The Best Frying Pan for Brekky, Lunch and Dinner in a FlashThe Best Frying Pan for Brekky, Lunch and Dinner in a Flash

The Best Frying Pan

Or how to do justice to steak and eggs with a proper frypan.
Elese Dowden
Words by 
Elese Dowden
Updated 
Mar 29, 2021
Category -> 
Kitchen
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At a glance

Whether it's a well-seared steak, or an omelette to make Gordon Ramsay weep, a top-notch fry pan is the key to a perfect meal. The best frying pan is made of high-quality steel, iron, or aluminium, with good thickness through the base and sides for even heat transfer. Cast iron and stainless steel pans are ideal for induction, but non-stick and ceramic have their own benefits. Whatever your preference, our resident frying pan expert Elese has rounded up her fave picks for Australia's finest cookware.

How we picked

Frying pans aren't something everyone gets excited about, but luckily for you, Cosier writer Elese (i.e. yours truly) has years of experience selling cookware. While I did already have a few pans in mind, fairness is a key part of the Cosier ethos. This meant I started my research with CHOICE, Australia's biggest consumer advocacy group, to see which frypans they reviewed.

After reviewing the options, I headed over to ProductReview.com.au to check in with Aussies. I was spoiled for choice. There were several pans which made the cut, but after weighing up some of Australia's faves against my own knowledge, I found a few were unavailable with major retailers. Checking those frying pans off the list, I ended up with my picks for Australia's best frypans.

The 6 best frying pans in Australia

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How we picked

Frying pans aren't something everyone gets excited about, but luckily for you, Cosier writer Elese (i.e. yours truly) has years of experience selling cookware. While I did already have a few pans in mind, fairness is a key part of the Cosier ethos. This meant I started my research with CHOICE, Australia's biggest consumer advocacy group, to see which frypans they reviewed.

After reviewing the options, I headed over to ProductReview.com.au to check in with Aussies. I was spoiled for choice. There were several pans which made the cut, but after weighing up some of Australia's faves against my own knowledge, I found a few were unavailable with major retailers. Checking those frying pans off the list, I ended up with my picks for Australia's best frypans.

Best stainless steel -> Scanpan Impact

Scanpan Impact

Scanpan has a reputation for quality stainless steel cookware that lasts and lasts, and their Impact range is no exception. These fry pans are available in several sizes, from a 16cm single-egg snack size to a 28cm pan for a big fish fry up. I (Cosier writer Elese - g'day!) recently bought saucepans from this range, and am impressed by how quickly they get hot and hold their heat. The Scanpan Impact frypans have been reviewed by CHOICE, and are dishwasher safe with a 10-year warranty.

The Scanpan Impact frypan works well on induction, as well as gas, electric, and other conventional cooktops. It's made from sturdy 18/10 stainless steel, and the double riveted handles mean you won’t have to get the screwdriver out to tinker with a flimsy frypan. This range scores around 3 stars on ProductReview.com.au, with several Aussies pointing out that you need to cook with oil or butter on high heat to prevent sticking. If you're not keen on using oil or butter when you fry, it's best to go for a non-stick pan.

Choose this if...

You want a versatile stainless steel frypan that'll go the distance.

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Best for Induction -> Essteele Per Sempre

Essteele Per Sempre

Essteele's Per Sempre fry pans are premium, buy-it-once pieces of Italian engineering. With a lifetime warranty (you read that correctly), these beautiful pans are ideal for induction thanks to their thick, flat 18/10 stainless steel bases. Induction hobs work differently to normal cooktops, passing an electric current through the base metal of the pan. The flatter the pan and the thicker the steel, the better your frying pan will perform on induction. That's why these Essteele pans are great for induction hobs.

The Essteele Per Sempre frying pans are well-loved by Aussies, scoring around 5 stars on ProductReview.com.au. They're reviewed by CHOICE, and two people confirm that these pans are perfect for induction. Aussies say they heat evenly, and love their beautiful, fully-clad design. They're heavy for their size, but reviewers are OK with this given it reflects the quality of the pan. People are also big fans of their customer service, but some found they needed pot holders for the lid handles.

Choose this if...

You need a top-quality fry pan for your induction hob.

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Best cast iron -> Lodge Logic

Lodge Logic

My Lodge Logic 30cm cast iron skillet is my pride and joy. A gift from a BFF, my cast iron pan has journeyed from New Zealand, to Australia, to Canada, and back to Melbourne again - and that’s saying something given it weighs 10% of your average checked baggage allowance. I could write a love letter to this frying pan. They’re reasonably-priced at around $80, are virtually indestructible, work equally well on gas and induction, and you can crank the heat with reckless abandon without worrying about damaging the surface.

