Choosing the right size cast iron skillet that works best for your needs can be a real challenge.
Not only is cast iron heavy, but if you get one that is too big, you might not be able to heat it evenly with your stove.
However, if you get one that is too small, well, you might as well be going on a diet because your meals are definitely going to be smaller.
I myself had to go through a little trial and error at first and found that the perfect size cast iron skillet for me was 10-inches.
So let's take a look at all the different sizes available so that you can better determine what the best size cast iron skillet is for you – without the buyer's remorse!
Other awesome cast iron guides!
First up are the tiny cast iron skillets. These typically range from 3 to 7 inches and are not useful for cooking meals – they are way too small.
Instead, these itty-bitty skillets are useful for specific cooking tasks that you may have.
Good examples are cooking one or two eggs, heating butter for popcorn, or cooking that "massive" fish you brought home from your fishing trip.
They are even suitable for cooking miniature cakes in the oven!
While these tiny cast iron skillets are useful to have around and are very cheap, they're only helpful for snacks and desserts.
So if you are looking for a skillet to cook your meals, this size of cast iron is not right for you.
However, if these mini skillets are what you are looking for, my recommendation is Lodge. They have 3.5" and 6.5" cast iron skillets that both fall under $10 and are one of the best US-based cast iron brands you can get.
Next up is the 8-inch cast iron skillet. This little guy is pushing the limits of how small you want to go and still be able to cook actual meals.
That said, the 8-inch is a very versatile size.
You can fit about four eggs or perfectly sear a single pork chop, steak, chicken breast, or fish fillet. However, be careful with fish until your cast iron is a little more broken in. You can find more information on why here.
They are also great for omelets, quesadillas, and small oven-baked desserts!
Additionally, they are very light and easy to move around compared to the larger sized cast iron skillets, and much easier to clean.
So if you are looking to cook a meal for one and make a smaller mess, the 8-inch cast iron skillet will serve you well!
Plus, if this is your first cast iron skillet, it is far easier to learn how to care for, maintain, and season smaller cast iron skillets!
My current 8-inch skillet and recommendation are Lodge for an excellent 8-inch skillet. Bonus, it’s under $10!
Of all the sizes of cast iron skillets, the 10-inch is the best “middle ground.”
It’s good for cooking up those bigger steaks like T-Bones or Ribeyes and will easily fit two full-sized chicken breasts or several fish fillets.
This size easily feeds up to two people and is perfect for those small homemade pizzas!
If you were stranded on an island with only one skillet, the 10-inch is what you would likely want to have.
It’s light, easy to move around, and gets the job done!
My recommendation for the best 10-inch skillet is from FINEX. Not only is it a beautiful skillet – as seen in the image above – but if you treat it right, it will last your entire life, and maybe even your children's lifetime too!
Next up is the 12-inch skillet!
These big boys can easily fit two good-sized steaks, a few burgers, or even cook up your bacon in the morning!
However, this is also the size at which things start getting pretty heavy. Any 12-inch skillet is a lot of metal to toss around, and if you're not prone to heavy items, you could find it challenging to wash.
But besides the weight, a 12-inch skillet can easily feed your entire family for years to come!
My recommendation for the perfect 12-inch skillet again comes from FINEX.
If you are looking at anything more substantial than a 12-inch cast iron skillet, then you need to first consider how you are going to heat it.
I made this horrible mistake when I purchased my first cast iron skillet. It was a 13.5-inch skillet, and I sadly found it impossible to heat on my coil burner stovetop evenly. It was just too big.
They are also extremely heavy and awkward to store. So if you're not into moving heavy things, I'd stay clear of this much iron.
However, if you have a large stovetop, want to use it in the oven, or maybe even throw it on the grill – these super-sized skillets cook a lot of tasty food!
For anything over 12 inches, Lodge is definitely the way to go! For the amount of skillet that you are getting, it won't cost you an arm and a leg, and you know you are getting something that will last!
Because cast iron skillets have a sloped edge, the surface of the pan and the top of the sides are going to be different lengths across.
So how are skillets measured - from the top or the bottom?
Skillets are measured from across the top.
Armed with this knowledge, you will never again have that uneasy feeling when a recipe calls for a 10-inch sized cast iron skillet. You will know exactly how to tell if you do!
I hope this guide was helpful in determining what size cast iron skillet is best for you! Let me know in the comments below what your favorite size cast iron is!