Skillets: Ratings of Sources
Testers at Cook's Illustrated put six 12-inch stainless-steel skillets through their paces, searing steaks, making pan sauces, roasting and sautéing. The skillets are rated on durability, performance, sauté speed and user-friendliness. One pan is Highly Recommended, three are Recommended, and two are Not Recommended.
In this update of an article originally published in December of 2012, editors update their top pick after their former recommendation is discontinued. The roundup includes seven 12-inch stainless-steel skillets priced at $100 or less. They run the pans through weeks of testing: searing steaks, pan-roasting, chicken, sautéing onions and making pan sauces. The skillets are also tested for durability.
While they express a lot of love for stainless steel pans, the editors of Cook's Illustrated recognize that most kitchens need a good nonstick skillet as well. Here they test eight popular nonstick skillets; cooking eggs without oil, stir-frying beef with vegetables and preparing crepes. They also test for durability -- an area where nonstick cookware lags behind other materials. One modestly priced pan aces most of the tests, beating out its pricier rivals. Only one other pan is Recommended. Elsewhere on this site, editors test and rate "green" nonstick skillets.
Editors test four traditional cast-iron skillets and six enameled cast iron skillets, recommending several in each category. Testers sear steaks, scramble eggs, pan-fry chicken and bake cornbread, they also evaluate the pans' weight and features. To test for durability, they put the pans through several torture tests.
Eight carbon-steel skillets are put through their paces by the editors of Cook's Illustrated. Ratings and recommendations are based upon total cooking surface, cooking performance, nonstick capabilities and ease of use.
ConsumerReports.org lists test results for more than 15 frying pans, both nonstick and uncoated. The 10-inch size is tested, but most also come in other sizes, including 12-inch, and can be expected to perform similarly. Editors measure cooking evenness and ease of cleaning. They also test the surfaces of nonstick pans by cooking four eggs in a row without adding oil between each, and they scrub the surfaces with steel wool to test their durability. This report puts special emphasis on handles, which get three separate scores for safety, comfort and sturdiness. The only downside to this source is that some very popular manufacturers are noticeably absent from testing.
Lesley Stockton and Michael Zhao only test stainless steel skillets here, naming the All Clad Stainless Steel 12-inch Fry Pan their top choice. Their conclusions are based upon three years of testing, talking to experts and comparing pans in various cooking tasks. Runners up are also named.
Ten "widely available" skillets were tested by Maryellen Driscoll. She cooked multiple batches of pancakes, sautéed pork chops and cooked fish and eggs to test nonstick qualities. Four frying pans are ultimately recommended, with a top choice and runners up in various categories.
Writer Katherine Cancila tests more than a dozen nonstick pans for The Wall Street Journal and names her top five picks "based on performance, design and durability." There's a brief list of pros and cons for each winner, but she provides no information about testing methods. Also, the skillets that didn't make the cut aren't named. Full text of the article is only available to subscribers.
Hundreds of different skillets are sold at Amazon.com, and some of them have hundreds or thousands of user reviews. This is a great resources for reading about users real world experiences with their frying pans. With specialty pans, like cast iron and stainless steel, this site is very useful for troubleshooting issues you may be having with your cookware, as commenters often weigh in on poor reviews, offering helpful solutions for solving the problem.
As with Amazon.com, hundreds of skillets are sold at Walmart.com, but they tend to receive fewer user reviews. Lodge brand skillets are by far the most popular, with a significant number of positive reviews. Cheaper skillet lines are also well-represented as top sellers. Reviewers can say if they would recommend the skillet.
BedBathandBeyond.com sells a wide variety of skillets, many of them in sets of two, but only a few get a significant number of reviews. Electric skillets also come up when you search for skillets here.
Macy's sells a good variety of skillets and cookware sets that include skillets and fry pans on its website, and some have hundreds of reviews. All-Clad is a top seller here, along with Le Creuset and Scanpan. Reviews can be sorted by demographics, including cooking skill level, and reviewers have the opportunity to say if they would recommend the product.
Williams-Sonoma sells quite a few fry pans and skillets, leaning heavily toward the high end of the price spectrum. Some are also Williams-Sonoma exclusives that aren't covered by any other sources. Cookware tends to be pricier here than at other sites, which may explain the lower total number of reviews.
Kristin Donnelly tests 50 skillets to name three top picks in each of three categories: cast iron, stainless steel and nonstick. Testing is not well-documented, and not much is detailed about how each pan performed, but the pans that were picked appear at the top of quite a few other roundups as well.
In this slideshow, Good Housekeeping presents a roundup of eight "standout" pans in its tests of stainless-steel and nonstick skillets. However, it doesn't describe testing methodology or identify skillets that didn't make the grade; a few are discontinued. Each pan in the slideshow gets a brief paragraph discussing its performance. There are also links to the full reviews for each skillet, with up to 5-star ratings and a list of pros and cons.
In an article that primarily focuses on understanding, using, and buying a nonstick skillet, five are recommended, although it's not clear how they were chosen. There is some helpful information here on how to care for your nonstick frying pans.
In this informative article, J. Kenji López-Alt discusses the use and care of cast iron pans in depth. It's a helpful guide to anyone who is interested in maintaining a cast iron pan. Elsewhere on this site, Daniel Gritzer offers an in-depth look into the differences (and similarities) between cast iron and carbon steel skillets.
This thorough report on the chemicals PFOA and PTFE offers a scientific overview of how they are used in everyday life. They note that Teflon is not suspected of causing cancer, and is considered safe to use in cookware. PFOA is considered more of a risk, but report notes that "Non-stick cookware is not a significant source of exposure."