House & Beyond is reader-supported. We may earn a commission through products purchased using links on this page. Learn more about our process here
Believe it or not, frying pans/skillets have been around since the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia and Greece. Fast forward into the 21st century, it is hard to walk into a homestead or restaurant and miss a skillet. Both professionals and home cooks understand the importance of relying on the best frying pan to produce phenomenal food. Having a reliable frying pan will have you making anything from a stir-fry to cornbread.
You would be amazed at the kinds of food you can make with these simple frying pans. There are thousands of innovative recipes that you can undertake. Before you get to sampling different recipes, you have to purchase a frying pan first. Making a good purchase means understanding what you are looking for in a frying pan. For this review, we considered a couple of factors before selecting our top frying pans. Some of these factors include the thickness of the pan, the size of the pan, and the materials used in the construction of the pan. Also, we looked at the compatibility of the skillet to other cooking surfaces like induction tops. There are more factors to be considered like the price tag which will be covered in the buying guide.
We have spent days pouring over product details trying to find high-quality pans in the market. Below we have compiled all the information we have gathered for your viewing. Feel free to go over the comparison table, detailed reviews and finally the buying guide. By the time you are through, we are sure finding a suitable skillet will not be that challenging.
Experience handmade perfection from French artisans by adding the Le Creuset Signature Iron Handle Skillet to your kitchen. The cast-iron skillet performs well in both high and low-temperature cooking processes. Being that it is a heavy-duty pan, it is deemed perfect for low-fat cooking as it does not require too much oil to get the job done. It has a 9-inch diameter which gives you ample room to cook your food without overcrowding.
The interior of the pan possesses a black satin enamel that is created to handle high temperatures. The black satin enamel does not need any more seasoning, it is perfect as it is and it will not stain or grow dull. Remember not to use metallic utensils on this pan to avoid scratching the surface.
This model comes with a stick handle and a helper handle to make lifting the pan easy. Both the handles offer a firm grip even when wearing thick oven mitts. You will be able to use this pan on induction cooktops or even stick it in the oven to bake some chicken. When you are done with cooking, throw the pan into the dishwasher to get it clean. It comes with a lifetime limited warranty which goes to show you that the quality can be trusted.
Why are we impressed?
Made of cast iron with an enamel coating for strength and durability.
The Tramontina 80114/537DS Professional skillet made in the USA. It is made out of heavy gauge 3004 aluminum to facilitate equal heat distribution and make the pan durable. The interior of the skillet is coated in a non-toxic PFOA free eclipse non-stick layer. This layer prevents food from sticking onto the pan and makes it easy to clean the pan afterwards.
To move the skillet from one location to the next, this model comes with a riveted stainless steel handle. The handle itself is covered with a silicone sleeve to offer the user a comfortable grip and protection from burning. The rivets used do not need tightening, you can indulge in a stir-fry without worrying that the handle will come off.
This pan can be used in the oven but to a maximum temperature of 400°F. It is also dishwasher safe and thus cleaning it will be a breeze. For those with induction tops, you may need to find another unit as this one is not compatible with induction tops. This is an affordable 14-inch unit that will hold large amounts of food for a large family/gathering.
The NFS certified skillet comes with a lifetime limited warranty. If you find something unsatisfactory with the product, contact your supplier for solutions.
What makes it special?
Made from heavy-gauge aluminum for strength and proper heat distribution.
Features a riveted stainless steel handle with a silicone sleeve for comfort.
Comes with a toxic-free non-stick layer.
It is oven and dishwasher safe.
Offers a 14-inch diameter which can hold a lot of food.
It is NFS certified to show the quality can be trusted.
The GreenPan Rio skillet offers you a 12-inch diameter and a 5qt capacity. This is more than enough room to cater to family- size meals. This pan comes with a non-stick coating made of Thermolon ceramic which is a healthier option than using Teflon. The coating contains no toxic materials and neither will it impart a bitter taste to your food. Even if you overheat the pan, you can be sure that the taste of the food will not alter.
