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Frying pan suggestions?

Hi everyone!

So i love to cook but i'm not as "smart" about cooking as I probably should be! I seem to keep killing my frying pans and I don't think i'm getting bad oens. I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong.

So here's my question... if I were to buy a frying pan for say under $60 which would you recommend and what is the proper way to treat/maintain it?

I currently have anodized (spelling?) pots and pans and they look like they've been through hell and back. Before then I used to get the ones with teflon. I'm thinking maybe I should try the stainless steel ones?

Thanks for your suggestions! Which ever type i get next I plan to try to take really good care of them!

Oh... also, I like to fry fish, sautee stuff, and cook omlettes etc. I'm not sure if that affects which I should get but thougth it might be worth pointing out.

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  1. The biggest killer of cookware is dishwasher detergent. This is why many manufacturers recommend handwashing. Have you been using the dishwasher??

    Now, it is possible to wash most cookware in the dishwasher, but you need to use a special kind of detergent (something without phosphorus, I think) and watch the water and drying temperature. Even so, cast iron, copper, and steel should never be put in the dishwasher because prolonged exposure to moisture causes oxidation or rust. (Also, the dishwasher will wash the pans so well they will wash away the seasoning.)

    I recommend a carbon steel frying pan. They are about $30, depending upon the size. They can get hot enough to give you a good sear, but properly seasoned, will be as non-stick as you can get for omelets and fish. (Keep in mind that there *may* be a residual taste in your egg dishes. Some people have this problem and some do not. If you find that your egg dishes taste a little of last night's dinner you can scrub the pan with a bit of salt, or what the heck, by a pan for eggs alone.) You need to properly care for your pan--you must season it before the first use and always handwash it and NEVER put it away even damp. (If it does rust, you can scrub it away, though.)

    1. I agree with E_M. I don't know how long you have been using your anodized aluminum pan, but anodized cookware do not play well with many dishwasher detergent. Maybe that is why your pans are dying on you. Among the typical cookware material, stainless steel can handle an automatic dishwasher the best.

      A carbon steel pan is an excellent choice since it can handle high heat and be relatively nonstick. It does require more care. You will need to season the pan and keep it in good shape, but if you don't mind a little care here and there, it is wonderful. Again, you cannot put that in a dishwasher.

      Unlike nonstick Telfon pans and anodized pans, it is possible to regenerate a carbon steel seasoning surface.

      1. A third "aye" for carbon steel. Keep a smaller one just for omelets and crepes and never wash it, just wipe it.

        1. a fourth waving here.

          Though I must admit I'm spoilt here for having everything - stainless steel, carbon steel, and non-stick. When I have to deal with liquid I take the stainless steel out because I really don't want any of the seasoning in my food. I take out the carbon steel when it's dry searing, sometimes eggs. Teflon is reserved for super sticky stuff like gnocchi and pancake.

          1. rchlst: "if I were to buy a frying pan for say under $60 which would you recommend and what is the proper way to treat/maintain it?"

            I am not going to disagree with the earlier responders whi suggest a carbon steel pan. But I would never put a carbon steel pan in the dishwasher (those who have recommended carbon steel have said the same thing).

            Now, let me suggest something exactly double your price point -- and explain why it is worth more than double your price point. Here is the suggestion:


            Yes, it is twice what you are prepared to pay. But it is dishwasher safe (we can attest to that from personal experience over many many years) and it is da*ned near indestructible by ANYTHING. In fact, it comes with a ten year warranty.

            Now, before you protest that what you want is a frypan and not a pressure cooker, let me assure you that this IS a frypan, one that just happens to come with an accessory trick lid. But you never need to use the trick lid to make it earn its keep as a frypan -- it is superb "just" as an open top frypan/*, as good as any frypan out there, with a sandwich bottom that will spread heat more evenly than a carbon steel frypan will.
            /*It also is a standard diameter, and there is a good chance that some of the lids that you have for your other pots will work on it, as well.

            And then there is (extra bonus) the trick lid. With the trick lid on (and a simple trivet inside the frypan, you can steam a halved artichoke above (not in) the water at a higher wet temperature than you can boil the artichoke, in half the cooking time -- and the water comes out clear, not green, as it does when you boil the artichoke, because all of the nutrients stay in the artichoke instead of going into the water. Same with corn on the cob.

            The K-R frypan has a "waffle" inside bottom that is not non-stick, but it does clean up more easily than smooth surface stainless pans do -- and it DOES go in the dishwasher.

            It may be more than you think you can spend; we understand. But do not dismiss the concept out-of-hand.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Politeness

              Cool Thanks everyone!

              Is there a way to revive my anodized pans? and what does seasoning mean? I'm so ignorant!! sorry :-)

              1. re: rchlst


                Can you tell us what you anodized pan looks like? This way we may guess what damage is done to it. If the pan's black exterior turns into silver color (especially on the side of the pan as opposed to the bottom), then the oxidized layer has been removed. I have once read that a person used "Easy Off" on his/her anodized pan and badly damage the pan. Bad idea. Usually, there is not a lot to do if the anodized layer is removed.

