Frying Pan Guide

Frying Pan Guide

Vanette Mendoza

We all love fried food, and having a trusty frying pan can help you whip up tasty treats fast, but we've all had one or two bad experiences with them. Whether it's food sticking, the handle falling off, or the surface flaking away, you want to ensure you choose a trusty frying pan. Here we help you choose the best frying pan for your kitchen and learn something you didn't know about frying.

What is a frying pan?

A frying pan has a flat service and shallow sides used for frying food with or without oil on the hob. Frying pans allow you to cook food fast, either lightly with oil or more submerged, which gives food a crispy, naughty, takeaway feel.

They are different from other pans as they have shallower sides and a perfect for frying, searing and browning foods. Frying food is done over high heat and allows your food to be cooked faster and crispier; it helps you create better, tastier, thoroughly cooked food that cooks much quicker than in the oven.


What to look out for when buying a frying pan

The most important things to look out for are what material is made out of, the size, and what type of hobs it works on. A frying pan makes cooking anything from fried eggs to chicken paella very simple. However, the choice can feel quite confusing depending on what you want. The frying pans are available in different sizes and materials, so choosing which one is right for you can get challenging.


How much should I spend on frying pans?

The cheaper frying pans can be good but don't often last as long and are more prone to warping. Usually, the cooking surface will deteriorate quickly as well. Many users experience warping on the bottom of the pans, meaning the pan no longer sits flat on the surface but curves up at one end, affecting the cooking process.

Whilst buying a set can save money in the short run, it's usually the budget ones that are sold like this and to get the best performance, you should look at buying them individually.



What's the difference between frying pans?

Most frying pans perform the same task; however, they come in various sizes and materials. The terms skillet and frying pan are often used interchangeably and mean the same thing; both are great for using for cooking meats and vegetables.


 Different types of frying pan explained

Cast iron frying pans

Cast iron is one of the most popular frying pans out there. It's durable and high quality, they're great conductors of heat and best of all, you can use them on any stovetop (including induction), which means you don't have to worry about what type your stove is. The only problem with cast iron pans is that they aren't non-stick (although some are available with an enamel coating making them easier to cook with and clean) or need to be seasoned.


Stainless steel frying pans

A good option if you want something that looks stylish and will last you a long time. Stainless steel frying pans are hygienic and easy to clean. Usually, they don't conduct heat as well as other materials, making them difficult to use on induction stoves or when making high-temperature foods (e.g. fish, chicken). They're also cumbersome, so it's best not to get one if you have any problems with your wrist/arm!


Carbon Steel frying pans

Carbon Steel – pans have a high carbon content and food-grade steel. Almost all steels contain carbon of between 0.25% and 0.5%. In contrast, steel carbon has a carbon concentration of 2%. Carbon steel warms very rapidly but can hold the heat very well. Like cast iron, it absorbs rusts and reacts to acids and needs to be seasoned; as a result to prevent corrosion. It can also be used for cooking at high levels of temperature.



Aluminium frying pans

Suitable for non-stick and is especially good for cooking eggs and other fragile food (e.g. pancakes). Aluminium pans are extremely thin, and most of their weight is distributed around the centre, allowing heat to spread evenly across the bottom of the pan; great for heat conductivity!


Copper Frying Pans

Copper pans are manufactured from copper, which heats very quickly and evenly. Copper pans can react extremely strongly with acidic foods like lemon and tomato, which can ruin the cooking surface. Copper pans are ideal for preparing sauces and risottos in recipes in which preserving with the proper heat should become a key ingredient.


Non-stick frying pans

Consider getting a non-stick pan for simplicity because they make cooking so much easier! Non-stick means no need for oil when using the frying pan, which allows you to cook healthier food without compromising taste! This differentiates non-stick fry pans from other types of frying pans but some can be toxic if scratched, so please be careful.




Getting the best from your frying pan

Frying pan maintenance. How to keep your frying pan clean?

The best way to clean your frying pan is with hot water and soap (if you've cooked something sticky, use a small, soft brush to scrub the residue). If you need to use detergents, try not to rub too hard as it may scratch off the non-stick coating.


General cooking tips

When cooking with a frying pan, you need to be careful as, more often than not, there will be hot oil which can easily splatter anywhere. This is also true when cooking sauces like bolognese, as frying pans have shallower sides, and liquid effortlessly spits over the sides.

Look for one with a good handle; you want a frying pan that's comfortable to use and won't make you uncomfortable holding it. Although some of these pans are pretty heavy, please be careful when using them on induction stoves because they're only designed for specific types/weights of frying pans; otherwise, you could damage your stove!


Frying pan sizes

If you're thinking about buying a frying pan, then the first thing that you should think about is what size do I need? The size of the pan is important because depending on your needs, how many people you're cooking for etc. There are two main sizes available- 8 inches and 10 inches, but you can find smaller and larger ones.

8 Inch

The reason why we recommend an 8 inch is that it's ideal if you're cooking for 1-2 people and it provides a nice balance between size and usability/comfortability.


10 Inch

If you're cooking for more than two people, we recommend going for a 10-inch frying pan instead (which we did when rating the best large frying pans).


