If you’re the proud owner of a cast-iron pan, then you already know what a good investment it is. Once well-seasoned, it can cook just about anything from pancakes to fried chicken, it can go from stovetop to oven with ease, it’s nearly indestructible, it’s inexpensive and it holds its heat like a dream. But if you’re just using your pan to cook the occasional burger, then you’re missing out; you really can cook pretty much anything in it. Here are 20 things we bet you didn’t know you could cook in your cast-iron pan.
Instead of baking your brownies in a traditional pan, pour that batter into a greased cast-iron skillet. In order to keep the edges from burning, you’ll want to lower the cooking temperature by about 25 degrees and increase the cooking time by 10 to 15 minutes. Here’s a great, classic brownies recipe to get you started.
As a good rule of thumb, if it can be made in a ramekin, baking dish or casserole, it can also be made in a cast-iron pan. A cast-iron pan is the perfect size of a family-size shepherd’s pie, and it’s the perfect height, as well. We’re fans of this shepherd’s pie recipe, which is made with lamb (in the traditional style) and gets a kick from beer.
If you’re a fan of crispy lasagna edges, then you should definitely start cooking lasagna (this recipe is pretty simple) in cast-iron. You can even put it on the stovetop for a couple minutes after it comes out of the oven to make sure it’s really browned.
A Dutch baby is a big, fluffy pancake that can only really be made in a cast-iron pan. A pan is heated in the oven, and a thin pancake batter is added. It baked for about 20 minutes or so, and it comes out puffy and golden brown. This is similar to a more custardy dessert called clafoutis (which also cooks best in cast iron), and there are countless variations. Here’s a great starter Dutch baby recipe.
Cast-iron pot pie, with the pastry crust draped over the top of the filling, has a rustic feel to it, and the white filling against the black pan is a lot more striking than your standard white or glass dish. Here’s a recipe for a classic, entirely from-scratch version.
Like skillet brownies, skillet cookies (sometimes called cookie cakes) are a whole lot of fun. Instead of turning the batter into individual cookies, just spread it out as one large cookie in a cast-iron pan and bake. Cookie wedges are a great family-friendly dessert, especially when served hot and topped with ice cream. Try it with the original Nestle Toll House chocolate chip cookie recipe.
Galettes, sometimes also called crostatas, are basically open-faced pies. A large ring of pie dough is placed into the bottom of the pan (overhanging the sides), the filling is spread inside, and then the overhanging crust is folded back on top. Using a cast-iron pan keeps it in a neat circle, and makes serving a breeze. Here’s a great plum galette recipe from legendary chef Jacques Pepin.
We’re used to making rice in a pot, but some folks will argue that a cast-iron skillet is the best vessel for cooking rice, especially basmati. Just add a cup of rice, a cup and a half of water, a teaspoon of butter and a half-teaspoon of salt to the skillet, turn the heat up to high and bring it to a simmer. Stir, turn the heat to low and cover and in about 25 minutes you’ll have a perfect batch of rice, which can conveniently be used in these 25 fabulous rice dishes.
Using a cast-iron skillet is an old-fashioned and super-easy to make cake (and cornbread, but you already knew that). Just mix up your favorite cake batter recipe (we’re fans of this one, for classic chocolate cake), pour it into a greased and floured cast-iron skillet, let it bake until golden brown, then let it rest for 15 minutes or so and turn it out. Voila!
A cast-iron skillet is one of the best pizza-making tools in your kitchen, and it’s so easy to make. Get your oven preheated as high as it will go and heat up your pan over medium-high heat. Sprinkle some cornmeal in the pan, then add the pizza dough, stretching it out so it goes up the sides a little bit (cauliflower crusts work great too!). Brush it with oil, and when it starts to bubble, add your marinara sauce, cheese and other toppings. Then bake until golden brown and delicious!
You can — and should — use a cast-iron pan to make jam (here’s a quick and easy recipe). Just set the pan to medium heat, add the fruit, some sugar and a little lemon juice, and cook it down until it looks like the jam you know and love. The large surface area of the pan helps with the cooking time and will make it easier to mash up the fruit.
If you don’t yet know the glory of cast-iron mac and cheese, then let us enlighten you. When you top a batch with toasted breadcrumbs and place the whole thing in the oven, it gets bubbly, golden-brown, crusty around the edges… Well now we’re hungry. Here are 34 mac and cheese recipes, so you can start experimenting!
Shakshuka is a Middle Eastern breakfast dish of eggs baked in a spicy sauce (here’s a winning recipe for it), and because it starts on the stove and finishes in the oven, cast iron is perfect for it.
If you ever make a roast without also making a Yorkshire pudding, you’re missing out. The hot drippings mixed with a thin batter (usually a one-to-one mixture of eggs, flour and milk) make for a savory side dish (and a perfect vessel for sauce); some prefer to make them in individual servings, but we love the rustic appeal of one large, cast-iron pud.
Why use a pie pan for quiche when you can make it cast-iron style? Here’s some quiche inspiration.
You can (and should) make paella at home, even if you don’t have a traditional paella pan. Using a cast-iron pan, you’ll be able to get that crust of rice on the bottom (called soccarat) that paella lovers go crazy for. You really can use your cast-iron skillet to cook anything; here are 24 more great cast-iron dinner recipes.
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