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Fry pans: what's the diff? stainless steel vs. nonstick vs. blue steel

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I'm torn. Which is the best all-purpose fry pan? I don't want to get more than one because I really don't do any of the below very often, but when I do it's almost impossible because all I have is a cast iron skillet, nonstick wok, a carbon steel wok, and pots (shocking, no?). I'm deciding among:

stainless steel, because I can use it to brown things, caramelize onions, and put a lid on it to finish dishes in the oven.

nonstick, because it's easy to clean and makes omlettes/pancakes easy. Will batter/eggs stick to the stainless steel a lot?

a crepe pan, because I really do like that it's oh-so-flat. My friend has one and says it came with instructions never to cook anything else on it. Does anyone know why?

I'm leaning toward a good stainless 9" or 10" frypan with a copper core, but can I:

sear fish
make an omlette
create a resonably thin crepe (small is okay)
cook up a pancake
fry eggs without making a sticky mess

I've been to a few stores and talked to some not-too-helpful clerks. Any ideas? Thanks so much!!

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  1. Stainless steel is softer than you think and is prone to scratching which is why it is not really the best pan for eggs and other foods that are prone to sticking. You can brown and sear in your cast iron pan, I am assuming that it has an integrated iron handle and can go into the oven. You don't say what size cast iron skillet you have but it is small you might want to buy one that is 10"-12" and a non-stick skillet. The cast iron is cheap enough and probably even less expensive in a thrift store. I buy my non-stick skillets at TJ Maxx and now that I have learned not to use cooking spray in them and ruin them they last quite a long time and are very affordable. I have cast iron in 8", 10" and 14" and a 8" non-stick for omelettes, a 10" which I use occasionally and 2 12" that I use a lot.

    I have had my 8" for 30 years and it is well seasoned and cooks wonderfully and does not stick. I got rid of my stainless pans a long time ago when I started buying Calphalon. Yes I do have a lot of cooking equipment and a lot of experience with it, but it is all well chosen.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Candy

      What is it about cooking spray and non-stick?

      1. re: sbp

        Never the twain shall meet; the spray bonds to the nonstick in an unholy congress.

        1. re: Karl S.

          Although that is probably good (and undeniably pithy!) counsel, IMNSHO cooking spray is unholy all on its own.

        2. re: sbp

          The propellants in Pam etc. burn very quickly and become bonded to non-stick surfaces. I ruined several skillets before I bothered to read the instructions that came with them.

      2. Crepes really need a crepe pan. If you're not going to do that (a bit rediculous if you are not French), then anything will work ok. Fish is fine without nonstick. Eggs are too, but you have to use lots of fat. I've never tried pancakes on a sticky surface...probably is similar to the crepes--needs fat!

        1. I would LOVE to settle for just one pan but I really think you need at least two. You should have a heavy duty skillet of some kind that you can sear meat on high heat and to get frond (sp) for deglacing. I have a couple of All Clad's and they work fine. Your cast iron skillet can also work. I've tried to fry eggs, pancakes, fish, among other delicate things on the All Clad's and unless I use a lot of fat, the food sticks. (Fish might be ok if you don't flip them too early). Anyway, I reluctantly had to go back to using a nonstick pan for the delicate stuff.

          I had heard that the nonstick coating can give off residue that might be bad for you. Cooking on high heat on a nonstick is really not a good idea either. I bought some really economical nonstick pans and some really expensive nonstick pans. I've found that the cheap ones do a good enough job to make paying a lot of money for nonsticks pans unjustifiable. Eventually, the nonstick surface of all the pans scratch or deteriorate. So, I guess I feel less guilty throwing away a lower priced pan. The expensive pans had better heat conducting material but I didn't want to cook on high heat in nonstick pans anyway..so what was the point. In any case, if you can only buy one nonstick pan, I would suggest a high sided skillet. I buy the one from Costco for about $25 and it's about 14 inches across with a 2 inch side and comes with a glass lid. Not only can you fry eggs, fish, etc in it, you can also cook food with sauces which might be prone to sticking to the pan in it. Finally, it is great to make chow mein with minimum amount of oil and everything comes out great. ok, done with minddump...no wonder my kids say that I am long winded. Margret

          1 Reply
          1. re: Margret
            Epicurious In Fremont

            Looks like you've gotten some great info already. Here's some additional info for you. Hope it helps :)

            Link: http://www.dmaonline.org/fppublic/con...

          2. Based on your stated goals, I personally think that a non-stick pan will serve your needs best and broaden your cooking repertoire more than a SS pan. Non-stick is indispensable for eggs, pancakes, and other wet, sticky things. I can't imagine using my SS for such tasks. Also good when you want to minimize use of oil/butter.

            I'm someone who hates too many pans/pots (it's hard finding space for what I have let alone keeping it all organized!), but find it essential to have 2 non-sticks (10" and 12"). Smaller one for individual omelets, when I'm cooking for one, sauteeing small amount of veggies. Larger pan so that I can make 2 grilled cheese sandwiches, a few fried eggs, or few pancakes at the same time. Great when entertaining. If I had to choose one, I'd go for the 12". Mine are both anodized non-stick from Calphalon but not the pricey line. Got mine from either Linens & Things or Bed, Bath, Beyond for about $20 each. Don't have lids, but I just cover w/ foil when I need a lid. They are both oven-safe and have lasted for about 2 yrs. now and counting...Farberware Millenium was the top non-stick recommended by Cook's Illustrated FWIW.

