Looking for a great frying pan is one of those decisions that can be deceptively tricky.
On one level, what could be easier than choosing a hunk of metal you can cook things in?
While that’s true, when you start getting involved with the different materials at your disposal, that alone can suck up a great deal of time. We’re here to make your life easier there and we’ve put together a concise guide after our reviews to break down where each of these materials stands and falls.
- Top 10 Best Carbon Steel Pans
- Top 10 Best Non Stick Pans Without Pfoa (Teflon Is Safe?)
- Top 20 Best Cookware Sets
- Top 10 Best Electric Skillets
There are also a range of other factors at play from how the handles are riveted through to what’s used for the non-stick coating.
You’ll also, of course, need to consider the styling and size of the pan.
We’re here to make every step of that journey as painless and simple as possible for you so we’ll first cut straight to the chase with our capsule reviews of the best 16 frying pans.
Table of Contents
I. Top 16 Best Frying Pans
1. Our #1 Pick – The Best Nonstick Frying Pan: Le Creuset 8-Inch Shallow Fry Pan
Le Creuset produce exceptional cookware which certainly isn’t cheap but is built to stay the distance. This 8-inch shallow fry pan is a great buy to buy into this brand heritage without spending a fortune.
The exterior is made from hard anodized stainless steel while the non-stick interior keeps food from sticking to the sides and renders clean-up a cinch. The pan is completely to safe to pop in the dishwasher, too.
If you like finishing off your omelettes in the oven, this pan is oven-safe up to a whopping 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
This subtle but highly effective pan is designed to work with all cookers including those with induction surfaces.
Crowned with a lifetime warranty, you can find plenty of cheaper pan but you won’t many better ones than this gem from Le Creuset.
2. Runner-Up – The Best Ceramic Frying Pan: Vollrath 12-Inch Fry Pan
A close runner-up is this 12-incher from Vollrath offering a little more real estate than the Le Creuset without being so heavy as to feel burdensome thanks to the lightweight aluminum build.
The stay-cool handle has a removable silicone sleeve. This remains cool even after going into the oven at up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Ceramic Guard II non-stick surface is free of all contaminants and makes sure your pan doesn’t end up spattered with debris and you don’t spend hours scouring away when you’ve finished eating.
The coating, in fact, is so effective that you can quite easily use this pan to whip up your favorite dishes oil-free.
If you don’t mind paying a little more for a rugged, ding-free pan, the Vollrath should give you years of faithful service.
3. Best Carbon Steel Pan for Frying: De Buyer MINERAL 8-Inch Fry Pan
If you’re looking for a pan with a difference, De Buyer serves up this superb carbon steel pan which contains no PFOA and no PTFE either.
All you need to do when you buy this pan is to season it and you’ll get a blissfully maintenance-free experience. This finish gives you all the advantages of a classic non-stick pan but with added ability to sear.
Don’t be put off when your pan darkens after use. This is a natural part of the process that results in a non-stick pan with absolutely no recourse to synthetic coatings.
You should sidestep the dishwasher with this pan. All you need to do after cooking is to deglaze the pan with hot water and grab a little coarse salt for sterilizing purposes.
If the 8-inch is bit small for your liking, choose from a range of sizes right up to a whopping 14-incher.
4. Best Cast Iron Pan for Frying: Lodge Cast 10 ¼-Inch Iron Skillet
If you’re hunting for a cast iron pan that comes ready to roll and pre-seasoned, Lodge delivers.
This pan comes fully seasoned with vegetable oil so you won’t have any niggling concerns about synthetic contaminants.
With Lodge, you’re buying into a family-owned and family-operated concern with well over a century making cookware just like this. This versatile pan is equally home on the stovetop, in the oven or out on the camping grill.
As with all cast iron cookware, either skip washing completely and allow your pan to develop naturally or limit yourself to soapy hot water only.
You can choose from a bewildering array of sizes with Lodge. This model is the 10 ¼-inch but you can start as small as 3 inches and the line-topping model is fully 15 inches across.
5. All-Clad 14-Inch Fry Pan
If you regularly cook up large stir fries, this 14-inch wok style fry pan comes with a wide and flattened out base and a low-slung profile perfect for cooking up a storm without spillage.
The stainless steel exterior culminates in an aluminum core designed for the most even and consistent heat distribution.
Stainless extends to the handle which comes powerfully riveted so eliminating one of the most common weak spots with frying pans.
The non-stick finish is completely chemical-free and gives you a coating your food will slide off rather than smearing onto. Clean-up and maintenance is a breeze.
You can pop this pan into the oven or broiler up to a huge 600 degrees Fahrenheit giving you great flexibility with recipes.
Finished with a lifetime limited warranty, you’re in safe hands with All-Clad.
