11 Must-Have Skillets That Will Transform Your Cooking Game
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They say you’re only as good as your tools, and that’s especially true on the culinary front — particularly when it comes to cookware. If you’re fed up with having to soak your battered old skillet in the sink overnight after yet another meal didn’t go as planned, it might be time to reassess your pan situation. Oh, but where to start? With so many gorgeous skillets seeming screaming out, “Choose me, choose me!” every time you enter a home goods store, how on Earth does one go about choosing? Making a final selection is a gamble at best — unless you’ve done your homework, that is! We have, and we’re more than willing to share the knowledge that we’ve gained — read on to find out how to choose the best skillet and shop our top picks.
Why is my skillet sticking?
According to the Royal Society of Chemistry, food sticking is caused by the chemical bonds that form between the food you put into your skillet and and the pan’s material, with protein rich foods, such as eggs, cheese, or meat, forming particularly strong bonds.
Care should be taken to avoid sticking while cooking. For starters, it’s best to get your pan good and piping hot before you add any ingredients — even oil — inside. When it’s finally ready, add in some cold oil to coat your skillet’s base, and once that’s hot, you can add in your food.
If you’re following proper sticking prevention methods and you’re still having issues, there could be other factors at play. It may be that you’re using the wrong type of pan for the job, but more often than not, the culprit is unintentional mistreatment. Quite simply, if you’ve used the skillet in any other way than it was been designed to be used, you may have damaged it — if not ruined it — without realizing.
A few examples of skillet no-no’s include putting a non-dishwasher safe skillet in the dishwasher, scratching or scraping its surface with your cooking utensils or by stacking it the cupboard without a protective layer, or harshly scrubbing it while cleaning, could all render your pan a write-off.
When to Throw a Pan Away
At some point in time, we’ve all had to soak a pan or two in the sink overnight, but that doesn’t mean that it needs to go in the dumpster. More troubling, however, is a skillet that’s badly damaged or warped. Here are just a few reasons why a skillet might need to make its way to the trash.
- Warping: If your pan has become warped, it won’t evenly heat or cook your food, and, more importantly, its newfound wobble-factor could become a potential cooking hazard.
- Nonstick scratching: A nonstick pan is only truly nonstick if it’s in good condition. These types of skillets have a shelf life of about five years, and just one scratch could lead to bits of its toxic coating flaking off and ending up in your food. When cooked over high heat, this coating also gives off a chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid. If in doubt, get rid of it!
- Damaged or loose handles: You don’t want to be left holding a pan handle that has broken off your skillet while cooking. If it’s loose and you can’t fix it safely, it’s better to just say goodbye.
- Extremely worn down: If your pan starts to look really worn down, it probably is. Signs a skillet has outstayed its welcome are a core that’s peeking through, a material that’s visibly thinner, or a coating that’s practically non-existent.
What are the best types of skillets?
To get a better idea of what type of skillet would suit you best, we’ve compiled a few of the most common types available and their main attributes.
- Cast iron skillet: This type of pan, which is known for its ability to heat slowly and evenly, stays hot and turns food a scrumptious golden brown. These skillets also have small flakes of iron that can come off in your meal, thereby increasing the level of iron you’ll be consuming: In fact, University Health News Daily reports that these skillets can even be used as a budget-friendly treatment for iron deficiency! A word of caution however: cast iron pans have very specific cleaning instructions, particularly when they’re pre-seasoned (i.e. no detergent) and acidic ingredients are not advisable for this pan, as they could lead to a metal-like flavor.
- Stainless steel skillet: Stainless steel heats up fairly quickly and evenly, doesn’t rust or chip, and won’t trigger any food reactions, either. You can pretty much cook anything in steel skillets — even pie!. To clean, use a solution of vinegar and hot water — this mixture will work wonders for getting rid of any burned bits.
- Copper skillet: Used for millennia and adored by many top chefs, copper cookware heats up evenly and easily, requires no preheating, and is naturally antibacterial. These pans are usually lined with tin or stainless steel.