            For searing fish or meat, your cast iron should be fine w/ a thin layer of oil. If there are times when you need a lid for it, then just cover w/ a piece of foil. Some might disagree, but I sometimes use my non-stick for searing on med. to med-high heat. I try to not abuse my pans, but I'm not at all precious w/ them.

            If you decide to go w/ SS, then don't feel like you have to get "the best." I have one 12" All-Clad saute pan that I like, but sometimes wonder if it was worth the pricetag. Believe CI also did some recent testing on SS pans, but forget which was favored. Good luck...it can be challenging sorting through the choices, marketing, hype, etc.

            1. Given that you already have a cast iron pan (to sear fish in) and show an interest in sticky things like omelettes & pancakes, I would go with a nonstick. I purchased a nonstick All-Clad 5 years ago (about $100 from Bed, Bath & Beyond) and it's perfomed wonderfully and is still going strong with almost daily use. Nice solid weight and substantial *feel* and distributes heat very evenly -so less scorching & gently fries eggs hard or scrambled (produces beautiful *curds*), makes omelettes without browning, easily flipped crepes & pancakes.

              3 Replies
              1. re: petradish

                Aha, you answered my question: a basic nonstick IS a good way to make a crepe. I've been buying into all this hype about THE CREPE PAN. The pan, all holy, which must NOT ever be used to cook anything else. I was skeptical, but when you hear something enough times...

                Okay, a solid nonstick seems like the way to go. Thanks, all!

                1. re: nooodles

                  Crepe pans are neat but not essential. If you ladle your batter into the pan in small amounts and swirl to coat, you'll get good results.

                  1. re: nooodles

                    Yup, agree w/ petradish that special crepe pans are unnecessary. The only benefit that I can tell is that the sides are very low, which aids flipping. So consider getting a non-stick pan that has flared as opposed to straight sides if you plan on making crepes quite a bit.

                    I don't make crepes, but my mom makes the very thin Viet rice flour crepes known as "banh cuon." For such a loose batter, she swears by the super slippery Teflon pans (that aren't anodized) that are cheap in cost and construction. They're light, which makes them easier to lift, and she has one pan that she reserves for that sole purpose.

                2. Interesting and informative article ...

                  Link: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article...

                  1. It may seem crazy to have one pan devoted to crepes, but I wouldn't live without my blue steel crepe pan. I cook crepes, all versions of eggs, naan, Chinese green onion bread, tortillas, pancakes, on my crepe pan. Its low sides are ideal for a variety of food, and some people like to keep a separate pan for cooking eggs and pancakes so that last night's fish dinner doesn't impinge on today's breakfast.
                    Blue Steel is cheap and completely nonstick. I don't mind its maintenance; it cleans up so easily that the extra step of oiling the pan afterwards is miniscule.
                    I have a ceramic cooktop so I actually like the thinner steel pans; they are more responsive. I found that the heavier the pan, the longer it took for water to boil and food never got hot enough to sear. However, if you have gas, a heavy bottomed pan like a cast iron skillet might be more suitable.
                    I would stay away from coated nonstick pans; they eventually stop being nonstick after a while (usually 1 year) and then you have to throw them away. Environmentally they're a terrible idea.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: breadfanatic

                      Well, I am French and I have a dedicated crêpe pan with which we do only crêpes... That's it! We actually do crêpes, let's say 6 to 8 times a year but each time it's a full dinner of crêpes, something like 4-6 salted crêpes (galettes) then 1-2 sweet (suzette) per person...
                      And anyhow I can only recommend to use the great blue-steel crêpe pan from "de Buyer" (which have to be seasoned, but it's just fun to do it...)...

                      1. re: talsalis

                        Can any of you tell me about a source for this blue steel SVP? I'm not familiar with it and it sounds compelling. Merci en avance!

                        1. re: Mawrter

                          They seem to be fairly widely available, and aren't too expensive; I've been thinking of trying one myself. Chef's Catalog carries the DeBuyer line, listed there as "carbon steel"; and as Tim Irvine notes below, Bridge Kitchenware carries the same type of thing but calls them "black steel" frying pans and doesn't specify the manufacturer. Many other online vendors of professional cookware offer them as well; and I've also seen the DeBuyer ones at Zabar's and at Broadway Panhandler, both in NYC.

                          1. re: Mawrter

                            Sur La Table has for quite a few years been selling DeBuyer blue steel crepe pans and regular frying pans. De Buyer also has nonstick pans that Sur La Table sells.

                            1. re: Mawrter

                              Here's a source for "black steel" crêpe pans from Matfer which are less expensive than de Buyer and come in a few sizes. I have a no-name French crêpe pan which I've had for about 30 years. In my experience, an inexpensive French crêpe pan works well and lasts forever.


