It all started with the most classic of cast iron sizes, the No.8 Field Skillet, but as our company (and product line) has grown over the years, we’ve sized our cookware both down and way, way up, culminating in our latest release, the No.16 Double-Handled Skillet.

While smaller skillets have many uses around the kitchen, larger pieces of iron offer enough cooking surface to unlock both new recipes and more advanced techniques, both on the stove and over a grill or live fire.

Photo: Lauren V. Allen

If you’re the proud owner of a No.12 or No.16 Field Skillet, the following tips will help you get the most out of your XL and XXL cookware.

Rotate and Repeat

While nothing beats cast iron at retaining heat, any size of cast iron skillet will have its relative hotspots, though this feature (not a flaw; read on) is more noticeable in larger pans. When we want to start with an evenly heated cooking surface, we preheat our skillet over a medium flame for several minutes, rotating the pan a quarter turn every minute or so. If you’re working with a smaller stovetop, you can also heat the No.16 Double-Handled Skillet over two burners, rotating the pan in a similar fashion.

Cook Fatty Ingredients First

One of our favorite ways to use the No.16 Double-Handled Skillet is to cook up a big breakfast or brunch spread, essentially using the skillet as a large, round griddle. When doing so, we start by cooking fatty proteins—typically bacon or sausage, occasionally a juicy steak—first, which renders fat that can be used to cook (and flavor) our hash browns, eggs, and other components. 

Combine and Conquer

With many recipes, a larger skillet’s abundance of space also allows us to combine a step or two—or dirty less cookware. Proteins and sides can be cooked in unison, and burgers, buns, and more can be prepared at the same time.

Photo: Benjamin Muller

Work the Zones

As we mentioned above, all cast iron skillets have hotspots, which can be exploited on larger skillets to cook different ingredients at different temperatures, which is especially helpful when preparing a full meal in one pan. Unless you’re cooking on induction burners, the hottest part of the cooking surface will be found above where your heat source hits the pan, with a less-hot zone located around the perimeter (assuming you’re centering your skillet over the heat source).

Go Stove to Table

While cast iron is the most versatile tool in the kitchen, it also makes for a utilitarian serving vessel at the table. Not only is a large cast-iron skillet a handsome centerpiece, the pan’s excellent heat retention will keep your braises, roasts, and one-dish feasts warm far longer than glass, ceramics, or stoneware.

Photo: Lauren V. Allen