Your Burning Questions

What's the Best Stovetop Pan for Everyday Use?

By • November 2, 2013 • 41 Comments

There are so many great conversations on the Hotline -- it's hard to choose a favorite. But we'll be doing it, once a week, to spread the wealth of our community's knowledge -- and to keep the conversation going.

Today: We'll help you avoid pan regret.

Pans on Food52

A pan is not an expendable accessory in your kitchen -- it's not like having a dull peeler, or a flimsy spatula -- it can make-or-burn a meal. If a pan isn't up to the task, you could end up with less than perfect scrambled eggs or an overly-browned frittata. So how do you select the perfect pan? Do you prefer stainless steel or cast iron? Does it include the environmentally controversial non-stick coating? If you're not strategic when choosing a pan, you could quickly find yourself wishing that you went with a different option. 

Laurgolis made a wise move and the tapped into collective Food52 wisdom bank before selecting an everyday skillet for frying, simmering, and sautéing:

  • Going with one solitary pan is not easy -- most had two standbys: a cast iron pan and a non-stick skillet.
  • The crowd favorite without a doubt was cast iron. Recently, the community offered wonderful advice on how to care for your cast iron (with bonus tips for where to scour for the best pans).
  • ChefJune interjected that any good pan should be non-stick if you heat it correctly.
  • Rhonda35 shared the brilliant tip to make sure larger pans have a small handle on one side to make for easy transportation. (We've all been guilty of a risky stove to sink pan transfer!) 

More: Cast Iron 101 -- SelectionSeasoning, and Cleaning.

What pans have you found most success with? Do you get different results based on the pan? If you were forced to only have one pan in your kitchen what would it be? Tell us in the comments!

Photo by Nicole Franzen

 

Jump to Comments (41)

Tags: how-to & diy, pan, saute, frying, simmering, hotline, best question

Comments (41)

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16 days ago Brenda

It sounds like you have good genetics, but my family has a history of Alzheimer's on both sides, my dads sisters, and also on my mom's side of the family. Good luck to me in not getting it later on, right? So I just try to steer away from what might cause me to get it, you know? :)

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16 days ago Napie

OK, so my opinion is that after 200 years of cast iron cooking to say it causes Alzheimer's is a load of crap. My family has used it for generations and everyone had long (90 years plus..) and no ill effects. There are plenty of others too. Besides just how are you going to make cornbread without it????!!!!

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16 days ago Brenda

Actually Dr. Bernard said it, and it was in Veg Times too. I know family members of mine that use cast iron and swear by them, but there is always more than one view point on it, and personally I don't want to use them! This is an opinion forum so as far as it being a load of crap idk.

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16 days ago Brenda

Sorry that was such a long comment, I meant to only copy the part of the article about cast iron and Alzheimer's, anyway I just thought I'd put in my two cents worth. Didn't mean to offend anyone! :)

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16 days ago Napie

Cuz if Oz says it it must be gospel.... Give me break, what load of crap..

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16 days ago Brenda





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Dr Oz, Foods That Cause Alzheimers & Cast Iron Skillet Alzheimers Link

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Written by: Jeff Sullivan admin on March 8, 2013.


Dr Oz Talks About What Foods Cause Alzheimers & The Link Between Cast Iron Skillets and Alzheimers Disease

cast iron skillet, dr oz, alzheimer's disease
Cast Iron Skillets May Increase Risk For Alzheimers

Dr. Oz invited Dr. Neal Barnard on to the show to talk about a disease (Alzheimers) that terrifies us all. During this segment Dr. Oz and Dr. Barnard talk about the use of cast iron skillets and their link to Alzheimers disease. They also talk about which foods increase your risk of getting Alzheimers disease and the precautions you can take to keep your brain healthy and ward off this disease. Also be sure to check out the follow up segment on foods to prevent alzheimer’s disease.

Prevent Alzheimer’s Through Diet

Dr. Oz said the recent studies have returned data that says that the brains of people with Alzheimers have higher concentrations of certain minerals. The study gives the indication that eating certain foods like meat, fish, and dairy can raise your risk of getting Alzheimers disease. Dr. Neal Barnard believes that the answer to preventing Alzheimers shouldn’t come from any drug but rather than from the food that we consume. Diet can be the best medicine or method of prevention of ever getting this debilitating disease.

Can Cast Iron Skillets Cause Alzheimer’s?

Dr. Barnard feels that Alzheimer’s Disease is caused by the build up of metals like copper, zinc, and iron in the brain. He said that cooking with cast iron skillets can cause a buildup of metals in the brain over time. When they reach a “toxic” level they release free radicals which attack your brain cells.

Foods That Increase Your Risk For Alzheimer’s Disease

Meat - Meat contains iron which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially if you are anemic. However, some people eat entirely too much meat and consume too much iron. Some meats are also unhealthy for the heart and brain because of it’s high saturated fat content.

