Best Skillet Pan For Comfort Cooking

Food tastes better when it's cooked in a skillet and that's a cast iron guarantee.

Home made freshness vegetarian sweet potato and chickpea tikka masala

by Natalie Knowles |
Updated on

Get a desirable crispy texture on meat, potatoes and vegetables with the best skillet pan. For even heating and the best cooking results, choose a cast iron pan. When it comes to choosing the best pots and pans, A Modern Kitchen has your needs in mind. Enjoy frying, sautéing, searing, braising and more with this versatile piece of cookware. We'll explain what makes a skillet distinct from a frying pan and a sauté pan. Also, with health in mind, let's take a look at why cast iron pans are being favoured over their non-stick-coated counterparts.

A skillet can also be compared to a sauté pan, but there is a subtle difference in shape: a skillet has angled sides whilst a sauté pan has straight sides. Because a sauté pan has straight sides it has a bigger overall surface area compared to a skillet. This means a sauté pan can accommodate more liquid and is great for hearty one-pot dinners that need finishing in the oven, such as Beef Bourguignon. Ironically, a skillet is actually better for sautéing than a sauté pan. It's lighter and the slated sides make it easier to toss food.

Best Skillet Pan At A Glance

Best cast iron skillet: ProCook Cast Iron Skillet – View on Procook
Best pre-seasoned cast iron skillet: nuovva Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet – View on Amazon UK
Best large cast iron skillet: KICHLY Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet – View on Amazon UK

The fear about toxic "Forever Chemicals", that were historically used in non-stick coatings, has re-popularised cast iron cookware. Hoosick Falls made global news headlines when its water supply was contaminated by PFOA, formerly used in the production of Teflon. Traditional cast iron doesn't have any protective coating on the inside or the outside of the pan. By rubbing in oil and baking it in to cast iron cookware (known as seasoning) you can create an all-natural non-stick surface. The downside is that untreated cast iron pans are susceptible to rust and heavy to lift.

Knowing which type of pan to use for your cooking task boils down to the following factors. The surface area of the pan dictates how rapidly the liquid will evaporate. The size and depth determine how much volume the pan can hold. Also, the weight of the pan is crucial – too heavy and food cannot be tossed. For example, if you are cooking an omelette for one, a frying pan is the best option. Alternatively, if you're simmering meatballs in marinara sauce, a skillet is ideal as it can accommodate the extra liquid. Finally, if you're searing chicken thighs, adding vegetables, stock and a pastry top that'll brown in the oven – a sauté pan is perfect.

Best Skillet Pan

Best cast iron skillet

ProCook Cast Iron Skillet
Price: £39 (was £79)

www.procook.co.uk

Whether you're making a saffron-infused Paella or a flavourful Jambalaya can't go wrong with this 26cm ProCook Cast Iron Skillet. A cast iron skillet offers incredible heat retention making it the perfect choice for charring, frying and browning meat, fish and vegetables. Easy to hold and use, this cookware has a fabulous finish. Each of ProCooks cast iron cookware offers exceptional value for money, with a smooth and durable enamel coating for easy cleaning. It's with a bit of TLC, it's made to last forever.

Customer review: "This skillet a joy to look at and a great addition to my kitchen as now when a recipe calls for a pan to go into the oven this skillet is pulled out and is first used on the hob and then it is slid into the oven. Extremely helpful and it should last me forever."

Pros

  • Great value-for-money cast iron skillet
  • Incredible heat retention and distribution
  • Suitable to use on induction hobs

Cons

  • Cast iron needs a little extra TLC

Best pre-seasoned cast iron skillet

nuovva Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet
Price: $95.61

This is a 10-inch cast iron skillet, with a one-litre capacity, that's suitable for all hobs and camping stoves. 8-inch and 12-inch versions are also available. It's a pre-seasoned pan that's naturally non-stick and easy to clean. Cast iron is a great conductor and ensures even heat distribution. Hand wash in warm water and restore with oil. With care, this skillet will last a lifetime. Every time you season the pan it creates a nonstick layer which minimises the need for too much oil when cooking.

