Choosing the Best All-Purpose Skillets for the Kitchen

Anne Vassal talks about her picks for the best all-purpose skillets and shares the pricing and test results with MOTHER EARTH NEWS readers.

| August/September 2003

When finding the best all-purpose skillets these skillet makers are put to the test.

It would be nice if I could share with you the wondrous aspects of my long time favorite skillet, but until recently I didn't have one. Over the years, not a single one ever stole my heart. Having a quality, 12-inch skillet ought to be a necessity of life, though, along with shoes, cell phones and brie (ok, maybe not brie), so finally, I set out to find my "one and only."

As it turned out, when looking for the best all-purpose skillets I found several skillets that tickled my fancy: Calphalon's Commercial and Kitchen Essentials lines, All-Clad Metalcrafter's own brand (my favorite!) and Emerilware, developed by All-Clad with celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse. Here are the most important points to consider when you're searching for a skillet that will steal your heart.

Skillet Shop but not 'Till you Drop

Most all-purpose skillets have either flared or straight sides. Those with flared sides are called fry or omelette pans , and usually they come without lids; food just slides right out of these pans and onto a plate. Those with straight sides are called saute pans, and they come with lids.

I decided to limit my spending to less than $150, although it's possible to buy skillets that cost twice that price. I tested numerous skillets for "release-ability" (whether the food stuck to the pan), heat distribution and cooking time. I cooked a variety of foods, including eggs, pancakes, eggplant, plantains, tofu and chicken.

Appearance, durability, feel and whether the skillet was oven- or broiler-safe also were evaluated.

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