast iron skillet and I completely agree with you…breakfast at Granny Shamp’s is the best! I can smell the fried potatoes now 🙂

    • I believe my 12 inch skillet is a Lodge, which is a pretty common brand. I know mine was right around $20. I did a quick look online and it looks like you can find them for $15-20 depending on the store. You won’t be sorry you bought it! It is a great investment piece that you will literally have forever :-).

      • I just bought my skillet today. I’ve been pinning recipes and noticed that some of them call for the use of a lid. I didn’t notice lids on the shelf (though, admittedly, I wasn’t looking for one). Do you have a lid for your skillet or could I just use the glass lid from one of my other skillets?

      • I did the same thing when I bought my first skillet. A lid is currently on my “wish list.” They DO make lids, especially if you bought a Lodge skillet. However, I know you can get away using lids from other sets that you currently use. If you are like me, however, and your cast iron skillet is larger than your lids, you have one of several options. 1. Go buy the matching lid 🙂 2. Scour Goodwills. My grandma says she has found all three of her lids at thrift stores. Just know what size you need before you buy. 3. Or, the final, option is an old cooking trick from my mom. Just put a cookie sheet over the pan while it cooks :-). Hope this helps! Can’t wait to see what you make. Post it on Instagram so I can see it!

      • Also, if you want to use a skillet lid that you already have, and the recipe needs to go into the oven, make sure the lid is oven safe. I know some of my lids are, and some are not.

  2. my first ever cast iron skillet was also given to me by my grandma! Never been washed…i can still taste the bacon from 2 years ago (that’s more well seasoned then Paula Deen’s underwire)

  3. You are going to die when I tell you, but I’ve had a brand new cast iron skillet for 2 years and still haven’t used it (although I did read up on how to prepare it with oil before 1st use). I’ve never known what to do with it, what kinds of foods work on it, or known anyone that’s used one….totally intimidated to use it. I love your ideas & will break it out this weekend for something.

  4. That is so funny! I think you would like one of the dessert recipes to start, although it is so fun to make a pizza in the skillet. I know Theo really enjoys topping the pizza :-). No matter what you try, I think you’ll enjoy using it! 🙂

  5. My mom used to use a cast iron skillet all the time! I love your recipe ideas! Would especially like to try the pizza, but I am thinking you cannot use cast iron on a glass top range due to the heat possibly breaking the glass…..have you done any research into that? I guess I could google it! LOL!

    • I haven’t looked into that! I’ve never had a glass top range, so that is all new to me. You can still make the pizza recipe though, it actually bakes in the oven! It is so yummy :-). The two dessert recipes I shared are also baked in the oven, so give those a try!

  6. I just found this post while recipe browsing on pinterest.. I love using my iron pan, and these are some great ideas. I often forget I can use it in the oven as well.. I definitely need to try out your pizza recipe! Thanks for reinspiring me to try some new things with it 🙂

    After reading this post I had a look around the rest of your blog too.. I can so relate to your post about not comparing your lowlight reel to everyone else’s highlight reel – I need to remember that more often! Thanks for the good read, I’m not much of a blog reader, but I might just stick around. I have a 3 year old and a 2 month old so I’m going through the same stuff right now.
    -Natalie

    • Welcome Natalie! I’m so glad you found some things here to relate to, and hopefully you enjoyed your reading. My kids are 3 years and 6 mo, so we definitely have that in common. I hope you keep reading and commenting. And feel free to suggest any topics that you’d like me to research, experiment with, or share my opinion on. Take care!

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