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Making a big meal with more dishes than burners? Need to cook something fresh with only electricity as your power source? Maybe you need to cook food on the go or on-demand, or perhaps just keep it warm on display. Your motivation could even be as simple as not feeling like turning on the stove. The list of potential uses goes on and on, but the small appliance in question is limited to one: the electric skillet.
A portable workhorse that can last for years and years, a good electric skillet can carry a casual cook far. Ideal for situations like holidays, camping, or even in dorm rooms or long stays at hotels, they’re flexible solutions for when you don’t have access to a stove or oven. It also needs to store away easily like our best overall pick the Presto Foldaway Electric Skillet, which has a detachable base.
And although electric skillets may not be the tool of choice for most chefs, even the pros are not above respect for its utility, especially in performative settings. "I’m a big ‘fire’ guy, whether it’s gas, propane, butane, alcohol, wood … really anything incendiary I can get my hands on,” says Thomas Fazio, corporate executive chef for That Meetball Place. So for him, heat is tantamount, making high wattage a priority. But private chef Richard Robertson V of Double R Catering on Long Island, New York, has much less of a hardline approach to it, harboring fond memories of using electric skillets a lot through his childhood.
"I was actually nudged to cook with ours because my parents thought it was ‘safer’ than using our gas stove when they weren’t home," he laughs reminiscently. "This was going back at least 20-plus years, so it wasn’t as advanced as these newer skillets." More recently, when working as a sous chef on Amazon Prime’s "Family Kitchen Revival," he made a great deal of use of electric skillets. Today, he appreciates the flexibility it gives him to shoot recipe execution on his social media.
Barry Frish, market specialist of culinary development at Baldor Specialty Food goes further. "I love electric skillets, especially for events!" he says. "They have such great portability and the ability to get very hot, but also stay low enough to keep product hot without overcooking over a period of time."
Since “you get what you pay for when it comes to electric cookware,” as Fazio bluntly puts it, I want to make sure you're buying the right one. Here are my picks for the best electric skillets
Best Overall: Presto 06857 Foldaway Electric Skillet
What We Love: Nesting self-storing design, large cooking surface, sleek design, dishwasher safe, high wattage
What We Don’t Love: Bigger dimensions make it harder to store
This cast aluminum model has it all: size, practicality, power, and the special features that have made the newer generation of electric skillets a vast improvement over those from when Robertson was making his after-school meals. A “Swiss Army skillet,” as he dubs the most versatile, advanced of models, this trim and affordable Presto design seems to cover all of the conveniences he cites as newer necessities, such as a built-in spout for easy, drip-free pouring and doubles as a cooking utensil holder.
"My favorite features of the newer ones are definitely the built-in spouts for pouring, and the skillets with the spatula and spoon holders," says Robertson. "I also love the ones where you can detach the base for better storage capabilities. Last, but not least, the deeper, the better for me!"
Also helpful for serving: a tempered glass cover and stay-cool handles that—bonus!—fold down to release the pan from the base and make for compact storage in your cabinet. Gaining back those extra inches in your cupboard is clutch, especially since you won’t need to sacrifice any part of the 16-inch rectangular cooking surface.
Dimensions (LxWxH): 20 x 12.5 x 8 inches | Weight: 8.5 pounds | Wattage: 1500 W | Maximum Temperature: 400 degrees
Best Budget: Oster DuraCeramic 12-Inch Electric Skillet
What We Love: Deep sidewalls, elevated surface to avoid damage
What We Don’t Love: Skillet isn’t removable from base, surface may scald
As with any nonstick cookware, electric skillets on the cheaper side tend to have a shorter lifespan than their multi-coated, specially infused, pricier brethren. This mid-range but high-value one by Oster is a safe pick for your wallet, plus its Dura Ceramic surface is free of PTFE and PFOA chemicals. Ceramic won’t flake or peel as easily as regular nonstick-treated skillets, and this particular model’s promises to be four times more durable. It’s efficient, too, by 20 percent, able to reach your desired temperature faster and stay there.
For serving, wide, ribboned cool-touch handles make it easy to carry finished dishes like chicken skillet enchiladas to the table once you unplug the probe. The tempered glass lid with a steam vent offers diners a sneak peek at the buffet table. Finally, deep 2.5-inch sidewalls keep things from getting messy there, too, as folks help themselves to the treat you’ve made.
Dimensions (LxWxH): 14.6 x 5.9 x 13.5 inches | Weight: 6 pounds | Wattage: 1200 W | Maximum Temperature: 420 degrees
Best Splurge: All-Clad Electric Nonstick Skillet, 7-Quart
What We Love: Removable cooking insert, skillet can handle up to 600 degrees, oversized for big batch cooking
What We Don’t Love: Very heavy
If you want a skillet that will stand-in for a stove, this is it. With bonded, single-ply stainless steel construction that works hard to distribute heat evenly across its oversized 14-inch, nonstick surface and capabilities that go from keep warm to sear, this prestigious brand-name appliance earns its hefty price tag. This fancy branding is evidenced in the embossed riveted stainless steel handle and in the details.
