A grill pan can be one of the most versatile pieces of equipment in your kitchen. Looking to level up your lunchtime grilled cheese? Smash your sammy on one and behold those beautiful grill marks. Or perhaps you’re in the mood for barbecuing but the weather isn’t cooperating. These pans can deliver perfectly seared steaks and kebabs (plus, you never have to worry about your food falling through the grate). The best grill pans can be used indoors on your range or outdoors on the grill, and most can also be popped straight into the oven for a finishing sizzle.
But if you’ve done even cursory research, you’ve probably seen that there’s an overwhelming array from which to choose. Are the heavy hitters like Le Creuset really worth it? How difficult is it to use a cast iron grill pan, anyway? Luckily for you, we have the answers to those questions, plus intel on six fantastic grill pans that will suit any type of home cook. Read on to discover which of the best grill pans won our seal of approval.
Our Top Picks
- Best Overall: Le Creuset Cast Iron Grill Pan
- Best Value: Lodge 12-Inch, Dual-Handle Cast Iron Grill Pan
- Best Splurge: Staub Cast Iron Square Grill Pan
- Best for Outdoor Grilling: Smithey No. 12 Grill Pan
- Best Nonstick: GreenPan Ceramic Nonstick Square Grill Pan
- Best Two-in-One: Misen Dutch Oven with Grill Lid
Best Overall: Le Creuset Cast Iron Grill Pan
Material: Cast iron | Max Temperature: 500°F | Dimensions: 9" W x 12" L x 1" H | Single vs. Set: Single
- Comes in a wide range of colors
- Lighter weight than other grill pans this size
- Compatible with all stovetops
- Not dishwasher safe
Why we chose it: An easy-to-maneuver pan from the most famous name in the game.
There is no brand more associated with quality cast iron products than Le Creuset. And while you may be most familiar with their wedding-registry-favorite dutch ovens, their grill pans are one of the French company’s sleeper hits. In many ways, their model is the ultimate Goldilocks: its 9.5-inch size is ideal for one burner, its heft is neither flimsy nor too heavy to move with one hand, the interior ridges are just high enough to produce stellar grill marks, and it comes in a variety of colors to suit any kitchen. We also love the handles on either side for safely lifting the pan off your heat source. And, like all other Le Creuset products, this baby is made to last. As long as you care for your cast iron, this pan will be around for a lifetime.
Best Value: Lodge 12-Inch, Dual-Handle Cast Iron Grill Pan
Material: Cast iron | Max Temperature: N/A | Dimensions: 12.5” diameter | Single vs. Set: Single
- Comes pre-seasoned
- Suitable for indoor and outdoor use
- Deep sides are ideal for cooking thick cuts of meat or fish
- Lid is an additional cost
Why we chose it: A quality piece of cast iron cookware for an affordable price.
Europe may have Le Creuset and Staub, but America can claim Lodge, which ain’t too shabby. The Tennessee-based company has made a name for itself since 1896 with durable, long-lasting cast iron pieces that cost just a fraction of what the European legacy brands charge. And while we’re fans of their entire range of products, the 12-inch grill pan is a standout. It has deep sides that can accommodate a hefty cut of steak or salmon and can easily go from a cooktop to a campfire without missing a beat, thanks to sturdy handles on either side. The pan also comes pre-seasoned with natural vegetable oil, which takes the guesswork out of how to treat the pan to be nonstick.
Best Splurge: Staub Cast Iron Square Grill Pan
Material: Cast iron | Max Temperature: 500°F | Dimensions: 12" W x 20" L (with handle) x 2" H | Single vs. Set: Single
- High, angled sides for larger cuts of meat and fish
- Available in two sizes
- Comes in multiple colors
- Not recommended for glass stovetops
Why we chose it: A beautifully designed pan with superior browning capabilities.
