Using the best frying pans possible is important. For any home cook, frying pans are an integral part of day-to-day cooking. Different sorts have different useful characteristics. Each busy home cook should have several types on hand. With a collection of the best frying pans, you’ll be able to serve up anything. This guide will help you create perfectly fried, seared and braised foods day in and day out.
A cast iron is a tried and true kitchen cookware classic. Cast iron pans are durable and versatile and can handle serious heat. You can use cast iron pans for frying, sautéing or searing. Or you can use it for braising, baking, broiling, roasting or stewing.
Cast iron can get extremely hot. This makes them the best pans for frying and getting an amazing crisp. This quality also makes cast iron pans the best frying pans for steak dinners. For size, we recommend snagging one that will serve the portion you most often cook. For example, an 8- to 10-inch model is great for cooking for one. A 12- to 14-inch model is great for a family. The larger the cast iron, the heavier the weight for handling.
Cast Iron Care:
- For effective use, a cast iron pan needs to develop a seasoning. Many cast iron pans come with a pre-seasoned surface. For the best results, you’ll want to help the pan develop even further. You can season it with a paper towel and a thin film of neutral oil.
- Cast irons require careful cleaning. You can use soap as long as there is no lye in it. With soap, seasoning will be stripped so reapply your seasoning when you're done cleaning. After wiping down or rinsing your dirty pan, you need to dry it thoroughly. Over time, a pan’s surface will become slick and glossy. It will release food no problem. If sticking is a concern, find a cast iron with enameled interior.
Cast Iron Considerations:
- Cast iron is quite heavy. When selecting a cast iron pan, be sure to look for useful features. Comfortable handles and spouts make pouring out the pan’s contents easier.
- Cast iron heats slowly and, at times, unevenly. However, the material is so versatile and budget friendly. This shortcoming can be easily overlooked.
The usefulness of a non-stick frying pan is undeniable. They are the best pans for frying eggs and cooking delicate things like white fish. They maintain the condition of the food you are cooking easily. They also allow you to use less oil or fat when cooking. Cleaning will also be much easier.
Non-stick pans are made of aluminum, so they are lighter than other options. Their weight makes them easier to maneuver. If you have sensitive wrists, non-stick pans are ideal. This ease of handling means non-stick pans are great for delicate cooking projects. A cook can easily use a flipping motion in making eggs, pancakes or fish.
Features to Look For:
- When selecting a non-stick pan, make sure handles are riveted to the body. This feature maximizes your ability to operate the pan. Do you have an induction cooktop? Ensure your chosen pan is induction cooktop compatible.
- Non-stick pans have limited uses. Because of their chemical coating, you need to be gentle when using. Metal utensils and abrasive cleaning tools can scratch it. Scratching the surface with a metal tool means you must throw the pan out. Non-stick surfaces are made from a chemical coating that can be toxic. Regardless of harm-done, the pan will cease to function at that point. The non-stick coating cannot be exposed to ultra-high heat. Oven use is out of the question. And on the stove top, searing or browning is not possible.
Stainless steel frying pans are beloved for a number of reasons. First off, they look nice. They’re bright, shiny and a joy to use. They’re also easy to clean. Frying, sautéing, searing, braising, deglazing – they’re all on the menu.
Most stainless steel frying pans are not made of exclusively steel. Steel does not conduct heat well, so most incorporate aluminum or copper. These materials come into play as a pan base pan or in a clad method. This means the material is sandwiched in between two layers of stainless steel. This three-layer outcome is called “tri-ply." These layers help ensure a pan heats evenly. Given this makeup, stainless steel pans are typically a bit more expensive.
Features to Look For:
- A technical feature to look for in the best pan is material quality. Look for a stainless steel pan with a grade of 18/10. This rating has to do with chromium and nickel percentages. The percentage of chromium, which resists corrosion, is at 18 percent. The percentage of nickel, which gives the steel its shiny appearance, is at 10 percent.
- Stainless steel pans are lighter than cast iron. So they’re the best pans for frying when you need a bit of dexterity. Think flipping, tossing and pouring. Their handles will typically be longer. If you’re going to use the pan to pour out deglazed liquids, look for a rolled edge pan. Since this sort of pan is versatile and light, it’s best to choose a large model.