Dairy - Dairy products that contain high amounts of saturated fat isn’t healthy for brain.

Fish – Dr. Barnard explained to Dr. Oz that certain fish contain high quantities of potentially harmful metals. He pointed out that lobster is particularly high in potentially harmful metals. He said that you can get Omega 3 fatty acids from other sources.

Vitamin Supplements – Dr. Barnard spoke to Dr. Oz about multivitamin supplements. He said that multivitamins does help to provide you with all of the vitamins you need, you shouldn’t pick out a supplement that contains iron, zinc, or copper because you get plenty just through your diet alone.

Are you a fan of Dr. Oz but don’t have the opportunity to tune in on a daily basis? Consider Liking “Fans of Dr. Oz” on Facebook to view daily show recaps and summaries at your leisure while you are logged into Facebook.






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Disclaimer: The information contained in this website is provided for informational purposes only, and is not intended to convey medical advice or to substitute for advice from your own physician.

That's good, I read the article I think in Veg Times originally, and it was also on the Dr. Oz show. It just said that over time a new study suggest that certain metals like copper, zinc, and iron can build up in the brain and possibly cause Alzheimer's disease. I'm not saying it's true in every case, for sure! I just have been steering away from cast iron pans since I read the article and heard it on Oz. To each his own you know? :)

Bck

16 days ago Bernie

I can personally attest to a long line (153 years of my great grans, grans, children and grandchildren) of family cooks and caterers who used and/or ate from cast iron almost daily. So far, no Alzheimer's or any other ailment that could be traced to cast iron except the occasional banged-up toe from an unfortunate drop. For the seasoning-challenged I would suggest the pre-seasoned cast iron pans now sold by most cookware vendors.

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16 days ago Brenda

I read that cast iron pans can emit extra iron into your blood system and could contribute to Alzheimer's disease over time.

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about 1 month ago istreeter

After cooking for more than 55 years, I have come to the conclusion that it's not just the pan, but the cooktop is just as, if not more, important. I learned on gas and swore by the old cast iron pan for many years. Then I was dropped on to an electric stove in Hawaii, and found it useless! Fortunately I had a cookware set of flint by Farberware (c 1964) that I think you can't even find any more, and I quickly adapted to it. All pieces, with the exception of the frypan, are still in use today. I have since used the teflon coated and like it (still electric) but found the coating does not stand up well for more than a few years. And some brands are useless from day 1. We have a vacation home in the mountains and, while it is heated all winter, it appears to create a moisture issue for my stored teflon, causing it to begin pealing well in advance of the articles I use at home more frequently Most recently I have graduated to the ceramic coatings and agree that they are a step up from the teflon--I am awaiting a judgment on their durability. If I was able to use gas, I would again try the cast iron. Unfortunately, for the past 45 years we have lived in areas where it is not available as natural.

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about 1 month ago deb fulk tester

IM A NUT FROM MILTARY AND THE BEST PANS ARE CAST IRON I HAVE A CAST IRON WITH LONG HANDLES YOU PUT ON FIREPIT OR OPEN FIREAND CAN COOK STEAK EGSS CHOCLATE CAKE OR ANYTHING IT WAS MY GREAT GREAT GRANDMOTHER THESE NEW GREEN PANS AND OTHERS CANT MAKE FOOD TASTE GOOD LIKE THE OLD STUFF. MY MASTER DEGREE COME FROM MY FAMILY AND GGOOD FRIENDS IN LIFE .HAVE COOKED WITH MANY CHEFS IN MILITARY AND END ITALY AND TEXAS AND OTHERS IN MAGOLIA COUNTRIES . MOMS GIVE YOUR KIDS THE REAL THING CAST IRON . YOU CAN FIND THESE AT YARD SALES OR FLEA MARKETS OR THRIFT STORES. HAPPY 4TH JULY

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2 months ago Augustina Ragwitz

I use a cast iron pan as my main go-to pan. The #1 secret to cooking with cast iron is to use lots of fat. At minimum, cook some bacon or pork belly in the pan to render some of the fat out. The other trick is make sure things are fully seared before trying to turn them or move them. Once they've developed the proper crust, they will lift right off the pan. I cook eggs on mine and usually only have trouble with sticking if the pan temperature is too low or I try to move them before they are fully set. For acidic things like tomato based foods, I generally use my 3 1/2 quart enameled cast iron dutch oven from Le Creuset.

The ONLY downside to cast iron is the weight!! For a little lighter, I also use french iron pan which also needs to be seasoned so it doesn't stick. The brand I use is DeBuyer Mineral B.

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2 months ago Brian L. Baker

My 4 go to pans are a 12' cast iron skillet, a DeMeyere Chefs Pan, a LeCrueset 3.5 qt braiser, and an 11" ScanPan CTQ non-stick skillet. The CTQ is some fabulous stuff. It is 5 plys of stainless steel and aluminum, coated with the finest "green" non-stick available. It is a ceramic titanium finish, and right now, with the CTQ line introduction, the 11" is on sale at SurLaTable for $89.95 - a ridiculous deal.

