What every best Skillets has:
- Good cooking performance.
- A large cooking surface.
- A thick, evenly flat bottom.
Shines in professional tests. Reviewers consistently say the All-Clad Stainless Steel 12-inch Fry Pan delivers even, controlled performance and browns beautifully over virtually any type of heat, including induction and glass stovetops. At one professional test kitchen, it's the top performer in a variety of cooking tasks: searing steaks, cooking crêpes, pan-roasting chicken and making pan sauce. This pan is the top pick at TheSweethome.com, too, with testers finding that, "Steaks seared with even, deep crusts, chicken pieces browned deeply and consistently without burning, and white wine reduced without scorching, in the least amount of time." Owners agree, saying this All-Clad pan is so versatile that it's the only 12-inch skillet they need. It goes from stovetop to oven with ease, and is oven safe to 500 degrees. The main complaint about this skillet is that food sticks, a particular problem with those who try to use it to fry -- and flip -- eggs, but that's an issue with all stainless-steel pans, which are not nonstick.
Don't expect a nonstick pan. As we mentioned above, the All-Clad Stainless Steel 12-inch Fry Pan does not have a nonstick surface, and that can lead to a more labor- and time-intensive cleanup process. Depending upon the food cooked and the heat intensity, you may encounter quite a stuck-on mess when you're done cooking. However, if you fill the skillet with hot, soapy water and set it aside to soak for a while, you should be able to just wipe it out. Alternatively, a scrubber and a sprinkle of Barkeeper's Friend (Est. $9.50 for 2) will have the pan looking like new in no time. We did see many complaints of food getting stuck in the handle rivets and being a challenge to remove. This All-Clad skillet is dishwasher safe, but most experts and owners recommend hand washing.
Built to last. In one professional test, the All-Clad Stainless Steel 12-inch Fry Pan survived being submerged in ice water and banged against concrete (any resulting dents were barely noticeable). Owners say that the riveted handles are more secure than welded metal or any type of plastic. Many feel that this skillet's durability justifies its high price, since the pan will last longer than a few years. The manufacturer appears to agree with this assessment, as it backs the skillet with a lifetime warranty. Quite a few owners opt to display their All-Clad on racks, rather than hiding them in the cupboard, noting that, with proper care, they remain looking new for years.
Lesley Stockton and Michael Zhao spent three years testing skillets, talking to experts and comparing pans in cooking tasks to name the best skillet, the All Clad Stainless Steel 12-inch Fry Pan. They note that it's pricey, but worth it, because it will last forever.
In this update of a roundup originally published on January 1, 2009, editors compare six 12-inch stainless-steel skillets, including the All Clad 12-inch Stainless Steel Fry Pan. Each pan is evaluated on several cooking tasks and are put through several rigorous tests to gauge durability.
Nearly 20 frying pans are tested by editors at ConsumerReports.org, both non-stick and uncoated. It's clear that they are not fans of uncoated cookware, giving all the pans in that category very poor scores, and no recommendations.
The All-Clad Stainless Steel 12-Inch Fry Pan with Lid receives more than 425 reviews, earning an overall rating of 4.3 stars out of 5. Owners agree that food cooks evenly and browns well. They appreciate the added value of the included lid. Some complain that food sticks to the pan, but others say that's because there's a learning curve with a stainless steel pan.
There are fewer reviews here, just under 20, but the All-Clad 12-inch Stainless Steel Skillet earns a perfect 5-star rating. Users say it is a top performer with anything you want to cook and that with proper use is very nonstick.