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What is the Best Grill Pan? — Must-Haves For Your Kitchen This 2021

by Outdoor Cooking Pros September 30, 2021

What is the Best Grill Pan? — Must-Haves For Your Kitchen This 2021

A BBQ experience is achievable on the stovetop with the right grill pan. Unfortunately, not all grill pans yield the same results, with only the top grill pans producing perfect sears and are easy to clean. It’s a touch-and-go process, but not if you follow our grill team’s advice that will only include the best items to make sure you get the results you want.  

Reviews of the Top Grill Pans

1. Cooks Standard Grill Pan - Best Overall

Cooks Standard Grill Pan

If you have a small stove or a small family, then this Cooks Standard square grill pan is all you need. It’s a non-stick square grill pan, and the shape is perfect for housing steaks, patties, and everything else you want to grill.

The heavy-gauge aluminum body will make sure all your meats cook evenly by distributing the heat across the entire bottom. The pan comes with a nonstick coating to make sure no pieces are left behind and the grill pan is easy to clean. 

The square grill pan can even go into the oven and withstand temperatures up to 500F to produce culinary masterpieces. 

Pros

  • Hard anodized surface
  • Nonstick square grill pan
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Oven-ready up to 500F
  • Heavy-gauge aluminum core
  • Handles stay cool
  • Sturdy craftsmanship

Cons

  • Not induction compatible
  • A little heavy 

    2. NutriChef NCGRP59 - Premium Pick

     NutriChef NCGRP59

    The next one is a stovetop nonstick grill pan of a larger size, which is excellent for feeding large families or hosting parties. Most grill pans need just one burner, but this one requires two stovetop burners. It has a nonstick surface and high ridges that will keep excess oil away when cooking meat.

    The NutriChef NCGRP59can also handle high temperatures up to 500 degrees F, but the stainless steel handles will stay cool to the touch.

    The heavy-gauge aluminum body and hard anodized surface will make sure all your foods cook evenly.

    Pros

    • One of the best grill pans for size
    • Creates perfect grill marks
    • Nonstick grill pan
    • Rectangular grill pan for more space
    • Heat-safe up to 500F
    • Hard anodized aluminum surface
    • Even cooking all around 
    • Can hold more than other grill pans
    • Keeps excess oil away

    Cons

    • Doesn’t work on induction grills
    • More difficult to wash due to its size

    3. MasterPan Non-Stick Grill Pan - Budget Option

     MasterPan Non-Stick Grill Pan

    Grill pans aren’t that pricey to begin with, but the MasterPan nonstick grill pan is an even more budget choice while still delivering high quality. This grill pan is excellent for grilled vegetables, and handles high temperatures well, and offers even heat distribution.

    It is 100% die-cast aluminum, which acts as an excellent heat conductor and creates an energy-efficient induction base. The grill pan comes with a double-layer nonstick coating and it is oven safe up to 350F.

    The MasterPan grill pan is very versatile and also works well as a BBQ grill tray, so it is suitable for indoor grilling or BBQs in an outdoor space.

    Pros

    • 100% die-cast aluminum
    • Can handle high heat
    • Suitable for grilling indoors and out
    • Creates well-defined grill marks
    • Evenly distributes high heat
    • Very sturdy pan with wooden handle
    • Oven safe and dishwasher safe
    • Folding handle for easy storage
    • Collects fat run-off
    • Nonstick surface 
    • Works with induction

    Cons

    • Folding handle does not lock
    • Not extremely deep grooves 

    4. S·KITCHN Nonstick Grill Pan

    S·KITCHN Nonstick Grill Pan 

    The next option on the best grill pans list is the S Kitchn nonstick grill pan. It’s also one that works on induction stovetops, so anyone looking for a larger option that works over two burners, this is your answer.

    The nonstick surface is achieved with 100% PFOA-free dual layer coating that keeps your meats from sticking and is dishwasher safe.

    The aluminum grill pan heats up quickly and heats evenly as well. A larger grill pan can mean it’s a lot heavier than smaller ones, but the dual loop handles make it easy to lift and move - just remember to use an oven mitt. 

    Pros

    • Nonstick surface
    • Easy to clean and dishwasher safe
    • Compatible with all stoves
    • Has carrying handles
    • Heats evenly and quickly
    • Aluminum body is lighter
    • Oven safe model
    • Achieves nice grill marks
    • Recessed corners as pour spouts 

    Cons

    • Requires more accurate placement 
    • Not pre-seasoned 

    5. Rachael Ray Cucina Nonstick Grill Pan

    Rachael Ray Cucina Nonstick Grill Pan

    Big brands can be more reliable to get those coveted grill marks chefs and grillers strive to achieve, and the nonstick grill pans from Rachael Ray Cucina can definitely do the trick. This particular model is both a grill and griddle pan.

