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If you are anything like us, then fried foods hold a special place in your heart. From the occasional mozzarella stick to the bi-weekly serving of French fries, we appreciate a well-fried meal as much as the next guy.
But, even though there is a wide variety of meals to satiate our fried food streak, there are only a handful of ways to cook them. Sadly, most of them include lots of saturated fats and other greasy alternatives. PS: If these don’t sound healthy, it’s ’cause they aren’t. But, wait, does this mean that you have to give up your favorite fried bites? Not on our watch!
Let us introduce you to electric skillets, the frying pans of the 21st century. These high-end devices allow you to fry your favorite foods in the healthiest and easiest way possible merely by mimicking a frying pan’s capabilities and pairing them with an oven’s convenience. They are basically everything a lazy (yet health-conscious) chef could ask for. Cool, right?
So, if you are ready to crush your healthy eating goals this year, then here’s everything you need to know about electric skillets, from how to pick the best one to the top 5 options on the market today. Let the frying begin!
What Is An Electric Skillet?
Also referred to as an electric frying pan, an electric skillet is a modern kitchen appliance that is used to fry or cook foods as healthily and evenly as possible. In fact, this device features a built-in heating element that’s powered by electricity and allows the pan to keep a steady temperature throughout a cookout. This unique powering system also allows the electric skillet to function independently off of a stove.
Unlike ordinary frying pans, electric skillets come in a square or -most commonly- a rectangular shape. They are also equipped with heat-insulated “legs” which don’t just prevent injuries but also allow the device to stand on any countertop surface. Most models also include a lid which makes it easier to maintain a steady temperature every time you cook.
Why Use An Electric Skillet?
Cooking on a stovetop is like second nature to most at this point. But, that doesn’t mean that there are no other options which may actually be more convenient and versatile than the good ol’ stove. In fact, these six reasons prove that switching to an electric skillet is not just a smart investment but this tool will turn out to be the single most convenient way to cook/fry your food.
Large Cooking Capacity
Pots and pans are great, but the sad truth is that they don’t stand a chance when you have to feed a hangry (!) crowd. Having enough space to cook food for up to ten people, electric skillets are exactly what you need when you have friends or family over for dinner. After all, who enjoys cooking in batches?
Thanks to its air-tight design (especially when you buy a model with a lid and high-end temp control feats), this cooking appliance can keep a steady cooking temperature for hours simply by “trapping” the heat inside the skillet’s chamber. That means that the food is being cooked to perfection without being exposed to air and losing any of its flavorful juices. Note: This is not always the case when you cook on a stove. Just sayin’.
Even Heat Distribution
As mentioned above, an electric skillet tends to keep most of the heat and food’s juices “trapped” inside the cooking chamber. So, this way, the heat has no choice but to distribute evenly throughout the area and reach every part/side of the soon-to-be-cooked bites. Evenly cooked food? Check!
While convenient to some, frying on a stovetop can be quite messy. Just think of all the oil splashes here and there every time you cook something on a regular frying pan. You get the point! And this is the part where electric skillets make the difference. Given their non-stick surface areas, the top lid and their round-cornered design, these appliances were made to accommodate a mess-free cooking experience.
Less Heat Production
One of the top benefits of owning an electric skillet is that fact that it helps you avoid all the stove heat, especially in the summer. Everyone knows that stovetops produce a little too much heat which can be unbearable during the hotter months of the year. Not an electric skillet, though. This innovative kitchen appliance generates less heat than the traditional oven without cutting back on the cooking quality. So, they are the perfect substitutes.
Even though they are delicious, fried foods are not exactly what you’d call a healthy alternative. And this is not just a matter of the oils you use while cooking; it also has to do with the way the food is prepared. In fact, here’s how it goes.
When you cook food in a frying pan, it gets exposed to air, whether you like it or not. That means that it gets immediately oxidized(1) and many of the food’s nutrients end up being degraded. That’s why fried foods -be they veggies or meat- are known for being less nutritious than their steamed or oven-baked counterparts.
Electric skillets come as a healthy alternative to conventional frying pans merely by not allowing food to get in touch with air, especially during cooking. This way foods retain their original nutrients despite being “fried.”
