10 Tips for Choosing & Using Skillets

Stainless Steel SklletIn the November issue of Good Housekeeping, you'll see our 8 top skillets. We don't take our recommendations lightly! Our picks were based on exhaustive methodical tests on 74 - yes you read right, 74 - 12-inch pans. We zeroed in on 12-inchers - the ones we think are the most versatile because quite simply, they hold a lot. Whether you're cooking a one-dish supper like chicken and peppers or pork chops with apples, using them to brown meat for a stew, or making a frittata for brunch, it's the size you're most likely to grab. Ten things we learned that can help you pick out the best new skillet and use it wisely.

Related: Quick and Easy One-Dish Dinners

  1. For browning, your best bet is a pan with low sides and a large surface area. It can hold more pieces at once and foods won't steam as they brown.
  2. If you're making a skillet dinner, opt for a deep pan that can hold lots of veggies and sauce.
  3. Much as I love nonstick finishes for their easy use and care, when it comes to steakhouse-style steaks, I turn to cast iron.
  4. For long simmers, cast iron's a good choice. And in fact, if you need iron in your diet, cooking in cast iron can up your levels.
  5. If you'll be using your skillet to brown a frittata or finish cooking fish in the oven, check the oven temperature limitations before you buy.

  6. Related: How to Season a Cast-Iron Pan

  7. Wonder what's the deal with anodized aluminum? It's aluminum that's been treated in a way that darkens the surface, makes it more durable, and prevents it from interacting food. It's great for all-purpose cooking-you get aluminum's benefits-even cooking and medium weight, without the disadvantages - it won't dent, discolor, show stains, or leach into your food turning it gray.
  8. Secret to turning out omelets? A skillet with sloped sides.
  9. Don't use nonstick cooking sprays on nonstick surfaces. They won't help and just result in a gunky buildup that will detract from rather than enhance the finish.
  10. What's your tolerance for cleaning? If you absolutely hate it, go nonstick.
  11. If you insist on stainless steel, inside and/or out, equip yourself with a Dobie scrubbing pad and the cleaner called Bar Keeper's Friend.

What are some of your favorite skillet recipes? Let me know in the comments!

-By Sharon Franke

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