The best thing about Lodge cast iron is that these frying pans actually improve as they age. Over time, a thin layer of oil builds up over the iron, forming a non-stick surface called a “patina.” Many folks use only hot water and a nylon scrubbing brush to clean their cast iron, as the oiled surface is key. The downside of Lodge cast iron is that these pans won’t go in the dishwasher, and they require seasoning every so often with a little oil to re-seal the pan. Any sticky bits come off easily after a quick soak in warm water.

Lodge cast iron is a premium cast iron product made in the USA. They're heavy, and their short handles can get pretty hot after a long session, but I just pick the handle up with a tea towel. The handles also turn out to be a bonus, as they'll fit in the oven easily for frittatas or pies. Lodge cast iron makes the most golden-crusted steak, perfect fried eggs, deep-crust pizza, tarte tatin, skillet cookies, and even pies and spanakopitas. Did I mention they also last forever? I've sold cookware for several years, and to me, this is the perfect frying pan.

Choose this if...

You want a well-priced, heavy duty frypan you can pass on to your great grandkids.

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Best non-stick -> Wolstead Superior+

Wolstead Superior+ Frying Pan

Wolstead's Superior+ fry pans are some of the best non-stick you'll find in Australia. They're made from a heavy-gauge hard anodised aluminium, making them harder than stainless steel, and the 3-layer PFOA-free non-stick surface means you can cook with minimal oil. Even so, it's recommended that you use a little oil when you cook with non-stick cookware, just to help the non-stick process along.

The Wolstead Superior+ frying pans are the people's choice, scoring around 5 stars on ProductReview.com.au. Aussies reckon nothing sticks to these pans, so omelettes are a total dream. Their handles are riveted, and they'll go on induction too. It's best to keep these fry pans out of the dishwasher. Give them a wash with hot soapy water, and they'll stay in tip-top shape much longer.

Choose this if...

Your number one #lifegoal is to perfect a French omelette that slides out of the pan.

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Best for steak -> Lodge 10.5" Square Grill

Lodge 10.5" Square Grill

If you're hunting for the perfect sear, look no further than the Lodge 10.5" Cast Iron Grill. I've already waxed lyrical about Lodge cast iron skillets, but these grill pans are basically a BBQ for the great indoors. They come pre-seasoned, but you'll want to rub them with a thin layer of vegetable oil after use to keep them in tip-top condition. They'll become non-stick over time, and have been made in America for over 70 years.

The Lodge 10.5" Square Grill pans are ideal for bacon or steak, and you can use them on any cooktop. They're so durable you can even take them camping. The short handles mean you can easily finish your dish in the oven, too. On the flipside, the handles do get very hot, so these heavy cast iron pans need to be picked up with a tea towel. While they're not reviewed by ProductReview.com.au, reviewers on Amazon give these pans around 4.5 stars from almost 10,000 reviews. 

Choose this if...

You wish your cooktop was just a BBQ hotplate.

Best locally-made -> SolidTeknics AUS-ION

SolidTeknics AUS-ION

I hadn't heard of SolidTeknics AUS-ION pans before last week, but after poring over the reviews and obsessing over them to two of my best pals, a 26cm SolidTeknics AUS-ION pan sneakily made its way to my doorstep within a couple of days. Made from formed low-carbon steel (or wrought iron) these non-toxic pans are a sustainable, local choice that should last generations. 

The SolidTeknics AUS-ION pans are ideal for oil or fat-based frying, and require seasoning like traditional cast iron. They're lighter and quicker to heat than cast iron, but still become non-stick over time with proper care. I love that they're date-stamped, and the long handles stay reasonably cool even after a long frying session. Acidic foods like tomatoes can react with iron, but as your 'patina,' or oil layer, builds up over time, they become more resistant to this reaction.

Aussies give the SolidTeknics AUS-ION range around 4 stars on ProductReview.com.au. People love that they're made in Australia, saying they put a mean sear on steak. Having cooked a rib-eye in mine yesterday, I can confirm. One reviewer summed it up nicely, saying they're "not show pony gear, but true workhorse commercial kitchen grade quality that will last multiple lifetimes." 

Choose this if...

You're in love with your cast iron but want something lighter and locally-made.

Important features to consider

While you might think a frying pan's a frying pan, there are plenty of different options to cater to different cooking styles. Here are some features we think will help you decide.

Non-stick

'To stick or non-to-stick?' That is the question. A 'non-stick' pan is usually made of aluminium or steel, coated with a non-stick or teflon coating. These pans don't last as long as steel or iron pans, and shouldn't be used for sustained high-heat cooking, as this can damage the coating. They're best for cooking delicate items like eggs or fish.

Price

Frying pans range from $20 to over $200. Whatever your budget, there's a pan at your price point, though you'll see quality creeping up around the $60+ mark.

