Fall is officially here. It’s the season of flannel, pumpkin-spiced Spam, and campfire cookin’. The first two are straightforward, but cooking over an open flame in the woods isn’t everyone’s specialty. Aside from fire and beer, the next crucial thing you’ll need is a proper pan. For that, there’s nothing better than good old cast iron. Here are five of the best cast iron pans for campfire cooking and beyond.
- Best for Newbies: VonShef 3-Piece Cast Iron Skillet Set
- Best for Old-School American Pride: Lodge Logic 12-Inch Cast Iron Skillet
- Best for Clumsy Camp Chefs: Stargazer 10.5-Inch Skillet
- Best for Campfire Gourmands: Finex 12-Inch Cast Iron Skillet With Lid
- Best for Colorful Chefs: Staub 12-Inch Cast Iron Frying Pan
If you’re new to the cast iron game, there’s no shame. For the quickest, easiest, and cheapest way to get started, there’s no better option than VonShef’s 3-Piece Cast Iron Skillet Set. The well-reviewed trio is proof that decent cast iron needn’t be expensive. As the name implies, the set includes three nesting skillets in 6-inch, 8-inch, and 10-inch varieties — all for less than the price of a single name-brand alternative. The set comes pre-seasoned with a nonstick coating, so it’s ready to fire right out of the box. Just make sure to maintain that coating with regular seasonings and the entire set will likely outlast you.
With roots that date back to 1896, Lodge has spent more than a century building its name on high quality, American-made cooking tools. The company’s cast iron sets and individual pans guarantee the best value compared to almost any other brand today. Its tried-and-true 12-inch Cast Iron Skillet provides all the best features you expect in an ideal size. Unless you’re cooking for The Brady Bunch, this size is perfect for cooking up just about any meal to feed a family of four. It also comes pre-seasoned, so it’s ready to cook straight away.
Stargazer’s 10.5-Inch Skillet is perfectly sized for two. The silky smooth interior is naturally nonstick, and it’s available in pre-seasoned or bare varieties if you prefer to season your own iron. Three clever features that cater to clumsier camp chefs are on offer; a flared rim for drip-free pouring, oversized handles on both ends, and a well-balanced design that weighs just 5.2 pounds for easier handling around an open flame.
If money is truly no object and you’re looking to buy just one pan, Portland-based Finex is the name in cast iron. The company’s 12-Inch Cast Iron Skillet is well-sized for cooking just about any meal. Every cast iron pan in the brand’s catalog is polished smooth providing the perfect cooking surface for just about anything including eggs, steaks, salmon, or pork chops. It’s even ideal for campfire cakes and cornbread. Choose the optional lid for the most well-rounded pan you’ll ever own. The octagonal shape also looks damn cool hanging from a pan rack.
Second only to Finex, Staub’s extensive catalog includes enameled cookware that’s all the rage these days. The 12-Inch Cast Iron Frying Pan is available in seven colors (like Cherry and Burnt Orange) in case you appreciate a little flare over the campfire. Beyond its pretty looks, however, the pan’s enameled black matte interior is textured to help promote browning on just about any dish. The result is more even cooking and food that just tastes better. The pan’s shallow, curved sides also make flipping pancakes, omelets, and burgers a snap.
When it’s time to dig in, check out our recommendations for the best camping tableware including dishes, utensils, and more.
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