What to Check When Shopping For An Electric Skillet
Interested in buying an electric skillet for yourself? Chances are you’ll come across a variety of options which may baffle you to bits. To avoid all the stress and confusion that comes with choosing the perfect electric skillet, we’ve rounded up the eight most important things to consider before going ahead with the purchase.
The first thing you need to consider when shopping for an electric skillet is the size. Even though most skillets come with adequate cooking space, you need to think about the number of people you will be cooking for. Once you determine that, choosing the right size is quite easy.
In fact, if you have a family of two to three people, then opt for a standard skillet with a diameter of 9-10”. However, if you want to serve up to six people on a regular basis, then a skillet with a 12-14” diameter is the perfect option. Lastly, if you often host parties and don’t have the luxury to cook in batches, you have no choice but to buy a jumbo-sized electric skillet with a 16-inch diameter.
Maintaining a steady temperature is one of the electric skillet’s most impressive feats. That’s why it’s best to buy one with adjustable temperature add-ons which allow you to control everything that will be going on in the cooking chamber, from sizzling bacon and brewing stews to deep-frying veggies and meat.
Since electric skillets are mostly used for frying foods, then choosing one with a non-stick surface can be a huge time-saver. From preventing food from sticking at the bottom as you cook to making cleaning a piece of cake, a non-stick coating is a big thumbs-up, no matter the model you choose to buy.
This feature is all about convenience. An electric skillet with a removable pan is very easy to clean, not to mention super functional as it takes up less space and can be stored very easily.
Another thing to consider when shopping for an electric skillet is the appliance’s lid. We suggest you opt for a glass one for two obvious reasons. Number 1: You’ll be able to take a peek at your meals as they are being cooked and check if they are ready or not. And number 2: Seeing through the glass spares you losing precious heat and moisture which leak away every time you open the lid. Plus, it looks cool, doesn’t it?
Opting for an electric skillet with heat-resistant handles can be a life-saving decision. This feature keeps you safe while cooking while also increasing the appliance’s durability.
That is not a must-have trait, but it does help make your life easier, especially if you want to deep-fry foods or cook chunky pieces of meat on an occasional basis. In fact, the high sides help you fit any oddly shaped foods in the skillet’s chamber without so much as a worry.
This feature is standard among higher-end models that want to offer something extra to the mix. This spout makes it easier to remove excess liquid from the skillet. Note, though, that it is not an all-important component that your electric skillet should possess, no matter what. It’s more like a bonus feature for those who seek for some extra convenience while cooking.
The 5 Best Electric Skillets, Reviewed
By now, you know which questions to ask to get your hands on the best electric skillet out there. But, why spend hours researching when we’ve done all the work for you? These top 5 electric skillets are by far the best on the market today, not just from a high-end-feature standpoint but also considering their relatively affordable prices. Ready to dive in?
If you are looking for an electric skillet to feed a crowd but still doesn’t need much to get cleaned, then this model is a dream come true. Equipped with a non-stick surface, a built-in spout and a detachable, dishwasher-safe pan, the unique design of this electric skillet make cleaning a breeze. But, let’s find out more about this model (both good and bad).
- Large Cooking Space
This product comes with a 16-inch diameter which means it’s one of the largest types of electric skillets out there. Not only that, but it also features high sidewalls which increase the cooking and serving capacity of the device.
- Built-In Spout
It also comes with a spout which can be used to remove the pan’s liquids from the skillet. This feature may also serve as a spatula/spoon/fork holder during your cooking sessions.
- Non-Stick Surface
Since stirring and moving the foods around isn’t an option when you use an electric skillet, it’s super important to have a pan with a non-stick coating. That prevents your meals from “gluing” to the bottom of the pan and getting burnt.
- Detachable Pan
Being the high-quality skillet that it is, this model comes with a removable pan. That means that you can remove it from the appliance’s base. That makes the whole cleaning process all the more comfortable.
- Easy to Store
This electric skillet also has fold-down handles, a feature that minimizes the device’s size and makes storage as easy as 1,2,3.
