When was the last time you pulled out your cast iron skillet? These dark and heavy pans are great for adding flavor and texture to your dishes, but we don’t always reach for them first — especially when we’re making desserts. However, there’s all the reason in the world to try making your sweets in your skillet. Edges get crispy, crumbles get brown, and the centers stay gooey and soft. Plus, there’s normally minimal cleanup. Put your skillet to work as you try these delicious desserts.
1. Ultimate Skillet Brownie
The only downside to making super gooey brownies is you usually have to wait a few hours for them to cool in order to cut them into squares. By baking the batter in a skillet, it’s pretty much understood that you’ll be scooping rather than cutting, so you can dig in right away. One of our favorite recipes for these molten brownies comes from Sally’s Baking Addiction. Because cast-iron pans retain heat so well, this goody will stay nice and warm as guests come and go.
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- Ice cream
- Chocolate sauce
- Maraschino cherries
Directions: Melt butter and chocolate in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly, until almost melted. Remove from heat and continue to stir until smooth. Alternatively, melt in the microwave, cooking in 20 second intervals and stirring between each interval, until fully melted. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and cool for about 10 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and position rack to lower-third position. Lightly grease a 9- to 12-inch cast-iron skillet.
Whisk the sugar into the melted chocolate, followed by the eggs and vanilla, mixing to thoroughly combine. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour, cocoa powder, and salt until just combined. Lastly, mix in the chocolate chips.
Pour batter into prepared skillet, transfer to oven, and bake 30 to 32 minutes, or until edges are dry and top looks shiny and cracked. Do not overbake.
Let brownie cool for 10 minutes. Serve with ice cream, chocolate sauce, and cherries.
2. Skillet Granola-Apple Crisp
As much as everyone loves a slice of apple pie, it’s a tough dessert to pull off. For the same flavor and a lot less work, try a your hand at a crisp. Food Network’s apple dessert makes things even easier by using purchased granola to shortcut the topping. You can use any variety of cereal you like, but you might want to think about ingredients you like to pair with apples like cinnamon, pecans, and raisins.
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1½ cups purchased granola
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
- 1 tablespoon plus ¼ cup sugar, divided
- 5 crisp apples, such as Fuji or Gala, peeled, cored, and cut into ½-inch pieces
- ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Meanwhile, melt butter in an oven-safe skillet over medium heat. Add granola, 1 tablespoon flour, and 1 tablespoon sugar. Toss until sugar is dissolved and granola is coated. Transfer topping to a bowl and set aside.
Pour apples into skillet and add pumpkin pie spice, lemon juice, and remaining sugar. Cook, stirring occasionally, until apples are juicy and slightly softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in remaining flour. Scatter granola mixture over top and transfer skillet to oven. Bake until bubbling and apples are tender, about 35 to 40 minutes. Serve.
3. Deep Dish Skillet Snickerdoodle Cookie
Making a skillet cookie is both more impressive looking and faster than baking individual treats, especially in the case of snickerdoodles. Instead of having to roll individual dough balls in cinnamon sugar, you just sprinkle it in the skillet and on top of the giant cookie. Give it a try with this cinnamon-spiced concoction from Foodie With Family. The baking time for this dessert can vary quite a bit, depending on your oven, so keep an eye on it after 25 minutes.
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1½ cups granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2¾ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar mixed with 2 teaspoons cinnamon
Directions: Whisk flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and beat to combine. Add flour mixture and mix until combined. Chill dough for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a cast-iron skillet or grease with cooking spray. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of cinnamon sugar evenly over skillet. Add cookie dough to pan and pat into an even layer using moistened fingers. Sprinkle remaining cinnamon sugar evenly over the top.
Bake cookie 30 to 45 minutes. Cookie is done when edges are browned and center is golden. Let cool for 20 minutes, slice into wedges, and serve.
4. Skillet Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
Perhaps the most obvious of all the skillet desserts out there, pineapple upside-down cake also happens to be one of the tastiest. Give this classic cake a go with Southern Living’s recipe. For a little more oomph, add a splash of whiskey to the brown sugar topping before adding the pineapple.
Bringing this cake to a party? Leave it in the skillet instead of inverting right away, so it’s easier to transport. When you arrive, heat the bottom of the skillet for a minute or two on a grill or stovetop. It will warm the caramel just enough to help the cake easily release from the pan when you flip it out.
- ¼ cup unsalted butter
- ⅔ cup packed light or dark brown sugar
- 1 (20-ounce) can pineapple rings, undrained
- 9 maraschino cherries
- 2 large eggs, separated
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream
Directions: Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Melt butter in a 9-inch cast-iron skillet. Evenly spread brown sugar over the skillet. Drain pineapple reserving ¼ cup of the juice. Arrange pineapple rings over the brown sugar, making sure to leave in a single layer. Place a cherry in the center of each ring.
