Ask any serious cook which pan they can't live without and chances are their cast-iron skillet will be the answer. There's a reason these trusty, (very) heavy-duty pans are passed down through generations: they hold heat well, they give a nice crust on the meat you're cooking and they can survive just about anything. It can take whatever heat you want to dish out – even on an open flame at your campfire. Plus, how many other things actually get better the more you use them? Every kitchen needs at least one cast-iron pan. But if you want to make your kitchen complete, here are the three you need to have.


Round skillet

The classic. The one grandpa used. The one your grandchildren will use. Its round shape benefits from the traditionally round shape of your stove's heat source, so your pan will evenly heat – and heat it will. It may take a little time to get properly hot, but once it does, that heat isn't going anywhere. Which means your steak will get the crust you want. For that one big steak or a couple of smaller ones, this pan is your go-to. Its deep sides work well for those times you want to pan-fry then make your sauce right in the skillet.


Square grill pan

A square-shaped cast-iron pan accommodates more food. If you're having guests this is the one you want, since you can throw several steaks in and call it a day. The key feature of this pan is its bottom: those ridges make great grill marks. When outdoor cooking isn't an option, this pan steps up in a big way to give you that straight-off-the-grill look.


Flat griddle skillet

Sometimes the things you're cooking up need frequent tossing and stirring. For those times, this is the pan you want. Its low profile lets you flip more easily. But its sides still offer just enough height to prevent any spills. Steaks work great in this pan – and so do eggs. That means a whole lot of steak and egg breakfasts. You can also fry potatoes to go with your steak or make a quick steak quesadilla in there. And when you've got to flip those flapjacks, pancakes in this pan are a breeze.


Three pans and a world of uses. You've always ruled your kitchen. Now you're doing it with a cast-iron fist.

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