When it comes to pans, chefs have a plethora of material options. A cast-iron skillet is sturdy, but it’s also plenty heavy, while a carbon steel one is nonstick, but its coating may contain chemicals that you’ll want to be careful about heating. Stainless steel is another worthy entry, and is superior to its brethren for its ability to perfectly brown or crisp meat and vegetables. Plus, it’s widely considered to be the most durable of the bunch, so you won’t have to treat it too delicately.
Stainless steel can withstand high temperatures without cracking, and distributes heat evenly, so no part of your food is ever left uncooked. Another perk of a stainless-steel skillet is that it’s nonreactive. That means that, unlike other pans, it’s safe to cook acidic foods like lemon juice, vinegar or tomatoes in it.
The one thing to watch out for when it comes to stainless-steel skillets is that some food will stick to it. It’s best not to try cooking delicate foods like eggs or pancakes in a stainless-steel pan for this reason. That being said, it’s one of the best utensils out there for making crispy chicken, mac and cheese and steak. Here are four of the best to add to your kitchen’s arsenal.
1. USA Pan Stainless-Steel Skillet
While most stainless-steel skillets are either 10 or 12 inches, USA Pan’s is 13, so there’s plenty of room to throw three or four chicken breasts in and cook them all at once. It’s a pan that you won’t need to use water or grease with either, as covering it creates a vapor seal, so the food can cook in its own juices. The end result is a meal that’s as flavorful as possible.
Pros: Won’t have to pour in water or grease to cook food to its maximum potential.
Cons: While the pan is technically dishwasher safe, it’s recommended that you gently scrub it with a sponge by hand.
2. Le Creuset Stainless-Steel Fry Pan
If you’re looking for a pan that’s a real investment piece, look no further than Le Creuset’s. Its proprietary stainless-steel blend is designed to resist oxidation and discoloration, and the sealed rim protects the inner core from deterioration. And while it only has one handle, it’s an ergonomically designed one that will stay cooler than the rest of the pan.
Pros: One of the sturdiest stainless-steel skillets out there.
Cons: Only one handle, which may make serving difficult.
3. All-Clad Stainless-Steel Skillet
If you know you want a stainless-steel skillet but you’re not sure exactly what you’ll be using it for yet, then All-Clad’s pan is a great pick. It’s designed to accommodate basically any kind of cooking: The sloped sides make flipping food easily, the 12-inch pan size ensures that you’ll be able to grill large hunks of meat no problem and the lid makes searing a breeze. Plus, the sturdy material will hold up even in incredibly high temperatures.
Pros: A skillet that suits pretty much any cooking style.
Cons: The single steel handle may get hot during cooking.
4. Demeyere Stainless-Steel Fry Pan
Most stainless-steel skillets will last years, if not lifetimes, but very few look good while doing it. But while some pans might show their wear, Demeyere’s never will, as its patented Silvinox surface treatment ensures the pan will maintain its silvery finish for years to come. It’s a pan worth keeping on deck, too, as its 12.5-inch radius means it can cook plenty of food at once. Plus, two stainless-steel handles mean that it can be easily picked up off the stove and moved straight to the dinner table.
Pros: Will retain its shine for years to come.
Cons: Doesn’t come with a lid.