Durable, versatile, and affordable—Lodge's cast iron skillet is the pan that can do (almost) anything.
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Lodge Cast Iron skillet
Credit: Amazon

My Lodge cast iron skillet occupies some valuable real estate in my kitchen. It lives on the back burner of my stovetop. Sometimes it moves to another burner or the oven, depending on what I am cooking, but this pan rarely sees the inside of a kitchen cabinet, or is ever tucked away on a high shelf. It's just too dang useful. Every time I put the thing away, I inevitably pull it right back out again. (The "assist handle" on the top of the skillet makes grabbing this heavy pan a breeze.)

I have a few other cast-iron pieces, but my Lodge 12-inch skillet is the one I use the most. Whenever someone asks me to recommend a starter cast iron pan, it's the size I recommend, whether you're a single person or cooking for a family. It's the right size for almost any job—frying chicken, making pancakes, cooking burgers, searing steaks, baking cornbread or upside-down cakes. If I am not using a Dutch oven or stockpot, I'm most likely cooking with my trusty skillet.

Another reason to love this pan is how it is made. Lodge has been manufacturing cast iron goods for more than 100 years right here in the South. This family-owned company, based in South Pittsburg, Tennessee, holds itself to an extremely high standard of craftsmanship.

Lodge Cast Iron
Credit: amazon.com

Buy It: $30, amazon.com

Southerners prize their cast iron pans for their versatility and durability. While this one is surprisingly affordable (it retails around $30), it's still built to last. I hope I'll cook a lifetime of meals in this pan, and eventually pass it down to someone else who will do the same. Until then, it will be in its rightful spot on my stovetop.