Fry Pan

Buying Guide

Frying pans (or saute pans) are a staple in any commercial kitchen, and it's no wonder why, considering all that these metal masters have to offer. Combining the classic, round shape of a skillet, with moderately high, slightly sloped sides, these pans feature a signature all-purpose design that prevents steam from forming in the pan, ensuring a perfect texture every time you cook. They are ideal for all kinds of pan-frying (as opposed to deep-fat frying in which food is completely immersed in hot fat), as well as scrambling, sauteing, or searing.

Frying pans are available in a variety of metals that conduct heat efficiently, each available in a variety of sizes, with 8-, 10-, and 12-inch being the most popular sizes across the industry. This guide will teach you about the different types of frying pans available for your restaurant.

Materials

When buying the best frying pans for your commercial kitchen, consider the material that they are made from. Check out our own cookware guide for more details on the importance of material.
Material Benefits
Limitations
Aluminum
  • Excellent heat conduction
  • Lightweight
  • Durable
  • Resists rust and corrosion Inexpensive
  • Can react to acidic products like tomatoes
  • Can discolor light-colored sauces and foods
  • Can scratch, dent, and warp more easily
  • Not able to be used on induction ranges
Aluminum Clad Stainless Steel
  • Excellent heat conduction of aluminum
  • Durability of stainless steel
  • Heats evenly
  • Resists rust and corrosion
  • Induction-ready
  • Heavy
  • Two piece construction
  • Not dishwasher safe
Induction-ready
  • Thin and light material
  • High heat resistance
  • Requires seasoning before initial use and should be stored seasoned, otherwise it will rust
Heavy Duty HardCoat / Anodized Aluminum
  • 400% stronger than regular aluminum
  • Dent-resistant
  • Non-porous
  • Non-reactive
  • Superior heat conductivity and strength
  • Stick-resistant
  • Takes time to heat up
  • Surface can wear over time, especially from constant cooking with acidic foods
  • Not able to be used on induction ranges
  • Not dishwasher safe
Stainless Steel
  • Extremely durable and scratch-resistant
  • Doesn't react with foods
  • Relatively affordable
  • Resists rust and corrosion
  • Induction-ready
  • Lacks the heat conductivity of aluminum
  • Prone to hot spots and scorching
Stainless Steel / Aluminum
  • Aluminum body ensures maximum heat transfer throughout the pan and eliminates hot spots and scorching
  • Incredibly durable stainless steel interior
  • Doesn't react with foods
  • Not able to be used on induction ranges
Copper / Stainless Steel
  • Copper offers best heat conducting ability available
  • Great aesthetic appeal
  • Copper can react negatively with certain foods; a stainless steel interior eliminates this risk
  • Copper exterior can dent easily

Non-Stick vs. Standard Surface

The best non-stick fry pans provide many benefits in your kitchen. Food does not stick to non-stick fry pans, which cuts down on prep time and allows for easy, faster clean up. There are many other benefits as well when compared to standard surface fry pans, like reduced need for fats and oils, leading to healthier cooking.

Although, Non-stick cookware does have a few small drawbacks:
  • Subject to scratching
  • Not suitable for high temp cooking (over 500 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Should not be used with metal utensils
Non-Stick Fry Pans Standard Surface Fry Pans
Food doesn't stick to surface Extra releases and lubricants needed to prevent sticking
Uses little to no oils, butter or lard; perfect for low fat cooking Lubricants seep into food, adding fat and calories
Easy clean up Lubricants usually adhere to fry pan. Food particles do not come off easily. Hand scrubbing needed
Great for eggs, pancakes, omelet stations and other adhesive products Adhesive products like eggs, pancakes and omelets stick to pan

Thickness

Beyond material construction, it is always important to consider the thickness of the frying pans you're investing in. But how do you know how thick an item is? The thickness of cookware is generally measured in either gauge or mils, but the way you read these numbers is totally different! 1 mil is equal to 1/1000", so you know that the higher the mil, the thicker the metal.

Gauge, however, works in the opposite fashion—the higher the gauge, the thinner the metal. Most of the cookware you find will fall somewhere between a thick 10 gauge construction and a thinner 22 gauge construction.

When trying to determine the best type of frying pan thicker metal is often preferable, but there are always pros and cons to account for.