                        2. In the NY Times, Marian Burros wrote that she'd tossed her non-stick pans because of health concerns and tested a variety of other types. Her favorite was Le Creuset. I inherited a Le Creuset pan that was perhaps 20 years old and the interior was still in fine condition.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: mpalmer6c

                            I gave away my Le Creuset casserole with lid. It was too heavy and I could never get it to clean right.

                            1. re: mpalmer6c

                              Oh - I remember that article. It was good. I share the health concerns and use cast iron and stainless, and a faux Le Creuset enameled cast iron pan from IKEA.

                            2. I would go with a set of all clad stainless steel and one ten inch all clad non-stick. That is exactly what I have and I cook all of the things you mention. My one non-stick pan is perfect. You want the SS because of the terrific sear. Also, the all clad clean up so easily. I have one le creuset dutch oven and I love it. Easy clean up. It is heavy, but it makes me feel like I am cooking in my grandma's kitchen.

                              1. I find this an interesting thread. We've recently bought our first stainless steel frypan and we're very disappointed with it. Food sticks to it. Morning sausages. Fried eggs. Fried potato slices. It looks wonderful but I'd say it's just about a dead loss.
                                Stainless steel for cooking in water perhaps, but not for frying.

                                I'd like to hear more about this 'blue steel' pan. That is just a common steel frypan? If so then perhaps that's the way to go.

                                There's one other option: the enamel pan. Does anyone have any comments on their utility? I had one years ago and if I remember right it had the same problem as this stainless thing - food stuck to it.

                                It is not easy to get to the simple basic facts from the multitude of answers to this thread but perhaps it is fair to say that cast iron is the all round best? Downside being the need to care for it to prevent rusting. Not really so hard once you get the habit.

                                We still use nonstick but I wish we didn't. I found that an old nonstick pan developed very sticky propensities. Old and scratched it was. I'd say it is definite that with age there was some chemical change in the coating that made it react with cooking oil (nearly always peanut oil or butter in our house) to create a very sticky goo. A very sticky goo that frightened me with the possibility of it being harmful.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: abrogard

                                  Stainless is very sticky unless you heat the pan scorching hot, add oil, shimmer it, and then put the food in the pan. And even then it does not season to a 'nonstick' equilibrium.

                                  Blue steel is annealed carbon steel, like a wok but harder due to the heat tempering.

                                  Cast iron is excellent for heat capacity but not very good for conduction. There is a reason people pay a lot of money for good copper pans. Cast iron is probably the best all-around value, however. Just know what you are getting into.

                                  Perhaps you would find the following guide to pan shapes and materials helpful:


                                  I hope this is useful in your decision making process. At the very least it will inform you.

                                  1. re: ttriche

                                    When you heat bright carbon steel (not ss steel) it changes color from sliver to yellow to blue to red. If you cool fast at blue stage, it will keep its blue color. Cool it at the red stage it will turn black. It fact blue helps keeps carbon steel from rusting. Just some infor. from an old blacksmith.

                                    1. re: yakitat jack

                                      I had always wondered - so glad you left that detail!

                                2. Thanks for that. I'll check the URL out directly. Meantime: you mean copper pans as in all copper or as in stainless steel with copper inside as mentioned in this thread?

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: abrogard

                                    Unlined copper can react with foodstuffs and cause toxicity. That is why unlined copper pans are only used for making preserves (sugars seem to discourage the formation of cupric oxides), caramels (again with the sugars), and whipping egg whites (electrostatic interactions encourage slightly fluffier peaks, slightly quicker, than in, say, steel).

                                    Stainless, tin, silver, or nickel lined copper pans are more general-purpose items. I happen to like stainless-lined copper; tin is a soft metal with a low melting point (~465 degrees F), while nickel and silver lined pans are very expensive. I like to sear things very hot. If we were talking about sauce pans or the like, then tin-lined copper would be an eminently reasonable choice. (There was a 9" tin-lined slant-sided sauteuse evasee on eBay recently which weighed almost 6 pounds and sold for only $80... if I did not have a similar pan lined with stainless steel, I would have bought it without hesitation. Think about having a 6-pound cast iron pan that dumps heat into the food 10 times as fast... that's the allure.)

                                    The difference between something like a cast iron pan (huge, even heat reservoir, but slow to conduct and disperse temperature changes) and a similar heavy copper pan (much faster conduction) or aluminum (nearly as nice as copper, but prone to horrible warping) is of interest if you are sauteeing or making sauces, mostly. I doubt you would want to make a delicate sauce in a skillet (maybe deglaze the pan with some wine and reduce it, but no fussy emulsions) but, if you hit a hot pan with cool liquids (eg. wine), aluminum can warp. So for most people, either a cast-iron, steel-clad aluminum, or steel-lined copper skillet (spendy!) makes the most sense, along with a cheap, dedicated nonstick pan for eggs, to be thrown away when it wears out (no sane person is cooking eggs at 500-600 degrees anyways). The material options are listed in ascending order of price, and heavier is always better when you are looking at identical diameter skillets (more even heating).

                                    Hope this helps.

                                  2. I bought an All-Clad frypan and soon dumped it. The grease spots on the sides of the interior I wound up removing with sandpaper.

                                    I recently dumped two nonstick frypans because of health concers that have recently been raised.

