The Best Frying Pans

For lots of home chefs, the best frying pan is going to be nonstick, oven-safe, and able to withstand some wear and tear. We consulted with the pros, then tested 10 best-in-class pans, flipping fried eggs, baking cornbread, and searing steak to see which were the least sticky and the most comfortable to maneuver.

The 3 Best Frying Pans

The Best
Frying Pan for Most People
KitchenAid Tri-Ply Stainless Steel Nonstick Fry Pan
KitchenAid
A consistently high-performing pan that's comfortable to use and reasonably priced.
Pros
Consistency
Performance
Affordable quality
Cons
Needs a little love

Why we chose it

Consistency

Our top pick is from a brand you know and (if you have one of its signature mixers) probably already love. This frying pan gives you one more reason why. What makes the KitchenAid Tri-Ply Stainless Steel Nonstick Fry Pan so much better than the competition? Consistency. While some pans performed well in some areas and poorly in others, the KitchenAid ranked either at the top or near the top through every test.

Performance

This standout performer handled every type of food we tested — from fried eggs to oven-baked cornbread to seared steak — with even heat and a slick, nonstick surface. “Tri-ply pans are widely used in commercial and test kitchens,” food writer Ruzielle Ganuelas explained. “You need that layer of copper sandwiched between the aluminum for even heat distribution, and it also heats up the pan a lot faster than regular pans.”

Of the 10 pans we tested, the KitchenAid stayed on the cooler side, which resulted in steak that had a slightly more even sear compared to, say, the hotter Copper Chef — even though both cooked the meat to about the same rareness in the same amount of time.

Affordable quality

At around $100 (we’ve seen it for as low as $60), the KitchenAid hits a sweet spot between quality construction and “so expensive you’ll think twice.” It’s also built to last the three to five years we expect from a nonstick pan. When we tried to damage it with metal utensils and a heavy whack against a concrete ledge, it came through with barely a scratch.

We were impressed with the KitchenAid pan pretty much as soon as we took it out of the box. It has a particularly comfortable handle that makes it easy to balance the pan’s 2.5-pound heft (about the median weight of all 10 pans we looked at) and once we started testing, it continued to deliver, competing with — if not outperforming — pans that were up to twice as expensive.

Points to consider

Needs a little love

Although we were able to successfully fry eggs and release cornbread without any added lubricants, you’ll probably want to add a little butter or oil if you want a truly slippery experience.

Also, even though it’s dishwasher safe, the KitchenAid’s care instructions suggest hand washing in hot, soapy water may “extend the life” of the pan. (Cleaning this pan is easy: A simple swipe of a soapy sponge left it looking shiny and new.) It also recommends you bring liquids to a boil before adding salt to keep white dots or pits from appearing on your nonstick surface.

The KitchenAid’s limited lifetime warranty doesn’t cover normal wear and tear, just manufacturer and workmanship defects — wobbly rivets, for example, or a nonstick coating that rubs off. But when we actively tried to damage the pan, we had a really hard time getting any results.

The Best
Premium Frying Pan
All-Clad Stainless Steel Tri-Ply 10-Inch Nonstick Skillet
All-Clad
A top performing pan, but we liked the handle (and the price) of the KitchenAid better.
Pros
Upgrade quality
Perfect for the serious chef
Cons
Less value

Why we chose it

Upgrade quality

The All-Clad Stainless Steel Try-Ply Nonstick Skillet is a comparable upgrade from the KitchenAid, both in looks and performance: about the same weight and size, similarly induction-friendly and oven-safe (up to higher 600 degrees), and with a quality nonstick coating. It also performed about the same in damage testing and cooking — even slightly outperforming our top pick in our fried egg test.

Perfect for the serious chef

If the Copper Chef is a pan for a starter home, the All-Clad series is designed (and priced) for a more serious kitchen. The profile and even-heat performance make it a stylish staple for the chef who cooks on high. We tested two All-Clad nonstick pans to see if the five alternating layers of steel and aluminum in the d5 were better than its tri-ply sister pan, the All-Clad Stainless Nonstick Fry Pan. We ended up liking both a lot, but from a performance standpoint, the tri-ply actually edged out the d5 in egg flipability and damage resistance.

Points to consider

Less value

All-clad makes a great pan. Still, it didn’t land the top spot for two reasons. First, its handle isn’t as comfortable to hold and maneuver, with curved outer edges that dig into your hand a little when you grip them on the stove or while scrubbing in the sink. Second: It’s a good $50 more expensive. That said, All-Clad is a well-known and well-loved luxury kitchen brand. If you’re looking for, say, a wedding gift, you won’t go wrong here.

The Best
Budget Frying Pan
Copper Chef 10-Inch Round Nonstick Fry Pan
Copper Chef
Amazingly nonstick, and the only one of our top picks that doesn't use Teflon. That said, it's not built to last.
Pros
Great deal
Emphatically nonstick
Cons
Hotter and less hearty

Why we chose it

Great deal

We’re going to be honest: We expected this pan to fail. Anything with the bright red “As Seen on TV” logo comes with instant skepticism, but the more we tested the Copper Chef Nonstick Pan, the more impressed we were. Its “As Seen on TV” infomercials don’t lie — the nonstick capabilities are seriously impressive. Eggs and even steak slide around on this pan like marbles on a tabletop, and that’s without adding oil. Oh, and it’s around $20.

Emphatically nonstick

The Copper Chef gave us the best fried egg in our tests and it was the easiest egg to fry. Although the KitchenAid did very well in this test, there was still a slight resistance — that is, a little bit of stick — when we slid in our slotted turner and tried to flip the egg without breaking its yolk. The Copper Chef had no resistance at all.