This skillet weighs 5.17lbs which indicates that it is a heavy-duty pan. It offers excellent heat conduction which then translates to even cooking results. It even comes with a glass lid to trap heat and let the food simmer down. The lid has a heat-protected knob to help you lift the lid off the frying pan without burning.
To help move the unit off the fire, the frying pan comes with Bakelite handles. Both the helper handle and the stick handle will remain cool to touch, therefore, avoiding burns. Offering a lifetime limited warranty, this unit is oven and dishwasher safe. No harm will come to the skillet even when exposed to high temperatures.
What do we love it for?
Has a Thermolon ceramic coating to prevent food from sticking to the pan.
Oven safe till maximum temperatures of 350°F.
Offers a wide 12-inch diameter which can cater to large meals.
It is dishwasher safe making it easy to clean.
Provides cool-touch Bakelite handles to avoid accidental burns.
Comes with a glass lid to cover the pan for certain food processes.
The OXO Good Grips Pro Frypan combines two strong metals to form one formidable unit. Armored with an aluminum core in-between two steel layers offers excellent heat conductivity. With a 3mm thickness, you can be sure that your food will cook evenly on all sides as the pan has no cold spots. The 12- inch pan is large enough to hold large amounts of food just in case you are having people over.
Additionally, this 12-inch pan does not come with a non-stick coating. You can make food without chemicals seeping into your food. The pan is easy to clean since all you have to do is throw it in the dishwasher and you are done. It is also oven and induction cooktop safe therefore, you are not limited to a specific cooking top. It can survive oven temperatures up to 430°F.
It comes with a contoured handle that helps dissipate heat quickly. The cool-to-touch handle will keep you from burning your hands and also offer adequate grip. The materials used are scratch-resistant and therefore, you will be able to maintain the appearance of the pan. Versatile and affordable, this unit comes with a 10- year limited warranty.
What stands out?
Uses 3-ply technology to offer the right amount of thickness for excellent heat conductivity.
It is oven safe until the maximum temperature of 430°F.
Comes with a comfortable cool-to-touch handle.
Offers 12-inch diameter to make enough food for a family.
Materials used are scratch-resistant therefore, durable.
Compatible with induction cooktops and dishwashers.
Offers a 10-year limited warranty.
Features unrolled edges to facilitate drip-free pouring of food.
The Cuisinart CI22-24CR Chef’s Classic frying pan offers you affordability and reliable quality. The cast-iron unit is coated with protective enamel to give you the best results in heat conduction. Fetched in two colors, this model offers you a 10-inch diameter surface to cook in. It is not the largest size in the range but it will cater well to a small-medium sized family.
The porcelain enamel interior keeps food from sticking to the surface. The porcelain enamel surface contains no toxins and it will not impart any bitter flavor into the food. The exterior of the pan is also coated in enamel to make the pan easy to clean and enable to maintain its appearance.
Additionally, the pan is dishwasher safe therefore, getting it clean should not be an issue. This model is also compatible with induction cooktops and can be used in ovens too. This allows you to try out different food recipes without being limited to one cooking surface. The maximum oven temperatures that this model can withstand is 500°F. Beyond that is risking damage to the frying pan. This model is accompanied by a lifetime limited warranty. Any issues that arise with the product will be handled by the warranty.
What makes it stand out?
Made of cast iron with an enamel coating for durability.
Induction cooktop and oven compatible.
It is dishwasher safe making it simple to clean.
Cast iron handle is comfortable and conducts heat slowly.
Comes with a lifetime-limited warranty.
It is an affordable unit and the colors look good.
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?
It is heavy.
Things to Consider
Frying pans are common to find in any household in the world because they are required for everyday life. Before making an investment in one, let us look at why these frying pans are so popular:
Why should you have a frying pan at home?
They are overly expensive and they offer good value for money. Frying pans are durable and therefore, they will provide years of service.
They can be used to make various kinds of foods. You can make everything from home-made pizza, a stir-fry to a well-seared steak.
They low-maintenance products that are easy to clean and store.
