Cooking fish can be a delicate and finicky process. Any decent cook will tell you that making awesome quality meals at home begins with having the right tools for the job. Sharp, reliable knives and other utensils are critical. But what about pans for cooking fish?
Pans For Cooking Fish
The best pans for cooking fish are those that can withstand hot temperatures and have excellent heat distribution. Another high priority when looking for a fish frying pan is a non-stick surface. You also want one that is easy to clean. A high quality pan won’t just be good for fish, either, and will prove very useful for a variety of different meals.
So if you want to start churning out beautiful meals for the whole family, and fish is a priority on the menu, look no further than our handy guide to the best pans for cooking fish.
How to Choose the Best Fry Pan for Fish
Very few things are more satisfying than a succulent, juicy piece of fish. You might love a firm, flaky white fish, or a beautifully pan seared tuna steak. Getting the right frying pan is a key piece of the puzzle to making your fish dreams come true.
You don’t want to fork out good money for a disappointing frying pan that yields less than stellar results. If you’re looking for the perfect frying pan for cooking fish, consider our list of what to look for below.
What are the Best Pans for Cooking Fish?
Many kitchens have a single frying pan to fulfil every cooking job. While this is OK much of the time, fish has a few characteristics that will make you want to consider using a dedicated fish pan.
When you’re cooking fish, you want to get a perfect sear on the outside without the fish falling apart or sticking to your pan.
❗ To accomplish this, you’ll need a pan that heats and cools quickly, to give you flexibility in your cooking temperatures. Your frying pan should have even heat distribution, with enough room to turn the fish easily without it falling apart in the pan.
Once you have a good frying pan for your fish, you’ll be using it for just about everything else, too. Quality cookware will truly elevate your cooking.
What are the factors involved in choosing a good frying pan?
First and foremost, you need a pan of the right size for your kitchen. They come in many shapes and sizes, and your choice of pan depends on how you plan to use it.
When it comes to fish, they come in a variety of shapes and sizes, too. A whole trout can get up to a foot long. Salmon can run even larger! If you want to cook fish steaks or fillets, you can cut them down to size. Generally speaking, the biggest restriction on size is the space you have in the kitchen. A bigger storage space means you can have bigger pans.
It’s critical that you choose the correct cooking surface for your purposes.
- ❗You’ll need a pan that can retain heat well, and that can evenly distribute heat through your fish. A pan that goes cold when fish hits it won’t be good for cooking.
- You also need to choose if you want a flat pan or a ridged surface. A ridged pan for cooking fish gives it the distinctive, caramelized lines of seared skin. Delicious!
- A flat cooking surface, on the other hand, gives you more even heat distribution. It will crisp up the whole fish skin.
Non Stick Pans
The other major factor is that you need a durable non stick surface.
Fish is a delicate food, and will fall apart easily during the cooking process. Fish that gets stuck to the pan will fall apart. This is even more true of delicate fish like mackerel or snapper.
Unfortunately, many non-stick surfaces are not so good for a nice sear.
Fortunately, there are many solutions to this. Chief among them is that fish does not require an extremely high temperature to sear. A non stick pan can get hot enough to give you that crispy golden skin we all love. You can also use a light covering of oil to help sear your fish perfectly.
You can also use a non-stick pan to cook your fish. You’ll need some oil, and you’ll need to take good care to prevent your fish from sticking or falling apart.
To stop the fish from sticking to the pan, be sure to add the oil to a pan that is already hot. When your fish is cooking, do not move it until it is seared and will release easily.
Cast iron pans have a devoted following among cooking enthusiasts. Inexperienced cooks and chefs, however, might be intimidated by the steep learning curve of using a cast iron pan. Nothing beats a cast iron pan for the perfect sear, but the surface is far from non-stick.
Cast iron is also known for being high-maintenance, requiring you to take good care of it. If you’re getting a cast iron pan, you’ll need to know how to look after it.
Do not let this rule the cast iron pan out! You might need to use oil to prevent your fish from sticking, and your cooking technique will be more demanding, but with practice and intent, you can perfectly cook fish on cast iron.
If you don’t feel ready for cast iron, carbon steel is a nice alternative.
While these pans are lighter in weight than cast iron, that means they respond more quickly to temperature changes.
❗ Carbon steel also has some natural non-stick properties, but you’ll need to season your surface every so often to maintain this surface.
Over time, carbon steel pans will become discolored and rusty. They also must be hand-washed and cannot go in the dishwasher.
For cooking fish, however, carbon steel can offer excellent results.
Just remember that acidic substances will damage the surface of your carbon steel pan. Avoid marinades and sauces with lemon juice, vinegar, wine, and tomatoes.
Non-stick pans are by far the most popular in most homes. They let you fry food without too much oil, and make cleaning very easy.
❗ If you want a non-stick frying pan to cook fish, find one with a ceramic or stone-derived coating, such as a copper stone pan.
These can withstand high temperatures.
Avoid non-stick pans with Teflon or similar substances which cannot withstand high heat.