According to the manufacturers, certain parts of this electric skillet such as the pan and glass cover are dishwasher-proof, saving lots of cleaning time.
- Glass Lid
It comes with a glass cover which allows you to take a look at the food inside anytime you want without opening the lid and leaking some of the heat and moisture.
- Heat-Insulated Handles
This top-selling electric skillet features heat-proof handles which prevent injuries.
- Low-Quality Coating
According to many previous owners, this model’s non-stick finish tends to wear off after some uses.
- No Adjustable Temp Features
This skillet doesn’t have a built-in temp control system which limits your options when it comes to cooking certain foods. Of course, this doesn’t mean that this model is not efficient. It’s just not as versatile as other models.
If you are on the market for an electric skillet that allows you to take full control of the cooking temperature and also doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, then look no further. This budget-friendly model comes with an adjustable thermometer which grants full access to a variety of cooking options. But, this is just the beginning. Let’s see what else this skillet has in store for you.
- Family-Friendly Size
Even though it comes in a bigger size, this model is known for its 8-inch diameter version. This size is perfect for anyone who lives alone, a couple or a small family of 3-4 people.
- Easy to Clean
Thanks to its compact size, this device is very easy to clean. In fact, all you need is a wet cloth and some soap to rinse off any food leftovers. Then, you dry it with a towel, and you are ready to use it once again. Plus, the lid is dishwasher safe, so you can totally skip cleaning this part.
Contrary to popular belief, electric skillets are not that expensive, and this model is the living proof. Priced below 20$, the Nesco electric skillet can fit anyone’s budget.
- Easy to Store
Given its petite design, this skillet doesn’t take much space. So, you can easily tuck it away in a kitchen cabinet or place it on your countertop.
- Adjustable Temperature Settings
Like most high-end electric skillets, this one features an efficient temperature control system which allows you to take full control of your food’s cooking temperature. That’s especially helpful if you want to do various things with your meals such as reheating leftovers, sizzling bacon, grilling sandwiches or roasting beef, all of which require different levels of heat exposure.
Note, though, that this appliance doesn’t come with degree-based settings. Instead, it comes with number settings which indicate the chamber’s heat from 1 to 5 – just like a stovetop.
Weighing less than 4 pounds, this device is easy to move around. So, if you’re feeling like enjoying your favorite bites during your camping trips (and have a mobile generator), this skillet is a dream come true.
- Vented Glass Lid
This model comes with a glass cover which helps you see inside the chamber and check on the food without opening the lid and letting part of the heat go to waste. It’s also worth mentioning that this the said lid features a tiny vent which allows small amounts of steam to leak from the chamber just for safety reasons. This way there’s no chance that the pressure will build up, forcefully push the lid as well as parts of the food.
- Non-Stick Coating
It also has a non-stick coating which prevents food from sticking to the skillet’s surface and getting burnt.
- Even Heat Distribution
From the high-quality materials to the unique design, this skillet is all about distributing the heat evenly. In fact, the device’s small-ish size favors even cooking by circulating heat practically everywhere, from the center to the edges.
- Heat-Proof Handle
This product has a heat-resistant cover handle which allows you to open the lid without getting burnt and possibly injured.
- Low Heating Power
Occasionally, the device’s heating element fails to deliver as much heat as necessary.
If you want to invest in an electric skillet that can cook your meals in record time, then this model is the real deal. Equipped with a high-quality heating element, De’Longhi’s electric skillet has a reputation for cooking foods more efficiently and evenly than most out there. But, let’s take a closer look at this model’s best and could-be-better qualities.
- Non-Stick Surface
It features a non-stick coating which doesn’t allow foods to stick on the pan’s surface and get burnt. Plus, it makes cleaning a breeze.
- Embedded Heating Element
An embedded heating element is a prefabricated radiant heating module that provides the skillet with enough power to warm up the entire cooking chamber. This way there’s no chance you’ll ever have any cold or super hot spots which may jeopardize the appliance’s efficiency.
- Vent Holes
It also comes with vent holes that let some of the steam out to prevent the pressure from building up and thrusting the glass lid on the top.
