Three best skillets

Jennifer Manfrin

Twelve inches is the most popular skillet size because it provides ample room for preparing family-size portions.

If you spend any time in the kitchen, chances are you frequently rely on a skillet for cooking many types of food. Frying, simmering, searing - occasional cooks and skilled chefs alike appreciate the versatility of this useful tool when it comes to stovetop cooking. A skillet is quite arguably the most important pan in any cookware collection.

Because there are so many different types of skillets on the market, we understand that it can be difficult to choose one that will work best for you. However, when you find the right size, material, and price tag, your new skillet will likely become your go-to cookware essential whether you're frying up a quick lunch for one or preparing a dish for the family.

By selecting our favorites and providing some helpful information, we've taken the guesswork out of your skillet shopping. Read on, so you can get to cooking.

Considerations when choosing skillets

Before you choose a skillet, you should ask a few key questions to help make sure you find one that meets your cooking needs.

How often do you cook? Budget-priced pans are okay for occasional use, but durable, high-quality skillets will withstand frequent cooking.

Lid or no lid? Not all skillets come with one, but models that do are worth it for cooking those dishes that need to be covered while on the stove.

What size do you need? Skillets come in different sizes, and some of the most common are eight, ten, and twelve inches.

Where do you cook? It's no surprise that skillets are made for cooking on a stovetop, but some are made of materials like stainless steel or cast iron that can also be used in the oven. However, keep in mind that some skillet handles are not oven-proof.

What about materials? Skillets are made from several materials, and each has pros and cons.

Aluminum: These pans are affordable and lightweight, but some have longevity concerns. Leaching of the metal is also an issue, especially if the skillet isn't anodized.

Stainless steel: Stainless steel skillets are strong and made to last. Some can even be used in the oven, provided the handles aren't coated in plastic. Although food sticking to the surface is a concern, some modern skillets have finishes designed to prevent this.

Nonstick: Although nonstick surfaces are prone to scratches, they're popular because they're easy to cook with and clean. Many nonstick pans are also quite affordable.

Copper: These skillets are pricey, but they look as good as they cook. However, they aren't quite as durable as pans made of other materials.

Skillet prices: Regardless of the material you choose, you can find a quality skillet for $20 to $50, with some higher-end models falling in the $80 to $120 range. The exception is copper. These skillets are typically priced at $50 and up.


Q. I cook a lot of meals outdoors on my barbeque grill in the summer. Is there a skillet that can easily go from stovetop to grill grate?

A. Not all skillets can handle the intense direct heat of a grill, but one made of cast iron can. In fact, these pots and pans have been used to cook over open flames for centuries because they can withstand temperatures well over 500°F.

Q. What are some tips for maintaining a skillet with a nonstick surface to avoid scratching or damaging the coating?

A. You can increase the longevity of your nonstick skillet by only using utensils made of nylon, silicone, or wood to stir and serve food. In addition, washing your skillet by hand with a soft sponge and mild dish detergent will also help protect the finish.

Skillets we recommend

Best of the best: All-Clad Fry Pan

Our take: A well-made, versatile skillet. Comes with a lid and a justifiably higher price tag considering all it has to offer.

What we like: Crafted of durable stainless steel and aluminum with a surface that resists sticking. Can handle high oven temperatures and be cleaned in the dishwasher. Includes a limited lifetime warranty.

What we dislike: Frequent overheating can discolor pan.

Best bang for your buck: T-fal Nonstick Fry Pan

Our take: The best pick ir you need a decent pan at a price that won't break the bank.

What we like: Practical skillet at the lower end of the price scale. Most foods easily slide off nonstick surface.

What we dislike: Curved surface isn't ideal for all foods. Nonstick coating can scratch.

Choice 3: Lodge Skillet

Our take: With proper cooking steps and care, this quality cast-iron skillet won't disappoint.

What we like: Manufactured by a company known for quality cookware. Cast iron is pre-seasoned. Build to last, even when cooking with high temperatures.

What we dislike: Takes a little trial and error if you aren't used to cooking with cast iron. Food can burn or stick fairly easily.

Jennifer Blair is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.