“What’s the first kitchen thing I should buy if I want to be a better cook?”

I get some form of that question pretty much every week. Besides a decent chef knife, I always answer that every home cook should have a simple cast iron skillet.

For their cost ($30-$40), you can get a skillet that will last decades if you take care of it. They are naturally nonstick and can be used on the stovetop and in the oven. What’s not to love?

Before you even think about purchasing that $200 aluminum pot, make sure your cast iron skillet game is on point.

Need more reasons? Here are some of my favorite recipes to make in my cast iron skillet!

Be sure to check out the end of this post for my recommendation on finding (or buying) a great cast iron skillet!

#1 Master Mac and Cheese

Cast Iron Skillet Recipes - mac and cheese

Making macaroni and cheese in a cast iron skillet is amazing because the skillet retains heat nicely and creates beautiful crusty edges around the outsides of the dish. You could bake almost any version of mac and cheese in a skillet, but here’s my favorite cast iron mac and cheese.

#2 Wow With a Dutch Baby

Cast Iron Skillet Recipes - Dutch Baby

Making a perfect dutch baby (like this fresh peach dutch baby) pretty much requires a cast iron skillet. You can get it nice and hot and then when you pour in the batter the pancake puffs up beautifully. It’s the kind of thing that you’ll pay $14 for at a brunch spot, but you can make it at home for cents.

#3 Hash It Out

Cast Iron Skillet Recipes - Hash

Don’t get me started on hashes! If I had to pick one breakfast dish for the rest of my life, it just might be a good hash like this Brussels Sprouts hash. The awesome thing about cooking it in a cast iron skillet is that the skillet distributes heat evenly. Assuming your skillet is nicely seasoned, you can make some room in the center and cook the eggs right in the skillet!

#4 Make Sports Watching Even Better

Cast Iron Skillet Recipes - Dip

Everybody loves a lazy weekend watching sports, but what really makes days like that great is having a good tailgating dip to snack on. I’m not sure it gets much better than this Buffalo chicken skillet dip. Key word there: SKILLET.

#5 Find Your Frittata

Cast Iron Skillet Recipes - Frittata

Making a great frittata is easy with a cast iron skillet. You can cook the veggies or meat in the skillet and then transfer it straight to the oven. Doesn’t get easier than that. For my money, I’ll take this awesome English Breakfast Frittata any day.

#6 Make Legit Cornbread

Cast Iron Skillet Recipe - Corn bread

Anybody from the South will tell you that there are a few tricks to a good cornbread, but one is most definitely the pan you cook it in. It needs to be sturdy and retain heat well. Sounds like a cast iron skillet to me! First on the list? Sweet corn cornbread!

#7 Bring Home Fries Home

Cast Iron Skillet Recipes - Home Fries

It’s ironic to me that “home” fries are almost ordered at diners across the US. Let’s change that. This home fries version is very simple with just potatoes and a spice mix. Cooking them slowly in a skillet produces tender home fries with crispy edges and great flavor. As good as any diner home fries you’ll find.

#8 Ace Tex-Mex Skillets

Cast Iron Skillet REcipes - SKillet

A lot of Tex-mex dishes are great in cast iron because you can keep the temperature low for gentle cooking or crank it up to get crispy edges on things. I like this Mexican Tex-Mex chicken skillet which is basically a fast single dish dinner. Dig in!

#9 Make My Fave Fritters

Cast Iron Homemade Apple Fritters: Soft homemade donut dough folded with apples and spices and fried in a cast iron skillet for a crispy exterior crust. Comfort food at its best. | macheesmo.com

These homemade cast iron apple fritters are a true labor of love and something really special. No deep fryer needed to make delicious fritters!

#10 More Cornbread!

Bacon Cornbread

This bacon cornbread might be my favorite non-traditional cornbread and you absolutely need a cast iron skillet for it to be the best it can be.

#11 Make a GIANT Cinnamon Roll

Giant Sweet Potato Cinnamon Roll

When it comes to cast iron skillet recipes, I dream of this giant sweet potato cinnamon roll. It is a complete show-stopper of a dessert and easiest to make in a cast iron skillet!

#12 Delicious Chicken Tenders

Buttermilk Chicken Tenders

Shallow frying fried chicken is always a good bet with cast iron. It retains heat really well so you end up with consistently delicious fried chicken. These buttermilk chicken tenders are a family favorite!

If you somehow need more reasons, here are 10 MORE reasons that you need a cast iron skillet (less recipes, more rants).

Finding Your Skillet

If I were on the hunt for a cast iron skillet, I’d do two things!

First, I’d look around at garage sales and yard sales. Because these things last so long, you can frequently find really nice ones for a few bucks. If you are willing to spend a morning cleaning and seasoning the skillet, it’ll be good as new and ready to cook with!

Second, just buy one that’s pre-seasoned! My favorite skillet is a simple Lodge 12 inch cast iron skillet. It’s not fancy, but it comes ready to go and lasts forever. I’ve had one going on 10 years!

What Did I Miss?

Have a favorite cast iron skillet recipe? Leave a comment with a link!

Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase a cast iron skillet using the links, you help support Macheesmo so thanks in advance!

Eight Reasons You Need a Cast Iron Skillet! Besides the fact that you can use it for defense, here are eight reasons (and recipes) for why you need a cast iron skillet (or more than one) in your life! | macheesmo.com