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8-Inch Stainless-Steel Skillet

Published January 2020
More on the Best Stainless-Steel Skillets
We also love the 10-inch version and 12-inch version of this skillet, which won both our regular and inexpensive stainless-skillet testings.

How we tested

The All-Clad D3 Stainless 12" Fry Pan with Lid, about $120, has been the test kitchen’s winning large stainless-steel skillet for more than a decade. We recently reviewed the 10-inch version and found it just as capable. Both pans are fully clad, or made from three metal layers—aluminum sandwiched between layers of stainless steel, which gives them the speedy heat conduction of aluminum and the heat retention; slower, more adjustable heat transmission; and nonreactivity of stainless steel. We use these fully clad skillets for searing and sautéing on the stovetop and baking, broiling, and roasting in the oven. An 8-inch version—the All-Clad Stainless 8" Fry Pan, which costs about $100—is also available, and we wondered if it would be equally capable and worth adding to our cookware recommendations. 

To find out, we used it to make a frittata, starting on the stove and finishing in the oven under the broiler; to toast nuts in the oven; and to sear steak, brown onions, and make browned butter on the stovetop. We scrubbed the skillet by hand after each test. To evaluate the pan’s durability, we banged it against a concrete ledge three times, and then heated it to 500 degrees on the stove before plunging it into an ice bath, checking afterward for denting, warping, and any general damage.

The petite pan cooked all the food perfectly. It browned the steak and onions deeply and evenly, and it cleaned up beautifully. When we had a little trouble with staining on the pan’s interior, a spot of Bar Keepers Friend returned its luster handily. The pan was light, balanced, and maneuverable. Its handle stayed cool and felt secure in our hands. It also survived our abuse tests, looking almost brand-new at the end of testing. This pan would be an excellent addition to any kitchen. 


Methodology

  • We tested the All-Clad Stainless 8" Fry Pan, about $100, the small version of our winning 10- and 12-inch stainless-steel skillets

  • Make a mini frittata starting on the stove and finishing in the oven under the broiler

  • Toast nuts in the oven

  • Sear steak on the stovetop

  • Brown onions on the stovetop

  • Make browned butter on the stovetop

  • Scrub the skillet by hand after each test

  • Bang the skillet against a concrete ledge three times 

  • Heat to 500°F on the stove and then plunge into a bucket filled with ice 


RATING CRITERIA

Performance: We evaluated how evenly the skillet seared steaks, toasted nuts, browned onions and butter, and cooked a mini frittata. 

Ease of Use: We noted if the handle was comfortable to grip firmly; didn't feel insecure or slippery; and stayed cool on the stovetop, allowing us to skip using pot holders.

Cleanup/Durability: We evaluated how easy the skillet was to clean, noting whether the handles and rivets trapped grime and if the skillet warped or was dented after normal cooking and after abuse testing.


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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*