If you’re cooking for a crowd, this is a great choice. With its black plastic base, it won’t dress up your buffet table, but it will keep party dishes warm until guests come back for seconds.
Think of an electric skillet as a pan with its own built-in heating element. When company is coming and you don’t have enough room on your stovetop for all the pots and pans you need to cook the meal, these countertop appliances give an assist.
If you don’t have access to a stove, but do have an electric outlet (perhaps in an RV, school, church, or community rec room), an electric skillet offers an easy and convenient way to toss a hot meal together.
Most of electric skillets are generously sized, so they’re useful for entertaining, bringing a family-sized meal straight to the table, or keeping food hot on a buffet.
We put popular models through a battery of cooking tests and found the best electric skillet is the beautiful stainless-steel Cuisinart Electric Skillet (available at Amazon for $139.95) . If you don’t want to spend much and aren’t too concerned about looks, our best value pick is the Black and Decker 12-by-15-inch (available at Amazon).
Cuisinart CSK-150 Electric Skillet
While the Cuisinart Electric Skillet is considerably more expensive than most models on the market, it gives superior performance. And thanks to its stainless-steel finish and oval shape, it's elegant enough to use as a buffet server at fancy dinner parties. Of all the skillets we tested, it was one of only two that maintained a steady simmer, rather than a near boil, at a medium-low heat setting.
It’s big enough to cook eight hamburgers at once without crowding—perfect for a large family. And the patties come out browned and crusty, as if they were cooked on the grill or in a cast-iron pan. On the warm setting, the Cuisinart maintained a temperature that kept chicken cacciatore hot without overcooking it.
Unlike most, this skillet is dishwasher safe. Although because it’s so large and will take up a lot of room, you may prefer to wash it by hand. In addition to being very thorough, the manual that comes with it contains lots of appealing recipes. I have only one minor quibble: The stainless-steel lid knob gets too hot to lift without a potholder.
The Black and Decker 12-by-15-inch Electric Skillet is a workhorse. In appearance it’s utilitarian, but it’s large enough to easily accommodate eight chicken pieces or hamburgers. It cooks evenly, which means you won’t have to remove some chops sooner than the others to make sure they’re all done at the same time, nor will you have to stir frequently for even heat distribution in a tomato sauce. When the control is turned down to the warm setting, foods stay at serving temperatures.
The base is constructed of black plastic and the cooking vessel has a nonstick surface that makes it easy to clean. Even after cooking stew for half an hour, the lid knob stayed cool enough to lift off without a potholder.
If you have big bucks to spare, the All-Clad Electric Nonstick Skillet is just about the best electric skillet you can buy. It’s as beautiful as any appliance out there, which means it will look good on your kitchen countertop or your dining room sideboard. And with its large capacity, it’s perfect for holiday meals.
Using the sear setting, we got deep browning quickly on burgers. On a lower setting, we were able to maintain chicken cacciatore at a steady simmer. We found the warm setting doesn’t keep food hot enough for serving, though, so you'll have to bump the temperature up a bit if you use it on a buffet table.
As the handle on the lid gets hot, a potholder is necessary to lift it. Even though this is a luxury appliance, it doesn’t need any extra loving care—both the base and the lid can be safely washed in the dishwasher.
Unlike the other appliances we tested, the Zojirushi Gourmet d’Expert Electric Skillet EP-PBC10 is relatively small, with an interior diameter of 10 ½ inches and a volume of only about 3 quarts. This makes it a great choice for small families but not ideal for entertaining. Depending on the size of your burgers, it can fry up four or five at once.
It’s only large enough for four to six chicken pieces, so if you like to buy a whole cut-up bird, you won’t be able to cook all the parts at once. However, the Zojirushi heats food very evenly, and with its round shape would be perfect for a frittata or crustless quiche.
This is an expensive item and although it’s not particularly attractive, it has a high-quality feel and some unique features. The cord attaches to the base magnetically so it’s super simple to set up the appliance for cooking. As the controls are on the front of the skillet, rather than on the cord, and each setting lights up, it’s very convenient to adjust the temperature.
On either side of the cooking pan, there’s a pouring spout, so when you lift the pan out of the base you can neatly pour off any sauce or juices. The pan can be used on the stovetop as well as in the appliance.
