Are you shopping for a cast iron skillet but unsure whether to buy Lodge or Stargazer?
Lodge has been around for over a century and is the top-selling brand in the industry, while Stargazer is a startup producing heirloom-quality skillets (but at a much higher price).
So is Stargazer worth the splurge? What are the key differences?
In this comparison of Stargazer vs. Lodge cast iron skillets, you’ll learn how they differ in construction, design, price, weight, durability, performance, and more.
You’ll also learn the downsides and common complaints about each brand.
Use the links below to navigate the comparison:
- Stargazer vs. Lodge Cast Iron: Comparison Chart
- Difference 1: Product Offerings
- Difference 2: Performance
- Difference 3: Heat Conduction and Retention
- Difference 4: Interior
- Difference 5: Seasoning
- Difference 6: Handles
- Difference 7: Bottom
- Difference 8: Sizes
- Difference 9: Weight
- Difference 10: Company History
- Difference 11: Where to Buy
- Difference 12: Price
- Difference 13: Downsides
- What Others Say About Lodge and Stargazer
- Bottom Line: Should You Choose Stargazer or Lodge Cast Iron?
The chart below provides a quick comparison of Stargazer vs. Lodge.
|Construction||Bare cast iron||Bare cast iron, enameled cast iron|
|Interior Finish||Machine smoothed||Coarse|
|Products||2 skillets; 1 braiser||Varying sizes of skillets, griddles, grill pans, and Dutch ovens|
|Seasoning||Pre-seasoned or unseasoned (both available on all products)||Pre-seasoned|
|Handles||Long and cup-shaped||Short and rounded|
|Skillet Sizes||10.5-inches to 13.5-inches||3.5-inches to 15-inches|
|Skillet Weight (12-inch)||6.5 lbs||8 lbs|
|Where It’s Made||United States||United States|
|Price||$$$$ (Stargazer)||$$ (Amazon)|
|Top Reasons to Buy||Long handles; smooth surface, flared rims||Inexpensive; trusted brand; excellent heat retention|
|Top Reasons to NOT Buy||Expensive||Short handles; heavy|
As a company with a long history, Lodge has a variety of cast iron products, along with enameled cast iron pieces like Dutch ovens and bakeware.
Lodge offers three main cast iron collections: Classic, Chef, and Blacklock:
- Classic Collection: This is Lodge’s best-selling and most extensive collection. The skillets have thick walls, short handles, squared helper handles, and pour spouts on each side. The Lodge Classic skillet has thousands of five-star reviews on Amazon.
- Chef Collection: Skillets in the Chef Collection are almost identical to the Classic, but the handles are long and angled upward, and the pour sprouts and helper handles are larger.
- Blacklock Collection: Skillets in the Blacklock Collection have thinner and more lightweight construction than the Classic. The handles are longer and have a unique Y-shape that keeps them cooler on the stove. The Blacklock collection has fewer sizes than the Classic, but the most common options (7, 10.25, and 12 inches) are available. It’s the most expensive Lodge collection.
Stargazer only offers one cast iron collection with three products: a 10.5-inch skillet, a 12-inch skillet, and a 13.5-inch braiser. The two skillets are nearly identical in design, apart from the differences in size and weight.
The braiser is designed for oven roasting, shallow frying, braising, and open-fire cooking. Unlike Stargazer’s skillets, which have long handles, its braiser has two shorter handles on either side.
I’ve been testing Lodge and Stargazer for several months, and both skillets perform really well.
I’ve used them to cook steak, chicken, pork chops, fish, and several other meals, and every time, the food comes out great.
Both skillets take time to heat up, but once they’re hot, they retain heat well. They’re both ideal for searing and roasting meats because the temperature doesn’t fluctuate as you add ingredients. They stay hot and cook evenly.
I noticed a few key differences between Stargazer and Lodge during my testing.
First, both skillets come pre-seasoned, but Stargazer’s seasoning is much lighter. They coat each pan twice with a blend of oils, giving the skillet a bronze hue.
After cooking with Stargazer a few times, I noticed the seasoning started to wear down, exposing the gray/silver iron. I needed to re-season it a few times to build a stronger base layer of seasoning. Thankfully, seasoning cast iron is a simple process (here’s my method).
Lodge’s seasoning is much darker and holds up better. I haven’t had to re-season it since testing.
Second, Stargazer’s cooking surface is smooth, while Lodge’s is slightly coarse. Because of that, eggs are less likely to stick to Stargazer, and pancakes are easier to flip.
The last noticeable difference is the handling. Stargazer handles are much longer than Lodge’s, so they’re easier to grip with an oven mitt and stay cooler on the stove.
