Types of Skillets
Cast Iron Skillets
Versatile and economical, cast iron will serve you well for many years, and maybe your children and grandchildren as well. Although it takes longer to heat than other types of skillets, cast iron retains its heat very well and excels at browning, searing and baking. It goes seamlessly from stovetop to oven, and can be used on the grill or over an open flame -- making it very popular with campers and tailgaters. When broken in and treated properly, cast iron will develop some natural nonstick properties, although it may never be nonstick enough for that perfect over-easy egg.
Also often referred to as "clad," stainless steel frying pans have a core of fast-heating aluminum sandwiched between two layers of heat-tempering stainless steel. This material heats evenly on gas or electric stovetops, and experts say it does a superior job of browning food. Stainless steel skillets with oven-safe handles can typically withstand temperatures of 500 degrees Fahrenheit in the oven or go under the broiler. These pans are not inherently nonstick, and it may take some trial and error to figure out the correct sequence of heat + oil + added ingredients, but foodies say it's worth going through the learning curve.
Every kitchen should have at least one nonstick frying pan. They excel at cooking delicate foods like fish, runny-yoked eggs, pancakes and crepes. The best nonstick skillets heat quickly and evenly, and they tend to be lighter and easier to maneuver than either cast iron or stainless. They should be used at lower temperatures than stainless steel or cast iron, and even the most expensive have a limited lifespan -- toss them as soon as they begin to lose their nonstick properties or you see any chipping, flaking or scratching to avoid potential safety hazards (see below).
Ceramic skillets are also nonstick, but ceramic is thought to be safer than other types of nonstick pans. However, there are tradeoffs -- ceramic is more expensive, doesn't have the extreme nonstick qualities of some other materials, and the interiors tend to be more delicate. Still, if you take good care of your ceramic frying pan, use it at the appropriate heat settings (no higher than medium), and don't use metal utensils, it should have a decent lifespan.
Every kitchen needs a great skillet
Skillets, also known as frying pans, are useful for many kitchen tasks,
from frying a single egg to putting a sear on a large roast before finishing it
off in the oven. Stovetop-to-oven skillets are also a great choice for one-pot
meals, which are becoming increasingly popular with today's busy lifestyles.
We focus primarily on 12-inch skillets in this report, although some are
a bit smaller or larger. This size is perfect for a larger family meal and is
typically are not included in cookware sets. However, most of the skillets we
recommend also come in smaller or larger sizes. If you're fine with a smaller
skillet or two, and would like matching pots as well, cookware sets,
which we cover in a separate report, offer the best value. Cookware sets also
include lids, which you often have to purchase separately when buying a skillet
nonstick skillets safe?
In a word: yes. Nonstick skillets have a reputation as being inherently
unsafe due to volatile chemicals that might leach into food and the environment
and cause all kinds of havoc. In fact, while there were some concerns about the
coatings used in older products, research shows that even most of that was
overstated. In addition, nonstick cookware has become increasingly safe in
recent years, and virtually all are now free of PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid)
and other chemicals that used to be the source of most of the worry.
When used properly, nonstick frying pans -- even older ones -- are
extremely safe. However, you should discard and replace any pan that shows
signs of wear, including scratching, peeling, or a loss of its nonstick
properties. Also, even very expensive nonstick skillets have a limited life
span, which is why most experts recommend buying cheap pans and just replacing
to use your skillet is key
One of the most important things to know about using a skillet is that
there is a learning curve, just as there is with any new cookware. Cast iron
and stainless steel are not nonstick, so it's worth taking the time to learn
how to properly use them and what kinds of foods are best to cook in that type
of pan. Even a nonstick frying pan won't be suitable for everything; for
example, it's not the best choice for putting a sear on a steak or preparing
more complex dishes that can benefit from the browned bits (called
"fond") that stick to a pan and flavor gravies and sauces. Nonstick
skillets also usually have a lower oven-safe temperature and often aren't
recommended for use under a broiler. That's why experts suggest keeping a
couple of different types of skillets around, so you always have the right pan
for the job.
Finding The Best Skillets
"Inexpensive 12-Inch Skillets"
There are a good number of professional organizations that test
skillets, including Cook's Illustrated, Consumer Reports, and Wirecutter. Also
helpful are articles and reviews from individuals who are knowledgeable about
cookware and cooking, and we found several articles at Reviewed, Serious Eats
and Epicurious that helped us narrow down our selections.
Since durability can't always be evaluated in the test lab, we also
consulted thousands of reviews from users at retail sites, such as Amazon,
Walmart and Bed Bath & Beyond. This gives us a lot of insight into
determining how skillets perform in real cooking tasks, helping us to make
recommendations for the best skillets for your home kitchen.