Last updated: August 9, 2021

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Grill pans are particularly suitable for preparing meat, vegetables or fish. The grooved profile of the bottom of the pan creates a striped pattern like that of a grill. Because of this texture, it is also possible to fry with less fat than with a frying pan. Although a grill pan cannot produce the unmistakable smoky aroma of a grill, it can come very close to it. So with the right grill pan, nothing stands in the way of the grilling experience in the kitchen. Our grill pan test 2021 should help you find the best grill pan for you and your needs. We have compared grill pans made of cast iron, aluminium and stainless steel and listed their advantages and disadvantages for you. In this way, we want to make your purchase decision as easy as possible.




Summary

  • A grill pan is a pan with grooves on the bottom in which mostly meat, fish or vegetables are prepared. The grooved profile creates a characteristic striped pattern when frying and fat can drain into the indentations. This is where a grill pan differs significantly from a flat frying pan.
  • A basic distinction is made between grill pans made of cast iron, aluminium and stainless steel. These are available in different sizes and shapes as well as in different price ranges. You can also choose between different coatings.
  • Grill pans made of aluminium or stainless steel are particularly suitable for beginners due to their lighter weight and lower price. The heavier cast iron pans are highly valued by professionals and achieve excellent results.

The Best Grill Pan: Our Picks

Buying and evaluation criteria for grill pans

In the following, we will explain various features of grill pans that you can take into account when making your purchase decision. The criteria that you can use to compare and evaluate grill pans with each other include:

In the following, we will explain these criteria in more detail and show you what is important.

Weight

The weight of a grill pan not only determines the ease of handling, but also has a significant influence on the frying result. For example, a heavier cast iron pan stores heat better and can withstand higher temperatures than lighter models. These, on the other hand, are easier to hold and you need less practice in using them. Depending on the material a grill pan is made of, the weight can vary greatly. Cast iron grill pans can weigh up to 3 kilograms and more. Models made of aluminium or stainless steel, on the other hand, usually weigh less than 2 kilograms. We will go into more detail about the different materials and their advantages and disadvantages in the Decision section.

Size / shape (round vs. square)

Of course, grill pans not only vary in weight, but are also available in different sizes and shapes. Choosing the right size depends on what you want to use your grill pan for and where. Accordingly, you should measure the size of your stovetop and adjust the size of the bottom of the pan accordingly. You should also consider what foods and what quantities you want to prepare with the grill pan. The dimensions of your grill pan will then depend on this. Most grill pans are available in a rectangular or square shape and not round like classic frying pans. This makes it possible to prepare larger quantities at the same time, but they are more difficult to store than round versions. In addition, the corners of round griddles are often not heated optimally, which makes heat distribution more difficult. If you only want to prepare small quantities, a grill pan in a round shape may also be sufficient. In addition, the heat distribution is better with round versions because they cover the hob completely.

Suitability for induction plates

Google search queries such as induction grill pan or grill pan suitable for induction show that the suitability of grill pans for this type of cooker is particularly questioned. The material is decisive here. Cast iron, for example, is always suitable for induction plates because of its magnetic properties. You should only make sure that the grill pan heats up slowly. But grill pans made of aluminium or stainless steel are also generally suitable for induction cookers. To make sure that the pan works on induction plates, you should look for the suffix induction-suitable . You can also use a magnet to check whether the base of the pan is magnetic.

Suitability for oven

As a rule, grill pans are also suitable for the oven. You should pay particular attention to the handle and its material, because wood or plastic have no place in the oven. Removable handles and handles made of metal are therefore advantageous, although they may heat up considerably. When removing metal handles, you should therefore remember to wear oven mitts or gloves to protect yourself from burns. Grill pans also differ in the maximum heat they can withstand. Some models, for example, are only heat-resistant up to 180 degrees, which is why it is worth taking a look at the description of the pan.

Coating / sealing

Another important factor is the coating or sealing of the grill pan. There are pans that do not need a coating at all, as well as models with a plastic, enamel or ceramic coating (mostly on aluminium and stainless steel pans).

If a grill pan is coated, it is generally easier to clean. In addition, you need less oil when frying and the risk of something burning is minimised.