Browning

The 'maillard reaction' is the name given to the chemical reaction that occurs when food sugars are reduced for the perfect fried-ness. Cast iron and stainless steel pans are best for browning, but you'll get top results by preheating your pan with a healthy glug of canola, coconut, or rice bran oil.

Dishwasher-safe

While it's best to handwash your frying pan, stainless steel pans are your best bet if you want the option to put it in the dishwasher. Non-stick pans are sometimes OK in the dishwasher, but they'll stay non-stick longer with gentle handwashing. Cast iron should never go in the dishwasher.

Multi-use

If you want a frying pan that'll go in the oven, opt for something with a shorter handle. That way, your frypan doubles as a pie or pizza pan, too.

Weight

Frypans are hunks of metal. This means they're often pretty heavy. Non-stick pans tend to be lightest, but blue steel, stainless steel, or SolidTeknics AUS-ION pans are a good option if you like cast iron but hate the weight.

What you get if you spend more

Ever wondered why people spend $300 on a frying pan when they could grab a $20 bargain? Here's why.

Quality

If you compare your cheapest and most expensive frying pans side by side, you'll likely notice the pricier one is thicker throughout the base and sides. A top-quality frying pan has a thick layer of metal throughout the base and sides for even heat conduction, which translates to a higher-quality (and usually more expensive) fry pan.

Induction

Induction cooktops require pans with super-flat bases to work properly. As a thinner pan warps over time, this usually means you'll need thicker pans made from robust metal. That's why frypans designed for induction tend to be more expensive.

Design

Part of what you don't see with top-of-the-line cookware is the time and technology that goes into the design process. When you pay a little more, you'll find design features like no-drip pouring lips, copper cores, or handles designed to stay cool to the touch.

Frequently asked questions

Which frying pan is best?

Non-stick

Pros

  • Great for delicate foods like eggs or fish
  • Food won't stick to your pan
  • Easy to clean
  • Cook with minimal oil or fat
  • Usually cheaper than other cookware

Cons

  • Can be overheated
  • Can't use metal utensils or cooking spray
  • Handwashing recommended
  • Surface may flake or peel over time
  • Not recommended for the oven
  • Won't 'brown' food (maillard reaction) as well as other pans

Cast iron

Pros

  • Excellent for high-heat cooking, including steak and potatoes
  • Heavy-duty and hard-wearing
  • Lasts several lifetimes
  • Goes in the oven
  • Doubles as a pie dish or pizza pan
  • Surface improves over time
  • Thick, even surface lies flat on element for optimal heat transfer
  • Easier to clean (no detergent necessary!)
  • Gets extremely hot for a perfect sear
  • Usually reasonably-priced
  • Excellent caramelization (maillard reaction) for sauteing

Cons

  • Heavy to lift (unless you buy chef's steel, blue steel or AUS-ION)
  • Requires seasoning every so often
  • Hand wash only
  • Oil or fat usually necessary for good result

Stainless steel

Pros

  • Usually dishwasher-safe
  • Even surface lays flat on element for optimal heat transfer
  • Lighter than cast iron
  • Versatile cooking surface
  • Long-lasting and durable
  • Excellent caramelization (maillard reaction) for sauteing
  • Won't react with acidic foods like wine or tomatoes

Cons

  • Usually more expensive than other cookware
  • Oil or fat usually necessary to prevent sticking
  • Longer handles may not fit in oven
  • Can be harder to clean

How do you stop food sticking on stainless steel or cast iron?

The short answer is this: just preheat your pan with a bit of oil. The long answer? Well, proteins like steak or bacon bond with the metal of the frypan, sticking to any tiny imperfections on the surface of the pan. If you heat oil in the pan first, the hot oil fills any of these ridges in to create a smoother surface. 

Once the food is placed onto the hot oil in the pan, the oil sears the outside of the food, creating a thin layer of steam between the oil and the food. The sizzling noise you hear when you fry is a result of this reaction, which stops the food sticking to the pan. This is why it's important to preheat your pan with oil first, rather than putting food straight into a room-temperature pan before it's hot.

Can I put my frying pan in the oven or dishwasher?

While some manufacturers say it's OK to put your frying pan in the dishwasher, many recommend against it for several reasons. Contrary to what you might think, it's actually better for your pans to stay a little oily, as it helps prevent food sticking. This is why gentle handwashing is ideal for most pans. Handles can also be knocked about in the dishwasher, and the chemicals used aren't always a frying pan's best friend.

Cast iron should never go in the dishwasher, as you'll strip away the 'patina' of oil, and will need to re-season your pan. Non-stick should only ever go on the top shelf of the dishwasher, further away from the heating element at the bottom of your machine. Stainless steel is more durable, and will usually be OK in the dishwasher, but again, it may shorten the pan's lifespan.

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