Customer review: "As a frying pan that will go in the oven it is superb, it is however very heavy, heavier than I expected."

Pros

  • Pre-seasoned and non-toxic
  • Versatile
  • Value for money
  • Oven safe
  • Non-stick

Cons

  • Heavy

Best large cast iron skillet

Cook up yummy potato hash and lasagne in this 32cm KICHLY Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet. It's a pre-seasoned pan that captures the essence of traditional cooking but with some modern benefits. Ready to use straight out of the box, the factory pre-seasoning stage polymerises soy-based oil on a high heat. This initial seasoning layer is equivalent to 10–15 rounds of normal home seasoning. Imagine freshly baked sourdough straight from the pan – yes please. Make this large skillet a part of your travelling kitchen too, as it's suitable for camping stoves.

Customer review: "Love this pan. Great for big sized steaks and the quality is really good. It comes pre seasoned but I season it regularly to preserve it. Very heavy, very sturdy. Hope it lasts a lifetime."

Pros

  • Precise heat distribution
  • Versatile: toast, sizzle, grill, simmer and sauté
  • A cast iron skillet can increase the iron content of food by 20%

Cons

  • Needs maintaining by seasoning

Best cast iron skillet pan set

If you love entertaining, this set of three VonShef Cast Iron Skillets is going to elevate your next dinner party or shakshuka brunch. Or perhaps you want to throw a pan-baked cookie and ice cream celebration for the family. These super versatile skillets have pouring lips and hanging loops, which are little details that make their design more practical than others.

Customer review: "I purchased this set three of cast iron skillets three years ago because I was tired of having to replace non-stick cookware every few years. There was also the benefit of avoiding the toxicity associated with non-stick pan coatings. To illustrate their respective sizes, the three pans can be used as follows. The small size is suitable for a single burger, the medium size for an omelette, and the large size steak and onions for two."

Pros

  • Pouring lip for getting rid of excess liquid
  • Versatile
  • Popular on Amazon
  • Value for money

Cons

  • Season for best cooking results and in order to preserve them

Best skillet for style

Azure, Volcanic and Meringue are just three of the colours available in Le Creuset's Cast Iron Signature Skillet range. This 23cm cast iron pan has a hygienic satin black enamel interior that will not wear off. In addition to the chip-resistant coating, the design features a pouring lip and ergonomic handles. Along with the cheery colours, it makes it a joy to use. From homemade meatballs to creamy mac and cheese, rustle up versatile comfort foods in a skillet that'll put a smile on your face.

Customer review: "Initially it took me while to get used to using it as it's a skill to cook on cast iron but once I got the hang of it – I am never ever going back to stainless steel or Teflon. The food tastes so much better. The stakes are juicy and with a perfect crust. Chicago style deep dish pizza is a discovery for me. The omelette is amazing and salmon comes off so juicy."

Pros

  • Easy-grip handle and helper handle
  • Easy to use and maintain
  • Colours to complement your kitchen

Cons

  • The sloping sides mean it has a smaller capacity

Best budget cast iron skillet

Judge Cast Iron Non Stick Skillet
Price: £17.14 (was £18.31)

www.wayfair.co.uk

Make chicken pot pie or a one-pan Full English with this 18cm diameter Judge Cast Iron Non Stick Skillet. It's on the small side, but ample for one and gives you all the versatility of cast iron cooking without an eye-watering price tag. Chemical-free and untreated, this skillet will need seasoning with love. A natural patina will develop over time, giving the pan non-stick properties and achieving the ultimate caramelisation on steak and chops.

Customer review: "It's a good quality cast iron skillet. It does not stick, ensure it's seasoned before first use. It's quite heavy which is expected but overall cooks food very well and quicker."

Pros

  • Ideal for one
  • Value for money
  • Chemical free
  • Scratch resistant

Cons

  • Needs seasoning to maintain it

Best traditional cast iron skillet

Crispy bacon and sausages never tasted so good with this rugged 30cm cast iron skillet. Imagine cowboys cooking up a meaty stew over a campfire with this Lodge L10SK3 Cast Iron Skillet Frying Pan. Lodge has a strong tradition in the US for cast iron cookware. Use in the oven, on the hob, grill, or over a campfire for versatile and flavoursome cooking. This skillet is an investment that will last you a lifetime with the right care.