- Aluminum skillet: Aluminum skillets come in two main forms — nonstick (i.e. Teflon-coated) models, which can cook just about anything, and anodized cookware, which conducts heat efficiently and is harder and more durable than its nonstick counterparts. Both have their drawbacks however: nonstick pans can be easily scratched, while anodized pans are far more likely to have food stick. Both types should be cleaned with a plastic, non-scratch brush.
Other factors to consider, depending on your personal preference, include the size and depth of the pan you want, whether it can be put in the oven, and its washing instructions.
Best Skillet Recipes
Before you choose a favorite skillet, behold a few of our favorite skillet recipes below!
- Ultra-Creamy Skillet Mac and Cheese
- Sautéed Garlic Mushrooms
- Quinoa Black Bean Cheesy Enchilada Skillet
- 14 Easy and Delicious Meals You Can Prepare in One Skillet
- 15 Skillet Recipes That Are Truly Sizzling
Now, it you’re ready to get cooking, keep reading — We’ve scoured the market for all of the highest-rated skillets around to come up with the 10 best skillets that are sure become your new kitchenware staples. Keep scrolling for our top-rated picks!
Keep scrolling for FIRST for Women’s picks for the best skillets.
We write about products we think our readers will like. If you buy them, we get a small share of the revenue from the supplier.
6. Best-Rated Skillet — Cuisinart Chef's Classic Nonstick 12-Inch Skillet
Top Rated Skillet — Cuisinart Chef's Classic
Where to buy: $30.27, Amazon
Cuisinart’s Chef's Classic skillet with glass lids is a dense and nonporous (meaning it has great nonstick capabilities) find that's extremely durable — its interior is reinforced with titanium! Oven-safe up to 500 degrees and built to last, it's got more than 2,500 reviewers giving it the thumbs up (and five stars) for its versatility, heat distribution, durability, material quality, scratch resistance, and ease of cleaning. Phew!
Best Electric Skillet All Clad
Best Electric Skillet — All-Clad
Where to buy: $149.98 (Originally $165), QVC
An electric skillet can come in handy in many situations. Picture the scene: You’re making a big dinner and have pans going on each stovetop, but you’ve just remembered you haven’t even started the chili yet! Enter the All-Clad nonstick electric skillet. You can pop this handy pan on the countertop, plug it in, and get to cooking, no burner required. Its spacious 7 quart capacity means it will make enough for the whole family (and then some), and you can even set it to “warm” once your meal is ready, so that food stays at the optimal temperature for seconds. With access to an outlet, you can even use this skillet outside at the next family cookout! Paella, anyone?
9. Best 2-Piece Skillet Set — All-Clad HA1 2-Piece Non-Stick Pan Set
Best Nonstick Skillet — All-Clad
Where to buy: $59.99 (Originally $90), Wayfair
SAVE NOW: Use coupon code GOURMET19 at checkout for extra savings.
Not only are All-Clad's nonstick, hard anodized skillets great for cooking with oil at a higher heat point, these pans are warp-resistant and dishwasher-safe, to boot.
One happy buyer wrote, “These conduct heat very well and are great quality. They are thick, and I love that this is not just a coating, it's a good nonstick material and really solid. I'm very happy with this addition to my kitchen!”
4. Best Deep Skillet — Lodge Cast Iron Covered Deep Skillet
Best Deep Skillet — Lodge
Where to buy: $25.49, Target
Lodge's 10.25-inch cast iron deep skillet is 3.2-quarts deep and can double as a Dutch oven. Its 3-inch depth allows you to cook a broader variety of dishes — think stew and bread — in larger quantities. This stellar pick comes pre-seasoned and holds heat like a champ. It also cooks evenly, cleans up nicely, and is made in the USA.
2. Best Enameled Skillet — Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Skillet
Best Enameled Cast Iron Skillet — Le Creuset
Where to buy: $120, Le Creuset
As the signature skillet from the masters of cookware, Le Creuset, this 10.25-inch enameled pan has all the amazing perks of cast iron with the added bonus of a smooth enamel interior. This means it will resist staining, has nonstick properties, and promotes mouthwatering caramelization. Often rated as the number one skillet on the market, this pan is specially-made for high temperatures, and it doesn’t need to be seasoned like a regular cast iron skillet, either. Choose from four different sizes and a massive selection of 20 awesome colors.
