Ultimate Guide to buying a Frying Pan

Frying Pan Buying Guide
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Frying pans are simple, right? Admittedly, its easy to go into your local department store and pick up a frying pan. Heck, you can do the same at amazon. However, if you stop and try and read some reviews about frying pans, your head is going to spin. This frying pan gives off chemicals? This one is deadly? Its crazy some of the opinions people have. Honestly though, not everybody is completely wrong. Nothing is simple these days. Even frying pans have so many different shapes sizes, materials, hazards, benefits, and more. Don’t worry though, we’re going to walk you through everything you need to know in this easy to understand guide to buy a frying pan.

What to consider when Buying a Frying Pan

Before we go into extreme detail about buying a frying pan, we’re simply going to list different features that you should consider before buying a frying pan.

  1. Size: The most standard sizes of frying pans are 8-, 10-, and 12- inch. They’re measured by diameter. 
  2. Non-Stick vs Natural Finish: While non-stick pans sound nice, there are benefits for each type of pan.
  3. Different Materials: Aluminum, cast-iron, copper, carbon steel….. These are just some of the options when it comes to the construction material of your frying pan.
  4. Coating: If you choose a non-stick pan, you’re likely to have a coating to create the “non-stick” feature. There are different types of coating materials, some of which are highly controversial among frying pan owners.
  5. Riveted vs Non-Riveted: This aspect affects how sturdy the handle is.
  6. Price: Of course, you could want all of the greatest features in a frying pan, but ultimately, price is going to be a sticking point to consider when purchasing a frying pan.
  7. Lid: While not a major hurdle for most frying pans, some people simmer a lot with their frying pans. If that’s the case, getting a lid may be worth your while.

Frying Pan Sizes

When it comes to frying pans, the three standard sizes are 8″, 10″ and 12″. Many manufacturers offer several different variations though. Overall, if you’re able to own multiple frying pans, its convenient to own a set of different sizes. Not everything you fry, sautee, brown, or sear is going to require the same sized pan. However, if you’re not able to choose more than one size frying pan, we always recommend going with the biggest available size. It’s better to have too much frying space than not enough frying space in our opinion.

Non-Stick Frying Pans Vs Natural Finish Frying Pans

One of the biggest decisions when buying a frying pan is going to be whether or not you want a non-stick finish. 

Pros of a Non-stick Frying Pan

  • Prevents food from sticking to the pan
  • Easier to clean
  • healthier because you don’t need oils to prevent food from sticking

Cons of a Non-Stick Frying Pan

  • Subject to scratching
  • struggles in high-heat temperatures
  • should not be used with metal utensils

Conversely, here are the pros and cons of a Natural Finish Frying Pan

Pros of buying a Natural Finish Frying Pan

  • great for searing meat
  • in a side by side comparison, these are cheaper
  • more suitable for higher temperatures

Cons of buying a Natural Finish Frying Pan

  • food is subject to stick to the pan
  • if oil/lubricant is used, it goes into the food

As you can see, non-stick pans are nice because they’re easy to clean and don’t require anything extra to prevent food from sticking. However, overall, because of the non-stick coating, they’re often more vulnerable to higher heat. What temperature that heat is depends on the coating. If you go too high with the heat, the frying pan can wear down, release chemicals, and more. That’s where the biggest “controversy” begins when it comes to a non-stick frying pan. That is why a lot of people pay close attention to the coating material before purchasing a non-stick frying pan.

Why Coating matters for a Non-Stick Frying Pan

Assuming you’ve used a frying pan on your stove before, can you tell me how hot you were getting the pan? Probably not. That’s because most stove tops don’t offer temperature readings. Instead, they offer you a heat dial ranging from 1 to 9, but how hot is that really? Additionally, there are very common non-stick coatings that do not react well with high heat. Some of these coatings can give off negative health effects when inhaled. Do you see the problem here? You could be causing your body harm, and you don’t even know it, unless your constantly testing the temperature of your frying pan from an outside source.

Different coatings for a Non-Stick Frying Pan

Because there are so many options, we’re simply going to make this list as simple as possible. You’re here for easy answers for a frying pan, not to write a research paper about fry pan materials.

1)Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) Coating

  • Pro-Cheap
  • Con-can wear off at higher temperatures (not toxic)

2)Ceramic

  • Pro-Toxic free and relatively cheap
  • Con– Lacks durability

3) Superhydrophobic Coating

  • Pro– Extremely slick (for non-stick effect)
  • Con– Hard to find in a frying pan

4) Silicone Coating (different than silicon rubber)

  • Pro– Safe to use
  • Con– Still can’t handle temperatures above 300°F

5) Enameled Cast Iron

  • Pro– can handle extremely high heat (up to 700-850°F) and is safe according to the FDA. Also environment friendly
  • Con-Can be expensive

6) Season Cast Iron

  • Pro– popular among materials used for kitchen equipment. Also completely safe to use
  • Con– Requires regular maintenance to prevent the season coating from fading 

The Best Coatings for Non-Stick Frying Pans

Now that we’ve listed 6 different types of coatings for Non-Stick Frying pans, lets talk about which options are truly the best. Here is our top 3 options.

