The Best List

The 5 Best Stainless Steel Skillets to Buy For Your Kitchen in 2021

updated Jan 6, 2021
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Credit: Leela Cyd

It’s tough to make good choices when it comes to kitchen gear. First of all, there are so many options to pick from. And then there are many experts, many voices, and many decisions to make.

Here at Kitchn, we’ve tried several different ways of testing and sharing picks for tools and gadgets, from calling on our own (amazing!) gear guru, to spending hours testing things with our staff of expert home cooks. But in the end, we decided to cut straight to the chase and round up what we know you’re looking for: what all the experts say.

We now present you with a LITERAL best list, in which we gather the top picks from other well-respected testers including Wirecutter and Cook’s Illustrated. We also looked at Amazon to see what people were buying and raving about.

First up: stainless steel skillets.

A Note on Skillet Sizes

Skillets typically come in three sizes: 8, 10, and 12 inches. We’ve made cases for all three in the past, but it really comes down to your family size and the types of meals you most frequently make. If it’s just one or two of you, a 10-incher is probably plenty big enough. If you have a bigger family or are making many (many) chicken breasts at once, you’ll want every bit of space in a 12-inch skillet. It’s not a bad idea to have at least two in two different sizes.

5 of the Best Skillets for Home Cooks

All-Clad d3 Stainless Steel 12-Inch Fry Pan

The Best Skillet, According to Wirecutter and Cook’s Illustrated
Buy: All-Clad d3 Stainless Steel 12-Inch Fry Pan, $130 at Williams Sonoma

Since 2014, the folks at Wirecutter have spent more than 70 collective hours researching and testing skillets. Acknowledging the hefty price tag, they stand by the All-Clad Stainless Steel 12-Inch Fry Pan. And All-Clad is one of our favorite cookware brands, so we support this pick for home cooks who want a pan that they can put through the ringer. See, its durable, heats super evenly, has a sturdy handle with a lightweight body, and doesn’t discolor too easily.

Believe it not, Cook’s Illustrated and Wirecutter picked the exact same skillet. The reasoning was very similar, citing the clean design, wide cooking surface, good balance, and durability.

The next-best pick from Cook’s Illustrated is the $150 d5 version of the All-Clad pan, which has five layers (a central layer of stainless steel between two layers of aluminum and two more of steel) instead of the three that the $130 pan has. This pan is heavier and slower to transfer heat (again, because it has five layers instead of three), which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but the d3 does get the final vote.

Cooks Standard Multi-Ply Clad Stainless Steel Frying Pan

One of the Best Budget-Friendly Skillets, According to Serious Eats
Buy: Cooks Standard Multi-Ply Clad Stainless Steel Frying Pan, $36

Kenji López-Alt over at Serious Eats rounded up “Inexpensive Skillets That Work as Well as Fancy Ones.” Of the three winners, the one we want to call out is the one from Cooks Standard. This brand isn’t as well-known as, say, All-Clad, but this skillet deserves a second glance. For starters, because it’s so darn inexpensive! Kenji said this pan has sharply sloped sides, which gives it a wider cooking surface than other 10-inch skillets, and it heats evenly. Its handle also stays cools throughout cooking. However, Kenji did ding it a bit for not coming with a warranty. For $36, though, this pan is still very much worthwhile. And it comes in an 8-inch size, too, which would be perfect for frying just one egg.

Cuisinart MultiClad Pro Stainless 10-Inch Open Skillet

Amazon’s Choice for the Best Skillet
Cuisinart MultiClad Pro Stainless 10-Inch Open Skillet, $49 at Amazon

We first looked to see what Amazon lists as the best-selling piece of cookware and, oddly, enough, it’s a mini 3.5-inch Lodge cast iron skillet. While we love that little guy, it didn’t seem like it belonged on this list. So instead, we looked at the skillets with the best reviews and this skillet even earns that special “Amazon’s Choice” badge. It comes in a 10-inch size and is oven-, broiler-, and dishwasher-safe. You’ll notice its tapered lip, which allows for easy pouring, and its handle stays cools throughout cooking. And as one Amazon reviewer succinctly described the pan: “It heats evenly and does a good job.” Plus, it’s just $50!

Made In Stainless Clad Frying Pan

The Best Skillet, According to Consumer Reports
: Made In Stainless Clad Frying Pan, $75 at Made In

Consumer Reports picked Made In’s 10-inch stainless steel fry pan as their clear favorite. This pan made evenly browned pancakes, had a sturdy handle that stayed cool to the touch, and was very easy to clean (and dishwasher-safe!). It also comes in 12- and 8-inch sizes. Their second favorite uncoated skillet (meaning, not nonstick) comes from Anolon!

Kitchn’s Thoughts on the Best Skillets

Readers ask us all the time if All-Clad really is worth the money and we really do think it is. You can go with the less expensive d3 pans and still end up with the best cookware out there. And know this: All-Clad frequently has factory sales on seconds (meaning, pieces with very minor imperfections) and we often write about them, so be sure to look out for those. That said, if you’re looking to spend a bit less, go with the Made In Stainless Clad Frying Pan. We have editors here who have been using Made In for more than a year now, and they still love their pieces.

What do you think? Do you have a skillet you love? Something to say about All-Clad? Let us know in the comments below.