Do you need one of these smaller skillets?
Last Updated Nov. 29, 2021.
While 12 inches is our preferred size for a cast-iron skillet, as it’s spacious enough to accommodate family-size portions, smaller skillets have their uses, too. We particularly like a 10-inch cast-iron skillet for making baked goods such as Cast Iron Apple Pie and Cast Iron Hot Fudge Pudding Cake, since these smaller skillets are similar in size to a cake pan or pie plate. These pans can also be more manageable when cooking for two; they offer the heat retention and durability we love but are a couple of pounds lighter than their 12-inch counterparts.
In our reviews of full-size traditional and enameled cast-iron skillets, a few pans made the cut: the traditional cast-iron skillets by Smithey and Lodge, and an enamel-coated cast-iron skillet by Le Creuset. We concluded that which type you should buy depends on your priorities: Traditional cast iron is usually cheaper and practically indestructible but requires some maintenance, while enameled cast iron is more expensive but doesn’t need any regular upkeep—though you do have to be careful not to damage the enamel. To see if the same recommendations held true for smaller sizes, we tested the 10-inch versions of the Smithey, Lodge, and Le Creuset skillets and used them to make scrambled eggs, bake an apple pie, and sear steak and make a pan sauce from the drippings.
The Smithey Ironware No. 10 Cast Iron Skillet weighs just over 5½ pounds—slightly less than the Lodge pan and a little more than the Le Creuset, so it retains heat well. Its handle is relatively long and comfortable to grip. It impressed us with its performance, browning steaks evenly and deeply and baking a delicious, golden-brown apple pie. The pan’s tall, sloped sides made maneuvering a spatula inside the pan easy. It comes preseasoned, and although we observed minor sticking when we first made scrambled eggs, the second batch of scrambled eggs slipped right out of the skillet without sticking, as the pan’s seasoning had improved over the course of the testing. Overall, it’s a durable, thoughtfully made, and gorgeous cast-iron skillet that could stay in a family for generations as an heirloom piece.
The Lodge 10-inch skillet impressed us with its preseasoned interior (which meant that we didn’t have to season it before its first use). Like the Smithey skillet, it’s a tad heavier than the Le Creuset but still manageable. We loved its ability to brown food deeply, just like the 12-inch version does. It took a little more work to coax scrambled eggs and pie slices out of the pan (although this will improve over time as the surface becomes more seasoned with use), and we had to maintain its seasoning by wipi...
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Valerie is an assistant editor for ATK Reviews. In addition to cooking, she loves skiing, traveling, and spending time outdoors.