12 Inch +

A 12 inch + frying pan will get heavy when full, great for making meals for 3-4 people, don't add too much that the food steams instead of fries. 


Seasoning Your Carbon Steel or Cast Iron Skillet

People feel intimidated about preparing their carbon steel or cast iron frying pans. To season your frying pan is a reasonably simple procedure. You can do it once or twice per year with enough care after cooking. For the seasoning in a carbon steel or cast-iron skillet, use cooking oil of very high smoking intensity. Once the oil has cooled down, it is seasoned and prepared to cook for several months.

 How long does a frying pan last?

A high-quality frying pan can last years with good care. Nonstick pans, however, typically have a shorter life span, usually around a couple of years, depending on how you use them. If you can see some scratches on the pan's surface, then it's time to buy a new one; it's not good to get this coated in your food. Sometimes the handles are lost (it's always best practice to tighten a loose grip)or fall off, but they can be reattached quickly, especially if they are screwed in.

Is a nonstick fry pan better?

A nonstick frying pan will be advisable in some situations; however, there's some debate about the materials used. They're excellent for cooking without additional oil and are perfect for softer items, including eggs and seafood, which can stick easier to pans than other foods. The nonstick surfaces of this product prevent hard scuffing on food. For golden-brown caramelised meat like meat chops, use pans that do not contain a non-stick coating.


How do I season a frying pan?

To season a frying pan is pretty simple, there are different ways to do it depending on the type of material the frying pan is made out of, but you want to put it on high heat for around ten minutes with a little bit of oil in and then empty the oil and give the pan a clean with a paper towel or something else which offers excellent absorbency. Seasoning is key to non-stick and better cooking.

How to clean the bottom of a frying pan

After a few uses, the bottom of a frying pan can quickly get stained and discoloured. The longer this goes on, the more labour intensive it will be to remove the dirt, but it is possible. It would help if you used something to help weaken the dirt, such as the pink stuff, or you could use baking soda to pay attention to the most stained areas.

Once covered with baking soda, add something acidic like vinegar and leave it for around ten minutes. Next, use a scouring pad and some elbow grease to eliminate all the grease on the bottom of the pan and leave it looking shiny and new.


How handles attach to cookware

 Rivets are tiny fragments of metal, usually aluminium or steel, that are crushed between two harder pieces of metal which hold the handle in place.

A weld is made by melting together two pieces of metal, often with a filler material added for more security.

The easiest to fix when they get loose screw on handles use a screw to connect the frying pan and handle, most frequently on cheaper pans.

The handle can be an extension of the body of the actual cookware, for example with cast iron pans but they can get hot.

Are frying pans dishwasher safe?

This depends on the material of the frying pan. You shouldn't put materials like cast iron or copper into the dishwater. However, with materials like aluminium, non-stick and ceramic are dishwasher friendly. We recommend checking the instructions for your type of frying pan before putting it into the dishwasher.


Easy to clean:

Non-stick frying pans are usually the quickest and easiest to clean, whereas materials like cast iron will take more effort; using oil also helps reduce the amount of food that sticks to the pan. For the most effortless clean, never let food set in the pan, as more intense cleaning can wear out the frying pan quicker.


How do you clean burnt grease from the bottom of frying pans?

In a perfect world, the bottom of the frying pan would remain the same as the day we bought it. Unfortunately, this doesn't happen, so we need to give a good scrub to free the residue from continually burning. This can be achieved using some cupboard items.

You need a liquid that will help loosen things, for example, vinegar and something that will be abrasive, like baking soda. Use the two combined with rubbing away the dirt (you'll still need some elbow grease), but the stains should come off.


What frying pans can go in the oven?

Most frying pans are fine to go in the oven up to around 250 degrees celsius. However, if you're using a non-stick pan, they shouldn't be going over 200 degrees celsius. If you've got a non-stick pan manufactured using a PTFE (Teflon) coating, it should never be placed in an oven hotter than 250 degrees.


What frying pans do chefs use?

Chefs use various frying pan types; it's often down to personal preference. You may see aluminium frying pans in chefs' kitchens, but is this because it's the best or because it's good but cheaper than others? While aluminium can offer a great cooking experience by being a good conductor of heat, it is also affordable, which is a significant factor when regularly buying pans.

Other popular options that you'll see chefs using are carbon steel, cast iron and copper, which all offer fantastic frying abilities but can be more expensive and harder to maintain.

Copper pans are also a popular choice in many restaurants across the UK.


How to dispose of old frying pans?

If you've got some old frying pans, why not give them a new home? Various charity shops accept them, you can give them away for free online, or if they've not had much use, you easily find someone who'll buy them on places like the Facebook marketplace. Rehoming them is a better option than just throwing them in the bin.


How hot should a frying pan be?

When using a frying pan, it must reach the right temperature to cook your food correctly. A frying pan heats up reasonably quick; ideally, buy a meat thermometer to ensure food is cooked to the desired temperature. Most pans will heat up to around 200°C and usually peaks around the 220°C mark after it's been on for a while.