Sure, you can make cornbread in a muffin tin or any baking dish, but a blazing hot cast iron skillet is the only way to get that wonderfully crisp and golden brown crust. Place the skillet in the oven, then preheat it. The skillet will heat up as you prepare the batter—it will take about seven to 10 minutes. When the skillet is hot, toss in the butter and let it melt in the oven. When the butter has melted, carefully pour the butter into the cornbread batter and stir until combined. Pour the batter into the hot skillet and immediately return the skillet to the oven. Bake until the cornbread is golden brown and pulls away slightly from the edge of the skillet.
Recipe: Classic Skillet Cornbread
These light and flaky yeasted biscuits will rise even higher when snuggled together in a cast iron skillet. When placing them in the skillet, make sure the edges of the biscuits are touching, which will help them rise higher.
Recipe: Angel Biscuits
Whether you prefer to pan-fry or deep-fat fry, cast iron retains heat better than any other vessel. Use a large cast iron skillet for pan frying and a cast iron Dutch oven for deep frying. And don’t overcrowd the pan: fry in small batches so you can easily turn each piece of fried chicken or fish (with tongs), ensuring you’ll get evenly crisp and crunchy skin.
Recipe: Buttermilk-Soaked Bacon-Fried Chicken with Gravy (pictured above)
Recipe: Natalie's Cajun-Seasoned Pan-Fried Tilapia
Once you’ve cooked a steak in cast iron, you’ll never go back to the grill. A heavy cast iron pan is great for searing, and when you add a steak to a sizzling hot pan, it will give the steak a tasty brown crust. Brown the steak for a few minutes on each side without moving it to allow the crust to develop. (And turn on your exhaust fan—this can get a little smoky.) Depending on the thickness of the steak and your preferred doneness, transfer the pan to the oven and finish cooking.
Recipe: Cast-Iron Cowboy Steaks
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If you’re in the mood for homemade chocolate chip cookies, skip the sheet pan and grab your cast iron skillet. A skillet makes outrageously good deep-dish cookies with soft centers and crispy outer edges—a cookie lover’s dream!
Recipe: Deep-Dish Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie
Now you know, so don't start cooking these without your cast-iron skillet on hand.