Serious Eats / Kevin Liang
If you’re going to invest in one type of skillet, make it stainless steel. While we recommend buying affordable cast iron and nonstick pans (expensive ones just aren’t worth it), quality stainless steel will cost you more.
Stainless steel—specifically tri-ply with an aluminum core—transfers heat quickly and is great for searing and sautéing. And an aluminum core distributes that heat so everything browns evenly. Now, it’s hard to beat All-Clad’s stainless steel skillets’ quality and longevity, but they’re undeniably pricey. That is, except when they’re on sale for October Prime Day.
Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik
Why They Won Our Review
When we tested 29 stainless steel skillets, The All-Clad D3 model was one of our top picks. It was extremely responsive to temperature changes (so your pan sauce won’t break), seared skin-on chicken breasts well, and browned crepes evenly. Its flared lip helped moisture evaporate quickly, and its angled handle offset its weight and made it easy to toss food and move the pan from the stovetop to the oven.
All-Clad pans have a great reputation for durability, but they also come with a lifetime warranty—a big perk when you’re investing in high-end cookware. This set includes a 10-inch and 12-inch skillet, which we think are the two most useful sizes (think: searing a steak while sautéing broccolini on the next burner).
Good to Know
Materials: 18/10 Stainless steel, aluminum coreOven-safe temperature: Up to 500°FInduction compatible: YesWarranty: Lifetime
Why do chefs like stainless steel pans?
Stainless steel is great at transferring heat, so chefs like cooking with stainless steel skillets for their ability to sear. Stainless steel doesn’t have great conductivity though, so the best skillets will have an aluminum core to distribute heat evenly throughout the pan. It’s also very durable—stainless steel can go from the stovetop to the oven and can take a hard scrubbing to remove stuck-on bits.
Are tri-ply stainless steel skillets worth it?
Yes—stainless steel on its own is a poor heat conductor, which means it heats up inconsistently. By adding an aluminum core to the tri-ply skillet, heat is then evenly distributed throughout the cooking surface, making it one of the best pans for searing and sautéing. Even though they’re a little pricier, we think they’re a must-have for any serious home cook.