The Best Frying Pans for Everyday Cooking

Take your cooking up a notch with one of these top frying pans, including our overall favorite: the Anolon Advanced Home Hard-Anodized Nonstick Skillet.

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Anolon Advanced Home Hard-Anodized Nonstick Skillet tout
Photo: Amazon

There are some higher-end kitchen tools that may feel like a better investment once you've become more adventurous in your cooking (looking at you sous vide machines), and then there are some essentials, like a frying pan, that prove their usefulness from the first moment you use them. Whether you're just learning how to cook or already quite comfortable in the kitchen, a quality frying pan is a staple in any kitchen that'll show its value time and time again.

"I don't have an oven at home, so I use frying pans for everything," says Ji Hye Kim, the chef and owner of Miss Kim in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and a James Beard Award Best Chef semifinalist. "If you have a high-quality good pan, you won't need a nonstick pan. And if your pan can handle hot heat, you won't need a wok."

These days, you can find frying pans not only in a variety of sizes but also in a variety of materials, from ceramic to steel. Choosing the right one depends on what you like to cook, how much you're cooking, and what your budget is. We've looked through the countless options online to determine the best frying pans you can buy now. Keep reading to see why the Anolon Advanced Home Hard-Anodized Nonstick Skillet ranked as our overall favorite and what other frying pans we highly recommend.

Our Favorites

Best Overall: Anolon Advanced Home Hard-Anodized Nonstick Skillet

Anolon Advanced Home Hard-Anodized Nonstick Skillet
Amazon

Also available at Bed Bath & Beyond.

Why It's Great

  • Heats evenly
  • Has a durable finish
  • Standout shape and comfort
  • Different color options

Grain of Salt

  • Not dishwasher safe

There are many reasons why this frying pan tops the list as our overall favorite. First, it heats evenly across its surface, so you don't have to manage hot and cold areas while cooking (in other words, less chance of undercooking some food while burning others). Second, the pan's shape makes it suitable for a variety of cooking situations since it has high enough edges to keep sauce in, but it's not so deep that you wind up always steaming your food.

A frying pan isn't just great because of how it handles food, though, it's also important how comfortable it is for you to use. Made from hard-anodized aluminum, this frying pan strikes the balance of being sturdy without feeling cumbersome to wield. It also has a silicone grip on the handle that makes it easier to hold as you're moving around the kitchen.

The only drawback is that it's not dishwasher safe. However, because of its durable nonstick coating inside and out, it's no big trouble to clean the pan by hand. We love the 12.75-inch size, but if you're looking for something smaller, they also have a 10.25-inch option. Aside from choosing your perfect size, you can also pick from four different colors, and a little bit of personalization is always a plus.

The Details: Stainless steel, aluminum, ceramic; 12.75-inch diameter; oven safe up to 400 degrees

Best Budget: Carote Nonstick Frying Pan Skillet

Carote Nonstick Frying Pan Skillet 8-inch
Amazon

Why It's Great

  • Low price
  • Heats up quickly
  • Suitable for all cooktops

Grain of Salt

  • Not good for high oven heat

For how often you'll probably use this nonstick pan, it's hard to beat its price. Its affordability doesn't take away from its quality though, as you can count on it to not only heat up evenly but also quickly thanks to its flat, conductive, stainless steel base. Make some eggs for breakfast, and you'll see just how nice it is cooking on the pan's smooth, nonstick surface. That nonstick granite material also means that you won't need a lot of elbow grease to keep it clean — instead, it should just take some light wiping down.

Another big plus with this frying pan is that it works on all cooktops, induction included, so you can count on it even if you move into homes with different kitchen equipment over the years. What you do want to be careful with, however, is putting it in too hot of an oven that could potentially cause damage. Stick with low and medium heat, and it'll continue to look good, especially because it comes in two stylish colors (classic granite and white granite) and a wood-grain design handle that stays cool to the touch.

The Details: Aluminum with nonstick granite coating; 8-inch diameter; oven safe up to 350 degrees

Related: The Best Induction Cooktops, According to a Chef

Best for Beginners: Tramontina 10-Inch Professional Restaurant Fry Pan

Tramontina 10-Inch Professional Restaurant Fry Pan
Amazon

Also available at Walmart.

