10 Knockout Cast-Iron Skillet Recipes

We tend to store our heirlooms behind glass in a china cabinet or in the shadows of a jewelry box, using them only on special occasions. Not so with cast iron, which belongs next to the tea kettle on the back of the stove. Smart cooks know the more they use cast iron—and the more love they feed it in the form of bacon fat—the better it functions. Cook with your skillet often enough and you’ll come to understand that cast iron has an old soul.

If the adage is true that every recipe tells a story, then every old cast-iron skillet is a well-seasoned memoir. Every time we light the stove and swirl fat into a hot iron pan to make cornbread, we turn another page. Listen to its dialogue: the business-like clank against the stove, the hard sizzle-sear of steak, the soothing dull scrape of a wooden spoon dragged through gravy. Pick up a 12-inch skillet; its encyclopedic heft demands two hands and your attention.

Cast-Iron Cowboy Steak
This is the best way to cook a thick, juicy bone-in steak restaurant-style without smoking up the house. The skillet surface area promotes a more assertive flavor and better sear than grill grates, yielding a steak with the proper steak house crust.

Ingredients
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (1 1/2- to 2-lb.) bone-in rib-eye or porterhouse steak (about 2 inches thick)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil 
3 tablespoons butter 
8 fresh herb sprigs (such as thyme, rosemary, and oregano)
3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

Preparation
1. Preheat grill to 400° to 450° (high) heat. Heat a 12-inch cast-iron skillet on grill, covered with grill lid, 15 minutes. Sprinkle salt and pepper generously over steak.
2. Add oil to skillet. (Oil should smoke.) Using tongs, place steak in skillet, and cook on grill, without grill lid, 10 minutes or until dark brown and crusty. Turn steak on fatty edge in skillet, holding upright with tongs, and cook 2 minutes. Place steak, uncooked side down, in skillet. Cook on grill, covered with grill lid, 8 to 10 minutes or to desired degree of doneness. (We recommend an internal temperature of 120° to 125° for medium-rare; temperature will rise as steak rests.)

3. Add butter, herbs, and garlic to side of skillet, and cook 2 to 3 minutes or until butter foams. Tilt skillet slightly, and spoon butter mixture over steak 20 times (being careful not to splatter). Transfer steak, herbs, and garlic to a platter; let stand for 5 to 10 minutes. Slice against the grain.

See More: Cast Iron Skillet Recipes

Chicken-and-Wild Rice Skillet Casserole
This rustic one-pot meal, a company’s-coming riff on the old-school chicken-and-rice number, is held together by a tangy gravy flavored with country ham and mushrooms. Nutty wild rice helps sop up all the good chicken gravy.

Ingredients
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 (6-oz.) container uncooked wild rice
3 tablespoons butter 
1/3 cup all-purpose flour 
1 cup milk 
2 1/2 cups chicken broth 
1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1/2 cup finely chopped country ham or bacon
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided 
1 cup chopped yellow onion 
1 large carrot, finely chopped 
8 ounces assorted fresh mushrooms, chopped 
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons dry sherry or white wine
4 skinned and boned chicken breasts (about 1 1/4 lb.) 
Garnishes: fresh flat-leaf parsley, sliced almonds

Preparation

1. Bring 1/2 tsp. kosher salt and 1 qt. water to a boil in a 3-qt. saucepan over high heat. Stir in rice, and return to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; cover and cook 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, melt butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat; whisk in flour until smooth. Cook, whisking constantly, 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk and next 2 ingredients. Increase heat to medium, and cook, whisking constantly, 3 to 4 minutes or until mixture is thickened and bubbly. Stir in 1/4 tsp. each kosher salt and black pepper.
3. Cook ham in 1 Tbsp. hot oil in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, 6 minutes or until beginning to brown. Stir in onion and next 2 ingredients. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes or until onions are tender. Stir in garlic, and cook 1 minute. Add sherry, and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute or until sherry is evaporated. Remove mixture from skillet.
4. Preheat oven to 375°. Sprinkle chicken with remaining 1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper. Add remaining 1 Tbsp. oil to skillet. Cook chicken in hot oil over medium-high heat 4 minutes on each side or until brown. Remove skillet from heat; transfer chicken to a plate.
5. Drain rice. Stir together rice, ham mixture, and sauce in skillet. Place chicken on top of rice mixture.
6. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes or until mixture is bubbly and chicken is done. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

See More: Best Comfort Food Classics

Top-Shelf Chicken Under a Brick
The “top-shelf” in this recipe speaks to the crispy skin, superior flavor, and juiciness of the bird. It also refers to a novel new technique: cooking potatoes in the heavy cast-iron skillet that’s used as a weight on the chicken. The weight presses the chicken flat against the grill grates, cutting the cooking time in half. Plus you’ll be cooking your side dish at the same time.

