Cast iron skillets are a great way to cook some incredible meals.
While other skillets may lose heat over time, a cast iron skillet holds its heat well.
That allows you to keep your food warm even after you’re done cooking it.
Cast iron skillets can also help add flavor to a meal.
However, you’ll often find that cast iron skillets are also expensive.
Why Are Cast Iron Skillets So Expensive? (10 Reasons)
The average price of a cast iron skillet is around $30, but some models can cost around $200.
Cast iron skillets are expensive because of the cost of iron, the fact that some are handmade, their growing popularity, and whether they come seasoned or not.
Let’s look at these factors in more detail.
1. Iron Costs
The primary reason cast iron skillets are expensive is the fact that they contain iron.
As the name might suggest, cast iron skillets are made with iron.
While iron is an abundant metal found in the earth’s crust, mining it is still quite expensive.
Mining, in general, is expensive.
It requires hard labor from human workers who have to carefully extract iron ore.
While machines have made mining safer and a bit more efficient, it still requires a lot of manual labor.
As such, anything that contains iron tends to be expensive.
The problem with cast iron skillets is that they’re comprised mostly of iron.
A few may have plastic handles or contain some other material, but the majority of it—if not the entirety—is iron.
That means that manufacturers have to spend a lot of money on iron.
Skillets aren’t thin either.
They’re dense pans made of iron.
Because manufacturers have to spend a good amount of money on iron, they offset that cost by putting a high price on the skillet.
Cast iron skillets are expensive because the price of iron is expensive.
2. Sustainable Sourcing
Iron becomes even more expensive when companies choose to source it sustainably.
Mining iron is one of the worst ways to impact the climate.
As such, some companies have started burning natural gas to make iron and steel.
Others rely on recycled iron rather than mining fresh iron.
While this is great for the environment, it isn’t always the cheapest method or the one that provides the most iron.
As such, manufacturers usually face slightly higher prices when practicing sustainable solutions.
Since their costs tend to be a bit higher, they offset those by having higher prices on products made with iron.
Cast iron skillets are primarily composed of iron, so they’re going to see steep price increases.
Some manufacturers might also use the fact that they use sustainably-sourced iron for marketing.
They know that some people are going to be willing to pay more for a cast iron skillet if they know its materials came from sustainable sources.
As such, the company has an easier time getting away with inflated prices.
Cast iron skillets are expensive because sustainable sourcing can make production costs a bit more expensive.
To make a cast iron skillet, some companies put molten iron, steel, and other alloys into a mold made of sand.
Once the skillet has cooled in the mold, workers will break the mold and release the skillet.
The process takes a bit, and while some machines help the process, it’s mostly performed by human workers.
They help keep an eye on the various steps of the casting process.
They also oversee the forges and ensure the molds form correctly.
There are also smaller businesses that make cast iron skillets, too.
Their processes may not be as automated as bigger companies.
As such, their labor costs might be higher.
Handmade products tend to be more expensive than fully-automated products.
That’s because labor costs are high.
The company needs to pay its workers. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be able to produce anything.
The workers would leave, and there’s a chance that the bad reputation might cause potential hires to avoid the company.
Casting iron is also hard work.
Those who make handmade cast iron skillets might charge more for their labor than other businesses.
The benefit of buying a handmade cast iron skillet is that they’re usually some of the best quality skillets.
The craftsmanship can be second to none.
Cast iron skillets are expensive because they’re handmade which adds significant labor costs to the production cycle.
4. Long Production Time
The time it takes to make a cast iron skillet is long, too.
The forging process can take up to seven hours.
You also have the prep that comes before and after forging.
For example, if companies season their skillets, that takes time, too.
This makes cast iron skillets expensive in a few ways.
The first is that the longer it takes to make a product, the more costs the company is sinking into it.
Whether it’s material or labor, the product is eating up money.
Since it’s becoming more costly to make, the company has to sell the skillet at high prices.
Another reason is that the longer it takes to make, the longer the company has to wait to sell it and earn a profit from it.
A company has other costs that they need to pay while they’re waiting for the product to finish and head to the store.
They have rent to pay as well as various bills.
The longer a product takes to make, the more those bills add up.
They’re not making any money in the meantime from that product.
To ensure that the profit is worth it, the company has to sell it at a high price.
It’s also a bit more difficult to keep such products in stock.
If a sudden surge in demand for cast iron skillets occurs, it takes longer for the company to replenish the supply.