Depending on the type of non-stick coating, a coated pan can be less heat-resistant and more sensitive than a model without a coating. This results in a shorter lifespan. You also have to expect a higher price if you choose a coated grill pan. A plastic coating is less heat-resistant, begins to flake off at a temperature of about 260 degrees and is not scratch-resistant. A ceramic coating, on the other hand, can withstand temperatures of 400 degrees without any problems. Ceramic is less susceptible to scratches. You should only be careful when storing them on stacks, as the material can easily flake off. In any case, sealing does not affect the preparation or the taste and is not absolutely necessary. When used correctly, the grooves on the bottom of the pan prevent burning. This is because contact with the contents is already minimal.

Dishwasher safe

If you don't feel like washing your pots and pans by hand, you will be particularly interested in the aspect of dishwasher resistance. Among other things, the sealing aspect is responsible for this property. Coated grill pans are not always suitable for the dishwasher and hand washing is usually recommended. Cleaning cast iron pans in the dishwasher is not recommended because they can rust quickly. In general, take a look at the description of the grill pan to make sure that it is dishwasher safe. But cleaning by hand is not too complicated either. We explain how this works in the advice section of this article.

Decision: What types of grill pans are there and which is the right one for me?

If you want to buy a grill pan, there are three types made of different materials that you can choose from:

Type Advantages Disadvantages
Cast iron grill pan Cast iron provides even heat distribution and retention, requiring less energy. It is very durable and particularly heat resistant Cast iron takes a little longer to heat up and is very heavy. To prevent rust, it is essential to bake or coat the pan.
Aluminium grill pan Aluminium is very light and is known for its good heat conduction. Grill pans of this type are inexpensive, easy to clean and rust-resistant due to their coating A coated aluminium pan does not offer heat retention. It is less heat-resistant and can warp easily. Accordingly, the service life is shorter.
Stainless steel grill pan (less common) Stainless steel scores with its light weight and good heat conduction. Coated stainless steel pans are easy to clean and rust-resistant models of this type are less heat-resistant, cool down more quickly and have a shorter lifespan.

In the following, we will explain the different types of grill pans in more detail and go into their advantages and disadvantages.

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Cast iron grill pan

If you want to enjoy your grill pan for as long as possible, you should invest in a cast iron pan. This type of pan is very durable due to the material. Cast iron is therefore a classic among the materials for grill pans and many professionals swear by it. The material conducts heat particularly well (even in the corners with a square shape) and transfers it evenly to the food to be grilled. The pan only needs to be preheated sufficiently, which can take a little longer than with other materials. However, cast iron can store heat for a long time, which means that less energy is needed for preparation.

Advantages
  • even heat distribution and storage
  • low energy consumption
  • very durable
  • very heat-resistant
Disadvantages
  • takes a little longer to heat up
  • very heavy
  • baking or coating necessary to prevent rust

Due to the magnetic properties of the material, a cast iron pan can be used flexibly on all types of cooker – especially on induction plates. Likewise, use in the oven is possible without problems due to the high heat resistance. However, cast iron grill pans are also known for being very heavy. If the pan is not coated or already baked, you should do this yourself. Otherwise, the material is more susceptible to rust. Baking creates a natural non-stick coating that increases the life of your grill pan. If you want to become a grill professional with a little practice and buy a pan that you can enjoy for a long time, a cast iron grill pan may be just right for you.

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Aluminium grill pan

Grill pans made of this material score points for their very light weight compared to versions made of other materials. They usually have a non-stick coating and are therefore particularly easy to clean and protected against rust. In addition, an aluminium pan is significantly cheaper than a professional model made of cast iron. Nevertheless, aluminium grill pans heat up relatively quickly and offer good heat distribution. However, the material does not store the heat well.

Advantages
  • very light
  • good heat conduction
  • low price
  • easy to clean, rust-resistant due to coating
Disadvantages
  • no heat storage
  • shorter life
  • less heat-resistant, can warp

However, due to their low heat resistance, they are less suitable for searing or prolonged frying because they can easily warp. The exception is grill pans made of aluminium with a ceramic coating, which can withstand much more heat. Accordingly, an aluminium grill pan is more suitable for dishes that require less heat. At temperatures of around 260 degrees, a pan with a plastic coating reaches its limits and the seal can be damaged. Consequently, the lifespan of the pan is also significantly shorter than that of a cast iron pan. So if you want to take advantage of the benefits of an aluminium grill pan and still fry at high temperatures, you should choose a model with a ceramic coating.

