Skillets 101

A quick guide to picking the right pan for the job.

Skillets: the kind of heavy metal that everyone appreciates—especially when they turn out your favorite pork chops or soft scrambled eggs. A well-equipped kitchen contains several different varieties of skillets, including cast iron, stainless steel, and nonstick. (We’re not counting the other pots you should have, too, like a saucepan or heavy bottomed pot). If you were to buy only one of these skillets, it should be stainless steel. Stainless steel is your everyday beater. It can cook everything, and doesn’t need any special treatment. No time to wash? It’s okay to leave stainless steel soaking in water.



Cast iron might be heavy, and it must be cleaned correctly, but it turns food brown and crispy like magic. It’s easiest to buy a pre-seasoned skillet, but if you accidentally leave yours soaking in water, here’s how to season yours. We like to leave our cast iron skillet out on the stovetop so it’s ready to use at a moment’s notice—it’s a pain to have to lug out the heavy pan from a cabinet.

While a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet is practically nonstick, nothing can beat a true nonstick skillet when it comes to cooking delicate foods that stick easily. Look for models that have stainless steel or silicone-coated handles, which are oven-safe, rather than plastic ones.

Our favorite way to store skillets is to hang them. But if you’d rather stack them, make sure to place a couple paper towels between each so they don’t scratch one another.

Guide to Skillets

Illustrations by Melinda Josie