A shortage also impacts the price of the skillet.
Cast iron skillets are expensive because they take a long time to make.
5. Shipping Costs
Another big factor that plays into the price of a cast iron skillet is its shipping.
Iron is not light.
When you make a product entirely out of iron, it’s also going to be pretty heavy.
Such is the case with cast iron skillets.
Cast iron is not a light pan compared to some made of another material.
As such, shipping them can be pretty expensive.
While cast iron skillets aren’t big, they do weigh a lot.
Shipping companies generally charge based on a shipment’s weight and size.
Since cast iron skillets are heavy, the shipping company might charge a high fee to deliver them.
Even if you’re buying the skillet at the store, the store is likely up-charging you for the high shipping cost they had to pay to move the product to their store.
As such, you’re paying a high price for shipping as well as the cast iron skillet.
Cast iron skillets are expensive because shipping prices can make the overall price even more expensive.
The size of the skillet can also impact its price.
Like other cookware, skillets come in all shapes and sizes.
You can find small skillets and very large skillets.
Depending on your needs, you might have bought a large skillet.
A large skillet is more expensive than a small one because it contains more materials.
In particular, it requires more iron.
It likely also takes longer to forge and produce since the mold is bigger.
The thickness of the skillet also matters.
If you have a thick skillet, it’s also going to be on the expensive side.
That’s because it also uses more iron in its production.
Thinner skillets are a bit cheaper.
The bigger the skillet is, the more costly it is to make, and thus the more expensive the price is going to be.
Cast iron skillets are expensive when they’re large or thick.
7. Increased Popularity
Cast iron skillets have been around for ages.
Their popularity waved as other types of cookware came to the forefront.
Stainless steel, for example, became a cheaper type of cookware that offered benefits that cast iron skillets couldn’t.
Its ability to easily cook food without having it stick, for example, was one of its biggest attractions.
People didn’t have to worry about seasoning it to use it.
Although stainless steel remains popular, there’s been a lot of interest in using cast iron skillets again.
For one, people claim that cooking on cast iron skillets provides more flavor.
Seasoning the skillet is largely to blame for this.
They also believe that it cooks better or does a better job of cooking the food throughout rather than in only one part of the pan.
Others simply appreciate it for its old-style way of cooking food.
Whatever the reason, people are buying and using more cast iron skillets.
This makes them expensive because it means the demand for cast iron skillets is higher.
Companies likely only produce a few each year.
It takes a long time to make them.
When demand is high and supply is low, the price of the product becomes more expensive.
Cast iron skillets are expensive because they’re high in demand.
8. Pre-Seasoned Skillets
If you own a cast iron skillet, then you likely hear about needing to season it.
Seasoning is a bit of a misnomer.
You’re not actually putting salt and pepper on the pan to make food taste better.
Seasoning is the polymerization process that occurs when you coat the skillet with oil.
As the oil heats, it bakes into the skillet and creates a non-stick surface.
This makes it easier to cook food on the pan without it sticking and ruining the pan.
The more seasoned your pan is, the easier it is to remove things.
Seasoning also protects your pan from rusting.
Some companies will sell pre-seasoned cast iron skillets.
These are skillets that are ready for immediate use.
You don’t have to season them beforehand.
Since it costs the company a bit more money to season the pan, they put a higher price on the skillet.
Cast iron skillets are expensive when they come pre-seasoned.
9. Long Lifespan
Cast iron skillets that are well cared for can last virtually forever.
The only real danger to them is rust.
As long as you care for your skillet properly, it can potentially last longer than you.
As such, most companies know that people are likely only going to buy a few cast iron skillets during their lifetime.
They might even pass their skillets on to the next generation.
Since companies can’t always rely on repeat sales, they have to make the most money that they can with those who are buying their products.
Cast iron skillets are expensive because they last a very long time which means fewer people are buying them across their lifetime.
10. Additional Features
Some cast iron skillets also come with additional features.
For example, some will have silicone handles or some other type of handles to make carrying the skillet around easier.
Since the entire skillet is iron, heat can spread evenly throughout the piece.
If you touch the handles without protection, you can burn yourself.
A different material on the handles can help disperse the heat and allow you to grip them without burning yourself.
Other skillets might offer additional features.
Because these are additions, it costs the company more money to include them.
That means they need to offset the costs with a higher price.
Cast iron skillets are expensive if they include additional features or benefits.