Last updated: August 10, 2021

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No kitchen should be without a frying pan. With this all-rounder you can cook, grill, fry and even bake. Grilling on an open fire at the campsite is no problem with the right pan. The pan is always your perfect companion in everyday life.

In our big pan test 2021 we want to introduce you to the different types of pans and show you the advantages and disadvantages of each pan. We also show you what you should look for when buying a pan. This will help you make the perfect choice and compare different pans more easily.




The most important facts

  • There are pans made of different materials. You can buy a pan made of aluminium, iron or stainless steel. Aluminium pans are the lightest pans. Iron pans, especially cast iron pans, are the heaviest.
  • A pan can be coated or uncoated. This changes the application and the taste. Uncoated pans provide a good aroma. Coated pans are the all-rounders. They are a great help, especially for beginners.
  • Pans are rarely dishwasher-safe or dishwasher-safe. That's why it's best to wash a pan by hand. This protects your pan and it will last longer.

The Best Pan: Our Picks

Buying and evaluation criteria for frying pans

Before you buy a pan, you should know exactly what you expect from your future pan. For this purpose, we have listed criteria that you can use as a guide to help you make your decision when buying a pan.

The criteria you can use to compare the pans with each other include:

The following paragraphs should give you a more detailed idea of the respective purchase and evaluation criteria.

Diameter of the base / upper rim

The diameter of the bottom of a pan tells you how big the pan is and how much surface area you have for frying. The larger the diameter, the more space it requires.

Pans with a base diameter of between 16 and 32 cm are available.

There are pans with different base diameters. The smallest pans are available with a diameter of 16 cm.

If you want a smaller version, there are pans up to 19 cm. Commercially available pans have a diameter of 20 to 28 cm. There are also XXL pans. These have a diameter of 32 to 36 cm.

So far, we have only talked about the base. However, there are also pan manufacturers who relate the diameter to the upper edge. So it can happen that 2 pans with the same diameter have different sizes.

Coating

You can choose between 3 coatings: No coating, ceramic coating or plastic coating (PTFE). The following table gives you an overview of the types of coating available for each type of pan:

Pan type Coating
Stainless steel pan None, Ceramic, PTFE
Iron pan None, Ceramic
Aluminium pan Ceramic, PTFE

Uncoated stainless steel pans are very robust and therefore never get scratched. They also conduct heat particularly well. Because stainless steel pans are tasteless, you get a great taste experience. Uncoated iron pans also have advantages. They develop a special roasted aroma after a while. The heat is also distributed evenly here.

In the past, there were more pans with an enamel coating. However, this coating has been displaced by other coatings such as ceramic or no coating.

A ceramic coating can withstand up to 400 degrees Celsius. In addition, a pan with a ceramic coating does not release any harmful substances into the food. The only thing is that you should not use metal cooking utensils with a ceramic coating, otherwise you will destroy the coating.

The plastic PTFE coating is one of the most common coatings on the market. This coating is not intended for high temperatures, as it will peel off and give off toxic fumes. So you should not use more than 230 degrees Celsius with this coating.

Suitability for different types of cookers

Not every pan is suitable for every cooker. Therefore, you must make sure which cooker the pan is suitable for before you buy it.

Almost all pans are suitable for induction. You only need to pay closer attention to aluminium pans.

Most iron pans, uncoated and coated, are suitable for all types of cookers, including ovens. Iron pans are also suitable for induction cookers and can even be used uncoated on an open fire. Stainless steel pans can also be used for all types of cookers, including induction.

Many aluminium pans can be used for all types of cookers. If you have an induction cooker, you have to be careful. Not all aluminium pans are suitable for induction plates. Aluminium pans should not be used over an open fire, as too high temperatures could damage the pan and the coating.

Weight

The weight of a pan can be an important criterion for you if you want a lighter pan for more manoeuvrability. There are different weight categories for a pan. We'll tell you what they are here.

Aluminium pans are the lightest. Iron pans are the heaviest pans.

The lightest pans are aluminium pans. This type of pan is available from 500 grams. The maximum weight of an aluminium pan is 2 kilograms. However, only a few aluminium pans reach this weight.

Stainless steel pans are in the medium weight category. They weigh between 1 and 1.7 kilograms. Iron pans are the heaviest pans on the market. They weigh between 1.3 and 2.3 kilograms. Cast-iron pans can be heavier, weighing around 3 kilograms.

Range of application

By area of application we mean which foods you can prepare particularly well in the respective type of pan. Each pan is better suited for different dishes than for others.

Iron pans are particularly suitable for roasting food. This is because they roast the ingredients hot on the outside and keep them nice and juicy on the inside.

Iron pans are not suitable for egg dishes because this pan is not sensitive enough for this food. Cooking with iron pans is also not useful.

Stainless steel pans are particularly practical for frying meat. This can make the meat juicier. Fish and egg dishes are not recommended in stainless steel pans. Aluminium pans are suitable for delicate foods such as pancakes or fish. However, they can of course also be used for other types of preparation.

