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Nonstick Skillets - Comparative Reviews

John Francis | Dec 7, 201012:54 AM

So many nonstick skillets our there, that I need a good source for choosing among them. The America's Test Kitchen publications seemed to offer just that - they describe rigorous tests they put cookware through, and explain their rankings in objective terms. So I've relied on them.

But their recommendations for inexpensive nonstick skillets are constantly changing, and in one case they've directly contradicted themselves. The Simply Calphalon Nonstick 12-inch Omelette Pan was the top recommendation in Cook's Country, April 2008:

"Oven-safe to 400 degrees. this pan performed well, thanks in part to its light weight and the even, gentle slope of the sides. The "nicely angled" handle stayed cool, the latest model’s addition of a silicone grip lends added comfort. This pan has a relatively small capacity. $50.00"

But in a PDF from the Cooks Illustrated site dated March 2007 - a year earlier - the same pan is Not Recommended:

"Neither chicken nor onions browned sufficiently; fish was more successful. On the whole, it was outperformed by cheaper pans."

So the same test kitchen promoted the same pan from Not Recommended to Recommended almost immediately and without explanation.

I got one and it was OK for a year or so, but the hard-anodized aluminum surface wasn't that slick to start with and is pretty much shot, so I'm in the market again for a nonstick skillet. But which to choose? For lack of a better guide, I turned to America's Test Kitchen again.

In the last issue of Cooks Illustrated, a rating of inexpensive nonstick skillets seems to promise a comparison of the new pans with the Calphalon, but does no such thing, while the comparison with the expensive All-Clad nonstick is useless to me. Besides, the winning skillet, T-FAL Professional Total Nonstick Fry Pan (12.5 inches), apparently doesn't exist. T-FAL's web site offers a line called Professional and another called Signature Total, but none called Professional Total. Cooks Illustrated lists a source for a Professional Total pan, www., but the site lists no such fry pan but a sauté pan which is apparently not the same thing..

The confusion is reflected in Cooks Illustrated's own bulletin board:

So depite all the blowing of its own trumpet, ATK is not the reliable guide it purports to be, at least not on nonstick skillets. But I need some serious and reliable comparative review to guide me through the jungle of competing nonstick skillets. Can anybody recommend a better one?

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