The best cast iron cookware made in the USA is easy and delightful to use. It provides superior performance when compared to other types of cookware, and it lasts forever. Home cooks and chefs alike choose the best cast iron cookware for making fabulous meals.
American-Made Cast Iron Cookware
Cast iron cookware is my absolute go-to choice for cooking in my kitchen. Why you may ask? Well, it might be because of the memories I have from my childhood. I grew up in the south where biscuits and fried chicken are sacred rituals performed in the kitchen. Part of those rituals includes baking and frying in cast iron skillets. My mom’s biscuits still rival any others on the planet. She has a gift, I tell you! And my Aunt Frankie’s fried chicken? Virtually everything else pales in comparison.
While I can’t make biscuits or fried chicken like the matriarchs in my family, I have managed to muster up my own specialties when I cook with cast iron cookware, and so can you. The not-so-great news is that cooking with this type of high-quality cookware does require a little patience and learning.
The good news is that once you’ve learned, you’ll find searing, baking, frying, and stewing on this type of cookware is unlike anything you can perform on nonstick or other types of cookware. The more it gets used and the better it is seasoned, cast iron cookware, particularly American-made brands, creates a naturally nonstick finish. This natural, smooth surface is different from certain stainless steel cookware or aluminum products with chemical-based coatings.
But before we go any further, let’s take a quick culinary journey back in time about cast iron.
History of Cast Iron Cookware
Cast iron cookware dates back to as early as 220 AD when the Chinese and other Asian cultures discovered they could use something similar to a cauldron to cook over an open flame.
Fast forward to the 1700s, when Abraham Darby discovered a less time-consuming and expensive way of making cast iron through a different process of green sand castings. Darby’s invention made cast iron cookware more available to others.
When stoves were invented in the mid-1800s, cast iron was the go-to method for cooking and remained popular for cooking both inside and outdoors. Then, in the 1960s, non-stick aluminum hit the market. Because these coatings enabled cookware to heat and cool more quickly, they became the new choice for cooking.
Cooking in cast iron continued its decline when much of its production, like so many products, went overseas. Less than stellar cast iron cookware began being produced.
But cooking with cast iron never truly went out of style, nor did a handful of USA companies abandon the making of this cookware. Influenced by chefs, concerned about the chemicals in nonstick coatings, a resurgence of traditional cooking, and a desire to cook more outdoors, cast iron cookware continues to grow in popularity and use.
What is Cast Iron?
Simply put, melted iron, steel, and a few other materials combine to make cast iron. The liquid is poured into a mold made from water, sand, and powder. When the liquid has cooled and the mold is removed, the result is that heavy, beautiful cast iron skillet, dutch oven, griddle, or other cookware.
Reasons for Buying Cast Iron Cookware
Reasons abound for buying and using cast iron cookware. These reasons especially prove to be true when you buy American-made cast iron cookware because of its superior quality.
- Ease of Use: I outline below how to care for your cast iron cookware. Once you have achieved that glorious “seasoned” level, your cookware develops its own non-stick surface. All you do is heat it, cook with it, and clean it.
- Superior Performance: Want the best sear on your salmon or steak? Do you crave a great crunch to your cornbread? Begging for a crispy char on your Brussels sprouts? Pining for pan pizza? (I could keep going, but I won’t). You can get all of this in a single pan made from cast iron.
- Excellent Heat Retention: Whether you’re using a Dutch oven or griddle outside over a grill or direct flame, or you’re cooking on a smooth stove top indoors, you’ll find cast iron keeps its heat like nothing else.
- A Lifetime of Use: I have replaced three cookware sets not made in the USA because they just don’t last a long time as cast iron does.
- “Clean” Cooking: That coating on your cookware might make it easy to flip your eggs, but its production pollutes the planet, and some people are greatly concerned about its safety for your health. Not so much with cast iron.
Proper Care for Cast Iron Cookware
Caring for your cast iron cookware is easy and requires just a couple of added quick steps than regular cookware.
1) As soon as you receive your cookware, season it, even if it comes pre-seasoned from the manufacturer. Wash it with warm water and just a dot of liquid soap. Dry thoroughly.
2) Rub vegetable oil or canola oil all over your pan using a soft cloth or paper towel. Remove any excess oil. Some manufacturers use organic flaxseed oil, but others maintain flaxseed oil flakes. Olive oil has a low smoke point and should not be used.
3) Place the pan in a preheated oven set at high heat, around 450°F, and let it heat for 30 minutes. Remove it from the oven, let it cool, and repeat this process.
4) After cooking with cast iron, wash it with hot water and a drop of liquid dish soap. Dry immediately, and re-season with a layer of oil.
By following these steps, your cast iron cookware will develop a smooth finish and stick-free surface, great for everyday use in your cooking arsenal.
Why Choose Made in the USA Cast Iron?
While several countries make some great cast iron products (think Le Creuset or Staub in France), the United States makes some of the best cast iron cookware on the market. Several other reviews I read seem to confirm this choice, as it appears non-USA sourced cast iron arrives with an overly-rough surface or is cracked.
Check out the video below to learn about Borough Furnace made in USA cast iron manufacturing.
Cooks covet vintage pans from USA companies that once upon a time made high-quality cast iron cookware but are no longer in business. You, too, might just score a Griswold or Wagner cast iron skillet when browsing flea markets, antique stores, or auctions. These brands with their American-made craftsmanship are still considered the best of the best, even though these vintage pieces are no longer made. Be prepared to pay a high price for these amazing but highly sought-after, American-made products.
Have you visited our Made in USA Shopping District? It is the place to start your shopping when you want to find the best of American-made.
Check out these other great articles from USA Love List!
- Made in USA Cookware: Source List for Pots & Pans
- Mushroom Stuffed London Broil Cast Iron Recipe
- American Made Appliances: A Made in USA Source List of Kitchen Appliances & Household Appliances
- Kitchen Utensils Made In USA: A Source List
- Toasters Made in the USA: The Search Continues
Pin this list to save it for later!