The dinner hour is no time to struggle with sub-par equipment – having a top-notch fry pan in your cookware collection will streamline what’s often the most stressful time of day. As the head chef of your kitchen, it’s up to you to decide what type of pan will work best: ceramic, traditional nonstick, stainless steel, or cast iron? Each has its merits, but when you’re choosing a frying pan, consider your cooking needs and skill level, your budget, and how much time you’re willing to dedicate to pan cleaning and upkeep.
Through brand research and customer reviews, we’ve uncovered the best frying pans available on the market today, taking into account materials, manufacturers, and attention to features and details. Read on for the details on our top ten pans:
View The Best Fry Pan Below
1. T-fal Ultimate Hard Anodized Nonstick Fry Pan with Lid
The brand T-fal is synonymous with nonstick frying pans – they invented nonstick coating in the 1950s and have been improving it ever since. This 12-inch pan (lid included!) goes from breakfast to lunch and then dinner – and from stovetop to oven, for that matter.
Scratch- and acid-resistant, the nonstick coating is simple to clean, and we appreciated the silicone handle and tempered glass lid for both comfort and safety. Another great feature is T-fal’s Thermo-spot indicator, which alerts you when the pan’s preheated. Durable, exceptionally handy, and safe, home cooks can count on it for professional results.
+ A nonstick surface that’ll last for years
+Dishwasher- and oven-safe up to 400 degrees
+A trusted, tested brand
+Comfortable silicone handle design
+Anti-warping base and Thermo spot technology
Why We Like It – Nonstick pans abound, but if you want a piece that won’t have you thinking about a replacement for years, this is your best bet. This pan will heat and cook evenly and will keep its coating even when it’s in heavy rotation.
2. All-Clad D3 Stainless Fry Pan
Good looks don’t always mean high maintenance, and this sleek beauty proves it. There’s a reason many pro chefs swear by stainless steel pans, as long as they’re designed like this one. Its three-layered design gives it heft, and the low profile and wide, flat bottom provide plenty of surface area for optimal searing.
Made in the USA, the All-Clad D3 may earn the stainless “best in show” for even heat distribution. Cleanup is simple, even after high heat (up to 600 degrees). And unlike nonstick pans, you can use metal utensils on stainless pans without worry.
+Classic stainless steel design
+Wide surface area is best for optimal browning
+Safe up to 600 degrees
+Compatible with induction cooktops
Why We Like It – Every kitchen needs one or two stainless steel frying pans, and we liked the feel of this high-quality one. The handle (also made of stainless steel) stays cool on the stovetop, and the low profile makes turning your frying food easy. It comes with a lid that’s as heavy-duty as the pan itself.
3. GreenPan Mini Round Egg Pan
Limited-use cookware isn’t something we often recommend, but despite its name, this little nonstick ceramic frying pan comes in handy for much more than eggs. This mini version (it’s 5 inches) boasts excellent heat distribution so that it will make quick work of burgers, sandwiches, and the like.
Ceramic nonstick is somewhat new to the frying pan game, but it’s giving traditional nonstick surfaces a run for their money. Surfaces like Thermolon are silica-based, and ceramic pan proponents believe the natural material is healthier than other nonstick coatings. Either way, this pan’s quick heat-up time, silicone handle, and two shape options (round and square) merit it a slot on this list.
+Versatile despite its size, so lots of bang for your buck
+Food slides right off the pan, and cleanup is a breeze
+The pan is oven safe
+Stay-cool silicone handle
+Ceramic is a nice departure from typical nonstick pan surfaces
Why We Like It – For quick, small jobs, this pan is the best investment. GreenPan has had a decade to perfect its designs, and the Thermolon coating is slick and effective. This is a nonstick pan that makes it easy to cook for yourself, a task that is sometimes tempting to skip. Keep it handy for sauce reductions, too.
4. Koche Systeme CS Stone Earth Frying Pan
This frying pan caught our attention because of its unique appearance (it looks like red granite), but it’s more than meets the eye. The stone-derived nonstick coating creates a textureless surface with proper heat distribution and some of the best frying results we saw.
We also were attracted to the Bakelite handle’s comfortable feel – it’s a cool (literally and figuratively) feature, but be warned: it’s not oven safe. The pan’s magnetized base is compatible with induction stoves. We’d buy this nonstick pan as a primary fry pan or an extra for more significant meal prep.
+Looks and performs great
+Smooth interior helps food slide right off
+Ceramic frying pans may be a healthier choice
+Super easy to clean
+Three-layer heating structure
Why We Like It – It’s different, in a good way. From the unique style to its German-engineered nonstick surface, this frying pan is one of the best for consistent results. We liked the feel of the handle, too.