Some come with non-stick coatings that prevent food from sticking to the surface of the pan.
Can be used on different cooking tops including induction cooktops.
Due to their design, they offer more surface area exposed to heat for even cooking.
Some like cast iron pans impart a certain flavor to the food that is irreplaceable.
This may be the first time you are pan-frying food, therefore, you may want to look at these tips below. They may make your cooking experience run smoother.
Ensure that the pan is warmed up before adding the cooking oil. That is for pans without a non-stick coating. You can add the oil without warming the pan for the non-stick coating pans.
Get a pair of tongs or a spatula to help you turn the food in the pan. This facilitates even cooking.
If you are cooking meat, select the tender parts for cooking. Tender cuts tend to cook faster and retain more flavor.
The cooking oil you use should have a decent smoking point like sunflower oil, grapeseed oil and peanut oil among others. Oils with a low smoking point will burn easily, lose nutrients and impart a burnt flavor in the food.
Allow food to thaw out before cooking it. This promotes even cooking of food.
Some foods like meat cuts should be patted dry before searing so as to get the right color and retain juices.
Bread- coated foods should be dried out a bit before proceeding to shallow frying.
Avoid overcrowding the pan. The food will not be able to cook evenly. It is recommended to cook large amounts of food in batches.
Always allow the food to rest before serving so as to let the texture and taste settle.
Depending on the size of the frying pan and the construction materials, the price may differ. The heavier the pan is, the more likely you are to pay for it. Cast iron and stainless-steel skillets can be super expensive depending on the brand. You can get a reliable skillet for less than $50 or pay as high as $200+. Depending on what you can afford, select a skillet whose quality will get the job done.
Features to consider while buying the best frying pan
Before you go spending your hard-earned money, here are a few factors to consider before purchasing a frying pan:
Check the non-stick coating
Both non-stick and naturally finished frying pans possess pros and cons. Depending on the cooking process you are carrying out, you will find either of these pans perfect for the job. Pans with the non-stick coating are great if you don’t want food sticking to the pan. Great for cooking omelets, pancakes and other sticky foods, these pans reduce the need of using too much oil. Their main downside is that the non-stick coating is liable to scratches and the pans are unable to handle temperatures above 500°F. Temperatures above 500°F break down the non-stick coating, rendering it useless.
Naturally finished pans are perfect for searing meat as they can handle high temperatures. They are more economical compared to the non-stick pans but they are liable to food sticking to them. To prevent food from sticking onto the surface, you may need to use more oil. These lubricants saturate food thus increasing the fat and calorie content in the food. If you are trying to stick to a healthy diet, too much oil/fats are ill-advised.
Choose the pan material and size
There are various materials used in making frying pans. These materials offer durability and excellent heat conduction to adequately cook food. Frying pans can be used on traditional wood cookers, gas stoves, electric cookers and also induction cookers. For those who need induction compatible frying pans, you need to look for stainless steel clad in aluminum. Stainless steel clad in aluminum possesses strong anti-corrosion abilities and it is durable. Alternatively, carbon steel frying pans or pans that include both aluminum and stainless-steel metal will do.
Anodized aluminum pans offer excellent performance when it comes to being scratch-proof and dent-proof. Before purchase, confirm the quality of the material used for construction. You can research online to find the different pros and cons of different materials.
The size of the pan will depend on the amount of food expected to be produced. The rule is to make sure that the pan is not overcrowded so that the food cooks evenly. You can select a standard size that will cater for both small and large meals.
The thickness of a frying pan can be measured in Mils or Gauge. If you are using mils to measure the thickness of the pan, remember that the higher the number, the thicker the pan (1mil= 1/1000 inches). If you are using the gauge measurements, be sure that the higher the number, the thinner the pan. For example, a pan with a 10-gauge assembly will be thicker than a pan with 20-gauge assembly. The thicker the pan the better, you will be able to cook food in high temperatures without overcooking/burning the food.
