SHARE

We’ve all been duped by a deceivingly low-quality frying pan (and likely have the dismembered pancakes and overcooked frittatas to show for it). But it doesn’t take long to learn that not all cookware is created equal. There are countless materials and design details that separate mediocre pans from pass-down-to-the-next-generation great ones, and price often has nothing to do with it. From stainless steel and aluminum to ceramic-coated and cast iron, finding a top-tier option that will stand the test of time requires a bit of time, energy, and research. Ahead, our guide to the best frying pans on the market, according to actual chefs.

Features to Keep in Mind When Shopping a Frying Pan

Material

There are two basic elements of a frying pan: the core and the coating. Anodized aluminum is a preferred core material because it’s lightweight, affordable, and heats up quickly. Stainless steel, cast iron, and copper are considered slight upgrades in terms of price and durability. When it comes to the nonstick coating—the smooth, resistance-free surface that’s responsible for perfect over-easy eggs and whisper-thin crepes—there are a few options to consider. A standard, inexpensive frying pan likely features a polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), or Teflon, which has come under scrutiny in the last few years because it can release toxic fumes when heated over 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Brands have started making chemical-free ceramic-coated frying pans in response, which are considered safer by some.

Size

Frying pans come in three standard sizes: eight-inch, 10-inch, or 12-inch. The size is ultimately up to you and your cooking needs—larger designs may be better for pancakes, crepes, or whole fish while an eight-inch model is plenty for a single serving of fried eggs.

Our Top Picks

Best Cast Iron: Field Company Cast Iron Skillet

Brooklyn-based chef and host of Vice TV series Counter Space Sophia Roe swears by the Field Cast Iron Skillet. “It’s lighter than the standard cast iron and super easy to maneuver,” she explains. “Everything browns beautifully and nothing ever sticks—it’s everything you could want.” This workhorse is inspired by vintage American skillets and is meticulously crafted in the U.S. It comes perfectly pre-seasoned and allows you to fry, sear, saute, and roast on day one—no prep necessary.

Best Hybrid: Hexclad Stainless Steel Non-Stick Pan

For a stainless-steel pan that functions as a non-stick, meet Hexclad. These innovative pans feature a patented laser-etched hexagon design and aluminum middle layer to evenly cook everything from omelettes to steaks with minimal oil. “I make pretty much everything in my Hexclad 12-inch pan, including veggie burgers, pasta sauces, and cauliflower rice,” says Chloe Coscarelli, chef and founder of By CHLOE. “It’s made with a high-tech nonstick material, so everything cooks evenly and flawlessly without a lot of oil.” She also recommends using it to reheat leftovers instead of the microwave.

Best Steal: Carote Nonstick Frying Pan

With a wooden handle, lightweight body, and non-stick granite coating made in Switzerland, this pan is eco-friendly, low-maintenance, and aesthetically pleasing enough to leave out on your stovetop. At just $14, it’s one of the most affordable products on our radar and is also known for its even heat distribution—”best pan ever” is a common sentiment in reviews.

Best Ceramic-Coated: Caraway Home Fry Pan

With a PTFE-free ceramic coating, aluminum core, and stainless steel handle, Caraway’s top-rated Fry Pan is a non-toxic home run for anyone looking for a Teflon alternative. Best of all, it’s dishwasher-safe, stovetop agnostic, and comes in five muted hues to suit your style. 

Best Value: All-Clad Hard Anodized Nonstick Fry Pan Set

Just $59 gets you two high-quality frying pans from legacy cookware brand All-Clad. These pans are crafted from thick, hard-anodized aluminum for even heat distribution and quality that you can feel, plus three layers of PFOA-free nonstick coating for a slick, omelet-friendly finish. Plus, this set boasts a near-perfect 4.7 out of 5-star review on Amazon as well as nearly 8,000 enthusiastic testaments — customers call it a kitchen staple.

Best Jack-of-All-Trades: Our Place Always Pan

This eight-in-one workhorse functions as a frying pan, saute pan, steamer, skillet, saucier, saucepan, nonstick pan, spatula, and spoon rest. While it’s among the most expensive on the list, it comes with a host of accessories that make it well worth the investment, including a stainless steel steamer, nesting beechwood spatula, integrated pour spouts, and a matching lid.

Best Design: Great Jones Large Fry

This sleek frying pan checks all the boxes: it’s affordable, aesthetically-pleasing, spacious, non-toxic, eco-friendly, and chef-approved. “I’m a huge fan of the Great Jones ceramic-coated pots and pans,” says Dan Churchill, co-owner and executive chef at Charley St in New York City. “They are, in a word, epic—incredibly versatile, dishwater-friendly, oven-safe, and they allow for even heat distribution.”

Ask the Experts

How do I season a cast iron or carbon frying pan?

Churchill sticks to the basics and opts for olive oil. “Simply preheat your oven to 350 degrees, add a thin layer of oil to the pan, place foil or a sheet tray on the bottom rack, and rest your skillet upside down on the top rack. Bake for 30 minutes, remove, let it cool, and store.” Next time you use your cast iron, simply scrub off any food with a paper towel or dishcloth, and then add another thin layer of oil to the surface to protect it. “Never use soap, as this can deteriorate the nonstick finish you’re trying to build,” he adds.

What’s the best way to clean and care for a frying pan?

Excluding cast irons, caring for a frying pan requires a quick soak and swipe. “Place your frying pan into hot, soapy water immediately after use, and swipe with a soft sponge,” explains Churchill.

Every product is independently selected and vetted by editors. Things you buy through our links may earn us a commission.

MORE TO READ