  1. Enameled Coating– There’s a reason this is the most common materials used by a professional chef. The pans are non-stick, free of chemicals, and can withstand temperatures above 700°F. The only reason its not used by most home owners is probably due to its expensive price. Just keep in mind, a frying pan in enameled coating is going to last an extremely long time, is going to be able to handle anything, and will always be easy to clean.
  2. Superhydrophobic Coating- while this coating is still fairly new to the cooking world, it wouldn’t surprise me to see it become the future of cookware. Its extreme in its non-stick qualities and is completely safe to use.
  3. Ceramic– We could’ve chosen a number of different coatings in this third and final spot. Each material has its own set of pros and cons. However, we decided with this material because its completely safe to use. It’s also inexpensive in the short term, which may persuade some into choosing it. The biggest drawback is that the coating wears down extremely quickly. Don’t expect this to last longer than a year or so (depending on use frequency). 

Which Non-Stick Coatings for Frying Pans are Safe

Safety is the most important thing when selecting a non-stick frying pan. That’s exactly why we’re making a simply list of which ones are safe before you decide to buy any of them.

  • Ceramic coatings
  • Hard-Anodized Aluminum coating
  • Silicon coating
  • Enameled Cast Iron
  • Superhydrophobic coatings
  • Seasoned cast iron coatings

Unsafe Non-Stick Coatings for Frying Pans: PTFEs vs PFOAs

If you’ve ever checked out “customer reviews” for any kind of cookware, there is a huge misunderstanding with “PTFEs” and “PFOAs”.” PTFEs or “Teflon” is not made the same way as it used to be. Back when Teflon was first being made, over 50 years ago, it used a substance called PFOA (Perfluorooctanoic Acid) in its Teflon making process.

This substance has now proven to release harmful chemicals into the air when heated at high temperatures. However, because of these findings, all companies in the United States and Europe have banned the use of PFOA in the production of Teflon. This has been a banned substance since 2013. 

I’ll say it again, since 2013, companies have been banned from using the harmful chemicals of PFOAs.

PTFEs have not shown any science in releasing harmful chemicals into the air, even at higher temperatures. However, PTFE or Teflon has shown the ability to wear down and fade quickly if used at high temperatures. So even though there is no harmful chemical being released into the air, PTFE or Teflon pans will start to lose their non-stick exteriors is used at high temperatures.

When you see the term Teflon or PTFE in cookware, its not necessarily a “unsafe” issue anymore. Some people panic when they see it because they don’t understand the differences in Teflon from then vs now. Many PTFE products will come out and promote the fact that no PFOA’s were used. 

Riveted Frying Pans vs Non Riveted Frying Pans

Riveted Frying Pan

Every little thing counts when it comes to buying a frying pan, and decided riveted vs non-riveted is no different. A riveted frying pan offers extra handle stability and support. A riveted handle offers two pieces of metal that is crushed between harder metal. This creates extra support. The only downside is that the inside of the cookware (frying pan in this example) isn’t smooth in one spot. The rivet physically shows up, and although it’s slight in nature, it can cause some food to get stuck a little easier.

As you can see in the picture to the right, the rivet isn’t a lot to ask for. It’s most definitely worth the extra stability for the handle. You do not want a handle to break off, nor do you want it to become loose over time.

Should you buy a Frying Pan with a Lid?

One last thing you should consider is whether or not you want a lid with your frying pan? A lot of pan frying doesn’t require a lot of lids. However, frying pans are the in between of many different cooking methods. It can be used to simmer as well. From spaghetti sauce to different soups, a frying pan can most definitely make use out of a lid. What are you going to use your frying pan for? That’s the question you want to ask yourself before making a buying decision.

Frying Pan Reviews

We’ve discussed nearly everything you’ll need to know before buying a frying pan. However, wouldn’t it just be easier if we narrowed down the hundreds, if not thousands, of options. Well, that’s exactly what we did. Make sure to check out our top frying pan choices in our latest guide. We made sure to provide a great mix of styles, prices, and more to ensure there’s something there for everybody. Good luck with your frying pan buying decision. Let us know if there’s any more questions on your mind.

Conclusion

When it comes to frying pans, there’s a lot to consider. We’re hoping this guide to buying frying pans has helped you out quite a bit. As a quick recap, remember the important keys. If you’re going non-stick over natural finish, ensure your coated material is safe for heated temperatures. You’ll also have to make decisions on the size, rivet vs no rivet, and how much you’re willing to spend. Best of luck, and if you need any help before making a final decision, let us know in the comments down below.

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