No matter how carefully you treat your nonstick frying pan, the day will come when it loses its slickness and your once beautiful omelets turn into a mess. After the pan becomes scratched and damaged, replacing it is the best option. If you’re doing that every two or three years, you probably don’t want to pay top dollar for a new skillet. In Consumer Reports new tests of 10-inch frying pans, we found three nonstick top picks including a Calphalon for $40 that’s a Best Buy. We also tested four uncoated frying pans but none rose to the level of recommended.
The Calphalon Simply Nonstick Omelette Pan, $40, was excellent at evenly heating food, and when new, superb at releasing food. The handle stays cool to the touch but wasn’t as sturdy as others in our tests. The Calphalon Simply Nonstick was excellent at withstanding our nonstick durability test in which steel wool is rubbed over a pan for up to 2,000 strokes. It’s also easy to clean, made of aluminum, and comes with a 10-year warranty.
Top 10 Skillets
- Deluxe nonstick surface, inside and out, for stick-free cooking and easy cleaning
- Doubles as a handy buffet server when entertaining
- Simplify meal time with our deep 8 quart electric skillet. Enjoy fluffy pancakes, gourmet grilled cheese...
- Lock in flavors and moisture with the clear, tempered glass lid. Large 16" x 13" x 3. 15" profile lets you fry...
- Includes: 12" Square Skillet Pan Matching Tempered Glass Lid Matching Electric Base Recipe Book
- Removable Skillet Pan 12" x 12" Cerami-Tech Non-Stick Coating - Nothing Sticks To The Pan PFOA & PTFE Free...
- Chenhao Greentech
- Dimensions: 22.3L x 12.3W x 8.3H in.
- Crafted from durable cast aluminum and ceramic
Features To Consider
With its dense weight, a helper handle on the opposite side is always a nice feature. That way, you can use two hands to lift it.
Again, with this heavy material, lifting and pouring can be a chore. Look for a skillet that has dual pouring spouts to assist with maneuverability.
As mentioned above, many brands now offer cast iron skillets with a pre-seasoned feature, so it can be used right out of the box.
Enameled Interior Surface
A good option if you like the qualities of cast iron, but aren’t into the seasoning process. Porcelain has its own nonstick qualities, and a black matte porcelain finish is common for cast iron skillets.
The reason that skillets have a matte black enamel finish, as opposed to the more common glossy white enamel found on other pieces of cookware, is because the black enamel is fired at a higher temperature. This means it can withstand higher cooking temperatures for searing and browning – and it won’t show stains as readily.
If you like your skillets solid, heavy, and durable, these cast iron models from Lodge will fit the bill.
They are available in multiple sizes to outfit your kitchen with a complete set, or just grab the size that you want to round out your collection. I advise buying a 12-inch model for a large family, or the 10-inch model for an everyday pan to start, and then work your way up or down with additional sizes to meet your needs.
How We Chose the Best Frying Pans
Universally compatible, medium-sized, oven-safe pans
We started with a list of 68 nonstick frying pans from retailers as varied as Williams Sonoma, Kmart, and Amazon, then narrowed down to 10 to hands-on test ourselves by looking for some basic criteria.
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.