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A long-time contributor to SeriouslySmoked. Jim has had a lifelong relationship with the art of grilling, passed on from his father and grandfather to him.
Doug is a hardcore barbeque enthusiast and connoisseur. While he spends most of his time on editing and research, he sometimes moonlights as a product tester for particularly interesting things he comes across.
Cast iron is one of the best materials out there for cooking. It has excellent heat distribution and retention, works with every cooking method known to man, is durable enough to last several lifetimes, and makes excellent food while being naturally fairly nonstick.
It’s hard to go wrong with cast iron, so this list is more about which items stand out from the sea of very good, but fairly generic sets, narrowing it down to what I think are the most interesting and overall best cast iron cookware sets.
What Do I Look for in Good Cast Iron?
Unless the manufacturer really screws up, most cast iron cookware is just as good as another, with a few minor tweaks and features being the only real difference. So what makes a good set really comes down to how much is in the set compared to what the asking price is.
On average you’re looking to pay maybe $60 to $80 for a set with somewhere between 3 and 5 items in it. That’s the basics and without the complete kitchen utensils yet.
The real question here is: why use cast iron at all?
What Makes Cast Iron So Great?
Cast iron combines some of the best properties of ceramic and steel cookware. Like steel, it can heat up to very high temperatures without breaking. This makes it ideal for both baking and searing. A more in-depth comparison is made in our cast iron vs stainless steel cookware review.
It is also, when properly seasoned, naturally nonstick, allowing for easy cleanup. It also combines the relative durability of steel with that property, making it outperform either in almost every regard.
So why doesn’t everybody just use cast iron?
Well, it does come with a few drawbacks. First and foremost, cast iron is finicky. Seasoning a pan even without the use of oven can be a process, and that seasoning needs to be maintained via very strict care instructions (cast iron is one of the few things you can over wash or wash wrong). Without that care, the nonstick properties are not apparent.
Cast iron is also not corrosion proof, so is not dishwasher safe and must be kept in a dry place; a bit annoying if you live in a humid climate like I do. It’s also heavy, making it difficult to move around, much more so than any other type of cookware.
While cast iron is objectively good at pretty much anything related to cooking and baking, it is nevertheless easy to see why it’s fallen out of favor compared to lower maintenance materials that still get the job done. But there’s still a lot of value in cooking with cast iron, if only because so many different kinds of foods taste so especially good coming out of cast iron cookware.
Our Best Choice
Lodge 5 Piece Seasoned Cast Iron Cookware Set
TOP Reasons to BUY:
Lodge Seasoned Cast Iron Cookware Set
Lodge Seasoned Cast Iron Cookware Set
Bruntmor Enameled Cast Iron Skillet
Bruntmor Enameled Cast Iron Skillet
Bruntmor Enameled Cast Iron Casserole Baking Pan
Bruntmor Enameled Cast Iron Casserole Baking Pan
7 Best Cast Iron Cookware Sets Reviews of 2021
1. Lodge 5 Piece Seasoned Cast Iron Cookware Set
- Great, reasonably comfortable handles for cast iron.
- Good variety in the set.
- Each individual piece is well made from a single piece of cast iron.
- Pre-seasoned for ease of use.
- Great price for what you get.
- Lacks the more specialized cast iron bits some might want.
This is a great set, 5 pieces of high quality cast iron that gives you a great amount of versatility to work with.
Each of the pieces comes pre-seasoned and ready to use, which is great if you just want to take them out of the box and get to work. You’ve got everything you need here to make pretty much anything, with the exception of a casserole dish.
I like the handles on these. At first glace they’re the same as you’ll find on all cast iron, but on closer inspection they’re a bit thicker and more gently curved, making them easier on the hands; cast iron usually has really garbage skillet handles that hurt your fingers given the weight involved, so it’s nice to see a set that sidesteps this issue.
It’s very hard to do better than this set in any regard. The variety, quality, and price are all leagues better than most other sets on the market, in large part because few brands sell sets of cast iron at all, and if they do it’s just a few different sized skillets.
