Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Skillets are a real staple of the stovetop. From crisping bacon to sautéing vegetables (yes, we prefer a skillet to a sauté pan for this task, as it’s easier to toss with!) and everything in between, having at least one skillet in your kitchen is a must. 

While there are pros and cons to each type of material—think nonstick versus stainless steel versus cast iron—we’ve tested loads of different skillets. Below, you’ll find our favorite skillets across our cookware reviews. And because pans can be pricey, we’re including our favorite budget-conscious picks, too.

The Winners, at a Glance

The Best Stainless Steel Skillet: Made In 12-Inch Stainless Steel SkilletThe Best Budget-Friendly Stainless Steel Skillet: Tramontina 12-Inch Stainless Steel SkilletThe Best Enameled Cast Iron Skillet: Staub 10-Inch Fry PanThe Best Budget-Friendly Enameled Cast Iron Skillet: Crock Pot Artisan Cast Iron Skillet The Best Carbon Steel Skillet: Mauviel M’Steel 11-Inch Carbon Steel Fry PanThe Best Budget-Friendly Carbon Steel Skillet: Vollrath 58920 11-Inch Carbon Steel Fry PanThe Best Mid-Priced Nonstick Skillet: All-Clad HA1 Hard Anodized 10-Inch Frying PanThe Best Budget-Friendly Nonstick Skillet: T-fal Professional Total Nonstick 10.5-Inch Thermo-Spot Fry PanThe Best Cast Iron Skillet: Lodge Pre-Seasoned 10.25-Inch Cast Iron SkilletThe Best Lightweight Cast Iron Skillet: Lodge Blacklock Triple-Seasoned 10-25-Inch Cast Iron Pan

Things to Consider


Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Nonstick skillets will be the easiest to work with (and clean), but have the lowest heat tolerance and will eventually need to be replaced, as the coatings will break down after a few years. We actually don’t recommend nonstick pans for most cooking tasks, but concede having one on hand is helpful for stick-prone things, like eggs.

On the other hand, stainless steel is a great choice for durability and even heat distribution and is one of our favorite skillet materials. Carbon steel is another excellent choice and is a lightweight alternative to cast iron. Like cast iron, though, it will need to be seasoned and maintained.

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Speaking of, cast iron is an enduring favorite for its ruggedness and ability to withstand ultra-high temperatures, but it’s heavy and also needs to be seasoned. If the latter doesn’t sound appealing to you, enameled cast iron strikes a nice balance between heat retention and a semi-nonstick cooking surface, but it isn’t as durable. (You literally cannot destroy traditional cast iron—even a super-rusted one can be restored.)


Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

We think skillets should come with a reasonable price tag and have found that, in many cases, ultra-pricey cookware tends to perform the same as more affordable pieces. For example, a $20-ish Lodge pan bested cast iron skillets that cost hundreds in our review. And with nonstick, cheaper is just better—since you’ll have to replace it in a few years anyway.

What Size Skillet is Best? 

The skillets we recommend here are all between 10 and 12 inches. These are practical sizes that allow plenty of room in the pan for ingredients to cook evenly without crowding. Smaller skillets may cost less upfront, but aren’t as practical unless you’re frying just an egg or two. (Though, that is certainly an argument for having an 8-inch cast iron or carbon steel pan on hand.)

How Do I Tell If a Skillet is Compatible with Induction?

Serious Eats / Ashlee Redger

Nowadays, a lot of cookware is induction compatible, but if there’s any doubt, look for an induction symbol on the packaging or the bottom of the pan. It looks like a squiggly line and says “induction,” so you can’t miss it! You can also grab a magnet and hold it to the bottom of any piece of cookware. If the magnet sticks solidly, the pan’s induction compatible.

The Best Skillets

What we liked: We tested 29 stainless steel skillets and this one from Made In Cookware came out on top. We love its responsiveness to temperature changes and the comfortable handle that makes using it a pleasure. Plus, this one looks really nice thanks to its polished interior and brushed exterior. 

What we didn’t like: While we didn’t experience any warping with this pan, others have. If the pan’s warped, it won’t work well with induction cooktops.

Price at time of publish: $119.

Key Specs

Induction compatible: YesOven-safe temperature: 800°FSerious Eats / Vicky Wasik

What we liked: This stainless steel skillet held its own with responsiveness and even heating. The Tramontina has a slightly smaller cooking surface than the Made In skillet and a lower oven-safe temperature, but it’s still broiler-safe (500°F is still pretty hot, after all) and, overall, we think this is a great budget buy.

What we didn’t like: This pan’s gradually slopping sides made for a smaller usable cooking surface.

Price at time of publish: $49.

Key Specs

Induction compatible: YesOven-safe temperature: 500°FSerious Eats / Vicky Wasik

What we liked: In our enameled cast iron skillet tests, we loved the Staub’s performance and solid build quality. It browned well, heated quickly and evenly, and the angled pouring spouts on both sides of the rim are a convenient touch.

