Do you need these petite versions of our winning cast-iron skillets?
Published Jan. 16, 2019.
For more information and brand comparisons, check out our in-depth reviews of traditional cast-iron skillets and enameled cast-iron skillets. We've also tested the 10-inch versions of our top-scoring cast-iron skillets in both styles.
While 12 inches is our preferred size for a cast-iron skillet (spacious enough to accommodate portions for a whole family), smaller skillets have their benefits. We particularly like an 8-inch cast-iron skillet when cooking for one person—scrambling one or two portions of eggs or cooking a single hamburger—and for other tasks that require just a bit of pan space, such as toasting nuts.
In our review of full-size cast-iron skillets, we gave top marks to two pans: a traditional cast-iron model by Lodge and an enamel-coated cast-iron model by Le Creuset. We concluded that which one you should buy depends on your priorities: Traditional cast iron is cheaper and practically indestructible but requires some maintenance, while enameled cast iron is more expensive but doesn’t need any upkeep. To see if our recommendations held true for smaller sizes, we tested the 8-inch version of our top-rated traditional cast-iron skillet and the 9-inch version of our top-rated enameled cast-iron skillet (Le Creuset does not make an 8-inch pan, so we tested the closest available size). We used them to make Perfect Scrambled Eggs for One, to toast almonds, and to bake cornbread, using a recipe that calls for an 8-inch cast-iron pan.
Like the 12-inch and 10-inch versions, the Lodge 8-Inch Cast Iron Skillet, which costs about $10, impressed us with its preseasoned interior and bargain price. The pan weighed a little over 3 pounds (the 12-inch pan is close to 7.5 pounds), so it was light enough to move with one hand even when filled with cornbread batter. As with the 12-inch and 10-inch versions, we loved the 8-inch skillet’s ability to brown food deeply—and cornbread emerged golden. It took a little more work to coax scrambled eggs out of the new pan, and cornbread stuck to the surface a bit, but it also evenly toasted nuts and was easy to maneuver. While we had to carefully dry it and oil it lightly it after every use, those are minor steps for a pan that will last a lifetime and costs less than $10. In addition, traditional cast iron becomes more nonstick the more you cook in it, so we expect that this slight sticking of food in our new pan will disappear as the pan acquires more seasoning over time.
We also loved the satiny-smooth interior of the Le Creuset 9 Inch Signature Skillet, which costs around $150. The pan’s glossy surface kept scrambled eggs from sticking, and cornbread came out golden brown all over and easily released from the pan. Almonds fit in a single layer and toasted evenly, The lightweight skillet (which weighs 4 pounds, 6 ounces, while the 12-inch version is close to 7 pounds) was easy to maneuver. For added securit...
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