For instance, the proprietary Eterna coating, which is known to be among the world’s most durable, scratch-resistant nonstick treatments. Its notable 1800-watt capability—on par with electric woks, which prioritize heating—is hundreds of watts over the standard max. There's a permanent steam vent in the tempered glass lid, and a glossy mirror finish on the exterior. The removable cooking insert is oven- and broiler-safe up to 600 degrees, giving you more flexible use out of one small appliance to create a sum greater than its parts. This also makes it incredibly easy to finish dishes like skillet lasagna without needing a new pan. Lastly, the 47-inch cord is detachable for easier storage.
Dimensions (LxWxH): 16.75 x 16.7 x 6.5 inches | Weight: 13.4 pounds | Wattage: 1800 W | Maximum Temperature: 450 degrees
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Best Large: Black+Decker SK1215BC Family Sized Electric Skillet
What We Love: Pan-tilt leg for greasy drippings, dishwasher-safe base
What We Don’t Love: Only goes to 400 degrees, large size makes it hard to store
There’s not much fancy about this utilitarian electric skillet, but when you’re just trying to get a lot of food on the table and meals in many mouths, what you really need is something affordable you can rely on to get the simple job done. That’s where this well-regarded classic does, offering 2-inch high sidewalls to keep things neat and contained, a nonstick surface to simplify cleanup, and a dishwasher-safe base for when a wipe-off isn’t enough.
"I liked the oversized Oster electric skillet we had growing up because it had a huge cooking surface and it was pretty versatile," says Robertson. "You can cook so much in there, and it’s a plus if you had a small kitchen like ours! It’s definitely convenient having an extra cooking surface when you’re just trying to knock things out."
To simplify things even further, this has an easy-to-use dial probe that displays temperatures in Celsius and Fahrenheit, and lets you keep food warm at under 200 degrees Fahrenheit. This control offers a quick-release feature, too, to get you from cooking to serving as quickly as possible. And of course, cool-touch handles designed for a sure-handed grip don’t come amiss when the chaos of a hungry herd is afoot. An added bonus for cooks is the pan-tilt leg that allows burger grease and other fat to run off and prevents sogginess, all the better to keep that crowd-pleaser.
Dimensions (LxWxH): 17.4 x 12 x 4.4 inches | Weight: 7.8 pounds | Wattage: 1200 W | Maximum Temperature: 400 degrees
Best Ceramic: GreenLife Healthy Power 5-Quart Turquoise Electric Skillet
What We Love: Made from recycled material, eco-friendly curing practices, fun colors, elevated height, rivet-free construction, dishwasher-safe
What We Don’t Love: Tops out at 400 degrees
There’s more to this ceramic-coated electric skillet than cute-as-a-button good looks, what with its shiny turquoise exterior, swooping wide and solid ribbon-like handles, and fat knob atop its tempered glass lid. This design is for consumers who prioritize keeping the environment.
GreenLife lives up to its company name by first using recycled aluminum in the creation of its skillets. They continue by using a nonstick ceramic coating derived from sand, free of PFAS, PFOA, lead, and cadmium. It creates this surface with a curing process that generates 60 percent less carbon dioxide than traditional nonstick coating manufacturing does. But that doesn’t mean it performs to any lesser standard. Its Healthy Power heating technology gets nice and hot quickly, and the rivet-less interior makes cleaning up easier. With nothing for your ingredients to snag on or stick to, it’s perhaps even a moot point that the entire thing (minus the probe) is dishwasher-safe.
Dimensions (LxWxH): 15.7 x 12.2 x 7.1 inches | Weight: 6.8 pounds | Wattage: 1200 W | Maximum Temperature: 400 degrees
Best Deep: KLOLKUTTA Electric Hot Pot with Burner
What We Love: Versatile, dishwasher-safe cookware, tidy cord storage, even heating
What We Don’t Love: Hot cooktop could be dangerous, imprecise heat settings
I could recommend a more traditional deep-dish electric skillet, especially one with a unique multi-layer granite coating, but the versatility of this two-part, removable appliance won me over. (The cute color helped, too.)
Its base is a full burner with high-efficiency heating tubes that promise quick and extremely even heating to eliminate the hot spots that can occur with coil burner, one-piece electric skillets. It even has overheating protection built-in, with an automatic shut-off enabled if the plate reaches a higher temperature than its internal setting. And with a 3.9-inch depth and 11.8-inch diameter, this is more than just a nonstick skillet—in fact, it’s also listed as a shabu shabu hot pot.