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Stainless steel grill pan

Finally, the stainless steel version is less common. Grill pans made of this material, like aluminium pans, weigh significantly less than pans made of cast iron. In terms of weight, they usually fall between the other two types of pan. They also conduct heat very well, but do not store it and therefore cool down quickly.

Advantages
  • Light weight
  • good heat conduction
  • easy to clean, rust-resistant thanks to coating
Disadvantages
  • no heat storage, cools down quickly
  • less heat-resistant
  • shorter life

Stainless steel pans are also usually coated and therefore very easy to clean as well as rust-resistant. If the coating is made of plastic, however, they are not very heat-resistant, just like aluminium pans. That is why they have a shorter lifespan than cast-iron models. The disadvantages of stainless steel grill pans are therefore almost the same as those of aluminium models, as they are largely due to the type of coating.

Guide: Frequently asked questions about grill pans answered in detail

In the following guide, we would like to answer all your important questions about grill pans. It provides you with all the background information you need to know before buying a grill pan. It also contains facts and tips on how to use it properly after you have bought it.

What is a grill pan and how does it work?

A grill pan is a pan with grooves on the bottom in which meat is primarily prepared. It can be used not only to prepare various dishes, but also to serve them afterwards.

The grooved profile creates a characteristic striped pattern during frying, which you would normally expect from a charcoal or gas grill.

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The grooved profile of a grill pan creates the same appealing look as a grill grate.
(Image source: Pixabay / pexels)

The grooves of the pan also ensure that fat and liquid drain into the depressions. This is where a grill pan differs significantly from an ordinary frying pan. This design makes a grill pan ideal for low-fat cooking. The grilled food only rests on the raised areas and is therefore really fried instead of simmering in its own juices.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a grill pan?

Even if it is not absolutely necessary to buy a grill pan, it still offers some advantages over a flat frying pan. We have listed the advantages and disadvantages in detail here:
Advantages
  • appealing appearance of the grilled food due to grooves
  • low-fat frying
  • grilled food is fried and does not simmer in its own juices
  • even heat distribution and high heat resistance (depending on the material)
Disadvantages
  • usually more difficult to store and clean (angular shape)
  • lower use compared to other kitchen utensils
  • less overall browning of grilled food than in flat grill pan

For whom does it make sense to buy a grill pan?

Of course, anyone can buy a grill pan, but is it worth it for everyone? According to the listed advantages and disadvantages, buying a grill pan makes sense primarily for meat and barbecue lovers. For example, if you don't want to grill outdoors in winter or on rainy days, you can move the experience into your kitchen with a grill pan. Although the result will not be comparable to that of a grill, it will be better than with a flat frying pan. Even if you're watching your diet and aiming for the lowest possible fat, we'd recommend buying a grill pan.

How much does a grill pan cost?

Depending on the material and size, the cost of a grill pan can vary greatly. To give you an overview, we have created a table with approximate price ranges.
Size Price
20 - 24 cm 15 - 90 €
25 - 30 cm 20 - 170 €

So you can see that the prices mainly depend on the size and the material used. Grill pans made of aluminium or stainless steel are usually cheaper than the cast iron versions used by professionals. The brand you choose also plays a role. Many high-end brands sell cast iron grill pans and are therefore more expensive.

What are the alternatives to a grill pan?

Below we have listed some alternatives to a grill pan that you can consider:
Alternative Description
Flat frying pan Probably the most obvious alternative to a grill pan is a simple, flat frying pan. All the dishes you would prepare with a grill pan can also be cooked in a normal pan without any problems. However, significantly more fat is needed and the appealing grill look is missing for meat.
Charcoal grill / gas grill Consumers often wonder whether a grill pan can replace a charcoal or gas grill. This is not the case, because the typical smoky aroma cannot be achieved with a grill pan. However, it is a good alternative to the classic grill, especially in the cold season. Compared to a grill, a grill pan can be used more quickly and flexibly without a lot of preparation time.
Grill plate A grill plate differs from a grill pan in that it is larger overall. In addition, it is not always grooved, but is also available with a smooth surface. It is therefore more likely to be used in the oven or on the grill rather than on the cooker.