2. Bruntmor Enameled 2 in 1 Cast Iron Skillet
- Versatile 2 in 1 set is easy to use and store.
- Durable for the long haul.
- Nonstick enamel coating makes cleanup a snap.
- Even with coating, is still safe for use on open flames and induction stoves.
- A bit pricey for just two items.
- Enamel can chip and wear, unlike cast iron itself.
This is an interesting one. It’s kind of iffy as to whether you can truly call this a “set” or not. It is, technically, one item: a Dutch oven with a lid.
However, the lid has an interesting flat design that lets it be used as a cast iron skillet of its own.
Both are very well made, very sturdy cast iron construction with a nice red enamel on the outside that is still safe for all heat sources, including induction stoves and even open flame cooking (like a campfire).
It also has an enameled interior, which is a bit more of a mixed bag. It means the cast iron is “always seasoned”, sort of, and nonstick, but you lose a bit of that pure cast iron flair, and it does mean that there is a failure point here that other cast iron cookware lacks, namely that the enamel can chip and flake. It’s a good enamel, for sure, but even the best is going to erode eventually, leaving you with a pitted surface that is far inferior to just a well seasoned pure cast iron skillet or Dutch oven.
On the other hand, it also mean sit’s easier to clean and less finicky to keep properly, so it’s a bit of a tradeoff.
In short, this is a great set to have for yourself…but it’s not one you’re likely to be passing down the generations.
3. Bruntmor 2 in 1 Enameled Cast Iron Casserole Baking Pan
- Great nonstick enamel interior for casseroles and other sticky dishes.
- Well built and sturdy.
- Nice red color.
- Easy to clean.
- Nice 2 in 1 design makes for easy storage.
- A bit overpriced for what you get.
- Realistically not likely to be something you use regularly.
Another 2 in 1 Bruntmor cast iron set, this time a casserole dish as the primary bit, with a nice griddle pan that also serves as its lid.
The construction is good, like the other set, and for similar reasons it is also flawed. In this case though the enamel is far more welcome. Casseroles tend to be very sticky, regardless of how “nonstick” your surface is, so every little bit helps. The idea of washing a tomato based sauce and browned cheese out of a traditional cast iron without some kind of coating fills me with anxiety, and this makes that off putting task far, far easier.
For that reason I like this set for its own purpose a lot more than the first Bruntmor set we covered but overall it falls lower on the list for sheer lack of versatility. A casserole dish is nice to have when you want to make a casserole, for sure, but what about any other time? Likewise having a griddle is col and all, but realistically how often are you going to use it? I can count the number of times I’ve used my cast iron griddle in the last decade on the fingers of a single hand.
That combined with the price (the same price as our winner, a much more versatile 5 piece set) makes it difficult to recommend this set unless you really plan to make casseroles and use the griddle function a lot. If so, it’s a good buy. If not, look elsewhere for a cast iron cookware set.
4. Lodge 3 piece Cast Iron Skillet Bundle
- Great for baking with convenient wide grip handles.
- Well constructed and durable of complete cast iron.
- Good price for what you get.
- Versatile in use.
- Slightly more cumbersome on the stove than a traditional skillet.
A good middle ground between the usual skillet and the servers above, we have this set of pans.
As you’d expect from Lodge they’re quite well made and sturdy, as well as being factory pre-seasoned so they can be used right out of the box.
While you have the same standard sizes as used by your usual skillets, instead of the single handle these pans come with a pair of looped handles, one on each side, which provide a firm grip.
This makes these pans well enough usable on the stovetop for any purpose you’d care to use a skillet for (and the larger ones also have a convenient spout for pouring off grease and other liquids), but makes them exceptionally good for baking, being far more easily removable than a cast iron pan with a single handle, which can sometimes be unwieldy.
Basically, they’re slightly worse on the stuff, but way better in the oven. If you’re looking to do mostly baking in your cast iron, this is a better set than our winner in some ways. If not, I’d stick with that one.
