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One of the few saving graces where I live is that it’s always barbecue season. Sometimes it rains, and sometimes it’s too hot to stand at the grill, but this is more the exception than the rule. I understand that many people don’t enjoy the same climate benefits and have to move the party indoors when it gets colder. You may also not have access to an open grilling area. In these cases, a frying pan is a good choice.
While they may not produce the same flavors as an open fire grill, chefs such as Alex Harrell of the Commons Club in New Orleans use ungrilled pans to get the texture and visual appeal of grilled dishes. We consulted with chefs to determine what they need when choosing a homemade frying pan. We then combine their input with our experience to research and evaluate the best bakeware on the market based on factors such as material, construction and size. Read on to see our top picks.
Le Creuset believes that his creations will become a family heirloom, and in nearly 100 years of work, he has had enough time to establish himself as a master of ceramic tableware. If durability and quality are what you’re looking for, you’ll find it in the Le Creuset Square Skillet Bakeware. It is relatively heavy, made of enameled cast iron, but the beauty of this baking dish lies in its weight. We don’t say it’s a show piece, although it looks great in the kitchen. The cast iron construction ensures heat is evenly distributed and retained, while the enamel coating provides resistance to sticking and prevents the pan from rusting without protecting its seasonings.
The sides taper so that the cooking area is nine inches square, but that’s more than enough for two to four people, depending on what you’re cooking. Raised combs provide good grill marks at high temperatures. They also lift the food off the bottom of the pan, allowing for good drainage of any fat that is lost from the food in the process. Speaking of fat or grease, the built-in spout on the side makes it easy to pour out of the pot when cleaning up. The height and spacing of the ridges makes it easier to clean the pan because you have access to all the places where food can stick to the pan and burn.
The cast iron construction ensures even heat distribution, and the spring-loaded handle is comfortable to hold even when it’s hot.
Finex baking utensils are quite durable for the price. But for those who don’t have access to an outdoor grill, it’s a smart investment in your expertise and can become the talk of the town in your kitchen. Although, of course, that’s not all. This 10-inch pan weighs eight pounds; its weight ensures that heat is evenly distributed and retained, making it an excellent skillet for sautéing over high heat or cooking thick cuts of meat over medium-low heat.
The handle is part of the design so you don’t have to worry about any rivets coming loose. It is wrapped with a thick stainless steel spring that keeps it cool and comfortable to grip. The grill fins are tall and wide enough to leave grill marks on food. The ribs also keep the food from dripping fat, ensuring that you are grilling the food rather than frying or simmering it. The octagonal shape with sloping sides makes it easy to work with a spatula. The pan is pre-oiled with linseed oil so it’s ready to use right out of the box.
The stable and reliable Lodge Square Bakeware is a workhorse, not a show pony. It’s not as heavy as our top pick, but provides good heat distribution and retention. Without enamel coating, the cabin can be used on almost any heat source, from induction burners to open flames, without fear of damaging the finish.
Properly sized grill ribs keep food above any accumulated fat or liquid and leave good frying and grilling marks. The pan comes pre-seasoned so you can cook it, and it’s big enough for two to four people.
As a general rule, we do not recommend using pans with two burners, as different burners tend to produce uneven heat. However, your situation may require more than a single burner pan, so let’s find the best one. The All-Clad HA1′s anodized aluminum construction means it’s lightweight yet still offers good heat distribution. This way you can grill in the area between the burners without a noticeable difference in heat. The sides are a little low to prevent splashes, but high enough to prevent spills and grease from burning. The non-stick coating does what it says, and when you want to finish your meal in the oven, the pan can handle temperatures up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
The grill ribs are a bit difficult to clean and the lid collects stains and debris from the oven.
I really want to hate this pan, but I can’t. You can think of versatility as a grill and skillet combo, or you can think of it as many other uses for a grill pan. First, it’s a grill. But it can also be fried, fried, stewed, or even steamed if you get creative.
The frying pan is made of cast aluminum, durable and several times lighter than cast iron. The two inch sides not only hold liquids well but also reduce splashing. The glass lid is equipped with a pressure relief valve and can be used in the oven up to 350°F. The glued steel base promotes heat distribution and makes it compatible with induction burners. I don’t think this pan will last a lifetime, but for the price it should last quite well.
It can be difficult to clean due to the ribbed design and we would have liked to see a firmer handle layout.
Analon’s 11″ square baking dish offers most of what we’re looking for in a pot. The anodized aluminum construction ensures even heat distribution and the pan is oven safe up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. The high sides reduce splashing and the spout handles grease with ease. The square design maximizes grill space and the sides are slightly angled for easy access to food.
The edge of the pan is high enough to leave good grill marks and keep food above grease or liquid. The non-stick surface is claimed to last longer than most ceramic pans. One improvement we would like to see is stronger rivets on the handle to extend its life before it gets a little wobbly.
The anodized aluminum construction ensures even heating of multiple cooking surfaces, while the ceramic coating is suitable for use with a variety of cookware.
Made from durable anodized aluminum with a ceramic surface, Valencia is free of the most common toxins found in non-stick cookware. Ceramic is also durable enough to be used with metal utensils, although manufacturers recommend silicone utensils for longer life. The location of the two handles makes it easy to move the filled container, which can sometimes be a difficult task with one long handle. This arrangement also reduces stress on the rivet joints, extending pot life.
Even on burners with a smaller diameter than a frying pan, the frying pan provides even heat distribution, extending the cooking area to the edge of the frying pan. The frying pan is well-fried, there are traces of the grill on the products. Our only wish was a spout on the side for a more direct handling of the lubricant.