Depending on the result you want to achieve, a grill pan may be better or less suitable than its alternatives.

Which grill pan is suitable for which cooker?

As already described in the buying criteria, the type of cooker you have is also decisive when buying a grill pan. We have summarised here what you should look out for with which type of cooker:

  • Grill pan for induction cooker: According to our research, the suitability for an induction cooker is often questioned. It can be said that cast iron is always suitable for induction plates. However, you should pay more attention to slow heating of the grill pan. Other materials such as aluminium or stainless steel are generally just as suitable, as long as the base of the pan is magnetic.
  • Grill pan forceramic hob: Grill pans can also be used on a ceramic hob. Models made of all materials are suitable for this, without you having to pay any special attention to anything.
  • Grill pan forgas cooker: The same applies to a gas cooker. Here, too, it is possible to work with any grill pan without any problems. With cast iron pans, you should again make sure that they heat up slowly.

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A grill pan that can withstand such temperatures can also be used over a campfire.
(Image source: Myles Tan / unsplash)

If you want to be on the safe side, you should always read the manufacturer's instructions and check that they are suitable.

How do I use a grill pan?

Once you've decided on a grill pan, you're probably wondering how to use it properly. Here are some tips for you:

  1. Take it easy: preheat the pan sufficiently and slowly before use
  2. Fry faster when dry: Rub the food dry so that it starts to fry more quickly
  3. Not too hot: start frying at medium heat
  4. Oil, yes or no?: Decide whether you want to use oil or not. If yes, choose a heat-resistant oil. You can find out which oils are included in the next section. You can either just coat the food or the pan itself.
  5. Not too much at once: Do not pile up food for a constant temperature in the pan and do not put too much in the pan at once
  6. Turn as rarely as possible: Do not turn the meat or vegetables too quickly or too often. It can be easily released from the grooves after a short time of sticking.

Here we have selected an example of instructions for the correct preparation of a rib eye steak:

Which fat / oil should I use for a grill pan?

Not all fats can withstand the high temperatures that occur when frying with a grill pan.
When choosing the right oil, make sure that it is heat-resistant.

Olive oil, for example, produces a lot of smoke even at low heat and is therefore unsuitable. Consequently, the following oils/fats are particularly suitable:

  • Sunflower oil
  • Rapeseed oil
  • Sesame oil
  • Soya oil
  • Peanut oil

You should avoid cold-pressed, native oils such as the olive oil mentioned above.

How do I clean a grill pan?

The correct cleaning of your grill pan depends primarily on the material it is made of. An uncoated cast iron grill pan, for example, should only be cleaned with a little water and wiped dry. It then makes sense to lightly oil the pan. Coated grill pans can be cleaned with a brush and water. If at all, you should use very little washing-up liquid.

Burnt-on residues that cannot be removed in this way can also be removed by boiling the pan briefly with water.

In any case, a grill pan should cool down sufficiently before it comes into contact with water. You should also keep water contact as low as possible to prevent rust.

What foods / dishes can be prepared with a grill pan?

Basically, you can prepare everything in a grill pan that you would otherwise put on the grill. Grill pans are used especially for preparing meat and vegetables. But fish, grilled cheese or sausages can also be roasted wonderfully in them.

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A grill pan can be used to conjure up a wide variety of dishes.
(Image source: Victoria Shes / unsplash)

There are no restrictions when it comes to meat - whether beef, lamb, pork, chicken or turkey. Similar to the grill, courgette, potatoes, aubergine or peppers are particularly suitable as vegetables.

Do I have to burn in a grill pan?

You may be familiar with the process of burning in normal iron pans. Oil is used to create a natural non-stick coating (patina) that protects the pan from rust. With grill pans, you have to distinguish between coated and uncoated pans. Coated models do not need to be baked, as the coating already provides protection against rust and sticking. The question of whether you should bake a grill pan therefore arises primarily with uncoated cast iron pans. These are usually delivered already baked by the manufacturer. This one-time baking is usually sufficient, as the contact between the food and the bottom of the pan is less with grill pans than with frying pans. The grooved profile minimises the risk of something burning on anyway.

Image source: Koval/ 123rf.com

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