I Tried 8 Nonstick Skillets That Cost $25 or Less. One Blew Me Away.

updated Aug 17, 2021
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Eggs cooked on stove in nonstick skillet
Credit: Sarah Crowley

I’ve been a gear tester for decades. For more than 30 years, I was in charge of testing and reporting on everything from wooden spoons to connected refrigerators at Good Housekeeping, and I’ve been lucky enough to amass a sizable collection of cookware at home — especially skillets. I have skillets of all kinds, including the most expensive ones you can buy from top-rated brands. But I’m happy to report that my new go-to is just $25.

See, I spent the last few weeks making eggs, pancakes, and burgers in eight different budget-friendly nonstick skillets and found that you don’t need to spend a bundle on a fancy-schmancy pan to cook like a pro. From my testing, I found one clear winner — and two runners-up. Let’s take a look.

The Best Budget-Friendly Nonstick Skillet

There’s nothing cheap about this skillet (aside from its price tag, of course). It’s from Farberware’s commercial line

and you’ll notice its pro look with riveted handles and its heavy weight immediately. Because of its heft, it’s slow to heat up but, once it does, it cooks exceptionally evenly. In this pan, I found food cooked through without risk of over-browning or burning. The nonstick finish was top-notch at keeping foods from sticking — eggs-over-easy fell right out — and cleanup was pretty much nonexistent. I know nonstick has a bad rap for not being good for searing, but when I cooked hamburgers over medium heat, starting in a cold pan, they came out just as well-browned, with some crispy bits around the edges, as any I’ve ever had.

Credit: Sharon Franke

Some housekeeping notes: The skillet is constructed of aluminum and has a shiny exterior finish. To keep it looking that way, you’ll want to hand-wash it. The Farberware is oven-safe up to 350°F, so you can start a piece of fish off on the stovetop and finish it off in the oven, but you can’t use it to crisp up a skillet casserole.

Two Other Budget-Friendly Skillets I Loved

Blue Diamond 10-Inch Frypan

The majority of nonstick skillets priced at $25 or less have traditional nonstick finishes. However, on the Blue Diamond, there’s a ceramic coating, which can take higher heat on the stovetop and can even be used in the oven or the broiler. You may sacrifice a bit on the release when you’re cooking eggs, but you can just counteract that by using a touch of butter. When it came to pancakes, though, they fell right out. And whatever I cooked heated exceptionally evenly. There was no need to move hamburgers around in the pan to make sure they were all ready at the same time. Plus, this skillet has a classy dark blue enamel finish on the outside, and a brushed aluminum handle and looks like it costs way more than $20. 

Goodcook Everyday 11.75-Inch Sauté Pan

Every home cook should have a whopping big skillet in their arsenal for simmering meatballs, making a giant omelet, or stir-frying a whole mess of veggies. But you know, as size increases so do prices. That’s why I was super impressed that this huge Goodcook Everyday Sauté Pan can be had for just $19. It’s a fairly lightweight skillet, so you do have to be careful not to crank up the heat, but that means when you load it up with a chicken dinner, it won’t be too heavy to carry to the table. I love the sloping sides, which make it easy to toss and turn Brussels sprouts or slip out fried eggs.

Surprisingly for this price, you get a riveted handle that will never fall off. And the rivets are coated with the nonstick finish, too, so you won’t have to put any extra effort into getting scrambled egg gunk off of them. While the manufacturer says the pan is dishwasher-safe, the aluminum bottom and the rim will lose their shine if machine-washed. This skillet is strictly for stovetop use, so it’s not a good choice if you’re looking for a pan for frittatas or Dutch babies which get popped up in the oven. 

Do you have a favorite inexpensive nonstick skillet? Tell us about it in the comments!