An Expert Guide to Frying Pans

Published on 07/11/2023 · 8 min readMaster the art of frying with our expert guide to frying pans. Discover the best materials, sizes, and features to enhance your cooking skills!
By Kitchen Expert Alex Alcarraz

Photo by Pixel Shot

Looking for a frying pan can be just as difficult as shopping for a whole new cookware set. Lots of variables come to mind. Will the frying pans match with the current set? What is the right size for everyday cooking? Is nonstick better than stainless steel? Will a cast-iron pan be a more durable option? In this article, we’ll answer all of these questions to help you identify the best frying pans for your needs.

A Short History of Frying Pans

The frying pan has been around as early as the birth of society. When people learned how to make metal tools, they learned how to make cooking metal utensils also. One of the earliest frying pans can be traced back to Ancient Mesopotamia, where copper was hammered into a round vessel with a handle.

The design of frying pans varied a bit between flat and round-bottomed. Before the standardizing of flat stovetops in the late 19th century, people would often cook on open fires and hearths. The round-bottomed pans could allow for them to be set right on coals or wood. Cast iron pans would sometimes have three little legs on them for this same purpose. From this very short history of frying pans it can be seen that it took a long time for pans to reach their current level of design and engineering. So it is okay to take a little bit of extra time to find what works best for you...or simply ask a Curated Expert!

Different Types of Frying Pans

A frying pan's signature detail is its flared rim and shallow depth. This design helps to release as much moisture as possible when searing vegetables or proteins. As such, there is typically no lid that accompanies a frying pan.

However, frying pans also come in different dimensions—including square pans. Though the most popular size is the 10-inch fry pan. They are great for bridging the in-between of single potions or a larger meal.

Anodized Aluminum

These are nonstick pans that are made from a thick sheet of aluminum that is put through a heavy oxidation process which penetrates into the metal. This seals the aluminum, making it nonreactive. These pans are then finished with a nonstick coating. They are great pans for making eggs and pancakes, and for easy cooking without worrying about getting things stuck.


  • Strong construction
  • Nonstick
  • Easy clean-up

Be Aware:

  • No metal utensils
  • No high-heat cooking

Ceramic Nonstick

The new style of cookware on the rise, these pans are generally made from aluminum and then exposed to a ceramic nonstick coating made from treated sand. Although there are several brands to choose from, the best available include Greenpan and Caraway.


  • Lightweight
  • Mineral-based nonstick surface
  • Easy clean-up

Be Aware:

  • No metal utensils
  • No high-heat cooking

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel pans are more often than not bonded with an additional metal like aluminum or copper. This is to raise the level of heat conductivity and also make them approachable to induction cooktops. They’re great for searing, pan roasting, and all types of dry-cooking methods that need to be on a stove top.


  • Great at handling high heat
  • Metal utensils will not damage the pan

Be Aware:

  • Some ingredients may stick

Cast Iron

Made by casting melted iron into a ceramic mold, these are the most recognizable pans of all. Cast iron absorbs heat slowly, but once fully hot, it heats very evenly and delivers a strong cooking vessel for searing, griddling, and any other way you may want to cook. The cast iron skillet is synonymous with campfire cooking and Southern traditions.


  • Great at handling high heat
  • Metal utensils will not damage the pan

Be Aware:

  • Season the pan before using
  • Requires continued maintenance

There are some pretty amazing frying pans within the Curated Inventory. Below are five of our top picks that are user friendly and versatile.

1. All-Clad D3 Stainless 3-Ply Bonded Cookware with Lid 12"

The All-Clad name is always associated with quality and durability. This pan’s aluminum core is strongly bonded with two outside layers of thick stainless steel. This D3 line can also withstand temperatures of up to 600F. Great heat distribution and retention all in one pan; the added lid offers a little extra versatility when cooking.

2. Anolon Nouvelle Copper Stainless Steel Induction Frying Pan with Lid 12"

If you are in need of having as much heat control as possible, the Anolon Nouvelle Copper Stainless Steel Induction Frying Pan is your answer. It features a double bottom cap with layers of aluminum and copper bonded with stainless steel. Plus, the beautiful tulip European design and mirror finish will make a great addition to the aesthetics of any kitchen.

3. Caraway Home 10.5" Fry Pan

This nonstick fry pan is sleek and perfect for homes that are looking for a minimalistic approach. Being a ceramic non-stick pan allows for peace of mind when thinking about nonstick coatings. There are no toxic chemicals that make up the body of this pan, so harsh fumes will not be released from it. Being a nonstick pan, the same general care rules apply—like no using metal utensils and keeping cooking temperatures to no higher than medium. Plus, these pans are dishwasher safe.

