You can whip up some pretty amazing foods on the grill! From a juicy seared steak to grill-marked veggies to some classic flame-broiled burgers, the amount of delicious barbecued foods is endless.
It can be a huge letdown when you don’t have access to a BBQ to enjoy some finely grilled foods. Whether you’re buried in the snow and it’s too cold to cook outside or live in an apartment with no outdoor space, there can be a ton of obstacles between this cooking technique and the average home chef.
Thankfully, the perfect solution to this problem exists in the form of a cast-iron grill pan! With a grill pan, you can enjoy all the benefits of cooking food on a grill while cooking safely on your stovetop.
Grill pans are a great piece of cookware if you want to get grilling done easier and indoors. And there’s no better material for a grill pan than cast iron. In this buying guide, we’re going to look at the best-cast iron grill pan you can buy today. We’ll also let you in on everything you need to know about buying a cast iron grill pan.
What is a Cast Iron Grill Pan?
A cast-iron grill pan is a fabulous stovetop cooking tool! These shallow cast iron pans have raised grill lines across the cooking surface that mimic the traditional grate found on a grill.
These lines allow the foods you are cooking to be elevated off of the surface of the pan. As your food cooks resting on these raised cast iron bumps, they will gain the signature seared grill marks that happen when you grill on a barbecue.
These marks can give our foods the char one looks for when grilling foods like peppers or burgers. These ridges on the pan will also allow grease and fat to drip off of your meats while cooking, pooling on the surface and not touching your food.
Cast iron pans can go above and beyond when grilling foods! One of the benefits of these pans being made of cast iron is that they are also oven-safe, so you can move the pans from your stovetop to your oven if needed. This process can imitate closing the lid on a grill and allows you to transfer something from a quick grilled sear to an oven bake with ease.
If you’re already a lover of cast iron cookware, getting a grill pan variety can bring some new life and creativity to your kitchen indoors. We promise you’ll love it!
What Can You Cook on a Cast Iron Grill Pan?
You’ll be open to a whole new world of indoor cooking when you invest in a cast iron grill pan.
The biggest game-changer here will be the variety of grilled meats you can cook easily indoors. Looking to have some fresh burgers? Grill some lamb chops, or the perfect steak? It’s easy with an indoor grill pan! Just get it hot on your stovetop, and you’ll be grilling indoors in no time.
Indoor grill pans are also great for getting a nice char on your fruits and vegetables. You can grill peppers and zucchini like you would on a regular grill. It’s also great for fruits, like grilled pineapple or peaches! Grilling fruit can make for some pretty interesting and creative desserts you may not have tried before.
A cast iron grill pan can help you get creative with almost any of the meats, fruits, and vegetables you’re cooking in the kitchen. We don’t suggest using it for any foods that require a flat surface for even, uniform cooking, such as pancakes or eggs. Anything you want fresh grill marks on, though, you’ll be good to go!
Cast Iron Grill Buying Guide
Investing in a new cast iron piece can give you a lifelong cooking utensil. If you want to get the most out of your purchase, you need to know exactly what you’re shopping for. Our guide below outlines what you need to know before buying a cast iron grill pan.
Cast Iron vs. Nonstick Grill Pans
When you look to purchase a cast iron grill pan, you’re going to encounter a lot of grill pans that aren’t made of cast iron. You may be tempted to go for a less expensive, nonstick route, but there are some huge benefits to going with cast iron!
Cast iron pans are cookware built to last. Cast iron is a highly durable material, and its ability to stay heat resistant makes it perfect for both stovetop and oven cooking. Cast iron is also highly absorbent and is uniquely known for its ability to pick up cooking oils as you use it to build up its nonstick coating.
The best benefit of cast iron, though, is its ability to retain heat. The way cast iron can heat to extreme temperatures, and maintain them, allows it to imitate the sear and scorch caused on a traditional grill better. If you want the true grill experience, the heat your pan can get matters.
Of course, there are a few downsides to using cast iron. Cast iron is a material that does require some special care and maintenance, especially in maintaining its non-stick oily coating. Cast iron can also be quite heavy and bulky, which affects storage and ease of use. They also tend to be more expensive than things like stainless steel cookware.
