We swing a lot of pans in our Test Kitchen, and one of our worth-its-weight favorites is the old-fashioned cast-iron grill pan. We’re always looking for ways to infuse foods with smoky grilled flavor, and in the months when you can’t grill outdoors, a grill pan is the best—really the only—way to do it. Cast iron gets screaming hot, for excellent grill marks, and when it does come to temperature, heat is even and lasting. That’s why it’s also the preferred material for another kitchen standby, the Dutch oven, which can cook food at barely bubbling temperatures that slow-cookers can’t match. A good cast-iron pan lasts forever, too, when it’s conditioned and cleaned properly.
Sales have grown to 10% of the total cookware market in the past decade. And it’s not just the fancy French stuff that’s selling, though we love Staub and Le Creuset. Every station in our Test Kitchen has a cast iron grill pan from Lodge, the Tennessee-based manufacturer.