Dimensions (LxWxH): 14 x 14 x 9 inches | Weight: 7.4 pounds | Wattage: 1200 W
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The Presto 06857 Foldaway Electric Skillet (view at Amazon) offers high cooking capacity, compact storage, a sleek display-ready profile, and modern features at an affordable price point. For more serious cooks, the All-Clad 7-Quart Electric Nonstick Skillet (view at Amazon) is a multi-function showstopper that's worth the investment.
What to Look for in an Electric Skillet
Electric skillets are meant for convenience. That means nonstick is a prevalent characteristic in models across the board. This can mean anything from basic to premium nonstick coatings to ceramic coating, which is always free of PTFE and PFOA. Some nonstick finishes may even be reinforced with titanium, diamond, granite, or other materials to increase their resistance to scratching. “A big added benefit to electric skillets is their nonstick features," says Barry Frish. "It’s so easy to wipe [it] out with a towel and keep it clean between cooking batches!"
Electric skillet bases are often made of cast aluminum for its heat conductivity and ability to get hot fast. You’ll want to make sure it’s heavy cast aluminum, though, to avoid warping. High-quality stainless steel will also ensure that your electric skillet maintains its carefully designed form.
Other common features among electric skillets include tempered glass lids, cool-touch handles on the skillet or base itself, and an average wattage of 1500 watts. On the low end of the scale is 1000 watts while 1800 watts is extraordinary, so bear that in mind when shopping. This affects the heat to which your electric skillet can reach, which is set by what is typically a dial control, which ideally comes in the form of detachable temperature probe. In the best models, the ability to separate the base from the cookware is also a highlight.
Newer features to keep an eye out for are the ability to strain and drain for healthier cooking, automatic shut-off features, a keep-warm function, sear function, and aesthetics that make it go from cookware to serving ware with a simple yank of a plug.
Electric skillets ought to be cleaned based on their finishes and materials. For example, nonstick skillets should be washed gently with a nonabrasive pad and mild soap while stainless steel can benefit from some Bar Keeper’s Friend.
Generally speaking, though, as Frish says, "It’s so easy to wipe [nonstick electric skillets] out with a towel and keep it clean between cooking batches!" But for real-life, single-use, at-home cleaning, it’s best to find an electric skillet with a detachable probe. In the models that separate from the bases, this often gives you the freedom to immerse it in water for a deep soak. Better yet, many of the ones with this feature are often dishwasher-safe.
Why do I need an electric skillet?
Electric skillets can be ideal in a variety of situations where space and energy source is an issue, or simply because you don’t want to heat up the kitchen. They’re also great for show cooking, buffets, or making big batches when you may not have the burner space or appropriately oversized pan. Many users favor them for camping, cookouts, holiday meals, apartment or dorm room use, or just to save on stove space.
Are nonstick skillets dishwasher safe?
It depends on the model and the part. Some lids, for instance, might be dishwasher-safe while others aren't, even if they’re both made from tempered glass. Some bases can withstand being immersed in water and others, typically the attached units, cannot. Many inserts are, though. However, all of those that are dishwasher-safe are all so because you can remove the thermostat probe from the base, which is also the plug. For your safety, it's important to always check the manufacturer’s recommendations.
What can you make in an electric skillet?
Electric skillets are versatile cooking appliances that are suitable for pan-frying, sautéing, roasting, steaming, even baking! And with enough depth, you can also stew, braise, and deep-fry.
What’s the difference between an electric skillet and a wok?
In four words: shape, size, depth, and heat. Electric skillets have vertical, straight walls that stand at 90-degree angles from its base, while woks have curved walls that wrap up from flat or round wells. Electric skillets are flat from edge to edge, and are found in round, rectangular, and square shapes. Electric woks are always circular, and their primary cooking surface is smaller than their overall diameter. The walls are in woks are used for cooking, whereas in an electric skillet, its only job is containment. Next, electric skillets are usually not as tall as woks, with the little bit of overlap being around the 3-inch mark. Another overlap can occur in wattage—electric skillets cap out at 1500 watts, typically, and electric woks start there.
Why Trust Simply Recipes?
This guide was authored by Su-Jit Lin, who has over a dozen years of experience writing about food, twice that in cooking it, and thrice in enjoying all of it with extreme and likely unseemly gusto. She’s a particular fan of smorgasborg dinner buffets at fancy gala events that feature electric skillets, shamelessly visiting them repeatedly for the freshest, cooked-to-order offer of the spread.
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Radulovic L, Wojcinski Z. PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene; Teflon®). Encyclopedia of Toxicology (Third Edition). 2014; 1133-1136. doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-386454-3.00970-2
United States Environmental Protection Agency. Technical Fact Sheet - Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS) and Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA).