The 4 Best All-Purpose Pans
All-purpose pans are the foundation of every cookware collection, so it’s important to have at least one that you love. The best all-purpose pans are made from durable, easy-to-clean materials and can be used for a wide variety of recipes and cooking techniques.
When choosing a new frying pan, the first thing to consider is the size and shape. All-purpose pans need to be able to handle a variety of dishes, from fried eggs to 5-pound roasts, so you’ll want one that is large and deep enough for your favorite recipes. Look for a pan that’s at least 10 inches wide and 3 inches deep for maximum versatility.
The same rule applies to baking sheets, which is why the versatile half-sheet size is best. Pans with lids are also useful for cooking foods that need to braise or steam, and pans that are oven-safe allow you to widen your culinary horizons without taking up all of your available kitchen space with cookware.
Your pan’s material is also an important factor, because it can impact both cooking and clean up. Aluminum is a great choice because it’s lightweight and often nonstick, but they can be reactive to acidic foods. Cast iron pans are durable, maintain their heat well, and are nonstick when seasoned. If they’re made from enameled cast iron, they’re also dishwasher-friendly in many cases. Stainless steel and carbon steel are also great options, because steel is both very durable and nonreactive to acidic foods.
Finally, make sure your pan is compatible with your stove before making a purchase. All pans can work on gas stoves, but some won’t work on induction stovetops, so it’s good to double check if you have one.
Cook up everything from simple family recipes to culinary masterpieces with picks from this list of the best all-purpose pans.
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1. The Best Aluminum Pan
This 10-inch scratch-resistant pan is 4 inches deep, made from aluminum, and is oven-safe up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. It has a classic copper finish and hammered detailing, so it looks great when left out on your stove or hung on a pot rack. It also comes with a glass lid with a metal handle, and can be used with metal utensils and induction stoves. This pan is a true multitasker and works just as well for quick stir-fries as it does for steaming vegetables or making baked egg dishes.
One fan raved: “This is exactly the pan we’ve been needing for way too long! We kept going through “nonstick” pans that just ended up breaking down way too fast and since I make eggs every morning it was becoming a hassle to scrub them. Went ahead and ordered this one and the quality is amazing!! It is super easy to clean, no spray or oil needed! Most of the time just blasting it with my sink hose does the trick! My husband also loved the look of it, and the fact it says Gotham Steel on it lol. If you’re looking for an easy to use pan, look no further!!”
2. The Best Stainless Steel Pan
Made in the USA, this 13-inch stainless steel pan has a 6-inch depth and sturdy triple-ply construction with an aluminum core for even heating. It’s oven-safe up to 600 degrees Fahrenheit, and it comes with a stainless steel lid, so you can use it to steam and braise. It’s also compatible with all stove types and is dishwasher-friendly for easy cleanup.
One fan raved: “The best pan you can buy. Unequivocally, without question. (America’s Test Kitchen agrees.) May seem a little expensive to some people, but it isn’t. It is actually a shockingly reasonable price for the quality. You will never, for the rest of your life, need to buy another pan. I am so thrilled with All-Clad. Please, everyone support this amazing U.S.-made (Pennsylvania) product.”
3. The Best Enameled Cast Iron Pan
Finished with a colorful enamel glaze, this 12-inch cast iron pan is just under 3.5 inches deep, and can be easily maneuvered with the two large handles on either side. It works on both induction and gas stoves, and it’s oven-safe up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. This pan also comes with a matching lid for steaming and braising, and it’s available in four glossy colors, so you can match it to your kitchen aesthetic. Since this pan is made from enameled cast iron, it’s also dishwasher safe.
One fan raved: “Adore this pan. It’s my go to for almost everything. I keep in on the stove for several reasons. One it’s [heavy]. Two, to remind myself to use it. It’s versatile. It cleans up easily. Best purchase ever. I like expensive and topnotch kitchen items. This is hands down a great item without the heavy price tag”
4. The Best Wok
Woks can be extremely versatile, and this carbon steel pan with a stepped wooden lid is no exception. When the removable wooden handle is taken off, it can be used in the oven up to temperatures of 450 degrees Fahrenheit, and it’s the only pan on this list that’s great for deep frying. It also comes with a pair of cooking chopsticks, a wooden spatula, and a loofah pot brush, which is especially useful as this wok is hand wash-only. It’s naturally nonstick when seasoned and has a spout indent for pouring out liquids. This wok is 12.5 inches wide and 3.75 inches deep, so it’s great for a wide variety of recipes.
One fan raved: “Love this wok. I seasoned it before use and my first meal in it came out perfect. Love all the extra pieces that comes with it. Its very sturdy and very easy to put together and easy instructions to season it before use. Happy with my purchase.”
Also Great: A Versatile Sheet Pan
This classic nonstick aluminum sheet pan is elevated by the textured bottom, which allows for better air flow for crispier baked goods. Made in the USA, it has a traditional half-sheet size of 17.9 by 11.4 inches, which can handle a variety of foods from cookies and cakes to whole roasted chickens.
One fan raved: “Nordic Ware Prism baking sheets are SO GREAT, I have replaced all my other baking sheets with these, now. Honestly, they are sturdier, easier to clean and bake more evenly than any other bakeware I’ve used, and I will never go back. Please, please do not stop making these champion baking sheets (even if it does honestly seem like mine may last forever).”
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