- Even Heat Distribution
Thanks to its air-tight cover, this model manages to distribute the produced heat evenly throughout the chamber, making sure your foods are cooked as efficiently as possible.
- See-Through Cover
This electric skillet also has a glass cover which allows you to see the food as it cooks. As a result, you don’t have to open the lid and let heat and moisture escape the chamber.
- Large Cooking Space
Featuring a large cooking chamber, this model is ideal for large families or everyone who loves throwing parties but hates slaving away in the kitchen.
- Cool-Touch Handles
It has heat-insulated handles. Specifically, the materials used don’t allow heat to reach the handles, so you can easily avoid injuries.
- Durable Materials
Made of die-cast aluminum, this electric skillet can withstand very high temperatures without breaking out. This material is also resistant to corrosion which means you may keep it for many years as long as you take good care of it.
- Not Easy to Store
Given its large cooking chamber, this device is not easy to store. So, make sure you invest in it only if you have enough countertop or cabinet space.
If safety is your #1 priority, then this is by far the best electric skillet on the market today. Equipped with tempered glass lid and heat-proof handles, this model makes sure you are 100% protected in case something goes wrong. Plus, it’s super efficient, cooking your meals not just evenly but also quickly. So, here are its top features and some that could use a little work.
- Heat-Resistant Handle
It comes with a cool-touch gripping system that blocks the heat from reaching the handle and burning your hand.
- Huge Cooking Area
Sporting a 16-inch diameter cooking chamber, this model can help you cook, roast, bake or steam anything your heart desires for your upcoming parties or big family meals.
- Quick Heating Time
Thanks to its efficient heating element, this skillet is ready to use in a matter of minutes, helping you cook your favorite meals as quickly as possible.
- Tempered Glass Lid
Besides allowing to take a look at your food as it cooks, a tempered glass lid puts your safety first. That said, there’s zero chance you’ll ever get hurt if the cover accidentally breaks due to quick temperature changes. Why? Simply because tempered glass is more durable than regular glass and tends to shatter into large chunks instead of small fragments with sharp edges which -let’s be honest- are far more dangerous.
- Temperature Probe
It features a user-friendly temperature probe which allows you to set and adjust the chamber’s temp based on what you’re cooking, from eggs to casseroles.
- Heat-Leaking Materials
Since it’s made of thin aluminum, this electric skillet often fails to maintain a steady temperature. That means that it may take longer to cook your food compared to the other models on this list.
If you have a thing for high-tech kitchen equipment and are not afraid to splurge, then this model is a no-brainer. Equipped with the latest technology in the field, this skillet is an excellent choice for those of you who want to experience this type of cooking to the fullest. But, let’s see what makes this electric skillet unique and what you should watch out for.
- Long-Lasting Materials
Since it’s made of stainless steel, this electric skillet is very durable against high temperatures and resistant to time-inflicted corrosion.
- High Temperatures
Unlike many other electric skillets, this one can reach very high temperatures which can go up to 450oF.
- Adjustable Temperature Feature
It comes with a temperature control dial which personalizes your cooking experience without taking a toll on the device’s efficiency.
- Easy to Clean
Certain parts of the skillet such as the lid are dishwasher-safe, sparing you the time and energy. Not only that, but the chamber can be cleaned with a wet cloth, and some soap and it is as good as new.
- Indicator Light
It also comes with an indicator light that turns off when the device reaches the desired temperature.
- Short Cable
The skillet’s cord is rather short, limiting your movement around the kitchen.
- Plastic Temp Control Unit
The device’s temp control unit is covered with plastic, a type of material that can be melted very quickly when exposed to heat. That’s a bit concerning considering the said unit is located near the skillet’s main body. That may cause some trouble along the way. Then again, that a big MAY.
Electric skillets are -by all means- one of the most versatile kitchen appliances. From steaming veggies to roasting beef, this out-of-the-box tool can help you cook practically everything. So, it’s a perfect addition to any kitchen, even that of a newbie. If you are ready to take the next step and buy one these “puppies” for yourself, these top 5 electric skillets are a perfect place to start. Trust us; your taste buds will thank you!