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Choosing the best Frypan

Non Stick Frypan

Today, I thought I would help by writing this post on Frypans. I often get asked what the best is, so we’re gonna chat about choosing the perfect frypan that suits your needs and cooking style. So, buckle up, and let’s dive into the world of frypans!

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Let’s start by talking about the fantastic WOLL frypans. You might’ve seen these bad boys in action at my evening meal classes, where tons of you have fallen in love with them. And I totally get it! They’re easy to use and maintain, plus they deliver some seriously tasty dishes. But hey, I’ve got a variety of frypans in my kitchen, so let’s explore some other options as well.

Let’s start by looking at some of the choices.

  1. Non-stick Frypans: If you’re all about that low-fat, healthy lifestyle, non-stick frypans are your go-to. They’re perfect for cooking up your favourite dishes with minimal oil and are a breeze to clean. Plus, non-stick pans are great for delicate foods like eggs and fish. Ensure you’re gentle with your utensils to keep that non-stick coating intact!
  2. Stainless Steel Frypans: Looking for something super versatile and durable? Stainless steel frypans are where it’s at! They’re perfect for browning, frying, and deglazing. While they might require a bit more oil than their non-stick counterparts, they’re fantastic for high-heat cooking and will last you a lifetime.
  3. Cast Iron Frypans: Ah, the classic cast iron. These hefty pans are ideal for slow, even cooking and retaining heat like a champ. They do require some special care (hello, seasoning!), but if you’re patient and willing to put in the effort, a cast iron frypan will reward you with some scrumptious, perfectly cooked dishes.
  4. Ceramic Frypans: Ceramic frypans might be your jam if you’re eco-conscious and all about that non-toxic life. They’re a solid alternative to traditional non-stick pans, and they’re super easy to clean. Just be aware that they might not withstand high heat and other options.
A frypan cooking with a flame dancing on top.

Questions to ask yourself before deciding on a frypan

Now that we’ve explored some different types of frypans let’s dig a little deeper and ask ourselves some essential questions before making that final decision. Trust me, your future culinary masterpieces will thank you for it!

  1. Non-stick or not? Consider whether you want a non-stick frypan for healthier, low-oil cooking or if you’re open to using a little more oil for better browning and high-heat cooking.
  2. High-temp cooking habits? If you’re one of those daredevils who cranks up the heat (I’ve seen you in action, you wild thing!), consider whether you need a pan that can handle high temperatures without damage.
  3. Lifelong commitment or a short-term fling? Do you want a frypan that’ll last a lifetime, or are you cool with replacing it every few years? Think about your long-term relationship with your kitchenware here!
  4. Dishwasher compatibility? Ask yourself if you’re set on a frypan that’s dishwasher safe for easy cleanup or if you don’t mind giving it a little TLC with handwashing.
  5. Oven-ready? If you’re into using chef techniques and popping your pan in the oven, make sure your chosen frypan is oven-safe and can handle the heat.
  6. Handle with care? Think about the handle’s feel and design – is it easy to lift when the pan’s full, removable, or compatible with your oven if you plan to use it that way?
  7. Induction-friendly? Even if you don’t have an induction stovetop now, it’s worth considering an induction-compatible frypan for future-proofing your kitchen game. You never know what the future holds, right?

Are Stainless Steel Frypans the Ultimate Choice?

Stainless steel frypans are undoubtedly a popular choice for their durability and longevity. While they’re not non-stick, using oils or fats and cooking correctly can help prevent sticking. Be mindful of leaving them on high heat for too long, as they can burn, warp, or even separate at the base (though this goes for any frypan). In terms of low-stress maintenance, stainless steel frypans shine—except when it comes to cleaning. But hey, I don’t mind soaking mine a bit before tossing it in the dishwasher!

A clean carbon steel frypan with a wooden handle.

Now, Let’s Talk Carbon Steel Frypans

Not familiar with carbon steel frypans? Well, they’re a favourite for use in restaurants! These pans are like cast iron’s lighter cousin and become non-stick once you’ve developed a patina. They often have steel handles, making them oven-safe and long-lasting if you follow proper care instructions (which aren’t too tricky if you know the rules).

Carbon steel pans work on any stovetop, including induction. And that rusty wok you had? Yep, it was made of carbon steel too! Prices for carbon steel frypans vary, but keep in mind that thinner ones can warp, rendering them ineffective on induction stovetops. So, if you’re planning on using an induction stove, it’s worth investing in a higher-quality carbon steel pan.

Before using carbon steel frypans, you’ll need to temper them. Some come with instructions, or you can pay a little extra for one that’s been pre-seasoned. I was lucky enough to learn the proper tempering technique when I trained as a chef, and I appreciate that experience to this day. Without that lesson, I may have never mastered the art of seasoning carbon steel frypans, and I have to say they’re my favourite. If you don’t temper your frypan, it won’t be non-stick and be warned if you don’t dry them, it can rust. But I’ve got tips, of course.

How do you temper a Carbon Steel Frypan?