FWIW, I am a librarian and a trained chef, and former cookware salesman at SurLaTable in Fresno, CA.

Prospect

2 months ago Jewels Vern

People keep telling me that cast iron is the best, but cast iron pans have always been a disaster for me. I follow the tempering instructions exactly and they are fine until I fry meat. Then I need a carbide tipped chisel to clean them. Eventually I picked up a bit of wisdom: "Designers talk about cooking, but cooks don't talk about design." Every restaurant I have been in, cast iron is prominently absent. They all (and I mean all!) use pans of a white alloy, uncoated, and they never ever have burned on food. So I bought my pans at a restaurant supply store and I have had no problems since. Please don't tell me about cast iron any more: professional cooks don't use it.

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2 months ago Napie

Then you have not spent much time in professional kitchens in the south... Cast iron has been the choice of cooks for a few hundred years. I would say you just have not been doing it correctly. And BTW it is called seasoning, not "tempering"...

Prospect

2 months ago Jewels Vern

Yes, obviously I am doing something wrong. And nobody seems to know what. After much effort I have found something that works, so I am going with that. I have no ill will to people who happen to like their cast iron stuff, just because they can't explain what they are doing to make it work.

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2 months ago Napie

Well you sure have snarky down pat...

Prospect

2 months ago Jewels Vern

Sorry if it sounded that way, but there it is.

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2 months ago John Moll

Go to Lodge Manufacturing ( http://www.lodgemfg.com/ ) , they are the only company that have make cast iron pans for over 100 years & USA made. Everything else is made in China & I don't trust what materials they are using. To resolve your problems with the cast Iron they have instructions on to season your cast iron. Also I never wash them with soap & water only HOT water and brush out or scrape out any food residue, then wipe with some cooking oil. Hope this helps, major information from Lodge. By the way, the steel pans & Ceramic Pots from Lodge are made in China.

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2 months ago deb fulk tester

I HAVE A CAST IRON FROM GRANDA AND OTHERS FROM MY SWEET MOMMY.THESE COOK BACON BETTER THAN ANY MICOWAVE AND FISH AND CHICKEN AND THE T-FAL AND WEAR EVER PANS I GOT FOR MY HOPE CHEST WHILE END SCHOOL I RARELY USE. HISTORY HAS MANY A MEAL END THE BIG CAST IRON POTS OVER A OPEN FIRE OUTSIDE ITS GOOD TO PUT ONE END YOU FIREPLACE WHEN POWER GOES OUT ME AND FAMILY HAVE A POT OF BEEF STEW OR CHICKEN STEW. AND I LOVE THE CAST IRON ON LONG HANDLES TO COOK OVER OPEN FIRE .WE USE ON FIREPIT OR CAMPIMG.ITS MY GREAT GREAT GRANDMAS.

Bck

3 months ago Bernie

After nearly 75 years of passionate “home” cooking, I’m more than ever attached to the cast iron pans of the sort I grew up with. I use treated (enameled, etc.) cast iron for braises or anything needing a rim higher than the skillets. Stainless steel became the B-team in the forties with copper-clad Revere ware the “class” act for me, now supplanted by All-Clad. A lot of non-stick versions of everything have come and gone in the dozen or so kitchens I’ve had, and a lot of Calphalon has come and just hung around. I still never see a new pot that I don’t want to try, but the A-team is always made up of cast iron for flats and heavy stainless for everything else.

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6 months ago grasspress

i've used a variety of pans over the years (i'm 71 and an avid cook). today, i'm using 'scanpan' for most uses; i have three sizes, the 'low cost' version with the non-metal handle but which is good up to most oven temps). it cleans right up and is easy to move on the stove top. i have used cast iron in the past and like it but it's too heavy for me. i have a staub brand grill pan which i love! (and staub brand cocottes which i also love.) i've used all-clad and (nearly) all the big-name varieties but am now sticking to scanpan. i'll probably change when something new comes along. b-t-w, don't look for the pan to improve your cooking skills. it all starts with you!

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7 months ago queen jeanne

What about for use on a conduction stovetop. What works best?

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7 months ago Michelle DL

I've been using a Scanpan lately. It's the best frying pan I've ever used. Working on switching my whole collection over!

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7 months ago Senlin

Can a cast iron be used on a flat top electric range. I have a couple of old cast iron skillets and have not used they for quite a while because I was told not to use them on a flat top range.

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7 months ago lizabeth

I've used T-Fal non-stick pans off and on for many years. I went "off" T-Fal to see what all the fuss was about with Calphalon and Analon and found out that T-Fal makes a great quality pan and the telfon coating and heat distribution is every bit as good as with the expensive pans. Non-stick pans require certain care to last a long time - medium heat, don't wash them when they're hot, use plastic utensils so you don't scratch it. Do these things and don't buy expensive non-stick cookware.