Whether you are a skilled chef or your cooking skills are minimal, a skillet is an absolutely essential item to have in the kitchen. It is one of the most versatile of all cooking tools, as it can be used to cook countless items, from grilled cheese and scrambled eggs to stir fries and scampis.
If you are on the market for a new skillet, you are probably thinking that it sounds like it will be a simple enough process; however, you may be surprised to find it to be a bit complicated. There are so many different types of skillets and so many different manufacturers make them that finding the right one for your needs can be a bit challenging. In order to help you on your quest for finding the best skillet, we have put together this handy buyer’s guide for you. By reading this guide, you will find out everything you need to know about skillets, including the different types of skillets, the factors to consider when you are shopping for a skillet, the different features that they can offer, and the best brands of skillets. With this information in this guide, you will be well prepared to find the best skillet for your specific needs.
The Types of Skillets
Skillets can be differentiated by the material that they are made of. There are seven types of skillets, including:
- The aluminum clad stainless steel skillet
- The aluminum skillet
- The stainless steel skillet
- The anodized aluminum skillet
To learn more about each of these types of skillets, including their benefits and some of their disadvantages, please keep on reading.
The Aluminum Clad Stainless Steel Skillet
As the name suggests, this type of skillet is constructed of aluminum and is covered with a stainless steel coating. It is an extremely popular skilled, as it is prized for efficiently conducting heat, and for heating evenly. Thanks to this, scorching and hot spots are kept to an absolute minimum when cooking in this type of skillet. The aluminum clad stainless steel skillet is also incredibly durable and resists rust and corrosion well. While this type of skilled does offer some definite benefits, there are drawbacks to the aluminum clad stainless steel skillet. The main drawback of skillets with this construction is that they tend to be very heavy. They also can’t be washed in the dishwasher, so you will have to clean it by hand. Also, the aluminum clad stainless steel skillet cannot be used on induction ranges, which is something to keep in mind if you have an induction range.
The Aluminum Skillet
This type of skillet is constructed of pure aluminum, from the base of the pan to the handle. Without the stainless steel core, which many skillets have, this type of frying pan is much lighter in weight, which makes it easier to manage; if you enjoy flipping your food while you are cooking it, this is an excellent choice for you. The aluminum skillet is also very resistant to rust and corrosion, which means that with proper care and maintenance, it will last you a long time. It is also a very affordable skillet. One of the biggest disadvantages of an all aluminum skillet is the fact that it can warp, and it can dent and scratch fairly easily. Additionally, it cannot be used on induction ranges, and it can react to acidic ingredients, such as tomatoes, and end up with staining. This type of skillet can also cause discoloring in light-colored foods and sauces.
The Stainless Steel Skillet
Completely constructed of stainless steel, this type of skillet is very resistant to scratches and it is extremely durable. It can be used on an induction range, which is a definite plus. Another major advantage is that stainless steel does not react with foods, like the aluminum skillet can. On the downside, the stainless steel skillet can heat unevenly, which means that hot spots are not uncommon, and you could end up burning your food.
The Anodized Aluminum Skillet
The anodized aluminum skillet is become very popular. It is a heavy duty frying pan and it is as much as 400 percent stronger than the traditional aluminum skillet. Anodized aluminum skillets are resistant to sticking, they are non porous, and they do not react to foods, so your skillet won’t stain or discolor your foods, and it will stay in great shape for a long time. The anodized aluminum skillet also conducts heat very efficiently. This type of skillet are very durable, is resistant to scratches and dents, and other types of damage, so it will last you a long time. On the downside, it can take a while for the anodized aluminum skillet to heat up, which can be problematic if you are in a rush to cook your food. Also, the surface of this type of pan can wear out over time, especially when acidic foods are prepared in them on a regular basis. Another downside to point out is that the anodized aluminum skillet is not dishwasher safe. Also, it cannot be used on an induction range.
The Carbon Steel Skillet
Exceptional resistance to heat and very lightweight, the carbon steel skillet is a popular choice among cooks. It also has to be seasoned before using, which is something that you are going to want to keep in mind. It also has to be seasoned when it isn’t in use, otherwise it will begin to rust.
The Copper Skillet
Skillets are rarely made completely out of copper, but rather lined with the material, or feature a copper bottom. Copper is an excellent choice if you are planning on preparing delicate foods in your skillet. This material conducts heat very well, which means that it will heat up quickly. On the downside, copper can tarnish over time, and it has to be polished to keep it in good condition.
