Buying a frying pan: the definitive guide

Buying a frying pan

There are many pans on the market. Buying the best is not easy. The price range is very wide and the materials from which the pan is made are very different.

To begin with, you must understand that there is no perfect pan, you must choose based on your priorities

Define your priorities before buying the pan

There are no good nice cheap pans.

When buying a frying pan you have to choose between:

  1. Non-stick – If it has a non-stick coating, know what it is and what risks it implies to health
  2. Resistance and durability – There are pans for life. Others may start to give problems after short use.
  3. Price – Quality pans are expensive, whether they are non-stick, iron ore, or stainless steel.

The 7 questions you should ask yourself before buying the frying pan

There is no perfect pan. It depends on the use you are going to give it and your particular needs.

1. What are you going to use the pan for?

A pan for frying is not the same as one for making tortillas or grilled food.

There is no point in using a non-stick pan for frying (the oil already prevents the food from sticking). The only thing you get is to deteriorate the non-stick with high temperatures. There is a pan for everything: fried eggs, omelets, grilled meat, pancakes or to make paellas.

The choice of the pan, influences (a lot) if you are going to cook with or without oil.

Do you want some good advice to buy a frying pan?

Don’t use the same pan for everything. Or rather, don’t use the same type of pan for everything.

A stainless steel pan is ideal for frying (they can be used for everything, but not everyone knows how to grill without certain preparations sticking).

A non-stick frying pan for making tortillas or grilling vegetables, meat and fish.

And for special cases, you will need a wok, a grill, or a cast-iron skillet.

2. How often are you going to use the pan?

A frying pan every day is not the same as taking it out of the drawer once a month to make a grilled steak. If you’re a cook, don’t mind investing in a quality pan. It will be many hours enjoying it.

On the other hand, for a person who cooks little, a cheaper pan (preferably non-stick) will suffice.

3. What kind of kitchen do you have?

If you have an induction cooker, you must make sure that the pan is suitable for this type of cooker. With gas, electric, or vitro stoves there is usually no problem.

Sometimes, you will find the same pan model with special models for induction cookers in which only the base of the pan varies.

There are pans that, although they are suitable for induction, take longer to heat up than others.

4. How much does the pan weigh?

The pans are made of various materials. Apart from the non-stick coating (which covers them in some cases), the body of the pan can be:

  • Pressed aluminum – They are light, although they deform more easily.
  • Forged Aluminum – They are robust and still light in weight.
  • Cast Aluminum – They are thicker and weigh more without being excessive.
  • Stainless steel – can be a bit heavy.
  • Cast iron – is the heaviest.

Logically, the larger the diameter, the greater the weight of the pan. And not only because it is bigger, but because when filled with food, it can be too heavy for some people.

5. Set of pans or single pan?

Buying a set of pans has several advantages:

  • You save money – offers are very frequent
  • You equip your kitchen – the sets of pans are usually of the most “usable” diameters: 18 – 22 – 26 cm, which will allow you to have the kitchenware that you are going to use frequently.

Although it also has some disadvantages:

  • Quality – Pan sets are not always of good quality.
  • You don’t wear them all – There’s always one size you don’t wear.

The main drawback of buying a set of pans is that they are all the same and you end up using them for any recipe: frying, grilling, or stewing.

6. Is it easy to clean? What care does the maintenance of the frying pan require?

Some pans are very easy to clean. Almost passing a paper napkin they are completely clean. Others, on the other hand, are much more laborious to clean and also require more care and maintenance.

It sucks having to spend half an hour cleaning the pan because it can’t go in the dishwasher and the food has stuck.

7. What brand of pan to buy? Which are the best?

There are well-known cookware brands such as Tefal, BRA, San Ignacio, Lacor, Castey, Monix, Ibili, Magefesa, Woll, Le Creuset, WMF, De Buyer, Lodge, Kuhn Rikon, Fissler, Greenpan.

The best brands usually have several ranges of pans in which the quality of the non-stick coating or the metal of the body of the pan varies. More than orienting yourself by a brand, I recommend that you analyze the characteristics of the model in question.

