Cooks Illustrated article on cast iron skillets

awm03August 15, 2007

Very interesting article in Cooks Illustrated this month on cast iron skillets. They are revisiting the old-fashioned cast iron skillet as a kind of nonstick cookware in light of the health/environmental concerns of modern day nonstick skillet coatings.

They sampled various contemporary brands and even a 100-year-old WagnerWare pan. Their top pick is LodgeLogic, followed closely by...Camp Chef! Who knew that was a good brand? Anyway, their reasoning is: both the LodgeLogic & the Camp Chef are thick cast iron, which, they feel, works better for searing & frying. Those two brands heated evenly. They gave LodgeLogic the edge because they like the factory seasoning over DIY seasoning. The other brands tested (a new Wagner, Cajun something-or-other, Bayou Classic, Le Creuset enameled, & a new brand that's nickle coated) either didn't heat as evenly, were cramped, or the coating is prone to chipping off.

Their verdict regarding seasoned cast iron or nonstick: nonstick has the edge, but just barely.

The other interesting thing: they bought a 100 year-old WagnerWare pan to test. It was smoother, lighter & thinner than contemporary pans. Most forum posts I've read regard these as desirable traits: supposedly the old cast iron is a superior quality. But the Cooks Illustrated testers preferred the thick, rough contemporary pans. They think the thickness of the new pans do a better job of searing & frying.

There were other details. So if you're interested in getting a cast iron pan, the article is worth checking out.

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PDF summary appears to be available to the public!

    Bookmark   August 15, 2007 at 3:23PM
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Did they give a reason why searing depends on thickness? If they were comparing to nonstick--well there certainly is no thickness in the nonstick pans. I would have to disagree with their conclusions. Could their recommendations be influenced by advertising? When it comes to magazines recommending products, Consumer Reports is the only one I trust.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2007 at 10:43AM
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I wonder about LeCreuset enamled. You have to use oil or something to keep stuff from sticking to enamled I'm pretty sure. If you get something seared on the enamel hard scrubbing can damage it. I love my enamled LeCreuset pots but for frying? Hm.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2007 at 12:09PM
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Beancounter, Cook's Illustrated carries no advertising at all and the TV show associated with the magazine is on PBS, so your advertising-driven argument doesn't hold water.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2007 at 3:14PM
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Fairegold, indeed there is a possible advertising angle.....America's Test Kitchen is currently "underwritten" by companies like Kohler, Thermidor, Viva, etc.


    Bookmark   August 19, 2007 at 4:19PM
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