A hot take: you get more for your dollar buying cast-iron skillets than any other type of cookware.
Non-stick isn’t great for much beyond making sure eggs and fish don’t get stuck to a pan and the lifespan of its coating is limited. Stainless steel is the do-it-all cookware — it doesn’t rust (easily), requires little maintenance — but it can’t sear like cast-iron. And, because of stainless steel skillets’ thinner composition, it will inevitably warp and wobble on your stovetop. Looking at cooking attributes and physical makeup, carbon steel is the closest you’ll get to cast iron, but quality can be hard to come by — especially if you’re on a budget.
The cast-iron skillet is heavy and occasionally tedious, but it’s the only piece of cookware that you can buy dirt cheap without expecting much drop-off in performance. Truth be told, the pans boutique skillet-makers are putting out don’t perform that much better than your everyday Lodge skillets. They’ll typically be a fair bit lighter and sport a machined-smooth cooking surface (food will release from them with a bit less fuss), but most casual cooks will rarely notice the difference.
Today on Amazon, Lodge’s cast-iron skillets are on sale. Starting a $5, Lodge’s range runs wide — from a creme brulee-sized 3.5 inches to a whopping 15-inch, 12-pound behemoth. Don’t forget to buy extra oil for seasoning.