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The 5 Best Cast Iron Cookbooks
Let us help you decide on the best cast iron cookbook to add to your collection. Maybe you love spending time outdoors, and in particular love the satisfaction that comes from providing for yourself while enjoying the wilderness. But even some longtime campers might still think of words like plain and flavorless in terms of fire-roasted meals. A cast iron camping skillet can help, so read our cast iron cookbook reviews and ratings below to find the right one today.
In This Article
Best Choice: The Complete Cast-Iron Cookbook: More than 300 Delicious Recipes
The Complete Cast-Iron Cookbook: More than 300 Delicious Recipes for Your Cast-Iron Collection is the best cast iron cookbook because it includes a variety of 300 recipes for all cooking levels.
The Complete Cast-Iron Cookbook: More than 300 Delicious Recipes for Your Cast-Iron Collection from Cider Mill Press obviously offers an impressive number of recipes, and with images for each to boot. Though I enjoy the plentiful, homey look of the heavily cookbook-laden shelves lining my kitchen, and the varied selections and perspectives that come with a hefty cookbook library, I very much appreciate a huge, thick comprehensive tome of essential recipes for every course. A large trove of choices helps when planning an outing because some recipes fit better into camping trips than others.
A broader-coverage cookbook will likely get a lot of use, whether it’s one of four on the shelf or one of fifty, especially if you choose one by an author whose culinary tastes reflect your own. Breakfast, breads, main courses, side dishes, and desserts, all at their best when prepared in cast iron cookware, are the sections covered. Each is extensive, to include staples such as egg dishes, hashes, roasts, pork and lamb chops, fruit pies, and coffee cakes, all of which would prompt those who own cast iron melting pots and pans to reach for them before any other cast iron baking pan.
The list covers more than a few vegetarian and gluten-free meal ideas, and adventurous cooks will relish the Chinese and Ethiopian dishes. Its all-inclusiveness would likely make it the best cast iron cookbook for varying types of cooks. This book delivers enough go-to recipes to satisfy differing palates, and it’s the perfect cookbook to pair with any Lodge cast iron cookware.
- Both classic and festive specialties
- Includes a photo with every recipe
- Written for everyone, beginner or experienced
- Details cast iron care
- Unwieldy size of book
Premium Pick: Cook It in Cast Iron: Kitchen-Tested Recipes for the One Pan That Does It All
Cook It in Cast Iron: Kitchen-Tested Recipes for the One Pan That Does It All is the best cast iron cookbook because it includes classic recipes for everyone to enjoy. It includes pictures for most recipes and additional sections on cast iron care and searing.
All dishes in Cook It in Cast Iron: Kitchen-Tested Recipes for the One Pan That Does It All from Cook’s Kitchen come from America’s Test Kitchen, a 2,500-square-foot kitchen bustling with nearly 50 specialists experimenting with recipes. This 275-page guide starts off with a thick intro section with detailed suggestions on cast iron pieces you’ll likely get the most use out of to add to your stockpile of cookware, a how-to on caring for cast iron, and evidence against still-pervasive myths, such as soap being harmful. While the information section is lengthy, it could make this the best cast iron cookbook for beginners.
A list of the most helpful accessories and troubleshooting rounds out the prologue. Most recipes come with pictures. The dishes included here are homestyle meat-and-potatoes favorites to please a crowd, great for family meals and gatherings. If you take a group camping with you, everyone tends to be famished after exploring and you want something to satisfy them all. There is an entire “Sear It!” section with recipes specifically chosen to spotlight my favorite thing about cast iron cooking: easily creating that perfectly crisp crust. Searing can make campground food taste like restaurant-quality.
With its bounty of tips, guidance, and recipes you’ll want to master as you get into cast iron cooking, this cookbook would be a boon especially for iron skillet newbies.
- Tons of intro pages about care and the best pieces
- Recipes thoroughly researched in famed test kitchen
- Includes specialized “Sear It!” section
- Centers mainly around classics – not many creative dishes
Best Value: The Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook: A Treasury of Timeless, Delicious Recipes
The Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook: A Treasury of Timeless, Delicious Recipes is the best cast iron cookbook because it includes stories from cast-iron enthusiasts, plus an extensive section on outdoor cooking, making it a great cookbook to bring camping.
A cache of recipes selected by the company who brings us one of the most popular brands of cast iron cookware would probably be very effective in showcasing its attributes and advantages, and The Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook: A Treasury of Timeless, Delicious Recipes by Pam Hoenig of course includes an instructive preface on care, history, and how cast iron grill pans are poured, minted, and coated.
