Kitchn Love Letters

I’m a Former Line Cook and This Is the $50 Stainless Steel Fry Pan I Swear By

published Feb 28, 2022
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Sous chef chopping ingredients for dinner service at workstation in restaurant kitchen.
Credit: Getty Images/ Thomas Barwick

I grew up in a household of all nonstick pans. Most of our dinners were roasted in the oven, while the stovetop was limited to boiling pasta and heating up cans of soup. Needless to say, we weren’t doing any fancy cooking. Adulthood hit, and I was introduced to a much more versatile and not-scary-to-use form of cookware: stainless steel.

As a young chef buying stainless steel cookware for the first time, I wasn’t quite ready to splurge on a more expensive skillet. Luckily, I found this restaurant-grade, 8-inch Winco Stainless Steel Fry Pan. It offers the same quality at a much more comfortable price point, and it quickly became my new go-to pan for cooking breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

I stopped relying on nonstick pans and bought this stainless steel fry pan based off a recommendation from Chef Frank Prisinzano, of NYC’s Lil Frankies. His method for the perfect fried egg relies exclusively on this specific pan. Nonstick won’t do, as the egg needs to adhere to the smoking hot stainless steel surface in order to crisp. After mastering the fried egg, I graduated to the perfect filet of crispy salmon, and honestly, the oven could never achieve the golden exterior I get with this fry pan.

Unlike traditional cast-iron, I can use this one stainless steel pan to sear both fish and meat without concern of potentially weird flavors sneaking in from the seasoning of cast iron cookware. Plus, better yet, into the dishwasher it goes without a worry! Let me clue you in on a little secret: Stainless steel gets the job done without all the maintenance.

Not only do I love this pan for searing, but you can catch me flipping cacio e pepe, stirring risotto, and sautéing shrimp scampi and in this high-sided, multi-purpose skillet. It’s heavy-bottomed yet light enough for me to toss without straining my wrist and wide enough that I’m not scared the contents will fall out!

Make the switch. This stainless steel pan is ready to be the newest member of your kitchen cabinet. It gets the chef’s stamp of approval!

Buy: Winco Stainless Steel Fry Pan, $51.06 (originally $54.02)