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How to buy the best frying pan



The desired pan finish depends on what you use it for.


Tyler Lizenby / CNET

Is your reliable pan irreparable? Or maybe you want to buy your first new pan. In any case, the options out there are daunting. The shops are filled with everything from stainless steel to cast iron and carbon steel to several types of non-stick pans.

Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. So how do you know what you get for what you want to cook? Do not be upset. In this guide you will learn everything you need to know.

  Omelette folded over the artichoke

Non-stick frying pans are particularly suitable for eggs.


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Nonstick Still Appealing

Nonstick cookware has been designed to do exactly what it sounds like. The interior coatings of these pans are deliberately designed to be as frictionless as possible. Foods that adhere to and contaminate other pans – such as omelettes – effortlessly slide off the surface of the cookware. With them you can fry everything, sauté and roast, from vegetables and meat to poultry and fish.

Another advantage is that you do not have to use much oil or butter to prevent food from sticking to the pan while cooking. Cleaning is also a breeze, as there is no stuck garbage to deal with.

However, there is a trade-off for this convenience. Non-stick cooking surfaces are less durable than other interior coatings. The use of metal utensils is also prohibited as they will scratch (and destroy) the coating.

You should not place non-stick cookware in the oven, under a grill, or even over stovetops on high heat. High temperatures (over 500 degrees F or 260 degrees C) cause the plastic polymer coatings to deteriorate or collapse completely. This in turn releases vapors that are toxic when inhaled.

Read more: How to store your pots and pans correctly.

Ceramics, the other non-stick coating

Ceramic-lined pans have become popular in recent years because they are synthetic-free. Common ceramic cookware brands include GreenPan and Green Earth.

Ceramic surfaces of natural, inorganic material that resemble sand or clay are not chemically degraded in extreme heat (over 500 F). Even under these conditions, they release no dangerous vapors.

However, ceramic pans will not satisfy everyone. Their non-stick properties fade over time. It also wears off faster than conventional non-stick coatings. Do not choose a pan with ceramic finish, if you expect it to last for generations.

Stainless steel cookware is the workhorse of many household kitchens


Taylor Martin / CNET

Practical, high-performance stainless steel

Stainless steel pans are another type of cookware that can be found on numerous shelves. This finish is the perfect choice if you want universal, high-performance cookware with the least effort. Stainless steel pots and pans in the Goldilocks Zone range between durability, versatility and price.

They can absorb large amounts of heat, be it on the stove, in the oven or under a grid. And as long as you do not mistreat them, they do years of daily service. You do not have to season them like cast iron and carbon steel pans. And their insides can handle all kinds of utensils (sharp, hard, metallic or otherwise).

Stainless steel cookware is not indestructible. Rough cleaning solutions, abrasive materials and excessive dishwasher travel can damage them. Her appearance is particularly vulnerable. If you are not careful, they lose their shine and shine and get scratched.

Excellent heat retention helps cast iron pans to produce a thick burnt crust on meat.


Tyler Lizenby / CNET

Cast Iron for a Beautiful Angler

Large, heavy and sometimes high maintenance cast iron cookware does not seem to be worth the effort. Once you get the hang of it, you might become a convert.

Thanks to their high density, cast iron pans keep the heat remarkably well. And their relative thickness distributes heat evenly to the food they cook. So if you're looking for fried steaks and restaurant-quality chops, delicious crispy crusts, and more, then you should buy a cast-iron pan.

However, you must spice up cast-iron pans before using them. There are two main purposes for seasoning cast iron. The first is to make a smooth, almost non-sticky surface inside your frying pan. The second is to protect the pan from rust caused by moisture or direct contact with water. The process is not difficult but requires some effort and time.

You also have to restart them from time to time – especially when they are torn apart by burned fat and old food scraps. These deposits over time affect the non-stick properties of seasoned cast iron.

Carbon Steel cookware like this Matfer Bourgeat Carbon Steel cookware is what professional chefs prefer.


Matfer Bourgeat

Cooks choose carbon steel

Do you really want to cook like a cook? Then use what professionals use: carbon steel cookware. Carbon steel, also known as black steel, is much lighter than cast iron. Although carbon steel pans and frying pans are less dense, they hold almost as much heat as their cast-iron relatives. That means they also fry food.

Carbon steel is usually smoother than cast iron. The big advantage: These pans have cooking surfaces that may be just as slippery as pans with non-stick coating. Eggs, omelets, premium cuts of meat, poultry, seafood – high quality carbon steel pans can do it all.

Like spice, you have to spice it up. It protects the cookware from rust and ensures a smooth interior. All this makes carbon steel frying pans great multi-purpose kitchen tools. If you're a seasoned amateur cook and want to improve your game, give a carbon steel pan a whirl.


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