The Best Pans, According to the Bon Appétit Test Kitchen

The Best Pans, According to the Bon Appétit Test Kitchen

All products featured on Bon Appétit are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

When it comes to the best pans, our opinions run deep. Ask us about our favorite cast-iron skilletsstainless-steel cookwarecarbon-steel pansnonsticks, and the very best pan for making eggs and we will be overjoyed to go into minute detail. But the truth is, the best pan is the one you enjoy cooking with the most, and that will vary from person to person. As proof, we asked Bon Appétit test kitchen staffers about their most beloved pans for everything from shallow-frying to braising to cooking over a fire. Some of the pans are teensy and cute, others are durable and ultra hefty—and all of them serve a great purpose. Watch or read on for their top picks.

Enameled cast-iron skillet with pour spouts

My favorite pan is this 10-inch skillet with double pour spouts. What sets this cast iron apart is the smooth enamel coating—just like the kind you find on the inside of your Dutch oven—which makes for a nonstick surface without the need for seasoning and maintenance. You can bake in it or use it on your stovetop. Omelets or fried eggs? No problem. It’s super sturdy and thick, and you basically have a cast iron without the work of maintaining a cast iron. You can hand-wash it without worrying about reseasoning.

One of my favorite things to cook in it is crispy chicken thighs: Start with a cold pan, put the thighs skin side down, and then bring it up to temperature. It just gets so crispy, so delicious. If you need to pour off some fat, the two little indents and helper handle make it easy. I also love baking cobblers in it. No need to transfer it to a separate serving dish—you can put this on your dinner table, and it’ll look beautiful. To me, it’s the best cast-iron pan and a true kitchen workhorse. —Rachel Gurjar, associate food editor

Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Signature Iron Skillet


Carbon-steel wok

I didn’t grow up using a wok, but as I got introduced to a bunch of different cuisines, I fell in love with its versatility. This piece of cookware can do the job of so many different pots and pans. It can handle pasta, stir-fried vegetables, fried rice, even stews and soups. It’s perfect for mussels and clams. You can take it to the beach and fry fish right on your little propane burner. I like to put some vegetables in the center of the wok, and then I’ll take really thin slices of fish or meat and slap them right on the sides as the pan heats up. 

I prefer carbon-steel woks, because they can take really high heat, are nonstick once seasoned, and are lightweight—you can throw them in a bag or backpack. I use mine at home, but I use it even more when cooking outdoors. You can easily rest it on rocks or on coals. There are many different brands and models of carbon-steel woks, but this one has a nice patina on it straight from the factory. You’ll be able to pass this pan on for generations. —Brad Leone, contributor

Blue Carbon Steel Wok


Zwilling Madura Plus nonstick pan

I love this aluminum nonstick pan because it’s high-quality, versatile, and convenient to use—especially when I don’t want to deal with a lot of cleanup after cooking. When we talk about nonsticks, we often say things like, “You have to keep it on low or medium heat,” or “This pan won’t give your food as much color.” With this Zwilling Madura pan, though, I don’t really run into those problems. It can do everything I need it to do. It can handle high temperatures on the stovetop, and it’s also oven safe up to 300 degrees—a rarity for most nonstick coatings. It’s super durable compared to other nonsticks, so much so that I never worry about scratching the PFOA-free cooking surface. The fact that I can use metal utensils and stainless-steel tools, like my fish spatula, on this pan is a big plus for me. Not to mention it’s dishwasher-safe, conducts heat like a champ, and is very lightweight, which makes it easy to maneuver. 

I use it for eggs, stir-fries, or anything else that comes together quickly. It has so many perks: No sticking, easy cleanup, a stay-cool handle, induction cooktop compatibility. And the fact that this pan has lasted me a super long time makes a huge difference to me—it’s not one of those situations where you’re buying a new nonstick cookware set every year. I consider this the best nonstick fry pan for both home cooks and pro chefs, and if you can’t decide on the 8- or the 10-inch pan, get the two piece set—Zaynab Issa, associate food editor

Zwilling Madura Plus Nonstick Pan, 10-Inch


Mini cast-iron pan

The thing about cast iron is that it’s virtually indestructible. You can put it on your stove, on the grill, or in your oven at 7,000 degrees, and it will thrive. Specifically, I love a little cast-iron pan—like an 8-incher—because a big cast-iron is sometimes just too big. Eight inches doesn’t sound crazy small, but somehow for a cast-iron skillet, it feels (and looks) very miniature. It isn’t just cute—though yes, it is very adorable—it’s also hyper functional and provides even heating. It’s perfect for when you’re making a frittata for two, when you want to make only four cinnamon rolls, or when you’re searing a piece of meat for one. Cast irons in general are also great for going from stovetop to table. Just imagine serving a little biscuit-topped pot pie in this. —Kendra Vaculin, associate food editor

Lodge Cast Iron Skillet, 8-Inch


Cazuela 

I’m obviously all about aesthetics as my primary source of joy in my life. That’s just one reason the cazuela—a traditional clay dish from Spain—is one of my favorite pans. Clay is one of the oldest materials used for cooking in all of history. You can use it on the stovetop or put it in the oven at low heat. You’ll know when one is made for cooking because the bottom will be unglazed, which prevents it from cracking when heated. Be gentle with your cazuela and don’t use it with extreme temperatures. She’s beautiful, but she’s also a little delicate and needs to be handled with care.

One of the most classic things to make in a cazuela is shrimp poached with olive oil, garlic, chiles de árbol, and some herbs on top. You let it simmer, and the clay retains heat. It’s also one of those things that tastes better because it looks so good in its own little terra-cotta dish. —DeVonn Francis, contributor

Mediterranean Blue Terra Cotta Cazuelas, Set of 4


Cast-iron griddle pan

This shallow 10-inch cast iron griddle is everything I want in a pan. Like other cast-iron cookware, it offers even heat distribution and retention. Once it’s hot, it’s HOT, and it’ll stay that way. Yes, it’s heavy, but that heft delivers results. This pan will give you an unmatched sear—not just in evenness, but also in the depth of that browning. I love cooking a good steak in it with butter and herbs. It also makes the best pancakes, hands down. This is an heirloom pan, like the one my grandmother used that was passed on to her by her mother, and it will get more and more well-seasoned over time. Cast-iron pans need a little love—but the best of us do. —Inés Anguiano, test kitchen coordinator

Lodge Cast Iron Round Griddle Pan

    Leave A Comment

    x

    Lost Password