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The holidays roll around, and you're planning on hosting a slew of guests. Sometimes the stovetop doesn't cut it; you can only cook so much on the stove at once. An electric skillet can give you that extra bit of cooking space you need to prepare a meal for a large group of people.
Electric skillets are portable, provide even heating at a steady temperature, and can cook a lot at one time. They’re not just suitable for holiday meal prep; they’re also an excellent option for campers and those who simply don’t feet like getting their stovetop dirty.
At BestReviews, we studied the electric skillet market in order to bring you this shopping guide. Below, you'll find a list of considerations to keep in mind when evaluating individual skillets, attractive features you may want to look for when shopping, and information on how to use your electric skillet safely. Above, you will find our top five favorite electric skillets on the market today.
When shopping for an electric skillet, ask yourself the following questions before settling on a specific model.
If you’re planning to use your electric skillet for entertaining large groups of people, you’ll need a bigger cooking vessel. You can usually find skillets that are sized between 12 and 16 inches, but some are even larger.
If you’re cooking for yourself or a small group, you may wish to buy a smaller electric skillet with a width or diameter of just 10 inches or so.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
The De'Longhi Electric Skillet features a die-cast aluminum body and a tight-fitting, tempered glass lid to lock in heat, moisture, and flavor. The inside is coated with Teflon for a nonstick cooking experience. A detachable thermostat allows you to cook food to the precise temperature you want (the dial ranges from 200°F to 400° F), and adjustable steam vent holes let you get rid of steam as you need to. We're told by most owners that the De'Longhi heats evenly, although rare critics complain that this is not the case.
Just like a stovetop pan, the shape of an electric skillet matters. Electric skillets come in a variety of shapes to suit different user needs. If you are cooking, searing, and browning large quantities of meat, a rectangular pan will allow you to get more done at once than a round skillet.
If so, make sure you buy an electric skillet that can reach a high enough temperature for frying. An electric skillet that can reach a temperature of 450°F is usually sufficient.
If you want to deep-fry foods in your electric skillet, you'll need a deep skillet that can reach higher temperatures.
If you plan on cooking soups and stews or want to deep-fry foods in your electric skillet, opt for a model with higher sides to contain your food and avoid oil splattering. If you plan to cook foods that might peek out of the top of your skillet, such as large pieces of meat, look for a convex lid shape.
Regardless of the size you buy, make sure you have enough space to store your electric skillet. Also make sure you can handle the weight of the skillet when transporting it from cabinet to countertop.
If you plan on keeping your electric skillet displayed on the counter, make sure you have room to comfortably use it, and opt for a model with an attractive design.
Electric skillets with bare-bones controls for high and low temperatures are less versatile and not appropriate for precision cooking. However, if you plan to cook mostly stews and soups in your electric skillet, these simple controls should work just fine.
On the other end of the spectrum are electric skillets with highly precise temperature controls.
In fact, some electric skillets even come with a warming setting for buffet-style serving.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
When food is done cooking in the De’Longhi Electric Skillet, you can still keep it warm thanks to the "warm" setting. Cool-touch handles keep your fingers safe, although a few customers with extra-long fingers warned that you should exercise caution when grabbing the hot skillet by the handles, as fingers could inadvertently bump the hot aluminum. When you're ready to turn off the De'Longhi, bear in mind that there is no "Off" button; you must simply unplug it. When you're ready to wash the De'Longhi, remove the thermostat and toss the skillet and lid in the dishwasher for easy cleaning.
Like most kitchen appliances, your electric skillet will last longer if you care for and use it correctly. But some things will dictate overall durability regardless of how you care for your skillet.
For example, materials like stainless steel will no doubt resist wear and tear better than hard plastics, and glass lids are sturdier than plastic ones.
Avoid electric skillets with plastic components, as they are less durable.
As with frying pans, you’ll find that electric skillets come coated in a variety of different materials. Electric skillets are usually covered with nonstick materials to make cooking easier.
Teflon is a durable coating that does a great job at keeping food from sticking, but there are some concerns about chemicals in the Teflon leaching into food. If you have pet birds in your home, heating dry Teflon at too high of a temperature can let off fumes undetectable to humans that could potentially fatally injure your bird.
Ceramic coatings are just as effective but do not have associated health risks.
Look for an electric skillet with a heavy base. The extra weight will help ensure that the skillet doesn’t easily get knocked off the counter.
Electric skillets are perfectly safe to use as long as you use them correctly.
As with any kitchen appliance, being cautious makes all the difference.
Skillets with a vent allow steam to escape to avoid dangerous pressure buildup inside.
Some electric skillets come equipped with a locking mechanism to help make transporting finished dishes easier. With a locking mechanism, you won’t need to be afraid of accidentally spilling hot foods.
Many electric skillets also come equipped with cool-touch components. These components help protect you from accidental burns.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
The low-priced Presto 06620 brings durability, reliability, and great-tasting food to your kitchen. It’s an appropriate choice for families of two to four, and it makes a wonderful addition to a camper or dorm room. The tall dome lid allows you to cook large pieces of meat and a plethora of other items. The heating element cooks food evenly; your dinner is not likely to burn in this skillet. The DiamondCoat nonstick coating is one of the most reliable Teflon technologies we've seen in our research. We can't say enough good things about this product.
Whenever you're dealing with an item that requires a power source and produces heat, you should be mindful of safety. Here are a few tips to ensure you use your skillet safely.
Don't forget to turn your electric skillet off and unplug it from the wall when you're done using it. Leaving it on and plugged in can constitute a fire hazard.
Don't try to cook on a wobbly surface, as you could spill hot food on yourself, causing painful burns.
An electric skillet isn't a slow cooker. Don't leave food to cook on a hot skillet unattended.
The skillet itself will heat up as it cooks. Use oven mitts to handle the lid and when moving the unit.
Use wood utensils with your electric skillet to avoid scratching or otherwise damaging its cooking surface.
For effortless cleanup, choose an electric skillet that’s dishwasher safe.
Choose a deeper electric skillet if you’re concerned about oil splatter.
Q. What's the difference between a skillet and a griddle?
A. A griddle has a flat surface with no lid or sides. It's a good choice for cooking pancakes, crepes, and omelets, as those foods require flipping. It's a bit tough to flip something in a skillet because the sides can get in the way.
Q. How hot can an electric skillet get?
A. Most electric skillets can heat up to 400°F. Some can reach higher temps of up to 450°F, which is necessary for situations in which you want to fry food.
Q. What's the best way to clean an electric skillet after using it?
A. Don't try to wash an electric skillet until it's cooled down. Make sure it's not plugged into a power source. Gently hand-wash the pan without submerging it in water. Some units are dishwasher safe or have, at the very least, dishwasher safe parts. Read the manufacturer's manual to ensure you follow the proper cleaning steps.
Q. How much does a good electric skillet cost?
A. Most bargain-priced electric skillets will have simple controls, a smaller footprint, and less-durable materials. That said, there are some good bargain-priced skillets available for about $25. Pricier electric skillets range from $40 to as much as $200. They tend to have tougher glass lids, sleeker designs, and more bells and whistles (such as a “keep warm” setting) than low-cost electric skillets.
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At BestReviews, we purchase every product we review with our own funds. We never accept anything from product manufacturers. Our goal is to be 100% objective in our analysis, and we do not want to run the risk of being swayed by products provided at no cost.