The Best Lightweight Cast-Iron Pan


There are so many things to love about cast-iron cookware. Whether it’s the durability, next-level heat distribution, or the sentimental value of owning one that was once your grandparent’s, the traditional cookware material has a loyal fanbase.

Even the biggest enthusiasts have to admit though, cast iron is heavy. Even the smallest cast-iron skillet in our Shop—the lovely Staub Mini Cast-Iron Fry Pan, 6″—weighs in at just over two pounds, compared to a skillet of the same size made from stainless steel or non-stick ceramic. While the weight is understandable—cast-iron pieces are made with thicker walls to increase durability to help protect them from cracking due to thermal shock—it can become tiring when cooking begins to feel strangely reminiscent of arm day at the gym. Luckily, the Japanese cookware brand Vermicular sought out to remedy that complaint. Enter: the Vermicular Lightweight Japanese Cast-Iron Frying Pan.

Made from black enamel, this pan was designed to be rust-proof and allow for quicker evaporation of excess liquids to help achieve better browning. But most importantly, it needed to be comfortable to pick up or hold with one hand. Weighing in at 2.4 pounds (roughly the same weight as the aforementioned Staub mini), this full-sized frying pan does just that. It’s the ideal cookware piece for anyone who loves cooking with cast iron but hates feeling weighed down. The cherry on top? It doesn’t need to be seasoned.

It’s not just us—behind the scenes here at Food52—who love this pan. Food & Wine and Bon Appétit both raved about this featherweight workhorse. “If you’re after a pan that will live permanently on your stovetop, this is the one,” wrote Lauren Joseph. The audience we trust the most, our community, is equally smitten. In our Shop, the best-selling pan holds an average 4.8-star rating. “This is now my ‘go to’ pan for everything from filet mignon to blistered green beans,” one reviewer wrote alongside a five-star review. “It is amazingly light, versatile, durable, [and] cleans up well. I don’t know why I put it back in the drawer every night—I should just leave it out on the range!”

The only downside to its beautifully crafted wooden handle? It’s not oven-proof. But don’t sweat it, if you want a lightweight cast-iron piece that can easily go from your stovetop to your oven to your table, Vermicular made an equally easy-to-lift, cast-iron frying pan with an aluminum handle.

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What’s your favorite cast-iron skillet? Let us know below!

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