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What Should I Consider When Buying a Frying Pan?

Tricia Christensen
By
Updated May 16, 2024
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If you head to the nearest department or kitchen supply store, you may find yourself overwhelmed by the numerous decisions you’ll have to make before buying a frying pan. You'll also notice huge differences in price with some options being under $10 US Dollars (USD) and others over $100 USD for a single pan. Since you have so many choices, knowing your materials, your size requirements, and your price range can help you make an informed choice.

Materials

The basic frying pan is available in several different metals, including cast iron, stainless steel, and aluminum. With a little shopping around, you might discover ceramic and copper pans, which are likely to be fairly expensive. Combination stainless steel and copper bottom pans are popular too. Copper-bottomed pans offer the highly durable qualities of steel with very good heat conduction.

Aluminum frying pans typically come with a non-stick coating. This can be a good conductor of heat and help you easily remove things from the pan. Non-stick coatings tend not to work well with metal tools and can begin to flake off after a while, so you should only use plastic tools with them.

Other aluminum pans made of anodized aluminum are much more durable, and you may notice tiny circular ridges in the pan which help to better conduct the heat evenly. Brands with these ridges are often quite expensive,however. Such pans are frequently the choice of professional chefs.

Cast iron frying pans are some of the most durable offered, and when the entire pan is cast iron, it can easily be used on stovetops or in ovens for casseroles. Some cooks swear by their cast iron pans, but they are prone to rusting if not appropriately cared for. Aluminum and stainless steel frying pans are not ideal for use with highly acidic ingredients, like citrus fruits or tomatoes, as some aluminum or iron may leach into your finished product. You may notice a slight metallic taste to spaghetti sauces, or lemon chicken for example. In these cases, you might want to consider a stainless steel or ceramic frying pan instead.

Size

Frying pans come in virtually every imaginable size. If you plan to use the pan to cook for a large family, consider one at least 12 inches (30.5 cm) in diameter. Just remember that the larger the pan is, the farther out it reaches from the heat source, which can cause uneven heating. Pans larger than 12 inches (30.5 cm) across may have hot and "cold" spots. This matters less for oven cooking, but always remember to choose pans with heat resistant handles if you plant to use it in the oven.

Price

If you want a relatively low cost pan, you probably should consider cast iron over aluminum, since it is more durable. Avoid very inexpensive non-stick pans, as they can actually end up costing you more since you'll need to replace them more often. If you find top of the line pans a little too expensive, wait for sales at department stores, or look for discontinued styles of high quality pans. Several times a year, most departments stores will have home sales that may bring these professional pans into your price range. Special deals on sets of pans can also save you money.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a DelightedCooking contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By anon974731 — On Oct 20, 2014

In addition to cast iron, another cheap but fantastic option is a carbon steel fry pan. It works exactly like a cast iron, but without the weight.

I have a Bourgeat steel fry pan at home. It's one of my favorite pans to pan fry steaks and any other high heat cooking.

By mutsy — On Nov 16, 2010

GreenWeaver-I know that Kitchenaid frying pan also offer good quality frying pans at a slightly lower cost than the Calphalon.

Some people have said that food does stick to the pan even though it says that it is nonstick.

I have heard that Cuisinart frying pans are also worthwhile. The best thing to do is to buy a single piece of a line and if you like it then invest in the rest of the line.

This is what I did because these pans can be expensive and you want to make sure you are getting a quality product.

By GreenWeaver — On Nov 16, 2010

Icecream17-I love Calphalon. I got a set when I got married eleven years ago and it is still going strong.

A lot of times, Calphalon will offer special promotions during the holidays and even offer sets which you could buy at special pricing that may include seasonings.

The best pan to get is the Everyday pan because it is large enough to cook most items.

It usually retails for about $60. But, I know that Macys has a frying pan set for $49.99 which is half priced.

This is for the 10 inch and 12 inch frying pan sets. These frying pans are hard anodized on the outside but have a nonstick interior. I have these pans too and they are also wonderful.

By icecream17 — On Nov 16, 2010

The best frying pan sets are the Calphalon nonstick frying pans. They have a lifetime guarantee because they are so durable.

You have to make sure that you do not wash these pans in the dishwasher because it voids the warranty.

What I love most of these frying pan sets is the fact that the food cooks quickly and evenly throughout.

It is also easy to clean. Also, because the frying pan set is nonstick it is best to use wooden utensils because metal utensils will scratch the Teflon and ruin the pan.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a DelightedCooking contributor, Tricia...
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