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Frying pan for daily multi-purpose use

  • m


I would like to have some kind advises on choosing frying pans. I have a cheap STEKA 24cm alumunium pan from Ikea which was only S$3.90, with nameless non-stick coating. Now that I can afford higher quality pans, I own a large Tefal sautee pan and a WMF stainless steel pan, both for different purpose. The STEKA is treated as a 'spare' pan, hanged on the kitchen or stacked with my housemates' utensils, while I keep others tidy in the cabinet. But I'm grabbing it daily for almost everything. I reheat foods, fry eggs, stir fry vegetables, cook pasta, pan-fry fish/chicken, etc. I treated it like cheap, irreplacable good but it's still performing well after 4 years. I just need to let it cool and wash it with water with a quick swipe and hang it dry, before rushing to office.

However my sense of healthiness often kicks in, especially because of the nameless, cheap coating STEKA has. After suffering a huge ovarian cyst, I become more concerned to a safer and more natural lifestyle, including the cookware I'm using. I'm looking for a safe and affordable non-stick pan to replace STEKA, which can sustain daily usage, last for years, and a breeze for daily usage (e.g. easy cleaning). My Tefal sautee pan is too big for daily usage and WMF is not non-stick. I'm looking at another Tefal, Scanpan, Le Creuset or Staub pan, but wondering whether they can last long and suit my daily needs. Kindly help with some advises or suggestion... all will be greatly appreciated.

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  1. If I could have just one, I would get an Olvida 10". olvidacookware.com

    1 Reply
    1. re: mwhitmore

      thank you, but i can't find Olvida here in Singapore.

    2. Have you considered an enameled cast iron pan? Lodge makes a relatively inexpensive one and I think a 3 qt size would serve all of your needs. This particular pan can be used as a braiser, casserole dish, or skillet. It cleans easily, too. Search Amazon for this:

      Lodge Color Enamel Covered Casserole, 3 quart

      6 Replies
      1. re: kimbers324

        I have a Le Creuset enameled cast iron skillet and I like it and use it, but I don't consider it a "rushing off to the office" piece of cookware as the OP indicated she was used to. Frankly cast iron is a bit of a pain. It can't be soaked. I'm constantly scraping it with one of those plastic scrapers to get the cooked on food bits off. Then you have to take paper towels and maybe some salt to rub it clean. And you have to make sure you don't have a speck of water on it before you put it away. And I always wipe it down with Crisco before putting it away. It is just not a grab and go pan.

        I have recently starting acquiring tin lined copper and while I realize that is not what the OP wants or needs, I have to say I appreciate that I can soak the stuff as opposed to my cast iron and on a busy day when I am not in the mood to baby my cast iron, I am much more likely to reach for the copper.

        1. re: omotosando

          That is not my experience with cast iron at all. But you are correct too and you highlight an important point about cast iron that i think is often overlooked.....it is a pain if it is a novelty pan or for infrequent users. It was made for daily use. When it is your daily use pan, care is easy peasy.

          I leave mine on the stove, almost nothing sticks to that thick, black shiny surface. If something does stick, then I just put a little water in it and bring it to a boil, let it cool a bit and scrub it with a nylon brush. Wipe with oil and put it back on the stove.

          I use olive, avacado, coconut oils mostly -in addition to duck fat and occasionally bacon fat in the pan. No crisco.

          1. re: sedimental

            I will try the boiling trick next time. Scraping with that plastic thing is a huge pain. It is kind of a shallow pan though, so I will have to be careful boiling in it.

            1. re: sedimental

              Appreciate your sharing on LC pan..

              I own an LC pot and love it. I will let the pot cool down before washing and soak it with hot water to prevent ants swarming in. But it take quite some time to cool off and I need to wipe it dry. I never oil the pot. Is the white and black enamel on LC products requires different treatment?

              I usually cook before showering, let the cookware to cool off, and wash it before going out. Will the cast iron cool off in 30 mins, meaning wash it when it's still warm enough to hold with bare hands?

              1. re: sedimental

                I think there's an important point in between both posts here. Used daily, cast iron does require very little maintenance. However, it does not suffer neglect well. I have a small cast iron pan that I accidentally moved to a still-on burner and left there for a fair amount of time before I noticed < 15 minutes. Now it's got stuck on crap that simply will not come off with anything short of sandblasting. I love cast iron and rarely use anything else, but it does demand attention.

            2. re: kimbers324

              The Lodge we have here is only the non-enameled one.. :( I heard rave about the enameled Lodge, though, so now I'll be looking at LC skillet. thank you!

            3. I use a cast iron, a copper SS inside, and Le Creuset (both white enamel inside and the black non stick).

              I tend to reach for the cast iron one about 70 percent of the time for basic weekday dinners. Other than highly acidic foods and really saucy preps, the cast iron is my workhorse. I like that I get a little iron in my diet each time too!

              I use the Le Creusets mostly for the saucy/delicate/lower heat/acidic/ cream sauce type preps that intuitively you wouldn't use cast iron for. I prefer the white inside enamel pans. I really like them.

