The taste of food depends a lot on what pan it was cooked in. It is optimal if you have several pans in the kitchen for cooking different dishes. But in most cases, hostesses are satisfied with one or two pans. That’s why it’s more often necessary to choose a versatile option. Ten tips to help you choose the best frying pan.
1. Type of frying pan
Types of frying pans, which is the best to choose?
Stores offer a wide range of all kinds of frying pans. They differ in shape, metal and coating, weight, wall thickness. They are all divided into several categories.
- Classic. The standard all-purpose round frying pans. A good option for all types of cooking. For example, frying and braising. Material, wall thickness can be different.
- Pancake pans. Small-diameter round pans with a flat bottom and low sides of about 1 cm for the convenience of flipping pancakes.
- The grill pan. Has a distinctive ribbed bottom. Used for frying food. For example, for cooking steaks. The excellent choice for those who like healthy eating. Products during cooking do not contact with the bottom and do not get greasy. With a sufficiently high-quality non-stick coating, you can cook on them and without oil. The shape is different from the standard options – round, square, triangular, rectangular. Additionally on sale there are grids for fixing on the sides.
- Wok. A simplified version of the Japanese frying pan for quickly frying various foods. It has a specific form – a small, flat or rounded bottom, high sides with a sharp expansion on top. Because of this specific shape, it heats mostly the lower part, so the food can burn quickly and it is necessary to stir it constantly.
What kind of pan is better to choose – cast iron, aluminum, copper?
The metal used for making cookware affects not only the durability, but also the taste of cooked food. On it depends the speed of heating, the duration of heat retention. The choice of metals and versions is not insignificant.
- Cast iron. The most reliable “granny” pans that last for generations. Cast-iron pans are the best in terms of durability, heating uniformity and heat retention. They heat up slowly but powerfully. They are very convenient to cook game, stew, bake pies and make casseroles in the stewing mode. On gas stoves they are heated most evenly. A big plus – cast iron pans can be cleaned with metal sponges, and you can use any spatula, not just wood and silicone. They are extremely easy to care for. As you use them, an oil film forms on the inner surface – it serves as a natural non-stick coating. If you need to choose a universal and durable option, cast-iron cookware is the best solution.
- Aluminum. The metal heats evenly, instantly, but also quickly cools down. The only plus is that they are very light. Otherwise, there are only disadvantages – scratch-prone surface, unpleasant metallic taste in sour dishes. In aluminum pans can not cook on induction hobs. Given all the disadvantages, it is better to choose a combination of aluminum and stainless steel.
- Copper. Copper pans are expensive, but very convenient and beautiful. They are often used by professional chefs in restaurants. Usually copper goes in combination with stainless steel, because it is subject to deformation – you need to handle such pans with care. In them it is not recommended to cook on induction stoves, but this prohibition can be bypassed. They are sold with special rims made of a different metal.
3. Nonstick coating
What non-stick coating is better, what to choose – Teflon, ceramic, marble?
For everyday cooking, frying pans with a good nonstick coating are most suitable. It prevents food from sticking, which makes cooking more enjoyable and easier. Non-stick coatings can be of several types.
- Teflon. The most common non-stick coating. When cooking on such pans, you can cook without fat at all, which pleases adherents of healthy eating. Pluses – small weight, the ultimate ease of care. Drawback: they cannot be heated over 200˚C. They will emit carcinogenic gases. Another disadvantage – the coating is not resistant to mechanical damage, and does not last long. The highest quality pans that can withstand heat up to 260˚C.
- Ceramic. Non-stick layer is made of a special nanocomposite polymer. Ceramic coating is considered to be of higher quality than the classic Teflon. Even heated to 450 ˚ C, does not emit any harmful substances. The most common metal is aluminum. It is used because of its ease, speed and uniformity of heating. But ceramics is also not known for its durability. Drops, sharp temperature fluctuations, detergents using alkali – all this leads to damage, cracking of the non-stick layer. Ceramic pans can not be used for induction stoves and washed in the dishwasher. But if you treat it carefully, it will last up to two years.
- Marble. A kind of Teflon coating, in which marble chips are added, due to which the service life is increased. The use of aluminum as the basic material gives pans all the properties described above – lightness, speed and uniformity of heating. Due to the use of improved coating cools a little slower than standard Teflon pans. Prices vary greatly depending on quality and manufacturer. If you want to choose a really good cookware, look at options with the thickest multilayer bottom. The service life with careful handling and proper care will be up to 25 years.
