Project Description

A Buyers Guide To Stainless Steel Frying Pans

Cooking with stainless steel pans can be intimidating. Unlike nonstick pans, which are easy to use and clean, stainless steel frying pans can take a little work to get comfortable with. Stainless steel gets super hot, which is one of the best reasons to use them while cooking. But the heat can also burn food to the pan itself, making it a headache to clean. And stainless steel pans aren’t cheap, either.

But once you get past those minor issues, it’s not hard to see why stainless steel pans are some of the best cooking equipment you can keep in the kitchen. Experienced and professional chefs swear by stainless steel for a reason. If maintained properly stainless steel products are quite durable. It’s nearly impossible to dent, break, crack, or even rust stainless steel pans. And while inexperienced cooks can sometimes burn the pan, they are generally quite easy to clean.

These pans are also excellent at transferring heat evenly while cooking. That means that the pan gets hot across the entire surface. You won’t have to worry about cooler spots undercooking food. And unlike nonstick pans with chemical sealant, stainless steel products won’t leach anything into the food during cooking. In fact, these pans can even be recycled quite easily.

If you get a cheap and poorly made stainless steel pan – all bets are off. That’s why it pays to invest in a high quality product. These are the top stainless steel pans on the market today.

Best Overall
  • Sleek, stunning design
  • 12 inches long
  • Best tested heat distribution
  • Easy to clean + dishwasher safe
  • Lifetime warranty

All-Clad consistently makes exceptional cookware, and their D5 stainless steel frying pan is no exception. Equally at home on the stove, or in the oven or broiler, this frying pan is insanely versatile.

While it retails at around $200, forget the high price tag. This pan is truly worth every penny. It’s lightweight, heats quickly and exceptionally well, and can handle large meals and workloads in a breeze. The low sides on the pan also make it easy to toss and flip food like pancakes or stir-frys.

Like all well crafted stainless steel pans, the D5 can get very hot on only low heat, but is also resistant enough to stand 600 degrees with no risk. Couple that with a a gorgeous design and dishwasher safe cleaning option, this pan is the best around.

Available on Amazon
Runner Up
Demeyre Stainless Steel Pan
  • Wide, flat bottom for even cooking
  • 11 inch diameter
  • Extremely durable
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Comes with lid

We awarded the Demeyere Industries stainless steel pan 2nd place in name only, as this product is exceptional in every way. Demeyere is a Belgium based company that excels at making stainless steel cookware. Their products are well crafted using first rate materials, and their stainless steel products are treated with a proprietary process that keeps the metal from damaging. If well taken care of, this pan should last for decades, and look brand new along the way.

Retailing at around $130, this professional grade fryer has made a serious case to be featured in every kitchen. The pan is lightweight, and easy to maneuver with one hand. But don’t let it fool you – it’s also strong enough to handle heavy tasks, like roasting or searing large cuts of meat.

The pan is a statement piece, and the sleek design is equally impressive as it’s unparalleled cooking performance.

Available on Amazon
Best Bargain
Tramontina Frying Pan
  • Affordable without sacrificing performance
  • 10 inch diameter
  • Comfortable mobility
  • Slow to heat up

If you’re not looking to shell out the big bucks on a stainless steel pan, but still want a quality product, Tramontina has got you covered. While it won’t win any awards, the tri-ply base pan gets the job done.

While this particular model retails for the insanely cheap price of $34, larger (or smaller) models are just as modestly priced. And while it’s usually a no-no to rely on such affordable stainless steel products, Tramontina is guilt free. This fryer is easy to clean and maintain, but don’t expect to have it forever. Instead, rely on this pan for a few years to evenly prepare meals, no matter the size.

It’s slightly heavier than some of the other, more expensive models tested. That said, this frying pan is still easy enough to move around with one hand. While the size of the pan is small and somewhat restrictive, but for the price it can’t be beat.

Available on Amazon

4. Vollrath Tribute Tri-Ply Fry Pan

Vollrath Stainless Steel Frying Pan
  • 12 inch pan
  • Natural satin finish allows for unparalleled browning ability
  • Professional kitchen quality
  • Lifetime warranty

If you want to learn to cook like the pros, Vollrath offers a fine starting point. Their try-ply stainless steel fryers set the standard for professional kitchenware. The handle is sturdy, comfortable and heat resistant. The pan is light enough that it makes sense that chefs in restaurants around the world are be found flipping and searing meals in the pans. Available in various sizes, we’ve found their 12 inch pan to be the ideal model.

Top quality at an affordable price point (around $75) makes this pan a true game changer. The design is strikingly sleek, and makes a beautiful and functional addition to any kitchen.

Carlisle Frying Pan
  • 12 inch diameter
  • Aluminum body for perfect heat transfer
  • Durable, stainless steel interior
  • Great for use in restaurants/food service industry
  • Dura-cool handle

Manufactured for the food industry, but equally as comfortable in the home kitchen, Carlisle makes a mean stainless steel frying pan. Cook like a pro with their 12 inch pan, designed to evenly fry, sear, and brown any dish. The outside of their pan is coated in aluminum to maximize heat transfer, while the interior stainless steel provides standard excellence in food preparation.

Designed to withstand the rigors of high volume food preparation and catering, this frying pan is phenomenal value for the home kitchen. Don’t be deterred from the price tag (retails around $110), as this pan will last a lifetime.

Carlisle preforms exceptionally well and is easy to handle and clean. The riveted handle is comfortable, and cool to the touch even after hours of exposure on high heat.