Why It's Great

  • High-performance nonstick surface
  • Has a removable silicone grip for handle
  • Includes a lifetime warranty

Grain of Salt

  • Doesn't work with induction cooktops

While this frying pan may be marketed with words like "professional," "restaurant," and "commercial-grade," don't let that scare you off from using it as a beginner. It's made from thick aluminum for fast and even heat distribution, and it has a reinforced nonstick coating, which means food will slide right out of the pan when you're transferring it to a plate. In other words, you don't have to fuss with most of your meal getting stuck to the bottom, which, sadly, can happen with other types of pans as you're getting familiar with how to fry, saute, and sear.

The frying pan is also a nice, medium size so you can comfortably use it to make a meal for just yourself or for multiple people without it becoming too unwieldy. The removable silicone grip on the handle also adds to the pan's safety and ease of use.

Aside from its design and effectiveness, another reason this frying pan is great for novice cooks is that it comes with a lifetime warranty. By investing in this pan at the beginning of your culinary journey, you're setting yourself up for many years of success in the kitchen.

The Details: Heavy-gauge aluminum; 10-inch diameter; oven safe up to 400 degrees

Best Ceramic: GreenPan Rio Healthy Ceramic Nonstick Frying Pan Skillet

GreenPan Rio Healthy Ceramic Nonstick Frying Pan Skillet
Amazon

Also available at Target.

Why It's Great

  • No potential toxins
  • Stay-cool, ergonomic handle
  • Dishwasher safe

Grain of Salt

  • Must be careful with high heat

Ceramic is a popular choice for health-conscious cooks who want to be extra confident that no potentially toxic materials are being transferred from their pan to their food. This ceramic frying pan is free of chemical additives (no PFAS or PFOA here), which means no worries about any toxins being released in your meals.

Given the ceramic material, you shouldn't have to deal with food sticking, but even if things get a little messy, this frying pan can be put right in the dishwasher for extra easy cleanup. But keep in mind this nonstick ceramic finish doesn't make it the best choice if you want to do some high-heat cooking in the oven.

The pan's thoughtful design extends to the handle, which won't get hot while you're cooking and is comfortable to hold. This frying pan is great for those who like to keep things simple with their cooking tools as well as those who like bursts of color in the kitchen since it comes in black, turquoise, pink, and red.

The Details: Ceramic; 7-inch diameter; oven safe up to 350 degrees

Best for Stainless Steel: All-Clad D3 Stainless-Steel Fry Pan

All-Clad D3 Stainless-Steel Fry Pan
Amazon

Also available at Crate & Barrel and Sur la Table.

Why It's Great

  • Easy-to-use shape
  • Rapid and even heat distribution
  • Compatible with induction

Grain of Salt

  • Higher cost

All-Clad is known for its quality stainless steel cookware, and this All-Clad frying pan is no exception. There are three layers at work here (an aluminum core surrounded by two layers of stainless steel), meaning the pan heats up quickly, distributes that heat evenly, and is highly durable.

Made in the USA, it features the right balance of flat and flare in its base shape that you can work easily within the pan, flipping, and frying. Plus, the pan is versatile in terms of temperature and cooktop; it can handle super high heat in the oven (feel free to use it under the broiler safely) and any kind of cooking surface.

For all that this frying pan does, you do end up having to shell out more money. But while the price tag is higher than many other options listed here, it's truly designed to last for years and has a limited lifetime warranty so you can consider it a worthwhile, long-term investment.

The Details: Stainless steel and responsive aluminum; 12-inch diameter; oven safe up to 600 degrees

Best for Carbon Steel: Made In Blue Carbon Steel Frying Pan

Made In Blue Carbon Steel Frying Pan
Made In

Why It's Great

  • Balances durability with maneuverability
  • Versatile
  • Induction compatible

Grain of Salt

  • Not suitable for acidic foods

Carbon steel frying pans are best described as a cross between a stainless steel frying pan and a cast iron skillet. Chef Kim loves this frying pan because "it's lighter than a cast iron and flips really well."

