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best high heat pans with safe handle

I want a high heat frying pan (cookware) that can handle high heat without warping, what do you recommend? I love heating (gas stove) the pan fast and hot for the sizzle and browning. The pans I bought warped and doesn't sit on the stove properly and sometimes tilt and therefore cooks unevenly. Without using the cast iron which is heavy and hard on my wrist especially when washing. Can anyone recommend good cookware? Non stick would be great. Thanks

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  1. The problem with any non-stick pan is that really high heat is specifically not recommended, and it will inevitably shorten the pan's already limited life. That said, both my All-Clad stainless steel saute pan (used, abused, and in great shape ten years later) and my All-Clad non stick frying pan (used, abused, and non-stick shot to hell) do not warp, heat evenly, and (non-stick coating aside) have held up great with an 18K BTU burner and a hot oven.

    1. Hmm, my first thought was cast iron until I read the part which you don't like heavy cookware. My second choice would be carbon steel, but thick carbon steel cookware pretty much weight the same as cast iron cookware, and are not as warp-resistance as cast iron cookware.

      As steven nicely wrote, nonstick pan cannot take on high temperature, so that can be a problem for you if you really do mean smoking high heat cooking.

      Cladded cookware, either aluminum cladded with stainless steel or copper cladded with stainless steel are not bad. The problems with these cladded cookware are that (1) foods tend to stick to them much easier than seasoned cast iron cookware, and (2) the thick cladded cookware do not weight that much less than cast iron cookware, and the thin cladded cookware can warp.

      Maybe you best bet is a thick aluminum nonstick pan. It is light, it is nonstick and somewhat warp resistance. Scanpan and Calphalon comes into my mind:


      1. I wouldn't subject Teflon-coated pans to high heat. De Buyer Mineral steel pans would be good, but they are pretty heavy also. Depends on what size you need. A smaller size might be light enough.

        I don't know what you mean by a "safe" handle. The French pans with the (approximately) flat handle can be uncomfortable, but perhaps there are handle grips which would fit.

        4 Replies
        1. re: GH1618

          <I don't know what you mean by a "safe" handle>

          I translated that into: "Please, no All Clad handle." :D

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              I translate that to be no plastic handles. All Clad is "safe" just not comfortable, plastic on the other hand can be damaged by the high heat, even if it's just coming up around the pan. And they certianly don't hold up well if it's something you're going to finish in the oven.

              1. re: mikie

                :) I know. I was just kidding. I think you are correct. The original poster most probably did mean "oven safe"

          1. Hi, ThEater:

            Your choices are limited if you eliminate cast iron and carbon steel. Clad and aluminum can warp under high heat. Maybe VERY thick bare aluminum would work.

            Nonstick is UNSAFE in the application you mention, i.e., temps >500F. Don't do it.

            I would suggest you try out a vintage CI skillet, made back in the day when thin was better. It will be lighter than what you're used to. It will not be particularly even, though.


            2 Replies
            1. re: kaleokahu

              To add to this - as there really is no frypan that fits your criteria, change how you interact with the cast iron fry pan. Why is the weight an issue? Do you have to lift or shake the frypan while cooking (does not seem quite right if the intent is to sear...)? If not, can you move it to and from the stove with two hands instead of one? Do you need to hold it when washing it in the sink? Instead once placed in the sink with two hands, wash it while it is resting in the sink or on a sink mat of some sort?

              1. re: khuzdul

                Mahalo Kaleo

                Khuzdul, I have very little wrist (hands) and picking it up to take to the sink and holding it to wash hurts my wrist a lot. I typically have to use both hands to carry the pans.

            2. Probably a commercial aluminum pan would give the best combination of resistance to warping and modest weight. Some of these have nonstick coatings which are said to be suitable for high heat:


              1. Safe Handle: I have a habit of grabbing the handle and burning my hand when I grab it to move / hold.

                Maybe I will check out restaurant supply stores here in search as well.

                Thanks for all your suggestions.

                1 Reply
                1. re: ThEater

                  Yes I have that habbit but found a sleeve for it.

                2. A cast iron skillet, and use a potholder.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: ellabee

                    Tim and Duffy make excellent points about the easier-to-manipulate qualities of carbon steel pans, with their long and angled handles.

                    So: A carbon steel or cast iron skillet, and use a potholder.

                  2. I'd go with fully clad stainless steel, and while All-Clad is nice, the handles suck, so uncomfortable to grip. How about Calphalon? I've got some 10-yr-old Tri Ply, heats really well, great for searing, doesn't warp, pretty much everything you want. Of course, I don't plunge it into cold water while it's hot, that can warp most any pan, except CI, which could shatter. Clad stainless is nowhere near as heavy as CI. Avoid the disc bottom pans an go with a quality fully clad pan, you won't be disappointed. It isn't non-stick, but then, non-stick isn't designed for high heat. Did I mention cleaning is easy? Let it soak in hot soapy water and pretty much just wipe the gunk off. You can also toss it in the dishwasher, and if you get truly burnt on food, well, that's what SOS is for. I've also used oven cleaner to bring the outside to a like-new gloss. They're very forgiving.

                    1. I just realized that the reasons I prefer carbon steel to cast iron include the fact that all the CI I have encountered has had short handles running parallel to the cooking surface but the Traditional steel pans have long, sloping handles. I also like how easily mine have been to season. I have not had problems with the handles getting too hot. Even my 14" pan has been easy to maneuver with two hands. Also, I abuse the heck out of it, even deglazing with wine, and while it is not nonstick, it releases seared foods easily.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: tim irvine

                        I just got my first carbon steel pan and love the long handle. That's part of the reason I ditched my cast iron skillets. That and the fact that they weigh a ton and my stainless steel can be just as nonstick, if properly heated. I picked up the carbon steel to replace a nonstick egg pan, and am still not sure if I prefer it to stainless for eggs. It does take a little less butter to be slippery, so that's a plus. My husband almost cried over the cast iron, because he spent a long time grinding out the surface with his orbital sander to aid in making it nonstick.

                        1. re: tim irvine

                          The short flat handle is the easiest style to cast as an integral part of the pan (using the traditional wet sand mold). The handle is also less obtrusive in the oven.

                          Pans designed for open hearth cooking must have had other handle designs, but I haven't looked carefully at those.

                        2. I have been relatively pleased with an exterior enameled light weight cast iron pan from Tramontina that has a great steel handle. I believe it is metal cast rather than sand cast in a process that makes it much lighter.

                          4 Replies
                              1. re: DuffyH

                                Thanks. I wasn't able to find it. Much appreciated.