We completely agree with America’s Test Kitchens: the ideal nonstick skillet is easy to handle, is durable, has great release, and cooks food evenly with appropriate browning. Also, it should have good design ---shape and size. Don’t forget to take the weight into the account since the heavy pans are taxing to move and maneuver.
However, the perfect size is arguable, mostly depends on duties. America’s Test Kitchen prefers wide cooking area, 11- to 12-inch pans, for having at least 9.5 inches of flat surface for uncrowded searing, while many experts, like The Sweet Home and Serious Eats, opt for 10-inch skillet for perfect flipped omelets or tortillas.
On merit of performance and quality, All-clad is apparently the gold standard. The All-Clad HA1 ($90 for 8” and 10” fry pans), anodized aluminum body with patent nonstick surface, does everything superbly on most stovetops, for both evenly cooking and food releasing.
The All-Clad NSR2 ($135 for 10” fry pan) offers stainless-steel exterior and tri-ply construction for more durability and heat controlling---quicker but not too harsh heating, even cooking and golden browning. Moreover, it provides more practical designs: traditional low, flare-sloped sides, rolled rims. The cooking result turns evenly, consistently golden brown, as well as great to release foods.
Some serious cooks might opt to All-Clad NSR2 d5 ($185 for 10” fry pan), the nonstick version of d5 stainless steel series, for even better NSR2 in both performance and strength as featuring 5-ply construction with alternating layers of stainless-steel and aluminum. If the extra 50 bucks don’t hurt you, this skillet is a really great gear. All-around, these are top-of-the-line skillets, high price but worth it.
Swiss Diamond ($140 for 10.25” fry pan), the Consumer Reports’ favorite choice, did overall great jobs in their test as cooked evenly and withstood the durability test. It has large cooking area with straight sides, which yields better for searing than flipping eggs. Still, the overall durability and performance are absolutely unquestioned.
Scanpan CTQ ($160 for 10.25” pan), a PFOA- and PTFE-free product, has scratch-resistant ceramic titanium surface with well-made construction. It offers wide cooking surface and short straight sides, which makes a bit difficult to flip eggs or traditional toss, but surpasses for browning meats and filet, excellent heat distribution without hot spot.
Viking Professional 5-Ply Stainless Steel Nonstick ($170 for 10” fry pan) offers 5-ply boned construction with nonstick finish inside, like the All-Clad NSR2 d5. The cooking ability and craft quality are exceptional for heavy-duty cooks. Still, not a deal breaker, it heats quickly and harsh-y than All-Clad, which easily gives browner or too-burnt foods when cooks on high heat.
Cuisinart Contour ($40 for 10” fry pan) got so much esteem from The Sweet Home as a solid second choice. It offers slick nonstick surface that release eggs easily, crafts solid construction, has metal riveted handles and good traditional shape. It did excellent jobs in their test: gave a little uneven and have straighter sides than their top picks, Tramontina, that makes a bit harder to flip eggs. Still, it’s well-performed overall.
Calphalon Contemporary ($40 for 10” fry pan) evidences that modern style can go along with performance and durability. It effortlessly releases foods, evenly fries eggs, beautifully makes pancakes or flipped French omelets. Moreover, the nonstick coat feels tough enough for handle heavily daily duties. This skillet feels firmly weighty, like a high-end product, as well as has nice balance in hand and easy to maneuver.
Calphalon Unison ($60 for 8” and 10” fry pans) is noticebly the flagship on skillet of Calphalon. Not only providing good shape for handling, the skillet has 2 types of coats: ‘Ultra-Smooth Slide’ surface for effortlessly releasing foods, better suits for eggs recipes, while ‘Sear’ surface helps keeping flavor and perfect browning meats. Overall, it’s a really good heavy-duty pan, well-design and solid-made.
Calphalon Signature ($50 for 10” fry pan) has quality, bottom-heavy construction that makes heavier and tougher coat than the Contemporary. It specially features ‘Sear Surface’ for searing and browning tasks, still leaves few hot spots but not a big deal. The heat performance comes close to some higher-ranged products in very affordable price. it’s dishwasher-safe and oven-safe up to 500°F, too.