With this high-quality carbon steel pan, you can experience for yourself how it brings together advantages of other types of pans: It's highly durable, but it's also not too heavy to become a pain to use, and it can withstand incredibly high temperatures in the oven but it also has a slick, natural surface that can function like nonstick if handled properly. Plus, the pan is even compatible with induction stovetops, so you can turn to it time and time again no matter what kind of cooktop you wind up working with.

This particular pan's depth and shape make it suitable for cooking an array of recipes, from searing some steak to sautéing vegetables. Before you get going on any of that though, you'll need to take the time to properly season the pan. And once you have, you should protect it with hand-washing, but you can most likely get any residue off without much grunt work.

The Details: Carbon steel; 10-inch diameter; oven safe up to 1200 degrees

Best Cast Iron: Lodge 12-Inch Skillet

Lodge L8SK3 12-Inch Cast-Iron Skillet
Amazon

Also available at Target.

Why It's Great

  • Exceptional heat retention
  • Can be used with stove, oven, grill, and campfire
  • Very durable with a lifetime warranty

Grain of Salt

  • Requires proper care
  • Heavy

Due to its incredible durability and excellent heat retention, a cast iron skillet is a true workhorse that you can use just as well on the stove as you can over a campfire. And for those looking to work with cast iron, Lodge has long been the go-to brand for years. This 12-inch cast iron skillet keeps the heat steady for longer, making it the go-to choice if you're doing more tedious frying jobs, like whipping up a batch of fried chicken or chicken-fried steak.

Yes, the cast iron definitely makes the pan heavy (it weighs in at almost 8 pounds), but the trade-off is that it's exceptionally tough — there's a reason cast iron skillets get passed on from generation to generation! Plus, this one comes with a silicone handle holder so it's at least a little easier to pick up safely. You can put the holder in the dishwasher, but to keep your pan in the best condition possible, make sure you follow the manufacturer's instructions for cleaning and seasoning. It's not hard maintenance, but it is a little more to keep in mind than a quick wipe down with a sponge.

The Details: Cast iron; 12-inch diameter; oven safe up to 500 degrees

Related: The 10 Best-Rated Cast Iron Skillets for Every Cook, According to Thousands of Reviews

Best Copper: Mauviel M'Heritage M250C Copper Round Frying Pan

Mauviel M'Heritage M250C Copper Round Frying Pan
Amazon

Also available at Sur La Table.

Why It's Great

  • Heats and cools quickly
  • Handle stays cool
  • Visually appealing

Grain of Salt

  • Very expensive

Established in 1830, Mauviel is a renowned maker of copper cookware, and the fact that its handmade products are still popular today is a testament to their quality. Made with thick 2.5-millimeter copper and a non-reactive stainless steel lining, this frying pan offers top heat conductivity while preserving the taste of the food cooking in it. Since it heats quickly but also cools quickly, you can be pretty precise in your cooking — a great thing to have if you're often working with delicate foods like chocolate, fish, and sauces. Meanwhile, the handle is made from cast stainless steel with an iron electroplated finish, so it won't get too hot to touch while you're cooking.

You might have some sticker shock looking at the pan's price, especially compared to the other pans on this list, but the reality is copper cookware is expensive. It's not necessarily going to replace all of the other pans in your kitchen cabinet, but it will serve as a bit of beauty and luxury in the kitchen for serious home cooks and is the kind of thing you could pass down as an heirloom.

The Details: Copper and stainless steel; 10.2-inch diameter; oven safe up to 500 degrees

Best Set: Made In Cookware Nonstick Set

Made In 7-Piece Nonstick Cookware Set
Made In

Why It's Great

  • High-quality design
  • Easy to use and clean
  • Good weight and balance

Grain of Salt

  • Requires hand-washing

If you're ready to give your cookware collection a bigger overhaul than just a one-piece replacement, we recommend opting for this nonstick set. In addition to a 10-inch frying pan that has a nice weight and balance that should feel great in your hand, it comes with a 4-quart sauté pan, a 4-quart saucepan, and an 8-quart stockpot. Basically, you'll have the basic pieces you need to hit the ground running on a variety of recipes, from omelets to vegetable stir-fries to soups.