5. Caannasweis Nonstick Stone Frying Pan
Another of the best frying pans with a unique appearance, this model’s nonstick coating mimics marble; the handle evokes wood. The core is high-quality 5 mm aluminum alloy, which provides even heat, and reviewers remarked on the heavy bottom – always a plus in a frying pan.
It does have a smaller surface area than some nonstick skillets, but that’s due to the sloped sides that are designed for easy stirring and turning. Avoid metal utensils and high heat and stick to hand-washing this pan – you’ll be frying in retro good looks for years to come.
+Ergonomically designed handle
+Affordable size range options: 8- to 12-inch
Why We Like It – Little House on the Prairie vibes aside, it’s an excellent frying pan for the price – the vintage appeal is a bonus. Who says nonstick pans have to be boring to be functional? These pans are slick and attractive, and if you’re seeking a low-maintenance alternative to the cast-iron look, they fit the bill.
6. Calphalon Contemporary Nonstick Fry Pan
Calphalon is synonymous with superior engineering, and this is your chance to get two of the best frying pans out there in one purchase. Their nonstick surfaces are oven safe up to a sizzling 450 degrees, and we liked the sturdy feel of both the heavy-gauge aluminum pans and stay-cool stainless steel handles.
It’s all in the details, such as double-rivets on the extra-long handles. And each nonstick skillet features triple-layered coating for durability, backed up by a lifetime guarantee. Clean by hand or throw these pans in the dishwasher – they’ll survive high heat and heavy use.
+Durable and dependable brand
+Triple coated surfaces for longer life
+Oven safe up to 450 degrees
+Thoughtful design details like long handles
+Sturdy, but streamlined
Why We Like It – Ten- and 12-inch pans are the ones we reach for most, so they get the hardest use. Calphalon’s lifetime warranty and reputation give peace of mind, and the contemporary design means they’ll fit in your kitchen for as long as you’ll own them.
7. Rachael Ray Cucina Nonstick Frying Pan
Cooking for a crowd? Rachel Ray – no stranger to hosting a crew – has your back. Her 14-inch nonstick skillet features a “helper handle” to move a heaping helping of your specialty dish from stove to serving platter. (The pan line also comes in 9.25- and 11.5 sizes, but without the handle.) Ray’s nonstick pan heats evenly and is oven safe to 350 degrees.
It’s a versatile pan that’s comfortable to use. We were impressed by the hard-anodized aluminum engineering, which makes hot spots a thing of the past. Be sure to check out the handle color variations – it wouldn’t be a Rachel Ray product without extra pizazz.
+The 14-inch size is great for large-scale recipes
+Helper handle is a bonus
+Pans are dishwasher safe
+Appealing color options throughout the whole line
Why We Like It – If you’ve seen Ray’s shows, you know that she understands everyday cooking. The good looks and functional features on these pans make us want to collect the whole set and invite the entire gang.
8. Tramontina Professional Restaurant Fry Pan
It’s designed as a professional-grade fry pan, so it’s a cinch; this will hold up at home. And despite the top-tier aluminum and nonstick construction, this pan is affordable for budget-minded cooks. The best commercial-grade components combine with the easy operation: heavy-duty aluminum and a removable silicone grip for the stainless steel handle are among the benefits. The satin finish on the exterior lends a contemporary touch. But pros use pans like this for their performance, and this pan’s ability to go from stovetop to oven (up to 400) degrees makes it more than just a pretty face.
+Stands up to professional use and expectations
+ The National Sanitation Foundation has certified these pans
+Reinforced, durable nonstick coating
+One of the best values on our list
Why We Like It – It’s hard to find a commercial-grade product that’s budget-friendly. Tramontina has found the sweet spot with this frying pan collection – it’s tough, versatile, and affordable. This may be the best nonstick all-arounder.
9. Ozeri Stone Earth Frying Pan
With inspiring style and excellent performance, this is a nice gift for the new cook – or an experienced one looking to spice up his or her kitchen. We were taken with the color options, all of which have a German stone-based coating. (It’s not ceramic, but shares some of the same characteristics.) Induction stove-approved and layered with heavy-gauge aluminum, the frying pans have large surface areas, meaning a little steeper slope than some of the other reviewed models. Curved silicone handles are easy to grip, and they’re reinforced with three rivets.
+Great for all stoves, including induction
+Attractive design in a variety of colors
+Hardened nonstick coating equals extra durability
+Made with heavy-gauge aluminum
+Ultra-reinforced silicone handle
Why We Like It – Sometimes, you want a pan with deeper sides and more surface area – this is the best one we found in the nonstick category. The flat bottom heats evenly, giving inexperienced cooks an edge. To our eyes, the model’s color variations were the best on this list.