4. Le Creuset Signature Iron Handle Skillet

This versatile cast-iron skillet is glazed with an enamel outside which bypasses the need to season the skillet in the conventional way. It is on the heavier side, but it can offer some great heat distribution and retention. Due to its cast-iron construction, it also handles high temperatures extremely well. Though this pan should always be hand washed.

5. Zwilling Motion Hard-Anodized Three-Piece Fry Pan Set

Sometimes you need multiple sizes of the same style of pan. This compact PTFE-free (teflon), PFOA-free set is perfect when needing to balance making single meals to multiple portions for a larger gathering. These non-stick frying pans are oven safe up to 450F, which is a high temperature range for a more conventional nonstick frying pan.

Choosing the Right Frying Pan for You

After going over the possibilities for frying pans out in the market, the next step is probably the hardest. Out of all of the options above, what makes the most sense for your personal cooking style?


Photo by Dmitry Galaganov

If you are just looking to make breakfast with your frying pan, a nonstick surface is the best option. Both ceramic and traditional nonstick pans are great. You can make eggs and pancakes with ease. To add a little extra bit of fun to that breakfast, some bacon on a cast iron skillet would also be great. Since breakfast is mostly cooked on the stovetop, the frying pan of your choice does not need to have an all-metal build. Silicone or plastic handles would work perfectly fine. However, an all-metal build gives a bit more flexibility if needing to go in the oven.

Lunch & Dinner

Photo by Dennis Production

The reason for lunch and dinner to be paired together is that a lot of cooking techniques can overlap. If you are someone who really likes nonstick and finds ease in simpler clean ups, great. You will only need nonstick options. If you want to sear and cook your foods at higher temperatures, then stainless steel or cast iron is the way to go. Having an oven-safe build is also easier to find with these kinds of cookware. Go from stovetop to oven without needing to worry about melting handles or needing to use an additional pan. You can easily roast, saute, and boil liquids quickly and efficiently.

How to Properly Care For a Frying Pan

Photo by New Africa

Nonstick Cookware

When it comes to traditional non-stick pans and ceramic non-stick pans, it is best to be on the gentler side.

That means:

  • No harsh scrubbers. Hand-washing with warm water and soap is best.
  • Washing right after use and most importantly not leaving an empty pan on the stove by itself.
  • If the pan overheats, the coating of the pans can get damaged. Not to mention, if oil is added it will immediately burst into flames—causing a grease fire. If this happens, quickly turn the heat off and cover with a lid or tray that will smother the fire.
  • Do not add water—otherwise it will cause the fats in the pan to repel the liquid and make an even bigger fire.

While nonstick cookware has always been a bit more sensitive, it is a worthwhile investment.

Stainless Steel and Cast Iron

For stainless steel pans and cast iron skillets, similar care should also be taken.

  • Wash with warm water and soap after use.
  • Metal utensils are okay to be used on stainless steel. Abrasive scrubbers are not ideal, but okay if really needed.
  • High-quality pans will work well under high heat which allows for deglazing the bits that have gotten stuck on. It is a great way to both develop flavors for a sauce or simply make clean up a little easier.
  • Cast iron can also do well by using kosher salt and a little bit of water together as a paste to release any debris. Rinse, wipe with a towel, and lightly coat with a neutral oil.

Get Fryin’ With a Real Expert

Frying pans are great tools to have in a kitchen. They are there to make things quick and easy when only having a few minutes to cook or double up for long slow roasting sessions in the oven. The best value can only be found if all your individual criteria are met which can feel troublesome when getting started. When in doubt feel free to reach out to me or one of my fellow Kitchen Experts here on Curated for more details and recommendations on all frying pan tools and accessories!

Curated experts can help

Have a question about the article you just read or want personal recommendations? Connect with a Curated expert and get free recommendations for whatever you’re looking for!

Featured Products

All-Clad D3 Stainless 3-ply Bonded Cookware, Fry Pan with lid, 12 inch
Caraway Home 10.5" Fry Pan
Le Creuset Signature Iron Handle Skillet
Zwilling Motion Hard-Anodized Nonstick Fry Pan Set · 3 Piece Set
Written by:
Alex Alcarraz, Kitchen Expert
Alex Alcarraz
Kitchen Expert
After 15 years in the hospitality business, I learned that a crucial part of my work was having the right tools. Let’s chat about your cutlery needs and find the tools that are perfect for you!.Let’s take this knife journey together and find the perfect fit for you!
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