                                    So I replaced them with two carbon-steel pans made by a French firm -- the kind used in many restaurants. They work fine.

                                    Marian Burros, the food writer, jettisoned her nonstick pans as well, tried various types, and settled on enameled cast-iron.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: mpalmer6c

                                      Check this out an pass it on if you'd like.
                                      Eat healthy!

                                    2. Someone asked for a source for blue steel...don't know if that is different from black steel, but Bridge is good:


                                      As for the copper with SS vs copper w. tin debate, I came across an interesting assertion about the "burn ring" for sauces on the French Copper Studio website (basically that SS will hold heat well up the sides and, therefore, burn sauces at the top). I tend to make sauces that might be susceptible in tin lined pans or a double boiler; so I cannot verify it. I was glad to note that a poster uses their crepe pan for several different things...makes sense.

                                      Most of my pans are tinned copper, cast iron (no enamel), or black steel. I do have one little SS fry pan (All-Clad), and I can fry eggs just fine in it with a quick spray of Pam or the like... but a scrambled egg will stick and make a hard to clean mess. I am not a fan of non-stick because of the health issue...if it will kill birds it can't be good for me! Also fat tastes good, and most things I cook seem to benefit either from olive oil or a mix of peanut oil and butter.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: tim irvine

                                        "...if it will kill birds it can't be good for me!" sounds like a good reason to get rid of your cats as well!

                                        1. re: tim irvine

                                          Thanks, Tim! I was the one who asked :) ... I've always been curious about Bridge anyhow.

                                          1. re: tim irvine

                                            "...the tin lining the entire inner surface of the pan or pot will become the same temperature as the flame under the pot within a short period of time. Where as, with stainless steel lined copper cookware ( plus all regular stainless steel cookware) will continue to heat up above the liquid line..." From French Copper Studio.

                                            Umm... that's sounds, oh, what's the word? Hoaky! To me. Why would SS contribute to this? Are they suggesting that the thermal mass of SS somehow allows it to gain and store more heat than the bulk of copper around it? I need to get my hands on a tin lined copper pot and put some of these bloody rumors to bed sometime, and see what some experimentation says!

                                          2. Sounds like you need a nonstick to me.

                                            Target now carries a line called something like Green Pan. It's not Teflon-coated. I bought one about a month ago, and I really like the way it cooks and cleans up. Plus I can use it with my bird in the vicinity. Crate & Barrel has this kind of product as well.

                                            1. I would recommend a Le Creuset 11 3/4" enameled cast iron skillet as the best all around fry pan. It has a large enough bottom for crepes, pancakes and bacon. Definitely roomier than the 10 1/4" one. It is heavy though, and no problem for me as a guy. The wife finds it a bit heavy, though. But it is a truly versatile fry pan. If you don't like cooking with butter or other fat, I'd recommend staying with nonstick.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: citizenconn

                                                I wanted to get away from the teflon coated pans. I bought a black enameled 11 3/4" Le Creuset pan, and then I bought what they call their omelette pan. Funny thing is you can not find this on their web site. Heck, I've never found it on any website. It's supposed to double as the lid to one of their pots. It has the sandy brown smooth finish like their other products. I found this pan at the Le Creuset outlet store by my house.

                                                I was having trouble getting my eggs not to stick. And being so conditioned to non stick and being told not to use Pam, I never thought about it. One user suggested to me to use Pam when cooking my eggs. It worked perfectly. I have had to adjust how I cook eggs, but I love the pans now. We cook eggs at least twice a day on these pans and have little trouble with them. I am so glad to have started removing non stick from my life.

                                              2. I think Stainless Steel is the way to go simply because the non stick I think sucks due to the fact it's harder to clean and the stuff that comes off the non stick is not healthy for people. Stainless Steel I think is easier to clean always looks nice no matter what I will gladly spend the little more money for stainless steel, personally always buy stainless steel I think it's more durable, always looks nice versus the non stick looks kind of rubberish, looks cheaper and starts to look awful after a few uses.

                                                1. I love my blue steel crepe pan that I purchased several years ago from Williams Sonoma. Even there, it was cheap--I think about $12 for a pan of about 8 inches diam. I use it for crepes and also, for eggs. It's too small for a batch of pancakes. I find in most ways, it's comparable to cast iron pans I've had with one very important difference: it's much lighter. Now I'd love to find a larger shallow pan or griddle, to replace my heavy cast iron one.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Lgalen

                                                    A Mexican comal might work for you. This the griddle with slight upturned edge for tortillas and such. Traditionally these where pottery; now carbon steel is most common. But be ware that the thinner steel is less forgiving when it comes to uneven heat from the stove.

                                                  2. we have progressively acquired two frypans of french origions; one spun blue steel- thin steel and heats through fast and a much heavier iron one for just about anything. We also have a small cast iron pan from a hardware store which carries a slow heat beautifully for onions and poaching eggs. Never had a non stick - the handles always seem heavier than the pan which is dangerous. Steel pans become non stick with seasoning and use.

