Like the top-rated Lodge Logic 12-Inch Skillet (*Est. $20) , the Emerilware Cast Iron 12-Inch Skillet comes preseasoned. Unlike the Lodge Logic, the Emerilware pan hasn't received any detailed reviews from professionals, but users say it performs well and is very durable. It also has a lifetime warranty, something its competitor lacks. However, it's heavier than the Lodge pan and requires special maintenance.
Owners are delighted. They say the Emerilware Cast Iron Skillet works great for almost any kitchen task: frying fish, baking cornbread, searing steak and cooking eggs with minimal fat. Owners report that the heavy pan delivers steady, even heat and beautiful browning. Also, unlike many stainless-steel and nonstick pans, this skillet can be used over high heat without overcooking food. Because the skillet is pre-seasoned (coated with a layer of oil that's baked into the surface), most owners find that even on first use, it can cook food without sticking. One owner at Macys.com was "impressed" after cooking four eggs over easy with only a trace of fat in the pan with no sticking and no broken yolks. However, a couple of owners say that while the factory seasoning is "a helpful start," the pan's performance will improve if you continue to season it yourself, coating it with oil and baking it in a hot oven.
Size is both a plus and a minus. Owners appreciate that the cooking surface is large enough to cook a big meal, but they warn that this heavy pan is also "a workout for your wrist." However, the pan does have a helper handle, a feature that Kristin Donnelly of Food & Wine says makes a heavy skillet easier to lift. We also saw comments that the pan's main handle is comfortable to grasp -- though, as with any cast-iron pan, it will heat up during cooking. Owners also like that this pan can go from the stove to the oven, and one user at Cooking.com is pleased that its bottom is truly flat, for better heat transfer on a smoothtop range.
Users' main gripe, aside from weight, is that the pan requires extra maintenance to perform at its best. Though it's not difficult to clean, it must be hand washed and dried immediately and thoroughly. After towel drying, some users suggest placing the pan on a low burner for a few minutes to dry fully. It also needs to be coated with a drop of vegetable oil after each use to keep the surface well seasoned. With this treatment, one owner says, the skillet's nonstick properties will only improve over time.
Looks like it belongs in your grandparent's childhood kitchen. It's heavy and solid, with a glossy black finish and a hole in the handle for hanging. If you don't hang it, you'll need to sacrifice a big chunk of cabinet real estate to store it. With proper care, it should maintain its looks for decades; however, users who don't have the patience to treat the pan properly may experience problems with rust.
One solid piece of equipment. We saw several comments to the effect that users expect this skillet to "last forever" (or, as one user at Macys.com put it, "my daughter has her eye on it"). While we did see a couple of complaints about rust, these appear to be from users who haven't followed the manufacturer's care instructions. Another big advantage of the Emerilware pan is that it comes with a lifetime warranty.
1. Food & Wine Magazine
Review Credibility: Good Food & Wine editor Kristin Donnelly tests cast-iron, nonstick and stainless-steel skillets and makes three recommendations in each category. The Emerilware Cast Iron 12-Inch Skillet is one of her picks in the cast-iron category, but she doesn't explain why or how she tested each skillet. However, the article does discuss what to look for in a cast-iron skillet in general terms.
Review: Testing Skillets to Find the Best, Kristin Donnelly, November 2008
2. Cookie Magazine
Review Credibility: Good We found nearly 50 reviews here for the Emerilware Cast Iron 12-Inch Skillet. Users praise the pan's durability, even heating, sturdy construction and easy cleanup. On the downside, they warn that it is heavy and requires seasoning after each use to maintain its performance. Still, owners award the pan a rating of 4.5 stars out of 5 overall, and 97 percent say they would recommend it.
Review: 12-in. Cast Iron Fry Pan by Emeril from All-Clad, Contributors to Cooking.com, As of March 2013
Review Credibility: Good The Emerilware Cast Iron 12-Inch Skillet receives more than 40 reviews from owners at Macys.com. Overall, it earns 4.6 stars out of a possible 5, with 90 percent saying they would recommend it. Comments here are similar to those at Cooking.com: Owners praise the skillet's performance, even heating and variety of uses, but they are frustrated by its weight and the extra maintenance it requires.
Review: Emeril by All-Clad Cast Iron Skillet, 12", Contributors to Macys.com, As of March 2013