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Wide, flat-bottomed, with tapered rims that flare out and long handles, skillets are used for searing, pan-frying, cooking, scrambling, sautéing, and even making thick sauces or curries. They’re ideal for quick cooking that needs a lot of surface area like omelettes, frittatas, pancakes, and chicken and eggplant cutlets. The slightly curved bases and angled edges—a key differentiator from sauté pans, which have tall, straight sides—make it easy to flip your food with a spatula, or a flick of the wrist from that extended handle if you’re feeling confident.
A good skillet is a foundational piece of every kitchen. It’s one of the first things we buy when we strike out on our own. In my home, it’s a cooking vessel used so often that it has a permanent spot on the stove, no matter how much room there might miraculously be in the cabinet.
If all of that describes a merely good skillet, you can imagine what a treasure a great skillet is. Here are our recommendations for the best 12-inch skillets you can buy.
Best Overall: Anolon X Nonstick Fry Pan
What We Like: Oven-safe to 500 degrees, compatible with metal tools
What We Don't Like: Handwashing recommended
If performance, flashiness, technology, and modern panache are important, the Anolon X nonstick skillet is the dream.
Made with anodized aluminum and stainless steel for both heat distribution and heavy use, this is crafted with an innovative new design that is meant to last. It is triple-coated to be resistant to both chipping and scratching, and the surface has a steel mesh grid panel that serves double duty. It protects the finish enough that you can use metal tools and promotes even browning and caramelization. To that effect, its more rounded base keeps oils in the center of the pan—a common annoyance in other skillets, especially cheap ones that warp within a handful of uses. But with a thick, induction-friendly full-cap stainless steel base that stretches from edge to edge, you can kiss your worries of warping goodbye for good.
Another durability feature is the dual riveted handles, which Anolon used as another opportunity to address an accepted pain point. This skillet’s rivets are flush and nonstick, avoiding unsightly scorched, stuck-on foods from marring your stovetop’s biggest star. No detail was considered too small in this cure-all skillet.
Best Classic: All-Clad HA1 Hard Anodized Nonstick Covered 12-Inch Skillet
What We Like: Oven-safe to 500 degrees, scratch-resistant, lightweight
What We Don't Like: Top of handle can be uncomfortable at certain angles
Don’t need all the bells and whistles, just the power-playing workhorse? Then this All-Clad HA1 skillet is the one for you.
It’s backed by a lifetime warranty, which is safeguarded by the use of an ultra-durable, three-layer, PFOA-free nonstick coating designed to be more scratch-resistant than others in the marketplace. And I can vouch personally that this surface performs; eggs, pancakes, fish, and other litmus test foods just slide right out of this slightly rounded skillet with minimal oil. Plus, that action is even easier with a riveted helper handle and long stay-cool stainless handle that’s also lightweight due to its channel design. There is a hollow concave channel at top of the handle that can be uncomfortable to grip at certain angles.
The inclusion of a lid makes it even more multi-purpose, as not all skillets include one. I also appreciate the handsome stamped stainless steel base that keeps it from warping and optimizes it for induction cooktops. You can also throw it in the broiler without worry—it’s good for up to 500 degrees.
Best Budget: Ninja Foodi NeverStick Premium Hard-Anodized 12-Inch Fry Pan
What We Like: Great heat retention, scratch-resistant, induction compatible
What We Don't Like: Takes a few extra minutes to heat up
While lightweight, aluminum, thinly-coated nonstick skillets may be cheaper, they’re prone to warping and burning. That's why our budget pick is still a hard-anodized model. This Ninja skillet can compete against those costing nearly twice as much and in some cases, offering fewer features.
The most impressive highlight of this skillet is that it claims that it will never ever stick, chip, or flake, due to the fact that its nonstick, shot-blasted interior and exterior coating are finished at 30,000 degrees as opposed to a more standard 900. No surprise, then, that it’s oven-safe to 500 degrees. What is surprising at this price point is that it’s safe for metal utensils and made with a heavy-gauge 4.5-millimeter aluminum base for consistent, even heating. Sure, it may take a little longer to preheat because of this thickness, but patience is a virtue, right?
Related: The Best Frying Pans
Best Set: Calphalon Elite Nonstick 8-Inch, 10-Inch and 12-Inch Fry Pan Set
What We Like: Safe in the broiler, three versatile sizes, scratch-resistant
What We Don't Like: Heavy, not induction compatible
Want a sturdy starter set that’ll last you from now through the next decade or so? This Calphalon three-pan set is the one. With an 8-inch, a 10-inch, and a 12-inch pan, it covers you for every size and application you might need a skillet for, fulfilling your basic needs and functions with just enough hardiness and upgrades to grow with your skills.
This Elite line is two grades up from Calphalon’s accessible Contemporary line, but worth the investment for the ability to use metal utensils. Its specially textured, triple-layered surface is designed for gorgeous searing and the thick ergonomic handles for easy gripping. As you’d expect, these handles are all riveted, including the helper loop on the 12-inch. Safe in the broiler, oven, and dishwasher, this set is rugged and ready.
Best Stainless Steel: Anolon Nouvelle 12-Inch Copper Stainless Steel Skillet with Lid
What We Like: Copper-banded base, high sides, domed lid
What We Don't Like: Heavy, not induction compatible
Just looking at this absolutely stunning stainless-steel skillet is enough to make you feel the weight of a toque on your head. Its aesthetic channels culinary excellence and instills confidence from its handsome, solid-metal dome lid to its sleek high walls and gorgeous copper-banded base.