Hard Anodized Pans
“Hard anodized” is a term that refers to the process of using aluminum to create a hard, durable cooking surface on the pan. The aluminum coating is immersed in a chemical bath, to which an electrical current is applied. This oxidizes the metal, giving it natural corrosion resistance. The cooking surface is then tougher, with some non stick properties, and an immunity to scratching from utensils.
Maintenance and Ease of Cleaning
It’s also important to be able to easily clean your pans. The last thing you want to do after a delicious fish dinner is slave away over the sink.
The easiest pans to clean are the non-stick pans that can wipe clean in a matter of seconds. Other pans can be easy to clean, too, if you prevent your fish from sticking to the pan.
Be careful of whether your pans are hand wash only or if they are dishwasher safe. Handwashing generally improves the lifespan of your cooking surface regardless.
Be wary of any ridges or gaps where food can get caught and be difficult to clean out.
Also bear in mind that cast iron or carbon steel pans require regular maintenance, in the form of seasoning, to stay useful. This is a fairly simple process that is worth undertaking, but it will take time.
You probably don’t need a different frying pan for every single type of food you make. Most frying pans can be used for a variety of different foods. If your kitchen is low on space, definitely opt for a multifunctional frying pan that can do more than one job, including braising, sautéing, and even oven roasting.
11 Best Pans for Cooking Fish
1. Michelangelo 12 Inch Non-stick Copper Frying Pan With Lid
This is a high-performing, easy to use, durable pan that consistently delivers great results. Its ceramic-titanium coating is non-stick and very scratch-resistant. Its aluminum alloy base conducts heat quickly and evenly, without any overly hot spots, and its long stainless steel handle is easy to use. You can hang it by the loop for easy storage. It’s also oven safe, up to 450 F. It can safely be used on all stove types.
2. Neoflam MyPan 11” Ceramic Non-stick Frying Fish Pan With Detachable Handle
This award-winning frying pan for fish comes with an innovative detachable handle, meaning you can take it from the stovetop and pop it into the oven, or use it to serve food at the table.
Its shape allows it to hold two reasonable-sized fish or four smaller fish. It is coated in naturally-sourced Ecolon non-stick coating, with a cast aluminum body.
It also offers excellent heat distribution.
3. T-fal Hard Anodized Titanium Fry Pan With Lid
This durable, versatile pan has a durable hard titanium reinforced non-stick surface that is scratch resistant. It retains and distributes heat well and comes with a Thermo spot indicator, taking the guesswork out of your cooking.
It also comes with a lid, allowing you to add sauces and marinades to your fried fish.
4. Bruntmor Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron 16″ Skillet
This cast iron pan gives great heat distribution and consistent results. It comes pre-seasoned so you can use it straight away. It is easier to maintain and will last a lifetime with the right amount of care and maintenance.
5. Rachael Ray Brights Hard Anodized Non-stick Frying Pan
This oval pan is great for frying fish. The pan also comes with a lid which allows you to saute with it, and it’s oven safe to 350 F, and can go in the dishwasher.
Its non stick coating is aided by hard anodized construction so it’s durable and great for heat distribution.
6. Moss & Stone Copper 5 Piece Set Chef Cookware
This versatile cookware set can handle just about anything you can throw at it. It comes witha fryer basket that fits inside for deep frying and a steaming tray.
You can use this pan to broil, sauté, fry, steam, braise, deep fry, and, as it is oven-safe, you can roast and bake food in it.
As a downside, this pan is only 9.5” square, so it won’t be great for larger fish pieces.
7. De Buyer Nonstick Fish Frying Pan
This fish frying pan has a cast iron base and a non stick surface. It is preseasoned with beeswax so you can cook and clean it easily.
This pan is also over 12 inches in diameter so it’s a great size for frying fish. It has the advantages of a cast iron pan and you don’t need to worry about your food sticking to the cooking surface, and can go in the oven up to 350 F.
8. Granite Stone Diamond Nonstick Family Frying Pan
This massive 14 inch frying pan has a durable Granite Stone Diamond technology non stick surface. It’s scratch resistant and will go on pretty much any cooktop, and will withstand the oven up to 550 F.
9. MasterPan Non-Stick Stovetop Oven Grill Pan With Lid
This pan offers the griddled effect for your fish. Its griddle bars are both low and wide so you’ll get good heat distribution across the stripes.
Its lid also retains heat while allowing steam to escape so you won’t accidentally poach your fish.
10. GreenPan Venice Pro Tri-Ply Stainless Steel Ceramic Nonstick 10″ Frying Pan
GreenPan uses a diamond infused ceramic non stick coating. You can use it with metal utensils, with no toxic chemicals. It’s suitable for all stovetops, including induction, and oven and broiler safe up to 600°F, so you can use it for just about anything.
11. Ecowin Nonstick Grill Frying Pan
Our final pan is made with 4mm thick forged aluminum covered with a durable Whitford non-stick coating so it can withstand the high temperatures necessary for an awesome sear.
It also has an ergonomic Bakelite handle, and can be used on all cooktops. Its durable non stick surface will be damaged by metal utensils, however. It’s also lighter than many other pans, perfect for smaller individuals who struggle with big cast iron pans.