In comparison, grill pans that are not cast iron often have enamel or non-stick coatings that can make cooking easier. But, a non-stick coating also makes it less heat resistant, so you have to be careful not to cook on too high a heat and take extra care to not scratch or damage the coating. These pans are more fragile and won’t have the longevity of cast iron.
They are also, in most cases, not oven safe, meaning they can do stovetop cooking only, but they do tend to be much cheaper than cast iron when it comes down to price comparison, and they can come in a wider variety of shapes as they’re less heavy.
Ultimately, we still recommend looking into a cast iron grill pan if you want to grill indoors. They are the best material for the kind of cooking experience you want with a grill pan. If grilling is your favorite kind of cooking, it is worth the investment.
Cast iron grill pans can come in both square and rounded shapes. While both of these shapes can get the job done well, there are some notable benefits to choosing a square cast iron grill pan.
The square shape usually covers a higher surface area than a circular pan would, letting you cook more foods more evenly. Though some users may be concerned a square pan won’t heat evenly on circular stovetop burners, that’s no issue for cast iron. Its ability to take on and maintain heat keeps the cooking surface evenly heated as long as the core is on the burner.
When shopping for a cast iron grill pan, looking at the ridges can help you determine its quality. As cast iron pans are a single piece of material, their ridges have to stand at least 5 mm high. This height also aids it in its cooking process, raising food higher off the base.
Grill pans not made of cast iron will often have smaller ridges. They are also often made of more fragile materials that can deform and even tear with frequent use.
Cast iron can get hot, so the handles matter! If your pan is a solid piece of cast iron, it likely has a cast iron handle. These handles can get hot fast, and you should always grab them while using a kitchen towel, oven mitt, or heat-safe glove.
Some grill pans, though, may come with coated exteriors and different handle materials. Plastic and silicone handles will often stay cool to the touch, and you can handle them without protection.
Though this isn’t common on all cast iron grill pans, it’s a huge bonus if your cast iron pan comes with a pour spout! A pour spout can help you pour out the fat and grease that will collect on the pan’s surface between ridges while cooking. Pour it in a bowl to firm up, then toss it out! It will make cleaning way easier.
Taking Care of Your Cast Iron Grill
When you bring up cast iron around cooks, there is often a discussion about its care and maintenance. Many amateur cooks may be intimidated by these pans because they think they will be difficult to take care of. People like to use many different methods to get the most out of their pans, making it confusing to know which is right.
It doesn’t have to be difficult, though! If you follow the following steps, you can make sure your cast iron cookware lives a long and happy life.
Washing a Cast Iron Grill Pan
Washing cast iron is easier than you’d think. Some people think you shouldn’t wash cast iron so it doesn’t lose the non-stick coating.
The reality is, you should nearty wash their cookware. Food and cooking can breed all kinds of harmful bacteria, which is why cleaning our cooking utensils and pans is so important. If you cook with cast iron, you need to wash it when you’re done.
You can wash cast iron just like regular pans, handwashing using hot water and soap. However, washing should be done with a scrubbing brush, to get everything off the surface. These brushes are also the best to get between the ridges on a grill pan, removing food waste from the surface.
Once washed, you just have to use a paper towel and cooking oil to apply a light layer of oil to the surface of the pan. This will help to restore the oils lost in the washing process.
And that’s it! Once dry, you can store your pan safely away.
One important thing to remember about washing cast iron is to never let it sit in, or sit full of, water. Unlike materials like stainless steel, cast iron is prone to rust. Letting water sit in your cast iron will make it much more prone to damage. It’s important to clean with water, but immediately dry it before storage. This will improve the longevity of your pans.
Curing a Cast Iron Grill Pan
Curing a cast iron pan can also sound intimidating, but this too is easier than you’d think. When you first buy a new cast iron pan, you should cure it to begin the buildup process of its slowly absorbed, non-stick coating.
To begin, start by washing your new pan with hot water and soap, then patting it dry with a towel. Once dry, you’ll want to coat the pan in cooking oil, like vegetable oil. You can do this with a paper towel. If your pan is made entirely of cast iron, you can coat the entire thing, inside and out.
