Lightweight Cast-Iron Skillets Exist. Here’s Where to Find Them.
We love our skillets, but let's face it—cooking with cast iron requires some muscle. Find out how you can solve this problem.
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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