6. Scanpan 8-Inch Fry Pan
Next up is a fantastic 5-ply pan from Scanpan with a durable stainless interior and a sleek satin finish.
This is non-stick cookware at its best. You won’t be menaced by PFOA or PTFE and you’ll get a wonderfully natural coating your food seems to glide over.
One of the added bonuses with this pan is the way you can use any type of utensils and also pop it in the dishwasher making it very low-maintenance all round.
Whether you’re searing or braising, you can get away with using far less oil with a non-stick pan of this caliber. Not only is this healthier and easier on your waistline, you’ll have less mess to clean up, too.
The coating is stratanium which is harder than steel and offers a superb release so your food comes sliding off and straight onto your plate.
7. All-Clad 8-Inch and 10-Inch Fry Pan Set
All-Clade bundles up the value with this set of 8-inch and 10-inch pans giving you a great deal of scope.
The trademark low-profile looks and the flattened out base means you’ll get a pan that looks great while also being designed to optimize heat conduction.
The non-stick coating comes free of PFOA and all other potential pathogens. You’ll get a natural but effective barrier against food smeared all over your pan with All-Clad.
You’ll be able to safely use this cookware on all types of cooker including induction ovens.
While it’s possible to put these pans in the dishwasher, the best option is to wash gently by hand with nothing but a little soap and warm water.
You can slip the pan into the oven, too. This is safe up to temperatures of 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you’re looking for minimum fuss and maximum value, check out this set at your earliest convenience.
8. Calphalon 10-Inch and 12-Inch Omelette Fry Pan
If you need some substantial cookware to rustle up meals for larger families, this set of 10-inch and 12-inch pans from Calphalon is well worth your time.
Hard-anodized aluminum pans come with a full 3 layers of non-stick coating. The outer of these layers is deliberately designed to promote easy release of your food so slide those eggs straight onto the plate with ease.
If you make a lot of eggs and pancakes, you’ll appreciate the sloped sides allowing you to toss with abandon and no concerns about spillage.
Ideal for gas, electric, gas and halogen cookers, these pans are not a good fit with induction cookers.
Lengthy stay-cool handles and a lightweight build make these pans a cinch to maneuver despite their substantial capacity.
9. Cuisinart 10-Inch Fry Pan
This classic cast-iron pan from Cuisinart makes a commanding statement with its bold red coloring.
The range is broad and deep but this 10-inch fry pan gives you plenty of latitude to cook a pretty substantial meal.
The interior of this cast-iron beauty is porcelain enamel. This leaves no taint on the food and doesn’t take in the smell of food either.
If you frequently have leftover food when you’ve plated up, the insulating properties of the cast iron mean it should still be hot when you go back for a second plate.
As with all cast-iron pans like this, the Cuisinart is technically dishwasher-safe but we’d recommend washing by hand instead.
10. Lodge Wok
Lodge offers a range of cast-iron woks giving you a traditional look along with dependable performance in an easy-maintenance bundle: what’s not to love?
All Lodge cookware comes pre-seasoned. The company uses nothing but vegetable oil so you’ll have a natural seasoning rendering maintenance of your wok super-simple. As you use your wok more, the seasoning works its way in further and becomes increasingly effective.
A couple of handles on the sides allow you to steady your stir fries and makes serving easier.
The cast iron construction ensures completely even heat distribution and it has great insulating properties, too.
If you’re after a no-nonsense and multi-purpose wok at a reasonable price-point, Lodge delivers fully as always.
11. Ozeri 12-Inch Stone Earth Frying Pan
Ozeri has patented a stone-derived non-stick coating that manages to avoid all known contaminants while rendering the surface of this pan almost stick-free.
The coating is also heavily scratch-resistant so stands up to some pretty harsh scraping and stirring without showing signs of wear.
Die-cast aluminum gives you a lightweight and maneuverable pan while the magnetized base makes the Ozeri a neat fit with induction cookers.
The silicone handle remains cool and is precisely riveted in 3 places.
If you insist on a non-stick coating but you’re militant about having no chemicals or contaminants on the surface, the Ozeri addresses your pain head-on. Get all the benefits of Teflon or similar coatings with none of the drawbacks: an obvious home run.
12. Cuisinart 12-Inch Skillet
This expansive 12-inch skillet from Cuisinart comes in at an extremely keen price-point and is nestled within an enormous range of sizings and configurations.
The skillet comes with a transparent cover making it a cakewalk to monitor proceedings.
The interior coating is quantanium which comes with titanium in it. This coating is safe, contaminant-free and allows you to cook using less oil, too. You’ll also find food slips with absolute ease from pan to plate.