Customer review: "Quality skillet which is versatile and big enough too cook generous portions for two. Great for searing meats, frying up bacon, eggs, and vegetables. It is quite heavy to lift, as it's made of iron, but it holds heat really well and can get very hot without warping."

Pros

  • Classic American skillet
  • All-natural
  • Large capacity

Cons

  • Will need seasoning and care

Best mini skillet

For sticky stove-top desserts or tapas-style starters, the Lodge Cast Iron Mini Skillet is a great piece of cookware to have in your repertoire. Large enough to fry an egg, this pan is anything but small fry. Pre-seasoned for a non-stick finish, this skillet is ideal for grilled cheese sandwiches that will gain an exceptional crust from direct heat cooking. Serve up individual skillet apple crumble and ice cream for dessert – they'll be going like hot cakes.

Pros

  • Great for entertaining
  • Serve up individual courses in sizzling pans
  • Fun and versatile

Cons

  • No customer review

Best low-maintenance skillet

Make scrambled eggs without a mess. An Amazon Choice product, this GreenPan Valencia Pro Hard Anodised Ceramic Non-Stick Skillet is a lighter alternative to cast iron. It's also more forgiving if you use metal utensils or wash cookware in a dishwasher. It's a hard anodised aluminium pan with a non-stick ceramic coating. It has a Magneto base for extra conductivity on an induction hob. The Thermolon coating is non-toxic and ultra non-stick, making cooking and clean up a breeze. Finally, the stainless steel stay-cool handle is ergonomic and riveted for extra strength. For healthy non-stick cooking, this pan is approved by 1,000 positive Amazon reviews.

Customer review: "I use this nearly every day and find it invaluable. It's ideal for hob to oven cooking without food sticking to the base, but also good for hob cooking only. I don't put it in the dishwasher, only because I don't need to, it washes out easily with hot water and a little washing-up liquid. It is perfect for two portions and I have its bigger version for four portions when necessary. I have to be careful to only use plastic utensils as the top is easily marked with a metal tool. I love it."

Pros

  • Hard anodised for extra strength
  • Non-toxic non-stick coating
  • Lightweight and Ergonomic
  • Easy to clean
  • Made from recycled aluminium

Cons

  • Some reviews comment that this cookware can scratch

Our Verdict: Best Skillet Pan

We recommend the ProCook Cast Iron Skillet. It's a great size for versatile one-pan cooking and while it has all the hallmarks of traditional cast iron cooking in its design and composition, the addition of a durable enamel coating makes it easier to clean and stay rust-free.

So, for delicious stove-top Spaghetti Carbonara – without the carbon – choose Procook's cast iron skillet. Combine with induction hob cooking for precise temperature control and futureproof traditional cookery skills. With a 25-year guarantee, this is a pan that you can pass on.

FAQs: Best Skillet Pan

What are the features of a skillet?

A skillet is like a frying pan, with flared sides and a long handle. Both are shallow, flat-bottomed pans for stove-top cooking. But a skillet is typically deeper, with a wider surface area, and made from heavier materials. It's typically cast iron or stainless steel and aluminium with non-stick coatings.

The deeper sides gives it greater versatility for searing, braising and cooking a larger quantity of food. A cast iron skillet will produce juicier chicken thighs and thick-cut steak than an aluminium frying pan. Additionally, some skillets have a helper handle to aid lifting.

The etymology of the word "skillet" has its origins in Middle English, where it was spelled as "skelet" or "skelette." It likely derived from the Old French word "escuelete," which means a small dish or bowl. Over time, skillet has evolved to refer to a flat cooking pan with a handle.

The defining features of a skillet pan are a flat bottom, long handle and low sides. These features ensure consistent heat distribution, easy manoeuvrability and accessibility for stirring or flipping foods. The key feature is the material and, more often than not, a cast iron skillet is recommended for its superior heat distribution, durability and non-toxic composition. However, cast iron skillets do need seasoning in order to maintain the surface for non-stick cooking and keep it rust-free.

