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How to Select the Best Electric Skillet

From frying eggs to preparing gourmet meals, an electric skillet is a versatile kitchen appliance that every kitchen must have. This Buzzle article lists the factors you need to consider before selecting an electric skillet to meet your cooking needs.
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Tip to select electric skillet
Did You Know?
The first electric skillets with variable temperature controls were marketed by the Sunbeam company in 1953.
An electric skillet can be used like a regular frying pan to sear, grill, cook, fry, and heat food items quickly. Mostly made of non-stick coated aluminum, or stainless steel, electric skillets have temperature controls that allow you to heat food evenly besides helping you maintain specific temperatures while cooking.

Some of the features that make it a versatile kitchen appliance is that it cooks food quickly and evenly, making it a perfect companion for meals that otherwise take up a lot of time. Besides, it does not end up heating or adding to the heat in the kitchen making it perfect to cook meals during the summers. Given below are the factors you need to consider before you select the best electric skillet.

Dimensions
Before you begin, it makes sense to check the dimensions of the skillet. You might want to consider the free space available on the kitchen counter as well as the number of people you have to serve on a regular basis. Do keep in mind that a large skillet is capable of preparing large portions of food in a relatively lesser amount of time. A 12-inch skillet for that matter will help you cook a large steak easily, while anything smaller than a 10-inch pan can be used to effectively grill a sandwich or fry two eggs at the most.

Apart from the size, you also need to pay attention to the shape of the skillet. Skillets are either circular, oblong, square, or rectangular in shape. While circular and squared skillets are easier to store, oval and rectangular skillets provide you with more cooking space than round pans, thus, allowing you to cook more items at a given time.

Construction Material
When selecting an electric skillet, ensure that it is coated with non-stick material. While most models are Teflon-coated aluminum pans, you will also find stainless-steel models that are more durable and relatively warp proof. Do make sure to invest in a skillet whose handles and legs are made from heat-resistant material, thus, eliminating the need to use oven mitts while moving the skillet from the kitchen to the dining area.

Temperature Controls
An important feature of electric skillets is their ability to control the cooking temperature. Skillets used specifically for deep frying need to reach a temperature of at least 450 degrees Fahrenheit while those that barely reach 400 degrees Fahrenheit can be effectively used as a wok to stir-fry food. Skillets that provide a high- and low-heat option, along with a warm setting that will help keep food warm long after the cooking process is complete, is definitely worth investing in.

Lid Options
An important and indispensable feature of an electric skillet is its lid. Skillet lids can either be made of glass or from the same material as the pan. Needless to say, a glass lid will help you see the food as it is being cooked, thus, trapping heat within the skillet, while a solid cover will result in a little loss of heat every time you lift the lid to check if the food is done. Apart from the construction of the lid, it makes sense to pay attention to the height of the lid's dome. A lid with a higher dome will help you cook large food items and meats with ease.

Drainage Spouts and Steam Vents
Looks apart, an electric skillet is meant to serve a practical purpose, that of cooking meals sans extra grease. Drain spouts help drain the excess broth or grease from the meal being cooked in the pan, while steam vents on the lid prevent pressure from building inside the pan, thus, minimizing the risk of gravy leaks and spills.

Additional Features
Look for skillets with high walls that will allow you to not only accommodate larger amounts of food, but also cook whole chicken and large roasts with ease. A skillet with high sides will allow you to easily deep-fry and braise food. Ideally, you should look for a skillet that has sloped-sides that will make stirring the food easier. That said, another feature you ought to look out for is a lid lock, this will ensure the liquid does not spill while moving the hot skillet around.

Cleaning Concerns
For obvious reasons, you would want a skillet that is easy to clean and maintain. Models which separate the heat controls from the pan are an ideal choice for those of you who wish to use the dishwasher for cleaning. Ideally, you should be able to detach the electric cord from the unit before you begin cleaning the pan.

Best Buys
Cuisinart Electric Skillet CSK-150
Presto 06852 16-inch Electric Skillet with Glass Cover
Cuisinart GreenGourmet Electric 14-inch Skillet CSK-250
Rival 11-inch Square Skillet
Hamilton Beach 38540 16-inch Step Up Skillet

Last but not the least, it is important that you purchase a skillet that suits your needs. Which is why, you need to take into consideration your cooking style. While cooking, if you leave a lot of residue behind, you might want to invest in a skillet that is made from stainless-steel instead of a non-stick coated aluminum surface.
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Published: February 5, 2014
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