Let’s get down to business and learn how to season your brand-new carbon steel frypan. Trust me; it’s not as complicated as it might seem. Just follow these steps, and you’ll be cooking up a storm in no time!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Your carbon steel frypan
  • Some paper towels
  • A high smoke point oil (like vegetable or grapeseed oil)
  • A stovetop (duh!)
  1. First things first, give your new pan a good wash with hot soapy water to remove any manufacturing grease or oil. Don’t skip this step, or stop now, or you’ll be dealing with a rusty pan in no time!
  2. Next, place the pan on the stove over high heat to dry it out. Once it’s dry, remove the pan from the heat, let it cool slightly, and then pour in about 1 tsp to 1 tbsp of oil (depending on your pan’s size). Wipe the oil around the entire inside surface, making sure it’s a super thin, even layer – no drips or puddles allowed!
  3. Now, pop that frypan back on the stove and heat it up until it starts to smoke. Remove it from the heat and let it cool down.
  4. Time for another round of oil! Apply and wipe it around the surface just like before, ensuring a thin, even layer.
  5. Keep repeating this process until your frypan turns black. That’s the magical non-stick coating, my friends! It might take up to 10 coats to achieve the full patina, but trust me; it’s worth the effort.
  6. Once your carbon steel frypan is all seasoned and ready, use it just like any other non-stick pan. When you’re done cooking, wash it with warm water and a sponge, and then dry it thoroughly. I usually put it back on the stovetop to dry completely, but that’s just my little trick.
  7. If you do find some rust on your pan, it’s easy to remove with a bit of wet and dry sandpaper, then re-oil it. Look after it, and it will last a lifetime.

Cast Iron Frypan, Skillet, or Cookware: What’s the Deal?

Cast iron pans are similar to carbon steel, but they’re a lot heavier. Their excellent heat retention and even heating make them perfect for cooking without burning your food – unless, of course, you crank up the heat for too long!

Like carbon steel, you’ll need to season or create a patina on cast iron to make it non-stick.

Non-Stick Coated Frypans: The Lowdown

If you’ve never tried a non-stick pan, grab a small one and whip up an omelette – you’ll quickly understand the appeal! The non-stick surface lets you cook with minimal oil and makes food release a breeze.

I always use a bit of fat (butter, oil, ghee, or bacon fat) when cooking with non-stick pans, as it improves flavour and caramelization. The good news is you can use just a little, making non-stick pans a healthier choice.

Non stick frypan.

A Few Non-Stick Frypan Facts You Might Not Know

  1. There are two main types of non-stick pans: pre-coated ones and those you build up a patina on to create a non-stick surface. Each type requires different care.
  2. Constantly using non-stick pans on high heat can shorten their lifespan – true for most frypans, actually. It’s best to avoid cranking up the heat too much with non-stick pans.
  3. To keep non-stick pans in good shape, avoid using tools that scratch or cleaning them with abrasive scourers. Opt for high-heat silicone spatulas and never let them rest in the pan.
  4. Quality non-stick frypans can usually handle the dishwasher, but since some dishwasher detergents can be harsh, it’s safer to handwash with a soapy sponge and rinse.
  5. Carbon steel and cast iron frypans need a patina to become non-stick. They’re super robust, but you must follow certain rules to ensure they last for years. Restaurants love them because they don’t need frequent replacements.

Steer Clear of Toxins: Tips for Safe Non-Stick Cooking

Wondering about the possible harmful effects of non-stick toxins? They could cause headaches, nausea, and respiratory issues in humans. To minimize the risk, choose PFOA-free frypans.

Here’s how to keep your non-stick cooking safe and toxin-free:

  1. Heat Responsibly: Don’t crank up the heat too high. Start with a lower temperature and gradually increase to your desired cooking temp. Quality frypans won’t need a “boost” setting – just let the pan heat up slowly.
  2. Don’t Overheat: Never leave an empty pan on the stove once it’s reached the desired temperature. Overheating or maintaining high temps can damage the surface and even warp the base of the pan.
  3. Know Your Oil: Different oils and fats have different burning points. Stick to these recommended temperatures to stay on the safe side.
  4. Use the Right Utensils: Opt for high-temperature silicone spatulas or wooden ones (though be aware that wood can harbour moisture and bacteria if not properly cared for).
  5. Wash Gently: Hand wash your non-stick pan with a gentle cleaning sponge and hot tap water. For stubborn bits, let it soak. Avoid steel wool or heavy-duty scrubbers to prevent damage to the non-stick surface.

Choosing the Perfect Frypan: Key Features to Consider

  1. Cooktop Compatibility: Ensure your frypan suits your cooktop style. For induction stovetops, choose an induction-ready pan. Check the packaging or base for compatibility, or use a magnet test. Match the pan’s base size with the cooktop’s designated area for best performance.
  2. Weight: Find a frypan with enough heft for good cooking performance but not so heavy that it’s difficult to lift or tip when full.
  3. Handle: Seek a comfortable, grippy handle. For larger pans, a long handle or extra support handle helps with lifting and tipping.
  4. Base: A thick, heavy base offers better heat distribution and cooking performance. While it may take slightly longer to heat up, it’s worth it for consistent results, and thin pans can often warp, making them a bit useless for induction stovetops.
  5. Cleaning: Non-stick surfaces are popular for easy cleaning. Avoid grooved surfaces or painted exteriors that can be harder to clean or maintain. Note that some non-stick frypans, carbon steel, and cast iron pans may not be dishwasher-safe.

Opt for a thick stainless steel pan for a durable pan that can handle various uses, temperatures, and cleaning methods. Keep in mind, though, that it won’t be non-stick. For a great stainless steel option, consider the Essteele skillet. While you’ll need to use some oil, its thick base ensures even heat retention and excellent searing and browning capabilities.

For non-stick frypans, I recommend WOLL as my top pick and Anolon as a close second. Both offer high-quality pans, but you’ll need to care for them properly.

Carbon steel pans are another favourite of mine. They’re widely used in Australian restaurants due to their durability and versatility. Just remember to follow the initial tempering process and adhere to the cleaning instructions. Even if rust appears, it’s fixable. With the right care, a carbon steel pan can be a long-lasting addition to your kitchen.

A simple carbon steel frypan.
Carbon Steel

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