Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about kitchen equipment. This is based on some emails I’ve been getting asking for recommendations on cookware and also on my huge influx of quality kitchen gear I’ve received via wedding presents.

Over the years I’ve amassed a pretty fair collection of pots, pans, gizmos, and gadgets and to be completely honest, I use almost all of them fairly regularly. But there’s one piece of kitchen equipment that I use more than any other.

It’s one of the very first things I recommend people spend their hard earned money on if they’re trying to get a kitchen started.

The piece of equipment, of course, is a cast iron skillet.

10 Reasons to Own a Cast Iron Skillet

1) Made of Iron. This thing is sturdy. You can drop it and it won’t be damaged. You don’t have to worry about scratching it or discoloring it (it’s black already you see). It’s possible that it can rust, but you can easily clean it. Cast iron skillets will take any and all abuse and still last forever. In fact, your skillet will probably outlast even you.

2) It Can Take The Heat. Most cookware comes with heat warnings. Even most stainless steel cookware isn’t supposed to go over 450/500 degrees in an oven. Cast iron? I mean… yea… eventually it’ll melt. But seriously you can cook on an open campfire with this thing. Try that with a nonstick pan. Oh wait. Don’t. I don’t want any lawsuits.

3) It’s Nonstick. Speaking of nonstick, cast iron skillets are nonstick if you season them correctly. Season your skillet by wiping it down with a thin layer of canola oil and then baking it in a 250 degree oven for about 90 minutes. Let it cool and wipe it down and this will be as good as any nonstick pan out there. Go ahead. Try a fried egg on it.

4) It’s a Grill. For us city folk, having a yard is not always an option. But because you can get a cast iron skillet really hot, it can effectively be used as a grill. For example, I cooked this steak in my cast iron and it was just as good as if it’d been cooked on a grill. Perfectly medium rare with a really nice crust.

5) It’s Economical. I think some people are actually turned off by cast iron because they think it’s cheap as in low quality. But the reality is that they just happen to be cheap to make which makes them economical, but not cheap. If you pay more than $40 for one, you are getting super-screwed. Not to mention that a lot of people sell perfectly good cast iron skillets at yard sales just because they don’t know how to season them.

6) It’s Versatile. You can make hundreds of completely delicious things in this one pan. For starters, you can make the best biscuits and gravy. You can make really good french toast. You can brown chicken in it for a salad. I’d guess I’ve easily used it for a few dozen recipes on Macheesmo.

7) Save on Soap. Once your skillet is seasoned, it actually hurts it to wash it with soap. The soap will break up the tiny oil molecules that are embedded on the pan and make it not-so-nonstick. It’s also possible that the next thing you cook it will have a slightly soapy taste to it! So save on the soap. If you need to scrub your cast iron pan, use salt!

8) It’s Vitamin Rich. This is a stretch, but since it’s made out of iron, a little bit of mineral iron does get transferred over during cooking.

9) Heat Distribution. This is maybe one of the most important reasons you should own one of these guys. People spends thousands on pots that evenly distribute heat. A cook’s nightmare is a pan with a really bad hot spot on it so half of your food is burned and the other half raw. Cast iron does such an amazing job of evenly distributing heat that you’ll never have this problem.

10) It’s Sexy. Call me crazy but I find these things kinda hot. There’s something rustic about them. Like a guy with a great beard. When you see someone working with a big heavy pan, it’s a turn on. Or at least… that’s what I tell myself.

Get one today! If you don’t have one of these guys yet, I recommend the 15 inch cast iron skillet available on amazon for just $35.

If you already have a cast iron skillet, leave a comment! What’s your favorite thing to cook in it? If you have a blog, leave a link to your best cast iron dish!