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Best Things To Cook In A Cast Iron Skillet & How!

Want to cook more things in your cast iron pan? There are so many things to cook in a cast iron skillet. Its one of my most used items in the kitchen simply because it’s so versatile. Definitely a favorite to have in your kitchen. Here I cover a bunch of ideas and some best ways for cooking in cast iron…

How to heat a cast iron pan? Your cast iron pan will take time to heat because iron is a poor heat conductor. So set it on the cooking element to heat 5–10 minutes prior to when you want to add the ingredients. The time will depend on the performance of your cooktop.

The upside is that the iron pan holds the heat really well.

Health benefits of a using cast iron skillet

Cooking with cast iron fry pans will add iron to the food being cooked. Iron is an essential element. So cast iron is good for iron needed for physical wellbeing.

It is a critical component of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen around our bodies in our bloodstream.

With iron being an important dietary element 2, cast iron cookware is beneficial, especially for those who might suffer iron deficiencies. 

In the US, 5 million people suffer from iron deficiency and women are more likely to suffer from this than men.And, for most people, any excess of iron intake will be excreted. 4

A healthy adult will excrete any excess as the body can adjust the rate of iron absorption from the digestive tract 4.

As a guide, adults need about 8 mg of iron per day for maintaining good health; though women aged 19–50 years (premenopausal) need about 18 mg per day.

When not to use a cast iron skillet

Cooking acidic foods, such as tomatoes, will react with the iron to elevate the leaching effect and taint the flavor of your food.

Hemochromatosis and cast iron pans

Added iron in your diet is not for everyone. People predisposed to iron overload (see hemochromatosis), for example, might need to limit their iron intake. 

Diet is such an important part of treating the disorder.

Proper seasoning of cast iron cookware will create a barrier to limit the amount of iron entering the food. And, one should especially avoid recipes with acidic foods that will increase the iron leaching effect.

It’s best to talk to your medical advisor about this, as hemochromatosis can vary between people and over time.

How much iron do you get from cast iron skillet?

We know that cast iron cookware adds iron to your cooked food.

How much iron is added to eggs cooked in cast iron? With fried eggs cooked in cast iron, a study found an increase of about 2.0 mg in the egg’s iron content (total 3.84 mg/100 g) compared that from a non-iron vessel (1.84 mg/ 100 g). 1

Things to cook in a cast iron pan

Eggs are a favorite dish to cook in a cast iron skillet, along with bacon. Pancakes are another and so are chops and steak. Corn bread, cake, pizzas, can all be done in a cast iron skillet.

Cooking eggs in a cast iron skillet

You can cook eggs any way you wish in a cast iron frying pan. Cooking fried eggs in a cast iron skillet as well as scrambled…even poached eggs is simple. Cast iron skillets are perfect for cooking frittatas.

The way I do it is to add a small amount of virgin olive oil to the pan before heating it. I especially do this when cooking scrambled eggs and frittatas in a cast iron skillet. I find this is the best way to cook egg dishes as it primes the pan for cooking and avoids burnt-on residue forming.

At times, I use coconut oil and ghee in place of olive oil.

One thing…cast iron pans heat slower and retain heat longer than other pans. So don’t let your eggs sit in the pan once they are done. You can turn off the heating element but the eggs will continue to cook.

Some people may not be sure about what temperature to cook eggs on cast iron skillet. I use low to medium heat, never high.

You don’t want overcooked dried out eggs or eggs stuck to the cast iron skillet.

I know some people prefer to heat the pan first and then add the oil or fat. To me, this is a matter of choice. I haven’t noticed any difference either way.

Shannon From Plan to Eat gives her way of cooking eggs in a cast iron skillet here.

I find cooking frittatas in cast iron skillets are an easy option for a quick meal. There are many ways of putting a frittata together. Here’s one…

With mine, I add the cheese to the top, then put a lid over the pan to allow the cheese to melt. I prefer my cheese this way. You can choose whichever way suits you. Be creative!

Cooking pork chops in a cast iron skillet

Here’s how I do it…

To cook pork chops, simply heat the pan to medium-high and add the chop. I don’t add oil or fat. Chops are usually fatty enough.

Let the chop cook in its own juices on the one side for a few minutes (maybe 3–4 min) and then flip to the other side.

Tip: Best to let one side cook till brown and then the other rather than flipping back and forth between sides.

Cooking steak in a cast iron skillet

Cooking steak in a cast iron skillet is much the same as cooking pork chops, except with steak, you may need to heat the pan with a little oil, depending on its fat content.

Cast iron skillet pizza

Cast iron skillets are perfect for cooking pizzas. Though, I wouldn’t do this if it has a wooden handle or anything that’s not cast iron.

Many more things to cook in a cast iron skillet

There are so many things you can cook in a cast iron skillet.

If you are looking for more ideas, this article has 60 recipe suggestions.

Why does my cast iron skillet leave a black residue on foods?

One reason for black residue on your food is the charring of food residue the last time you cooked. Excessive heat can cause food residue to stick to the pan.

This residue will charr the next time you use the pan on high heat unless you remove it before use. I cover ways of removing burnt-on residue in my article on cleaning a cast iron skillet.

This black residue becomes mixed with the food you are cooking.

To avoid this, you may need to adjust the way you cook. Cast iron cookware not only withstands high heat but also retains it for longer than other cookware types.

It’s best to use cooking oils suited to the heat setting, for example, with high heat use an oil with a high smoke point. I cover these in my article about using oils in cooking.

Can I use a cast iron skillet on an electric stove?

Yes. Most definitely. The thing to remember is that they take longer to heat and hold the heat longer.  So regulating the heat may take some getting used to if you have been conditioned to using other types of cookware.

Can I use a cast iron skillet on a glass top stove?

How do you keep cast iron from scratching on a glass top stove? The thing to watch here is whether the skillet has a cast logo on the bottom of the pan. Any protusions on the base of the skillet could scratch your glass cooktop.

Sources

  1. Brittin HC, Nossaman CE. 1986. Iron Content of Food Cooked in Iron Utensils. J Am Diet Assoc. 86(7):897-901. (accessory Table 9)
  2. Beard JL, Dawson HD. Iron. In: O’Dell BL, Sunde RA, editors. 1997. Handbook of Nutritionally Essential Mineral Elements. New York: CRC Press;  pp. 275–334.
  3. Clark, S. F. 2008. Iron Deficiency Anemia.  Nutr Clin Pract. 23(2):128-41. doi: 10.1177/0884533608314536.
  4. Steinbicker AU, Muckenthaler MU. 2013. Out of balance–systemic iron homeostasis in iron-related disorders. Nutrients. 5(8):3034-61. doi: 10.3390/nu5083034
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