If you are passionate about your culinary creations and kitchen adventures, having the best cooking pans is essential. Quality cookware is the core of quality food, but this is often overlooked, with all the attention being placed on the quality of the ingredients. Get back to basics and get the best cooking pans for all of your creations.
1. Aren’t All Pans the Same?
This is a pretty common myth among novice chefs, but there are lots of types of pans that vary in size, shape, material, and purpose.
2. So How Many Kinds of Pans Are There?
Every culture and cuisine favors the best cooking pans for their recipes. You are probably familiar with more pans than you think; even if you don’t know their names, you have certainly seen them.
Fry Pan / Skillet
The skillet is perhaps the most common pan in the kitchen. They are designed with a flat bottom and rounded sides, so they’re great at cooking fast with oils over very high heat. You can usually find skillets in various sizes, but if you want a pan that has a lid, this isn’t your best option.
Cast Iron Skillet
This type of skillet is different from a frying pan because it is made out of cast iron. Cast iron requires different care than other kitchen equipment, and it can be pretty heavy. You should avoid washing cast iron with water and soap. Usually, the best way to clean a cast iron skillet is to wipe it with a cloth.
This pan is best for sauteing, which is frying food while moving it around quickly in a pan and letting it cook beneath a lid. These pans are similar to skillets because they have a flat bottom, but instead of having rounded sides, saute pans have straight sides.
Because this type of pan is made for preparing sauce, it has tall, straight sides. In fact, you may think this is a “pot” at first glance. These pans can be used with or without a lid to control evaporation and are great for preparing any type of sauce or soup.
These pans have a large, flat bottom and a moisture-locking lid. Because of this, the Brasier pan is very versatile and is great for slow-cooking in the oven. These pans have two handles on the side, rather than the one, long handle, and are often set right on the table after cooking, for everyone to indulge family style.
Griddle / Grill Pan
This type of pan looks a bit different. It has a large, flat surface that may or may not be ridged on the sides. Because it doesn’t have the large ridges, it can’t be used to cook dishes that include liquids. It’s perfect for cooking breakfast foods like pancakes, hash browns, and eggs.
This type of pan has high, sloping sides and is very popular in Asian cuisines. Usually, these pans measure 14 inches and are made of carbon steel. They have a hot cooking surface on the bottom and are cooler up on the sides. The shape of the pan also allows you to easily move ingredients around for maximum control of the temperature. Woks are great for stir frying, steaming, and deep frying.
3. What Materials Are Commonly Used in the Best Cooking Pans?
There are plenty of different materials when it comes to pans. Some types of pans only come in a certain material, and sometimes you have more flexibility. Either way, it’s important to know and understand the differences in the type of material you are using in your kitchen. Some of the most common materials are aluminum, cast iron, carbon steel, ceramic, and clad.
How We Reviewed
When it comes to the best cooking pans, there are plenty of great options on the market. What will make a certain choice the best pan for you will depend on your budget, the type of cooking you are doing, and personal preference. To help you make an informed decision, we’ve gathered some of the highest rated pans on the market and will compare them based on key characteristics.
Overall Price Range
You can expect to spend anywhere from around USD20 to around 150 on the best cooking pans. This largely depends on the manufacturer of the pan, the type of pan, and the quality.
What We Reviewed
- Vremi Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Square Grill Pan
- Zwilling JA Henckels 66299-266 Madura Aluminum Fry Pan
- Tramontina 80116/007DS Gourmet Stainless Steel Induction-Ready Tri-Ply Clad Fry Pan
- All-Clad 41126 Stainless Steel Fry Pan with Lid
- Cuisinart 733-30H Chef’s Classic Stainless 5-1/2-Quart Saute Pan
- GreenPan CC000028-001 Paris 10 Inch Ceramic Non-Stick Fry Pan
- Cuisinart 719-14 Chef’s Classic Stainless 1-Quart Saucepan with Cover
- Breville Thermal Pro Clad Stainless Steel 10-Inch Fry Pan
- T-fal A8572494 Nonstick 3-Quart Handy Pot Sauce Pan
- Lodge 12 Inch Cast Iron Skillet
Vremi Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Square Grill Pan
This pre-seasoned cast iron pan is one of the best cooking pans for getting those perfect grill marks. It measures 11 inches, is non-stick, and is perfect for electric or gas stovetops. It has horizontal lines that let you perfectly sear meat or fish and deliciously grilled vegetables. It’s pre-seasoned for flavor, and it gets better and more flavorful over time. It’s portable and oven safe, so you can easily transfer from oven to cooktop. It heats evenly over any flame and lets you skip the butter and oil for smokeless cooking results.
Where to Buy
This cast iron skillet is 11 inches.
Zwilling JA Henckels 66299-266 Madura Aluminum Fry Pan
This is one of the best cooking pans because you can choose between an 8-inch, a 9.5-inch, a 10-inch, or an 11-inch fry pan. It’s manufactured in Italy, so you know you can trust the quality. It uses forged aluminum construction that gives you excellent heat retention and distribution. It uses PFOA-free, multilayer granite nonstick coating that is 40 times more durable than the traditional coatings found on aluminum fry pans. It also uses an innovative plasma primer that gives you a scratch and abrasion resistance that is a cut above the rest. It has an ergonomic handle that stays cool, so you never have to worry about touching a hot handle. The dripless pouring rim allows you to pour without creating a mess. This pan is stovetop safe, oven safe, and dishwasher safe.
