How To Choose The Best Frying Pan

Frying pans are made using different materials and each of them has its own set of pros and cons. There are some other factors too that play a major role in deciding the quality. They are mentioned below:

1. Size:

Frying pans are available in different sizes. The most popularly available sizes in the market are 8 inches, 10 inches, and 12 inches. The pan should have a depth of at least 1.5 inches. You can select the size depending on the number of members in your family. Users who stay alone usually prefer buying smaller pans.

An 8-inch pan should be good enough for them. Also, people living in joint families who cook an extra amount of food prefer buying larger pans. A pan with a 10 to 12-inch size will be sufficient for them. These pans are light in weight and easy to manage as well.

2. Frying Pan Base Materials:

The base materials of the frying pan are one of the most important factors that you should check for. It has a direct impact on cooking too. There are many types of materials that are used to make the base of the pan, each offering different characteristics. Let’s check more about each of these materials.

  • Uncoated Aluminum:

Pans made using uncoated aluminum as a base are very light in weight. They heat up quickly but not evenly. These pans also react whenever you cook acidic food items like lemon juice or tomatoes. Hence, you cannot use them as an all-purpose pan. You should rather opt for an aluminum pan that has a non-stick coating.

  • Hard-Anodized:

Hard-anodized aluminum pans are non-stick pans. However, the non-stick properties of these pans don’t come from any artificial layer of coating. It comes naturally due to the way they are manufactured. This process of making hard-anodized aluminum pans make the material stronger than normal aluminum.

You can use these pans for searing purposes. Along with this, you can also use it for making eggs and pancakes and utilize its non-stick properties. Hence, these pans are perfect and can be used as all-purpose cookware. You can use these pans on high heat but don’t use them in the microwave.

Pros:

  • Durable material
  • Can be used as an all-purpose pan
  • Easy to clean
  • Can handle high heat too

Cons:

  • Should be washed using mild soap (never use harsh cleaners)
  • A bit expensive than other types of pans

3. Stainless Steel:

Pans made using stainless steel can be used as all-purpose pans for frying any type of food. However, stainless steel alone is not a great conductor of heat. Thus, you should check tri-ply or multi-ply pans that are made using different layers of metals like stainless steel with aluminum or sometimes even copper.

Due to this, these pans are generally heavier than the single-layered pans. But they are lighter than the pans that are made using cast iron. Stainless steel pans are a great choice if you want to make sauce or for searing meat. You can even use these pans in the oven. These pans are not coated and hence, you can use any type of utensil or spatula with them.

However, make sure that you grease the pan properly before cooking as the chance of food sticking to the pan is high.

Pros:

  • Durable
  • Longer lifespan
  • Resistant to rust and scratches
  • Non-reactive and can be used to make acidic food items too
  • Safe to be used in the oven
  • Dishwasher safe

Cons:

  • As there is no non-stick coating, food can stick to the pan (you can avoid it by greasing the pan)
  • When used at higher temperatures, you can notice discoloration due to heat stains
  • They are expensive, especially tri-ply and multi-ply pans

4. Cats Iron:

Cast iron pans are well known for holding and distributing the heat so that food is cooked evenly. These pans are versatile and durable. They can handle higher temperatures easily. You can use cast iron pans for any type of cooking including sautéing. Braising, searing, frying, roasting, and even baking.

Since cast iron pans get very hot, they are most suitable for frying and getting an amazing and crispy texture. Most of the cast iron pans come with a pre-seasoned surface. After every use, the surface becomes more non-stick.

Pros:

  • Versatile
  • Durable
  • Allows even distribution of heat
  • Can be used at higher temperatures
  • You can use it in the oven or over the fire directly
  • Holds heat for a very long time

Cons:

  • Heavy (there are some lightweight cast iron pans available too)
  • Require constant care and maintenance
  • Reactive to acidic foods (however, if it is seasoned well or if it has an enameled finish, you can cook acidic food too)
  • Cannot be washed in the dishwasher

5. Coating Material:

Apart from the material used to make the base of the pan, it is also important to check the material that is used to coat the pan. Let’s learn more about them in detail.

a. Non-stick Coated:

Aluminum frying pans are generally coated with PTFE or Teflon (also called as polytetrafluoroethylene). This coating offers you a non-stick surface for cooking so that you can cook with very little or no oil at all. These pans are designed specially to cook delicate food items such as eggs, fishes, or crepes. If egg is a staple dish at your home, you must buy a non-stick pan.

Making omelets in such pans is very easy. Even though non-stick aluminum pans are available at an affordable price, they require high maintenance. You must wash these pans using your hands. You must not use a harsh scrubber or a metal spatula. Scratching the non-stick surface can lead to the formation of scratches and in some cases, the flakes of coating start coming off too.

Pros:

  • Food does not stick to the pan
  • Pan heats up very quickly
  • Requires very little or no oil at all (it is conductive to low-fat and low-oil cooking)
  • Easy to clean
  • Light in weight
  • Inexpensive

Cons:

  • Using metal utensils can lead to scratches
  • Can’t be used in the oven
  • Even though the brand mentions it is dishwasher safe, you must wash it with hands only

b. Ceramic-Coated:

Ceramic-coated frying pans are also called as green non-stick pans. These pans are coated using a silica-based gel that is made using sand. This gel creates a slick and a non-stick surface on the pan without using any chemical-based coating. Ceramic-coated pans are best for cooking at a lower temperature. Hence, you can’t use it for searing food items. Thus, if you want to use a non-stick pan that is made without any chemicals, these pans can be the best choice.

