The frying pan (aka frypan or skillet, but not to be confused with a sauté pan) is probably the hardest-working piece of cookware in any kitchen. It’s what we reach for when it’s time to make a frittata, fry up some eggs, sear some steak, and so much more. But there are so many types of frying pans out there! There are cast iron skillets, enameled cast iron skillets, nonstick, ceramic nonstick, etc! Which kind you like is mostly just a personal preference. While there’s no wrong answer (and you can also pick multiple options), when it comes to each category, some are better than others.
Here are our favorites for each type of frying pan.
Best Cast Iron Skillet
Lodge 10.25-Inch Cast Iron Skillet, $15
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Kitchn is Team Lodge all the way. These pre-seasoned pans are made in the U.S., very affordable, durable, and heat up evenly. And we think Lodge skillets build up the best patina over time, which means you’ll end up passing this pan down for generations. We’re not the only ones who like it either — it’s a favorite among professional chefs and it’s the bestselling cast iron skillet brand on Amazon. The 10.25-inch version, ideal for smaller kitchens and smaller households, has more than 15,000 reviews. (If you have a larger family, get the 12-inch option.)
Read more: The Best Cast Iron Skillets, According to the Best Experts
Best Enameled Cast Iron Skillet
Staub Cast Iron 10-Inch Fry Pan, $175 at Bed Bath & Beyond
With an enameled cast iron skillet, you get the benefits of cast iron (hot, even cooking in a pan that retains heat) and fewer things to worry about. You can still brush the inside with a little bit of oil to maintain that matte black finish, but you can use dish soap and acidic ingredients with relative abandon. (You can use both with a well-seasoned cast iron pan — you just have to be careful!) Plus, the textured interior helps meat brown exceptionally well. This one is definitely higher on the price scale (you can find other options that are at least $100 cheaper), but it’s sure to last you a lifetime.
Best Stainless Steel Skillet
All-Clad d3 Stainless Steel 12-Inch Fry Pan, $130
Readers frequently ask us if All-Clad really is worth the money, and we can’t emphasize enough that it is. You don’t need to splurge for top-of-the-line All-Clad; You can go with the less expensive d3 pans and still end up with the best cookware out there. The d3 line features three layers (aluminum sandwiched between stainless steel), heats super evenly, has a sturdy handle with a lightweight body, and doesn’t discolor too easily. (Also, All-Clad frequently has factory sales on seconds — meaning, pieces with very minor imperfections — and we often write about them, so be sure to look out for those.)
Read more: The Best Stainless Steel Skillets for Your Kitchen, According to the Best Experts
Best Nonstick Skillet
Anolon Authority Nonstick 10.25-Inch Skillet, $65
Our gear pro is obsessed with this skillet: “I’ve tested it side-by-side against a handful of other skillets and this one consistently performed the best,” she says. “Pancakes and fried eggs fell right out. You can even use a metal spatula or spoon without worrying about scratching the finish.”
Read more: I’ve Tested Nearly Every Piece of Nonstick Cookware on the Market. This Is a List of the Best of the Best.
Best Copper Nonstick Skillet
Farberware Glide 10-Inch Skillet, $36 at Macy’s
Skip the versions with those “As Seen On TV” stickers. They’ll be super nonstick-y at first, but that will fade. Very quickly. (See: Here’s What You Need to Know About Ceramic Nonstick Pans.) This one gets the vote from our gear pro and is well-reviewed by shoppers.
Read more: What’s the Deal with Copper Nonstick Pans?
Best Carbon Steel Frying Pan
Lodge 12-Inch Seasoned Carbon Steel Skillet, $38
If you want the conductivity of cast iron but need something lighter, you should look at a carbon steel frying pan — specifically this carbon steel pan. It’s made by Lodge (our favorite cast iron brand!), so you know it’s going to be good. Plus, our friend Carla Lalli Music, the Food Director at Bon Appétit, says it’s a must-have.
Read more: The $38 Pan Everyone Should Own, According to Bon Appétit’s Top Food Expert
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