Electric skillets can be used for cooking, serving
skillets are highly versatile appliances: They're great for adding a food prep
option when you're preparing a big meal, as a standalone appliance when you
don't feel like heating up the kitchen with your oven or stovetop range, or
even as an all-in-one dish for preparing and transporting food, then keeping it
warm on the buffet table.
traditional skillets, electric frying pans can be used for sautéing and pan
frying. The best electric frying pans can brown your meat nicely before cooking
it, but if you're looking for true searing action, you might be happier with an electric grill. In that report, we also
discuss electric griddles -- probably the best choice if you need bulk capacity
to cook foods like pancakes, French toast or bacon for large groups. Some
electric skillets also work for deep frying, although if you do a lot of
frying, you should consider purchasing a dedicated deep fryer.
of electric frying pans are made of aluminum, with a nonstick coating on the
interior and a glass lid that makes it easy to monitor how your food is
cooking. They also tend to be fairly large and deep, allowing plenty of room
for the cook to prepare multiple foods at once or cook enough servings for a
family. The largest electric skillets we review in this report are rectangular
and run 16 to 18 inches down the long side -- plenty large enough to use as a
chafing dish on a buffet tablet. However, if you're cooking in a confined space
(like an RV) or for just one or two people, we also found good electric
skillets that are as small as 8 inches square.
electric frying pans
doubt, the rectangular 1500-watt (Est. $45) is a top pick in this category. Versatile and
reliable, the Presto 06857 heats evenly (between 0 and 400 degrees) and holds
the set temperature automatically, instead of cycling on and off as many
electric frying pans do. Owners say that this 16-inch skillet roasts, braises,
grills and fries as well as a traditional skillet. You can even bake in it, and
its large capacity makes it ideal for preparing large casseroles, side dishes
and pasta dishes. Although it's large, this foldaway electric frying pan is
also very portable. The built-in spoon/spatula holder, stay-cool handles and
"keep warm" setting make it extremely convenient for serving food
coating on this Presto electric skillet cleans up nicely with just a wipe-down.
Both the skillet pan (which separates from the base) and the lid are dishwasher
safe. The Foldaway Skillet's most popular feature, though, is in its name:
Owners love having the ability to pack all the pieces (skillet, heating
element, base and lid) together and store them away in a fairly small space.
The rectangular shape helps reduce its footprint even more. Just make sure you
place something soft between the base and the frying pan interior to protect
the nonstick coating.
bought this folding skillet to use in an RV or smaller vacation home are
particularly pleased with the foldaway feature, as long as their RV or vacation
kitchen has enough room to accommodate the skillet's rather large footprint
when it's all put together. If you like the idea of this skillet but need a
smaller footprint, there's a smaller version: The 12-inch (Est. $40).
looking for an even more petite frying pan for occasional small-scale use, we
like the 800-watt (Est. $25) Even though the Nesco ES-08 measures just 8 inches to a
side, users say it heats up evenly and is big enough to cook for one or two
people at a time. The walls of this little skillet pan are deep enough for
cooking soup but not so deep that you can't use a spatula.
You can even
roast or fry in the Nesco ES-08 -- as long as whatever you're cooking isn't
very big. Both the skillet pan and the lid wipe off easily or can go into the
dishwasher. The nonstick coating generally holds up well, and users are usually
so happy with this skillet's bargain price and petite size that they don't mind
that the heating element has numbers (1 through 5) instead of degree settings,
and that it cycles on and off once it reaches the set heat, as is typical for
most electric frying pans. However, if having a precise cooking temperature is
your highest priority, you'd do well to invest in a Presto Foldaway Skillet.
Zojirushi offers a high-end skillet
A hot new
entry in this year's report is trending appliance brand Zojirushi's (Est. $150)
electric skillet. Users call this appliance the Cadillac of electric skillets,
and the combination of deep-dish removable pan, steamer insert, and flat
titanium- and ceramic-enhanced nonstick grilling plate mean you can use it as
several appliances in one. Nicki Pendleton Wood, writing for Fine Cooking
magazine, notes that the Zojirushi EP-RAC50 did everything in their test to
perfection, from braising chicken to searing burgers and stir-frying.
