After years of swearing by my stainless steel cookware, I finally caved and got a Lodge cast iron skillet. The short of it is I was regularly frustrated that I couldn’t sear dishes to perfection: nothing holds heat like a thick cast iron pan. And I absolutely love mine. It’s my newest delicious food producing toy. But like all of my lovely toys, caring for it is as important as selecting the best one. Besides seasoning my pan, the other consideration is using the best utensils for my new favorite cast iron cookware.
Obviously, it’s important that the utensils enhance my ability to sear a New York strip steak to perfection. I got cast iron for its heat retention, but another great feature is its durability. In fact, stainless steel utensils can be great because it will actually smooth out the natural roughness of a cast iron pan over time.
Two things to keep in mind about the pan as we look at possible utensils. First, cast iron tends to get hot and stay hot, and that can melt some plastic utensils, so I’m going to stay away from plastic altogether. Silicon has a higher melting point, but you need to be careful. Silicone is usually good up to around 450°F, which is easy to go above. Remember to use an infrared thermometer if you are thinking of using silicone utensils… or you might start eating some of it. Secondly, our cast iron pan is seasoned, so I usually scrape off the patina with stainless steel utensils. It doesn’t bother me: when that happens, I just need to season the pan again before my next use.
Keeping that in mind here is what we’re looking for:
- Material: Something that is about as hard, that will not break easily, that has a little flex to it. Hardened stainless steel is a good choice because it’s harder than plain stainless steel. Sturdy wood is another good choice for spatulas and spoons. And we like wood because it won’t damage the pan’s patina.
- Design: I like beveled edges for my utensils. Obviously, it helps me get it under food easily. And this is especially useful with turners and spatulas.
- Functionality: Longer handles are great because I want my hands further away from my hot cast iron pan. After all, that’s why I got cast iron; to heat it up scorching hot temperatures.
- Durability: I prefer purchasing kitchen equipment that, with the right care, will outlast me. Broken handles can really wreck my dish, and my mood.
That said, here’s our round up:
Spatulas, Turners, and wooden spurtles
If you don’t already have a fish turner, you need to consider getting one, especially if you cook anything delicate like fish. This flexible and thin turner will slide right under the fish, so you can turn the whole piece of fish in one shot. No more broken up salmon fillets. And I use it to flip my eggs too. The Dexter-Russell Walnut Slotted Fish Turner is excellent because it does this job well and it’s very durable. It’s made in the USA with a high quality wooden handle that is designed to last a lifetime or two. It’s made of a proprietary steel blend they call “DEXSTEEL”, and it comes with a limited lifetime warranty. I love manufacturers that stand behind their product.
This badass spatula is made from thick gauge 420 stainless steel. That means it is corrosion resistant like 410 stainless steel, but the 420 boasts added strength and hardness. Plus it’s magnetic, so it will stick to that magnetic knife strip too. It has a traditional durable wooden handle. This is not a flexible spatula, its designed to smash burgers and scrape pans. I should also note the fantastic people at Männkitchen claim their spatula will smooth a cast iron pan after years of use, and they are right, because the stainless steel is harder than what most of the competition uses.
Earlier, I mentioned wood utensils are great for cast iron because they won’t scrape off the patina. Here is the DIHRUUO Teak Wooden Utensils Five Piece Set. It is made of teak, as the name implies, which is superior to bamboo and acacia because it is easier to care for and will last you longer. I also found this set came odor free, which is obviously a requirement of anything I use to prepare my food. It comes with four spurtles and one slotted spatula.
This heavy duty spatula is the ideal turner for cast iron pans and cookware, and let me tell you why. First point is the cool handle. I mean that literally. The handle is heat resistant, so it will stay cool even when cooking on your super hot pan, up to 450°F. The business end of this spatula is made of a beveled 8″ x 3″ piece of textured stainless steel, so you’ll get some flexibility and some rigidity, along with a little grip. It’s made in Taiwan and comes with a Limited Lifetime Warranty (25 years for corporate purchases).
Sometimes I feel like tongs with more grip and sometimes I need tongs that I can apply more pressure with. Enter the scallop and scissor tong set from Hinmay. Simple and affordable. I like to recommend reliable equipment, and this is no exception. Hinmay uses 18/8 stainless steel combined with high temp silicone, which is perfect for our needs. That means the scalloped tongs are rigid, but they won’t scratch the patina off of my cast iron cookware. The silicone tips of the scalloped tongs are safe up to over 480°F, and the scissor tongs are safe up to a scorching 1112°F. Perfect for the kitchen and over the open flame for the grill masters. I’m okay with silicone tips on my tongs because I keep them away from the pan itself, and I just handle the food with them. But when in doubt or after a couple glasses of wine, I use the stainless steel tipped scissor tongs.
As a friend of mine told me, tweezers technically aren’t tongs. But these huge 12 inch stainless steel tweezers blur the boundary. They are perfect for maneuvering some of the smaller more delicate items where your average tongs are just too clumsy. The tweezers have grooved tips for better grip on the food, and they give you the ability to turn small delicate pieces of food. Think: thinly sliced meats like bacon or beef, small, thin veggies like asparagus or slices of them, each turned individually, perfectly. Yes. Perfection. These are also great for getting ingredients out of long thin jars, or even stirring things up quickly. It comes as a set of two, each with a different tip.
If you like value, like I do, then this set is what you’re looking for. This spatula set from Anmarko bundles three high quality utensils together so you can stop looking around for each part. Included is a pancake flipper, hamburger turner, and a griddle scraper. Beveled edges for the spatula and turner? Check. Rigid stainless steel? Check. Wooden handle securely fastened? Check. Just remember these nice wood handles make the whole set a hand wash only affair.
Are you looking to impress with a gorgeous set of kitchen utensils? Then look no further. This set is each a single piece stainless steel construction of pure elegance. They are not spot welded together, or put together with screws (yikes!), like a lot of other companies. Millvado makes this stunning six piece set of utensils, and I love them. This set is super high quality for a great value. It comes with two turners, one solid the other slotted, two spoons, one solid and one slotted, and they round out the set with a ladle and potato masher. Completely dishwasher safe. My only gripe is that the turners are not beveled, but they work just fine in most situations.
If you’re looking for everything in one massive set, then check out the 11 piece metal set of utensils by Maphyton. It comes with everything you need to get cooking right away. Plus, eyelets on the handles make these easy to hang in the kitchen for quick access while cooking. Everything except the spatula and tongs are completely stainless steel. They are all dishwasher safe. This also makes a thoughtful gift for anyone moving out on their own for the first time, like newlyweds and college students.