Buying Guide: The Best Omelette Pans For You

The Right Pan Makes all the Difference

How To Choose an Omelette Pan

Though it seems simple enough--barely more than scrambling eggs--that moment when you slide your first French oval-shaped omelette from pan to plate is rather memorable. Equally satisfying is proudly serving a generously sized half-moon shaped treat filled with savory cheese, mushrooms and charcuterie. In fact, the technique is challenging enough that many restaurants judge a chef's "chops" by how well his omelettes turn out. If you've not quite mastered the technique, that's just fine, it's a fun little learning journey and very satisfying once you get it. We've spoken with a number of chefs renowned for their omelette-making skills, and they all agree that the foundation of a memorable omelette is a top-notch omelette pan. While a basic fry pan will work, you might enjoy cooking with a genuine omelette pan too.

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What Makes the Best Omelette Pan?

Nonstick Covered Omelette Pan

Size: A true omelette pan looks much like a fry pan or an everyday pan. Omelette pan sizes range from six to eight inches, which are well-suited to making a single omelette. Larger pans, ranging up to 12 inches, are better for frittatas, scrambles or impressive stuffed omelettes.

Design: Another feature specific to omelette frying pans is their smooth, sloping sides. This design element is essential. The trick to a perfect omelette is in the turning, and only a pan with no interior edges or lips will let you smoothly rotate the egg mixture without tearing it. A good omelette pan should also have shallow sides to let you sneak a turner in between the egg, side and bottom of the pan.

Weight: Finally, weight is important--the pan should have a heavy enough bottom to handle moderately-high heat, but lightweight enough for you to lift and turn it to slide the omelette onto the plate.

Materials

There's a wide variety of pan materials that are well-suited to omelette making, and each has benefits and drawbacks. Some materials you should avoid when your figuring out how to choose an omelette pan: cast iron, enamel and standard aluminum. Cast iron and enameled pans are typically heavier, and aluminum can perform poorly when its heated.

Ceramic-coated pans

Ceramic Nonstick Omelette Pan

One of the hottest trends in cooking materials is ceramic, and there are good reasons for that. Ceramic nonstick pans are fairly eco-friendly and free of PFOA and other chemicals found in standard nonstick finishes. They are also naturally stick-resistant, durable and non-reactive. The smooth glazed interior surface doesn't allow foods to stick, but unlike pans with nonstick coatings, you can use metal utensils, cook at high temperatures and usually wash them in the dishwasher. Some of these pans offer a classic glazed interior, while others have a nonstick finish. Pay close attention to the metal used beneath the glaze, as it can have an effect on heat distribution and use and care.

Ceramic pans are extremely durable, and if properly cared for can be a good choice when you buy an omelette pan. As they can handle high heat, they can play double-duty in the oven and often the broiler. The material is also non-reactive, which means you can use it to cook acidic foods like tomatoes without pitting or staining or extracting undesirable flavors. Ceramic pans won't chip, fade or peel, and they come in a wide variety of beautiful colors. In fact, their atractive hues may be one of their main selling points--no other material brings so much personality to your cooktop. The downsides: Ceramic pans are somewhat heavier than plain steel or aluminum, and may crack if dropped and should be stored with a bit of care. They are also usually a bit pricier than other materials. When you go to buy an omelette pan, look at Le Creuset, Tramontina and Zwilling J.A. Henckels, which are some top producers of ceramic cookware.

Stainless steel

Stainless Steel Omelette Pan

Steel pans are the go-to for many top chefs and home cooks alike. For versatility, we find that stainless steel can't be beat. A high-quality stainless steel omelette pan can be used in the oven or broiler as well as on the stovetop, so you can easily cook frittatas or melt cheese over your omelette. Stainless steel cookware is also dishwasher safe, suitable for any type of cooktop and are frequently magnetized so they can be induction omelette pans. You can use any utensil with stainless steel.

Black steel (sometimes called blued steel) is as versatile as stainless steel and is usually pre-seasoned to reduce sticking. Black steel has a thin layer of oxidation, often called patina, on its surface that gives these pans better heat absorption and faster heat transfer. However, black steel must be hand-washed without soap to preserve the seasoning.

The downside of any steel pan: steel is not a great heat conductor by itself. This means 100% steel pans may heat slowly or unevenly. When choosing stainless steel or black steel pans, look for those with a copper base or an aluminum core, or even a core that contains both metals, as they help stainless steel heat faster, more evenly and perform better at low temperatures.

The upside is that steel is one of the most durable materials around. They're typically more expensive than aluminum pans, but they'll stand up to years of daily use and are easy to keep lustrous with regular scrubbing. Top producers of stainless steel and black steel omelette frying pans include All-Clad, Lodge, Paderno, Cuisinart, and Emeril.

Hard-anodized aluminum

Hard-Anodized Omelette Pan

These pans offer several benefits: they're durable, lightweight for easy handling and they have a nonstick interior coating. Unlike steel, hard-anodized aluminum cookware does not need to have a heavy base, because aluminum is an excellent conductor of heat. The anodizing process makes the metal extremely hard and nonstick, so the result is durability akin to steel and a nonporus surface that performs similarly to traditional nonstick finishes. So, they're especially well-suited for preparing an omelette and you'll need less oil or butter to get great results.

The downside is that you must shop carefully when choosing a hard-anodized omelette pan. Some styles are not oven or dishwasher safe--although they are easy to clean--and can only be used with non-metallic utensils, it just depends on whether the pan has an additional nonstick finish or whether the anodized finish was left as-is. Aluminum is not magnetized, so these pans may not work as induction omelette pans--if that's a concern, look for pans that are induction-capable. Brands like Calphalon, Cuisinart and All-Clad offer specialty lines of hard anodized aluminum that address these issues. Hard anodized aluminum pans are often less expensive than stainless steel, and they're well-suited to novice chefs and home kitchens.

Silicone

Microwave Omelette Pan

While it's not a traditional means of making an omelette, the microwave is a fast, simple way to make breakfast--as long as you have the right cookware. To do that, you'll need a special piece of microwave cookware. These are pretty easy to buy as there are few options to sort through and most styles perform similarly: simply add beaten eggs and cook. Silicone is a versatile, trendy material because of its inherent nonstick qualities, flexibility and bright colors. To find the right one for you, consider the size and color. Leuke is currently the top manufacturer and its microwave omelette pan is one of our top-rated cookware items.

Whichever material you choose, buy omelette pans with shallow, sloped sides and a comfortable size and weight and you'll be folding omelettes like a pro in no time.

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