                                                    When new, season iron and steel pans with a handful, or more for bigger pans, of coconut threads. heat gently and move around the pan for half an hour untill the threads are black. Heat opens the pores of the steel and the oil goes in. Do every few months. clean with a detergent NEVER IN DISWASHER and some kind of pot scraper -brass or stainless balls of stuff that looks like it comes off a lathe. The objective is to create a smooth patina through regular thorough cleaning and wiping with cooking oil. The extra cost of a steel pan is worth every cent. the french brands you see are unchanged over decades - must be something in that.

                                                    Also steel and iron responds well to accidental overheating - just put it somewhere safe and let it cool! overheat a non-stick and it will be buggered. We often put pans back on the gas ring for a minute after washing to evaporate off water as rust can be a problem. some drops of cooking oil and wipe when hot with a paper towel. I also have a cast iron wok bought from a hardware store in singapore 30 plus years ago - god what a machine.
                                                    Have been told and follw religiously - wait till pan is hot before putting in butter or oil. Last great advantage of steel and iron pans you can use any cooking tools in them, and did you know that the reason you use a brass mesh thing on a handle (go to chinese supermarket / hardware store) for lifting food out of oils in a wok, is that oil will not stick to brass.

                                                    1. Does anyone have anything to say about De Buyer pans? I've been looking at ones on Amazon and they have the mineral steel ones, is that the same as carbon steel?

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: Johnny L

                                                        there was a thread not too long ago about the 'mineral steel' pans. I think the conclusion was that the name was their own, and referred a steel with a high recycled component. The significant difference among different steel lines is the thickness of the steel, not so much the composition. A thicker steel will take higher heat (as on a commercial stove) without warping.

                                                        1. re: Johnny L

                                                          Mineral steel pans are made of recycled carbon steel.

                                                          Here is one of the older thread if you are interested:


                                                        2. To do what you have listed I would go with a non stick round griddle. That being said you really need /should have an omelette pan. I suggested griddle because you can get the pancakes and crepes much easier. I get the Tramontina non stick pans 2 for $25 at sames. Solid thick alluminum and the rubber handles slip of the steel so they can go in the oven. At $12 they are disposable. I'm on the 2nd one. The 1st lasted 6 years.

                                                          1. I find the whole concept of one "all-purpose" pan unsound. If you only make crêpes once a year, as I do, a steel crêpe pan is still the thing to use. They are dirt cheap, last forever, and can be had in exactly the size you prefer. I use a small Teflon-coated aluminum pan for eggs, fried or scrambled, and wouldn't think of using anything else. A cast iron pan is best for a few things. Add one larger skillet of either SS on aluminum, or carbon steel, and you are getting close to "all purpose."

                                                            1. Years ago I posted that stainless steel was no good - burned things - and my comment was in line, I think, with many other people's opinions.

                                                              Well now I'd like to recant.

                                                              We've gone back to using the stainless steel pan.

                                                              There was a simple trick we had to learn - use a low heat. That's all.

                                                              I cook pancakes in it, fried eggs, sausages, omelettes, onions, etc for sauces...

                                                              It has relatively high sides which is good for my purposes - I don't need low sides to flip my pancakes - I turn them with the spatula.

                                                              Non stick is potentially horrible stuff and, I would say, educates you towards becoming a less skilled food preparer (that's what I am, not a 'cook', just a 'food preparer').

                                                              Iron rusts unless you want to become a devotee of the culinary arts or something, which I don't and which I think is the common trend, where most of us are.

                                                              Copper is dangerous, read that on this thread.

                                                              I found enamel made things stick worse than anything else. Don't know what that was about. Haven't got that pan now. Might try again some time but they're rare nowadays.

                                                              Wouldn't use aluminium.

                                                              There's really no choice.

                                                              What about glass? Weren't there some 'glass' frypans at one time?

                                                              20 Replies
                                                              1. re: abrogard

                                                                "What about glass? . . ."

                                                                I have a glass skillet. Also SS, aluminum, Teflon, cast iron, carbon steel, even tin-lined copper. I use them all. None are "horrible" or "dangerous."

                                                                1. re: GH1618

                                                                  Ah, right. Please don't be offended by my way of talking. The dangers of copper I read about here and haven't done any research on it. Took it at face value. Very facile.

                                                                  'Horrible' I apply to non-stick when it begins turning into a strange sticky substance, as one of our non stick pans did. Very yucky and very worrying... what chemical could that be? And what might it do?

                                                                  1. re: abrogard

                                                                    I've never seen a non-stick pan get sticky or otherwise "yucky" so cannot imagine what that would be. They can get scratched, so require careful handling. My non-stick egg pan is used only for eggs (fried or scrambled) at low temperature with silicone utensils. Used this way, it will last indefinitely.

                                                                    Non-stick pans are usually PTFE, which is chemically inert. If a fragment were to separate and be ingested, I expect it would just pass through with no effect whatsoever.

                                                                    I find it amusing that the folks who make body-piercing jewelry are using PTFE because it is "inert, biocompatible, and flexible" as well as "non-stick" (quotations from bodyjewellery.com).

                                                                    1. re: GH1618

                                                                      I suspect the sticky substance might be the residue of cooking spray. Many manufacturers of nonstick pans warn against using it.

