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How to buy a pan that you will love



The finish of the pan you want depends on what you will use it.

Tyler Lizenby / CNET

Maybe your good pan just kicked the bucket. Or maybe you're thinking of buying one for the first time. In any case, the choices can be overwhelming.

It's true, even if all you want is a single and simple pan. Shop and find stainless steel, cast iron, carbon steel and different types of non-stick frying pans.

Everyone has their pros and cons, so how do you know which one to take for what you want to cook? This guide will tell you everything you need to know.

Omelette folded on the artichoke

Non-stick pans handle eggs particularly well.

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Non-stick still has appeal

Non-stick cookware is designed to do exactly what it looks like. The interior finishes of these pans are deliberately made as much as possible without friction. Foods that stick and create confusion in other pans – like omelettes – effortlessly slip out of this cookware finish. Use them to fry, brown and pan everything from vegetables and meat to poultry and fish.

Another advantage is that it is not necessary to use a lot of oil or butter to prevent food from sticking to the pan during cooking. Cleaning is a breeze too, since there are no junk stuck to deal with.

There is a compromise for this convenience, though. Non-stick cooking surfaces are less resistant than other interior finishes. Furthermore, the use of metal tools in them is a no-no, because they scratch (and ruin) the coating.

Do not put the non-stick cookware in the oven, under the broilers or even over the stove over high heat. High heat levels (above 500 degrees F, or 260 degrees C) will cause the complete deterioration or breakage of plastic polymer coatings. This in turn releases toxic shown fumes if inhaled.

Read more: This is the right way to store pots and pans.

Ceramics, the other non-stick

Ceramic coated pots have become popular in recent years as they do not contain synthetic substances. The brands of ceramic pots widely available include GreenPan and Green Earth.

Made of natural inorganic material similar to sand or clay, ceramic finishes do not break chemically when they are hit by extreme temperatures (above 500F). They will not even release dangerous fumes in these conditions.

But the ceramic pans do not satisfy everyone. Their non-stick properties diminish over time. Even ceramic pots are consumed faster than traditional non-stick coatings. Do not choose a pan with a ceramic coating if you expect it to last for generations.

Stainless steel pans is the workhorse of many domestic kitchens

Taylor Martin / CNET

Practical and capable stainless steel

Stainless steel cookware is another type of cookware you will see on many store shelves. This finish is the perfect choice for all-purpose cookware, with high performance and fewer problems. Stainless steel pots and pans are placed in the Goldilocks area between durability, versatility and price.

They can take high heat, whether on the stove, in the oven or under a chicken coop. And as long as they do not mistreat them, they will provide years of daily service. It is not necessary to season them as cast iron and carbon steel pans. And their interiors can handle all types of tools (cutting, hard, metal or other).

However, stainless steel cookware is not indestructible. Hard cleaning solutions, abrasive materials and excessive displacements through the dishwasher can damage them. Their exterior is particularly vulnerable. If you're not careful, they will lose shine and shine.

The excellent heat retention helps cast iron pans to create a dense, scalded crust on the meat.

Tyler Lizenby / CNET

Cast iron for a nice burn

Pans in cast iron, large, heavy and sometimes very serviced, may not seem worth it. Once you understand the problem, you could become a convert.

Thanks to the high density, the cast iron pans keep the heat very well. And their relative thickness distributes heat evenly to the food they cook. So if you crave steaks and scalded quality restaurant cutlets, deliciously crispy crusts and all, take a cast-iron skillet.

You will need to season cast-iron pans before using them. There are two main purposes for maturing the cast iron. The first is to form a smooth, almost non-stick surface inside your pan. The second is to protect the pan from rust caused by moisture or by direct contact with water. The process is not difficult, but requires effort and time.

It is necessary to re-propose them from time to time, especially if they are burnt with burnt fat and pieces of old food. These deposits will reduce the non-stick properties of the weathered cast iron.

Cookware made of carbon steel like this Matfer Bourgeat carbon steel pan is what professional chefs prefer.

Matfer Bourgeat

The chefs choose carbon steel

Do you really want to cook like a chef? So use what professionals use: carbon steel cookware. Carbon steel, called black steel, is much lighter than cast iron. Despite being less dense, the pans and pans in carbon steel keep the heat almost as much as their cast iron cousins. This means that they cook the food just as well.

Carbon steel tends to be smoother than cast iron. The big advantage: these pans have potentially slippery cooking surfaces such as non-stick pans. Eggs, omelettes, first cuts of meat, poultry, seafood – quality carbon steel cookware can do everything.

Like cast iron, however, you will have to dress them. It will keep the pot from rust and create a frictionless interior. All this makes the superb carbon steel cookware multi-purpose kitchen utensils. If you are an expert home cook and you would like to play your game, give it a carbon steel pan.

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