PTFE, a.k.a Teflon, free

Copper Chef is one of the only pans we tested that’s not coated with PTFE — Teflon. The Copper Chef is aluminum (copper is just its color) with a Cerami-Tech ceramic nonstick coating. Ceramic coatings are known for not having the lifespan of PTFE — another reason for that small price tag — and we discuss why PTFE isn’t the risk some consumers think below. Every expert we spoke to and every study we read confirmed that there is no reason to avoid Teflon, and all our top picks are PFOA-free, which is what most Teflon-related health concerns are about. That said, if you are dead-set on a Teflon-free nonstick pan, this one will deliver.

Points to consider

Hotter and less hearty

The Copper Chef is not a perfect piece of cookware, particularly when it comes to heat and wear and tear. The majority of the pans we tested, including the KitchenAid and the All-Clad pans, had handles that stayed cool while we fried eggs and seared steak. The Copper Chef handle got notably hot. You’ll want to use a hot pad or an oven mitt while stovetop cooking.

You’re also going to want to avoid banging it around your kitchen. Even though it made it through our fork-scratch test without a mark, we managed to put a huge dent in it during our damage testing. At only about 1.5 pounds, that concrete ledge made a massive dent that warped its cooking surface. Also know that ceramic coatings wear away much faster than their PTFE counterparts, which means you’ll be replacing this pan in months, not years.

How to Find the Right Frying Pan for Your Kitchen

Avoid nonstick pans with textured cooking surfaces

Some nonstick frying pans come with textured surfaces, such as the Frieling Black Cube Fry Pan and the Circulon Symmetry Hard-Anodized Nonstick French Skillet. It sounds a little like a no-brainer, but we found that the pans with textured surfaces were consistently less nonstick than pans with smooth surfaces — and the experts agree. “A raised pattern on a nonstick pan pretty much negates its nonstick ability,” Braun confirms. “Food tends to grip to the texture, so a smooth-bottomed pan is ideal in this category.”

Why would a nonstick frying pan have a textured surface? In the case of the Frieling Black Cube Fry Pan, it might be so that you can use metal utensils on the pan — a fact that Frieling advertises prominently. The Frieling pan was the only one to pass our fork scratch test with no marks whatsoever — so those surfaces are good for something!

Pick your ply

Of our top picks and honorable mentions, two pans are tri-ply: the KitchenAid Tri-Ply Stainless Steel Nonstick Skillet and the All-Clad Stainless Nonstick Fry Pan. The All-Clad d5 Stainless Nonstick Fry Pan, the Demeyere 5-Plus Nonstick Fry Pan, and the Swiss Diamond Prestige Clad Nonstick Fry Pan all have five layers — which helps explain why they are typically more expensive than the tri-ply options.

Frying Pan FAQ

Is it safe to cook on PTFE or “Teflon” pans?

As soon as anyone says “nonstick pan,” someone always asks, “But what about Teflon?” When people say they’re worried about Teflon, they’re really worried about perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, which can be used to make the non-stick coating. (Teflon is the brand name for one of many nonstick coatings that include the chemical compound polytetrafluoroethylene, or PTFE.)

As the American Cancer Society explains: “PFOA has the potential to be a health concern because it can stay in the environment and in the human body for long periods of time.”

Sounds scary, right? Here’s what else the American Cancer Society says: “Other than the possible risk of flu-like symptoms from breathing in fumes from an overheated Teflon-coated pan, there are no known risks to humans from using Teflon-coated cookware. While PFOA is used in making Teflon, it is not present (or is present in extremely small amounts) in Teflon-coated products.”

All 68 of the nonstick frying pans we initially researched for this review were PFOA-free, meaning you are very unlikely to have any health issues from using mass-market nonstick frying pans. If you’re still concerned about safety, know that even pans with PFOA are pretty safe. As Braun told us: “You only need to worry about PTFE or Teflon if you’ll be heating your pan over 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Otherwise this coating is safe. However, over time this coating can begin to flake. If that happens, it’s time to replace the pan.”

Can you put a nonstick pan through the dishwasher?

The big reason to hand wash your nonstick frying pans — even the dishwasher-safe ones — is to protect the nonstick coating. A single time or two through the dishwasher is unlikely to ruin your pans (it didn’t for any of the 10 we tested), but over time, harsh detergents and high heat can add unnecessary wear and tear.

Can I cook without oil, butter, or spray on nonstick pans?

Although multiple experts said that we could in theory cook without any oil or butter, we found this to be difficult in practice. Even on our top picks, a dribble of oil would probably have resulted in an easier fried-egg flip, and buttering the bottoms of the pans prior to baking would have helped our cornbread come out in a solid loaf.

That said, every expert warned us away from using cooking spray. “Never use cooking spray because it will result in a buildup that causes your food to cook unevenly,” Green told us. Too much cooking spray residue can also make nonstick pans sticky, which kind of defeats the whole purpose — and both All-Clad pans came with documents stating that using cooking spray on the pans would void the warranty.

The Best Frying Pans: Summed Up

KitchenAid Tri-Ply Stainless Steel Nonstick Fry Pan
All-Clad Stainless Steel Tri-Ply 10-Inch Nonstick Skillet
Copper Chef 10-Inch Round Nonstick Fry Pan
The Best
Frying Pan for Most People
Premium Frying Pan
Budget Frying Pan
Weight
2.5 lbs
2.25 lbs
1.5 lbs
Oven safe
Up to 500 degrees
Up to 600 degrees
Up to 850 degrees
Dishwasher safe