                                                                      The following is cut-and-pasted from T-Fal's use and care guide:

                                                                      "Non-stick cooking sprays are not necessary with non-stick
                                                                      cookware. The use of such sprays may create an invisible buildup
                                                                      on the surface of the pan that will affect the pan's non-stick properties."

                                                                      1. re: tanuki soup

                                                                        Never used a cooking spray in my life. Nor anyone else in the house. I can't tell you much about it after all this time but I remember it wouldn't get dry. I would wash the thing and try to wipe it dry and the deteriorating coating on the bottom of the pan would somehow stay damp.

                                                                        'Sticky' is probably wrong, I think, when considering that recollection, because there's no commensurate recollection of the drying cloth being caught in the stickiness of the coating...

                                                                        But it was sticky inasmuch as I couldn't easily get it off no matter what I tried. And it was 'sticky' with regard to water molecules, shall we say.

                                                                  2. re: GH1618

                                                                    I meant to inquire about the glass skillet. How does it work? Good? For what? Everything?
                                                                    Should everyone have one? I tried to google them but couldn't find any. 'glass skillet' just got me skillets with glass lids...

                                                                      1. re: tanuki soup

                                                                        Ahh... Corningware, Pyrex, that's the clue. Thank you for that. Interesting reading their user's comments, too. Looks like extra good stuff. I might move our family over to it.


                                                                        1. re: abrogard

                                                                          " Looks like extra good stuff. I might move our family over to it."

                                                                          Very difficult to cook with, especially pan frying on a vision skillet.

                                                                            1. re: abrogard

                                                                              Oh, the heat conduction is very poor, so there will be significant hot and cold spots. It is not a problem if you want to use a vision to boil water, but it is a problem for frying something. Also, it heats up very slow and cool down very down. On top of that, I think foods readily stick to these vision cookware.

                                                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                Well what a shame. I was thinking they'd be the best. But now I don't think I'll bother to try them...


                                                                      2. re: abrogard

                                                                        My glass skillet is a Pyrex Visions with the waffle bottom surface. It can be found used various places. I have one only through someone else. I don't suppose I would buy one myself, although I do use it now and then. It certainly can't be used for everything, partly because of the bumpy cooking surface. My wife makes a cabbage dish in it, which is probably its main use for us. Its advantages are that it's chemically inert and easy to clean, but the main advantage to me now is that is that it keeps her away from my new All-Clad french skillet, which I keep hidden away in its box when I'm not using it.

                                                                        1. re: GH1618

                                                                          The one Visions pan that I had, a small sauce pan, had a nonstick coating. I still see Visions, or something similar, in Korean groceries.

                                                                    1. re: abrogard

                                                                      "Iron rusts unless you want to become a devotee of the culinary arts or something"

                                                                      :) I don't know. I find iron based cookware (cast iron or carbons steel) to be easier to use than stainless steel surface cookware.

                                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                        When I was living in the bush I had a cast iron pan and it did everything and I thought it was just wonderful. And if I were still doing the same thing I would think so again.

                                                                        But here in the horrible suburbs it is all very different. Too busy for a start. And for a finish, perhaps. Maybe that's the whole story. Too busy. Too busy to even look after a pan.

                                                                        In the bush cooking on a fire on the ground or a wood fire in a hut I would wipe out that pan after use, clean it, grease it, put it away.

                                                                        Now here in the 'burbs' our one iron pan (my wife's mini wok thing) gets washed with everything else in washing up liquid water. And all the grease comes off it. And it dries there on the draining board and begins to rust.

                                                                        No use telling me I should look after it - I don't use it.

                                                                        When I look at it and think to help her out and oil it I wash it and wipe with a tissue and red rust comes off it. I can taste the iron. Dunno when I did that. I know I did it, I know I tasted it but can't remember when, or how. I don't eat that tissue... :)

                                                                        So that's what I meant by the hyperbole about 'devotee...'. If you don't want to take special care it'll rust.

                                                                        And we (let's lump us together, I love my wife) don't want to take special care.

                                                                        And ease of use? What could be easier than washing the SS along with everything else and then putting it up, job done?


                                                                        But yeah. In my bush camp. Iron skillet, Iron frypan, Iron camp oven. Cast iron, that is.

                                                                        1. re: abrogard

                                                                          "Now here in the 'burbs' our one iron pan (my wife's mini wok thing) gets washed with everything else in washing up liquid water."

                                                                          I see.

                                                                          "No use telling me I should look after it - I don't use it."


                                                                          I would actually say that you (lumping your wife and you because you love her) looked after it too much by washing it too cleanly with detergents. I usually just rinse mine with water. When I am busy, I don't even wash my cast iron or carbon steel cookware and leave them on my stovetop, and the residual oil/grease kept them relatively rust free.

                                                                          "And ease of use? What could be easier than washing the SS along with everything else and then putting it up, job done?"

                                                                          Yeah, washing stainless steel is pretty easy. I was thinking more in the line that it is easier to cook with cast iron/carbon steel cookware than stainless steel cookware because food do not easily stick to seasoned iron cookware.