Overall, Stargazer and Lodge perform how you expect cast iron to perform. They’re thick, heavy, and maintain a stable temperature. They are two of the best skillets I’ve tested for searing, roasting, and frying.
In addition to my real-world testing, I conducted two quick experiments to see which skillet conducts and retains heat better.
The first test measured heat conduction — how fast and evenly the skillets heat.
To conduct the first experiment, I poured three cups of cold water into Lodge (Classic Collection) and Stargazer skillets, placed them on the stove, and turned the heat to the highest setting.
Water in the Stargazer skillet started boiling after 3 minutes and 24 seconds, while the Lodge skillet took 4 minutes and 45 seconds. I wasn’t surprised by these results because the Lodge skillet is noticeably thicker, and thicker pans usually take longer to heat.
With both skillets, the bubbles appeared first in the center but were eventually distributed evenly across the cooking surface.
Cast iron is not as conductive as materials like aluminum and copper, so it’s normal to see hot spots in the center before the heat spreads to the sides.
The second test measured heat retention.
Heat retention is one of the greatest benefits of cast iron. Since more cast iron skillets are made with thick walls, they absorb heat and stay hot, even when you turn the heat down or off.
Heat retention is important for searing steak, burgers, salmon, and other meats. You want a pan that remains hot as you add cold ingredients so they sear and cook evenly.
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The steady temperature makes cooking easier — it gives you a larger margin for error since food won’t immediately start burning if you turn the heat too high.
So which brand retains heat better? To find out, I poured 3 cups of water into Stargazer and Lodge Classic skillets and placed them on the stove to heat up and boil the water.
Once the water began boiling, I removed the skillets from the stove and set them on the counter to cool.
After five minutes, the water in the Lodge skillet was 131°F, and the water in the Stargazer skillet was 124°F.
After ten minutes, the water in the Lodge skillet measured 116°F, and the water in the Stargazer skillet was 109°F.
Again, I expected these results since thick skillets like Lodge retain heat better.
Lodge has a traditional design. The interior is slightly rough, typical for cast iron.
Alternatively, Stargazer uses a proprietary two-step treatment that smooths out the surface while creating enough texture for the seasoning to stick. The smoother cooking surface results in superior non-stick properties.
Stargazer’s pans are also constructed differently. Instead of pour spouts on both sides like Lodge (and most cast iron skillets), Stargazer skillets feature flared rims, making it easier to pour liquid from any angle.
Seasoning a cast iron pan before use is crucial for the effectiveness and longevity of the pan. With that in mind, each brand offers pre-seasoning options.
With Stargazer, you can order your pieces either pre-seasoned or unseasoned. If you’re new to cast iron cookware, I recommend the pre-seasoned option so you can start cooking with your pans immediately. However, some cast iron enthusiasts may have a favorite seasoning process they prefer. In that case, go with the unseasoned option.
Because of the unique way Stargazer pans are pre-seasoned, they have a signature bronze shade that stands out from classic cast iron cookware. According to Stargazer, “We use our own blend of canola, grapeseed, and sunflower oil that gives our skillets their trademark bronze color.”
Alternatively, Lodge primarily offers pre-seasoned pieces. The seasoning is much darker, and the color of the cast iron cookware is usually dark gray or completely black.
Remember that just because a pan comes pre-seasoned, that doesn’t mean you’ll never need to season it again. Every cast iron pan will need re-seasoning at some point, and some may need to be seasoned more often than others, depending on how often you use it and what kinds of food you cook.
Difference 6: Handles
One major design difference between Stargazer cast iron and Lodge is the shape and size of the handles.
Stargazer’s handles are longer than Lodge’s. Handles on Lodge Classic skillets are about 6 inches long, and Stargazer’s handles are 7.6 inches long for a skillet of the same size.
However, Lodge’s Blacklock collection has slightly longer handles, closer to Stargazer’s length.
Why does the length of the handle matter?
Stargazer’s longer and uniquely “cup-shaped” handles allow for a more secure grip. The handle’s unique shape also helps keep it cooler than a traditional cast iron skillet. Stargazer’s pans also feature “helper handles” on the opposite side to make it easier to lift and move.
By contrast, Lodge’s handles have a classic rounded handle on one side and a shorter helper handle on the other. The helper handle is narrower than Stargazer’s pans, so they’re not as easy to grip while wearing an oven mitt.
Difference 7: Bottom
Both brands stamp their logos into the pan bottoms during the casting process, making them easily identifiable.
However, Stargazer pans have a unique design feature — underneath the helper handle is a date code indicating the day the skillet was cast. This thoughtful feature adds keepsake value to your pan, especially considering that cast iron can last for generations.