It is also good to know that there are brands that focus on the high ranges and brands that are more geared towards offering pans with good value for money.

The most common false myths about frying pans

There is a lot of confusion about what materials pans are made of. Especially for the health of non-stick.

A large part of the confusion must be attributed to advertising, which without being able to qualify it as misleading, is confusing enough for anyone to be led astray. The most common myths are the following:

The myth about granite pans

There are no granite pans. Although they seem so from their appearance, it is nothing more than a finish.

The correct thing would be to talk about pans with stone finishes or granite-type finishes.

On granite pans, there are several layers of coating. The most superficial layer is what gives it the appearance of granite. Several metals can be involved in this (and they don’t always tell you what they are).

All granite pans are not created equal. It depends on the composition of the non-stick surface.

The myth about Teflon® pans

Teflon (Teflon®) is the trade name given in 1946 by the Dupont company to PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene).

It is a compound that, even if accidentally ingested, is eliminated by the body. Where does the bad press for Teflon® come from?

The problem is that to fix the  PTFE to the pan,  PFOA (perfluorooctanoate) had to be used: a substance that polluted the environment and ended up being harmful to health.

Today PFOA is prohibited in many countries and it will be very easy for you to know if a certain pan has it or not since they usually include a sticker that indicates it.

PTFE is safe as long as the pan is not heated under vacuum to very high temperatures, as it can give off toxic gases. PTFE is still used as a component in many non-stick coatings for pans, but it is not expressly stated.

You can discard a Teflon® pan and choose another that has PTFE, which is ultimately the same.

Myth: all “Teflon” is the same.

Within Teflon® there are different qualities. Not all Teflon® non-stick pans are equally strong, durable (and therefore healthy).

There are more basic Teflon, such as the classic, which can be fine for domestic and sporadic use. On the other hand, there are more professional Teflon that can withstand a tough battle in the kitchen. Logically, its price varies, since the cost of production is different.

Myths about Titanium pans

There are no titanium pans. There are pans WITH titanium. Titanium does the opposite of Teflon®.

For the simple fact that they tell you that a frying pan contains titanium, you already believe that it is the best and healthiest thing in the world. We return to the dark world of non-stick coatings:

What’s in the pan besides titanium?

That the pan has titanium does not mean that it does not have PTFE (ie Teflon)

However, whatever the composition, titanium strengthens the surface of the pan, and makes the non-stick more stable, which has two consequences for your health:

  • You eat fewer metals because they don’t break down easily.
  • Aluminum is not exposed

Although these pans are more expensive, in the long run, they pay for them because they last longer.

The best non-stick pans on the market (quality/price).

Below you will find the best-selling models of the best brands of pans.

Tefal frying pans

Tefal continues to be a benchmark in frying pans. It has several ranges. The most important thing is the type of nonstick and the material of the pan.

Are Tefal pans recommended?

Tefal has found a very interesting point of balance between performance and price. Their non-stick pans are one of the best sellers and the ones with the best opinions and ratings. Tefal has incorporated an indicator that tells you when the pan is ready to add food. It has non-stick coatings with titanium and other more basic ones.

In the following table, you have the main models (and the price of a set of 3 pans).

BRA pans

Curiously, the BRA pans use Teflon as a non-stick coating. While Tefal pans (owner of the patent), do not use their brand.

The material of the pan is cast aluminum and they have a good diffuser bottom. They are suitable for all types of kitchens (induction, gas, electric, or in vitro).

The key is in the type of Teflon used as a non-stick. The more layers, the greater stability.

Is it a good idea to buy a BRA pan?

Yes. Its price is more affordable than other brands, although it will depend on the use you are going to give it. As much as you take care of them, the Teflon will come off. Design is one of its great strengths and its value for money is good.

Which BRA pan to buy?

If you want the pan to last, choose the TEFLON® PLATINUM PLUS ones (for example, those from the EFFICIENT collection).

