What every best Skillets has:
- Good cooking performance.
- A large cooking surface.
- A thick, evenly flat bottom.
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 seven 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. 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.
Lesley Stockton and Michael Zhao 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.
This is the first test of nonstick skillets by TheSweethome.com, and Lesley Stockton puts 10 pans through their cooking paces, with eggs, hash browns, tilapia filets and crepes. She names the Tramontina 10-inch skillet as her top pick, with runners up for upgrade and budget picks. Although she tests pans that are around 10 inches, we applied this testing to the 12-inch pans that were in the same series.
After 35 hours of research to narrow the field to nine pans, Lesley Stockton enlists New York Times food editor Sam Sifton to help her test them. Ultimately the Lodge 12-inch Cast Iron Skillet is named the top choice. Stockton notes that it's very affordable and is a top performer across a variety of tasks. She also names a runner up and a budget pick.
Katherine Sacks and Tommy Werner test nine nonstick pans, cooking pancakes and eggs without using oil to measure each one's nonstick properties. They also evaluated the time it took for the pans to heat, cooking evenness, and the weight of the pan. Ultimately, they say all of the pans performed pretty well, although four bubbled to the top.
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, ease of cleaning and durability. This report puts special emphasis on handles, which get three separate scores for safety, comfort and sturdiness. All of the tested skillets score quite poorly and only three -- all nonstick pans -- are recommended.
J. Kenji López-Alt, managing culinary director for SeriousEats.com, tests six inexpensive stainless steel skillets to name three top choices. He notes that, while these are 10-inch skillets, all of them come in 8- and 12-inch sizes as well, and can be expected to perform similarly. Responsiveness (how long the pan takes to heat up and cool down), performance, evenness and comfort were all taken into account.
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.
Nonstick cookware sets are evaluated by the editors of YourBestDigs.com. Sets usually include a couple of skillets, generally 8- and 10-inch sizes. However, we were able to extrapolate the results of these tests to larger, 12-inch skillets when available. Testing is thorough and includes performance, ease of use, handling and durability.
In this informative article, Daniel Gritzer, culinary director for SeriousEats.com, discusses the necessity of having at least one, reliable nonstick pan. He also points out, however, that even the most expensive nonstick pan will have a limited lifespan, so says cheap and disposable is the way to go. There is also advice on when to replace your nonstick pan. While Gritzer doesn't specifically do any testing here, he does recommend a brand of pans that he uses.
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. 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.