6. Vigor Stainless Steel Fry Pan with Aluminum-Clad Bottom

Vigor Stainless Steel Pan
  • 12 inch diameter
  • Extremely affordable option
  • Durable and built to handle high volume
  • 4 mm thick aluminum core for heat/distribution
  • Perfect for standard gas/electric/induction stove tops

Another professional kitchen staple, the Vigor stainless steel pan is built to preform at affordable prices. It’s truly rare to find such quality and durable cookware for a bargain price, but Vigor retails at around $25 without any compromising issues. Built to last, these fryers are worth the meager price tag.

Exceptional at heating and distribution, the welded on handle is an added bonus. It’s sturdy and aids in the mobility of the frying pan. Equally at home on an induction stove as gas/electric, the versatility of this pan is unparalleled. It’s light weight, easy to maneuver and cook with, and did we mention how cheap it is? You simply can’t go wrong with a Vigor pan.

Cruisinart stainless steel pan
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • 12 inch diameter
  • Dishwasher Safe
  • Stay-cool stainless steel handles

A familiar kitchen brand, Cuisinart makes a serviceable frying pan that works great and looks beautiful in the kitchen. Retailing around $150, this frying pan is pretty good. It cooks and distributes heat evenly with it’s tri-ply stainless steel technology.

It’s also durable and easy to clean, an expected combo when dealing with a high price tag. While some name brands are more flash than substance, this frying pan provides both. Backed with a life time warranty, it’s an exceptional and dependable frying pan to have in the kitchen.

Available on Amazon
Celphalon omlette pan
  • 12 inch diameter
  • 5 layer steel design for heating
  • Triple Layer aluminum core for durability
  • Dishwasher Safe

Despite the name, you don’t have to be an omelet lover to get phenomenal use from this frying pan (although it doesn’t hurt). This pan is made from stainless steel and aluminum to provide a consistent cooking experience for every food imaginable, including eggs and omelets. Oven, broiler, and dishwasher safe, this pan is easy to use and clean, and durable enough to make an every day type of pan.

It’s wide surface and steep siding is great for cooking up eggs, and the lifetime warranty it comes with ensures that you’ll get your moneys worth with this great pan.

Available on Amazon
Cooks Stainless Steel Pan with Lid
  • 12 inch diameter
  • Deep pan w/ridged sides ideal for pouring and tossing
  • Dome lid traps moisture
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Oven safe up to 500 degrees

Cooks makes a great pan for an affordable price (around $65). Their stainless steel fryer is deep and can handle a heavy work load, and the lid helps increase functionality for steaming.

While slightly heavier than other models we tested, it still offers superior and even heat distribution, and could tackle loads of work that other fryers could not. This pan is a true kitchen work horse. Easy to polish and clean, it also works well on all types of stove tops, induction included.

Available on Amazon
Heritage Stainless Steel Pan
  • 7 layer ply stainless steel
  • 12 inch diameter
  • Induction stove compatible
  • Mid Priced
  • Corrosion Resistant

Born and bred in the USA, Heritage Steel makes a great frying pan for a decent price (retailing around $100). Another durable product on our list, we’ve found this product to distribute heat evenly, even if we’ve found it can sometimes take a little longer to get super hot.

It’s a sharp looking and sleek fryer, with stay cool handles that make the pan easy to maneuver and toss food with. It’s another pan that’s dishwasher safe, and it’s strengthened with titanium to make it more difficult for metal leaching. All in all, a solid frying pan to own.

Available on Amazon

How to select the right pan size

A well stocked kitchen usually features pans of different sizes. If living alone, it might make sense to keep a smaller pan size. But larger families, or folks who like to entertain, are well familiar with the fact that one pan size does NOT fit all. If you’re planning to cook for a larger group, it makes sense to have a pan with a wider diameter.

Pan sizes are determined by the parameter from wall to wall, in inches.

If you don’t have the storage space to keep a ton of products, try to at least have 2 different sized pans. A smaller/larger option.

  • 6 inch pan: Ideal for single servings.
  • 8 inch pan: A great sized pan that works well in any kitchen. If cooking for 2 people, this pan works great.
  • 10 inch pan: A great pan for small families, a 10 inch pan is great for preparing meals for 2-4 people.
  • 12 inch pan: The pan for larger families or prepping meals for guests, a 12 inch pan is a workhorse.

For more info, check out this nifty guide to pan sizes!

Care and Maintenance

While stainless steel products are some of the best pans to use while cooking, some people simply don’t want to deal with the trouble of cleaning them. It’s why nonstick pans have become so popular. Stainless steel, the thought process goes, is easy to scorch and burn. And while nonstick pans are certainly easy to maintain and clean, stainless steel can be too! Don’t let the cleaning process dissuade you from making stainless steel your go-to cooking option.

With these tips, cleaning your pans should be a breeze. Here’s what to you should do to keep your pans in tip-top shape:

  • Always use cooking oil when using your pans. This will reduce the chances of food sticking and scorching to the metal.
  • While some stainless steel pans are advertised to be dishwasher safe, we highly recommend to hand wash.
  • We like to start cleaning the pan while its still hot. The hotter the pan (and water), the easier to scrape off
  • Use hot water and a spatula to remove any food particles that may have stuck to the surface.
  • For the most part, a good old fashioned sponge and dish soap coupled with hot water gets the job done. We also love this scrubbing brush from OXO to get out the deep set stains.
  • If the pan is really dirty, it’s time for the reinforcements. Baking powder or other abrasive cleaners work wonders in these cases.
    • But be warned – cleaners can streak the bottom of the pan. So once used, wash off with soap and water!
  • When using baking soda, let it sit for a few minutes to seep into every nook and cranny of the pan and stain.
  • For truly dirty pans or pots, put a mixture of baking soda and water in the pot, and allow to boil on the stove!