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10 or 12 inch skillet?

I really want to know what people think is more versatile, a 10 inch or a 12 inch skillet? I know it would depend on what you're cooking and how many you're cooking for, but which do you find most useful to you? I want to buy some non-stick as well as cast iron pans to cook up anything from bacon and eggs to stir fry to pancakes.

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  1. I was thinking about this the other day. 12" makes more sense overall. We're only 2 in our house, so you'd think a 10" would be fine, right? But in fact, it isn't.

    Frequently you need the extra space around the food you cook for many things. For instance in frying/sauteeing. If you squeeze to many items into the pan, you wind up with too much condensation forming and the food won't cook properly. With a larger pan, the steam has a chance to evaporate and therefore, the sauteeing/panfrying process is achieved properly.

    The 10" is fine for other uses, but they really have been problematic for such things as cutlets, etc.

    I have way too many pans which are too small and I really need to start investing in larger ones. I have non-stick, cast iron and stainless steel in all sizes tho. I find each of them have their pluses and minuses for various uses.

    BTW, I have a dedicated non-stick for eggs. I don't cook anything else in it - ever. Not a scratch on it. I'm fanatical about that pan :-)

    1. Consider getting a 12" as well as an 8" for smaller jobs.

      1. I use a 12" with sloped sides most of the time. I have a 10" Berndes with straighter sides that I may use once a month. We are a household of 2.

        1. I agree with going for the 12" - more room when sauteeing, especially if you want leftovers - we're also a household of two.

          1. Definitely a 12". I have a 12" and an 8". Now I want a 10", just for a few other jobs, but I use the 12" all the time, even for just the two of us.

            1. If you're serious about cooking, go for different kinds... different styles (cast iron, non-stick, stainless) will do different things for different items. There's no single skillet that can do everything that you want. I'd recommend looking for cast iron. It will give versatility and a non-stick surface after a good seasoning.

              1. I like the 10 inch for fritattas-the 12 inch is good for sauteing

                1 Reply
                1. re: marlie202

                  I'm similar--I have a 10 inch that I use for fritatte and for tarte tatin, and I think that's about it. I have a 12 inch fry pan that I use almost every day. If I had to get one other pan, I would probably get another 12 inch!

                2. I just got the Lodge 10" cast iron for skillet breads and cakes, because that seemed to be what's called for in a lot of those recipes. But I'm so tired of things going over the sides of my regular 10" skillet and can't afford anything fancy, I was going to get the 12" Lodge, but now I'm considering the Lodge 13.25". But maybe that's TOO big. Any opinions on that, anyone? But definitely get something 12" or over for cooking a variety of dishes.

                  1. It's just my pup and I but I love my 10.25" Sitram Cybernox, my 14" calphalon, and my 8" Swiss Diamond (great for a tortilla espanola and frittata's). I only use the 14" when making food for more than 2 people. If you already have a 10" then buy the 12". Try and stay away from teflon coated pans because of the possible negative health effects over the longterm.

                    1. My other half and I couldn't live without our 14" All-Clad LTD Stir Fry with the optional lid. It's a pricey $150 or so, but we use it just about everyday and it's virtually indestructible.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: zigzag

                        What do you mean about the optional lid for the stir-fry pan? Is there a 14" lid made for that pan by All-Clad?

                      2. Okay the question was about 10" or 12" and I prefer the 12" non-stick for most jobs. I also have and use with regularity cast iron 8" (corn bread and the occasional solo omelette) 10" chicken fryer and larger corn breads and 14" big chicken fryer and other large items. Also have several saute pans in 12" 10" 2- 8" sizes and 2 1 qt sizes. Some are sloped sides and some straight sided. Can you have too many? Not in my kitchen.

                        1. I find that with my 12" cast iron the centre gets much hotter than the perimeter. I just got a new pre-seasoned Lodge and the eggs this morning really stuck. Does anyone else have problems with eggs sticking? I used lots of coconut oil in the pan.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: garlicscapes

                            The pre-seasoning of a new Lodge pan isn't enough to prevent sticking with something as sticky with eggs. You need to season it yourself and then season it after each use, heating oil (after you cleaned it with water only) to develop it's non-stick potential.

                            1. re: SouthernHoo

                              Ditto about the pre-seasoning. Not sure coconut oil is a great choice for eggs, but not sure it's a problem (I know it is ideal for popcorn). My advice is to keep the heat moderate and let the pan get good and hot, then add the oil. You shouldn't need a lot, just enough to coat the surface.

                              Also, CI likes to be heated on the perimeter to avoid hot spot in the middle. Match the flame to the pan.

                            2. re: garlicscapes

                              Normal sized hobs with a 12" pan can be problematic but can be improved with slower preheating of cast iron as the material retains long term heat so well.

                            3. I've gotten wonderful All-Clad stainless pans on e-bay and think they're worth spending more on. Larger is never worse than smaller. I particularly like having their deeper saute pan, but use them all.

                              1. I'd say it also depends on the weight. Depending on use, 12" cast iron gets to be heavy. I can lift a good deal of weight but I still find myself picking up the lightest one except when I need the extra area.

                                1. No question about it: 12" all the way if your household has at least two members. Though 10" is fine if you don't mind making multiple batches, or cooking with portion control in mind.

                                  1. If your stove can heat up a 12 inch evenly, 12 inch is the way to go. In fact my 13 inch skillet get used more than any other pans I have. In most cooking situations, you can workaround the problem of having too big a pan but the same is not true if your pan is too small.

                                    1. I have a 12" Cast Iron skillet with high walls, as well as a shallower 12" Le Creuset. I mostly cook only for 2, and I use both these pans all the time. A 10" might seem more convenient only occasionally, and IMHO, owning a 10" would not be worth the expense or the extra room in my cabinet. I considered purchasing a 10" recently, simply because I don't own one and wondered if I should. I decided against it.

                                      1. I couldn't decide....that's why both (both Griswolds) live on my stove top.

                                        1. I have 8, 10 and 12". The 8 is really useful for small jobs like toasting spices and nuts or the occasional dinner for one but the 12" is usually too big. I'm glad I have it, but it's always the 10" when it's just the two of us. The 12 is just too big to wrestle with unless I really need to.

                                          1. I have 8", 10", 12" carbon steel skillet and a 11" non stick. The set of 8" 10" and 12" stack well together. I am very happy that I have all 4 of them because I use them all regularly for meals for 2.