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Aug 29, 2011 03:18 AM

Thinking to conduct a "frying pan shoot-out" -- seeking advice

Hi, guys:

I just received a de Buyer Prima Matera frying pan from the USA today. It's an induction-capable copper frying pan -- 1.8-mm copper layer on the outside, 0.2-mm stainless steel layer on the inside, and a 1.0- to 1.5-mm-thick magnetic steel base fused to the bottom to make it work on an induction cooktop. (See the first two pictures below.)

If people here are interested, I was thinking to conduct a frying pan shoot-out to evaluate various types of frying pans in terms of speed and evenness of heating on an induction cooktop (third picture below).

The contenders that I happen to have in my kitchen (fourth picture below, clockwise from top center) are as follows:

1) de Buyer Prima Matera copper/stainless steel frying pan: 26.5 cm in diameter, weight 1682 g
2) Archetun induction-capable aluminum frying pan: 26.5 cm in diameter, weight 1116 g
3) Silit Silargan stainless steel/ceramic frying pan: 25.0 cm in diameter, weight 1692 g
4) TKG Pro carbon steel frying pan: 28.0 cm in diameter, weight 1380 g
5) Mario Batali enameled cast iron frying pan: 26.0 cm in diameter, weight 2465 g

The plan is to place each of these pans (cold) on the induction cooktop, turn the heat to medium, and measure the temperature at the center of the pan, about an inch from the edge of the pan, and at a point halfway between the two. I'll use a non-contact infrared thermometer (pistol type with a laser pointer) to obtain these measurements every 1 minute over a period of 5 minutes or so. Finally, I was thinking to take a final set of measurements at 10 minutes after turning off the heat in order to evaluate heat retention.

Would anybody be interested in the results of such a test? Is it worth the effort? Any thoughts concerning the basic methodology? Any suggested changes/additions to the testing procedures?

Looking forward to any feedback. Thanks in advance for your help.

Tanuki Soup

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  1. Hi, Tanuki:

    AbsoLUTEly I'm interested!

    Suggestions: (1) Do your measurements every minute on the "down" side, too.
    (2) Also do the flour "scorchprint" test for each pan. (3) If you have access to a straight 3mm copper pan and a converter disk, add that combo into the mix. (4) Run a test with just butter in the pans to test when and where the butter darkens.

    REALLY interested in what you think of the Prima Matera.


    1 Reply
    1. re: kaleokahu

      Thanks for the advice, Kaleo. I'll take measurements every minute both "up" and "down".

      As for the flour and butter tests, I think I may hold off for a while. If I just use the IR thermometer, I won't have to wash a bunch of frying pans after conducting the experiments!

      BTW, the attached image shows the way I'm thinking to display the results. What do you think?

    2. I would be interested too, because I just ordered the Silit and still haven't decided whether an induction or an electric cooktop will be going into the next kitchen. And since the Silit is the priciest of the frypans that I have, and I have a feeling will be the one I'll be using most often from now on, I'm really curious to know how it behaves on an induction.

      I like Kaleo's Suggestion #4 a lot too (the butter test).

      1. Hi, guys.

        Got psyched up tonight and ran the tests.

        The graphs showing the results are arranged in the following order.

        (1) de Buyer Prima Matera (induction-capable copper)
        (2) Archetun (induction-capable aluminum, nonstick)
        (3) Silit Silargan (stainless steel with ceramic coating)
        (4) TKG Pro (carbon steel)
        (5) Mario Batali (enameled cast iron)

        The way I look at it, the closer the lines are to each other on the graphs, the better, since it means that the temperatures measured at the center, halfway out from the center, and at the edge of the pan at each time point are nearly the same.

        It's probably no surprise to anyone (especially Kaleokahu) that the de Buyer Prima Matera induction-capable copper pan left all the other contenders in the dust. The lines are amazingly close to each other throughout the entire heating/cooling cycle. One thing that did surprise me was how slowly the pan heated up and cooled down. The peak temperature was only one-third to one-half that reached by the other pans. I suspect that this was because the entire pan was absorbing and spreading the heat -- and there is a LOT more metal at the edges of a pan than at the center

        The Archetun pan (induction-capable aluminum) finished a distant second, followed by the Silit Silargan pan (stainless steel/ceramic), and then the carbon steel and cast iron pans, which seemed to show pretty similar characteristics.

        I hope you guys find these results interesting.

        Tanuki Soup

        7 Replies
        1. re: tanuki soup

          Thanks so much, ts! These are _very_ interesting.

          Now it would be wonderful for someone with extra $$ to do a similar experiment with 4-qt Dutch ovens on induction -- including the new Tramontina 100th anniversary Lyon line (thick, non-cast aluminum with nonstick surface) and the deBuyer Prima Matera stew pot along with enameled cast iron and a few other alternatives.

          1. re: tanuki soup

            Hi, tanuki:

            Wow, nice job! Even *I* was amazed at the huge temperature differences in the iron and steel pans.

            My interpretation of the results is that (a) the Prima Matera pan on induction delivers extremely even heat; and (b) the "slowness" you observed is attributable to the thick bottom disk and (on the way down) the ceran smoothtop. So I think deBuyer has completely solved the evenness problem. Responsiveness less so.

            It would be interesting to repeat your test with a converter disk and straight copper pan. My bet is you would have substantially similar results IF you put the cold disk and the cold pan on the induction hob. But I think if you started with the disk already in place and at heat and THEN put the pan on, your graph would look like the Matterhorn on the way up (To get good downward responsiveness, you'd need to re/move the pan).

            Interestingly, I wonder how the results might have been different if the Prima Matera pan only had one of the new spray-on magnetic bottoms. I dislike this idea from a durability aspect, but it would also seem to better the pan's responsiveness on induction.

            Thanks again for your efforts... Keep up the good work.


            1. re: kaleokahu

              But which one is best at frying an egg?

              1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                Hi, INDIANRIVERFL:

                One egg fried in the center of the pan? Not a lot of difference. An omlette on the other hand...


            2. re: tanuki soup

              mmmm... data...

              Thanks for running these, Tanuki! Awesome info.

              I've been thinking for a while about doing something like this with SS vs. Tin copper pans. My method was going to be a bit more complex using copper shot and a calorimeter... hmmm... now to get my hands on a tinned copper pan.

              1. re: tanuki soup

                Wow! Amazing graphs -- thanks Tanuki Soup. I wonder however about the responsiveness of Prima Matera -- can you do another test and heat it up to say 150C? The graph might be less symmetric. The flat temp is amazing, but if the pan takes forever to cool, I am not sure what exactly would you cook in it. THANKS! -- CF

                1. That's some beautiful data, thanks TS!! In terms of evenness, looks like nobody beats copper. I am very disappointed to see how slowly it heats up.