The Cast Iron Skillet
Every cook should have a cast iron skillet in his or her kitchen. Cast iron conducts heat very quickly and efficiently, and it retains heat for a long time. If you suffer from an iron deficiency, cooking in one of these skillets can help to boost your iron intake. Cast iron is also naturally non stick; however, it has to be seasons properly in order to resist sticking. The fact that it has to be seasoned is a downside that may turn some cooks off. Also, cast iron is extremely heavy, which can make it difficult to handle a cast iron skillet.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Cast Iron Skillet
There are several factors that you are going to want to take into consideration when choosing a cast iron skillet. By taking these factors into consideration, you will be able to find the best skillet for your specific needs. Some of the most important factors to consider include the thickness of the pan, the shape of the skillet, and the size of the pan. To learn more about these and other factors that we consider to be very important when choosing a skillet, please keep on reading.
The Size of the Skillet
One of the most important things that you are going to want to consider when choosing a skillet is its size. Many people assume that the bigger the skillet is, the more versatile it will be. While this is often true, it is not always the case. If you plan on cooking a small dish, such as scrambled eggs for one, a large skillet may not be the best choice, as it can take a lot of time to heat up. Small pans do heat up quickly; however, they can’t accommodate a large amount of ingredients. The truth is, there isn’t a one size fits all skillet, so it is wise to have a variety of sizes; an 8 inch, 10 inch and 12 inch skillet is ideal.
The Shape of the Skillet
You may be under the assumption that all skillets are round in shape, and while many are, not all of them are round. Some skillets have an oval shape, which may be more useful for you, depending on what you are cooking. If you regularly cook shell steak and fish fillets, an oval skillet is a great choice. An oval skillet simplifies the task of preparing food that is long and narrow. Also, oval skillets can be used as a serving dish, so you can take your food right from the stove top to the tabletop.
The Thickness of the Skillet
The thickness of the skillet is another important factor to consider. The thicker it is, the more durable it will be, which means it will last longer. Also, thicker skillets heat more evenly, which means they are less likely to have hot spots. However, thicker skillets can take a while to heat up, and they are heavier than think skillets, which means that they can be more difficult to handle.
The Sides of the Skillet
The sides of the skillet are also important to consider. Some skillets have straight sides, which is a good option for preparing full meals and for braising meats. Straight sides can prevent food from splashing out of the pan, so they are a good choice if you plan on cooking pastas with sauce or braises. Skillets can also have sloping sides, which makes it easy to prepare items that require the regular use of a spatula, such as an omelet. With sloping sides, it is a lot easier to slip a spatula benefit the ingredients in the skillet.
The Cost of the Skillet
You are also going to want to take the cost of the skillet into consideration. These cooking vessels can vary widely in price, with thicker skillets and those that offer more features costing the most. It is important to determine how much you want to spend before you start shopping so you can avoid spending more than you are comfortable with.
Features Skillets Can Offer
You may not think it, but skillets can offer a variety of features. These features are intended to make the skillet easier to use, and enhance their versatility. As mentioned above, the more features a skillet offers, the more expensive it will be. It is important to understand the intended purpose of these features so that you can determine whether you want or need them, and if the added expense is worth your while.
Here is a look at some of the top features that skillets can offer.
While you can certainly use a pot holder to hold the handle on a frying pan and prevent burning yourself, if you want to truly avoid burning your hands, you may want to choose a skillet that offers heat resistant handles, or that are covered with heat resistant materials.
A Non-Stick Surface
If you want to avoid having your food stick to the surface of the skillet and make clean up easier, a non-stick surface is an excellent choice. In fact, non stick surfaces are on the most popular and sought after features.
Some skillets also come equipped with a lid. The lid can be placed onto the pan while you are cooking. The lid will help the skillet retain heat, and it will allow you tp prevent foods from jumping out of the pan while you are cooking.
The Best Skillet Brands
There are several manufacturers that produce skillets, which can make it difficult to determine what brand you should choose. Here are our picks for the best skillet brands.
Farberware has been producing kitchen appliances and gadgets for generations, and their skillets are second to none. This company makes a variety of skillets that come in a range of styles and are constructed of to be easy to use.
Another top brand in the skillet industry is T Fal. This company makes high quality materials that are very durable and that allow you to cook a variety of foods.
Another top company that produces high quality skillets is Lodge. Their skillets are very durable and can be easily used and cleaned.