If you’re often cooking for a crowd, the Presto Electric Skillet is your best choice. You can load up this heavy cast aluminum skillet with nine burgers or a recipe for six quarts of gumbo. With its black plastic base, it won’t dress up your buffet table, but it will keep party dishes warm until guests come back for seconds.
We found that preheating took longer than on other models. Although this skillet is dishwasher safe, Presto warns that the uncoated aluminum bottom will discolor. In view of that, as well as that it will monopolize space in your dishwasher, you may prefer to wash it by hand. Thanks to its non-stick coating it cleans up easily.
The Presto Foldaway Skillet is another choice with a large cooking space that can fry up a whole mess of hash browns or big batch of chili. Its unique feature is that the handles fold down so you can store the cooking pan in the base, reducing the amount of storage space it requires.
As on the other Presto, we found that we had to be patient while it was preheating. This model can also be washed in the dishwasher if you have the space to spare (and don’t mind if the bottom of the skillet turns gray). On one corner of the cooking vessel, there’s a spout which makes it convenient to pour out soups or sauces.
A family of four will find that the Bella 12-by-12-inch Ceramic Copper Titanium Skillet meets its needs. It can cook five to seven hamburgers, eight pieces of chicken, or Bolognese for a weekday dinner. The Bella cooks evenly but has trouble maintaining a low cooking temperature. However, it is able to hold foods at a serving temperature on the warm setting.
When the cord is plugged in, the control dial is obscured by the wire, making it hard to adjust the setting. The ceramic coated interior of the pan has a copper-colored nonstick finish that’s very slick, so it releases food and cleans up easily.
Hi, I'm Sharon Franke and I test kitchen equipment for a living, putting everything from apple corers to zoodle makers through their paces. I use my experience as a former professional chef in considering how well tools perform and how easy they are to use.
When I’m not scientifically evaluating gadgets, cookware, or appliances, you can find me cooking for family and friends on my vintage stove. And too often, especially around the holidays, my range top can’t accommodate all the pieces of cookware I want to use at once. That’s when I pull out an electric skillet!
I tested seven electric skillets. In each, I heated flour to see the skillet’s cooking pattern. Next, I made hamburgers to see how well the skillet pan-grilled them, and then potatoes to check for even cooking and crispy surfaces. Lastly, I cooked up chicken cacciatore in each skillet, to evaluate how it browned chicken pieces, sautéed onions and mushrooms, and simmered tomato sauce.
As I cooked, I noted how easy it was to use the controls, the amount of food that each skillet could hold, whether the handles became hot, and how easy it was to serve from each one. Not least importantly, I also considered how much effort was needed to clean each model and how much space it would require in a cabinet or closet.
What to Know About Buying Electric Skillets
Why Do You Need an Electric Skillet?
An electric skillet is a great tool for when you don’t have enough room on your stove or don’t have access to another cooking method. It can be particularly useful during the holidays or any time you’re entertaining. That's because it gives you a nice wide cooking surface for pan-frying, sautéing, or stir-frying items like eggs, pancakes, vegetables, steaks, and chops.
On the highest setting, it produces the kind of browning that gives lots of flavor; and as it cycles the temperature on and off, it doesn’t easily overheat and burn foods.
While these small appliances can handle a large volume of food for simmering chili, stew, or pot roast, our tests showed that even at lower temperature settings, most tend to cook food at higher-than-ideal temperatures for simmering. This means that food is ready quickly, but maybe less tender than if it was cooked in a Dutch oven on the stovetop or oven.
Most of our test samples came with a tempered glass lid, and all of them had a non-stick surface, making the products easy to clean. Even though some manufacturers claim their skillets are dishwasher safe, it's a large product and doesn’t easily fit into a machine. Their size also means they require a lot of storage space, so if your cabinets and closets are already cluttered, make sure this is something you really need.
Can You Fry in an Electric Skillet?
You will see many recipes for deep frying in an electric skillet and many casually call these appliances electric frying pans. However, the user manual for every model we tested warned against this practice and we don’t recommend it either.
These appliances are wide and shallow; if you heat a significant amount of oil in one, the oil can easily spatter and boil over when you add something like battered chicken pieces. In addition, the interior finishes in the skillet may not be formulated to withstand the high heat of deep-frying.
Can You Bake in an Electric Skillet?
There are an abundance of recipes for using an electric skillet to bake a cake. In several trials, all of our cakes came out with wet and gooey underbaked tops and thick crusty bottoms. Therefore, we don’t suggest using these appliances for baking.
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