                                                                          1. re: abrogard

                                                                            A cast iron pan is certainly versatile, and if I could only have one pan, that might be it. But I wouldn't say it would do for "everything." To do fried chicken, one of the best uses of cast iron, you're going to need a larger size. Now suppose you want to make crêpes. The pan will be larger than the desired crêpe size, so it won't hold the batter to a uniform size, and it will be too heavy (and improperly shaped) to flip the crêpe with the pan. I'm not saying you can't make a crêpe in a large cast iron pan, but it would require a compromise, and an unnecessary one in my opinion.

                                                                            1. re: GH1618

                                                                              Yep. Well it will 'do for everything' - "At a pinch". i.e. if it must. So would anything else, I guess. You don't have to flip your crepes. You don't have to fry a whole chook at once. And so on.

                                                                              Or, to put it another way: nothing will 'do for everything'. All depends how you slice it, eh?

                                                                              The opener for the thread was asking the |".... best all purpose frypan...." and I think I'd have to go for the cast iron, though it is not what I'd use at home - because at home I don't need to.. I've got more options.

                                                                              And second best I'd go for stainless steel.

                                                                              That's my ten cents worth.


                                                                        2. re: abrogard

                                                                          I once had a glass fry pan - years ago. One morning, I was frying a pork chop in it and it suddenly split three ways. That was the end of glass cookware for me. Probably just a flaw in that one but I was cured.

                                                                        3. Wow! This thread keeps going and going. Obviously everyone is passionate about their frying pans. And rightfully so because this kitchen basic is used daily. So to answer the original question, most of us who like to cook own more than one kind of frying pan, and I own most of the ones that have been listed in this thread:
                                                                          A Lodge cast-iron skillet
                                                                          Two stainless steel skillets with lids (10-inch and 12-inch)
                                                                          A DeBuyer blue steel crepe pan
                                                                          Two nonstick frying pans (10-inch and 12-inch) (The 10-inch is a "Green" nonstick)
                                                                          A carbon steel wok

                                                                          Now if I had to minimize my collection I guess I would get rid of the stainless steel pans and keep the lids. SS is very easy to clean (Barkeeper's Friend works on stubborn stains) but food tends to stick on SS the most. Also both my SS pans have warped and won't sit properly on the stovetop. All of my pans are useful for different purposes and I like them all for different reasons. All of my pans were relatively inexpensive and I've picked them up at TJ Maxx, Marshall's, or Ross, with the exception of the crepe pan, which was under $20 at Sur La Table many years ago. So you don't have to spend a lot of money to have a collection of good workhorse pans, and several of them, e.g., the Lodge cast-iron skillet, carbon steel wok, or the blue steel crepe pan, will last you a lifetime and you'll never need to replace them.

                                                                          1. Hi All,
                                                                            I’ve been reading a lot on this site about carbon pans. I’m a die-hard cast iron fan and was looking for something to replace them, or at least coexist in my heart and my kitchen.

                                                                            Most of my favorite kitchen things came from my Grandparents, and run from well worn kitchen and paring knives to a copper/tin stove top coffee percolator. But as Summer approaches fast here in SE Michigan, I’ve been dreading the heat sinks that cast iron are best known for and appreciated during the winter. In my house still, as was until all too briefly was most common throughout our great country, it’s the warmest and most occupied room in my house.

                                                                            So inspired by the wonderful posts I’ve read, I mustered up the courage to walk into a local blacksmith shop to see if I could get my 8” Magnalite pan duplicated in carbon steel. To my pleasant surprise, the answer was “Yes”.

                                                                            Ladies and Gentlemen, I walked into another world. I had never seen so many hammers and vises and large pieces of steel in countless shapes in my life, or at least since I was last at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn. I meekly presented my beloved frying pan and asked if it would be possible to have on e made w/o costing an arm or leg. The man took the pan twirling it around, handed it to his teenaged son, who intensely examined it, and turning back to me, simply smiled and said softly, “yes”.

                                                                            My heart sunk a little as all I could think was “Oh no! This is going to cost a fortune”, but I bravely continued without committing to anything before we settled on a price. I knew from reading the posts here I could sound like I knew something. The man led me to his office, his son in tow behind us, where we chatted and he sketched. Five minutes later, I was looking at a charcoal rendering of my idea. Now my heart really sunk. “How much I asked?”. “Mmmm”, he said slowly “…is $45 out of line? It will be handmade to your specifications instead of being coldly stamped out of an offshore factory.” I agreed.

                                                                            Some of you may scoff at such a price, but I rationalized that it would be truly hand crafted just for my. His son started back to the shop asking “how big Dad?” Humourously, the man held out his hands saying “about this much”, and the boy was gone. The man invited me to coffee, set up an espresso machine, pointed to a remarkable library full of art books, and just a quickly joined his some.

                                                                            I waited for the coffee, grabbed the safety glasses and ear plugs the Smith offered, and walked back into the studio. I understand blacksmith shops are called “smithys”, but it was more like an artist’s studio.

                                                                            I wish I could explain all the things that happened before my eyes. I expected smoke and fire and noise was to be seen around the artisans, but they both were away from the forge. The speed at which the father and son worked was amazing. Hammers, wood forms, a gawd awful racket from a large hammering machine, and there was my pan, not yet done, but it was my Magnalite in steel minus a handle. The man inspected the pan while the son quickly made a handle asking me if what he’d done was alright. I just nodded and smiled.

