Cast Iron and Southern Tradition

Cooking steak in a cast iron pan.
Southern families know the value of a good cast iron pan. These heavy pieces of cookware are so useful, we almost never put ours away. Why bother putting it back in the cabinet just to pull it back out for the next meal? Like all good things in the South, these pans have lasted for generations. All those years of seasoning have done them a lot of good! They’re staples in southern kitchens, so here’s why we’ll never stop using ours.


If early American pioneers were using it, you know it had to be strong. Settlers hung their cast irons from the side of a wagon and dragged them from one side of the country to the other. When they got there, they didn’t need to buy new pans, they just washed off the thousands of miles of dust and sat right down to cook dinner. And today’s cash iron pans have that same lasting power. You don’t need to invest in an expensive dish for great quality. Cast irons are relatively inexpensive, hearty pieces you can utilize and then pass down when it’s someone else’s turn to do the cooking.


It seems like every wedding registry has a big set of pans featured at the top; if only they knew they only needed one good cast iron. One twelve-inch skillet can fry chicken, sear steaks, brown a pizza crust, and then be popped in the oven to bake cornbread for dessert. You can get rid of the roasting pans and baking dishes cluttering up your shelves, you won’t need them. In fact, these skillets will function even better than more expensive, non-stick pans. With years of seasoning, you’ll still have the same non-stick cooking surface without worrying about flaking off a Teflon coating. And with their even heat distribution, you can stop worrying about one half of your cake being more done than the other. You can even use it as a serving dish; just set a pot holder on the table with the skillet on top. The family will cherish memories of scooping dinner out onto waiting plates.


Pulling out a cast iron skillet seems to always come with memories of family cooking in those same pans. Maybe it was mom frying chicken for a picnic, dad searing bacon in the mornings, or grandma cooking country ham for Sunday dinner. It’s easy to feel connected to that deep, family heritage when you cook in an heirloom skillet. Even if yours is brand new, those memories still flow through. Good cast iron is seasoned with time and love and a lot of butter.
Anyone who’s had a great Southern dinner will tell you, our cooking standards are high. Our cookware has to stand up to a lot of use and even more flavor. You just won’t get those deep, smokey Southern flavors in anything else, and we wouldn’t want to try. Cast iron is a staple here in the South, so we’ll never let it go. We’ll just keep giving our skillets to the next generation so they can feed and love their families the same way we do.