My cast-iron skillet gets a lot of use in my kitchen. It’s my go-to for these weeknight skillet suppers and even some of my favorite desserts. However as much as I love my skillet, there’s one major drawback to using it: It’s so darn heavy! But I’ve got good news for cast iron devotees (and non-body builders) like myself—lightweight cast iron exists.
What Is Lightweight Cast Iron (and How Is It Different?)
I know it sounds too good to be true, but you can find lighter weight cast-iron pans. Michigan-based Marquette Castings produces cast-iron skillets and cookware using a special casting technique that produces lighter cookware. How much lighter? Marquette Castings’ ten-inch pan weighs 3.7 pounds. A traditional 10-inch cast-iron skillet weighs 5.6 pounds—that’s a huge difference.
Marquette Castings manages to shave off that almost two pounds of weight by using an old-school, labor-intensive technique called lost-wax casting. This helps produce skillets that are a bit thinner and lighter than their sand-casted counterparts.
But How Does It Perform?
I use my regular cast-iron skillet several times a week, but I decided to swap it out for a few days to see how the lighter option would perform in the kitchen.
First impressions: Whoa! The Marquette Castings skillet was noticeably lighter. I wouldn’t think a pound or two would make such a huge difference in just lifting the pan onto the stove, but it really did. I could do it with one hand easily. But as light as this skillet was, I knew that the real test would be how it cooked.
Heavy, iron pans are known for their conductivity and ability to evenly distribute heat, but I had to wonder if a lighter iron pan could do the same. To test this out, I heated up the pan and filled it bone-in chicken thighs skin side down (these skillet-ready chicken recipes are good options, too). Right away I heard that familiar sizzle. After a few minutes, I flipped them over—perfectly golden just like they are in my old, heavy skillet.
Seeing that, I was pretty darn happy and popped the skillet in the oven to finish cooking. I used two hands this time—just to be safe—but it was still way easier than normal. The end result was the same as if I used my heavy pan. In terms of performance, lightweight cast iron really stacks up.
So Where Can You Get Lighter Cast-Iron Skillets?
You can get these lighter weight skillets (as well as other cookware) directly from Marquette Castings or via Amazon—here’s their popular ten-inch skillet. Prices start at $90. It’s more than your basic cast-iron cookware but still less than some luxury brands. If you’re serious about cooking with cast iron but struggle with the traditional pan, I say it’s a worthwhile investment. As for your old, heavy skillet? Pass it onto your children or a strong friend. When treated well, cast-iron pans last for generations.
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