Regardless of which side of the pan is heated, its seasoning will heat up more and its smell may bother some people. In addition, pans have shallow walls that can easily splatter on stovetops and countertops.
My personal complaint about double sided pans is that they tend to gobble up both burners. Many home kitchens have burners of various sizes, front to back and side to side. When your pan spans two burners of different sizes and heat settings, the heat in the pan will be inconsistent. Finding a single burner pan is easy, but finding a reversible single burner pan is not so easy. At the same time, Rocky brings the best of the best to the party.
This pan is made from the same durable cast iron that Lodge casts other bakeware and pans from. Raised frying ribs on one side give you all the functions of searing, frying and marking on the grill just like you would on a regular frying pan. Flip it over and you have a pan that can be used for anything from pancakes to pancakes. What truly sets the Lodge apart is its ability to produce high quality cast iron that evenly distributes and retains heat at an affordable price.
When buying any kitchen equipment, it is really important that it is right for you and your needs. The Le Creuset Signature Square Skillet is our top choice for durability and reliability. However, if that’s a concern for you, Anolon Deep Square’s lightweight 11″ baking dish with pouring spout may be more convenient or a better fit for your glass cooktop.
The material determines how much the pot weighs, how it is used and how it is cleaned. Cast iron itself is heavy, but distributes heat well. Anodized aluminum has slightly less heat distribution, but significantly less weight. Some people may be hesitant to use an eight-pound cast iron skillet on a glass cooktop, but aluminum is generally not suitable for induction unless otherwise noted.
Equally important is the non-stick coating. Ceramic does not last as long as other coatings, but is mostly free of toxins that can be ingested, making it popular in the best non-stick cookware sets. Alternative coatings work well but may not hold up to metal utensils or machine wash. Enamel pans are durable and easy to clean, but they are not specifically designed to be non-stick and therefore require more skill in cooking techniques.
One of the most important design elements is the handle. Harrell and Julio Aguilera, chef at San Francisco’s Copas restaurant, share similar views. A better design is to cast the shorter handle as part of the pot. The next best thing is a shorter handle that is securely riveted to the pan. Least recommended are baking pans with longer handles and strong rivets. Why is there so much focus on handles and clasps?
The longer the handle, the more pressure will be exerted at the junction with the pan. In the case of cast iron or aluminum, the handle is an integral part of the pan, so the entire pan absorbs pressure. In the riveted body, the rivets withstand the pressure of the weight of the pan and the food in it. This is not particularly harmful, but the heat plays a role. In a stove or oven, metal expands when heated and contracts when cooled. Thus, when weight, heat, cooling, expansion, and contraction are taken into account, these joints become weak and shake quite normally. Long handles are made faster than short handles due to weight distribution. This weakness creates safety issues when handling hot foods and pots and is one of the most common reasons people buy replacement pots.
Factors to consider when choosing the right size include the size of the burner you will be using and choosing a pan that will fit not only that burner, but also the type and amount of food you will be cooking and the people for whom you will cook. Look for something with a little more ability than you normally use to deal with the unknown, such as inviting friends or family over for dinner from time to time. Harrell emphasized the importance of lateral depth as a safety measure. Splashes and spills of grease can cause fires and burns, and the higher side minimizes these possibilities.
How much time and effort are you willing to put into caring for and feeding the pan? Enamelled cast iron is easy to care for and can be washed in the dishwasher. Cast iron requires more maintenance and is the subject of much cleaning knowledge. Ceramic surfaces may require special cleaning products or methods. Each material has its own advantages and disadvantages when it comes to cooking, cleaning and storage. You have to weigh how much you dedicate to cleaning versus how well you cook.
Two chefs shared their knowledge and experience in an in-depth study: Julio Aguilera, co-owner and chef of Copas in San Francisco, and Alex Harrell, chef of the Commons Club in New Orleans. We then scan the market for the best options based on their opinion and our own experience. We weighed the grill tools we found on several criteria, including cost, ease of use, and build quality.
A: Cast iron cleaning is a myth with many misconceptions. Everyone has their own way, and most of them are right. Harrell likes to wash the pan with salt, a little water, and a little Dawn dishwashing detergent, then clean the pan with a rolled-up piece of aluminum foil, then dry it on the stove and brush with a little vegetable oil.
A: You can use a grill pan for anything that would normally be grilled. It can be meat, poultry, vegetables, meat substitutes, or any combination of the above. It’s worth noting that you won’t get the same flavor from a grill as you would from a grill, but it does give the Maillard reaction texture you’d expect from grilled food. In addition to that thought, you can use a pan to enhance the texture of a dish that you can’t get with just pan frying, or to give a visual boost to a dish with the nice charring that a grill gives.
A: It depends on several variables. Harrell likes to carry a couple of cast-iron grill pans with him when camping in case the camping grills become unusable or left in poor condition by previous campers. A cast iron skillet is a great alternative to cooking on a low grill. That being said, not all bakeware is the same in this regard. I have used several enameled cast iron pans on a grill over an open fire, ruining their finish. The surface of the enamel tends to have slight ripples that trap soot from the fire and leave a black stain on the pan. Check the manufacturer’s recommendations for how to safely use the pan on the grill.
Not covered here, but worth noting: Aguilera is a fan of the new pans on the market designed for grilling. They have strategically placed holes to give your food that grilled flavor while maintaining the texture and speedy cooking of your roast.
Greg Baker is an award-winning chef, restaurateur and food writer with years of experience in the food industry. For this article, he interviews chefs Julio Aguilera and Alex Harrell to find out what professionals consider when choosing a baking dish. He then uses their ideas and his own experience, combined with market research, to come up with a list.
Post time: Jun-30-2023