While this overview portion is kept brief so as not to lose the reader’s attention, the recipes throughout the rest of the book are coupled with numerous anecdotes, which add to the ambiance I think we all feel a pleasant shot of when we break out the cast iron.
Besides breakfast, mains, sides, desserts, and breads, we get a chapter entirely devoted to cornbread, which, as everyone knows, turns into something special when made in cast iron. Easy to make using a short ingredient list, cornbread works well for camping. The 40-page section on outdoor cooking is a big plus, especially coupled with 34 pages of stews, which make good camping meals as well. Along with 80 pages of main courses, this book packs a wealth of useful recipes into one guide versatile enough to be shared between a well-equipped kitchen and the campfire.
- Great for campers, as it includes a big outdoor section and table specifying number of coals for certain cooking temperatures
- Includes stories and memories from cast iron enthusiasts
- Quite a few tips and techniques
- Spends time promoting a lot of different pieces from the cookware line
Runner Up: The Modern Cast Iron Cookbook: New Generation of Easy, Fresh & Healthy Recipes
The Modern Cast Iron Cookbook: A New Generation of Easy, Fresh, and Healthy Recipes is the best cast iron cookbook because it includes simple, easy-to-prepare recipes for both healthy and comfort foods.
As the name suggests, The Modern Cast Iron Cookbook: A New Generation of Easy, Fresh, and Healthy Recipes by Tiffany La Forge hits home with the children and grandchildren who inherited treasured cast iron cookware and hand-written recipes. The next generation might not necessarily have the opportunity to work the farm and burn off all the calories of crispy-buttered goodness, and so might need to save those meals for special occasions and make healthier favorites the norm. As with many other cast iron cookbooks, this one uses the first chapter for history, care, and useful techniques. Its sustainability and health advantages over nonstick coatings are covered as well.
Seven sections of recipes include a large vegetarian and vegan selection and lots of veggie dishes in the sides. Ingredients for these pack easily on your camping trip – fewer things that will spoil without a cooler. Eggs, hashes, pancakes, and sandwiches make up the breakfast section. There is a good mix here of classic and off-the-beaten-path flavors, which might make it the best cast iron cookbook for a health-conscious chef who likes variation. A few ambitious offerings include Kung Pao cauliflower, Hawaiian breakfast fried rice, and blackberry-lavender cobbler.
- Big, creative vegetarian, vegan, and side dish sections
- Simple, easy-to-prepare recipes
- Includes both healthy and comfort foods
- Not many pictures accompany the recipes
Honorable Mention: The Staub Cookbook: Modern Recipes for Classic Cast Iron
The Staub Cookbook: Modern Recipes for Classic Cast Iron is the best cast iron cookbook because it is a beautiful book with many pictures. The recipes are helpful and easy to follow.
The Staub Cookbook: Modern Recipes for Classic Cast Iron by Staub with Amanda Frederickson is peppered with traditional French and French-inspired dishes to represent the origins of the company in Alsace, France. The breakfast section features baked and fried egg dishes, oatmeal and granola, pancakes, and baked sweets. With ingredients that travel easily, there is a lot here to work well for camping. In the vein of do the tried-and-true favorites and do them well, many recipes are classics with slight twists, and the sides and salads section is particularly extensive.
Some recipes might turn out equally delicious if not prepared in cast iron, but probably benefit to some degree from a crusty finish. The presentation alone motivates chefs to rifle through the pages and get cooking. This strikingly beautiful cookbook fits right into the kitchen of the chef who loves practicing their French pronunciation and cooking under the tutelage of Julia Child.
It would be a front-runner for best cast iron cookbook for a chef who thinks of cookware as prized investment pieces. It begins with interesting points about Staub’s history and the rigorous process of making cocottes but doesn’t drone on, and highlights useful features like the self-basting lid.
Features such as these, which combine techniques into one piece of cookware, make carting a heavy piece on your camping trip worthwhile. Especially for those new to cast iron, reminders the pieces can be plunked on outdoor grills, fires, and basically any surface but the microwave can help.