Pros of Thicker Metal Cons of Thicker Metal
  • Sturdier
  • Provides more even heating
  • More resistant against denting and warping
  • Holds more heat for better searing
  • Induction-ready
  • More expensive
  • Heavier
  • Takes longer to heat up

Rivets

Riveted
Riveted handles are the sturdiest handles available and, because they are permanently attached, they never need to be tightened. However, they do require more thorough cleansing care to prevent bacterial buildup around the rivets.



Vollrath Ever-Smooth
Vollrath's Ever-Smooth interior surface ensures easier cooking and less interference from rivet heads, while enhancing the frying pan's strength and durability. Additionally, it eliminates food and bacteria collection areas.

Handles

Consider pans with stainless steel handles, as these will not conduct heat as well as aluminum handles, and will remain cooler than the pan. Or look for metal handles that are hollowed in some way for a cooling effect. Silicone or Cool handles are also great options as they offer a comfortable grip for all-day use, and easily slide off for simple cleaning. Be aware though that some silicone handles are not designed for high-temperature use, and may require the use of a pot handle holder to keep your staff safe.

Induction Ready

Induction ready cookware is made of magnetic materials, such as steel or iron. Instead of traditional cooking methods where the cook top generates heat that then passes to your cookware through contact, induction cooking works through magnetic energy, which heats the cookware directly and not the cook top. This means faster heating, less energy consumption, and a safer kitchen.

Look for this symbol when shopping to be sure you are ordering an induction ready frying pan.

Care and Cleaning

While it is generally recommended to refer to the cleaning instructions from the product's manufacturer, they may not always come with the product. Let's briefly discuss how to clean the different types of frying pans.

  • Never leave empty cookware on your heat source.
  • For safety and to prevent warping, allow cookware to cool before cleaning or immersion in water.
  • All cookware will last longer and look better if washed by hand with soapy water. Always scrub in the direction of the material grain. Rinse thoroughly, sanitize, and allow to air dry completely.
  • Use of high temperature silicone utensils for non-stick pans and metal utensils for standard surface pans is recommended.
  • If putting through the dishmachine, make sure you are using a metal-safe detergent.

Seasoning

Prior to cooking, lightly coat the inside of your non-coated aluminum, stainless steel, or carbon steel frying pans with a small amount of vegetable oil or shortening. Then place the frying pan on a burner at medium for 5-10 minutes, until light smoke or heat waves appear. When shortening turns a deep amber color, turn off the burner and allow to cool. Pour out excess oil/shortening and wipe down the frying pan with a paper towel until all of the oil/shortening is removed.

Seasoning will prolong the life of the frying pan. Cleaning with a mild soapy solution after each use will not affect the "seasoning" of the pan. It's okay to repeat this procedure as often as needed without doing damage to the cookware.

Aluminum and Aluminum Clad Stainless Steel

When cleaning aluminum fry pans, keep in mind that handwashing is the preferred method. Use detergents made specifically for aluminum since aluminum is a soft metal that is attacked by detergents with a high alkaline or acidic nature. Through repeated use, aluminum will soften and, if scoured, will thin.

Carbon Steel

Carbon steel cookware comes with mineral oil applied to the pan. Wipe down this oil and clean the pan by hand using hot, soapy water. Dry immediately. After each use, clean and season. Do not use soap to clean the seasoned carbon steel pan- scrub the interior with hot water instead. Wipe the inside and outside of the pan with unsalted cooking oil or shortening to prevent oxidation. The pan will turn a dark color as seasoning occurs after repeated use.

Heavy Duty Hard Coat

To preserve the unique HardCoat on these frying pans, these pans must be handwashed in hot, soapy water. Use a non-woven scouring pad to remove burnt food. Avoid using abrasive cleaners, metal scouring pads, and strong solvents. When stacking pans, place liners between pans to avoid scratching stick-resistant surfaces.

Stainless Steel

It is possible to wash stainless steel frying pans in the dishwasher, though it's typically best to wash them by hand. Always use warm water, a clean sponge, and dish soap with grease-cutting abilities to clean your stainless steel frying pans. Never use bleach or ammonia on this type of pan.

Non-Stick

Allow non-stick coating to cool before cleaning. Handwash in hot, soapy water and dry immediately to preserve appearance. Use a non-woven scouring pad to remove burnt food. Avoid using abrasive cleaners, metal scouring pads, and strong solvents. When stacking pans, place liners between pans to avoid scratching non-stick surfaces.