1. Best Cast Iron Skillet — Utopia Kitchen Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet
Best Cast Iron Skillet — Utopia Kitchen
Where to buy: $21.99 (Originally $26.99), Amazon
In addition to preparing delicious, iron-rich foods, we’re pleased to note that cast iron skillets can be rather inexpensive. This large, pre-seasoned 12.5-inch model from Utopia Kitchen, which has more than 1,700 positive reviews and nabbed Amazon’s top choice for cast iron skillet, is a superior-quality pan for its price. It comes factory-seasoned with the equivalent of 10 to 15 rounds of home seasoning and is ready to use right out of the box. It also comes with detailed care instructions for keeping it in tip-top shape.
3. Best Copper Skillet — Mauviel M'Heritage M250C Copper Round Frying Pan
Best Copper Skillet — Mauviel M'Heritage
Where to buy: $209.99, Amazon
Copper pots and pans practically scream "gourmet." Notoriously beloved by many top chefs, you can't mention the style without mentioning French brand Mauviel M'Heritage. Founded in 1830, the company is still going strong with this superior quality pan, which heats and cools quickly, offers excellent cooking control, and has a stay-cool handle. It can be used on all cooking surfaces (yes, even inside the stove), and, truth be told? It's a complete beauty to behold.
5. Best Stainless Steel Skillet — All-Clad Stainless Steel French Skillet
Best Stainless Steel Skillet — All-Clad
Where to buy: $119.99 (Originally $149.99), Macy’s
SAVE NOW: Add coupon code FRIEND at checkout to save an extra 20 percent through Nov. 11.
This gorgeous thing is plenty easy on the eyes, but, thankfully, that’s not all it's good for. With its nonstick interior and rounded silhouette, All-Clad's French stainless steel skillet browns, sears, and fries with even heat distribution for perfectly-made meals, every time.
Customers call this pan "a joy" and “Well worth the money,” with one writing, “I can totally see what the hype is about."
Added another: "The foods taste better with this pan.”
7. Best Large Skillet — Lodge Cast Iron 15-Inch Frying Pan/Skillet
Best Large Skillet — Lodge 15-Inch
Where to buy: $49.90, Wayfair
Considering that the average size of a skillet is 10 inches, imagine how much you’d be able to cook in Lodge's 15-inch cast iron frying pan! Suitable for use on any type of stovetop and in the oven, this US-made pan is built for decades of cooking for your whole brood.
One buyer from North Carolina exclaimed, “Huge! Great for a family of six.”
8. Best Dual Skillet — Anolon Advanced Home Divided Grill and Griddle Skillet
Best Divided Skillet — Anolon
Where to buy: $99.99, Macy’s
SAVE NOW: Use coupon code FRIEND at checkout to save an extra 30 percent through Nov. 11.
You'll save so much time cooking with the Anolon's divided grill and griddle skillet! Separated into two convenient sections, with a griddle on one half and a grill surface on the other, you can easily cook your meat and vegetables, for instance, in the same pan — at the same time! It's got super-grip handles, a nonstick, utensil-safe, and easy-to-clean surface, and a manufacturer’s lifetime warranty.
10. Best Complete Skillet Set — Lodge Seasoned Cast Iron 5 Piece Bundle
Best Skillet Set — Lodge Cast Iron Bundle
Where to buy: $69.95, Amazon
If we've managed to sell you on the whole cast iron thing (better tasting food and a free iron boost? What’s not to love?), opt for this Lodge seasoned cast iron set. This five-piece bundle, which is comprised of a 10.5-inch griddle, an 8-inch skillet, a 10.25-inch skillet, a 10.25-inch Dutch oven, and a 10.25-inch lid, will change the way you cook and eat.
One reviewer raved, “Great set for someone looking to transition to cast iron. … I'm so glad I did away with my ‘nonstick’ pans and went with these. They're way easier to clean and maintain than I was expecting and I love being able to bake with them, too.”