The Lodge L5HS3 5-Piece Pre-Seasoned Cast-Iron Cookware Set would be a great value no matter what, but the fact that Lodge cast iron is also one of the top-rated types of cookware by experts and owners makes it practically a steal. It get raves for how well it performs on the stovetop, in the oven, on the grill, in a smoker, or over an open flame.
Top quality in every cooking mode. Experts and owners say that Lodge cast-iron cookware performs flawlessly, with even heat distribution, the ability to go from stovetop to oven, and superior flavor imparted to food. Users love that it's so versatile -- it can be used in the kitchen or outdoors for grilling and camping -- and they say that Lodge cast-iron cooks equally well in any of those situations. The pre-seasoning is a huge hit; although you still have to continue seasoning, and the cookware doesn't reach its top performance until it's been used for a while. The drawback to cast iron is that it's slow to reach cooking temperatures and, until it does, the heat isn't always even, so you have to have a bit more patience. However, once cast iron finishes cooking, it retains heat longer than other types of cookware, a very popular thing with moms who have trouble getting everyone rounded up at dinnertime.
Requires a bit more care. Lodge cast-iron cookware can't be tossed in the dishwasher, you shouldn't use abrasives to clean it, and Lodge recommends you not even use soap. It should also be seasoned after each use with a bit of vegetable oil or other fat. There's also a learning curve with cooking with cast iron, just as there is with stainless steel, to figure out how much fat is ideal and to understand how to get the best results when searing, simmering and frying. The payoff for that care and education, reviewers say, is the most flavorful results from almost anything you can think of when cooking or baking. Also, while cast iron is not nonstick, a well-seasoned pan is stick resistant. We still recommend nonstick cookware for those tasks that turn out best with a very smooth coating, like frying eggs.
It will last longer than you. If you have a Last Will and Testament, go ahead and decide who you're leaving your Lodge cookware to, because it lasts virtually forever. We're not exaggerating here; there are dozens of forum discussions where people lovingly discuss the Lodge cast iron they inherited from their grandparents or great-grandparents. We saw a few complaints from users that parts of their pans feel rough, but Lodge explains that it's a result of the sand casting process and it will become smooth with use and seasoning. Lodge cast iron is made in the USA and comes with a limited lifetime warranty.
In this review, editors test 10 cast iron skillets, including Lodge brand, to see how well they perform as stovetop grills. Testing includes scrambling eggs, searing steaks and making a tomato-caper pan sauce, among other tasks. This was not a test of the entire set, but performance can be extrapolated from the results.
This very positive, very thorough review of the Lodge 12-inch cast iron pan gives excellent insight into how the Lodge line of cookware can be expected to perform. Editors give it 5 stars out of 5, and users are nearly as complimentary. Editors conclude this would be the one pan they would want if they were stranded on a desert island.
The Lodge 10-1/4-inch cast iron skillet is a favorite of Jessica Harlan, About.com's guide to cooking equipment. She has used it in a variety of cooking situations, including on the grill and says it works well for all. She notes that the pan is heavy and the handles get very hot.
Owners give this Lodge set an overall rating of 4.7 stars out of 5 in roughly 1,110 reviews, saying it cooks evenly and keeps food hot longer, which is great when dinner is delayed. It's also versatile, users note, going from kitchen, to grill or smoker, to campfire and back to the kitchen. The main complaints we saw are that cast iron is heavy and the pans are not nonstick.