3. Two 12-Inch Skillets
A 12-inch skillet gives you flexibility to cook smaller or larger portions as needed. Select two of these four styles, preferably one with a nonstick surface, whether it's coated with a nonstick material or it's a well-seasoned cast-iron or carbon-steel pan, and one for heavy-duty browning and searing. You can pick based on the best material for the way you prefer to cook. Here are the pros and cons of each:
Pros: inexpensive, lightweight, and quick to clean, they make it easy to cook fish, eggs and other delicate foods.
Cons: Not durable. You’ll need to replace every few years. Shouldn't be used with high heat.
Winner: OXO Good Grips Non-Stick 12-inch Open Frypan
Best Induction-Compatible Model: T-Fal Professional Non-Stick Fry Pan
Read Our Full Review of 12-Inch Nonstick Skillets
B. STAINLESS STEEL
Pros: Excellent, uniform searing and browning, best for pan sauces, versatile: can use on stovetop or in oven for frying, roasting, baking, too.
Cons: Food sticks, but you can use the stuck browned bits to add flavor to pan sauces.
Winner: All-Clad d3 Stainless Steel 12″ Fry Pan with Lid
Read Our Full Review of 12-Inch Stainless-Steel Skillets
C. CAST IRON
Pros: Excellent heat retention for deep searing, becomes increasingly nonstick with time, lasts forever.
Cons: Heavy to lift, and requires minor upkeep of seasoning.
Best Traditional Cast-Iron Skillet: Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"
Best Enameled Cast-Iron Skillet: Le Creuset Signature 11 3/4" Iron Handle Skillet
Read Our Full Review of Cast-Iron Skillets
D. CARBON STEEL
Pros: Works like cast iron, but lighter weight; excellent for deep searing. Becomes increasingly nonstick with time, lasts forever.
Cons: Requires minor upkeep of seasoning.
Winner: Matfer Bourgeat Black Steel Round Frying Pan, 11 7/8"
Read Our Full Review of Carbon-Steel Skillets