Lodge’s product line is quite extensive. Its Classic cast iron skillets are available in a range of sizes from 3.5 to 15 inches in diameter. And apart from traditional cast iron pans, they offer a whole range of products, like 1-, 2-, 5-, and 7-quart Dutch ovens, grill pans, large griddles, etc.
Lodge’s extensive range makes it an excellent choice for people looking to create a specialized dish that needs a particular size skillet. The mini skillets are ideal for baking small desserts or preparing personal-sized meals, while the 15-inch skillet can fit enough food for large gatherings.
Stargazer’s lineup is limited. The company offers only three sizes — the 10.5-inch skillet, the 12-inch skillet, and the 13.5-inch braiser.
Stargazer skillets are lighter than Lodge Classic skillets. However, they weigh about the same as Lodge Chef Collection and are heavier than Lodge Blacklock.
Before you decide which brand and collection to buy, make sure you can comfortably lift the pan’s weight plus food.
This comparison chart shows the weight differences for some of the more popular Stargazer and Lodge skillets:
|Stargazer 10.5-inch Cast Iron Skillet||5.2 lb|
|Stargazer 12-inch Cast Iron Skillet||6.5 lb|
|Stargazer 13.5-inch Cast Iron Braiser||7.5 lb|
|Lodge Classic 10.25-Inch Cast Iron Skillet||5 lb|
|Lodge Classic 12-Inch Cast Iron Skillet||8 lb|
|Lodge Classic 13.25-Inch Cast-Iron Skillet||11.3 lb|
|Lodge Chef Collection 12-Inch Cast Iron Skillet||6.5 lb|
|Lodge Blacklock 12-Inch Cast Iron Skillet||5.8 lb|
Stargazer was founded in a garage in 2015 by professional kitchenware designer Peter Huntley. It’s a small business based in the United States, focusing on quality, hand-crafted cast iron pieces that will last a lifetime.
While Stargazer skillets are more expensive than other cast iron brands, the company focuses on quality and artistry; each pre-seasoned piece is hand-seasoned with a mister rather than machinery.
Unlike Stargazer, Lodge has been a leader in the American-made kitchenware industry for over 125 years. It was founded in South Pittsburg, Tennessee, by Joseph Lodge.
Lodge is also famous for its craftsmanship and quality, but it’s far from a small business. Much of the manufacturing process today is operated with machinery and robotics. For instance, all of Lodge’s cookware is pre-seasoned with the help of robots.
A significant difference between the brands is where you can buy their products. If you want to purchase Stargazer cast iron cookware, you have to purchase it directly from the company on StargazerCastIron.com.
Lodge cookware is much easier to find, whether you’re searching online or in stores. You can purchase a Lodge cast iron pan at almost all major retail department stores, outdoor stores, and Amazon.
Stargazer’s pans are expensive. In fact, it’s up to 5x more expensive than similar pieces from Lodge.
The main reason Stargazer costs more is because of the manual steps involved. This is not a mass-produced skillet. Each one is hand finished, seasoned, and carefully inspected.
It’s an heirloom quality piece, but you pay a premium for it. It’s worth mentioning that Stargazer offers a military discount to active service members and veterans.
Alternatively, Lodge is a much larger company, and the scale of its production drives prices down. If you’re on a budget and want a quality cast iron pan at a reasonable price, consider buying from Lodge.
These are the most notable downsides of each brand.
Price: As I mentioned, Stargazer is expensive. You can expect to pay well over a hundred dollars for a single skillet.
Limited product line: Stargazer only offers three cookware pieces compared to the dozens of products and multiple collections from Lodge.
Handle design: While I love the long handle, it’s not the most comfortable to hold. Its cup-shaped design ensures your hand won’t slip or rotate when you tilt the skillet, but the edges can dig into your hand. They remind me of a wider version of All-Clad handles, which people often complain about. Also, the long handle makes the skillet more difficult to store.
Short-lived seasoning: Some customer reviews report that Stargazer pans don’t retain seasoning well and must be re-seasoned often. Each skillet is hand-seasoned with two coats of a blend of canola, grapeseed, and sunflower oil. Because they apply such thin layers, you need to add one or two more coats either before you start cooking or soon after.
Heavy: Lodge cast iron is heavy, especially the larger cookware pieces within the Classic collection. The added weight makes them challenging to maneuver. The weight of Lodge’s cookware also makes it difficult to store — you need to be careful storing your Lodge pans on thin shelves or hanging on hooks.
Inconsistent seasoning: Some reviewers claim they need to re-season their “pre-seasoned” cast iron cookware when they get it because the seasoning out of the box is uneven. While you want to season your pan over time anyway, this can be inconvenient, especially if you’re paying for a pre-seasoned piece.