Once coated, set your oven to 375 degrees, and place your pan inside, face down. Place the pan inside the oven as soon as you set the temperature so that it experiences the slow heating up of the oven. Let your pan cook in there for an hour, then shut the oven off, and let the pan cool inside. Once cool, remove your pan, and it is ready for use!
Our Picks for the Best Cast Iron Grill Pan
Let’s take a look at our picks for the best-cast iron grill pan.
1. Top Recommended Product: Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Grill Skillet Fry Pan
You can grill all year long with this great grill pan! Here you’re receiving a high-quality, 11-inch cast-iron grill pan. This pan comes pre-seasoned, meaning you can start your non-stick cooking as soon as you receive it.
This pan is heat resistant and oven safe, meaning you can get the most out of it as a cast iron product. It also has two convenient spouts on either side of the pan, making draining grease and fat easy. It also has a lifetime guarantee, meaning you can return it if you don’t find it satisfying.
2. Best Budget Product: Lodge Cast Iron Grill Pan
You can still get a high-quality product on a budget with this choice here! This solid cast iron pan is perfect for your grilling needs. It’s made entirely of cast iron, so it is oven safe and withstands any high heat cooking. You can grill to your heart’s content with this!
3. Best Premium Product: Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Signature Deep Round Grill
Professional cooks know Le Creuset as a brand that provides some pretty high-quality cookware. If you want to splurge on a piece you can enjoy for life and keep in your family, consider something from them!
Their cast-iron grill pan is no exception. This enameled pan has a high-quality cast iron interior with ridges. Its deep well bowl keeps heat contained and prevents splattering while cooking. This pan features two side handles for easy lifting. It also has two spouts for pouring out grease and oil.
It has a colorful enamel exterior made of signature Le Creuset stoneware, meaning this piece is also oven safe! This pan will look beautiful in any kitchen and accomplish some pretty impressive cooking.
4. Best Pan With Accessories: Cuisinel Cast Iron Grill Pan
Want to get the most out of your purchase? You could buy this pan from Cuisinel, which comes with some pretty useful accessories! This solid cast iron grill pan comes with a glass lid for easier heat retention while cooking. It also comes with a slide-on silicone handle cover so you can better handle the pan in high heat without gloves. Best of all, it comes with a handy scraper to get between its ridges while cleaning. Talk about useful!
5. Best Reversible Pan: Lawei 12 Inch Cast Iron Griddles
This pan may not look like the other grill pans on our list, but this tool is just as useful! This cast iron pan from Lawei is fully reversible, having one side with raised ridges for grilling and one side with a flat smooth surface to be used as a griddle.
This is like an all-in-one pan, letting you experience the best of both worlds! Grill up some bacon on one side, then flip it over to griddle some pancakes and eggs on the other. There’s a ton you can do with a pan like this.
Cast Iron Grill Pan FAQ
It’s okay if you still have some questions! Here are the ones that come up the most when shopping for a cast iron grill pan.
How is a cast iron grill pan different from a cast iron skillet?
The difference here comes down to the surface of the pan. A traditional cast iron skillet is a circular pan with a flat, even surface. A cast iron grill pan comes in both circular and square shapes and has distinct, raised ridges across the surface of the pan, mimicking the lines of a grill.
How do I clean a cast iron pan?
Don’t be scared to clean your cast iron between uses! You can clean cast iron the way you would other pans. While it’s still warm, clean it with hot water and soap. For best results, you should use a stiff scrub brush. After washing, towel dry and then apply a light coat of oil.
Unlike traditional pans, do not try to soak foods off of cast iron. Leaving water sitting in it can cause rust damage.
How do I season a cast iron pan?
Cast iron pans need to be seasoned regularly to maintain their non-stick coating. The average home cook might not know how to do this but we promise, it’s easy!
Begin by cleaning your pan gently with soap and water. Then, coat the surface of your pan with a light layer of cooking oil. Bake it in the oven for an hour at 375 degrees. Take it out to cool, and you’re good to go! Try to do this 2-3 times a year.
What should I cook on a cast iron grill pan?
Cast iron grill pans are great for foods you would make on the grill! Use it to cook meats, vegetables, or fruits that you want a nice char on. If you’re looking for foods with grill marks, this pan is the tool to do it.