                Seasoning is basically polymerizing oil on cookware material like carbon steel and cast iron. You do so by heating oil on the cookware, especially the cooking surface. You can read about its detials in various online website including this.

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  Well it's discolored on the cooking surface (anything from black to grey) and it's all scratched up. I don't use a knife on it of anything but it looks like i have. I do have metal utensils but part of why i got the anodized pans is that they said that you could use metal utensils on them...

                  Thanks for your help!!!

              2. re: Politeness

                I just clicked on the link and got their home page. Could you repost please? Sounds interesting. Can I assume it's induction compatible?

                1. re: c oliver

                  c oliver: "I just clicked on the link and got their home page."

                  I assume you directed that post to me, and about my link to Abe's of Maine's page for the Kuhn Rikon model 3346 2.5 liter frypan. After reading your post, I clicked on my own August 16 link above, and -- the page has, indeed, vanished. Kuhn-Rikon's own page for that item is here: http://www.kuhnrikon.com/products/pre...

                  The best current price I can find now with a quick search for that 2.5 quart frypan is that at The Kitchen Clique: http://www.kitchenclique.com/3346.html

                  However, for a bit higher initial outlay, Kuhn-Rikon offers the Duromatic Duo set, which is a slightly smaller (2 quarts instead of 2.5 quarts) version of the frypan plus a 5.25 quart pot and a second (non-pressure glass) lid and a purpose-made trivet, all of which add up to a bargain. http://www.kuhnrikon.com/products/pre... You probably can locate on-line retailers who offer a discount from the suggested retail price on the Duromatic Duo set.

                  We do use our (2 quart) Kuhn Rikon frypan on our induction cooktop. It has a thick magnetic plus aluminum disk on its base that serves to spread the heat very evenly. When we use the pot in pressure-cooking mode, the instantaneous response of induction allows us to regulate the pressure much more closely than we ever could with electric resistive or gas, which had been the main issue inhibiting our use of pressure before we had an induction cooktop.

                  However, as I did in my earlier post, I wish to emphasize that the worth of a pot as a simple frypan is not dependent upon its second identity as a pressure cooker. It performs flawlessly as a plain old frypan -- and it can go straight into the dishwasher afterward.

              3. I've also been "smartening" up about how I cook and with what. Here are my $.02 based on recent experience.

                !) You can get a cast iron pan (like the ones from Lodge) for pretty cheap. These are black and will need a little maintenance. They are not for the dishwasher and it is recommended that you not use soap in them (but I do and haven't found anything wrong with doing so). This is because the oil you cook with will polymerize in them (basically, when the metal heats up, it expands, and some of the oil will "bake" in the metal creating a smoother and harder texture over time - this is what "seasoning" means). They say don't use soap so that these oils don't get washed away. These pans are very good for high heat stuff (you can get them smokin hot and throw a dry steak in there and end up with a great crust on the steak). They also go in the oven/broiler at any temp - no problem. They become more and more non-stick over time as the seasoning builds. The downside to them is that they are heavy and you can't put anything acidic in them (acidic things will react with the metal and leach iron). However, as the seasoning builds over time, many people do cook acidic things in them (tomato sauce, wine, etc) with no problem. Also, for some people who are low in iron, it is sometimes recommended they cook in these pans for a little extra boost in iron. The other issue with them is that you might get a residual flavor in them (they're pretty cheap, so i have one dedicated for fish, one for eggs and another for everything else). As far as maintenance, you will have to make sure the pan is dry before putting it away (so it doesn't rust) - maybe even slightly oiling the pan before putting it away.

                2) Carbon Steel is another material that seasons well and can tolerate high heat. It's the same material used in woks. But the fry pan versions, like the ones from De Buyer, are heavy in weight. These pans season really quickly - which means you'll have a pretty non-stick pan just about the first time you use it (they recommend you boil potato peelings in it prior to the first time using it - don't know why this works, but it does). These also go in the oven. They're EXCELLENT for really high heat searing and also for more delicate jobs (this material is often used for crepe pans). The maintenance on these is similar to the cast iron - no dishwasher, dry right away, add a touch of oil and smush it around the pan with a paper towel before putting it away.