10. Ecolution Non-Stick Fry Pan
Nonstick pans are always evolving, and Ecolution’s collections reflect the changing industry, both in the manufacturing process and the finished product. The Hydrolon coating on this pan is bonded with water, which means fewer greenhouse gases are produced during manufacturing. It may be the future of nonstick surface pans – the coating is as slick as its competitors, and it’s just as durable and easy to clean. Look for companion pieces like griddles and a chicken fryer in the same line.
+Manufactured with the environment in mind
+Nonstick coating is made without PFOA (see our Buyer’s Guide for more info)
+Durable and sturdy
+Slick surface and easy cleanup
+Grooved bottom rings for even heat distribution
Why We Like It – A feel-good buy all around, these pans are environmentally friendly without sacrificing performance. The nonstick coating allows food to slip right off and makes cleanup a breeze.
Fry Pan Buyer’s Guide
Which materials make the best frying pans
With so many choices, it’s easy to get lost when searching for the frying pan that’ll best suit your needs. From classic (but high-maintenance) cast iron to state of the art nonstick models, fortunately, it comes down to some very simple factors:
- how scrupulous you’ll be about using the right utensils and performing maintenance
- your preference for the use of oils and sprays
- your budget.
If you know you’ll religiously avoid metal utensils, can prevent overheating, and don’t mind hand-washing your pans, nonstick surfaces might be the way to go. We’ve come a long way since Teflon – manufacturers have spent the last couple of decades refining and perfecting nonstick coatings, minimizing or abandoning chemicals that have raised eyebrows and concerns.
Perfluoroalkyl and Plyfluoroalkyl can be absorbed through food cooked in certain nonstick pans, and advances in cookware materials will eventually phase them out. Ceramic is the most successful replacement for Teflon thus far – this surface coating is silica-based, so it’s less dependent on chemicals than other nonstick surfaces.
If you’re concerned about what’s in the nonstick coating, manufacturers provide information on what goes into their pans, so while you’re shopping for the perfect nonstick pan, read the behind-the-scenes info, too. It’s worth doing some research into nonstick pans – they make for easy cooking and cleanup. Bonus: you won’t need to use much (if any) fat for frying. That’s why they’re a popular choice with both amateur and experienced cooks.
Stainless steel is usually what you’ll see in a professional kitchen – but the catch is, it needs to be quality if you’re to reap the benefits of this classic material. Lightweight, flimsy stainless steel cookware isn’t worth the savings; if you’re going to buy stainless, invest in good quality pieces from reliable brands. Key terms to look for when perusing descriptions and reviews include “fully clad,” according to the experts.
It means that sandwiched in between the layers of stainless steel. There’s aluminum all the way through the bottom and up the sides of the pan (cheaper models are bottom clad with just an aluminum disc). The best stainless steel frying pans will also be heavy, so check reviews for mentions of weight.
Other pan features to consider
Pans of all materials should have stay-cool handles that are ideally riveted itself (a cast iron skillet is the exception here, as this type of cookware is cast as one piece). Handles also can dictate whether the pan can go in the oven, so keep an eye out for this feature if you want to get the most use out of your piece. High heat can ruin nonstick pans even if they’re oven-safe, so read the descriptions carefully for temperature limitations.
One drawback of stainless steel pans is that you’ll need to use oil or other fats to keep food from sticking, especially at high heat. Cooking sprays often provide enough lubricant, but if you’re counting calories, a nonstick surface can help you meet your dietary goals. (Note: if you’re concerned about iron levels, consider cast iron. Although it’s the highest maintenance choice – you have to season the pan and make sure it’s completely dried before storing – it can add valuable iron to your diet.)
Which style of pan is easiest to use?
Start your search among the midpriced (the cheapest will disappoint) nonstick, medium-sized frying pans. Ten- or 12-inches are the most useful sizes. You can find pans that are dishwasher safe so that cleanup will be easy. Just remember to avoid metal utensils and be careful not to crank the heat too high. Most any nonstick surface will serve you well, but if you’re concerned about chemicals, go for ceramic or Hydrolon coatings.
Why can some pans take the heat of ovens and broilers, while others can’t?
It’s a matter of materials: some frying pans with nonstick coatings can’t stand up to heat over 400 degrees. With other pans, it’s the handle that will be damaged in the oven. Read the specifications and remember, a stovetop-to-oven pan is two pieces of cookware in one, so it might be worth any extra cost. Hot tip: remember, a “stay-cool” handle only applies to when the pan is on the stove – if it’s in the oven, you’ll feel the heat, so use a mitt!
Most home cooks have more than one frying pan in their arsenal, so feel free to experiment with a new style or material – chances are, you’ll wind up with certain pans that you like best for different tasks and recipes. On the other hand, you might discover the workhorse of pans – one that you’ll reach for every time.