    The anodized non-stick pan is ready to grill indoors whenever possible. It’s lightweight and works on a gas grill or electric grill or even the oven. The handle has a silicone grip, which gives users a better and more comfortable hold on the grill pan.

    The pan is dishwasher safe, works well with high heat, and is hard anodized. 

    Pros

    • One of Rachael Ray’s top-rated grill pans
    • Easy to clean and dishwasher safe
    • Silicone grip on the handle
    • Comes with different colored grips 
    • Oven safe up to 400F
    • Nonstick square grill pan 
    • Raised ridges for distinct sear
    • Lightweight

    Cons

    • Can be considered large to some
    • Not pre-seasoned

    6. ESLITE LIFE Grill Pan

    ESLITE LIFE Grill Pan

    Square pans are considered more ergonomic than round shapes for some meats. The square Eslite Life grill pan is eco-friendly and has a nonstick granite coating that doesn’t require as much oil and is also smokeless.

    The reinforced die-cast aluminum body is extremely durable and will not warp under high heat. The grill pan conducts heat very well and ensures even cooking all around, much better than some other indoor grill pans.

    The Eslite Life grill pan works with gas, halogen, induction, ceramic, and electric stoves. The parallel ridges keep the oil and fat away while giving you distinct grill marks.

    Pros

    • Deep grill marks if used right
    • Works with a variety of stoves
    • Excellent for indoor grilling
    • Wooden handle stays cool
    • Keeps excess fat to the grill side
    • Perfect grill pan size
    • Die-cast aluminum cooking surface
    • Great heat allocation 

    Cons

    • Must be hand washed
    • Not for an outdoor grill 

    7. Lodge Cast Iron Grill Pan

    Lodge Cast Iron Grill Pan 

    Lodge is famous for its cast-iron product line, and this particular one is a great representative of their product line.

    The Lodge Cast Iron Grill Pan a square, ribbed cast iron pan, and cast iron cookware is known to heat much more slowly but very evenly. It is also difficult to find a pre-seasoned grill pan that isn’t cast iron, and this Lodge product comes seasoned and ready to go.

    A cast-iron pan will give you a near-nonstick cooking surface without the health risks of cooking with some other treated nonstick cookware. You can’t get much more durable than a cast iron grill pan, which means it is also metal utensil safe.

    Pros

    • Suitable for metal utensils
    • Durable cast iron grill pan
    • Better for health
    • Slow to heat but very desirable results
    • Retains heat very well
    • Pre-seasoned cast iron grill pan 
    • Easier to clean than other cast iron pans 
    • Excellent for indoor grilling 

    Cons

    • Must oil lightly before grilling
    • Cleaning can take more time 

    Grill Pans Buyer’s Guide

    Choosing the best grill pans wasn’t easy, and our experts went through many grill pans to narrow down the best ones. From the best cast iron pan and die-cast to hard-anodized aluminum[1], there were certain things our chefs looked for and we have listed the criteria below to help you with your purchase.

    Design and Size

    Round, square, rectangle - oh my! With so many shapes and sizes to choose from, how do you find the right one? Our chefs sympathize with your pain and will help you find the right size and design. Both of these elements of your grill pan will determine how much food you can cook. 

    In general, if you need to cook more food on the regular, our chefs recommend a square pan. It’s easier to place food and cook long strips of meat without being hindered by the griddle side. Why are pans round in the first place? Probably because of the shape of our burners. It is believed that the heating will be more evenly distributed with a round grill pan on a round burner. 

    However, the materials of most modern grill pans ensure even heat placement regardless. 

    Then there is the size to consider. There are models that are rectangular and take up the space of two burners. These are recommended for an outdoor grill or if you need to feed a lot of people. In short, square shapes will give you more cooking space, but the edges may not get heated as much as the center. Round pans generally give better heat distribution, but you sacrifice the cooking area.

    steak grilled on Cooks Standard Grill Pan

    Lastly, rectangular pans can be heated well on two burners, but they are not always needed for a small family and the large size can be more difficult to clean and handle.

    Material Durability

    You can find grill pans made with 5 different materials - cast iron, ceramic nonstick, cast aluminum, enameled cast iron, and hard anodized aluminum. 

    Many people may go directly for the cast iron grill pan, but it may not always be the best choice.

    Our experts say a cast iron grill pan is not the best for easy and effortless cleanup, but in terms of durability and achieving high heat, and even cooking, there really is no better than cast iron material.