Anolon Advanced Bronze ($60 for 10” fry pan), a best-selling product praised by J.Kenji Lopez-Alt from Serious Eats, comes with thick anodized aluminum construction and velvet-bronzed color. It heats rapidly and holds heat longer than others but has very few hot spots. This might bring harsh brown for delicate recipes, like eggs, when using too high temperature, but is great for meat searing.
Zwilling Madura Plus ($50 for 10” pan) was highly acclaimed by Brad Leone from Bon Appetite as the best nonstick pan for both egg jobs and crispy fish sears. With titanium ceramic construction, it possibly is a toughest nonstick pan out there, as well as yields excellent in heat distribution. The shape is closer to traditional skillet than Swiss Dimond or Scanpan, which helps preventing jumping out foods when tossing.
If you look for a nice mid-range induction-compatible skillet, Anolon Nouvelle Copper ($45 for 8” and 10” fry pans) is a solid performer. It features 3 conductive layers base, both copper and aluminum, for decent induction performance. It’s quite weighty but helps firmly sitting on stoves without warping or sliding around.
Circulon Symmetry ($50 for 8” and 10” fry pans) provides super-nonstick and durable coat that flexible enough for many heat sources, from gas, solid plate, ceramic, radiant ring, halogen to induction stovetop, as well as oven up to 400°F and dishwasher-safe. The hassle-free guarantee and good consumer service is a bonus.
Farberware Restaurant Pro Aluminum Nonstick ($25 for 10” skillet), highly recommended by Daniel Gritzer of Serious Eats, is a solid pan with slick nonstick finish. It takes time for heating but cooks evenly than many pricier models. As the result, this skillet isn’t great for searing but is accomplished for fragile tasks, like eggs. Also, the construction is lightweight but not flimsy. The handle is too long and might feel awkward to hold.
Tramontina Professional Restaurant Nonstick Frypan ($30 for 10” skillet), the winner of The Sweet Home, offers well-built, thick cast-aluminum construction and exceptional nonstick finish for excellent even heating and quicker reaches the temperature. Also, it has good shape for producing egg works, especially flipping omelets and fried eggs without clinging to the pan. This fry pan is lightweight but has a too long, stay-cool rubber handle that makes a bit tricky to balance.
Oxo Good Grips ($35 for 10” skillet), the new ‘Highly Recommended’ product of America’s Test Kitchen, offers a broad, smooth, flat surface that cooks and releases food perfectly. It has a bunch of features for a nice skillet: a comfort grip, no-slip stay-cool silicone handle, rolled lips for spill-free pouring foods for serving, easy-to-release nonstick finish. The anodized aluminum body makes studier body but isn’t weighty.
Cuisinart Chef’s Classic Stainless Nonstick ($40 for 10” skillet) offers a lot of great features, like an expensive one in reasonable price. It offers 18/10 stainless steel exterior with titanium nonstick surface with a thick aluminum encapsulated base for heating quickly and spreading heat evenly, as well as improving sturdiness to prevent denting of warping walls. The good ergonomic designs: comfortable grip, stainless-steel handles, drip-free pouring, sloped sides and wide flat bottom---makes it a most outstanding user-friendly skillet here.
Cuisinart CastLite Nonstick ($40 for 10” skillet) is a good hybrid of cast-iron and nonstick: nonstick pan that can retain heat longer than traditional ones. It superbly brings golden-browned meats, while allows for further cooking in the oven up to 500°F. This skillet is heftier than normal nonstick pans but lighter than cast-iron ones.
T-Fal E93805 Professional Nonstick ($25 for 10.25” Fry Pan), the past winner of America’s Test Kitchen, suits for daily egg routines. At this steal price, it accents value: brilliant nonstick coating, easy-to-control handle, and induction compatibility, though brings a bit too-browned results. It’s not a long-run workhorse and is found durability issues: dented, thin walls. Still, if you don’t mind, replacing a new one won’t break the bank.