A Round-up of Our Favorite Skillets

We want to help you find the skillet that’s right for you.

Skillets are a staple in any kitchen. From cast-iron and carbon-steel skillets to classic stainless-steel and nonstick ones, my team has tested them all. Now we want to help you find the skillet that’s right for you! In this guide, I’ve gathered the winners from all our skillet tests. These are the pans that passed our toughest tests with flying colors. Our favorite cast-iron skillet is the fine wine of the cookware world, getting better with time. And our top-rated nonstick skillet is superslick, so it’s able to release even sticky food with ease. A skillet’s best friend is a tight-fitting lid, so we’ve included a few of those as well.

—Carolyn Grillo, Associate Editor, ATK Reviews

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

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Our longtime favorite skillet still beats all newcomers, with a clean design that includes no unnecessary frills. We appreciate the wide cooking surface and low, flaring sides that encourage excellent browning and evaporation; a steel handle that stays cool on the stovetop and won't rotate in your hand; and an overall weight and balance that hit the sweet spot between sturdiness and maneuverable lightness. It resisted warping and withstood thermal shock and outright abuse with nary a scratch or dent. Its three layers of cladding, with aluminum sandwiched by steel, make for deep, uniform browning.

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The cooking surface was slick, both when new and after extensive use, and food never stuck. It’s one of the lightest models we tested, so it was easy to lift and maneuver, but it was also sturdy and resisted denting. All of our testers liked its wide, comfortable handle. Like every other model, its surface became scratched when we used a knife as if to cut a frittata, but it otherwise held up well.

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One of only two pans to pass our test of nonstick coating durability, this pan arrived slick and remained so throughout cooking and abuse tests. It also has a broad cooking surface, gently sloped walls, and a comfortable handle. Because it runs a little hotter than our favorite regular nonstick skillet, you may need to adjust the heat level or cooking time when following recipes. It became scratched when we cut in it.

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This affordable pan had it all: thick, solid construction; a smooth interior with no handle rivets to bump the spatula or trap food; an ergonomically angled handle; and sides flared just right for easy access but high enough to contain splashes. Steaks formed a deeply crisp crust, tarte Tatin caramelized beautifully and released neatly, and fried eggs just slipped around in the pan.

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This costly, beautifully designed pan is a hand-forged piece of art, but it’s also built to work hard. It arrived preseasoned, with the metal heat-treated to a lovely shade of slate blue, though it darkened with use. With its broad cooking surface, nicely flared sides, and perfect browning and release, it was a pleasure to use. Our only quibble (besides price): It’s heavy. The large helper handle is a useful addition. Available at bluskilletironware.com.

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This set was a heartbreaker. It has well-designed, balanced pans with practical sizes and shapes and comfortable, cool handles at an outstanding price. Everything cooked beautifully. And then, on the last day of abuse testing, the skillet warped badly as we heated it to 500 degrees on an induction burner, leading us to worry about the set’s durability. (A second copy of the pan did not warp when we heated it more gradually to 500 degrees, however.)  

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