- Easy-to-follow instructions
- Beautiful book with lots of photos
- Helpful information
- Beginning mostly in praise of specific Staub product
Features to Consider for the Best Cast Iron Cookbook
Your Cookware Situation
Which cast iron pieces do you already own, and are you planning to treat yourself to more? For myself, this sounds like a great excuse to add something new to my kitchen and enhance the pile of favorites I can bring out into the woods. A few of the cookbooks reviewed, like Staub’s and Lodge’s, require several different cast iron dutch ovens other than a standard cast iron skillet, so you may want to look through and find out how many cast-iron skillet recipes you can actually make use of if you’re not planning to buy any more.
Of course, there are all types of chefs and all types of palettes. Some can’t abide night after night of traditional tastes without taking a chance on something whose ingredients aren’t all familiar. The best cast iron cookbook for you will be filled with recipes you’ll use, so peeking through the entire table of contents will help make your decision. Know in advance what type of recipes you want to make, whether they’re one-pot recipes, fried chicken, casserole, apple cobbler, buttermilk biscuits, roast chicken, chocolate chip skillet cookies, or more. By knowing what you want to make, you’ll better know which cookbook is right for you.
While there are plenty of recipes in these cookbooks you can make use of even if you don’t own a cast iron pan, the versatility factor also goes the other way: you could make basically anything in a cast iron dish too. Even seasoned campers may hesitate at the thought of lugging the heavy material out onto the trails, but I for one can attest to the fact its power to hold constant high heat makes for an improved consistency with the finished product.
Making allowances for it in your total luggage weight capacity will probably be worth your while when you taste the quality of your fireside meals.
A lot of recipes can work for camping even if they’re not specifically designed for it, and even more may be modified with a little creativity. The Lodge‘s cookbook makes it simple by including a substantial section specifically devoted to campfire meals, and further takes the guesswork out of things with the inclusion of a number of coals guide. With The Complete Cast-Iron Cookbook, you get so many choices, it would be easy to select enough recipes to cater your entire camping trip with ingredients used in multiple meals.
Benefits of Using Cast Iron Cookbooks
Metal product specialists, foodies, and your grandmother will all tell you your cast iron pieces will only get better the more and more you use them. Encourage yourself to get into chef mode with one or several cookbooks filled with inspiring recipes and images. You can follow instructions to the letter and whip up the successful creations of others for yourself, or use them to dream up your own ideas.
When thinking about what can safely be put into a campfire, or onto a grill, cast iron is designed to take this kind of heat. And while at first campfire menus may seem limited, specialized cookbooks may open your eyes to fresh ideas.
Additionally, if you are like me and want to add as little to the junkyard as possible for the earth’s sake as well as your wallet’s, cast iron products stay with you through generations and ask very little maintenance in return. You also won’t need to worry about the potential for harmful emissions from nonstick coatings. Actually, the small amount of iron, which may seep into food from a cast iron pan, does the body good. The best cast iron cookbook fit for you will not only guide you through recipes, but provide this type of information.
If you’re interested in streamlining and minimalizing your kitchen, cast iron cookware can do most things and do them well, and could in fact replace a barrage of other cookware.
Precautions of Using Cast Iron Cookbooks
Cast iron lasts through the ages, is nearly indestructible, versatile enough to be used on the stovetop, in the oven, on the grill, in the campfire, and looks beautiful as a serving dish. And for my own cast iron pieces, like my cast iron wok, I would want volumes of recipes that really play them to advantage. Depending on what your typical habits are, cast iron works for so many lifestyles, but there are a few rules to consider.
They can’t be soaked for very long, and the seasoning needs to be kept up unless you have a ceramic-lined pan, much like with many cast iron teapots. Maintenance tips like those are minimal, though, and cast iron cookware and cookbooks are likely to be appreciated by most people, with the exception of those who cook primarily in the microwave.
Folks who actively detest putting effort and time into cooking may not be tempted into changing their mind, even by the best cast iron cookbook. There are also those who like what they like and have already built up their repertoire of family cast iron recipes and don’t particularly need any more. A tiny kitchen limits the number of cookbooks a person can own too, and you may want to have a few all-purpose volumes, if any, so you can use coveted space for other things.
Hopefully we’ve done enough legwork for you to be able to make an informed, confident choice of the best cast iron cookbook to suit you. And while all five are winners in our book, let us tell you about the one we feel comes out on top: The Complete Cast-Iron Cookbook: More than 300 Delicious Recipes for Your Cast-Iron Collection from Cider Mill Press. It includes more of the things we’re looking for—cuisine for any appetite, an intro that guides but doesn’t skimp, helpful and beautiful photos, and so many dishes to choose from. This could be the only cast iron cookbook you really need.