Our longtime favorite skillet still beats all newcomers, with a clean design that includes no unnecessary frills. We appreciate the wide cooking surface and low, flaring sides that encourage excellent browning and evaporation; a steel handle that stays cool on the stovetop and won't rotate in your hand; and an overall weight and balance that hit the sweet spot between sturdiness and maneuverable lightness. It resisted warping and withstood thermal shock and outright abuse with nary a scratch or dent. Its three layers of cladding, with aluminum sandwiched by steel, make for deep, uniform browning.
A 12-inch nonstick skillet is the most versatile, and this is our overall favorite model. The cooking surface was slick, both when new and after extensive use, and food never stuck. It’s one of the lightest models we tested, so it was easy to lift and maneuver, but it was also sturdy and resisted denting. All of our testers liked its wide, comfortable handle. Like every other model, its surface became scratched when we used a knife as if to cut a frittata, but it otherwise held up well.
One of only three pans to pass our test of nonstick coating durability, this pan arrived slick and remained so throughout cooking and abuse tests. It also has a broad cooking surface, gently sloped walls, and a comfortable handle. Because it runs a little hotter than our favorite regular nonstick skillet, you may need to adjust the heat level or cooking time when following recipes. It became scratched when we cut in it.
This pan’s surface remained slick throughout testing and was one of only three pans to do so. However, its shape resembles a sauté pan more than it does a skillet. Because the sides are fairly tall and steep, it requires more care to slide out a frittata or angle a spatula under an egg or piece of fish. Like our winner, it has a comfortable handle, but the skillet feels a little heavy.
With flaring sides, an oversize helper handle, wide pour spouts, a satiny interior, and balanced weight, this expensive but beautifully made pan is a pleasure to cook in. Our only quibbles: A small piece of cornbread crust stuck and tore when we flipped the pan, and scrambled eggs stuck a little (but scrubbed out easily). After abuse testing, the pan still looked nearly new.
This affordable pan had it all: thick, solid construction; a smooth interior with no handle rivets to bump the spatula or trap food; an ergonomically angled handle; and sides flared just right for easy access but high enough to contain splashes. Steaks formed a deeply crisp crust, tarte Tatin caramelized beautifully and released neatly, and fried eggs just slipped around in the pan.
This costly, beautifully designed pan is a hand-forged piece of art, but it’s also built to work hard. It arrived preseasoned, with the metal heat-treated to a lovely shade of slate blue, though it darkened with use. With its broad cooking surface, nicely flared sides, and perfect browning and release, it was a pleasure to use. Our only quibble (besides price): It’s heavy. The large helper handle is a useful addition. Available at bluskilletironware.com.
Silky-smooth from the get-go, this roomy pan didn’t let food stick and stayed impressively slick throughout testing. Its heavy weight helped it retain heat, so it seared food evenly and deeply. The pan’s bronze color became blotchy as we used it, but it will gradually gain a nice patina with lots of use.
While this skillet started out with a rougher surface than those of the artisan pans, its gently nubbly texture quickly gained seasoning, and by the end of testing it released food and cleaned up perfectly. At about 8 pounds, it’s heavy, but that weight helps with heat retention and browning. Its roomy surface and high sides make it a versatile performer—all at a great price for a pan that will last forever.
These fully clad pans brown beautifully and feel balanced, the handles stay cool, and they’re tough as nails. The set offers essential pieces in practical sizes that will last a lifetime. The set price is a bargain: The 8-quart stockpot alone usually retails for nearly $340.
This set was a heartbreaker. It has well-designed, balanced pans with practical sizes and shapes and comfortable, cool handles at an outstanding price. Everything cooked beautifully. And then, on the last day of abuse testing, the skillet warped badly as we heated it to 500 degrees on an induction burner, leading us to worry about the set’s durability. (A second copy of the pan did not warp when we heated it more gradually to 500 degrees, however.) Note: Since we originally tested this cookware set, the manufacturer changed its name from Potluck to Goldilocks; the products themselves remain the same.
This lightweight lid helped produce nicely browned onions and evenly cooked eggs, and it was much easier to lift and clean than the heavy cast-iron lid. It contained moisture and messes, and its glass material allowed users to get a good sense of how their food was cooking.
Our former favorite triumphed again. Made from a resin/fiberglass composite, this fish spatula had a relatively thin, smooth head that was long, narrow, and provided ample room for picking up food. Its straight, moderate-length handle brought our hands close to the action and was fairly comfortable to grip, if a little slicker than we preferred. Just don’t leave it on a hot pan—it melted at 450 degrees.
This model is firm enough for scraping and scooping but also fit neatly into tight corners. Its straight sides and wide, flat blade ensured that no food was left unmixed. The all-silicone design eliminates any crannies that could trap food. It felt exceptionally comfortable. Its smaller blade fell short in our folding test.