How to Measure a Cast Iron Skillet [Step-by-Step Guide]

Measuring cast iron skillet is a prerequisite knowledge anyone should gather before buying one. Cast iron skillets come in different sizes and on-product annotation. Now, how to measure a cast iron skillet by decoding the code on it, that’s the question.

In that case, let’s be ironic to rectify the size measuring issue of iron skillets.


Why do You Measure a Cast Iron Skillet?

Measuring a cast iron skillet is crucial to understand the availability of the cooking surface. If you plan to buy an iron skillet for the first time, then don’t leave this read midway.

Before buying a cast iron pan, you must know how many skillets are available and which skillet size is the best for you. The methods we are going to describe in here are also applicable for the best electric skillets for frying chicken, roasting, cooking and all other things.

If you mistakenly buy a large iron skillet, it will consume more power and resulted in poor cooking. On the contrary, a small-sized skillet (smaller than your requirement) can ruin your cooking experiences and not capable of handling large stakes or so.

Now, we will describe how to measure a cast-iron skillet size.

How do you measure a cast iron skillet?

Firstly, cast iron skillets are available in different sizes. A wide range of skillets sizes is available in the market, from personal-sized pan to gourmet size skillet.

Now, how can you understand the actual size of a cast-iron skillet?

Brand to brand, the sizing annotation can be varied. We will try to guide you through a step-by-step process of measuring a cast-iron skillet size.

  • Step One: First, to measure the cast iron skillet’s size, look at the back end of it. You will find a number written on it. For example, you may find a number like 8, 10 or 12.
  • Step Two: The measurement unit is in inches. To understand the size, you can also look at the diameter of the pan. Now, you can compare the number you have got from the back of the skillet and cooking side’s edge to edge length.
  • Step Three: If you don’t know how to measure end to end or edge to edge diameter, here is a short brief on how to do it. Take a measuring tape and measure the length from one edge to another edge.
  • Step Four: For example, a cast iron skillet manufacturer may label their skillet as 12 inches, but in actuality, the cooking surface might be shorter than 12 inches. So now, why they marked the skillet as 12, right? The 12 inches is an edge-to-edge diameter of the pan.

Now, the thumb rule is more significant; the size marked on the skillet larger than the cooking pan’s size.

From one manufacturer to another, the marking might vary. Interestingly, from time to time, the cast-iron skillet’s marking annotation changed as well. We will talk about how cast-iron skillet’s marking annotation evolved more in the later section. 

What the meaning of the number on the handle of your cast-iron skillet? 

If you have an old cast iron skillet, you must have wondered what the number means?

The number stands for the diameter of the pan in inches across the pan’s flared top. But the cast-iron skillet numbering has a history behind it.

How do I know if my cast iron is valuable?

Historically, the cast iron cookware was produced to fit on the top of woodstoves easily. Interestingly, the woodstove manufacturer was the pioneer of iron skillets as well.

Obviously, you know Griswold and Lodge’s name; they also make such iron skillets that fit into the hovels over the fire. Nowadays, the number for a 12 size lodge skilled is denoted as L10SK3. The 10 indicates that the cast iron pans or pots are a perfect fit for a ten-eye stove.

What does SK mean on a cast iron skillet?

In the last section, I didn’t describe much about the meaning of SK on a cast-iron skillet. Simply, you have guessed the abbreviation by now, right!

Yes, the SK stands for the skillet. You might see different annotations for different types of pans. Like you might see G, which means a Griddle, or DO, which means Dutch Ovens. These annotations are more frequent in vintage skillets of Lodge.

Some other brands like Wagner use H. Some other manufacturers use size numbers, such as 8, 10, or 12.

What is the best size for a cast-iron skillet?

The best size of an iron skillet depends on its intended use. Let me simplify.

If you are looking for a skillet to do small cooking tasks, like making an omelet or frying vegetables for one person, then the smallest size iron skillet would be the best choice.

Now, you may ask, what is the smallest size iron skillet or personal-sized skillet? 8-inch skillet is the smallest and best for serving one person’s need.

But it is not highly recommended.


What if you are craving for stake? A standard-sized stake can not be made on an 8-inch skillet. If you buy a 10-inch skillet, it will serve 2-3 people and meet your craving for stake and medium-sized dishes.

I think it is the best choice for anyone, other than big families and restaurants. The later mentioned parties can buy a 12-inch skillet to serve their purpose in better ways. 

Related Article:

Is a 12-inch skillet too big?

No, it’s not too big if you need to feed a large number of people. If you are a cook in a restaurant, you will ask why a 12-inch skillet is too small.

Apart from my lame sarcasm, if you are cooking for yourself and only for yourself and don’t have any plan to invite us next Christmas, then a 12-inch skillet is too big for you.

For families, I would recommend keeping both 10 inches and 12-inch skillet.  

What size of cast iron skillet should I get?

For families and large enterprises best size would be the 12 inches cast iron skillet. If you are looking for a personalized cooking skillet, I would recommend a 10-inch skillet. It will serve small cooking jobs and 2-4 persons cooking tasks.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q1#. Why are some cast iron skillets more expensive?

Some cast-iron skillets hold antique value. Due to antique value, some iron skillets can be expensive. Apart from antique value, modern iron skillets can be priced as much as two hundred bucks! Why?

The surface structure is the mystery behind this excessive price. As I am not a big fan of these high-priced cast-iron skillets, I won’t discuss this more.

Q2#. Are old cast iron skillets safe?

Older cast iron skillets might not be safe as it seems. As the skillets become, older iron might start to deteriorate. The very tiny iron particles can easily mix with your food.

It’s not good for health. As the size of iron degradation can be as low as micro or Pico grams, it’s pretty challenging to identify with naked eyes.

So it’s better to avoid older cast iron skillets for cooking.  


Hopefully, now you got an idea of how to measure a cast-iron skillet. Use this technique to select a compatible skillet for your use. If you have more queries on cast iron skillet, don’t forget to poke us here.