Let’s talk about seasoning. When you cook with cast iron, layers of oxidized fat or oil absorb into the iron and form a solid black coating. This layer, called the seasoning or patina, prevents rust, but more importantly, it makes the surface nonstick. Almost all cast irons nowadays come “pre-seasoned,” but a quality patina comes only from using the pan again and again as you cook with fats and oils, or seasoning it yourself with a good high-smoke-point oil (check out Tasty’s guide to seasoning your cast iron here).
Think of it like this: Buying a pre-seasoned cast iron is kind of like buying a pre-cleaned house. If you want a perfect nonstick cooking surface right out of the box, go get a nonstick skillet. If you’re willing to put some work and care into one of the most useful, durable, long-lasting tools in your kitchen, then you’re ready for cast iron. That said, the pre-seasoning on this Ozark Trail skillet is not very good. Its texture is also considerably rougher than those of our other picks. But give it a good seasoning yourself, and it will work just fine for anything you want to cook. For under $10, this skillet is still a great tool and considerably better than others at this price point.