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The Best Stainless Steel Pans (2024), Tested and Reviewed

We needed to rotate the chicken thighs needed in order to crisp evenly on the stovetop, and the Zwilling’s well-balanced design made transferring it to the oven easy. It didn’t take much to get the fond to release from the bottom of the skillet once we deglazed it, letting us pull together a flavorful pan sauce in under a minute. Cleanup was easy, too, as the deglazing process left nothing behind for us to scrub.

Zwilling Spirit 3-Ply Stainless Steel Pan

Misen 12-Inch Skillet

The Misen 12-Inch Skillet has a chic minimalist design and impressive, even heat control, but we didn’t love the user experience: the extra-long handle felt like it was always in the way and the angle was a little awkward.

Misen Stainless Steel Skillet

Anolon Tri-Ply Stainless Steel Fry Pan

The Anolon Tri-Ply Stainless Steel Fry Pan is a good-looking pan with decent performance, but it showed some unevenness during the flour test and ultimately didn’t rise out of the middle of the pack.

Anolon Triply Clad Stainless Steel Fry Pan

Cuisinart Chef’s Classic 12-Inch Skillet

Predictably, the only disc-bottomed skillet we tested, Cuisinart Chef’s Classic 12-Inch Skillet, trailed behind in nearly every test. The construction felt noticeably cheap, while the angle of the long handle was unwieldy. During tests, the cooking surface heated up fast and unpredictably in a way that required constant babysitting. It comes with a nice see-through lid, but many reviewers on Amazon report incidents of the glass shattering.

Cuisinart 722-30G Chef’s Classic 12-Inch Skillet with Glass Cover

Amazon Basics 2 Piece Stainless Steel Pan Set

At under $50 for a set of two, we were highly unsure as to how well Amazon Basics’

stainless steel skillets would fare against the pricier, weightier competition. Color us surprised when they performed better than a lot of them. These pans are almost suspiciously light, to the point where we worry they might not stand up to years of use. However, this also means they’re outstandingly easy to handle, which is a big plus for anyone who struggles with heavy pots and pans.

Unlike most of the pans we tested, Amazon’s skillets have an aluminum core pan bottom, rather than being fully-clad stainless steel. But still, they conducted and distributed heat well, with flour toasting evenly from center-to-edge without interference, and onions quickly caramelizing to a uniform color.

When we flipped the chicken thighs, we were delighted to find the skin cooked towards the pan’s edges was just as brown and crispy as the skin towards the center. We were slightly worried that the thin stainless steel wouldn’t fare as well as it did on the stovetop, but 20 minutes in a 450℉ oven didn’t alter its integrity at all — and the chicken came out perfectly cooked to boot. The only hiccup we had with this skillet was during the deglazing, as it took some aggressive scraping with a wooden spoon to get the fond to release. Though there was a little left stuck to the pan after we made our sauce, it came off in seconds in the sink; sprinkling a bit of baking soda across the bottom of the pan before washing it with a soapy sponge left us with a sparking skillet that took less than 30 seconds to clean.

Amazon Basics 2-Piece Oven Safe Pans

Sardel

Sardel is a decent mid market option which performed similarly to the Calphalon and Tramontina, but our testers did not care for the bulbous and bulky handle, which may be preferable to people with larger hands.

Oxo Stainless Steel Pro 12-Inch Open Fry Pan

The Oxo was very thick and heavy, which meant that it heated slower than the others, and wasn’t as easy to handle.

Stainless Steel Pro 12-Inch Open Frypan

Kitchenaid 12-Inch Skillet

Kitchenaid’s 12-Inch skillet is an affordable choice, and the handle was more comfortable than we expected it to be, but the cook surface was the most inconsistent of the pans we tested in 2023.

KitchenAid 12-Inch Stainless Steel Skillet

Hestan ProBond 12-Inch Skillet

Hestan is an Italian luxury appliance brand that has been carving a space in the high-end cookware market over the past few years. We tested two 12-Inch skillets from two different lines, both of which performed exceptionally well. Their ProBond line is their professional, 3-ply, fully bonded stainless steel line and a direct competitor to All-Clad D3. The pan had flush rivets—a luxury touch—that don’t collect gunk, and a slim, ergonomic handle that’s easy to manipulate with one hand. It also has sealed edges, which don’t risk the potential corrosion issue that less cared for All-Clad pans demonstrate. Performance-wise, the pan fell short to All-Clad’s even heat distribution, with a flour test burn pattern with heat concentrated in the center of the cooking surface. It is a worthy competitor to All-Clad, but we don’t feel that it’s design finishes performed well enough to justify spending $50 more than the D3, unless you find the aesthetics are worth it.

Hestan ProBond Stainless Steel Frying Pan

Hestan NanoBond 12-Inch Skillet

The NanoBond is a different story. This pan has a proprietary titanium cooking surface that is stronger, more scratch resistant, and heat-resistant. It has superior heat conduction to stainless steel pans, developing a gorgeous sear on chicken thighs a full 2 minutes before its stainless steel counterpart. Most noticeably however is how gorgeous the pan is. It has a a mirror-like luster that remains after repeated uses. You might be asking then, why this pan isn’t the winner? While it may be excellent, the whopping $450 price tag puts it into a category of its own that makes it unreasonable for a majority of home cooks. Plus, we also feel that it’s almost unfair to compare it to stainless steel pans, as it is not exactly a stainless-steel pan. However, it is a work of art, and the sort of thing we’d only recommend to a professional chef or a true, culinary gear head.

Hestan NanoBond Stainless Steel Titanium Frying Pan

Tramontina Gourmet 12-Inch Stainless Steel Pan

For a budget-priced pan the Tramontina performed very well in our flour and onion tests. However, because of steeply sloped sides the Tramontina had one of the smallest interiors of all the pans we tested, which resulted in more inconsistent chicken browning.

Tramontina 12-Inch Stainless-Steel Tri-Ply Fry Pan

Calphalon Classic 12-Inch

The Calphalon is a solid budget choice that will serve any cooking need you have for a stainless steel pan. Not only did it sear and roast well, but its spacious cooking area easily accommodated four chicken thighs. The one downside of this pan is its weight. At six pounds it was one of the heaviest pans we tested, which made hard to maneuver with one hand.

Calphalon Triply Stainless Steel 10-Inch Frying Pan

Babish Stainless Steel Tri-Ply

With steeply angled sides, the Babish pan’s design is somewhat of a cross between a classic stainless steel skillet and a perpendicularly-sided saute pan. This has advantages and disadvantages: While you get 11 inches of cooking area in this 12-inch skillet, it’s difficult to flip food with the flick of the wrist.

We were hopeful the increased amount of cooking area would be a boon, but alas, it doesn’t seem to be the case. It failed our flour test, with the flour in the center of the pan burning to black before the edges even began to toast; the onions also cooked unevenly, stubbornly sticking in spots and needing regular stirring to turn a uniform shade of gold.

We had the same issues when cooking chicken thighs — when it came time to flip, the skin towards the center was ultra-crispy and deeply browned, while the skin at the outer edge remained soft and pale. The Babish pan transferred easily to the oven, and did ultimately deliver pan-roasted thighs that were succulent and juicy. However, much of the fond stubbornly stuck to the bottom when we deglazed the pan, and it took two rounds of vigorous scrubbing with baking soda and an abrasive sponge to finally remove it.

Babish 12 Inch Stainless Steel Triply Fry Pan w/Stainless Lid

For more cookware reviews, check out our tests for the best dutch ovens, the best cast iron skillets, and the best nonstick frying pans.


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Cee Gei
Author: Cee Gei

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