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The Improbable Quest for the Best Cast Iron Cookware Sets

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“What is the best cast iron cookware set?” that’s the first question any first time cookware buyers would be asking.

No, there’s nothing wrong with asking such question. But I can tell you that such question is very ambiguous. The answer you get depends on who you ask.

Instead, let’s try to refine the question to this: “What is the best cast iron cookware set for $50?”

Notice that just by adding price into the equation, we end up with a much easier problem to solve.

In this cookware review, we’re going to address the question from two ends of the price spectrum. Let me start with the high end of the price range before going to the other end.

Ready? Let’s start!

The Undisputable Cast Iron Cookware Set Champion

#1 Cast Iron Set: Lodge Seasoned 5-Piece Set

By its very nature, cast iron rusts. But that doesn’t mean you should shy away from cast iron.

When properly seasoned, you can be assured that the rust issue is not something that will come to haunt you. In the past, I remember how my grandma had to apply the oil and heat up her newly purchased black pan before she could start using it.

With hectic schedule and long list of tasks that seem endless, none of us had much time for ‘days of seasoning’ these days. I know few mom friends who would even start using their newly bought ‘gadgets’ even before they’re done unboxing.

Not all cast iron wares sold as pre-seasoned. But Lodge manufacturing decided that the seasoning is probably a process that’s best for them to handle (instead of trusting it to us, the buyers).

Cooking with the top rated cast iron cookware setFavorite chicken recipe cooked on great cast iron dutch oven potCook Healthier with Cast Iron Pots and Pans

But I think they’re right in every sense. When my cast iron cookware set arrives at the door, the next thing I want to do is obviously start using.

When you’ve heard others telling you what magic cast iron cookware can do to your cooking, you obviously can’t wait to get your hands dirty. You’re quietly hopeful that it will do wander to your favorite turkey breast recipe.

Based on my experience, I found the seasoning quality of the pots and pans included in the set to be great. It is so good that you don’t even have to think about re-seasoning for years.

In my case, it’s been more than 5 years since I bought my Lodge 5-piece set. I’ve not had to worry about re-seasoning until today.

Cast iron seasoning

Cast Iron Seasoning

100% Made in USA

I have to admit Lodge was not the first name that popped up when I considered buying a brand new cast iron set.

Unless you’re a cooking ware veteran, I bet you wouldn’t too!

After I was introduced to the brand, I decided to dig deeper review into the Lodge cookware brand.

One thing left me deeply impressed. Ever since its founding (more than 100 years), it has never moved out of its Tennesse root!

In today’s highly competitive and fast-changing industrial landscape, maintaining such consistency is virtually impossible.

Can you name me another American manufacturing company with such track record? I believe most would be dumbfounded and scrambling to find the answer.

Why? Simply because such company as Lodge manufacturing is nearly extinct! Nearly every manufacturing company has moved their factories in lands far far away like China and Vietnam.

After using my Lodge cast iron cooking wares for years now, I can attest to its durability and longevity.

A Heirloom Set

Do you know why many manufacturers are unwilling to add cast iron cookware into their line-up of offering?

After all, you would argue that cookware manufacturers are not stupid and blind. If cast iron is really that good, these manufacturers would be flooding the market with their cast iron wares.

But it is exactly because cast iron wares are so good that makes the market less lucrative.

Think about this. If everyone decides to buy cast iron, most likely they will need to buy only once in their lifetime!

That’s what happened to my grandma. Her cast iron wares lasted more than a lifetime.

Lifetime guarantee is what Lodge Manufacturing promises to their customers. It might not be the cheapest pot and pan set, but this is certainly a set that you can inherit to your next generation.

Healthiest cast iron skillet pan cooking

Iron Leach into Foods: Good for Iron Deficiency Sufferers

No Dishwasher, Please!

The only problem you have with a cast iron ware is dishwasher washing is not recommended.

It’s not because your skillet will warp. It’s not because your skillet will release harmful chemicals (like in the case for non-stick cookware).

The reason is because placing it in the dishwasher will remove the seasoning.

With the seasoning removed, you need to do seasoning on regular basis!

Let’s put things in proper perspective. Cleaning your cast iron pot or pan is actually not that difficult.

What you need to do is simply pour some hot water and heat it up to around 212º F. That’s good enough to sterilize your pan.

If you don’t feel at peace without applying soap, mildly rubbing soapy water over it will be more than sufficient.

Let me mention this again. After years of using my Lodge set, I’ve never had to re-season it. And cleaning has been nothing a breeze.

The only problem with cast iron pots and pans that I can think of is their appearance. If style is important to you, you may want to consider enameled cast iron. Le Creuset Signature collection is something that everyone would dream of having.

What’s in the Box

Lodge 5-piece cast iron set comes with 10.5-inch round griddle, two skillets of size 8-inch and 10.25-inch, a 5 quarter Dutch oven and a 10.25-inch iron cover to top it all.

I have to say while these 5 pieces can be used for about 80% of our cooking needs, they can’t meet 100% of them. For example, I love making light soups during regular nights when I have little time to prepare hefty meals.

For dishes as such, I’d turn to the lighter pot that comes with my Cuisinart Chef’s classic stainless steel cookware set.

The Budget King of Cast Iron Cookware Set

Best Low-Cost Cast Iron Set: Universal Housewares 3-Piece Skillet Set

You’ve now seen the best cast iron set in Lodge 5-piece set. Granted budget is not an issue, that would be the dream set that any cast iron fanatics would go for. You can buy once and expect it to last a lifetime.

But what if budget is a big deal to you? The economic downturn has hit many American hard. With millions of families still struggling to meet ends need, every bit of saving is something to cherish about.

Fret not. If you’re running tight financially but insist on getting the best cast iron cookware sets, look no further. I’ve searched high and low for the answer so you don’t have to.

After days of wrangling and sieving through all the cookware reviews shared by buyers, I narrowed down my candidates to only few of them. What I did with the list was to check with all my cooking buddies if any of them own of the set in my list.

Phew… I finally came up with what I think would be the best recommendation for low-cost cast iron set. My recommendation goes to Universal Housewares 3-Piece Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet set.

Mind you that the set includes only 3 skillets but not the Dutch Oven and Iron cover that was included in the Lodge 5-Piece set.

Final Pick for the Best Cast Iron Cookware is Yours

Now that you’ve seen my pick for the best cast iron cookware set, I’m excited to hear what you think of my selection.

If you are especially tight on budget, Universal Housewares 3-Piece Cast Iron will be the best cast iron cookware that your money can buy.

If budget is not a concern, I seriously think you should not be skimping on your cookware purchase. Lodge Manufacturing 5-Piece will be the no-brainer pick. While it may be more expensive than the Universal Housewares set, remember that this cast iron cookware will stay with you for a lifetime!

Are you all made up with cast iron? If you’re still not ruling out other cookware materials, why not check out our pick for the best stainless steel cookware set or maybe if nonstick is your cup of tea, our winner in the battle for nonstick cookware supremacy throne.

Image courtesy of Vox Efx and Michael W. May and litlnemo

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