              I rarely use my copper SS pan. It looks beautiful and I paid a lot for it. I really like the sloping sides for flipping instead of stirring, but it seems like things stick more, heat is too variable and touchy for weeknight dinner preps, and it just doesn't have the "weight" I seem to like.

              3 Replies
              1. re: sedimental

                I have both copper lined with stainless and copper lined with tin and I much prefer the tin. I find the tin lined copper to be as stick free as cast iron and easier to care for.

                Surprisingly, my go to pan has become a tin lined copper fish pan that I bought on a whim on Ebay. I am more apt to cook fish than any other protein and the elongated oval shape is perfect for fish and the fish doesn't stick. So I use this "speciality" pan more than other pan in my kitchen. From that I have learned, when buying pans think of what you like to cook. Most people don't cook fish on the stove -- I do several times a week.

                1. re: sedimental

                  "Adding iron to the diet", is it still a benefit using enameled skillet?

                  For the stickiness issue, if I pour some left over food (e.g. rice or burger) to LC skillet without oil, will it stick? I often do this with the STEKA but definitely can't do it with SS pan.

                  1. re: moccy

                    <"Adding iron to the diet", is it still a benefit using enameled skillet?>

                    No. The enameled surface is there to precisely makes sure that the iron is insulated, which also means that you won't get iron into your food.

                2. Why do you think the STEKA coating is any worse than the Tefal or any other? If it still performs well after 4 years, the coating must be good, regardless of whether it has a name-brand promise or not.

                  I like to have a variety of materials including stainless steel and carbon steel. Still for a lot of things a good nonstick is the natural choice.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: paulj

                    The other Ikea pan are coated with Teflon and even Teflon got some chemical issue. The problem is that we don't even know what kind of coating material they use, especially since it's so cheap... whether they are using any material more harmful than Teflon or not.

                    Indeed, non-stick is very versatile. Teflon is considered not harmful if not going through high heat, but I want to explore other safer alternatives.

                  2. For a tough, inexpensive, low maintenance daily use pan, go to the restaurant supply store and buy a no-name aluminum skillet. It requires no special care, you can use metal utensils with it, it's reasonably nonstick if you know how to cook and you can soak or run it through the dishwasher for cleaning. Professional restaurant kitchens use aluminum because it's cheap and it works.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: RealMenJulienne

                      But alumunium is reactive, isn't it?

                      1. re: moccy

                        Hi, moccy:

                        Yes, aluminum is reactive, but it's not an issue with foods that are not strongly acidic.


                    2. It sounds to me like you want something that is (1) all purpose and (2) not going to give you any health concerns. I'd say that your two main choices then are a simple stainless steel (tri-ply style) frying pan like an All-Clad, Calphalon, Tramontina, etc. or a cast iron skillet. If you want the ability to put it in the dishwasher, get the stainless. If you don't mind hand washing and seasoning a pan from time to time, I'd go with the cast iron. For the price (about $15 at Walmart), I'd recommend getting a 10" Lodge cast iron skillet and really putting it through its paces. Then you can decide if you really want something different. But for most day-to-day frying, a 10" cast iron skillet is a great pan.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: jljohn

                        Well-appreciated the suggestion, thank you.. Here I can't find All-Clad and Calphalon cost higher than LC, so maybe I'll look at LC skillet.

                      2. Are you in the USA or Europe? Somewhere else?


                        Silit Silargan is a nice non-stick alternative though, I'm pretty partial to my De Buyer Mineral and Demeyere Atlantis/Proline *5 star skillets. All of these are good choice with safe cooking surfaces and materials.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: Sid Post

                          I'm in Singapore. Yes, we have Silit here, but I never heard any rave about Silit so don't even know their quality. Thanks for recommending this! I will go and check it.

                          1. re: moccy

                            If I ever go to Singapore, I'm going to look for an Lwachu "omelette" pan. Shipping one to the United States costs more than the pan itself.

                            Considering your geographic location and concern for healthy quality cookware, I would strongly consider buying something from either Europe (Germany, France, Switzerland, Belgium being the more common sources) or Japan. Their attention to the details, quality, and performance make them all good choices when you choose from the major company's.

                            Silit Silargan isn't easily sourced the United States but, like the Lwachu cast, iron, it seems to be readily available in the Asian Pacific regions for "reasonable" prices.

                            Regarding enameled cast iron like Lodge, Le Creuset, Staub, etc; I would prefer un-enameled cast iron for everything but acidic cooking. If you take a cast iron skillet to a high heat source and season it similarly to how you would a new wok, you will get a very flexible pan that will serve you well for the uses mentioned in your original post. The newer ceramic/stone non-stick finishes are very nice too so, I would consider the cost the deciding factor IF there is a significant difference between these two general options.

                            If you have arthritis or problems with your grip strength, the weight of one of these pans could become an issue. However, I was surprised how light my Silit Silargan pan felt with its GREAT handle shape and size. It is one of the larger fry pans/skillets they make and it is nearly 5 pounds on the postal scale but, it handles like an anodized aluminum skillet. The handle is really that nice and well though out.