Whether you’re whipping up some garlic and onions as the base for a sauce or frying up some chicken breasts, you’ll get even heat distribution all the way.
If you need to transfer the skillet to the oven, you’re safe to do up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
The hard-anodized build gives you the strength of stainless steel and then some.
For a reliable and long-lasting skillet ideal for a range of applications, this Cuisinart 12-inch deserves a place on any shortlist.
13. All-Clad 10-Inch Pan
All-Clad bring their A-game with this 10-inch pan finished in a striking burnished stainless steel.
The 18/10 stainless cooking surface is also guaranteed to preserve the natural flavors of your food without you finding it smeared all over the sides of the pan.
Radiating from an aluminum core, you’ll get first-hate heat distribution and completely consistent results whatever you’re cooking up.
The lid is also stainless. We’ve got to be honest, a stay-cool handle would have been appreciated. Take care when you’re touching this lid since the whole thing is oven-friendly to 500 degrees Fahrenheit so watch your fingers!
Suitable for all types of ovens including induction cookers, the lifetime warranty rounds out an unbeatable package from All-Clad.
14. Le Creuset Signature 9-Inch Skillet
This heavyweight enameled cast iron pan from legendary Le Creuset is tailor-made for low-fat cooking.
Aside from the choice of pastel colors, what else is so good about this pan?
Where most cast-iron cookware cries out for additional seasoning, the enamel interior of the Le Creuset doesn’t need this making your life much easier. The surface is highly resistant to wear and tear while offering great non-stick properties.
You can easily slide this skillet in the dishwasher. Failing that, just rinse out with some water and you’ll be ready to roll.
While a Le Creuset pan is not cheap, investing in one should give you a lifetime of faithful service and a taste to add more Le Creuset cookware to your artillery.
The helper handle is specifically designed to give you enough room even if you’re wearing oven gloves.
For a touch of the professional kitchen at home, why not treat yourself to some Le Creuset?
15. Cuisinart Stainless Steel Skillet
The Cuisinart MultiClad range comes in a dizzying array of configurations. This open skillet is a highly versatile piece of kit.
Stainless steel build comes triple-ply and you’ve got Heat Surround technology baked in so all the heat stays just where you want it the easy way.
Riveted handles are designed to stay nice and cool even after popping the pan in the oven. You’re good with temperatures up to 550 degrees Fahrenheit.
Tapered rims stop spillage when you’re pouring and the sloped sides of the skillet increase your available cooking area.
This skillet works with all kinds of cookers including induction models.
The limited lifetime warranty shows you the extent of the confidence the manufacturer places in this skillet. Why not take them up on the deal?
16. Rachael Ray Cucina Skillet Set
Celebrity chef Rachael Ray brings a set of pastel cookware to the table at an incredibly reasonable price so what do you get from these skillets exactly?
The 9 ¼-inch and 11-inch skillets give you plenty of freedom when you’re cooking. Neither comes covered so bear this in mind and consider the type of cooking you do.
Aluminum and porcelain come together to give you pans that don’t weigh you down while still delivering impressive lifespan.
How about the non-stick properties, though?
Luckily, you’ll find the PFOA-free non-stick coating releases food with ease while imparting no taint on your food.
Safe in the oven at temperatures to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, this set works well with all cookers except induction models.
The lifetime warranty removes any reason not to consider adding some Rachael Ray to your kitchenware collection. The range of striking yet subtle colors all work wonderfully together so what are you waiting for?
With our reviews polished off, we’ll round out today with some simple pointers on buying a frying pan the easy way.
II. Frying Pans Buying Guide
Your intended use with a fry pan will dictate the type of materials that work best.
Here are some of your main options:
- Aluminum: With excellent heat conduction and high resistance to rust and corrosion, aluminum pans don’t work well with induction cookers and are quite prone to scratching
- Aluminum-Clad Stainless Steel: Induction-ready cookware also highly conductive, you’ll find these pans easy to dent and ding
- Anodized Aluminum: If you’re looking for the most scratch-resistant cookware, anodized aluminum works wonders
- Stainless Steel/Aluminum: Another material that’s both dishwasher-safe and induction-ready, stainless steel works well with aluminum
- Copper/Stainless Steel: One of the only benefits of this type of cookware is the outstanding heat conduction
- Carbon Steel: Ideal for use with all types of cookers, carbon steel pans are rugged yet deceptively lightweight
- Cast-Iron: Perfect for roasting, frying and simmering, these pans slip neatly between stovetop and oven
Among all those varieties, cast-iron and carbon steel remain the most popular options.
Cast-iron pans are great when you want to grill, braise, roast, simmer or fry. This type of cookware responds well to oven cooking and usually comes with handles to streamline lifting the pan into the oven.
