Seasoned chefs know the value of stocking their kitchen with a good stainless steel skillet – or two. These frying pans can be used in many ways, from searing meat, poultry and seafood to sautéing mushrooms, onions, asparagus and other vegetables, and making sauces. It is also a good pan to prepare foods with acidic ingredients like tomatoes, vinegar and wine because the metal will not react with the acidity.
A stainless steel skillet has excellent heat retention, especially if it has a heavy bottom, and even more so if it contains a copper or aluminum core. These pans are usually more expensive than other options but are extremely durable, so a stainless steel skillet will give you years of reliable use.
Regardless of your level of skill or the size of your kitchen, it pays to invest in a stainless steel skillet. We’ve curated a list of some of the best models you can purchase online. Read on to find the one that best suits your cooking style.
1. Editor’s Pick: Cuisinart 722-24 Chef’s Classic Stainless 10-Inch Open Skillet
Cuisinart is a well-known brand in the kitchen small appliance and cookware industry, so it’s no surprise that its 10-inch stainless steel skillet has ranked high on our list.
We like this simple piece of cookware for many reasons. Yes, it’s a smaller size than a standard skillet but it is totally suitable for preparing food for one or two people. For a brand name item, the price and quality can’t be beat, so it’s a good choice as a second skillet if you have a large family, or as the main pan if you’re on your own or like to prepare smaller quantities.
The skillet’s aluminum encapsulated base heats quickly and distributes the heat evenly, eliminating hotspots. The cool grip stainless steel handle is riveted to the pan, so there are no screws that can loosen over time. The skillet is suitable for an induction cooktop, can be used in the oven up to 550 degrees Fahrenheit, and is dishwasher safe. As a nice extra touch, the rim is tapered for drip-free pouring.
- Mirror finish
- Aluminum encapsulated base
- Riveted stainless steel handle
- Food can stick to the bottom
- Handle can get hot
2. Runner Up: Misen Stainless Steel Skillet
This 12-inch stainless steel skillet from Misen has a larger cooking surface than some other models of the same size, so it’s an ideal choice if you’re looking for an optimal space option.
This versatile pan is constructed from 3.0mm thick, five-ply high-grade steel and aluminum. It heats quickly and evenly, eliminating hotspots and reducing the chance of food burning. It will also never warp, ensuring years of reliable use.
The company states that the skillet has roughly 19 percent more cooking surface than some other premium cookware, so you can cook more food at one time without overcrowding. This benefit is also available in Meisen’s eight- and 10-inch models.
With a stay-cool ergonomic handle, it will be easy to flip the contents of the pan or lift it from the stovetop into the oven, since the pan is safe to 500 degrees Fahrenheit (although the handle will get hot in the oven). The pan is also dishwasher safe and good to use on all cooking surfaces including gas, induction and electric.
- Stay-cool handle
- Aluminum and alloy core
- Large cooking surface
- A bit pricey
- No lid
3. Best Splurge: All-Clad D3 Stainless Cookware 12-Inch Fry Pan
If you spend a lot of time in the kitchen and take exceptional care and pride in how you prepare your food, then splurging a bit on a high-quality stainless steel skillet is a good investment.
This 12-inch stainless steel skillet from All-Clad is on the expensive side, but you’re getting a lot for your money. The pan features a flat base and flared, mid-sized sides that allow for easy flipping and tossing.
The classic-styled skillet has a strong, three-ply construction consisting of a responsive aluminum core bonded by two layers of stainless steel for maximum durability and fast, even heat distribution. The model also comes with a stainless steel lid, a great feature for those times you want to slowly simmer sauces and vegetables. As well, the stainless steel handle is riveted to the body of the pan for a safe and secure grip.
Compatible with all cooktops, the skillet is oven and broiler safe up to 600 degrees Fahrenheit. When it comes to cleanup, if you want the pan to keep its good looks, it’s better to wash it by hand with soap and a sponge, rather than putting it into the dishwasher.
- Comes with a lid
- Suitable for the oven and broiler up to 600 degrees Fahrenheit
- Riveted handle
- Reactive aluminum core
- Hand washing recommended
4. Best Budget: Mueller DuraClad Tri-Ply Stainless Steel Skillet with Lid
Starting out on your own and equipping your first kitchen can seem daunting but it doesn’t have to be. If you only cook for yourself and maybe a friend, then consider an eight-inch stainless steel skillet to handle all the searing, sautéing and simmering you plan to do. This tri-ply model from Mueller is a great option at a price that is budget-friendly.
This skillet combines a practical elegance with the level of functionality you need for successful cooking. The polished mirror finish and sleek, ergonomic handle will add a touch of glam to your kitchen setup and will look great for a tabletop presentation when you cook for that friend.
The thick, three-ply stainless steel base heats up quickly and evenly, and you only have to use low to medium heat to get good performance that is energy saving, too. The handle on the pan and on the tempered-glass lid are riveted for extra strength and security when flipping or tossing food. You can even take the skillet directly from stove to oven, as it is oven safe to 500 degrees Fahrenheit without lid, or 350 degrees Fahrenheit with the lid.
- Tempered-glass lid with air vent
- Riveted handle on skillet and lid
- Polished mirror finish
- Small size
5. Best with Helper Handle: Tramontina Stainless Steel Tri-Ply Clad Skillet
If you have arthritis or issues with weakness in your hands or arms, properly manipulating a stainless steel skillet can be challenging. And even if you don’t have these issues, a large skillet filled with hot food can be tricky to move safely from the cooktop to the oven or to the table. That’s where a second helper handle can be a great added feature. This 12-inch stainless steel skillet from Tramontina has an extra helper handle on one end, the perfect solution to having a secure hold when transporting a hot pan.