Stainless Steel Care:
- To clean, you can use warm, soapy water and a sponge. This material is less finicky than cast iron. When confronting stains, you can use a bit of vinegar or lemon juice.
Stainless Steel Considerations:
- Stainless steel pans are often not fit for the oven. Oxidation can occur and handles with any plastic will melt.
Carbon steel frying pans are a close relation to the cast iron pan. They are very popular with restaurant chefs. That's because they are versatile and can handle high-heat searing. They're great for cooking that requires a bit of finesse. You can use them on any stove top, including induction. They even move seamlessly from the stove top to the oven. As with cast iron, carbon steel pans must develop a nonstick patina. This comes from use and seasoning.
Once seasoned, they fry up eggs, pancakes, fish and other fragile dishes like a dream. This ability is thanks to its flexible nature and lightweight qualities. Two features that cast iron lacks. Carbon steel also heats up more quickly than cast iron. But, it still lacks the great conductivity of aluminum and copper.
Carbon Steel Care:
- Cleaning a carbon steel pan should be done by hand. Use hot water and wipe it with a paper towel, then promptly dry. The ideal final step is to give it a swipe of oil to re-season.
Carbon Steel Considerations:
- Without a solid patina, raw steel will react with acidic and alkaline ingredients. This can give your food a metallic taste. Regardless of patina, you shouldn't use the pan to cook high-acid foods. No lemon juice, tomato sauce or other acidic foods.
- Another potential dealbreaker is carbon steel’s aesthetic. The pan’s patina will not be pretty. It is a dark, grimy color that is completely natural. But, the color is not characteristic of for-show cookware.
Copper skillets are exceptional. This makes them pricey. Their popularity is because of outstanding conductivity powers. They heat up quickly and evenly, then cool with the same speed and consistency. Using a copper pan, you will have less stress about sauces breaking. Foods will stick far less often. And importantly, you will rest assured that your pan is going to last a long while.
- Copper oxidizes quickly, even when merely hanging from a rack. This means it must be cleaned regularly to maintain its shine. The amount of patina you’re fine with is personal preference. If polished appearance is a must, you’ll be putting in work.
- The traits that makes copper such a great conductor also give it a hard time. It has a tendency to react when it comes in contact with acidic foods. Some pans feature interiors of different materials to combat this. These linings may not last as long (tin). Or, they may not conduct as well (stainless steel). Regardless, you should look for a copper pan with a thickness of 2-2.5 millimeters. This thickness ensures the best performance.
- Copper cannot be used on induction stove tops. This is not a dealbreaker though. Magnetic plates and coils are pretty readily available these days. A number of copper pans also come equipped with an alternative base.
- A crepe pan is a lightweight non-stick frying pan with low sides, designed for making crepes. Pancakes and eggs also do well on these. These are the best frying pans for anything you’d ideally slide right out of a pan. It's also great for dishes that do not give off too much juice while cooking. For a crepe pan, a comfortable and sturdy handle is key.
- A crepe pan is not a necessity if you have a good non-stick pan. For an avid brunch cook, they might make your life easier.
Deep Skillet Frying Pans:
- Another frying pan that elevates a kitchen arsenal is a deep skillet. If you are partial to making your own sauces, get a deep pan. If you spend evenings braising away, get a deep pan. If you like to give shallow frying a go every once in a while, get a deep pan. Having a pan that offers depth is quite useful in the kitchen.
- Make sure the model you select comes with a well-fitting lid. This means you can simmer liquids and control splatters.
- Love to grill but hate to be at the mercy of the elements? Get a grill pan or griddle.
- These tools are typically made of cast iron, so they exhibit similar characteristics. The key differentiator is a grated base, which gives food gorgeous grill marks. The base also helps with fat circulation. Thanks to the grates, you’ll avoid a burger that’s left to sit and boil in its own juices.
Looking for a frying pan to complete your kitchen? The Home Depot delivers online orders when and where you need them.