- Granite, titanium, diamond. Less common types of nanocomposite compositions. Their higher cost is compensated by excellent quality. The main advantages are durability, reliability, resistance to impact and temperature changes. In terms of characteristics, they can be quite comparable to the best cast iron counterparts, before which they can additionally boast of lightness and safety. Disadvantages – not suitable for induction stoves, they are expensive.
What is the best way to choose a frying pan for a purpose?
A very important point is what purpose you want to choose a frying pan for. For frying eggs and making breakfast, a small, inexpensive nonstick frying pan will do. For frying and stews, it is better to choose large-diameter variants with a thicker bottom. Before you make a purchase, make sure the handle is easy to grip.
For quick frying Asian-style food you should choose the currently fashionable wok. For pancakes, you need a separate pan specifically designed for this purpose. For frying steaks, vegetables and other similar dishes it is worth buying a grill pan.
5. Frying pan size
What’s the best size frying pan, what diameter should I choose?
The standard, most common sizes of frying pans are from 18 to 28 cm. These numbers indicate the outer diameter of the product. This parameter deserves special attention if the frying pan is sold without a lid – it will help you to choose it separately later. The optimal size depends on various factors – the size of your family, the dishes you are going to cook.
Another parameter is the diameter of the burners on the stove. It is not recommended to buy too large pans – the food will remain raw on the edges, and in the middle will burn. The optimal height of the rim, suitable for cooking any food is 3 cm.
6. Weight and Bottom Thickness
Should I choose a light or heavy frying pan?
Should I choose a light or heavy frying pan? Most users agree that heavy models are better because they are stable and heat up more evenly due to the thick walls and bottom. Thick metal is resistant to warping, lasts a long time and does not burn. But too heavy frying pans should not be chosen either – your hand will get tired.
The minimum thickness of metal of a quality product is 3-4 mm. Pancake frying pan needs fast heating, so thinner metal is acceptable. In other cases, the thicker the walls, the more even the heat will be. In a quality product, the thickness of the metal should be uniform, and the surface for frying should be flat.
7. Exterior coating and lid
What is the best external coating, what kind of lid to choose?
An additional characteristic is the external coating. It has no effect on the quality of cooking, but it affects the appearance of cookware. The most common are models with enamel and lacquer coating. You can also find untreated versions. Lacquer coating is not a very good solution. It quickly loses its appearance – burns, loses its original color, and gets scratched. Enamel coating is better because it is more durable. Good ceramic pans are usually coated with a nanocomposite material not only on the inside but also on the outside.
If the pan is sold without a lid, you can pick one up separately. They come in glass and metal. The advantage of glass is that you can control the cooking process without lifting the lid. Metal is more durable, not afraid of falls and bumps. Make sure that the handle on the lid can withstand high temperatures and is not directly attached, in which case it will be less hot. An optional, but desirable condition is the presence of a hole for the escape of excess steam.
8. Handle comfort
Which handle is better and more comfortable, which material to choose?
The shape and quality of the handle determines how comfortable you will cook. They come in a variety of shapes. There is no single rule for choosing – you need to be guided by your own feelings. Before you buy a frying pan, you need to pick it up, hold it, rotate it to make sure that it is comfortable in your hand.
It is also worth paying attention to the type of handle fastening and its reliability. Rivets are not the best option, screws are better. Solid products are better in this regard. The material of the handle is also worth paying attention to. Good options are treated wood, heat-resistant plastic. Metal handles are the most reliable, but they get very hot. You can choose a version with a removable handle if you plan to cook in the oven often.
9. Type of stove
What’s the best pan to choose for a gas, electric stove?
Responsible manufacturers usually indicate for which types of stoves (gas, electric, induction) cookware is suitable. The relevant information is printed on the bottom of the pan or written in the enclosed instructions. For gas stoves there are no restrictions – you can use any options. The best choice is heavy models with a thick bottom. They are more convenient to use for gas stoves because of the increased stability.
For electric stoves, you can use any frying pan, except uncoated aluminum. When heated, it leaves traces on the burners. The same can be said about glass ceramic stoves. Another important condition – the diameter of the pan must match the size of the burner. The main thing is that the bottom is thick and perfectly flat. Problems arise only with induction stoves – for them you need special pans with the ability to magnetize. The material of which the bottom is made is important, while the walls can be of any kind.