    An iron grill pan will help you get the closest results to an outdoor grill you can achieve indoors (check here for the best indoor grills). This material is so durable that you can take metal utensils to the surface and not damage the cooking area at all. 

    grilling with NutriChef NCGRP59

    You then have enameled cast iron, which makes the more inexperienced grillers scratch their heads about the difference. An enameled cast iron pan is basically an upgraded version of a regular cast iron pan. 

    It retains all of the benefits without the annoying cleanup. It comes with an enamel glaze that makes seasoning unnecessary for an enameled cast iron pan.

    A downside for all non or pre-seasoned cast iron pans is they are not dishwasher safe, You must hand wash them and dry them immediately after for the best maintenance.

    Spoiler alert - our expert grillers and chefs recommend an enameled cast iron grill pan if your goal is to get that authentic BBQ taste indoors. If you go for casted iron, make sure to get a pre-seasoned cast iron pan to save yourself some work. In our experts’ opinion, the best cast iron options come from Lodge. 

    Let’s talk about ceramic nonstick pans. A ceramic grill pan is basically an aluminum or stainless steel pan that has ceramic coating. It’s great for heat induction and cleaning, but the downside to a ceramic nonstick pan is its durability. It will crack and break much more easily than its hard-wearing counterparts.

    grilling chicken and vegetables with MasterPan Non-Stick Grill Pan

    Then there are the two types of aluminum cookware pans - cast aluminum and hard anodized aluminum. What are the differences? Let’s find out.

    Hard anodized aluminum is what the name suggests it to be, an aluminum pan that has been hardened through an oxidation process to make it more durable and rust and corrosion resistant. These pans are also usually coated with a nonstick surface that makes cleaning easy. (We have a list of the best cleaning tools when grilling.)

    Lastly, cast aluminum grill pans are basically created from scratch. Manufacturers use molten aluminum and pour it into a mold to create the pan you see. Compared to a seasoned cast iron grill, cast aluminum grill pans are lighter weight, and they also come with a non-stick coating. 

    Handles

    The handles are just as important as the cooking surface. Are they dual-sized or one long handle? Our team suggests looking for a brushed stainless steel handle as it is more durable than metal and plastic handles. It doesn’t conduct the temperature from the pan like metal does and can withstand heat much better than the plastic alternative.

    Pour Spout

    The best-selling grill pan should have a pour spout or some channel for chefs to drain the excess oil and fat. It’s okay if the pan you have your eye on does not have this, but it just makes cleaning easier. 

    Cleaning and Maintenance

    Speaking of cleaning, our experts suggest always looking for a pan that is nonstick or seasoned. Even then, we would still suggest lightly greasing the pan if necessary to avoid having food scraps stick on.

    vegetables and burger patties on S·KITCHN Nonstick Grill Pan

    It’s also much simpler if the pan in question is dishwasher safe. However, our grill team would still suggest hand washing the pan to get the best clean. If you go for a casted iron grill pan, tossing it in the dishwasher is out of the question, so keep that in mind as well.

    (We've also got tips for cleaning your grill here.)

    How to Use a Grill Pan

    Your best bet to achieving the perfect result is to preheat the grill pan to the optimal temperature depending on the material. Don’t lose patience with cast iron grill pans, as they will surely take longer. Before you start to grill your food, make sure that the heat is evenly distributed and hot enough. Remember to add the oil after the pan has reached the desired temperature.

    FAQ

    What type of grill pan is best?

    A cast iron grill pan is best, as it is highly durable and retains and spreads heat evenly. The downside to a cast iron pan is the cleaning, as it’s not dishwasher safe, and it’s also much heavier than other materials. However, it mimics a real grill rack the best.

    How do I choose a good grill pan?

    You would choose a good grill pan by looking at the shape, size, and material. A square pan holds more food, but a round pan heats more evenly. Choose a rectangular grill pan if you need to cook for a large party. Casted iron is the best material for its durability and heat retention.

    What pans are safe on the grill?

    Ceramic, cast iron, and aluminum pans are safe on the grill. It also depends on what type of grill you have. Induction grills are the least compatible with pan materials, so make sure your pan is labeled as an induction-friendly grill pan if you have this type of grill.

     

    Our Top Pick For aGrill Pan:Cooks Standard Square Grill Pan

    Cooks Standard Grill Pan


    The top spot for the best grill pan goes to the Cooks Standard brand. The Cooks Standard square grill pan  can create the perfect sear on meats and even grilled cheese sandwiches. The pan is nonstick, heavy-duty, and very easy to maneuver as it is lightweight. You can even stick it in the oven as it can handle temperatures up to 500F.

    Expand your grilling knowledge with more of our roundups and guides below:

    Outdoor Cooking Pros
    Outdoor Cooking Pros


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