What size cast iron skillet should I buy? What is the best skillet size for camping or the kitchen.

by | Oct 13, 2022 | campfire, cast iron | 0 comments

What size cast iron skillet should I buy and use?

When looking to buy a cast iron skillet there are a few things to consider. In my opinion, the two most important factors are, what you want to cook and how many people you are cooking for.

Knowing what you are cooking and who you are cooking for will inform you of the size of the skillet you will want to use. If you are cooking just for yourself, then the smallest is best. Somewhere between 5-6 inches, but if you are cooking for a family or group of people. You will want to consider something more significant, from 8 to 19 inches.

What is the skillet for?

If you find yourself always cooking one or two eggs for an egg sandwich, then getting yourself a smaller 6-inch skillet is probably best. Ask yourself what you will be cooking. Pancakes? Cornbread? Chicken breasts?

The cast iron skillet is great for cooking over a fire. It gets to a good heat quickly and is easy to use on any cooking surface.

Home or Camping?

There are also different options in weight to consider that will affect how quickly the skillet will get hot and for how long it will retain its heat. A smaller, lighter pan will get to heat quicker and be easier to carry around if you are doing lots of cooking while camping

best size campfire skillet

A larger pan is great for cooking in the home as you can cook more for your guests and family. One thing to consider is the weight of the skillet. The larger they get then the

Understanding skillet sizing numbers

You will notice that many old and even newer skillets will have numbers cast into them. This is not actually the size of the pan in inches but a way for the manufacturer to identify each skillet within their line. There is no real standardization. Every manufacturer has different sizing. 

The printed sizes rarely equate to the actual size of the rim-to-rim or even the internal heat ring. 

A rule of thumb is that the size of the pan is usually 2 inches bigger than the number. Measure the skillet from the outside rim to the rim.

What are the sizes available

best cast iron skillet size

5/6-inch skillet – Often referred to as the number 3.

Great for cooking one egg or a couple of sausages. Light due to size and fits easily into a backpack or your outside cooking kit. 

8-inch skillet – Often referred to as the number 5

Perfect for cooking an omelette and meals for two. If you often cook for two, this is a perfect size to start with.

10-inch skillet- Often referred to as the number 8

Three eggs, omelette, cornbread and cooking for a small family.

12-inch skillet – Often referred to as the number 10

Perfect for cooking those large items such as a Tortilla Espanola. These skillets start to get heavy and harder to manage with one hand.

14-inch skillet- Often referred to as the number 12

You can easily cook for 4+ people with this pan. You could probably cook about 6-7 eggs in this pan.

16-inch skillet – Often referred to as the number 14

Very heavy and difficult to manage but maintains heat for a long time and can cook 10+ eggs.

What is the most common skillet size?

The most commonly available pan is probably the 10-inch. You can get these as no-name items cheaply from amazon or eBay or you can get brand-name cast iron skillets in almost every size imaginable.

What are good skillet brands?

The cast iron brand most visible these days is Lodge Cast Iron. They have been producing cast iron cookware since 1896 in their factory in Pittsburg, Tennessee. They make high-quality items of all sizes and for all functions.

best lodge cast iron skillet
Lodge Cast Iron

Stargazer Cast Iron is a growing American brand that started in 2015. The quality is extremely high and features a micro-textured surface finish that holds onto the seasoning. It’s worth investigating further.

best start gazer cast iron skillet
Star Gazer Cast Iron

Emba Cookware is a British cast iron brand that has been perfecting its art of quality cast iron since 1890. Like many companies, they use recycled cast iron to make their products.

best emba cast iron skillet
Emba Cookware

Best size cast iron skillets for camping?

Choosing a cast iron skillet size for camping is mainly down to weight. If you are planning to carry it in a backpack then it’s best to keep it small and go for a 6 or 8-inch cast iron skillet.

Best size cast iron skillets for the kitchen?

Choosing which skillet is best for the kitchen is a bit easier as you can have many options available to you. To decide which size is right it’s best to really consider what you will be cooking most. But I would recommend starting with a 10-inch skillet as it would be the most versatile.

My favorite cast iron skillet!

The skillet I use most on the fire or even in the kitchen is our 10-inch skillet. It’s just so easy to use and has many purposes. I can use it to fry or even beautifully sear a steak. I currently have a campchef pan like this one as it’s cheap but very solid. You don’t have to spend loads of money and it’s also very easy to buy second-hand.

best size cast iron skillet

My next cast iron purchase will be a new small 6-inch pan. Something for just moving between the campfire and the kitchen that I can cook an egg on and some sausages. I’ll probably get a quality Lodge or a stargazer to see what all the fuss is about.




Colin has been grilling, smoking, and barbecuing in his yard for as long as he remembers.  His favorite dish is pork belly smoked on his favorite offset smoker. Read more about Colin here.


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