Rough pan bottom: The Lodge logo on the bottom of the cookware is rough, making it unsuitable for some cooking surfaces, like glass stove tops, since the pan could scratch them.
Here are just a few shout-outs that these brands have received from major outlets and kitchen publications:
Stargazer and Lodge are featured in People Magazine’s Best Cast Iron Pans list. Stargazer’s 10.5-inch cast iron skillet received rave reviews for its elegant and minimalist design and its unique flat handle that makes the pan easy to maneuver. Reviewers also pointed out that although Stargazer’s pan doesn’t have pour spouts, the rolled ridge makes pouring liquid easy and mess-free.
People Magazine also praised Lodge’s cast iron skillet for its dependable performance and comfortable grip, all at a reasonable price. The reviewers especially loved the red silicone handle grip that comes with the pan. The silicone adds extra grip to the handle while protecting your hands from the heat.
The New York Times named Lodge Chef Collection the Best Cast Iron Skillet. When tested against 15 other skillets, this Lodge pan came out on top. While the reviewers noted that the pan was a bit heavy, they praised its comfortable handle and grip and its shallow pan, making it ideal for searing, sauteing, and roasting.
Stargazer’s 12-inch skillet was also highlighted in the “competition” section of the feature, where it was recommended for frying chicken or dumplings. However, the Lodge skillet was recommended over it because of its more comfortable handle.
Simply Recipes highlighted Stargazer’s 10.5-inch skillet as the best overall cast iron skillet, while Lodge’s skillet stood out as the best budget pick. Considering all the pans in the lineup, Stargazer’s skillet came out on top because of its lightweight design and flared rim, which prevents dripping.
Lodge was praised for its silicone comfort safety grip, and incredible versatility — it’s just as effective as bakeware for cornbread as it is for frying or searing meats. While there were some hot spots, this pan is noted as an excellent option for the price.
Food Network lists the Lodge 10-inch cast iron skillet as the Best Overall Runner-Up in its lineup of Best Cast Iron Skillets. When tested by the Food Network team, it fried eggs without sticking and seared a steak to perfection. The pan also received high marks for its pour spouts and helper handle.
The Spruce Eats tested six skillets to create its Best Cast Iron Pans list. Lodge skillets took three of the six places, and the Lodge Blacklock skillet was named Best Overall. The Spruce loved this pan for its non-stick surface, looped handle that resists heat well, and the fact that it’s lightweight compared to most pans its size. Reviewers also loved the thinner bottom, which allows the pan to heat up much faster.
Stargazer also earned a place on the list. Its 10.5-inch cast iron skillet was named the best splurge option. The pan gets a shout-out for its attractive design, easy-pour rolled rim, and easy cleaning. While Spruce Eats acknowledges the Stargazer pan is very pricey, it’s worth it because of its durability and even heating, perfect for searing meat.
Now that you know the key differences between Stargazer and Lodge, it’s time to decide which brand is best for you.
Before I give my recommendation, let’s quickly recap:
- While Stargazer’s lineup only includes three pieces, Lodge has dozens of cast iron cookware, enamelware, and bakeware.
- Stargazer’s factory seasoning wears down quicker than Lodge’s.
- Stargazer’s uniquely-shaped handles are longer than Lodge’s traditional handles, making them easier to grip and more heat resistant.
- Stargazer heats faster, but Lodge has better heat retention.
- Stargazer’s interior is smoother than Lodge’s.
- Lodge features two pour spouts, while Stargazer’s rims are flared.
- Lodge’s cookware comes pre-seasoned, but with Stargazer, you can order your pan unseasoned.
- Stargazer is more expensive than Lodge — each skillet in its collection costs over a hundred dollars. Lodge’s cookware is more affordable because of the size of the company and its machine-focused manufacturing process.
- Stargazer pans must be purchased via the company’s website, while Lodge cookware can be found in-store at various retailers, on Amazon, and LodgeCastIron.com.
Bottom Line — Lodge and Stargazer both make thick, durable skillets with excellent heat retention. And both brands will last forever if you use them properly. The right skillet for you comes down to budget and design — the weight, handle style, texture, and comfort in your hand.
With Stargazer, you get premium features, like the longer handle, flared rims, and smooth surface, but those features come with a price. With Lodge, you get an affordable skillet that performs really well and has a classic design.
If you’re just getting started with cast iron, go with Lodge. And if you discover that you love cooking with cast iron, you can always upgrade to Stargazer.
If you love the heat retention of cast iron but are looking for a skillet with longer handles and a smoother surface, Stargazer is worth the splurge.
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