Cast iron was the traditional material for skillets, which at one time came with short legs attached so that they could be placed on an open fire. Nowadays the terms ‘skillet‘ and ‘frying pan‘ mean much the same, but a skillet is perhaps more usually seen as a small heavy pan which can be used in the oven as well as on the stove top.
Either way, a good skillet is an essential item of kitchen equipment, and every cook will want the same qualities in their best frying pan; it should be robust, easy to clean, evenly heating, and versatile. Above all, food should not stick, and the pan’s non-stick quality should be long lasting.
Recent concerns about the safety of Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA), which is used in the manufacture of non-stick coatings, have led to some consumers avoiding cookware with these surfaces, though the PFOA is entirely removed before the end of the manufacturing process.
Fortunately for those who choose to avoid it, there are now several types of PFOA-free non-stick pan coatings available, such as ceramic, which is said to be extra durable as it does not wear away during use. Here are our top 10 best skillet pans for any type of frying.
Our 10 Best Skillet Pans
Please Note: Skillet and frying pans are often used interchangeably and they both pretty much have the same characteristics. However, the term skillet is also often used for frying pans constructed from cast iron.
10. Kuhn Rikon Cucina Frying Pan
The Kuhn Rikon Cucina Frying Pan is made from aluminium, and is therefore unsuitable for an induction hob, but it will work with any other heat source. Its surface is porcelain enamel, so it is safe to put in the dishwasher, and it will also appeal to those who have reservations about chemical treatments such as Teflon.
With sizes ranging from 16cm to 30cm in diameter, there’s a size for every type of household, and as aluminium is an excellent conductor of heat, food will cook quickly and efficiently.
9. Victor Cast Iron Skillet
The Victor is a traditional cast iron skillet pan which can be used in the oven as well as on the stove top, and at 30cm in diameter, it is large enough to hold a family meal such as a frittata.
This pan would work with any hob including induction, but the iron surface needs to be treated with care; traditionally, cast iron pans are wiped out with oil rather than washed.
This treatment preserves the non-stick quality, which should improve over time. Cast iron pans should never be left wet, and acidic foods such as fruit juice or vinegar must be removed quickly.
8. JML Copper Stone Frying Pan
The JML Copper Stone Frying Pan incorporates the latest PFOA-free non-stick surface which is said to give this pan long-lasting non-stick qualities, while its aluminium base makes for fast heating-up times.
It is designed to look good with a copper exterior and wood-effect handle. With a base made from aluminium and stainless steel, it can be used on an induction hob or any other stove top, but should not be put in a hot oven.
7. Tefal Comfort Max Stainless Steel Frying Pan
Tefal have been market leaders in the production of non-stick pans for many years. Their Comfort Max Stainless Steel Frying Pan has a thick base which combines aluminium and steel, so it conducts heat well, does not warp, and can be used on an induction hob.
The base features Tefal’s unique ‘Thermospot’ technology, which changes colour when the pan is hot enough to add food. The manufacturer say that this pan is dishwasher-safe, though users may prefer to hand wash. It is oven-safe up to 175 degrees (gas mark 3).
6. Le Creuset Toughened Frying Pan
With its PFOA-free non-stick surface and hollow steel handle, the Le Creuset Toughened Frying Pan can be used in the oven as well as on all types of hob. The handle will remain cool whilst the pan is in use on the stove top, and it is also safe in the dishwasher.
This skillet is expensive, but Le Creuset offer a lifetime guarantee. It has sizes measuring from 20cm to 30cm in diameter and has sloping sides, enabling food such as fried eggs to slide out easily.
5. Lodge Cast Iron Skillet
The Lodge Cast Iron Skillet is a true skillet, in the sense that it can be used in every type of cooking including open fires and barbecues. The makers have incorporated an extra handle which will be a help in coping with the extra weight of its cast iron construction.
A cast-iron cooking surface is perfect for searing steaks, and gives all kinds of food an unmistakable ‘outdoor’ flavour.
The skillet comes pre-seasoned, so it has non-stick qualities which will develop and improve over time if it is handled with care. This pan could become an heirloom if treated properly.
4. Tefal Jamie Oliver Hard Enamel Frying Pan
This good value long-lasting frying pan incorporates Tefal’s latest six-layer non-stick coating Prometal Pro, which is guaranteed to keep its qualities even when used with metal tools. It has the Tefal ‘Thermospot’ technology, which changes colour when the pan reaches cooking temperature, so food can be seared to seal in flavour.
The frying pan is dishwasher and oven safe up to 180 degrees. It has a thick base which will not warp, and incorporates a stainless-steel layer so that it can be used on an induction hob.
3. Circulon Infinite Hard Anodised Frying Pan
The remarkable selling point for the Circulon Infinite Hard Anodised Frying Pan is that its Hi-Low Food Release System is guaranteed to outlast all other non-stick cookware. ‘Hi-Low’ refers to the ridges on the cooking surface which are designed to protect it from abrasion by cooking tools.
Unusually, the non-stick coating is also applied to the outside of the pan. Constructed from aluminium and stainless steel, this pan can be used in the oven and is also suitable for the dishwasher.
2. Prestige Stone Quartz Skillet
With a 20, 24 and 28cm diameter sizes, the Prestige Stone Quartz Skillet suits individuals, couples and families, and its aluminium and steel construction makes it suitable for all types of hob.
It’s also oven-safe up to 180 degrees (gas mark 4), though the long handle would be hard to fit in most domestic ovens.
Its PFOA-free quartz stone interior is designed for durability, and the soft-touch handle makes it comfortable in use. The high straight sides increase the capacity of the skillet, so it is particularly suitable for one-pot dishes such as chilli.
1. Circulon Premier Frying Pan
The Circulon Premier Frying Pan may well look familiar to viewers of TV cookery programmes, as television chefs often choose pans from the Circulon range.
Circulon’s best skillet pan is made from aluminium and stainless steel, and comes with a lifetime customer satisfaction guarantee, so the makers must be confident of its durability.
Fats and oils are unnecessary when you are cooking with a surface of this quality, so this skillet is a healthy option too. Oven safe up to 180 degrees (gas mark 4), the Circulon Premier can also be put in the dishwasher, although many cooks would hesitate to clean their best frying pan by any method except gentle hand washing. This pan will give years of reliable non-stick cooking.