Where to Buy
This fry pan is available in multiple sizes. You can choose from an 8-inch, 9.5-inch, 10-inch, and 11-inch pan.
Tramontina 80116/007DS Gourmet Stainless Steel Induction-Ready Tri-Ply Clad Fry Pan
This is one of the best cooking pans because it uses Tri-Ply clad construction. This means that the pan uses an aluminum core, stainless steel, and magnetic stainless steel. This construction allows for quick and even heat distribution, without creating hot spots. The pan features an ergonomic, precision cast, mirror-polished, stainless-steel riveted handle, so you can move it around with ease and a secure grip. The premium 10/10 stainless steel is dishwasher, oven, and stove safe.
Where to Buy
This fry pan can be purchased in an 8-inch, 10-inch, and 12-inch option.
All-Clad 41126 Stainless Steel Fry Pan with Lid
This is one of the best cooking pans because it comes with a stainless steel lid and is Try-Ply bonded. It has a wide, flat base and a shape that easily lends itself to variable cooking. The 3-ply bonded construction uses durable stainless steel that encapsulates the aluminum core. This gives you even heating throughout. It’s a highly polished cooking surface that has a starburst finish; this offers stick resistance, easy maintenance, and the assuredness that it won’t react with food. It has contoured stainless steel handles that are permanently secured with stainless steel rivets. This steel fry pan is safe for ovens, broilers, and stovetops and is induction compatible.
Where to Buy
This steel fry pan is available in a 10-inch and a 12-inch version.
Cuisinart 733-30H Chef’s Classic Stainless 5-1/2-Quart Saute Pan
This is one of the best cooking pans because it comes from Cuisinart, one of the most highly regarded brand names in the industry. It uses Chef’s Choice stainless sleet with a mirror finish, giving you the classic look paired with professional performance. It has unsurpassed head distribution that uses an aluminum base that is encapsulated in stainless steel to give you a quick and even spread of heat and the elimination of hot spots. The stainless steel is professional-grade and does not discolor. react with food, or alter flavors. This is one of the best cooking pans for any classic cooking technique. It offers slow simmers, rolling boils, and liquid reduction. The cool grip handle will keep your hand comfortable and safe when lifting and pouring. The rim is drip-free, allowing you to pour without creating a mess. The lid is tight-fitting and works to lock in flavors and seals in moisture for healthier, more flavorful results. This pan is dishwasher safe.
Where to Buy
This sauce pan holds 5.5 quarts.
GreenPan CC000028-001 Paris 10 Inch Ceramic Non-Stick Fry Pan
This is one of the best cooking pans because it comes from GreenPan, the pioneer of healthy ceramic non-stick safe cookware that doesn’t contain any toxins or pollutants. The pan is thermolon ceramic and is manufactured without PFAS, PFOA, lead, or cadmium. The coating won’t blister, peel, or release any harmful fumes, even if it is overheated. Thermolon is reinforced with minerals and is metal utensil safe. The pan has an anodized exterior that is designed for maximum strength and scratch resistance. It gives you excellent heat conduction for even cooking results. The ergodynamic, riveted stainless steel handles are contoured for a comfortable hold.
Where to Buy
This fry pan is available in 8-inch, 10-inch, and 12-inch versions.
Cuisinart 719-14 Chef’s Classic Stainless 1-Quart Saucepan with Cover
This is a great option because it comes from Cuisinart and is extremely affordable. It uses 18/10 stainless steel that surrounds the aluminum core. This lends itself to efficient heat distribution and creates a pan that does not discolor or react with food and alter flavors. It uses “Cool Grip” handles that are made of stainless steel riveted stick handles that always stay cool. It’s safe for use in the oven, on top of a stove, or in a broiler.
Where to Buy
This sauce pan is 1 quart.
Breville Thermal Pro Clad Stainless Steel 10-Inch Fry Pan
This tri-ply thermal clad fry pan has superior heat conduction, control, and retention. IT has a brushed stainless steel interior that lends itself to superior cleanup. It’s dishwasher safe and broiler safe.
Where to Buy
This fry pan is available in an 8-inch, 10-inch, and 12.5-inch version.
T-fal A8572494 Nonstick 3-Quart Handy Pot Sauce Pan
This nonstick sauce pan is made from durable aluminum and offers long-lasting performance. It uses quality non-stick interior that lends itself to easy cooking and cleanup. The ergonomic handle lets you easily transport and lift it.
Where to Buy
This sauce pan holds 3 quarts.
Lodge 12 Inch Cast Iron Skillet
This cast iron skillet is one of the best cooking pans because it offers superior quality. It’s seasoned with oil for a natural, easy-release finish that only gets better with use. It’s perfect for sauteing, searing, baking, broiling, frying, grilling, or braising. It’s easy to take care of, too. Simply hand wash it, dry, and rub with cooking oil.
Where to Buy
This skillet can be bought in 10.25 inches, 12 inches, and 8 inches.
When it comes to finding the best cooking pans for you and your kitchen, it’s important to first understand what kind of cookware you need. What cookware do you currently have? What kind of cooking do you engage in? Do you want something more versatile, or a pan more customized towards one use? And of course, what is your budget?
Once you’ve made these basic choices about what kind of pan you’re looking to invest in, the choice is easy.
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