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Omelet Pans

Published January 2009

How we tested

What’s the best pan for making an omelet? Most brands of cookware offer an 8-inch nonstick “omelet” pan, but these are usually just smaller versions of their full-size skillets, with upright sides that make it difficult to turn and roll out a perfect omelet. Traditionally, a French omelet is made in a shallow, curved pan of black steel, which becomes seasoned and increasingly nonstick over time. We were on the hunt for truly best omelet pans.

Investigating Black Steel Pans

We began our search by testing a black steel pan, which heated quickly and held its high temperature, turning out two-egg omelets with precision. Unfortunately, this pan didn’t work with our French Omelet recipe, which calls for a tight lid to help cook the eggs through—the pan’s sharply sloping handle made it impossible for lids to fit. Another disadvantage: Black steel pans can never be washed with soap and must be dried completely or they lose the surface seasoning that makes them nonstick.

Specialty Omelet Pans Versus Nonstick Skillets

We also tested a pan made specifically for French omelets, created in 1963 when Julia Child asked The Pot Shop of Boston to design it, and where it is still sold today. Well-constructed of thick, heavy-cast aluminum, which maintains consistent heat, the curving shape and gently sloped sides are ideal for omelets. Time and again it produced flawless omelets that were perfectly golden with a creamy center, but the high price tag is a major drawback.

When developing our French Omelet recipe, we used the 8-inch version of our favorite nonstick skillet, whose stainless steel with an aluminum core produced steady, even heat, and its gently curving sides worked well for rolling out omelets, but again, the hefty price tag of $90 made us question whether we should revisit cheaper brands.

Crowning the Best Omelet Pan

After testing three nonstick 8-inch pans (all under $25), we found that one of them—a gently curved model made of hard-anodized aluminum—came closest to replicating the performance of the pricier pans. It was thinner than the high-end pans, making it heat more quickly, but still was able to produce perfect French omelets—at a bargain price.

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The Results

Winner
Recommended

Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

Admittedly expensive, this handsome block certainly seemed to live up to its billing as “the last knife block you ever have to buy.” The heaviest model in our testing, this block was ultrastable, and its durable bamboo exterior was a breeze to clean. Well-placed medium-strength magnets made it easy to attach all our knives, and a rotating base gave us quick access to them. One tiny quibble: The blade of our 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a little.

$248.64*
Recommended

Schmidt Brothers Downtown Block

This roomy block completely sheathed our entire winning knife set using just one of its two sides—and quite securely, thanks to long, medium-strength magnet bars. Heavy, with a grippy base, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard made this model extra-safe but also made it a little trickier to insert knives and to clean; the wood block itself showed some minor cosmetic scratching during use.

$141.90*

Schmidt Brothers Midtown Block

This smaller version of the Downtown Block secured all our knives nicely, though the blade of the slicing knife stuck out a bit. With a base lined with grippy material, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard afforded extra protection against contact with blades but made it a little harder to insert knives and to clean; the wood itself got a little scratched during use.

$67.99*
Recommended with Reservations

Swissmar Bamboo Magnetic Knife Block

This small, scratch-resistant model had a stable, rubber-lined base and could hold all our knives, though the blade of the 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a bit. But inch-long gaps between its small magnets made coverage uneven and forced us to find the magnetic hot spots in order to secure the knives. Its acrylic guard made it safer to use but harder to insert knives and to clean.

$49.93*
Not Recommended

Messermeister Walnut Magnet Block

This handsome block was done in by its shape—a tippy, top-heavy quarter-circle that wasn’t tall or broad enough to keep the blades of three knives from poking out. It lacked a nonslip base, and its extra-strong magnets made it unnerving to attach or remove our heavy cleaver. Finally, it got a bit scratched after extensive use.

$129.95*

Epicurean Standing Knife Rack 12"

This magnetic block sheathed all our knives completely, though with a bit of crowding. But it was hard to insert each knife without hitting the block’s decorative slats on way down, and because the block was light and narrow, it wobbled when bumped. Worse, we couldn’t take it apart, so splatters that hit the interior were there to stay. Additionally, the outside stained easily, and when we wiped it down, the unit smelled like wet dog.

$99.95*

Kapoosh Rondelle Knife Block

This model stabilized knives with a mass of stiff, spaghetti-like bristles that shed and nicked easily after extensive use, covering our knives with plastic debris. While all our knives fit securely, several of the blades stuck out, making this unit feel less safe overall. Finally, though the bristles could be removed and cleaned in the dishwasher, their nooks and crannies made this block hard to wash by hand.

$24.99*

Kuhn Rikon Vision Knife Block, Clear

This plastic block required us to aim each knife into the folds of an accordion-pleated insert that was removable for easy cleaning but got nicked easily with repeated use. Because we could only insert the knives vertically, longer knife blades stuck out; a cleaver was too wide to fit. The lightest model in our lineup, this block was dangerously top-heavy when loaded with knives.

$35.88*
Done in 281 ms! 61.385 KiB - 7.5% = 56.776 KiB