Best Nonstick Frying Pans for $40 or Less

CR's tests find six inexpensive nonstick skillets that can take the heat

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Finally, nonstick skillets that aren’t a flash in the pan. Consumer Reports’ tests have found some inexpensive nonstick frying pans that are keepers. Fried eggs easily slide out of each pan, one after another. Cleanup is a cinch. The clincher? These pans range in price from $15 to $40.

"Food cooks evenly in all these pans, and each handle stays cool to the touch," says Cindy Fisher, who oversees Consumer Reports’ cookware tests. "Even after we roughed up the pan in our tests, eggs slid out with just a nudge or two."

Our lab kitchen heats up when our experts put frying pans to the test. We evaluate both nonstick and uncoated pans for how well they turn out evenly browned pancakes, and how well nonstick surfaces release fried eggs when the pan is new—and then again when the coating is worn.

We assess a handle’s sturdiness and how hot it gets when you’re cooking. We test the durability of nonstick surfaces with a machine that rubs steel wool over the coating until it has worn through or up to 2,000 strokes, whichever comes first. We used to test nonsticks for how easy they are to clean, but they've performed so well as a group that we no longer run that test (although nonsticks do require some special care in general, such as avoiding the use of metal utensils and cooking spray).

Here, listed alphabetically, are impressive 10-inch nonstick frying pans that sell for $40 or less. All come with a lifetime warranty. Keep in mind that prices can fluctuate, so you may see a pan here for a bit more than $40—or even much less.

For more choices, see our full cookware ratings and recommendations and our cookware buying guide.

CR’s take: The AmazonBasics pan earns top marks for cooking evenness. The handle isn't the sturdiest, but it does stay cool to the touch when you're working. In our food release test, eggs slid easily out of the pan one after the other. This pan earns a Very Good rating in our durability test, for which we run steel wool over the pan 2,000 times, so it's made to last.

CR's take: This set from Kenmore, a newcomer to our tests, comes with two frying pans—a 9-inch and an 11-inch. Our test pancakes came out nicely browned, earning this pan an Excellent rating in cooking evenness. Eggs slid easily out of the pan, one after another. It held up well in our durability test. The handle stays cool to the touch when you’re cooking, but like many pans in this price range, it's not that sturdy. These pans can be used on an induction cooktop.

CR’s take: Cooking evenness in this 10-inch pan from the Martha Stewart Collection was top-notch, earning it an Excellent rating in our pancake test. But it took more than a gentle nudge to release the eggs we fried. It held up pretty well in the durability test. The handle stays cool to the touch but could become wobbly over time. It can’t be used on an induction cooktop.

CR’s take: You might know Ninja for its blenders or the Ninja Foodi multicooker. Now the brand has made a foray into other kitchen gear, like this Ninja Foodi frying pan. The pancakes we cooked were uniformly brown, earning the pan an Excellent rating in the cooking evenness test. But our fried eggs had to be nudged out of the pan. It held up well in our durability test, though some pans do better. The handle stays cool to the touch but was only so-so in the sturdiness test. This pan is compatible with an induction cooktop.

CR’s take: The Red Copper nonstick pan is made of aluminum, and the coating is copper-colored. The pan earns Excellent ratings for both heating evenness and food release, two things you want in a nonstick pan. The handle isn't very sturdy, but it does stay cool to the touch when you’re cooking.

CR's take: Is it a frying pan or is it an action hero? Joking, of course, but The Rock by Starfrit is a star in our cooking evenness test, earning an Excellent rating. That means pancakes come out evenly browned every time. It's almost as good in our food release test, so you can fry eggs one after another and they'll easily slide out of the pan. The handle stays cool to the touch but isn't as sturdy as some in our tests. And this pan held up well in our durability test, so it should last longer than some other low-priced pans.

Mary H.J. Farrell

Knowing that I wanted to be a journalist from a young age, I decided to spiff up my byline by adding the middle initials "H.J." A veteran of online and print journalism, I've worked at People, MSNBC, Ladies’ Home Journal, Good Housekeeping, and an online Consumer Reports wannabe. But the real thing is so much better. Follow me on Twitter.