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Getting Whacked

By Cook's Illustrated Published January 2009

A great skillet should last a lifetime, withstanding decades of normal wear and tear in the kitchen.

A great skillet should last a lifetime, withstanding decades of normal wear and tear in the kitchen. To evaluate the durability of the seven traditional stainless-steel skillets we tested in “The Best All-Purpose Skillet,” we heated the pans to 500 degrees on the stovetop, then plunged them into a bucket of ice water to see if they warped. Thermal shock can cause metal to distort—similar to when you rinse a very hot pan under cold water—but in this case, none did. We then whacked each skillet three times on a dish towel-covered concrete platform, trying to use the same moderate amount of force with each. While our top-rated skillet, the All-Clad Stainless 12-Inch Fry Pan, survived with barely a ding, most of the other pans sustained pronounced dents and damage. The handle on one pan loosened; another nearly came off. The worst of the bunch was the Cuisinart Chef’s Classic Stainless 12-Inch Skillet: After only two whacks, it crumpled like a tin can and completely fell apart, with the disk bottom separating from the rest of the pan.

NOT SO DURABLE

The Cuisinart Chef's Classic Stainless 12-Inch Skillet collapsed under abuse.