Whether you flash a frying pan every night of the week or use one for a rare full English, every home should have a wide, sturdy pan that can quickly reach high temperature for searing, sealing and frying.
Your pan can become more versatile if you choose one with higher sides – that way you can make stews, curries and Bolognese too, browning meats first before adding sauce and simmering over a low heat.
All the pans we’ve chosen here have great heat distribution, meaning everything will cook evenly. Some also have heat-proof handles if you’d like to clear space on the cooker and finish your dish off in the oven.
Heat your frying pan with a moderate flame or setting, working it up to searing temperature if needed. Direct flames on a gas hob to the base, rather than letting them lick the sides, which can burn and char coatings or discolour steel.
The non-stick coating on these stainless steel or aluminium pans will help you cook with a minimum of oils, but always ensure you use wooden or silicon cooking utensils as they won’t scratch or score - frying pans with damaged non-stick coatings should be replaced.
We tested a range of sizes and styles of frying pan, cooking everything from bacon and eggs to steak and frittata. All our selection performed well, with dishes slipping free off the inner coatings easily and leaving a minimum of clean-up behind. That said, some pans are trickier to clean than others, so check the small print if hand wash only is a deal breaker for you – not all are suitable for the dishwasher.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
ProCook professional anodised non-stick frying pan with lid, 24cm
This quality pan can be used for so much more than a fry up and it’s an invaluable addition to any kitchen. Compatible with every kind of hob, it heats very evenly, but stay conscious of the fact that the handle will get warm too. Sealing and browning chicken thighs at high heat, the lid then stayed on, making sure the joints didn’t dry out. Great for curries, sauces and anything that needed a combo of frying and low heat, this is a versatile pan for every cook.
Buy now £49.00, Amazon
Tefal titanium excel, 28cm
That familiar Tefal red dot (it goes solid when heated to show it’s ready for action) has long been a sign of quality for non-stick frying pans and this model doesn’t disappoint. In aluminium with Tefal’s toughest yet coating (perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, free), we particularly liked the high sides of this fryer when browning mince for a batch cook bolognese. It can handle a lot, and unlike some other Tefal models can be put in the oven thanks to its metal handle.
Buy now £35.00, Argos
Jean Patrique stonecast granite non-stick frying pans, set of the three
There’s a size of frying pan for every need, and this set is well put together but relatively lightweight. Wrestling with heavy pans is literally a pain for some cooks, but these can easily be whipped from cupboard to stove. The 20cm, 24cm and 28cm size combination meant that every frying task was covered, and we found the smallest pan perfect for lunchtime omelettes – everything sliding onto the plate with ease using the minimum of butter or oils.
Buy now £59.99, Jean Patrique
Le Creuset 3-ply stainless steel frying pan, 24cm
As well as the brightly coloured enamel pans that we know and love, Le Creuset has also played a blinder with its professional-grade tri-ply stainless steel pans. This was a pleasure to use, if heavier than the other pans here, but the additional handle helped. Consistent heating of the base without hotspots, this frying pan made our tester feel like she was “cooking in a Michelin-star restaurant”. Classy stuff.
Buy now £125.00, Le Creuset
Stellar Forged non-stick frying pan, 30cm
Whether it’s for a big family or just a big appetite, this pan is for you as it’s the largest in our selection. Thanks to the deep sides, sizzling fat from monster fry ups stay inside rather than splashing on the hob. The non-stick coating of the interior has a honeycombed base, which makes sure of even heat distribution, so everything from sausages to hash browns cooked perfectly. It’s dishwasher friendly too.
Buy now £74.00, Horwood
Robert Welch campden frying pan, 28cm
Now here’s a top-notch pan that is not only elegantly designed but top-grade in terms of heat distribution and construction. The handle on this pan was particularly comfortable to use, though it wouldn’t be our first choice for pancakes – it’s weighty for flipping. However, steaks were done to perfection as the pan heated up evenly and handled maximum temperatures on a gas hob without discolouration.
Buy now £74.00, Robert Welch
Salter sustainable frying pan, 28cm
At the budget end of the scale, but still with a 10-year guarantee, is this Salter frying pan from the brand’s Earth range, which is free from PFOA and PTFE chemicals. The green ceramic coating was great to fry with. As well as being smooth and very non-stick, the light colour was a pleasant change and made it easy to see how dishes were progressing. The handle was comfortable to hold when moving the pan around. This one’s not suitable for the dishwasher, which is a shame as the upkeep of that bright exterior may take a bit of elbow grease.
Buy now £20.00, Argos
Judge Vista non-stick frying pan, 26cm
The traditional, high-shine styling of this deep stainless-steel pan makes it a firm favourite, and it was particularly easy to clean by hand as there were no tricky indents or crevices in the handle to tackle. The non-stick coating is top quality, as is the heat distribution – there’s enough space for three steaks, which were all cooked evenly. A 10-year warranty on the Vista range makes sure you’ll be frying in style for the foreseeable.
Buy now £55.00, Horwood
Green Pan mayflower ceramic non-stick frying pan, 24cm
The high gloss, smooth non-stick coating on this stylish number meant pancakes slid easily from the pan to the plate without the need to grease the lining at all. We liked the blue colourway a lot – this was one pan we wouldn’t mind hanging up for show. This is hand wash only, as you wouldn’t want the wooden handle to get soaked.
Buy now £35.00, Green Pan
Samuel Groves tri-ply stainless steel ceramic frying pan, 20cm
Samuel Groves’s top-quality frying pan range has made our list of favourites again, with the 28cm pan from last year’s round-up an absolute essential in our tester’s kitchen. After a year of heavy use, its satin steel finish is still looking great and the finish inside is as non-stick as ever. This year, we’ve added this smaller 20cm pan, with the brand’s new premium non-stick which is perfect for small fries and has been put to work for side dishes and solo dinners. If you’re looking to invest in your cookware, these look great and are real workhorses in the kitchen. There’s a lifetime warranty if used correctly and its “pan for life” scheme means the non-stick can be refurbished– so this one is an investment buy that could be with you forever.
Buy now £105.45, Samuel Groves
M&S aluminium non-stick frying pan, 20cm
A dinky, sturdy number that we’ve reached for time and time again for using on the hob and in the oven – the soft grip handle can withstand temperatures up to 240C. The thick base of the pan is perfect for induction use and there’s a range of lidded pans and a wok to match, too, making it a good range to look at if you’ve just switched to this way of cooking.
Buy now £15.00, M&S
The verdict: Non-stick frying pan
When it comes to a piece that will last, we loved the Stellar 30cm pan and our sturdy Samuel Groves variations. But, it’s the ProCook pan with its lid was our favourite overall, simply because of its versatility in the kitchen. From a few slices of bacon to chilli con carne for four, it did everything we asked of it perfectly. All the pans within this round-up were so well put together though; we could see them all becoming family heirlooms.
For satisfying chargrill lines and succulent dishes, look to our review of the best grill pans