It is easy to get burnt hands if you do not pay attention to the handle while the pan is on the fire. It is recommended to find pans that have stainless steel handles compared to the aluminum handles that conduct heat quickly. Alternatively, you can settle for silicone/cool handles that are easy to clean and comfortable to use like the Tramontina 80114/537DS Professional skillet. Their only downside is that they are unable to handle high temperatures. You can buy pans with metallic handles, just make sure they hollowed or feature a design that lets them dissipate heat quickly.
For a frying pan to be induction safe, it has to contain ferrous metal in its construction. This is to enable the creation of a magnetic field that is required for heat. This means that cast Iron pans, carbon steel pans, stainless steel pans and thick steel pans are good to use on induction cooking tops
Heating and evenness
To test heating and evenness we undertook two tests. We heated cold water over medium heat in the pan to see where the bubbles would first appear. We also looked for any hot/cold spots as the water drew near to the boiling point. The second test was to sear 1-inch steaks over medium heat and see which pan offered the best sear. If the meat and the water both gave positive results without any cold spots, then it is good for use.
Selecting pans with riveted handles is recommended as they are sturdy and do not need to be tightened over time. They are low maintenance handles that offer excellent support. The only thing that you will have to be careful with is hygiene. You need to clean the area well to prevent bacteria build-up that may contaminate your food. An example of a well riveted unit is the OXO Good Grips Pro Frypan.
In most cases, frying pans come with long warranties and some even offer lifetime warranties. If you find yourself with a product that offers you a lifetime warranty, you can sleep better knowing that you are covered. The quality of the pan will not fail you nor will you have wasted your money.
5-minute frying pan recipe you will love
Piece of salmon
Preferred vegetable oil
Rest salmon on a paper for 15min, skin facing down, and then pat it dry.
Place a heavy skillet on medium heat and heat the vegetable oil.
Season the salmon piece with salt and pepper.
Sear the piece of fish, skin first for approximately 5min. Remember to press the salmon to get an even sear.
Flip the piece to the other side and cook for two minutes.
Serve the fish sunny side up with your desired complementary foods.
Yes, you do need to season a pan especially if it comes without a non-stick coating. The seasoning creates a protective layer that prevents food from sticking to the surface of the pan. To create this seasoning, one needs to heat the pan to high temperatures until it starts smoking. Let the pan cool down and then apply a layer of vegetable oil and heat the pan again until the oil starts smoking. Once the pan’s interior surface turns dark, the pan is seasoned, just wash it and prepare for use.
Maintaining frying pans is not a hard job. Here are a few tips to help with maintenance.
Look for the manufacturer’s instructions to find any care tips provided.
To avoid warping of the metal, let the pan cool first before exposing it to water.
Avoid leaving cooked food inside the pan for long hours as it may break down the protective layer achieved by seasoning.
Avoid using soap on carbon steel pans as the soap breaks down the protective layer.
Use silicone utensils on pans with a non-stick coating so as to avoid scratching the Teflon.
Place liners in between pans with a non-stick coating to avoid any scratches.
Make sure that the pan is dishwasher safe before throwing it in the dishwasher. The detergent used to wash the dishes should be safe for metals too.
We have come to the end of our journey in the search of a reliable frying pan. We hope that in the bustle and hassle, you were able to spot a skillet that is perfect for your home. Our recommendations for this review are:
The Le Creuset Signature Iron Handle Skillet is a tad pricey but the quality of the cast iron used is all worth the while. It has an enamel non-stick coating to keep from sticking and its size is just right. It is able to handle both small and large meals comfortably.
Offering 12-inches of cooking surface, the GreenPan Rio comes with its own lid and a Thermolon ceramic non-stick coating. It has cool-to-touch handles and it is dishwasher safe. For those who need a skillet that comes with its own lid, this is a great choice.
The Cuisinart CI22-24CR Chef’s Classic skillet is an affordable 10-inch model that offers you good quality features. It is made of cast iron and thus will serve you for years to come. Regardless of which unit you select make sure it is the best frying pan you can get to satisfy your cookery needs.