What are the benefits of cooking in a skillet?

Their durability and timeless appeal, make skillets a favourite among both home cooks and professional chefs. There's such a joy to rummaging around in old cookery books and preparing classic stove-top recipes, such as skillet apple pie and Beef Stroganoff. It's an antidote to the homogenised use of air fryers.

Skillet cooking offers several benefits that make it a popular choice in the kitchen:

Use a skillet for a wide range of cooking methods, including baking in the oven and open-fire cooking.

Many skillets, especially cast iron ones, heat evenly and retain heat well, ensuring consistent cooking results.

Cast iron skillets don't have any harmful chemical coatings and it is a non-toxic material.

Skillets are perfect for one-pan or one-pot meals, reducing the number of dishes to clean and simplifying meal preparation.

Use the caramelised bits that form on the skillet's surface (known as fond) to create delicious pan sauces and gravies, enhancing the overall flavour of your dishes. Imagine rich garlic butter coated shrimp pasta or crispy bits of pancetta in a creamy sauce.

How do I season a cast iron skillet?

Seasoning a cast iron skillet is a crucial step in maintaining its non-stick surface and preventing rust. With proper care and regular use, your cast iron skillet will develop a beautiful non-stick patina and can last for generations. A cast iron skillet is made from one piece of material, therefore the entire pan – inside and out – needs treating.

Start by preheating your oven to its highest temperature. Position your racks so that the skillet can be placed in the middle of the warming oven.

If your skillet is new, wash it with warm soapy water to remove any manufacturing residues. If you're re-seasoning an old skillet, wash it to remove any food residue or rust. Use a non-abrasive scouring pad to scrub away stubborn bits. Rinse thoroughly and dry the skillet completely with paper towels or a clean cloth. Heat the pan up on the hob to evaporate any excess moisture.

Using a paper towel, apply a thin layer of your chosen cooking oil all over the skillet. Be sure to wipe away any excess oil so that only a very thin layer remains.

Put the oiled skillet upside-down on the oven rack. Place a sheet of aluminium foil on the lower rack to catch any potential oil drips. Let the skillet bake in the oven for an hour. This process polymerizes the oil, forming a smooth non-stick coating on the cast iron. Oil breaks down and bonds with the skillet.

Leave the skillet inside to cool down slowly. It's crucial not to rush this process, as rapid cooling can cause the seasoning to crack. When you're done, you will achieve a desirable matte finish on the skillet.

After each use, clean your cast iron skillet with a gentle scrub or brush and hot water, but avoid using soap. Dry it thoroughly and apply a thin layer of oil to the interior to maintain the seasoning.

What are the drawbacks of skillet cooking?

While skillet cooking offers many advantages, it also has some cons to consider. So if you want to avoid Quesadillas disaster, read on:

Skillets may have hot spots, leading to uneven cooking if not properly managed, especially in cheaper or thinner pans. You'll notice cast iron is a less smooth surface than non-stick pans. Take care using cast iron skillets on glass stove tops, as they can scratch the surface.

Food can stick to the skillet, making it challenging to clean, and burnt-on residues can be tough to remove. This is why it's important to season a pan after every wash and preserve its non-stick properties.

Skillets typically have smaller capacities compared to larger pots, which can be a limitation when cooking for a crowd.

When cooking foods with a high water content, like sauces, splattering can be a messy issue, requiring extra cleaning.

Also, avoid cooking acidic foods – such as tomatoes – in cast iron skillets. They can cause a metallic taste and damage the seasoning.

Never put skillets in microwaves. Metal cookware is not suitable for a microwave.

If not thoroughly dried, cast iron pots – made from a porous material – will rust.

Finally, cast iron skillets, while durable, can be heavy and unsuitable for people with mobility issues.

Natalie Knowles is a Homes & Garden Product Writer for A Modern Kitchen, specialising in kitchen appliances. When she's not testing coffee machines, she flexes her creative flair as an artist.

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