Guide to Cooking Eggs in Cast Iron Skillets or Pans
Find out everything you need to know about cooking eggs in cast iron cookware with our handy guide:
Is cast iron good for eggs?
When you're cooking eggs, a cast iron skillet set might not be the first cookware you reach for, but cast iron is actually great for eggs. Maintaining the right temperature is the key. The biggest advantage over using a frying pan or saucepan is that cast iron is safe to use both on the stovetop and in the oven, which gives you more options when it comes to cooking the perfect eggs.
Learning how to cook eggs in cast iron pans or skillets is a worthwhile culinary trick which will allow you to extend the range of cast iron skillet recipes on your resume, and turn out perfect eggs time after time.
Can you cook eggs in a cast iron skillet?
Yes, but one thing you need to know is how to fry eggs in cast iron without sticking. If you don't get that right, you're going to end up with burnt eggs - and we all know how bad they taste and smell! You need to make sure that your pan or skillet is properly seasoned before you start, and you also need to ensure you use the right amount of fat.
As eggs cook at a relatively low temperature, you don't have to worry too much about smoke points. In fact, low smoke point fats are some of the most popular for cooking eggs. Olive oil and butter are probably the most widely used examples, and each imparts its own flavor to the eggs.
With a properly seasoned pan, and the right amount of oil or fat (enough to coat the cooking surface, but not so much that your eggs are literally swimming in grease) you should be in no danger of stuck or burned-on food.
When you're using cast iron, you can switch between the stovetop and the oven as needed, which is great if for example you're cooking omelet or fried eggs and the bottoms are done but the tops are still a little runny. Just put them into a medium heat oven, and the bottoms won't overcook while the tops firm up. Or if you have a pan full of scrambled eggs, but your bacon's not quite done, you can keep them warm in a low heat oven until you're ready to serve breakfast.
What temperature do you cook eggs in a cast iron skillet?
Okay, so you know how to keep eggs from sticking to the pan. Now you need to make sure you don't overcook them. Unlike thinner aluminum or stainless steel cookware, cast iron cookware holds heat much better. It takes longer to heat up, but it also takes much longer to cool down. So when you're cooking eggs (which are already a pretty temperature sensitive ingredient anyway) you really want to err on the side of caution when applying heat. It's easier to cook on a lower heat for longer than to try and stop the eggs from overcooking once your pan or skillet is too hot.
Slow and steady is the motto with eggs. If you're cooking on a stovetop, warm up your pan over low or medium heat before adding oil or butter, and allow that to come up to temperature before you add your eggs. If you're making fried eggs or an omelet, you want the heat to be low enough so that there's no sizzle as you add the eggs to the pan.
Egg whites should gradually develop a cloudy, then opaque color, rather than turning white as soon as they hit the cooking surface. For scrambled eggs, cast iron cookware also needs to be kept on a low heat as there's even more danger of burning the bottom of your eggs before the tops are cooked. Baked eggs should be cooked on a low or medium heat in the oven for exactly the same reason.
Can you make baked eggs in a cast iron pan?
You can, and you definitely should, they're delicious! Knowing how to bake eggs is one of those cooking tricks that set apart an experienced cook from a novice. Baking eggs in a cast iron skillet is easy if you follow a few simple guidelines.
First, heat your pan to medium heat and add your oil or butter, just enough to coat the bottom. Now, crack in your eggs - we'd recommend at least two per person. Obviously the number of people you can feed will depend on how big your skillet or pan is (and how hungry you all are).
Add a little cream for extra richness, and sprinkle over some toppings. Popular additions are finely chopped chives or scallions, bacon bits, crumbled blue cheese or shaved parmesan, or if you like to keep it simple, just a little pinch of herbs and maybe some freshly cracked black pepper.
When everything's set, bake in a medium heat oven for about 3 min. You want the whites to be cooked through, but not rubbery, and the yolks to still be slightly runny. If you can't eat runny eggs for whatever reason, leave them in the oven for 5 min and they should be cooked through.
What recipes containing eggs work well in cast iron cookware?
There are too many to list, but if you're looking for something a little more adventurous than the classic fried egg, scrambled egg or omelet, here are a couple of breakfast dishes which lend themselves well to the cast iron pan or skillet.
Shakshuka - baked eggs in a rich tomato-based sauce featuring peppers, cilantro, parsley, and feta cheese. A popular Middle Eastern and North African breakfast, but also a great brunch or lunch dish. Fry a small onion and half a bell pepper until soft, adding garlic, tomato paste, cumin, paprika, and chili flakes. Pour in a small can of tomatoes, and simmer for five minutes. Then crack a couple of eggs into the mixture and bake for 10 min. Top with freshly chopped cilantro.
Cast iron skillet breakfast - the ultimate lazy weekend breakfast. Just load up your pre-heated skillet with bacon, sausage, tomatoes, and bake for 10 to 15 min. Depending on the thickness of your sausages, you may want to give them a few minutes headstart on the bacon and tomatoes. Leave room in the middle to crack two or three eggs during the last couple of minutes cooking time, and you've got yourself a one-skillet breakfast fit for a champion.
A great baked eggs recipe will always be a winner if you're hosting a brunch, especially if your friends haven't tried it before. Try these out at your next gathering or family breakfast to show off your extraordinary culinary skills using cast iron cookware!
If you're looking for more cast iron skillet cooking tips, check out our article on cooking bacon is cast iron!
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