The Lodge Chef Collection 12 Inch Skillet delivered evenly browned steaks, crisp golden cornbread, and sunny-side-up eggs that slipped right out of the pan. At 6½ pounds versus the 8½ pounds of the classic Lodge, it’s more manageable to maneuver than traditional cast iron, and the slightly lower, gently sloped sides make stirring foods and maneuvering a spatula easier. Just note that since it’s shallower than the classic Lodge, this skillet is not as good for deep-frying—if that’s something you do often, go for the original design instead. Although it’s priced a little higher than the classic Lodge, the Chef Collection skillet is still affordable and is also made in the USA.
If you want to deep-fry and don’t mind doing a little heavy lifting, we think the Lodge Pre-Seasoned 12-inch Cast Iron Skillet is an excellent choice. It seared steak, fried eggs, and released cornbread well in our tests. And though it weighs about 2 pounds more than the brand’s Chef Collection skillet and has a shorter (though still comfortable) handle, it’s about a quarter inch deeper, which makes it better for frying chicken or preparing shallow braises. It’s also a little less expensive than the Chef Collection skillet.