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Cast iron has seen a wild resurgence in the last decade, but along with that renewed interest has come the same backlash that made it obsolete in the first place (though now that backlash is in meme form). The problems that plagued the heritage skillets — they’re heavy, harder to maintain and often more expensive than stainless steel and nonstick pans — are still problems today.
If the biggest problem you have with cast iron is the weight, you’ll want to check out Field Company. A relatively new player in the space, the outfit got its start on Kickstarter back in 2016 with a campaign for their No. 8 skillet, pitching it as lighter than the competition (and lighter than an Apple MacBook Pro). They raised over $1.6 million and then, unlike many overachieving projects in the crowdfunding space, actually delivered on their promise. Today the brand offers five different sizes of their traditional skillet and matching lids for most of them, as well as a double-handled skillet, Dutch oven and two griddles, and it’s all made right here in the U.S. of A.
I first tested and reviewed that inaugural skillet back in 2021 to decide if their lighter construction really does make all the difference when compared to other brands. I’ve now been cooking with the No. 8 for over two years, so you can believe me when I tell you these are noticeably lighter; I’ve got a handful of other brands, from Lodge to Butter Pat, in my cupboard, and my forearms thank me whenever I reach for the Field Company skillet.
The 12 Best Cast-Iron Skillets, From Lodge to Victoria to Butter PatCast iron may seem simple, but there’s plenty to consider before you buy a skillet. We break down the brands and pans you need to know.
(Almost) the Lightest Cast Iron Skillet
OK, you don’t have to take my word for it. The Field Company No. 8 Skillet, which features a cooking surface diameter of 8 3/4-inches and a lip-to-lip diameter of 10 1/4-inches, weighs just 4.5 pounds. While there is no universal standard for pan size among cast iron producers, most comparable pans from other top brands like Finex, Butter Pat, Smithey and Stargazer are in fact heavier. The two exceptions to this that I’ve found are from Lancaster, whose No. 8 pan is advertised as around 4.5 pounds, and from Lodge, that heritage brand whose lightweight line called Blacklock does weigh less, though the dimensions are not one-to-one. (Other more popular Lodge models are heavier.)
That’s not to say Field Company’s skillets are comparable to nonstick or stainless steel pans, for when my No. 8 is packed full of food — as it was when I tested an apple pie recipe — it can take two hands to maneuver. But most nonstick and stainless steel skillets also can’t handle baking four and a half pounds of apples in an oven for over an hour. So if you’re looking for a super smooth, USA-made cast iron pan that’s lighter than most — and easier on your stovetop, oven rack, cupboard shelving and forearms — the Field Company model is a satisfying piece of cookware.
Is Field Company Worth It?
While Field Company’s lightweight design lived up to the hype, I have had issues with the brand’s other claims. The company, similar to many other modern cast iron makers, says its skillets are “naturally nonstick.”
I did find that the cooking process got easier over time after using it for a few months, and my dad even commented on how smooth the pan looked when I brought it over after baking pecan sticky buns for his birthday. But looks can be deceiving. When I try to do my daily stovetop cooking with the skillet — frying eggs, sauteing vegetables — I often have problems with sticking, even when using some extra oil or butter. A lightweight metal spatula helps in this regard, but I’ve still not reached a point where I’d call my pan nonstick. (As Field Company notes, metal utensils are okay to use on their pans, as long as you’re not scratching and scraping with heavy tools or cutting with knives.)
But while quick stovetop dishes leave much to be desired, the Field Company excels in the oven, and especially at bakes. While pecan sticky buns are notorious for turning into glue in your mouth and on your bakeware, when I used my No. 8 skillet they baked to perfection and flipped out onto a plate with almost no cleanup time (as you can see from the main photo above). As for pie, a notoriously tough dessert to make from scratch for home cooks, Field Company’s deep, thin cast iron has given me golden, flaky crusts, with the dessert similarly slipping out of the pan without incident. If a pie hasn’t turned out well, I blame my own dough-making capabilities, not the pan.
For the apple pie pictured above, I used a recipe on the brand’s own website. That’s another thing I love about this company: while other cookware peddlers, whether we’re talking cast iron or not, often feature recipes on their websites, Field Company’s Recipes section is legitimately tasty, and their Use & Care section is legitimately helpful.
I currently have five cast iron skillets in my cupboard, and my Field Company pan is one of the top two I reach for most often. (The other is my Butter Pat.) It comes down to convenience. All of the brands I’ve kept in rotation are versatile enough for dishes as varied as burgers, gnocchi and cinnamon rolls. But when you’re cooking every single day and focused on preparing meals for yourself and your family, instead of on the cookware itself, you want something easy. The Field Company No. 8, with its lightweight design, even heating and manageable size, offers that in a beautiful cast iron package.
If effortlessness is the motto in your kitchen, this is the cast iron skillet for you. And if you need something larger than the 8 3/4-inch cooking surface, the No. 10 model offers another inch in diameter while only bumping up the weight by 1.5 pounds.
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