Pros:

  • Provides non-stick surface for cooking
  • Easy to clean
  • Lightweight

Cons:

  • Not suitable for cooking at high temperature
  • Using metal utensils can lead to scratching
  • Not dishwasher safe, should be washed by hands only
  • Cannot be used in the oven

6. Frying Pan Thickness:

While buying a frying pan, you must not forget to check the thickness of the pan. Thicker pans are capable of retaining heat better than the thinner ones. Thinner pans don’t heat as evenly as thicker pans and don’t retain heat for a very long time.

7. Induction Compatible:

Nowadays, most of the kitchens have induction cooktops. Hence, many manufacturers have started making frying pans that are compatible with induction cooking. If you cook on induction, make sure that you check the product specification and buy one that is induction compatible.

8. Frying Pan Handle Types:

Some frying pans come with riveted handles. These types of handles are very sturdy and are attached permanently to the pan. Hence, you will not have to go through the hassle of tightening it frequently. However, you might have to pay more attention while cleaning them as the chances of building up of bacteria is high around the rivets.

Some pans even have welded or screwed-on handles. These handles sometimes become loose or even fall off after a while. When it comes to durability, riveted handles are better options than the screwed-on handles. Some users prefer buying pans where the handle remains cool even after the pan is hot. For such users, you can look for pans with either a hollowed out stainless handle or stainless steel handles that are wrapped using silicone. Silicone-wrapped handles provide a better grip.

9. Easy to Clean:

Stainless steel pans and anodized aluminum pans are dishwasher safe. Hence, some users prefer buying these pans as they will not have to wash them by hand. However, cast iron pans cannot be washed in the dishwasher. You must not even clean them using soap and water. The best way to clean cast iron pans is rinsing them off immediately post-use and then wipe them off using a dry cloth.

10. Price:

You can buy a frying pan at a price range of Rs. 500 to Rs. 1,700. The price of the pans also depends on the material used to make it. Cast iron frying pans are a bit costlier than the other types of pans.

10. Warranty:

Most of the manufacturers offer a warranty period of around 1 to 5 years along with their frying pan. However, you must always go through the manual before starting to use the pan as there are some rules that you must follow to claim the warranty. For example, the warranty might get void if you are washing the pan in a dishwasher.

Fry Pan Advantages and Disadvantages:

AdvantagesDisadvantages
As the pan is designed with less thickness and shallow, wide design cooking will be done fasterYou need to pay attention to the dish you are cooking in the pan, if you fail your food will be overcooked and ruined
It gives you good flavour to dishesIf you cook at high temperature in this pan it may burn your food
It is made up of stainless steel or high grade aluminium which is scratch resistant.You need to be more cautious to ensure the food is cooked evenly, or else it may result in lower cooking performance.

Parts of the Frying Pan:

  • Handle: Fry pans are designed with handles that is coated with metal or silicon which can be used to transfer stovetop to oven.  Handles made with wood and silicon coated will be cool to touch.
  • Rivets: These joins different parts collectively like handle to pan or lid, these can be fitted with screws or welding.
  • Body: Based on the food you prepare select the materials of the pan, enamelled cast iron is suited for braising, stainless steel is suited for deep frying.
  • Rim: This helps to pour liquids easily; if the edge will be straight it will be useful for ingredients tossing.
  • Cookware surface: Depending on the dishes you cook each type has positives and negatives. Cast iron is stick resistant and they are durable, Stainless steel are great option for browning food, for cleaning purpose non sticks are good options.
  • Core: few metals like copper and aluminium which are conductive metals are designed at base with multiple layers of metals.
  • Sides: To cook liquids high vertical sides are best option, flared sides which are useful to cook liquids which reduce through evaporation.
  • Base: The base should be flat for smooth top electric ranges, magnetic base are suitable for inductions.

Frying Pan Care and Maintenance Tips

It is always recommended to go through the cleaning instructions provided by the manufacturer before starting to use it. Some of the general maintenance tips are:

  • Don’t put the empty frying pan on the stove to heat.
  • To prevent warping, let the pan cool down completely and then put it for washing.
  • While washing the pans in the dishwasher, always use a metal-safe detergent.
  • While stacking non-stick or hard-coat pans, try to place liners between these pans. This will prevent scratching on the surface.
  • To clean the copper surfaces, you can use a polishing paste.
  • Washing cookware with hands helps in increasing its lifespan. You must always scrub or wash in the direction of the material grain. Rinse immediately and let it air dry before storing it in the cabinet.

Frequently Asked Question:

1.Are frying pans and sauté pans the same?

No, they are not the same. While a frying pan or a skillet features sloped sides, a sauté pan has straight sides. However, you can use frying pans to sauté both veggies and meats.

2. How can I season a frying pan?

Before starting the cooking process, you can lightly coat the inside of the frying pan (stainless steel, non-coated, or carbon steel pans) using a small amount of vegetable oil. Now put the frying pan over the burner at medium heat for about 5 to 10 minutes. Wait until you notice heat waves or light smoke. When the color starts changing, you can turn off the burner and let it cool down completely. Pour the excess oil out of the pan and then wipe it off using a dry towel until you remove the oil completely. Seasoning helps in increasing the lifespan of the pan. Cleaning the pan using a mild soapy solution helps in preventing the seasoning of the pan. You can repeat this process frequently without damaging the pan.

3. Is frying in a non stick pan healthy?

It is the healthier choice as non stick pans need very little amount of oil to cook the food, which is one of the healthy ways to fry.

4. Are non stick pans really safe?

These pans probably not that safe as they are coated with Teflon, it is assumed to be toxic.

5. Why are frying pans round?

If the frying pan is in round shape as the heat is produced all over the pan circulating the round and helps the food to cook evenly.

6. When should you throw away non stick pans?

Expert’s advice to change the non stick pans every couple of years; based on the usage you can change the pan in 3 to 5 years.

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