Apart from Le Creuset, the other big name in cast iron enamel cookware is fellow French brand Staub. While we love them for their beautiful array of colors—which makes going from the oven straight to the table a breeze—their grill pan is also notable for its unique composition. The black matte interior enamel has been specially formulated with quartz, which lends it additional heat resistance and a rougher surface, both of which mean your proteins will brown beautifully. And the pan material overall is resistant to rust, chipping, and cracking without any need for extra seasoning on the part of the cook. Plus, the extra-deep, angled sides on the pan can accommodate big cuts without making a mess of your grill or stovetop.
Best for Outdoor Grilling: Smithey No. 12 Grill Pan
Best for Outdoor Grilling
Material: Cast iron | Max Temperature: N/A | Dimensions: 12” W x 15” L x 2” H | Single vs. Set: Single
- Can be engraved
- Diagonal ridges for easy crosshatch grill marks
- Polished grilling lines for easier food release
Why we chose it: A rugged, artisan grill pan that only looks better with age.
Newer to the cast iron game is Smithey Ironware, a company out of Charleston, South Carolina that started forging pans in 2015. But owner Issac Morton was inspired by heirloom pieces from the late 1800s, which shows in the vintage aesthetic of his own pans. Our favorite from the line is the No. 12 Grill Pan, a hefty, square pan suitable for indoor and outdoor grilling. It boasts two ergonomically designed handles that make lifting the pan off of an open flame easy, plus polished ridges on the interior for easy food release (it also comes pre-seasoned). A special shout-out to the deep iron color that has just a hint of warmth; it will only look more beautiful after time spent on the grill.
Best Nonstick: GreenPan Ceramic Nonstick Square Grill Pan
Material: Hard anodized with ceramic coating | Max Temperature: 600°F | Dimensions: 11” diameter | Single vs. Set: Single
- High sides to keep pan juices from dripping
- Won’t release toxic fumes, even when overheated
- Hard anodized body is twice as strong as stainless steel
- Does not work on induction ranges
Why we chose it: Superior nonstick capabilities that are nontoxic, to boot.
While cast iron may be the most popular material choice for grill pans, even the most well-seasoned piece will not be as nonstick as a traditional ceramic. If you’re cooking a flaky fish or just really don’t want to deal with food sticking in the pan, we recommend picking up GreenPan’s Nonstick Square Grill Pan. And there’s a lot to love here: The brand's trademarked Thermolon Minerals Pro ceramic coating is made without PFAS, PFOA, lead, or cadmium, plus it is also metal utensil-safe, which is not usually the case with nonstick pans. It’s also an incredibly durable piece: It’s oven-safe up to 600 degrees Fahrenheit and made out of a hard anodized body that’s twice as strong as stainless steel. We’re also big fans of the pour spouts positioned on either side, which make draining off excess liquid or fat far less messy.
Best Two-in-One: Misen Dutch Oven with Grill Lid
Material: Cast iron with enamel coating | Max Temperature: 500°F | Dimensions: 15” diameter with handles | Single vs. Set: Set
- Four layers of enamel for ultimate durability
- Wide handles you can grip even with mitts on
- Compatible with the brand’s Dutch oven
- Hand-wash only
Why we chose it: A clever way to combine a Dutch oven and grill pan into one set.
American company Misen made a name for itself with its stellar, direct-to-consumer knives, but has since expanded into cookware with similar success. We fell in love with their enameled cast iron pieces not only for their good looks and durability but for the affordable prices as well. One of their best deals is the Dutch oven, whose lid, when flipped over, also doubles as a grill pan. We love using this combo for dishes like mussels: you can be simmering your bivalves while using the grill pan to sear toasty pieces of baguette. And of course, you can also use the grill pan by itself. Some of our favorite features include the quadruple enamel coating that makes it extremely nonstick and extra-wide handles you can grip even while wearing oven mitts.
How We Chose These Products
To choose the best grill pans, we polled the chefs and home cooks of SAVEUR, researched many “best of” lists, scoured the internet, and checked out the wares at kitchen supply stores. We also tapped the deep knowledge of our three experts: Chef de cuisine John J. Chiusano of Rockwell’s at Nemacolin, James Beard Award-finalist, and executive chef Steve McHugh of Landrace at Thompson San Antonio – Riverwalk, and famed pitmaster Pat Martin of Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint.