Dishwasher safe

Nowadays, you may want to put your pan in the dishwasher instead of washing it by hand. But you should also pay attention to which pan is suitable for the dishwasher.

Pans made of aluminium and iron must never be washed in the dishwasher.

Iron pans should not be put in the dishwasher. Washing in the dishwasher causes the iron pan to rust very quickly. The

Iron pans should never be soaked in water for a long time, as this will cause them to rust more quickly. Aluminium pans should also never be put in the dishwasher. Aluminium can discolour and oxidise.

Stainless steel pans can generally be washed in the dishwasher. However, we advise against this. Even if stainless steel is rustproof, the pan could rust if other rusty objects are in the dishwasher.

Decision: What types of pans are there and which one is right for you?

You can choose between 3 types of pans. The following table gives you an overview of the advantages and disadvantages of each type of pan:

Type Advantages Disadvantages
Stainless steel pan Dishwasher safe, Taste, Choice Coating Handling, Preparation
Iron pan Taste, Durability, Camping Weight, Care
Aluminium pan Weight, Dish variety Temperature, Not dishwasher safe

In the following paragraphs we will explain the advantages and disadvantages of each type of pan in more detail.

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Stainless steel pan

Stainless steel pans are the only pans that can also be washed in the dishwasher. Although it is not recommended, it is possible. You also have many coatings to choose from with a stainless steel pan. They are available without coating, with ceramic or plastic (PTFE).

Advantages
  • Dishwasher-safe
  • Many types of coating
  • Non-toxic
Disadvantages
  • Difficult to handle
  • Sensitive food

The stainless steel pan also has a great advantage. This is because an uncoated stainless steel pan is neutral in taste and smell. This means that your food does not taste of the pan or anything in it. This gives you a unique taste experience of the ingredients.

It takes a little practice to use a stainless steel pan. Stainless steel heats up more slowly than other metals. This means that you first have to know when the pan is warm enough to fry something. That’s why some stainless steel pans already have thermo dots that show you the temperature.

In addition, a stainless steel pan is not well suited for delicate foods. Stainless steel pans are perfect for searing, but can cause problems with sensitive foods like fish. Because the pan heats up slowly, the cooking process cannot be monitored well and the food burns more easily.

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Iron pan

You can create a special taste with an iron pan. This is because a special patina that develops over time makes the taste unique, especially with roasted dishes. For a unique taste experience, it is also possible to use an iron pan on an open fire. However, please be sure to grease it beforehand.

Advantages
  • Good taste
  • Coating
  • Durability
  • Open fire
Disadvantages
  • Not dishwasher safe
  • Weight
  • Care

Iron pans have 2 types of coating, namely without coating and with ceramic. This enhances the flavour and it is also possible to cook at higher temperatures than with another pan with a PTFE coating. The material also makes these pans very durable.

Since iron is very susceptible to rust, you should not clean an iron pan in the dishwasher. Iron pans also need to be cared for intensively so that they last longer and do not rust. The weight of a pan can also be a problem. Cast iron pans in particular are very heavy.

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Aluminium pan

Aluminium pans are the lightest on the market. They are available from a weight of 500 grams. Due to the material, this pan can also heat up particularly quickly. This saves electricity and protects the environment.

Advantages
  • Weight
  • Many options
  • Heating
Disadvantages
  • Not dishwasher safe
  • Not without coating
  • No high temperatures

You can cook any dish with an aluminium pan. An aluminium pan is especially good for sensitive dishes because it is always coated. Aluminium pans are only available with a ceramic or plastic coating (PTFE).

You will have problems with an aluminium pan when cleaning it. Aluminium pans must never be put in the dishwasher, otherwise they will break. Also, never expose an aluminium pan to temperatures above 300 degrees Celsius. Otherwise, the pan can transfer toxic substances to your food.

Guide: Frequently asked questions about pans answered in detail

Before you buy a new pan, you probably have some questions about pans. In this part of the article, we have listed and answered the most important questions.

Who is a frying pan suitable for?

Basically, a frying pan is suitable for anyone who needs a frying pan in everyday life or at work. However, children should not use a pan without supervision.

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A pan can be used for a lot. Everyone from bakers to novice cooks to professional chefs can use a pan.
(Image source: unsplash.com / Raphael Schaller)

Uncoated pans such as uncoated iron pans are mostly used in the catering industry. Since they are a bit more complicated to handle, it is better to let a professional work with them. Uncoated stainless steel pans are also more for experienced cooks.

Coated pans with PTFE coating are perfect for beginners and hobby cooks. If you prefer a special taste or want to bake with the pan, it is better to go for a pan with a ceramic coating.

What size pan should I buy?

The size of pan you need depends on what you want to use your pan for. There are special pans for certain dishes. Each one has a different size.

There are 2 sizes that we find particularly suitable for beginners or even for home use. A pan with a diameter of 20 cm should always be available in the household. When it comes to frying meat, you should buy a pan with a diameter of 28 cm.