But make no mistake: this anti-corrosive, durable, long-lasting, and non-reactive classic beauty from Anolon is a beast and it’s meant to work. That cheery rosy stripe along the reinforced cap is no decorative ribbon. It's part of a copper and stainless five-layer metal base construction that ensures optimal heat control, cooking performance, and safeguards against warping.
Riveted handles, stove-to-oven capability, safe in the dishwasher, and a lifetime warranty guarantee that its functionality ages as elegantly as its looks.
Best Ceramic: GreenPan Venice Pro Ceramic Nonstick 12-Inch Frying Pan
What We Like: Oven safe to 600 degrees, non-toxic coating, dishwasher safe
What We Don't Like: Can chip or crack
Sand-derived ceramic skillets have become popular options for those concerned about the chemicals found in nonstick finishes. For that, many feel it’s worth the shorter lifespan and the potential ceramic has to crack and chip.
GreenPan's mineral coating means that it’ll never release toxic fumes since it’s free of PFAS, PFOA, lead, and cadmium, relying on technology like diamond infusion to keep your food from adhering. Because of this, it’s metal-utensil safe, with a hardiness that also makes this multilayer three-ply stainless steel body oven safe to 600 degrees, higher than many of its hard-anodized brethren.
This skillet is reinforced to help its unique bright-white surfaces stay that way. This one also features a Magneto Induction Base for superior searing and browning, a scratch- and warp-resistant hard-anodized aluminum body, and a mirror-polish stay-cool handle.
Related: The Best Cookware Sets
Best Cast Iron: Le Creuset Signature Deep Skillet
What We Like: Two pour spouts, will last for generations
What We Don't Like: Pricey
Everyone goes gaga over Le Creuset’s signature cast iron skillets, and honestly, they’re not wrong for it. The longevity, durability, and heat retention of these enameled deep skillets, are legendary.
Two spouts let you empty out the skillet from either side—a boon for lefties—while an improved helper handle makes it easier to … well, handle its heft. The jaunty ceramic finish colors that make these irresistible to shoppers are resistant to rusting, chipping, and cracking for longevity. Best of all, the black interior requires no additional seasoning, taking the guesswork out of working with cast iron.
This comes in three sizes: 10-inch, 12-inch, and 13-inch. All are induction-friendly and dishwasher safe.
Related: The Best Cast Iron Skillets
Best Carbon Steel: Made In Blue Carbon Steel Frying Pan
What We Like: Induction compatible, gets more nonstick over time
What We Don't Like: Needs regular seasoning
"A number of the Simply Recipes editors have Made In skillets and we love them. If I need a new pan, I basically always go to Made In first. They're as good or better as All-Clad, in my opinion, while costing a lot less." —Cambria Bold, Senior Editor, Cooking Education
This skillet calls itself a frying pan, but in truth, its sides are high enough to make this our top pick for carbon steel. This material takes the longevity and versatility of cast iron and makes it lightweight and quick to heat up for beautiful searing. Typically, you have to season carbon steel, but this pre-seasoned skillet gets you ready to go right out the gate with a nonstick finish that will improve with use (and regular seasoning).
Made In makes this pan in an 8-inch, a 10-inch, and 12-inch size, each with 2 millimeters of blue carbon steel. A triple-riveted handle with finger grooves is designed for reliable maneuverability, but the high arch is what really differentiates it. It’s just a more comfortable, natural grip than one that just sticks straight out.
Related: The Best Carbon Steel Pans
Best Deep: Anolon 12-Inch Hard Anodized Nonstick Deep Skillet
What We Like: Comes in striking unique colors, lifetime warranty
What We Don't Like: No helper handle, handwash only
When you want the high walls of a wok but need the flat searing surface of a frying pan, there’s nothing more perfect than this deep skillet.
Standing 6.5 inches tall and 14 inches across with a foot of cooking area, this Anolon skillet is an ideal and affordable choice for volume. And we don’t just mean voluminous portion sizes — we also mean cooking occasions. Its triple-layer nonstick coating is touted to last 16 times longer than its competitors and a whopping 80 times longer than ceramic, and its included glass lid (a bonus!) is also shatter-resistant.
This lid’s handle and the riveted long handle are both covered in silicone, too, to make it easier to grab a filled-up skillet, and it’s a nice touch that won’t melt away when you put it in the oven up to 400 degrees.
Best Electric: All-Clad 7-Quart Electric Nonstick Skillet
What We Like: Large capacity, even heating
What We Don't Like: Heavy, not scratch-resistant
If you’re looking for a freestanding, self-cooking skillet, we’re going to assume that you’re cooking for a crowd. And for that, a 7-quart capacity spread across a 14-inch diameter ought to please every member of it, even if its straight walls make it technically more of a sauté pan.
Its high-polish stainless steel exterior looks posh on any countertop, with a shape that emulates All-Clad's premium cookware. This material is used all the way through (in single-ply) but is covered by a nonstick coating on the interior, which claims to hold no hot spots, just a hot surface. On the other hand, the short, riveted loop handles promise to stay cool.
For superior, chef-like results each and every time, our overall do-it-all pick is the top-of-the-line Anolon X Nonstick Fry Pan (view at Williams Sonoma), whose bells and whistles come together in a symphony of elite features and near-guaranteed success. If you just want a reasonably priced, built-to-last, made-for-ease skillet, the HA1 model by All-Clad (view at Sur La Table) will serve beyond those basic expectations.
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 has more skillets than storage space, but even more purposes for each, which is how she justifies continuously adding to her collection.
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