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Lids for 12-inch Skillets

Lodge, now makes two dedicated lids, sold separately, that fit its 12-inch traditional skillet, the winner of our most recent cast-iron skillet testing. Which one was better?

Published Mar. 1, 2016. Appears in America's Test Kitchen TV Season 21: Breakfast Basics

UpdateJanuary 2019
In the past, we've reviewed universal lids with only mixed results; most so-called universal lids fit poorly on smaller pots and pans, and/or are too small to fit on our favorite 12-inch traditional and nonstick skillets. Most smaller pots come with their own dedicated lids, but if you need a lid for a 12-inch skillet, we now recommend our winning lid for cast iron pans, the Lodge 12-inch Tempered Glass Cover. It fits as comfortably on traditional and nonstick skillets as it does on cast-iron versions. And, because it is made of glass, it provides good visibility, allowing you to see the contents of the pan easily. We also recently tested a 12-inch lid made by Le Creuset and put it through the same rigorous testing protocol listed below. The chart below is updated accordingly.
See Everything We Tested

What You Need To Know

Although we typically use our cast-iron skillets to sear, sauté, and fry, occasionally we steam, simmer, and keep foods warm in them, too. Our favorite traditional cast iron manufacturer, Lodge, now makes two dedicated lids, sold separately, that fit its 12-inch traditional skillet, the winner of our most recent cast-iron skillet testing. One lid is made of tempered glass; the other is made of cast iron. Which one was better?

To find out, we ran both lids through several different tests. First, we used them to cover frying eggs and caramelizing onions, evaluating how thoroughly they retained heat and dispersed condensation, and thus how evenly and thoroughly these foods cooked. Then we saw how well they contained messes, covering skillets full of simmering tomato sauce and observing the extent to which the stove and counter got spattered. Finally, we looked at how easy the lids were to clean, washing each by hand. As per Lodge’s recommendation, we also dried and oiled the cast-iron lid after every use.

The good news is that both lids executed their tasks fairly well, covering the skillet and keeping in moisture and messes. There were, however, small differences in performance, ease of use, cleanup, and maintenance. Molded to cover the skillet’s pour spouts, the 5-pound cast-iron lid formed a tight seal and thus produced more-evenly cooked eggs and onions. But its excessive weight and small, low-slung handle made it difficult to maneuver. Its handle got so hot that we couldn’t touch it without using a potholder. Small spikes on the inside of the lid—meant to “self-baste,” or redistribute condensation throughout the skillet—made this lid difficult to clean, requiring finicky detailing with a scrub brush. And finally, the cast-iron lid requires regular maintenance. Like the cast-iron skillet itself, you’ll need to carefully dry and oil the lid after every use to condition it and prevent rusting.

We preferred the tempered glass lid, which performed almost as well as the cast-iron lid and was much easier to use. Because it didn’t cover the skillet’s pour spouts, the lid formed a slightly less complete seal, providing openings for steam and splattering food to escape. As a result, the onions cooked a tiny bit less evenly (but were still perfectly good), and tomato sauce spat out of the skillet a little more than with the cast-iron lid. But the tempered glass lid weighs just under 2 pounds, and its phenolic plastic handle stays cool enough that you don’t need a potholder to lift it. Better still, it requires no maintenance and was a breeze to clean. The tempered glass also offered the best visibility: While some fogging was unavoi...

Everything We Tested

Good : 3 stars out of 3.Fair : 2 stars out of 3.Poor : 1 stars out of 3.
*All products reviewed by America’s Test Kitchen are independently chosen, researched, and reviewed by our editors. We buy products for testing at retail locations and do not accept unsolicited samples for testing. We list suggested sources for recommended products as a convenience to our readers but do not endorse specific retailers. When you choose to purchase our editorial recommendations from the links we provide, we may earn an affiliate commission. Prices are subject to change.
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