The size or diameter of a pan varies from brand to brand. Some refer to the diameter of the base, others to the top of the pan.

Special pans have a diameter of 32 cm. These are mainly the XXL pans for large kitchens in the catering industry. The small pans of 16 cm are also for gastronomy, because they can be used to roast nuts or other small items perfectly.

What does a pan cost?

Pans come in different price ranges. We have shown you the types of pans with their respective price ranges in this table to help you:

type price
stainless steel pan 30 - 120€
iron pan 20 - 180€
aluminium pan 20 - 130€

Prices vary greatly depending on the size of the pan. You can usually get smaller pans for as little as 20 or 30 euros. Particularly high-quality pans from well-known brands with a diameter of 28 cm cost around 120 euros.

Iron pans are somewhat more expensive. This is due to the cast-iron pans. Due to the processing or production, these pans are particularly expensive with a price of up to 180 euros per pan.

What are the alternatives to a frying pan?

If you don't feel like buying a frying pan, there are alternatives. However, we recommend that you buy a frying pan because the result will be better.

The following table gives you an overview of the alternatives to a frying pan:

Product Description
Pot A pot is usually made of ceramic or stainless steel. It can be bought with or without a lid. A saucepan is particularly suitable for cooking, but can also be used for frying in some circumstances.
Oven dish An oven dish can be made of different materials. Mostly, an oven dish is made of stainless steel. It is used exclusively for the oven. An oven dish is meant for baking or gratinating with cheese.

Each of these types has its advantages and disadvantages. However, since you only have one alternative on your cooker, which is not very practical for frying, we recommend a frying pan.

How do I burn in a pan properly?

If you want to burn in your pan, you need an iron pan. This process is only necessary for iron pans. We will now explain to you what you need to pay attention to when frying your iron pan:

  • Cleaning: Before you burn in your iron pan, you should clean it thoroughly with water and washing-up liquid and then dry it.
  • Prepare: Now you can put the pan on the cooker and fill it with oil up to 5 mm high. We recommend linseed oil.
  • Burn in: Now turn up the heat to the highest setting. Leave the pan on the cooker until the oil starts to smoke strongly. Then remove the pan from the cooker and place it on a cold hotplate.
  • Finish: Now all you have to do is wipe out your iron pan with a cloth and then rinse it with water. This will give you the perfect patina and your pan will be burnt forever, as long as you don't use detergent.

If you would like to have these instructions explained in more detail, we have selected a video for you here:

How do I clean a pan?

You should not put a pan in the dishwasher. However, it is sometimes possible to wash stainless steel pans in the dishwasher, but it is not recommended because it can rust more easily.

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Even if pans are suitable for the dishwasher, it is better to wash them by hand. That way you can protect your pan better.
(Image source: pixabay.com / kaboompics)

Any pan can be washed by hand without any problems. You only have to be careful with burnt iron pans. Because of the patina, you should never wash them with detergent. You should also never soak an iron pan for a long time, as this damages the pan and increases the risk of rust.

Never use steel wool or brushes on coated pans. These could scratch or damage the coating. You should only clean coated pans with a sponge and only use the soft side of the sponge.

How do I dispose of a pan properly?

If you no longer want the pan and just want to dispose of it, you have a few options. You can dispose of the pan in a recycling bin or at the recycling centre. If the pan is very dirty, you can also put it in the residual waste bin.

You can dispose of your pan in a landfill for recyclable materials.

But if you don't want to dispose of the pan right away, there are other options that are better for the environment. If your pan is still clean, you could sell it to a retailer or offer it online on a sales platform.

Alternatively, you can recycle or upcycle the pan. A pan is also suitable for growing herbs. Simply paint the pan, put soil in it and plant the herbs. If that's not for you, you can also hang the pan on the wall as a decoration.

What can I cook with a pan?

In theory, you can cook anything you want with a frying pan. However, there are special pans that are particularly suitable for some dishes.

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Even professionals like to prepare their food in a pan. There are a few tricks that make it almost a feat.
(Image source: unsplash.com / Louis Hansel)

Pans are especially good for frying and grilling. But even if you want to cook something with it, that's no problem. There are also special pans for making pancakes, for example. Just take a look around and see what's available.

There is also a little help from us. Uncoated pans are intended for food that needs to be roasted very hot, as pans without a coating can get much hotter. Coated pans are great for more delicate foods like fish.

What do I need to prepare something in a pan? (Oil, water, nothing)

You can use any pan with oil without any problems. You can choose between different types of oil and decide which oil is suitable for you. There are no special rules for using oil in your pan.

You can also fry in a pan with water. However, you need a coated pan for this, otherwise your food will stick too easily. Always use small amounts of water for frying, otherwise your food would be boiled and not fried.

If you don't want to use anything at all for frying, you can just fry without oil or water. However, you will need a coated pan for this. Just put the meat in the pan and fry it. But you always have to be careful, because without something, the food can burn more easily.

We have a video for you that shows you the difference between frying with and without fat:

Image source: citalliance/ 123rf.com

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