Give the gift of a perfect sear—and get one for yourself while they're on sale.
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Cast iron skillets are one of the most time-tested and versatile cooking tools you can have in your kitchen. And because they last SO long (passed-down-through-generations long), they're a great gift for someone at a new life stage, like newlyweds or college grads or new homeowners.
When thinking about how to tell if something is a GOOD cast iron pan — and after looking at dozens of different brands—it turns out that the actual function of the pans is pretty similar across the board. It's the design of the pan that really sets apart the ~fancy~ versions from the regular ones.
What really differentiates cast-iron models is the details — things like how the handle is shaped, how much it weighs, how easy it is to maneuver around the kitchen from stovetop to oven and back, etc.
Enter: the Field Company Skillet, a truly excellent and splurge-worthy cast iron that happens to have a BOGO 50% off sale for Cyber Week!
When we tested it the Field Company Skillet rated higher than other similarly priced pans in terms of heft and heat retention, which are two of the key points when shopping for a cast iron skillet.
The Field skillet has an ergonomic long handle as well as a small but effective assist handle on both sizes. Its handle also stays cool longer than many of the others we tested (though you should probably still invest in a handle cover just in case — something we learned the hard way).
The Field Company skillet is also machine-smoothed, though not quite as smooth as some other artisanal models, which we think actually helps the seasoning stick a little more and allows for a smoother patina* over time.
*The patina, also called the seasoning, is the solid black coating formed when you cook with cast iron, as a result of layers of oxidized fat or oil that are absorbed into the iron. This layer prevents rust, but more importantly, it makes the surface nonstick. Almost all cast irons nowadays come “pre-seasoned,” but a quality patina comes only from using the pan again and again as you cook with fats and oils, or seasoning it yourself with a good high-smoke-point oil (check out Tasty’s guide to seasoning your cast iron here).
Rarely have we seen a skillet this light and movable retain heat as well as the heftier versions; its light weight also makes it easy to store and to move from burner to burner or oven to stovetop. Add the simplicity of its design and a price point well below some of the other “luxury” cast irons on the market, and we’re confident this is a high-end cast-iron skillet worth investing in.
Other high-end contenders have weird gimmicks that don’t actually work in practice, like the design-y Finex’s spiralized metal handle that’s too large for most hands — especially those smaller than an average-sized man’s. The Smithey has a beautiful design and truly feels expensive, but the heft and handle shape were not as good as those of the Field in our testing (especially for lifting with one hand). The Field skillet has an ergonomic long handle as well as a small but effective assist handle on both sizes. Its handle also stays cool longer than many of the others we tested (though you should probably still invest in a handle cover just in case — something we learned the hard way).
Aesthetically, this skillet is also just the best. Its simple silhouette and engraved flat bottom look at home sitting on the stove or hanging on display. While there is no pour spout, the overall maneuverability makes it easy to drain from the sides without a ton of drip (though we wouldn’t be mad if they added a model with a spout).
Another plus for the eco-conscious crowd: Field Company pans are all hand-poured in the USA and use 75% to 95% recycled iron. And if you’re skeptical of buying an expensive skillet from a company that started on Kickstarter, there’s even a lifetime warranty. While you don’t need to spend this much on a cast iron to reap the benefits, we think this Field Company skillet’s lightweight, attractive design and smooth cooking surface make it a worthwhile investment for you and your future heirs.
If you're going to buy someone the gift of years of perfect pancakes and steaks, may as well splurge on something beautiful while you're at it. Get the 10" from The Field Company for $145. And for Cyber week the pans are all Buy One Get One 50% off!