Ingredients
1 pound small red or Yukon gold potatoes, halved
3 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 (3- to 4-lb.) whole chicken 
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided 
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
12 fresh herb sprigs (such as thyme, rosemary, sage, or tarragon)
2 lemons, halved 

Preparation
1. Bring potatoes, 1 tsp. salt, and water to cover to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer 5 to 7 minutes or until potatoes are just tender. Drain.
2. Heat 1 side of grill to 300° to 350° (medium) heat; leave other side unlit. Remove and discard giblets and neck from chicken. Place chicken, breast side down, on a cutting board. Cut chicken, using kitchen shears, along both sides of backbone, separating backbone from chicken; discard backbone. Open chicken as you would a book. Turn chicken, breast side up, and press firmly against breastbone with the heel of your hand until bone cracks. Tuck wing tips under. Rub with 1 Tbsp. oil. Sprinkle chicken with black pepper and remaining 2 tsp. salt
3. Heat a 12-inch cast-iron skillet on lit side of grill 10 minutes. Add remaining 1 Tbsp. oil to hot skillet; place potatoes, cut side down, in skillet. Transfer skillet to unlit side of grill.
4. Place chicken, breast side down, over lit side of grill; top with herbs. Place cast-iron skillet with potatoes on chicken to flatten. Grill, covered with grill lid, 10 to 15 minutes or until chicken is browned. Remove skillet. Transfer chicken to unlit side of grill. Place cast-iron skillet on chicken. Grill, covered with grill lid, 45 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted in thickest portion of breast registers 165°. Remove chicken from grill, and let stand 5 minutes. (For crisper skin, place chicken on lit side of grill, and grill, without grill lid, 5 minutes or until crisp.)
5. Meanwhile, place lemons, cut side down, on lit side of grill, and grill, covered with grill lid, about 5 minutes or until charred and softened. Serve chicken with potatoes and charred lemon.

See More: Quick-Fix Comforting Casseroles

Apple-Cinnamon Dutch Baby
Straight from the oven, this puffy, airy pancake will elicit major oohs and aahs from your crowd. Be sure to use low-fat or fat-free milk—the pancake will puff higher. Like a soufflé, it will begin to deflate as soon as it leaves the oven, though that won’t affect the flavor.

Ingredients
1 large Gala apple, peeled and sliced
1 tablespoon granulated sugar 
3 tablespoons butter, divided 
2 large eggs 
1/2 cup fat-free or low-fat milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour, sifted 
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
1/4 teaspoon table salt 
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup sour cream 
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 to 4 Tbsp. apple cider or orange juice
Garnish: powdered sugar

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 450°. Heat a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat 5 minutes. Toss together apple slices and sugar in a small bowl. Melt 1 Tbsp. butter in skillet. Add apples, and sauté 3 to 5 minutes or until tender. Remove apples from skillet, and wipe skillet clean.
2. Whisk together eggs and milk in a medium bowl. Whisk in flour and next 3 ingredients. Melt remaining 2 Tbsp. butter in skillet over medium-high heat. Immediately pour egg mixture into hot skillet, and top with cooked apples.
3. Bake at 450° for about 20 minutes or until pancake is golden and puffed.
4. Meanwhile, stir together sour cream and brown sugar in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at HIGH 45 seconds. Whisk until sugar dissolves. Stir in apple cider, 1 Tbsp. at a time, until desired consistency is reached. Serve with hot pancake.

See More: 31 Quick-Fix Ground Beef Recipes

Braised White Turnips
We based this recipe on one from Atlanta chef Linton Hopkins found in the book Lodge Cast Iron Nation. Use small Japanese turnips from farmers’ markets, or peel and cut larger turnips into 1- to 2-inch cubes.

 Ingredients
15 small white turnips
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon butter

Preparation
Heat a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat 5 minutes. Trim turnips, and cut in half lengthwise. Melt 2 Tbsp. butter in skillet. Place turnips, cut side down, in a single layer in skillet. Cook, without turning, 4 minutes or until golden brown. Pour vinegar over turnips; add water to depth of 1/4 inch. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Bring to a boil; cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer 5 minutes or until crisp-tender. Increase heat to medium-high; uncover and return to a boil. Boil 4 minutes or until liquid is almost evaporated. Cook, turning occasionally, 8 more minutes or until liquid has evaporated. Stir in honey and 1 Tbsp. butter.on.

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Cast-Iron Blistered Brussel Sprouts
This is the absolute best way to cook Brussels sprouts. High heat searing caramelizes the outside and yields perfect crisp-tender texture inside. Use a 12-inch cast-iron pan, or work in two batches.

 Ingredients
1 pound fresh Brussels sprouts
3 tablespoons canola oil 
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon honey 
1 tablespoon hot water
1 tablespoon minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper $
1/2 cup torn fresh mint leaves

Preparation
Heat a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat 5 minutes. Trim Brussels sprouts, and cut in half lengthwise. Add canola oil to skillet, and tilt skillet to evenly coat bottom. Place Brussels sprouts, cut side down, in a single layer in skillet. Cook, without stirring, 4 minutes or until browned. Sprinkle with kosher salt; stir and cook 2 more minutes. Stir together honey and hot water. Stir minced garlic, soy sauce, dried crushed red pepper, and honey mixture into Brussels sprouts. Stir in mint leaves, and serve immediately.

