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By Tonya Jaggars

Iron skillets are a must in cooking

How many times have you attempted to make your grandmother's cornbread only to fail miserably? One little-known secret to making the best cornbread, and many other dishes, is using a well-seasoned iron skillet.

Growing up in the south, many people remember seeing their grandmother bring out the iron skillet in cooking. Little did they know, this iron skillet was well-seasoned and ready for the job.

Even cooking

Once you have thrown together all of the ingredients for your grandmother's cornbread recipe, you are ready to proceed in baking the perfect golden crust of deliciousness. An iron skillet heats evenly from the bottom to the sides. This allows the bread to receive a beautiful brown crust. A huge word of caution – along with the skillet heating evenly, so does the handle. The handle allows you to move the skillet, so always remember to use a nice, thick pot holder to move it.

Higher heat resistance

Cooks can use iron skillets to fry, boil, grill, bake and broil. In addition to using the iron skillet on a traditional cook stove, the same skillet can be used over an open flame when you go camping or want to cook vegetables on the grill. Since the skillet heats evenly, there are no hot spots to overcook your food.


Iron skillets are relatively inexpensive. On, you can purchase a nice 3-piece set for under $35. With proper care, these skillets will last a lifetime. Once seasoned properly, you will have the perfect, heavy-duty skillet ready for use.

Seasoning the skillet

This is the easy part! Once you have decided on the perfect size for your collection, evenly coat the bottom and sides with oil, and place the skillet in a 250 degree oven for 90 minutes.

How to care for the skillet

It is also important to never place the skillet in soapy water. The soap can break down the protective barrier on the skillet, which will allow rust to pit the skillet.The best form of clean-up is to wipe out the inside of the ironskillet to the best of your ability with a paper towel or dry cloth, and then use a scouring pad to get the remaining residue out.

For those extra-hard particles, put a little salt on the particles, allow the salt to sit for a few minutes, then with a scouring pad scrub it clean. Once you have the surface wiped out, it is recommended to give the skilleta good rubdown with oil. The seasoning process is the most important step in the care of the iron skillet. The more the iron skillet is used, the smoother the inside surface will become, eventually having a non-stick surface, much like the expensive, chemically treated non-stick pans.

New vs. old

Before using, a new iron skillet must go through the seasoning process. This is important because the oil forms a barrier on the bottom and sides of the skillet. The more the skillet is used, and properly cared for, the smoother the barrier becomes. Older iron skillets will showcase a smooth non-stick surface.


An iron skillet can last for years. It is not uncommon for a person to be handed down an iron skillet or go to a flea market and see an array of "old" iron skillets for sale. Some people even collect the skillets as they are old and hold a nice value.

Regardless of your cooking nature, having an iron skillet on hand can prove to be an indispensable tool. Like with any cookware, it is important to take the time to read up on how to maintain and store it. Once you use the iron skillet, you may see that a meal should not be prepared without using your new, favorite cooking vessel.

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