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Dec 7, 2010 12:54 AM

Nonstick Skillets - Comparative Reviews

So many nonstick skillets our there, that I need a good source for choosing among them. The America's Test Kitchen publications seemed to offer just that - they describe rigorous tests they put cookware through, and explain their rankings in objective terms. So I've relied on them.

But their recommendations for inexpensive nonstick skillets are constantly changing, and in one case they've directly contradicted themselves. The Simply Calphalon Nonstick 12-inch Omelette Pan was the top recommendation in Cook's Country, April 2008:

"Oven-safe to 400 degrees. this pan performed well, thanks in part to its light weight and the even, gentle slope of the sides. The "nicely angled" handle stayed cool, the latest model’s addition of a silicone grip lends added comfort. This pan has a relatively small capacity. $50.00"

But in a PDF from the Cooks Illustrated site dated March 2007 - a year earlier - the same pan is Not Recommended:

"Neither chicken nor onions browned sufficiently; fish was more successful. On the whole, it was outperformed by cheaper pans."

So the same test kitchen promoted the same pan from Not Recommended to Recommended almost immediately and without explanation.

I got one and it was OK for a year or so, but the hard-anodized aluminum surface wasn't that slick to start with and is pretty much shot, so I'm in the market again for a nonstick skillet. But which to choose? For lack of a better guide, I turned to America's Test Kitchen again.

In the last issue of Cooks Illustrated, a rating of inexpensive nonstick skillets seems to promise a comparison of the new pans with the Calphalon, but does no such thing, while the comparison with the expensive All-Clad nonstick is useless to me. Besides, the winning skillet, T-FAL Professional Total Nonstick Fry Pan (12.5 inches), apparently doesn't exist. T-FAL's web site offers a line called Professional and another called Signature Total, but none called Professional Total. Cooks Illustrated lists a source for a Professional Total pan, www., but the site lists no such fry pan but a sauté pan which is apparently not the same thing..

The confusion is reflected in Cooks Illustrated's own bulletin board:

So depite all the blowing of its own trumpet, ATK is not the reliable guide it purports to be, at least not on nonstick skillets. But I need some serious and reliable comparative review to guide me through the jungle of competing nonstick skillets. Can anybody recommend a better one?

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  1. I dont have a review site or guide to offer, but you should be your own judge. Non-stick aluminum from a restaurant supply can be very inexpensive and wouldnt suggest paying more than 30 or 40 bucks tops for a pan that will require replacement every year or two depending on how hard it gets used. Vollrath makes good restaurant grade cookware, the non-stick line with the tri-vent handles is quite nice. Find a restaurant supply and get your hands on some different pans ;)

    If you pefer the more conventional route of consumer cookware, try amazon for reviews. There is a lot of good information there, but you might have to muck through some heavilly opinionated reviews to get the feedback you crave

    1 Reply
    1. re: cannibal

      I appreciate your response but I'm sorry, it just isn't helpful. Nobody can be their own judge of a product before they buy, can they? Especially one that's supposed to work well over an extended period. And I certainly don't want to throw my money away in a trial-and-error pursuit of a better nonstick skillet than the Simply Calphalon pan I bought on CI's recommendation. User reviews of individual products on Amazon or wherever don't fill the bill.

      No, what I need is a formal comparison based on purposeful testing, in place of ATK's which I can't trust any more. Maybe someone else knows where we can find such a thing?

    2. It's not comparative, but here is some review information on the Swiss Diamond 8" pan that I conveyed in an earlier thread:

      As you will read, I'm a nonstick hater--Ive actually looked for reasons to throw it out. But this pan does a good job (much better than any other PTFE pan I've owned), provides extremely even heat, and has been very durable even under metal utensils and DW use. It was a gift to me, so I do not know, but I think it is in the $100 price range.

      1. ATK has messed up a few reviews.

        Are you looking true nonstick Teflon cokware? Or are you looking for semi-nonstick cookware? The reason I asked is that there are many cookware claimed to be long lasting, but they tend to be semi-nonstick instead of the usual nonstick you may be famaliar with. Also what is your price range? There are $15 - $150 nonstick pans.