What we didn’t like: The pan’s helper handle was small and not looped, and we found it harder to hold onto.

Price at time of publish: $200.

Key Specs

Weight: 4 pounds, 15 ouncesInduction compatible: YesOven-safe temperature: 500°FSerious Eats / Taylor Murray

What we liked: Sometimes it’s just not feasible to invest in a piece like Staub (or Le Creuset, our other enameled cast iron skillet pick). Luckily, you’ll get comparable heating prowess and a nicely smooth interior (we were even able to flip a fried egg with no sticking) with this alternative from Crock Pot.

What we didn’t like: It didn’t have quite the same heat retention as our pricier top picks.

Price at time of publish: $36.

Key Specs

Weight: 6 pounds, 5 ouncesInduction compatible: YesOven-safe temperature: 500°FSerious Eats / Taylor Murray

What we liked: When we tested 13 carbon steel skillets, Mauviel took the top spot with its pleasing heft and even, well-distributed heating. Carbon steel is basically nonstick when properly seasoned, and the Mauviel’s generous surface area allows for a variety of uses—including making an excellent tarte tatin.

What we didn’t like: It was a bit heavy, which made it harder to tilt and turn.

Price at time of publish: $95.

Key Specs

Weight: 3 pounds, 3 ouncesInduction compatible: YesOven-safe temperature: 680°FSerious Eats / Taylor Murray

What we liked: Vollrath pans are lightweight, affordable, and frequently found in professional kitchens, so we weren’t surprised when this 11-inch skillet performed well in our tests. This pan heats quickly and evenly and won’t break the bank. 

What we didn’t like: The handle on this pan is pretty dang long, which can be cumbersome.

Price at time of publish: $38.

Key Specs

Weight: 2 pounds, 6 ouncesInduction compatible: YesOven-safe temperature: 600°FSerious Eats / Taylor Murray

What we liked: We’re not shy about saying we don’t think you should spend a bunch of money on a nonstick skillet, because no matter how high-end you go, eventually that silky coating will break down and necessitate replacement. That being said, this skillet from All-Clad is surprisingly well-priced and durable (and we generally love All-Clad’s performance), so we’re happy to recommend it with one caveat (see below).

What we didn’t like: The concave handle may not prove the most comfortable in everyone’s hands. 

Price at time of publish: $50.

Key Specs

Weight: 2 pounds, 10 ouncesInduction compatible: YesOven-safe temperature: 500°FSerious Eats / Donna Currie

What we liked: While we also like the Tramontina Professional Aluminum Nonstick Fry Pan, T-fal is an enduring name in the nonstick skillet game. This pan performed well in our tests thanks to a smooth coating, and even heating. You can even toss it in the dishwasher—though we recommend washing by hand to extend the life of the nonstick coating.

What we didn’t like: Since nonstick pans run the risk of off-gassing at high temperatures, we suggest ignoring T-fal’s signature “your pan is now ready” Thermo-Spot heat indicator.

Price at time of publish: $40.

Key Specs

Weight: 1 pound, 13 ouncesInduction compatible: YesOven-safe temperature: 400°FSerious Eats / Donna Currie

What we liked: Lodge’s cast iron skillets are one of our most frequently recommended pieces of cookware, and they’re so reasonably priced that this one ticks the boxes for both best overall and best budget-friendly. This durable skillet will last for generations and quickly prove itself as one of the most versatile tools in your kitchen. The pour spouts on each side of the rim are convenient for sauces, too.

What we didn’t like: Our one (small!) gripe is that the pour spouts or a bit shallow, leading to dribbling.

Key Specs

Weight: 5 pounds, 8.5 ouncesInduction compatible: YesPrice at time of publish: $25Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

What we liked: There’s a lot to love about cast iron, but it sure can be heavy. Fortunately, there’s the Blacklock line from Lodge, which casts its pans in a thinner, lighter-weight design to make them a little more manageable for daily use. We found almost no difference in cooking performance between this Blacklock skillet and Lodge’s conventional version, so if your budget allows for a pricier alternative, go for it.

What we didn’t like: Again, the pour spouts are shallow on this pan.

Price at time of publish: $60.

Key Specs

Weight: 4 pounds, 2 ouncesInduction compatible: YesSerious Eats / Vicky Wasik


What’s the difference between a skillet and a frying pan?

There is no difference! It’s really just a matter of preference in how you refer to the pan. Skillets (or frying pans) are characterized by the aforementioned sloping sides and are available in a variety of sizes and materials. Given their longevity, cast iron may be the first thing that comes to mind when picturing a frying pan.

Are there any skillets that are better than cast iron?

Cast iron is ultra-durable and, contrary to popular belief, not as tedious to maintain as you might think. However, because cast iron is so heavy, you might prefer a different material for everyday cooking. Consider carbon steel or stainless steel for similar longevity without the heft.

What is the best skillet?

We think the best skillets are the ones that combine performance, longevity, and price. For that reason, our top recommended materials are stainless steel, cast iron, and carbon steel.

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