Omelet Pans

Published January 1, 2009. From Cook's Illustrated.

Overview:

What’s the best pan for making an omelet? Most brands of cookware offer an 8-inch nonstick “omelet” pan, but these are usually just smaller versions of their full-size skillets, with upright sides that make it difficult to turn and roll out a perfect omelet. Traditionally, a French omelet is made in a shallow, curved pan of black steel, which becomes seasoned and increasingly nonstick over time. We began our search by testing a black steel pan, which heated quickly and held its high temperature, turning out two-egg omelets with precision. Unfortunately, this pan didn’t work with our French Omelet recipe, which calls for a tight lid to help cook the eggs through—the pan’s sharply sloping handle made it impossible for lids to fit. Another disadvantage: Black steel pans can never be washed with soap and must be dried completely or they lose the surface seasoning that makes them nonstick.

We also tested a pan made specifically for French omelets, created in 1963 when Julia Child asked The Pot Shop of Boston to design it, and where… read more

What’s the best pan for making an omelet? Most brands of cookware offer an 8-inch nonstick “omelet” pan, but these are usually just smaller versions of their full-size skillets, with upright sides that make it difficult to turn and roll out a perfect omelet. Traditionally, a French omelet is made in a shallow, curved pan of black steel, which becomes seasoned and increasingly nonstick over time. We began our search by testing a black steel pan, which heated quickly and held its high temperature, turning out two-egg omelets with precision. Unfortunately, this pan didn’t work with our French Omelet recipe, which calls for a tight lid to help cook the eggs through—the pan’s sharply sloping handle made it impossible for lids to fit. Another disadvantage: Black steel pans can never be washed with soap and must be dried completely or they lose the surface seasoning that makes them nonstick.

We also tested a pan made specifically for French omelets, created in 1963 when Julia Child asked The Pot Shop of Boston to design it, and where it is still sold today. Well-constructed of thick, heavy-cast aluminum, which maintains consistent heat, the curving shape and gently sloped sides are ideal for omelets. Time and again it produced flawless omelets that were perfectly golden with a creamy center, but the high price tag is a major drawback.

When developing our French Omelet recipe, we used the 8-inch version of our favorite nonstick skillet, whose stainless steel with an aluminum core produced steady, even heat, and its gently curving sides worked well for rolling out omelets, but again, the hefty price tag of $90 made us question whether we should revisit cheaper brands.

After testing three nonstick 8-inch pans (all under $25), we found that one of them—a gently curved model made of hard-anodized aluminum—came closest to replicating the performance of the pricier pans. It was thinner than the high-end pans, making it heat more quickly, but still was able to produce perfect French omelets—at a bargain price.

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  • Product Tested

  • Prices are subject to change.
  • Highly Recommended - Winner

    Original French Chef Omelette Pan

    Julia Child helped design this pan in the style of French omelet pans. The thick cast aluminum heats slowly and evenly, churning out perfectly cooked omelets every time. The shallow slope of the pan’s side makes rolling and turning omelets a breeze. The seasoning instructions are easy to follow, and a spare test kitchen 8-inch pan lid fit, allowing us to make our French omelets with great success. It’s the perfect omelet pan—but at this price, it had better be.

    $139.95

  • Recommended

    KitchenAid Gourmet Essentials Hard Anodized Nonstick Open French Skillet

    Although this pan does not have quite the steady and long-lasting heat of heavier pans, for the price it is a reliable alternative. The hard-anodized material heated quickly and evenly, and the omelets were light and fluffy. The gently sloped sides allowed easy rolling, and our test kitchen lids fit perfectly.

    DISCONTINUED

  • Recommended - BEST BUY

    Farberware Restaurant Pro Open Skillet

    While this pan performed well, the thinner material heated up very quickly, so the eggs coagulated much faster. But to turn out omelets at a restaurant pace, this pan is a good choice.

    $24.39

    BUY NOW Amazon
  • Recommended with Reservations

    French Steel Omelet Pan

    While this pan was terrific with our basic omelet recipe (September 1993) we struggled to get our Perfect French Omelet to cook evenly all the way through, because we couldn’t find a lid that would form a tight seal. But for the low price, this classic-style traditional French pan might be worth adding to your collection. It becomes more nonstick as it acquires seasoning from use, but must be kept perfectly dry, and soap is not recommended. (Enthusiasts tend to hide this pan so it doesn’t end up in the dishwasher by mistake.)

    DISCONTINUED

  • Recommended with Reservations

    Cuisinart Chef’s Classic Nonstick Hard-Anodized Open Skillet

    While the eggs cooked through, testers noticed some hot spots on the pan, making the omelet spotty brown (undesirable in a Perfect French Omelet). Although the manufacturer boasts a “cool grip handle,” it became quite hot after cooking two omelets.

    $19.95

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