What every best Skillets has:
- Good cooking performance.
- A large cooking surface.
- A thick, evenly flat bottom.
Consumer Reports lists test results for around 30 frying pans, both nonstick and uncoated. The 10-inch size is tested, but most also come in other sizes, including 12 inches, and can be expected to perform similarly. Editors measure cooking evenness, ease of cleaning and durability. There are also scores for the handles' temperature and sturdiness.
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.
This roundup includes seven 12-inch stainless-steel skillets priced at $100 or less. Editors 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.
Testing of nonstick skillets is just as thorough as Cook's Illustrated's other roundups. 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.
Lesley Stockton puts 19 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.
Six skillets are tested and ranked on various criteria, including how well they season and how comfortable they are to use. Testers fry and scramble eggs, both with the skillets right out of the box, and again after various rounds of seasoning to test for changes in stickiness.
Seven cast iron skillets -- including several fairly high-end models that we don't see tested elsewhere -- are put to a thorough test in this roundup. Testing includes cooking before and after seasoning, as well as rating handling and comfort.
After testing seven stainless steel skillets, Lindsay D. Mattison ranks them from first to worst, naming a top pick and a best value. Mattison is a professional chef and thoroughly details her testing and how the pans performed at various cooking tasks.
J. Kenji López-Alt 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.
In this informative article, Daniel Gritzer discusses the necessity of having at least one, reliable nonstick pan. While Gritzer doesn't specifically do any testing here, he does recommend a brand of pans that he uses.
An almost limitless number of skillets are sold at Amazon.com, many with hundreds or even thousands of user reviews. This is a great resources for reading about users' real-world experiences with their frying pans -- something that's especially helpful when evaluating the durability of nonstick pans.
As with Amazon, thousands of skillets, frying pans and other cookware are sold at Walmart, including some that are exclusive to Walmart. This is a particularly good destination to find reviews of cheaper skillets of all types.
Bed Bath & Beyond sells a wide variety of skillets, many of them in sets of two, and while there are fewer reviews here than at Amazon or Walmart, there are still quite a few. Many of these skillets and frying pans are very highly rated.