Using an electric mixer, beat yolks until thick and pale. Gradually add sugar, and beat well to combine.
Heat reserved pineapple juice in a small saucepan over low heat. Gradually add juice to the yolk mixture, beating to combine. In a separate bowl, whisk flour, salt, and baking powder, then add to the yolk mixture, mixing until combined.
Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form, then carefully fold into batter. Spoon batter over pineapple slices in skillet. Bake 45 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Cool cake in skillet for 30 minutes, then invert onto a plate. Serve.
5. Skillet Strawberry Cobbler with Cream Cheese Swirled Biscuits
There’s no need to wait until spring to get your fill of strawberry desserts when you make Half Baked Harvest’s skillet fruit cobbler because it works perfectly well with frozen berries. We particularly like the biscuit topping for this recipe; it gets a hefty dose of cream cheese for added richness. When buying frozen strawberries, make sure you’re getting ones without added sugar, otherwise you’ll end up with a filling that’s mores syrup than fruit.
- 3 pounds fresh or frozen strawberries, hulled, large ones halved
- ⅓ cup coconut, packed brown, or granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract plus seeds of 1 vanilla bean (optional)
- Pinch of sea salt
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 12 tablespoons cold, salted butter
- ¾ cup buttermilk
- ¼ cup honey
- 8 ounces cream cheese, cubed
Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease an 11- to 12-inch cast-iron skillet with butter or cooking spray. Combine strawberries, sugar, lemon juice, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, and a pinch of salt in the bottom of the skillet. Toss to combine.
Whisk flour and baking powder in a large bowl. Using a pastry cutter or a fork, cut butter into flour until you’re left with coarse crumbs, some about the size of peas. Whisk honey into buttermilk, then add to flour. Stir until just combined, being careful not to overmix, using your hands to gently knead at the end. Carefully fold in the cream cheese.
Drop ¼-cup portions of dough over strawberry mixture. Alternatively, pat dough together on a sheet of parchment and cut into biscuits using a round cutter. Set biscuits on top of strawberry mixture.
Transfer cobbler to oven and bake 40 to 45 minutes, or until filling is bubbling and biscuits are golden. Serve.
6. Cranberry-Orange Skillet Bread Pudding
Bread pudding made with a basic white loaf is pretty tasty. Bread pudding made with croissants in unbelievable. See what you’ve been missing by baking Pampered Chef’s dessert with oranges and cranberries. The best part is probably the crispy topping, made by sprinkling some sugar over the top, then broiling the dish. It adds just enough crunch to an otherwise soft dessert.
- 2 large oranges
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup sweetened dried cranberries
- 4 (3-ounce) croissants, halved, and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup half-and-half
- 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
- 2 tablespoons sugar
Directions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and position rack in the center. Cut one orange into segments, then cut segments in half. Set aside. Zest remaining orange to get 1 teaspoon and juice to measure ¼ cup juice. Combine orange juice, water, and cranberries in a 10-inch skillet. Bring mixture to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes, or until cranberries are softened.
Combine croissant cubes with orange segments and cranberry mixture. Toss gently, then transfer to same skillet.
Whisk eggs and orange zest to combine in a medium bowl. Combine half-and-half and condensed milk in a microwave-safe bowl and heat for 3 to 4 minutes on high, or until hot. Slowly add milk mixture to eggs, whisking to combine. Pour custard over croissants in skillet, pressing to coat.
Sprinkle sugar evenly over the top. Bake bread pudding 14 to 16 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer registers 155 degrees Fahrenheit when inserted in the center. Switch oven to broil and cook 3 to 4 minutes, or until top of pudding is golden. Serve.
7. Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie
Like the perfect combination of all your favorite cookies, this massive skillet cookie from Creme de la Crumb is a must-make dessert. It’s also a good choice for those new to baking because it’s a lot harder to overbake this monster than individual treats. Though completely unnecessary, vanilla ice cream makes a fantastic addition.
- 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup old-fashioned oats
- ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
- ½ cup packed brown sugar
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup creamy peanut butter
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
- Vanilla ice cream
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9-inch cast-iron skillet with cooking spray.
Whisk flour, baking soda, salt, and oats in a medium bowl to combine. Using a stand or hand mixer, cream butter with both sugars until pale and fluffy. Add peanut butter, egg, and vanilla. Mix to combine. Add dry ingredients and mix just to combine. Fold in chocolate chips.
Using your fingers, press dough into prepared skillet, leaving ½-inch border around the edge of the skillet. Transfer to oven and bake 25 to 35 minutes. Serve warm cookie with ice cream.