What's Available

Entry Level


  • 3003 aluminum alloy construction for most
  • Carbon steel construction for some

Shop Entry Level:
Stainless Steel & Aluminum Fry Pans
Non-Stick Fry Pans

Mid Level


Stainless Steel Fry Pans with Aluminum-Clad Bottoms

  • 18/8 stainless steel with aluminum-clad bottom
  • Excellent heat conduction of aluminum
  • Riveted
  • Stainless steel handle
  • Choose from non-stick coating or natural finish
  • Suitable for use on induction ranges
  • NSF Listed


Carbon Steel Wok and Stir Fry Pans

  • Conducts heat quickly and evenly
  • Riveted
  • Bakelite handle
  • Suitable for use on induction ranges


Vollrath Arkadia

  • 9 gauge, 3000 series aluminum alloy construction
  • Designed for the value conscious customer
  • Aluminum rivets
  • Nickel plated steel handle with optional Arkadia silicone sleeve
  • Choose from non-stick coating or natural finish
  • NSF Listed


Vollrath Optio

  • Easy to handle lightweight, high chrome stainless steel construction with a mirror finish and clad bottom
  • Economy line designed for lighter duty cooking
  • Welded handle attachment
  • Hollow handle
  • Choose from non-stick coating or natural finish
  • Suitable for use with induction ranges
  • NSF Listed


Vollrath Induction Fry Pans with SteelCoatx3

  • Carbon steel conducts heat quickly and evenly
  • Classic French style
  • TriVent Silicone insulated handle is rated up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit for stove top or oven use
  • SteelCoatx3 triple-layer interior coating provides exceptional durability and easy clean up
  • Suitable for use with 120V induction ranges, 1.8 kW or less, or with conventional ranges


Shop Mid Level:
Stainless Steel & Aluminum Fry Pans
Non-Stick Fry Pans

High End


Carlisle Stainless Steel / Aluminum

  • 18-8 stainless steel interior
  • Hard aluminum body ensures maximum heat transfer throughout the pan and eliminates hot spots and scorching
  • Riveted
  • Aluminum handle with removable Dura-Kool sleeve that stays cool to the touch
  • NSF Listed


Carlisle Excalibur

  • Dent resistant 3004 series aluminum alloy construction
  • Aluminum handle with removable Dura-Kool sleeve that stays cool to the touch
  • Riveted
  • Reinforced non-stick coating technology helps resist scratching and peeling and provides easier food release and clean up
  • NSF Listed


Vollrath Wear-Ever Ever-Smooth

  • NSF Listed
  • Primarily 8 gauge, dent resistant 3004 series aluminum alloy construction
  • Rivet-less design provides easy to clean body
  • Nickel plated steel Cool Handle
  • Available in a variety of finishes:
    • CeramiGuard II:Cutting edge non-stick technology offers both superior durability and release qualities, even in high-heat applications. CeramiGuard II better withstands the abuse of metal utensils
    • WearGuard: New and improved coating that releases betters and scratches less
    • Natural Finish


Vollrath Wear-Ever Classic

  • NSF Listed
  • Primarily 8 gauge, dent resistant 3004 series aluminum alloy construction
  • Ever-Tite rivets
  • Choose from Tri-Vent natural finish handle, nickel plated steel Cool Handle, or TriVent Silicone insulated handle
  • Available in a variety of finishes:
    • CeramiGuard II: Cutting edge non-stick technology offers both superior durability and release qualities, even in high-heat applications. CeramiGuard II better withstands the abuse of metal utensils
    • SteelCoatx3: Triple-layer coating provides exceptional durability
    • PowerCoat2: Dual-layer ceramic-reinforced coating
    • WearGuard: New and improved coating that releases betters and scratches less
    • Natural Finish


Vollrath Wear-Ever Hardcoat

  • NSF Listed
  • Primarily 8 gauge, dent resistant 3004 series aluminum alloy construction
  • Ever-Tite rivets
  • Nickel plated steel Cool Handle
  • Hardcoat anodized finish for warp resistance
    • Using a unique electro-chemical bonding process, Hardcoat unites the anodized surface with the aluminum base, creating a non-porous surface that's 400% harder than aluminum for dent resistance


Vollrath Tribute

  • Tri-ply construction for perfect heat distribution
  • Satin finish
  • Dent resistant 3004 series aluminum alloy core
  • Non-reactive 18-8 stainless steel inner layer, and a durable 18-0 stainless steel exterior to stand up to punishing commercial cooking conditions
  • Ever-Tite rivets
  • Choose from Tri-Vent natural finish handle or TriVent Silicone insulated handle
  • SteelCoat x3 premium non-stick coating or natural finish
  • Suitable for use with induction ranges
  • NSF Listed