The results are in: cheap versus expensive frypans

Breakfast, lunch or dinner, a good frypan is a – potentially inexpensive – essential.

The results are in: cheap versus expensive frypans

Frying pans can cost anywhere from $10 to $350, but is forking out an extra few hundred on an expensive frypan really worth it?

Whether you consider yourself a chef, cook, or a member of the ‘culinary-impaired’ club, a good frying pan is an essential in any kitchen.  However, finding the best one within your price range can be a challenge. Luckily, CHOICE, Australia’s leading customer advocacy group, has compared a number of different frypans, ranging in price, to find out how cost correlates to quality. Of the 28 contenders, CHOICE tested a variety of stainless-steel, cast-iron and non-stick pans.

They ran a humble $16 frying pan from Kmart through the same scrupulous tests as those from leading brands such as Scanpan, Jamie Oliver and Tefal, and compared the results.

Surprisingly, the $16-dollar Anko stainless-steel non-stick 24cm frypan seriously impressed the experts, outperforming many of the fancier pans that cost a few hundred more.

“It's a lightweight, well-balanced pan that's easy to clean,” says Chantelle Dart, a CHOICE kitchen expert. “In our tests, it scored well for evenness of heating and durability. Even though it's only $16, it's comparable with other brands that are significantly more expensive.”

It scored higher in performance, durability and ease of use than pans from Tefal, Swiss Diamond, Jamie Oliver and Scanpan. However, the frypan does have a thin base and very average non-stick ability.

The experts at CHOICE said that what separated the cheap and expensive frypans was their durability. Many of the more expensive frying pans are made from higher quality metal, making them less likely to rust and more likely to last longer.

Types of frypan:

Stainless steel
These pans are great heat conductors, so are perfect for searing or sautéing, though you’ll need to use oil, or food will stick to the pan. You can use metal utensils with these pans, and they’re usually oven compatible, though they can be tough to clean.

Cast iron
Once heated, cast-iron pans retain heat, making them perfect for cooking meat, using an open flame, even high heat cooking, and can be put in the oven – provided the handle is oven compatible.

Best when used on a medium heat, non-stick pans are perfect for cooking eggs or pancakes. Use over high heat will cause damage to the pan over time, so they’re not good for searing and shouldn’t be paired with metal utensils.

Aluminium frypans are usually lightweight and cheap, although they are susceptible to warping, and shouldn’t be used to cook acidic foods as this may cause a reaction.

These pans are good for simmering and sauces, though don’t cope well with acidic foods. They’re often lined with stainless steel and need to be maintained and regularly polished in order to avoid corrosion.

It’s impossible to say which frypan is the best overall, because people have such different personal preferences. For example, there are a number of factors such as weight, finish, material and size that are preferable to certain individual’s tastes and cooking styles.

What type of frypan do you cook with? Do you have a brand or type of pan you would recommend to other YourLifeChoices members?

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    30th Jun 2020
    I have pans made by Circulon, I cook regularly with them, treat them badly (occasionally into dishwasher, metal utensils, over-heat, put into oven under grill, clean using water into the pan when still hot), and after 15 years, they are still good, nonstick and have outlasted my expectation in full. They are discoloured, but they are not a fashion item.

    Circulon should pay me for this, but I would not now buy anything else. Fantastic.
    30th Jun 2020
    I envy you your pans. I wonder if your pans of 15 years were better made? A lot of item we buy now are just not so great.
    30th Jun 2020
    No more cheap and nasty frypans for me (especially from Kmart) they scratch quickly and buckle. I have cooked for 45 years and as a cook I have found the better quality frypans ( I use the stainless steel non stick Tefal range) Peters of Kensington regularly have excellent sales) I bought one for $49 ( was $229) I use it everyday and it is as perfect now as when I bought it. False economy buying cheap, I guess how often you use it, I cook everyday so it’s a no brainer. Also the better ones have handles that can go into the oven.
    30th Jun 2020
    I use a heavy gauge aluminium pan that was my mothers. Dad did a handle replacement job on it many years ago. I guess it has to be 60+ years old .... Still has its shape.......Mum used it all the time. It went to live with me in Scotland for many years, and has come home with me. It gets used several times a week still.
    pedro the swift
    30th Jun 2020
    Tried so-called non-stick pans and found they are not worth it. I only use stainless or cast iron. I have NO trouble cleaning either type. Non-stick or those coated pans are nothing more than a gimmick. Not worth the cost.
    30th Jun 2020
    Pedro the Silly, perhaps yo should add, "in my opinion." I and many others, swear by quality non-stick pans.
    30th Jun 2020
    Further to my opinion Pedro depending on the type of non stick frypan your using. They’re is a definite difference depending on which brand it is. So I’m with Sceptic in this one.
    30th Jun 2020
    I like Copper Frypans, they don't stick and are very easy to clean.
    30th Jun 2020
    I bought a large Le Crueset frypan recently online, on special for approx. $220. I'm very happy with it and I do believe the more expensive brands are worth it. In the past I've used Raco & Essteele which were also fine (and cheaper), but I do think this latest one is the nicest I've had. In terms of non-stick and the cleaning required afterwards, I think it's worth spending extra.
    30th Jun 2020
    I have an expensive stainless steel Scanpan and a cheaper non-stick frypan. I prefer the latter. The Scanpan is heavy, food sticks to it and it’s hard to clean.
    30th Jun 2020
    I bought Le Crueset  pans close to 50 yeas ago still perfect condition I can pass them down to my daughter Its worth to buy good thing I would have spent more on cheep thing through the years and they wouln't have been as good
    30th Jun 2020
    I purchased a non stick pan from Aldi for $29.00 it is heavy based and easy to clean, I still have my old baccarat stainless steel pan I have had for nearly fifteen years it's the only pan I use to cook a piece of steak in.
    1st Jul 2020
    I use an old cast iron frypan I bought at a disposal store more years ago than I can remember. It is indestructable, nothing much sticks to it and takes a flame as hot as you can get so is perfect for searing steaks. The only downside is that it's heavy which wouldn't suit everybody. They are readily available wherever camping and barbecue gear is sold and are right down at the cheap end of the scale.

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