See More: 24 Casual Chicken Casseroles

Charred Peppers with Feta Dipping Sauce
Look for a colorful assortment of baby sweet peppers in the produce section of your local grocer. Hold them by the stems while dipping.

 Ingredients
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese 
1/4 cup Greek yogurt 
1 green onion, minced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste 
1 (8-oz.) package assorted mini sweet peppers
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil 
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 

Preparation
Heat a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat 5 minutes. Whisk together feta cheese, yogurt, minced green onion, mint, 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice, and 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil in a small bowl. Stir in salt and pepper to taste. Let stand at room temperature until ready to use. Toss mini sweet peppers with 1 Tbsp. oil; sprinkle with desired amount of salt. Cook peppers in hot skillet over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, 8 minutes or until charred and slightly wilted. Transfer peppers to a plate; drizzle with 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice. Serve with feta mixture.

See More: 100 Ways to Cook Southern

Smoked Trout Apple Hash
Equally at home on your stove or over a campfire, this fragrant skillet breakfast pulls double duty for dinner with a green salad. Try substituting sweet potatoes for russets and your favorite tart apple for Granny Smith. Other smoked fish like bluefish or whitefish also work well here. If using thinly sliced smoked salmon, cut into pieces and drape over hash just before serving.

Ingredients
1 cup sour cream 
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish 
4 tablespoons butter 
2 medium-size unpeeled russet potatoes, boiled, cooled, and diced
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped 
1 Granny Smith apple, diced 
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of ground red pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 (4-oz.) smoked trout fillet, flaked into 1/2-inch pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh dill weed
1 teaspoon thinly sliced fresh chives
Lemon wedges 

Preparation

1. Heat a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat 5 minutes. Stir together sour cream and horseradish in a small bowl, and chill until ready to use.
2. Melt butter in skillet over medium-high heat; add potatoes, and cook, turning occasionally, about 10 minutes or until potatoes begin to brown and crisp. Add onions and apples, and cook, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes or until onions are tender and apples are golden.
3. Add salt and pepper to taste; add ground red pepper. Stir in cream. Cook, without stirring, about 5 minutes or until potatoes are deep golden. Using a metal spatula, gently lift and turn hash. Cook 5 minutes; gently stir in trout and herbs. Remove from heat, and squeeze lemon wedges over hash. Serve immediately with sour cream sauce.

Crispy Sweet Potato-Green Onion Cakes
Serve these savory little numbers with a dollop of sour cream and a squeeze of lime as a crunchy appetizer or a dish to accompany roasted or grilled meats or fish.

Ingredients
4 medium-size sweet potatoes (about 2 1/4 lb.)
2 eggs, lightly beaten 
1/2 cup flour 
2 red jalapeño peppers, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions, divided
1/4 cup canola oil 
Lime wedges 

Preparation 
1. Pierce 1 sweet potato several times with a fork. Place on a microwave-safe plate; cover with damp paper towels. Microwave at HIGH 8 to 10 minutes or until tender. Let stand 5 minutes. Peel potato, and place in a medium bowl; mash with a fork. Peel remaining sweet potatoes, and grate, using the large holes of a box grater. Stir grated potatoes into mashed potato. Gently stir in eggs, next 3 ingredients, and 1/4 cup green onions just until combined.
2. Pour oil into a 12-inch cast-iron skillet, and heat over medium heat to 350°. Carefully drop mixture by tablespoonfuls, in batches, into hot oil, pressing lightly to flatten. Cook 5 to 6 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Place drained sweet potato cakes on a wire rack over an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Keep warm in a 200° oven up to 30 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup green onions just before serving. Serve with lime wedges.

Cast-Iron Salsa
Turn your skillet into a Mexican comal, aka griddle, by slowly charring onions, garlic, and peppers in a dry skillet. We like to use this traditional dry char technique because it coaxes sweet, earthy flavors from the vegetables and gives them just a hint of smokiness.

Ingredients
3 plum tomatoes, halved 
3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 red or green jalapeño pepper, halved
1 medium-size white onion, cut into 16 wedges
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice 
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves 

Preparation 
1. Heat a 12-inch cast-iron skillet or griddle over medium heat 5 minutes. Place tomatoes, cut side down, in skillet, spacing evenly; add garlic and jalapeño pepper. Cook, turning occasionally, about 6 minutes or until slightly charred and softened. Transfer tomatoes and jalapeño pepper to a blender or food processor. Peel garlic, and place in blender. Add onion wedges to skillet, and cook 5 to 6 minutes or until slightly charred and softened. Transfer onions to blender.
2. Process vegetables 30 to 40 seconds or to desired consistency. Add lime juice and salt to blender, and process until combined. Cool completely (about 10 minutes). Stir in cilantro. Serve at room temperature, or refrigerate in an airtight container up to 3 days.