Sure, the 3.5-inch mini cast-iron skillet might be the cutest thing you can add to your kitchen, but in terms of ergonomics, it won’t be the most useful. Choosing the right pan can be daunting if you’re an amateur cook, haven’t owned a new one since your wedding shower or have only ever used one kind. Here are a few things to consider to find the perfect pan for you.
First, it’s important to think about how much you’re going to be using the pan and what you’re going to be using it for.
If you’re cooking large cuts of pork chops, chicken breasts and steaks, you might want a 12- or 16-inch pan. You’ll want to make sure your meat cooks all the way through, so the thicker or heavier, the better. Stainless steel skillets are good heat conductors and will cook your meals evenly if you invest in a well-made option. They are also dishwasher safe and won’t rust.
Aluminum pans don’t have non-stick coating and are solid choices for cooking eggs, sautéing vegetables or deglazing. A bonus is that they are typically cheaper than non-stick pans, but keep in mind that they can be more difficult to clean. Look for those with anodized aluminum, which have been chemically treated to make the pan more durable and damage-resistant.
Non-stick pans, while more prone to general wear and tear like scratching and denting, are great for quick cooking. They are good for cooking lighter meats like fish or for making pancakes that won’t burn. Note that using non-stick spray can create buildup that is hard to clean. It’s best to wash non-stick surfaces by hand and to avoid abrasive cleaning supplies.
Cast-iron skillets are a kitchen classic. If you’re lucky enough to get a hand-me-down from your grandma, take it. For juicy, steakhouse-style steaks, this is your best bet. You can preheat it in the oven, place it on your stovetop and cook your meat until the desired tenderness. If you like cooking meals that need to sit and simmer, this pan retains and distributes heat well, and if you clean it properly, the seasoning that remains will make for natural flavoring.
By Rosie Siefert
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