The 18/10 stainless steel skillet has a tri-ply construction with an aluminum core, just what you need for quick heating and even heat distribution. Both handles on the skillet are made from cast stainless steel and are riveted to the pan to give you a secure and comfortable grip. The large capacity pan will suit all of your cooking needs, is compatible with all cooktops including induction, is oven safe up to 500 degree Fahrenheit and affordably priced.
- Has a second, helper handle
- Affordably priced
- Aluminum core, magnetic stainless steel exterior
- Smaller than average cooking surface for a 12-inch pan
6. Best 10-inch with Lid: AVACRAFT 18/10 10 Inch Stainless Steel Frying Pan
A stainless steel skillet that comes with a lid gives you more cooking options than one without, especially if you enjoy the flavor benefits of simmering spaghetti sauce, a ragu or other recipe that needs to be slow-cooked on the stove and retain liquids.
This 10-inch stainless steel pan comes with a strong, tempered-glass lid that has a large, easy to hold, cool-touch silicone-topped handle. Sear, brown and sauté your favorite foods and make savory sauces and curries – the three-ply, multi-clad bonded construction and aluminum core heats up quickly and evenly with no hotspots for optimal cooking results.
The inside of the pan has a unique matt finish to help protect it from scratches while the mirror finish on the outside adds a touch of elegance. This pan also has a spout on each side for mess-free and accurate pouring. Compatible with induction, gas, electric, ceramic and halogen cooktops, the pan is rust, stain and corrosion resistant.
- Two pouring spouts
- Tempered-glass lid
- Lid handle has cool-touch silicone
- Small capacity
- Some users found it hard to clean
7. Best Non-Stick: AmazonCommercial Tri-Ply Non-Stick Stainless Steel Fry Pan
Most stainless steel skillets need a certain amount of oil or other fat to ensure food doesn’t stick to the bottom, especially when searing or making delicate foods such as scrambled eggs. However, if you are trying to reduce the amount of fat in your diet, then extra oil or butter may not be on your ingredient list. Perhaps it’s time to add a good non-stick stainless steel skillet to your cookware collection.
This pan from AmazonCommercial has a tri-ply construction with an 18/8 stainless steel interior that won’t react to acidic foods, a pure aluminum core for quick and even heating and heat retention, and a polished exterior that consists of 70 percent stainless steel and 30 percent aluminum. As for the cooking surface, it is covered with a Whitford Eclipse three-layer non-stick coating for easy food release and cleanup.
The pan is equipped with a generous handle to offer a secure comfortable grip. Suitable for all cooktops including induction, you can also put the pan in the oven up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, and in the dishwasher for a quick cleanup.
- Non-stick coating
- Tri-ply construction
- Dishwasher safe
- Affordably priced
- Some users found the handle to be heavy
- Delicate non-stick surface
8. Best Set: Anolon Nouvelle Stainless Steel Skillet Set
Busy cooks need to have all the right equipment at hand so they don’t fall short when unexpected dinner guests come calling. Having one basic stainless steel skillet is a must-have but having two of different sizes increases your options of what you can cook, as well as how much you can cook, at one time.
These stainless steel skillets costs less than buying two different sized ones separately, so if you intend on doing a lot of cooking, starting off with a set is a smart investment. What you get is an eight-inch and a 9.5-inch pan, each of which has double full-cap bases with a copper core layered between aluminum and magnetized stainless steel for the best combination for even heat distribution and induction compatibility.
While it’s true the pans are small, and the cooking surface area even smaller, together they make a powerful team to meet many cooking needs. The sides of each skillet are high, allowing you to create a generous quantity of sauce or perhaps a small ragus. The dual riveted handles make for a secure grip, especially when transporting the pans from stovetop to oven.
- Five-ply stainless steel with a copper and aluminum core
- Two-skillet set
- Dishwasher safe
- Oven safe to 500 degrees Fahrenheit
- Some reviewers said skillets were difficult to clean
- Some delicate foods can stick to the bottom
Things to look for when choosing a stainless steel skillet:
A stainless steel skillet is a basic piece of cookware that most home chefs and cooks should own. The versatile pan can be used for so many functions, from searing, browning and sautéing to simmering and cooking up scrambled eggs or an omelet. That being said, not all stainless steel skillets are created equal and there are certain factors to consider to make sure you get the best one for your needs. The following are some of the things to look for before making a decision.
Construction: Stainless steel is a great material for a skillet because it is non-reactive like aluminum, copper or iron. These metals can react with acidic food in a negative way, such as changing the taste of the food. Stainless steel does not react to acidic foods and so it’s a good choice if you cook with tomatoes, wine or vinegar. However, stainless steel in and of itself is not a good conductor of heat, unless it is very thin, and you don’t want that in a skillet.
That’s why you need to look for a three or five-layered skillet that has a stainless steel cooking surface and an aluminum or copper core and exterior. Aluminum and copper heat up quickly and distributes that heat evenly, which is what you need to avoid hotspots and burning.
Handle: A stainless steel skillet filled with hot, cooking food can get heavy, so you want to invest in one that has a securely riveted or welded handle. A handle that is held to the pan with screws is less secure over time and with use since the screws can loosen and the handle can detach from the pan. For extra security, purchase a pan that is equipped with a second helper handle. This makes it easier to transport the food-filled skillet from stovetop to the oven or the tabletop.
Lid: Many stainless steel skillets come “open” or without a lid. However, there are models that have either a solid stainless steel or a glass lid. These can be really convenient if you are simmering a sauce and want to retain the liquid and seal in flavors. Plus, you have the option of using it or not using it, depending on what you are cooking. If you do get one with a glass lid, make sure it is tempered glass. A venting hole helps reduce the internal pressure.
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