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Take Your Cooking up a Notch with a Vintage Cast Iron Skillet

Whether you need to sear a steak, bake fluffy corn bread, or roast vegetables, an antique cast iron skillet is the tool for the job. For good reason, cast iron has been a go-to kitchen cookware for centuries. When choosing your next vintage cast iron skillet, keep the following in mind to find an affordable one on eBay that will suit your needs and preferences.

Why cook with cast iron?

Many chefs and home cooks believe cast iron is the ideal material for cooking almost anything. Cast iron has a few great properties that make it a durable and quality choice for a variety of dishes.

Cast iron maintains heat more effectively than other materials. Once the pan is hot, it will stay hot, making it a great tool for searing meat or deep frying anything. Cast iron also works great both on the stove top or in the oven.

Cast iron is much stronger than other cooking materials, such as aluminum or stainless steel. It's virtually indestructible, which is why vintage cast iron skillets are so common. Even if antique cast iron has been used incorrectly, it can easily be restored to its former glory.

New versus used cast iron skillet

For most kitchen cookware and appliances, it's better to buy new rather than used. However, cast iron is one of the few cooking materials that perform better with age.

As a cast iron pan is cooked in, it develops a natural layer called "seasoning," which allows the food to come off the pan more easily. Antique cast iron will likely have more seasoning built up, making the pan easier to cook with than new cast iron. If you buy a new cast iron pan, you will need to take the time to build up this layer of seasoning yourself.

Even if a vintage cast iron skillet comes with rust or other build-up, that can be easily removed while maintaining the nice seasoned coating. An old cast iron skillet is a resilient cooking surface.

What size cast iron skillet do you need?

Vintage cast iron comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. Most common are round cast iron pans, which are highly versatile. A round pan that is 1 or 2 inches deep can be great for frying or for baking up pies or casseroles. A 12-inch round pan is ideal to cook a meal to feed the whole family.

A more shallow or flat pan can be great for searing meats and roasting vegetables. Smaller pans are often used for desserts or side dishes. Once cooks experience the benefits of cast iron, they tend to go back for more. But if you'd like to get started with one pan, a basic 9-inch round cast iron can be used for a variety of dishes.