                3) Stainless steel (clad or disk bottomed). I know there's an All-Clad promotion going on right now with their 12 inch fry pan (including a lid!). I've seen it in a couple of different stores for $90. I know this is more than your budget, but it's a GREAT price for this pan and it's a very good pan. It can go in the oven and also in the dishwasher. You can sear in it, but I wouldn't go as high of a temperature as I would with the cast iron or carbon steel (sometimes stainless steel can warp - this doesn't mean you end up with a warped "looking" pan - this just means it might angle ever so slightly so that if you put one tablespoon of oil in the pan on your stovetop, you might notice the oil ever so slightly leaning to one side). A pan like this is also really good at fond development (caramelized protein on the bottom of the pan after shallow frying). This is especially important if you want to deglaze the pan after frying in it (add something acidic, like wine, scrape up the browned bits of fond, let it reduce a little and voila, you have pan sauce!) The All Clad pan I just described is just that - all clad. What this means is that there are two layers of stainless steal (the outer and inner) sandwiching a center of aluminum. The clad part means that the entire pan has this sandwiching (the sides and the bottom). The aluminum is needed because stainless steel is a bad conductor of heat and aluminum is a very good conductor. They put the stainless because aluminum can react with foods while stainless does not (there are no limitations as to what you can cook on a stainless steel surface). Disk bottomed pans have the aluminum only on the bottom of the pan. This is ok too, but some have found that if the disk doesn't extend all the way to the edges of the pan, that the food inside the pan along the unprotected edge can scorch.

                I recommend you think about what foods you'll be cooking the most and how you'll be doing them. If the weight of the pan is another issue for you, that's something to take into consideration as well.

                Sorry for the rant, please let us know what you decide and how you like it and happy cooking!

                1. The new Cook's Illustrated said that if you're going to get a teflon pan, get T-Fal as opposed to any expensive ones like All-Clad. The teflon lasts longer, and it will be inexpensive to replace after it wears out.

                  1. I haven't tried carbon steel but I do like cast iron (Le Creuset outlet store on sale). It is great for everything. It is dishwasher proof but I wash by hand and still looks like new. No seasoning required. Big advantage Cast iron retains the heat ideal for browning and searing. It is so good I bought a second.

                    Heavy quality stainless is very good and I have a small copper. pan which heats up instantly (also looses heat quickly unlike cast iron).

                    I don't like Teflon for all the health scares - I have a set of Teflon coated pots (a gift) which I am trying to phase out.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Mistral

                      Wow ! Thank you everyone!! That was exactly the type of invo I was looking for!

                      I'd love to get some le creuset pots/pans but don't know that I can afford those. I think i might go for the stainless steel. I cook mostly fish and steaks so the searing and deglazes options are a nice perk! I also like to sautee vegetables... I could do that in a stainless steel pot right?

                      So when buying a stainless steel pot... i need to look for it to say "all clad" ?


                      1. re: rchlst

                        All Clad is a very solid choice. Although I am sure a few people will tell you that you can get even better than All Clad, and a lot of people will tell yout he much cheaper Tramontina triply cookware are just as good.


                        Just search "Tramontina" on this website and you will not read a bad thing about it. I don't own it though.

                        1. re: rchlst

                          rchlst: "So when buying a stainless steel pot... i need to look for it to say 'all clad' ?"

                          You either did not read, or you summarily dismissed, my post upthread. If you can pay the purchase price of an All Clad, you can purchase a Kuhn-Rikon Duromatic.

                          Just for its functionality as a frypan, if I am given the choice between an All Clad stainless frypan and a Kuhn-Rikon Duromatic stainless frypan, I choose the Kuhn Rikon.

                          Given the choice one thousand times between an All Clad frypan and a Kuhn-Rikon Duromatic frypan, I choose the Kuhn-Rikon Duromatic one thousand times.

                      2. I swear by my ScanPans. Actually by my son's second generation ScanPans which I bought for him as a college graduation gift. I love my first gen ScanPans but the 2nd gen is even better. First gen was sort of stick resistant; 2nd gen are truly non-stick. I dry fry tofu in them with no problems (no oil, just nekkid tofu).

                        They can't be put in the dishwasher, you can't store food in them, and you need to clean them while they are still hot to keep stuff from building up over time. This basically consists of sticking them under cold (yes, cold) running water, and then whatever is in them just slides right out.

                        You can absolutely use metal utensils in them. There may eventually be visible scratches but the nonstick coating goes all the way through the pan so no problem. My son's bachelor roommates piled cast iron pans inside his Scan pans with no damage to the Scanpans.

                        When making dosai (a kind of east Indian crepe) I use little to no oil, and when I take one dosai out I just take a damp lintfree cloth, swipe the inside of the skillet, and voila, all the stuff and whatnot wipes right out and I can start the next dosai in a totally clean, residue-free pan.

                        They do not warp when rinsing them under running water. They have a lifetime guarantee (keep your receipt and follow care instructions!). Admittedly the water here doesn't come out of the pipes freezing cold but it's cooler than room temp anyway and as per manufacturer recommendations this (sticking the still hot pan under running water) has effectively kept any residue from building up for the 4 years that he has had them.

                        Oh yeah, and they are oven safe up to 500F, though I think the glass lids aren't. The pans are for sure though.

                        I swear by 'em. As soon as possible I intend to replace my Gen1s with Gen2s.