Q: Nonstick skillets—is it true that the more expensive, the better?
A: Not necessarily, as long as you have a solid pan with a slick coating upon which eggs slide free, chicken cutlets brown without sticking, and pancakes (like the recipe below) easily flip.
In most cases, a cheap pan might be a better buy. Why? The potential downside to any nonstick skillet, expensive or not, is that the coating can be easily damaged, so we find it best to buy inexpensive nonstick skillets (as you might be replacing an expensive pan sooner than expected).
We tested seven models priced under $50 and scrambled and fried eggs, cooked crêpes and stir-fries, and made frittatas. We were surprised to find that some of the cheaper pans performed as well as our gold standard, the $160 All-Clad nonstick 12-inch pan (although they don’t offer the same lifetime warranty).
But one skillet stood out from the pack. The T-Fal Professional Total Non-Stick 12½-Inch Fry Pan ($34.99; $29.95 for the 10¼-inch pan) performed well, thanks to its slick, durable nonstick coating, comfy handle, and generous cooking surface.