Heat retention on cast-iron pans is so strong that you won’t be able to clean up directly after serving. Allow the pan to cool down and get back to it later.
The handle of these pans is made from the same piece as the body so expect it to get very hot in use.
The weight of a cast-iron pan renders it unsuitable for tossing food.
Carbon Steel Pans
Carbon steel frying pans are best for grilling, frying and roasting.
These pans are soft and smooth while also deceptively durable.
The majority of carbon steel pans come pre-seasoned so they’re ready to roll right out the box.
Most carbon pans come with a much longer handle you might find easier if you cook a lot of stir fries. They are also made to be easily transferred from stovetop to oven.
Carbon pans will also heat up quickly and evenly. Heat retention is good to a point but where the construction is much thinner than with cast-iron, the pan tends to rapidly cool.
Hopefully, that should give you a sound overview of the general material that works best so it’s just a case of doubling down on your needs to find a frying pan that makes the best fit.
The best handles on a frying pan come firmly riveted into place. This means they’re set and forget but a word of warning…
The rivets allow food debris to accumulate so pay special attention to this area when you’re cleaning up to prevent bacteria and germs from building.
Rivetless pans are becoming more and more common but the handle will always remain more vulnerable than one riveted into position.
By far the most common cause of broken frying pans, make sure you look for a pan that’s solidly put together and built to stay the distance.
3. Thickness of Pan
The thickness of a pan is normally measured in gauges with a higher gauge being used to express a thinner pan and a lower gauge representing a thicker pan.
You might also see mils used for measuring thickness.
While a thicker pan is usually the preferred option, if you do a lot of vigorous cooking that involved tossing and moving the pan around at pace, you might prefer a thinner pan instead.
There’s no right or wrong answer here but it’s worth spending as much time looking at the thickness of the frying pan as what it’s made of.
Stainless steel handles are well worth looking out for. These won’t conduct heat as savagely as aluminum handles so you can get away without constantly needing an oven glove.
This is especially useful if you do a lot of stovetop to oven transferal although you should always of course take care when handling any hot cookware, stay-cool or not.
Silicone handles can be a good idea and they detach easily for cleaning purposes. Often, this type of handle doesn’t respond as well to heat, though. Ask yourself if you often transfer food to the oven from the stovetop and reconsider the silicone handles if so.
5. Non-Stick Coating
You should focus a great deal of attention when you’re buying to a non-stick surface.
It goes unsaid, if you have any frying pan where the food tends to stick badly to the surface, that pan doesn’t come in for a whole lot of action.
As more and more non-stick surfaces like Teflon were developed, the future looked rosy but many of these materials were found to have potentially harmful contaminants in.
As long as you sidestep the PFOA and the PTFE, a non-stick pan allows you to cook using far less oil. The clean-up stage is simplified no end as well. This type of pan doesn’t respond well to temperatures over 500 degrees Fahrenheit, though. You should also avoid using metal utensils with a non-stick pan.
If you go for a natural coating, you’ll need to think about seasoning your pan before use. This style of pan is ideal if you sear a lot of meat. It imparts an excellent, browned finish. The obvious drawback of this type of natural coating is that food will stick to the sides so you’ll need to work harder to plate up your food while cleaning is a messier affair.
Last but certainly not least, check that the frying pans you’re looking at are all compatible with your oven.
With induction cookers in particular, you should check closely for compatibility. You’ll need a pan made from magnetic materials like steel or iron.
III. Tips for Using a Frying Pan
- Make sure you never leave an empty pan over the heat source
- You should try to use silicone utensils with non-stick pans if possible
- Whatever the manufacturer states, hand washing pans will give you better results
- Before cleaning your pan, allow it to cool down. This will minimize the chance of warping
- If you’re stacking multiple non-stick pans, use some paper, tissue or liners to prevent the pans scratching against one another and compromising the coating
- Avoid soap completely if you’re using carbon steel pans. All you need is some hot water and unsalted cooking oil with this type of cookware
- With copper surfaces, consider using a polishing paste
IV. Seasoning a Frying Pan
If you’ve decided on a stainless steel, carbon steel or non-coated aluminum frying pan, you’ll want to season it before use.
Smear a small quantity of vegetable oil onto the pan then heat on a medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes. When you see smoke appearing, that’s an indication to turn off the burner. Poor out the excess oil and allow to dry naturally.
By seasoning the pan before use, you’ll increase its lifespan. You can repeat this seasoning as many times as you like without damaging the pan.
Well, we trust that by now you now what to look for when you’re buying a frying pan, how to season it and how to care for it to get the maximum possible lifespan.
We’ve been very busy these past few weeks working on a series of guides for the kitchen including more of the best coffee equipment and another awesome robotic vacuum.
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