                            Did I mention I like my Silit Silargan pan. :-D

                            1. re: Sid Post

                              So yesterday I went to a shopping center and saw Silit Silargan. It's a heavy pan! The promoter lady showed me a customer's Silit wok which was burnt, black inside out. The customer asked her help to clean it and she's halfway working on it so she showed me how she clean and gently clean the charred exterior using a knife and it's glossy as new. However, she said it's not non-stick.

                              I also saw a Silit white ceramic pan which is very light and very cheap. Silit is very honest on its pamphlet saying the non-stick property will diminish along the way so little oil is recommended for every usage. I'm not sure about this line, I can't find many review of it.

                              And I also saw Iwachu. It's a pretty cookware with refined finish, also much lighter than Lodge cast iron with more than half the price of LC! Thanks for introducing this brand, I will surely get it when I'm moving to cast iron skillet.

                              1. re: moccy

                                I'm a little surprised that the Silit Silargan wok was so hard to clean. A soft scrubbie with some dish soap is all I need to keep my pan clean. With a dab of olive oil or fatty meats though, I guess it is the oil that provides the slick non-stick surface when I cook. For me, the hard ceramic surface doesn't really allow leftover food to stick so, it is non-stick for me but I must admit I fry my eggs in a little olive oil. It is nice to cook with very strong spices and then gently wash it all away with some dish soap in preparation for cooking the next meal with no leftover flavor lingering from the previous meal.

                                The Lwachu and De Buyer iron pans are certainly a good alternative if you use them enough to keep their surfaces protected. The slight iron addition to the diet is a significant feature for many people in the West who don't eat a healthy diet. Cast iron also has a rich history in many parts of the world so, it has an attraction all its own whether you are making corn bread in a skillet or a pot roast in a dutch oven. I must admit too, that a heavy Lodge skillet has been a real life saver for me in rental apartments that did not have a strong stove - preheating a heavy cast iron skillet or dutch oven allows you to sear on a weak flame and then finish in a uneven heating oven with the heavy cast iron evening out the hot and cold spots.

                        2. By the way, does anyone have experience with ceramic or the so-called "diamond" coating from Korean pan, such as Happy Call? I heard the rave about the double-sided pan and their frying pan looks great as well.

                          1. I buy comercial cookware at Sams Club (wearever) 8in. are $11, 10in $16 for non-stick aluminum. At these prices I can buy new ones every few years.

                            1. <I'm looking for a safe and affordable non-stick pan to replace STEKA, which can sustain daily usage, last for years>

                              You said nonstick, didn't you? In which case, you can just get Scanpan as yo have mentioned. If you want something that is almost as nonstick as Telfon pans, but without the Teflon, then I recommend cast iron or carbon steel cookware. You will need to season these cookware though.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                Thanks for your reply.
                                I am kinda confused about Scanpan. I thought it is PTFE-free but recently I read some discussion, and evenmore stated on Scanpan website, that PTFE is the building block for all non-stick coating. Scanpan is only PFOA free. If it still contain PTFE, then I might as well get a good Tefal pan at half Scanpan price.

                                I may be looking into the enameled cast iron since I do cook with acid (e.g. pasta with tomato sauce). Thanks for the suggestion.

                                1. re: moccy

                                  <I am kinda confused about Scanpan. I thought it is PTFE-free but recently I read some discussion, and evenmore stated on Scanpan website, that PTFE is the building block for all non-stick coating. Scanpan is only PFOA free. If it still contain PTFE, then I might as well get a good Tefal pan at half Scanpan price.>

                                  Yes, Scanpan still has PTFE and relies on it. It is longer lasting than a Tefal pan. Does the expensive price of Scanpan justifies this? That I don't know.

                                  There are some nonstick pans which absolutely do not contain PTFE or PFOA. However, they actually have short lifespans than the PTFE pans. These non-PTFE nonstick cookware are usually referred as Green cookware.


                                  Good luck

                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                    Great article, thanks for sharing!
                                    I have a better understanding on PFOA and PTFE now. It seems I can still consider Scanpan. IT seems that they are built with a better material than Tefal though both are using PTFE layer.. anyway I won't sear any meat on this pan (I'll let the SS pan does the job).

                              2. Hi moccy;

                                "I'm looking for a safe and affordable non-stick pan..., which can sustain daily usage, last for years, and a breeze for daily usage (e.g. easy cleaning)."

                                My wife and I have the same concerns you have.

                                I strongly recommend a De Buyer Mineral B carbon steel frying pan 10.2" or 12.6" frying pan. After you season it (easy to do), it will be non-stick enough to scramble eggs in a little butter, will last for years, and will clean up easily with a stiff-bristled scrubber and hot water without the need for soap.

                                It's the most commonly used pan in our kitchen. We use it almost every night during the week when we are cooking simple weeknight dinners.