For lots of home chefs, the best frying pan is going to be nonstick, oven-safe, and able to withstand some wear and tear. We consulted with the pros, then tested 10 best-in-class pans, flipping fried eggs, baking cornbread, and searing steak to see which were the least sticky and the most comfortable to maneuver.
Top 5 Frying Pan
- Hard anodized aluminum construction for durability
- Unique Thermo-Spot heat indicator for proper preheating
- Heavy-gauge aluminum construction ensures even heating and is hard-anodized for durability It also...
- Interior includes three layers of nonstick coating - two layers provide durability and the third...
- SET INCLUDES: 8-Inch, 9.5-Inch, 11-Inch Non-Stick Frying Pan
- DISHWASHER SAFE: Easy to clean and dishwasher safe cookware set. Nonstick interior and exterior for...
- 8 and 10-inch fry pans with wide flat base and versatile low-profile shape
- Hard-anodized aluminum construction for fast, even heating and easy cleanup; stainless-steel bonded...
- Utilizes a stone-derived coating from Germany that achieves non-stick perfection while remaining...
- Eco-friendly pan delivers unprecedented non-stick performance without the risk of exposure to...
How We Chose the Best Frying Pans
Universally compatible, medium-sized, oven-safe pans
First, compatibility with all types of stovetops, including induction. Second, the versatility conferred by being oven-safe. Author and “kitchen gadget geek” Liana Green of Liana’s Kitchen likes oven-safe nonstick pans because you can, for example, brown a steak on the stove and put it directly into the oven without having to transfer it into a baking dish.
We also opted to only test 10- and 11-inch pans. This is a good size for cooking two fried eggs or a three-egg omelet, but if you’re interested in more (or less), most of the models we tested come in a range of sizes, typically from 9 inches up to 12.
Want to get a really quick sense of how good your nonstick pan is? Fry an egg on it. If you can successfully fry an egg without the white sticking all over the pan and with the yolk intact, you’ve got a keeper. We heated each of our test pans for two minutes, and then fried eggs on low heat without adding any oil or butter, specifically because we wanted to test the nonstick surface of the pan itself — without any additional lubricants. Same goes with our cornbread. We mixed the batter and spread it into each nonstick pan without any oil or butter. After 15 minutes in a 400-degree oven, we tested to see which could release a wedge leaving the fewest crumbs or crusts behind.
We did two tests to get a sense of heat distribution. The first was heating two cups of cold water over medium heat to see where those mini bubbles appeared first, and if there were any hot or cold spots as the water grew warmer. We also tested searing 1-inch round eye steaks over medium-high heat to see if any pans cooked hotter, or didn’t release meat as well.
All 10 pans handled the meat well — no sticking, and all achieved about the same rareness after six minutes — but some pans definitely seared the meat more than others. When we double-checked each pan’s temperature with an infrared thermometer, we saw about a 135-degree temperature swing, but nothing that would cut a pan from the running.
The true test of a nonstick pan is how it performs in the long term, so we did our best to cram a few years of use into a couple of days by breaking all the nonstick frying pan rules. We banged each pan against a concrete edge to see how easy it was to dent or warp the surface, and scraped metal forks across their surfaces to see if any flaked started flaking off. Then we ran all 10 pans through an industrial-strength dishwasher, including the ones that were “hand wash only.”
For us, the best nonstick cookware felt good to use, passed all our cooking tests, and sported a price point that wouldn’t make us gag. After a day in the test kitchen, we learned not all nonstick pans are created equally. Some are heavier than others; some have handles that dig into your hands or get hot while cooking, and some have surfaces that are more difficult to get clean. Turns out, some aren’t even all that nonstick.
How to Find the Right Frying Pan for Your Kitchen
Avoid nonstick pans with textured cooking surfaces
Some nonstick frying pans come with textured surfaces, such as the Frieling Black Cube Fry Pan and the Circulon Symmetry Hard-Anodized Nonstick French Skillet. It sounds a little like a no-brainer, but we found that the pans with textured surfaces were consistently less nonstick than pans with smooth surfaces — and the experts agree. “A raised pattern on a nonstick pan pretty much negates its nonstick ability,” Braun confirms. “Food tends to grip to the texture, so a smooth-bottomed pan is ideal in this category.”
Pick your ply
Of our top picks and honorable mentions, two pans are tri-ply: the KitchenAid Tri-Ply Stainless Steel Nonstick Skillet and the All-Clad Stainless Nonstick Fry Pan. The All-Clad d5 Stainless Nonstick Fry Pan, the Demeyere 5-Plus Nonstick Fry Pan, and the Swiss Diamond Prestige Clad Nonstick Fry Pan all have five layers — which helps explain why they are typically more expensive than the tri-ply options.