Features to Keep in Mind When Shopping for Grill Pans
There is no one “perfect”-size grill pan. “Size does matter in this situation; you want to use a grill pan that is a perfect fit for the cut of meat one is grilling,” says Chiusano. “A too-small pan will drop the temperature too quickly; if the pan is too big, it might get too hot for your needs.” But, if you only have space for one grill pan, “A simple 6-quart pan is good for cooking at home,” says Martin. “The weight of this size pan is easily manageable over a hot fire.”
Cast iron is definitely the most popular choice for grill pans. “I prefer it because it retains heat and distributes it evenly for a perfect sear,” explains McHugh. And, adds Chiusano, “the more you use a cast iron pan, the better it performs.” Other popular materials include cast aluminum, ceramic, hard-anodized, stainless steel, and carbon steel. Pitmaster Martin prefers the latter. “Carbon Steel is the best because it browns like cast iron, but it's substantially less heavy,” he says.
Cast-iron vs. Nonstick
“Choosing between cast iron and non-stick pans can be tough sometimes,” says Chiusano. “One would like the convenience of a light and easy-to-clean non-stick grill pan as opposed to a heavier cast iron pan, but the choice comes down to what product you’re cooking.” His rule of thumb? “When grilling veggies or fish, choose a non-stick pan for ease during the cooking process. When grilling meats, heat distribution is important; and the heat retention of a heavier cast iron pan can make a difference in a meat’s sear, cook, juice, and bite.”
“A grill pan does not need to be super heavy - even those made with cast iron can still feel lightweight,” says McHugh. “The weight is more of personal preference; it should be something that you feel comfortable managing. If it is too heavy, it will be more difficult to maneuver.” Martin’s test, for example, is whether he can handle the pan with just one hand.
If you’re at all familiar with cast iron, then you know the cleaning process is a bit more involved than for other materials. If that doesn’t scare you away, you’ll be rewarded with a pan that can literally be passed down through the generations. But if you’d rather have a grill pan that’s less high maintenance, opt for ceramic or stainless steel that can be cleaned up with soap and water.
Ask the Experts
Q: How do I use a grill pan?
A: “A grill pan should be hot enough to sear the meat or vegetables, but it should not burn on contact. If cooking indoors, have the hood fan on for proper ventilation and allow the item to sear without moving it until the sear is accomplished,” says Chiusano.
Q: Can I use a grill pan on an electric stovetop?
A: “Yes, a grill pan can be used on an electric stovetop,” confirms Chiusano. “Just be sure the pan is secure in its place, not wobbling or shifting. By using an electric stove, the heat on the coils or induction units might need to be adjusted more often than with gas, wood, or charcoal.”
Q: Do I need to season a grill pan?
A: “Yes, I suggest seasoning a grill pan just as you would a grill or another type of cast iron pan,” says McHugh. “Season it, but also keep it clean. And, If you are only using it periodically, rinse it before you use it.”
Q: What's the difference between a griddle and a grill pan?
A: “Griddles are traditionally rectangular in shape and are usually flat for ease of cooking items such as pancakes,” says Chiusano. Grill pans have the ridges that give the characteristic grill marks when searing food.
Q: How do I clean a grill pan?
A: “For cast iron pans, cleaning is as easy as wiping the pan with iodized salt and a clean, oiled paper towel,” says Chiusano. “Cast iron grilling pans should never be run through a dishwasher or cleaned with soap and water. By ‘seasoning’ the cast iron with a simple salt rub, the flavors, and nonstick abilities are kept for years.” Most nonstick pans should be kept out of the dishwasher but can be washed with simple soap and water.
The best grill pan for you depends on what you’re cooking, where you’re cooking, and how much storage space you have, but if you can only buy one, Le Creuset’s Cast Iron Grill Pan is our top pick. It’s the ideal size for one burner, compatible with all cooktops, and is extremely durable.