When you buy cookware, you want to make sure you get something that lasts. This is especially true with versatile, high-use items like skillets that cook food from eggs to pasta sauce to steak. There are many schools of thought when it comes to what material you should use for this kind of cookware. Devotees of stainless steel cross swords with cast iron zealots; cooks with no qualms about non-stick coating can be similarly fiery in defense of their choices.
As we compare these two pans, we’ll necessarily have to touch on the material, but what readers want to hear about most is how well these specific skillets work. If you need to hear more about the cast iron and hard anodized cookware, there are plenty of resources on the internet. What we’ll deal with today is examining these competitors in terms of size, design, and the unavoidable non-stick factor.
This model clocks in at 12 inches, a medium-to-large size for a skillet. You can cook all sorts of things in a pan of this size. While it’s often advisable to use smaller pans for much smaller dishes, it’s better to have a big one that can fit anything inside it. At four pounds, it’s easy to maneuver around your stove as you cook, and the handle has a great length for leverage.
Slightly smaller than its competitor, this pan measures 10 ¼ inches across. This is a medium-sized pan, but it will work perfectly for many dishes that you’d want to cook in a skillet. Even though it’s slightly smaller in size, the cast iron makes it a pound heavier than the Cuisinart model. Cast iron is definitely a heavy material to cook with, but it’s easy to get used to.
Verdict: The winner in this category may depend on what you cook on a regular basis. Maybe 10 ¼ inches is a perfect size for your needs. The extra 1 ¾ inches in diameter offered by the Cuisinart, however, do give you a little more versatility. If you plan on cooking for a large number of people, or if you cook big dishes to store for a later date, getting the extra bit of area might be the best bet.
Leaving aside the non-stick material for the next section, the most notable feature of this model is the glass cover that comes included. If you’ve spent any time covering pans with plates or lids that don’t fit, you know that a snug-fitting cover makes a huge difference in the kitchen. Many dishes you’ll cook in your skillet may require covered cooking, and if you don’t want to be gingerly covering it with tin foil while trying not to get burned, the lid is a great bonus.
This model doesn’t come with a cover like its competitor, but Lodge does make cast iron covers that are available as a separate purchase. Another thing you’ll hear cast iron devotees rave about is durability. You can still find ancient cast iron pans in thrift stores that have stood the test of time for decades. Newer materials like Cuisinart’s hard anodized may turn out to be incredibly long-lasting, but we have definite evidence that cast iron is one of the most durable cookware materials available.
Verdict: This is a difficult category – while the Chef’s Classic provides a glass cover, it’s easy to purchase a cover for the L8SK separately. Ultimately, we have to think about which of these pans is going to last in the long run. As we’ll find in the non-stick section, the hard anodized material is still vulnerable to scratches. Cast iron is a tried and true material for skillets, so you know you won’t be taking any risks. Pick up a cover if you need one, and rest assured that your Lodge skillet is in it for the long haul.
A Quantanium interior gives this skillet its nonstick quality. With no work on your part, it’s easy to transfer food from pan to dish and then quickly clean before you move onto your next task. While the manufacturer claims that the nonstick interior is metal-utensil safe, it also recommends wooden or plastic utensils because it’s still possible to scratch it. Cleaning with steel wool is likewise not recommended.
With a little work, cast iron is naturally nonstick. The manufacturer actually pre-seasons this skillet for you, but at any time years down the line, you’ll be able to re-season it yourself quite easily. A simple brush with steel wool, a coating of oil, and an hour in the oven will be enough to get your cast iron skillet back up to nonstick snuff. Additionally, it’s not vulnerable to scratches since the entire pan is made out of the exact same material.
Verdict: The Chef’s Classic certainly provides a very effective nonstick experience right out of the box and is easier to maintain in the short term. The L8SK wins in this category, however, simply because you don’t have to worry about ruining it with metal utensils. A quick look at any cooking forum will provide you with a number of stories about roommates absent-mindedly using a fork in a beloved nonstick pan. Cast iron is much more resistant to human error.
Lodge vs Cuisinart: Conclusion
You may be the only one who can decide which of these pans is right for you. The Cuisinart 622-30G Chef’s Classic does offer a lot of terrific bonuses – a glass cover, powerful nonstick technology, and a 12-inch diameter. Looking down the road, though, you’ll want to figure out how long you expect to use your new skillet. If you’re very careful with it, the Quantanium interior could last years. Just remember that it’s not only you that has to be careful with it; it’s everyone else, too.
The Lodge L8SK3 cast iron skillet will put up with a lot of abuse from inexperienced cooks, and it’s also easy to re-season the pan and get it back to where it was when you first got it – or even better. A cover is an easy thing to purchase, and since the Chef’s Classic is more expensive, you might not be losing any value anyway. Cast iron skillets have been around for a long time, and Lodge’s offering is a high-quality example.