5. Legend 2 piece Cast Iron Skillet Set
- Great durability.
- Forever warranty for any mishaps.
- Good versatility even in the two skillets provided.
- Great price.
- Lack of variety compared to our winner.
This is a great set, even if it is quite a small one.
You get two cast iron skillets here: an 10” skillet and a 12” skillet. While the variety of different kinds of cookware is low, these are honestly enough to cook just about anything you’d ever care to cook in cast iron. They’re great for baking, searing(see searing blue steak) as well as stovetop cooking, and are extremely well made with great durability and heat distribution.
The pans are pre-seasoned for quick and easy use, using all natural vegetable oil so you don’t have to worry about any chemicals leaching into your food.
Backing up the durability is a great price and a “forever warranty”, which will replace the cast iron if you somehow manage to destroy it, good for a lifetime. As-is you’re unlikely to ever need it, and are more likely to need to replace the nice slip on silicone handle covers than the skillets themselves.
6. Lodge Heat Treated 14 ounce Mini Server, 4 piece Set
- Great versatility; useful as both a cooking and serving set.
- Durable cast iron.
- Pre-seasoned for quick and easy use.
- Heat treated for increased durability and rust resistance.
- Each server is small, so can only be used for relatively small dishes.
This would not be my first choice as your main set of cast iron, but it’s a really interesting set to get as something to supplement your usual set of cookware.
They make a great “stove to table” food delivery system. You can cook a batch of eggs and breakfast sausage in them to each person’s specifications, and take them straight from the stove and slide them in front of whoever wants it (with a pot holder, of course). It’s a versatile kitchen tool that can cook delicious recipes for everyone.
Like I said; probably shouldn’t be your first choice of cast iron, but the simple design belies an incredible amount of versatility in letting you, in a practical way, use your cast iron as both a cooking and serving dish, cutting down on cleanup and time.
Plus, they make excellent bakeware for mini pies, personal sized cornbreads, and other interesting dishes that can also be eaten straight from the server. It’s quite a nice design.
7. Lodge Wildlife Series 5 piece Cast Iron Cookware Set
- Great variety of pans and skillets.
- Sturdy construction, built to last a lifetime.
- Well made handles on both sides of each piece.
- Very nice wildlife themed engravings.
- The nice engravings nearly double the price.
This one is an odd duck. It’s actually a very good set on its own merits, with a good variety of cookware, and one piece none of the other sets we’ve talked about today includes: a square grill pan.
The construction is top notch, with the comfortably curved handles and convenient opposite end handles I liked in the other 5 piece Lodge set, our winner.
It’s pre-seasoned and ready for use, and all in all great…with one minor problem. They’re a little less than double the price of a normal set of this kind.
Normally that might disqualify a set entirely from a list like this, but eventually I decided it still deserved a spot. As you might be able to tell, the price hike comes entirely from the decorative engravings on the bottom of the cast iron. That makes these pans and skillets not just great cookware, but a bit of a fashion statement.
Getting cookware for your kitchen is, often, a decorative endeavor at least as much as it is a practical one, so the price hike could be considered fair if it hits your aesthetic sweet spot, and the set itself is of course par for the course for Lodge’s cast iron (i.e. great).
In short, if you like the look, get it. If not, get our winner.
If you want to know how to get a clean and organized kitchen, then it would start with getting the right cookware. I like the Lodge 5 piece cookware set is still my favorite because their easy to use and store, but there are quite a few other strong contenders in there for sure. Each of these cast iron sets is impeccably made, and roughly the same price. Whether you get one or the other is likely going to depend entirely on your preference and use.
The only “weak links” I’d say are the set of 14 ounce mini servers, which are great but not as your only or first set, and the Lodge Wildlife Series, which is a great set, but overpriced unless you really like the engravings.
Otherwise, go with what you think you’ll use the most.
Read more: Tips and tricks that are great for grilling indoors.