Users also love the Zojirushi EP-RAC50's multi-functionality,
and say that the removable pans make cleanup a dream. The skillet heats up
quickly and easily, and the sliding temperature control -- which ranges from
"warm" to 480 degrees -- is very accurate. Other convenient features
include a tempered glass lid that lets you gauge your food's progress,
stay-cool side handles, and a pull-away cord that reduces the risk of the
skillet's contents spilling if someone yanks on the cord.
Users also say that the nonstick finish works
wonderfully, and that the Zojirushi EP-RAC50 looks good sitting on their
countertop. That's a good thing, because it's large enough that some may
struggle to find adequate storage space. The nonstick finish works wonderfully
but, like any non-stick appliance, the finish on the Zojirushi EP-RAC50 should
be handled with care.
steel electric skillets last longer
their non-electric brethren, there's a constant tradeoff between electric
frying pans made of stainless steel and those made of aluminum. Electric
skillets made of aluminum heat up faster than steel, conduct heat better, and
are less expensive. However, stainless steel lasts longer and is less reactive,
so it won't impart a metallic aftertaste to extremely acid or alkaline foods.
steel is also a good choice if you have concerns about conventional nonstick
coatings -- which most aluminum pans sport. The 1800-watt stainless steel (Est. $110) goes one step further, adding a petroleum-free, ceramic-based interior coating
that means you need very little oil or butter to make food release easily.
Users say this electric frying pan heats evenly ("warm" to 450
degrees), the interior coating is durable and releases food easily, and the
round, 14-inch-diameter cooking area means you have enough space to cook for an
CSK-250 does a great job of frying, griddling, simmering and braising, and it
looks great sitting on a buffet table too. However, it does have one big flaw:
The vent hole in the tempered glass lid is too small, so steam tends to either
sputter out of, or condense and pool under, the lid. Otherwise it's an
excellent electric frying pan, however, and users love that once you remove the
heating element, this electric skillet is dishwasher safe.
uncoated stainless steel is another excellent choice for people who are
concerned about an aluminum skillet's non-stick coating flaking into their food
-- and it's less expensive than ceramic. Just use a little oil, butter or
cooking spray with the stainless steel skillet and your food will slide right
out. If that's the type of skillet you prefer, we recommend the round, 12-inch (Est. $65). It
has no interior coating and uses an impact-bonded base to help its 18/10
stainless steel conduct heat better. It heats quickly and evenly, is large
enough to cook a good-size pot roast, and represents a great value.
downside, the Aroma Housewares AFP-1600S is not submersible or dishwasher safe,
and user reports show that the temperature control (which adjusts between 225
and 425 degrees) is the weak point that tends to fail first. Also, we found a
few posts indicating that, while the side handles stay cool, the long metal
handle and the lid both get hot. Watch out for the one-year warranty's
expiration date because once that's over, users say customer service won't do
anything to help you.
If you need
more cooking space or prefer a space-saving rectangular design, the 16-inch (Est. $110) heats evenly and has a stainless steel lid that won't explode -- a
sparse, but persistent complaint that we saw about glass lids from all brands.
Users say this non-immersible skillet is large enough to cook for a big family,
and it cleans up easily with a quick soak and scrub. The heating element
adjusts between 225 and 425 degrees, and the whole thing is accompanied by a
5-year limited warranty -- just don't expect great customer service, owners
Expert & User Review Sources
There are few
expert reviews of electric skillets, but we found one at Fine Cooking magazine, where editors pick three favorites after
comparing a line-up of eight electric frying pans. CNET also has a brief write-up of a popular skillet, but it seems to
be based upon general culinary knowledge, rather than specific testing or use.
However, user reviews at sites such as Amazon.com, Walmart.com, BestBuy.com and WilliamsSonoma.com are invaluable in
gauging a skillet's performance and convenience in everyday, real-world use.