In case you are going to use the pan little, any of the other collections can be good for you. There are other brands of nonstick pans, some of which are very poor quality nonstick, and the material is pressed aluminum that warps easily.

Best Titanium Nonstick Pans

Non-stick coatings have come a long way in recent years. Thanks to the inclusion of titanium, the coating has been made more durable. Every day more brands include titanium in their non-stick coating. There are classic brands like Woll or SKK which are joined by lesser-known ones like GSW.

The big kitchenware manufacturers also make models with titanium coatings on their pans ( Kuhn Rikon, Tefal).

What are the best titanium pans for induction?

You must be very careful when choosing a titanium pan for induction cookers. For example, Woll has specific models for induction. They are not all valid.

The same thing happens with GSW. From this brand, I recommend the frying pan for vitro or gas cookers. Its value for money is unbeatable.

The golden rule when buying a non-stick frying pan

So far the main options in non-stick pans. I assure you that with any of them, your health will not be in danger. Not even with those of the reviled Teflon. In the end, it is a matter of durability.

A nonstick pan will lose its coating over time. They are not eternal. Not even the most expensive. Above all, if you buy a “normal” pan, the important thing is to know when to get rid of it.

When should the Teflon pan be thrown away?

As soon as you see scratches appearing or the pan starting to stick, replace it with a new one.

Underneath the non-stick layer, there is aluminum and I assure you that cooking regularly on this metal is not the healthiest. So far non-stick pans. If you are not convinced, you have other options.

Stainless steel pans (without non-stick)

There are two types of stainless steel pans:

  • With non-stick coating
  • without non-stick

In this section, I am going to refer to those that do not have non-stick.

Is it a good idea to buy a stainless steel pan?

A stainless steel pan has advantages over a nonstick pan:

  • They are healthier – no Teflon or other particles are released.
  • They are pans for life – quality stainless steel has a much longer lifespan than a non-stick pan.

However, a stainless steel pan requires you to master the technique to cook with them.

The main problem is that the food is going to stick to you if you don’t know how to use it (you have to preheat it and get the hang of it, it’s not easy for everyone).

What is a stainless steel pan for?

A stainless steel pan can be used for any type of preparation. They are especially suitable for frying at high temperatures or browning meats.

Cast iron pans

What are the advantages of a cast-iron skillet?

Cast iron pans have several strengths:

  • They conduct heat very well – they withstand high temperatures and can be put in the oven or put on a barbecue.
  • They are very durable – if you take care of them, they are eternal
  • Food doesn’t stick – if the pan is properly seasoned, they are just as non-stick as a Teflon pan.

Is it a good idea to buy a cast-iron skillet?

The only drawback of cast iron pans is that you have to know how to take care of them. Iron can rust, unlike stainless steel pans. Another drawback is its weight. They are much heavier than cast aluminum pans.

Cooking with cast iron is betting on healthy cooking. A cast-iron skillet is ideal for sauteing, frying, searing meat and poultry, or baking cakes and desserts.

What are the best brands of cast iron pans?

The reference brand is Lodge, although other brands make cast (or cast) iron pans that are also of high quality.

Le Creuset is another benchmark with its enameled cast iron pans. They are more expensive, but the designs are more elegant.

Their grills and skillets stand out.

Steel pans

Between the cast, iron and stainless steel pans are steel pans. They are very similar to stainless steel pans but lack the shine of stainless steel. Many people confuse them with iron pans.

These pans share some characteristics with cast iron pans in that they need to be seasoned to create the natural layer that serves as a non-stick.

These pans, over time, get blacker (and that’s when they stick less).

Advantages of steel pans

  • Cooking in them is very healthy – It is not non-stick
  • They are not expensive – what you invest in them for the time you are going to use them is insignificant.

They have the same drawbacks as cast iron or stainless steel pans (heavy, food sticks if you don’t know how to use them).

Nancy Myers

I look forward to sharing my discoveries, comments, tips, and suggestions to improve the quality of your Home. My purpose is to recommend only high-quality products, which help you live better.