All of the well-crafted pieces feature the same 5-ply stainless clad construction with a nontoxic coating. That gives you good conductivity and durability alongside the ease of nonstick. It also means that these pieces have a restaurant-style classy, polished look from the outside, but the inside material is easier for beginner cooks to work with.

To keep the pan's nonstick coating in good condition, it's best to hand wash the pan rather than using a dishwasher. But again, it is nonstick, after all, so you won't have to scrub hard to remove any food bits leftover.

The Details: Stainless steel, nontoxic PTFE coating; 10-inch diameter (frying pan); oven safe up to 500 degrees

Our Takeaway

We name the Anolon Advanced Home Hard-Anodized Nonstick Skillet our best overall pick because of its high performance, durability, and overall comfortable feel. For anyone searching for multiple pieces of cookware, we love the Made In Cookware Nonstick Set for its high-quality craftsmanship.

How to Pick the Right Frying Pan

Material

Frying pans come in a variety of materials, including nonstick, stainless steel, carbon steel, ceramic, and cast iron. Each varies in terms of its heat retention, heat tolerance, durability, and ease of cleaning. If you're someone who mainly cooks sticky foods like eggs, a nonstick or ceramic frying pan will probably prove the most useful. Those who regularly need high heat for recipes like grilled steak should consider a more heavy-duty choice like stainless steel or cast iron.

Size

While it's possible to find outliers on either end of the range, frying pans are usually between 8 and 12 inches in diameter. If you're cooking for one, you may find that an 8-inch pan is just the right size. If you're making meals for a family, then you'll want to get a larger frying pan, so you don't have to spend more time cooking in multiple smaller batches. When deciding on a size, you should also factor in the pan's weight, as it will affect how comfortable it is to handle and maneuver while cooking.

Ease of Cleaning

No one wants post-meal cleanup to take more time than the cooking process. Nonstick and ceramic pans are the easiest to clean by hand, while stainless steel and cast iron might require a little more scrubbing action to dislodge bits of stuck food. That being said, many stainless steel pans are safe to put in the dishwasher. To preserve your cookware, make sure to read the manufacturer's cleaning instructions.

Common Questions

What is the best material for a frying pan?

Rather than there being one "best" material choice for a frying pan, it really varies on how and what you like to cook. Beginner cooks may prefer a nonstick pan since they're less fussy, while many professional chefs and seasoned home cooks like to work with carbon steel or stainless steel because of their durability and even heat distribution. It's important to find what makes your personal cooking experience easier and more enjoyable.

Which is better: Nonstick or stainless steel frying pans?

Who wins in the battle between nonstick cookware and stainless steel cookware depends on what criteria you're holding as most important. Nonstick frying pans are the way to go if you want something that's easy to cook on and easy to clean (as in less likely that food will get stuck and burnt). Meanwhile, stainless steel frying pans are great for searing and browning at high temperatures, and they're more durable so you don't have to be as cautious to avoid damaging them. Chef Kim says, "I prefer steel, but if you don't have the skillset, a nonstick may be easier to use." Depending on what kinds of things you're making in the kitchen, you may find it handy to have one of each kind in your arsenal.

How do you clean the bottom of pans?

What kind of material your pan is made of will affect how you should approach cleaning it. In general, it should be safe to clean the bottom of your frying pan with a scrubbing pad, some baking soda to act as a mild abrasive, and warm water to create a paste. You can also try using a bit of white vinegar as well.

Why Take Our Word for It?

This piece was written by Cindy Brzostowski, a freelance writer and avid home cook who has previous experience in cookbook publishing. Her work has been published in Blue Apron, The Kitchn, and EatingWell among others, and she used her background in food to guide her research. Cindy examined a wide array of frying pans on the market today and also consulted with Ji Hye Kim, the chef and owner of Miss Kim in Ann Arbor, Michigan and a James Beard Award Best Chef semifinalist.

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