                                                                            Once more I watched two sets of arms work around each other as if they’d done so all their lives. More noise, sparks from a hand polishing machine, and it was done. I then noticed my coffee was only half gone and was not yet cold. Had I stood there and stared?! No matter! There was my pan, MY hand made pan.

                                                                            I’ve always been an art fan and enjoy many art forms. But to see firsthand the creation of what I now view as an art object to be used in my kitchen, where I’m reminded of my Grandmothers hands on their well worn things, is something indeed. And when I use my new pan, made by hand, and cook by hand, using tools worn by absent hands, I just smile.

                                                                            Thanks to you all for inspiration to seek out a new “kitchen gadget”. I certainly have another story to tell my kids when they cook and use their Great-Grandmothers things to cook. Now we need some pizza pans to go with the old rolling pins, haha.
                                                                            Best regards and happy cooking, Beth.

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: MumsKitchen

                                                                              Mums, that is an awesome story! It made me wonder if there is anywhere near me that I could have something similar done. I live very near the Smoky Mountains (Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Sevierville) where we there are many artists of all types, maybe that would be a good place to start!

                                                                              1. re: MumsKitchen

                                                                                I to am in SE Michigan. Could you tell me the name of the blacksmith you went to?

                                                                              2. I used to be a die-hard cast iron fan, but after the scare on iron, etc. on Dr. OZ, I decided that maybe I should switch to stainless! So I put my 3 beloved cast pans on the shelf and dug out the stainless pan that came with our set of pots. The first few times were disastrous, everything stuck to the pan. One lady told me not to use high heat, that didn't work! So back on-line to check this out further, I had watched 2 chefs making omelets at a hotel restaurant and they had no problem using stainless. I figured there had to be something on-line to help me out, just watched the clips from actual chefs, there are a few videos by people that should probably not be allowed to cook or use a video cam!
                                                                                Made crepes this morning following what I had learned, heat the pan to nice and hot, then drizzle on some oil and let is distribute over the whole pan, once the whole pan is covered and the oil is starting to smell (but not burn) from the heat, pour in the batter, let it cook, don't play with it until most of the top is no longer liquid, the crepe should slide about in the pan, take the spatula and flip it! Voila, beautiful crepes and no sticking, always add a little oil before the next crepe. Now for eggs and regular pancakes...

                                                                                1. I have tried carbon steel, cast-iron and nonstick pans and woks. I have recently switched over to an enameled cast-iron wok (the interior is enameled). By far, this is the easiest to use and to avoid the perceived problems with iron. I use it on an induction cooktop and it heats up quickly and is virtually nonstick (though somewhat less effective then true nonstick coatings). When, on occasion some food is stuck on a simple soaking in hot water solves the problem and all that is needed is a kitchen sponge. On occasion, it will stain (one man's stain is another man's patina) but any such stains are cosmetic and easy to remove. Just rub some salt and with lemon juice using a paper towel and the stains disappear. Another easier way is simply to cook tomato-based dishes and the stains will disappear.

                                                                                  These type pans are easier to keep clean and maintain than any other type I have tried and they cook very well indeed and do not need to be replaced every year as with 'non-stick'.

                                                                                  1. In two years, I have been through three alleged "non-stick" fry pans. I followed all the rules. Low heat, no metal on them, Let cool and hand wash. All of it. They all started out beautifully. After two months, they were all starting to stick and, in six months, Unuseable. Even something as simple as scrambled eggs with cheese in them. The cheese, no doubt, caused the sticking. With the last one, even the bit of of cooking oil that was recommended burned.

                                                                                    No more. I am now on a hunt for an old-fashioned stainless or aluminum fry pan. Food may stick and I may have to work at cleaning it up. But, at least, I was not told it would not stick.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: HazelM

                                                                                      properly used traditional cookware will not cause sticking problems - yes you need to use fat, you need to preheat and you need to be patient and wait for release but your cleanup and "stickage" should be minimal. This morning I made my eggs in a 70 year old cast iron skillet - no cheese or eggs stuck to the pan - the surface is a shiny glossy black the only clean up needed was a paper towel. "Non Stick" is a waste of time IMO. You will be happier with results on your new traditional cookware no matter what material you choose as long as you use it correctly - and hey if you do get stick, which happens to the best of us (user error every time for me, usually impatience) at least you can scrape and scrub without worrying about ruining your pan.

                                                                                    2. CHANTEL. Made in German.

                                                                                      I have look and look for years for the perfect frying pan and this scores beyond my expectations.

                                                                                      Expensive but WELL worth every single penny. I can't believe the only people who know how to make a good pan are the Germans. Well they make good cars so why not cookware?

                                                                                      Anyway this is the ultimate pan. I was so upset when I found my husband messing with my new pan. I handed him my other new pan by Caphalon and told him to stay away from my baby........

                                                                                      So I truly fell in love with this pan. Again I have search for years and tried every pan you can think of.

                                                                                      And know I don't work for anyone other than myself. Maybe I should call this company and ask for a job? :)