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Whether you love thin crepes, drizzled with lemon juice and sugar, or a fat, fluffy American pile-up of pancakes, drowning in syrup with rashers of bacon on the side, there's no denying: pancakes are one of the best breakfasts around.
They're not difficult to get right, either. You simply need a great recipe (you'll likely have your own favourite) and a good quality pan. You don't need to buy a pan specifically for pancakes, of course. Any general purpose frying pan that is genuinely non-stick will serve you when making pancakes.
However, if you want an easy ride – a flat, shallow pan, with a small lip, makes it easiest to flip a pancake.
Additionally, heat distribution will help you to a perfect fluffy tower, or wafer thin crepes. This is why pancake pans are thinner than regular pans: they heat quick and have fewer 'hot spots', allowing you to cook your cakes quickly and evenly.
If you are after a pancake pan designed for purpose, we've found the best ones available. Those selected work with both American-style mixes, and thin crepes, as both types of batter require a pan that heats up well and evenly, and is easy to handle.
We recommend going for a rubberised handle where possible – not a cast iron one – as pancake pans get very hot. A rubber handle won't conduct this heat, meaning you can flip to your heart's content without having to wear an oven glove.
Pancake pans are useful for more general cooking, too. Their non-stick nature makes them good for anyone hoping to cook with minimal oil (we sauté vegetables in ours). They're ideal for cooking omelettes and flash-frying fish, too.
We have included some cast iron pans, that will require a dab of butter ahead of cooking, but most of the pans below are non-stick, and will serve you well in the kitchen to cook other forms of dishes that benefit from a shallow fry.
Here are our favourites.
Staub is now equal place in people's estimations with Le Creuset as the covetable kitchenware – high-performance, and stylish as all get out.
This elegant pan will create the crepes of your dreams. With even heat conduction, you can use it on any stove top. The wooden handle looks great and is easy to hold.
If you have a T-shaped spreader, like the professionals, this wide pan will allow you to spread your batter with aplomb. And that thin-lip is ideal for the all-important clip.
It's cast iron, not non-stick, so you'll need a smear of butter – but that does make for tastier pancakes.
The eco-credentials on this pan are seriously impressive: made with recycled materials, fully recyclable, PFOA or palm oil-free – oh, and for every pan sold, they plant a tree.
All this would be moot if it wasn't a good pan, but thankfully it is. Although, as a regular pan, it has a wide lip, it's so impressively non-stick it was born for batter. We've cooked both fluffy American-style pancakes in this one, and slim crepes – the silky texture of the pan surface made both types a cinch to flip, and the even heat lead to perfectly crisp cakes.
Added bonus: this is a dishwasher safe pan, and ideal for stir-frying vegetables. A very sound investment for both your pancake and regular food cooking needs.
If you're a master at tossing, this crepe pan will delight. The non-stick surface is brilliant – you won't need a skerrick of oil. It's lighter than it looks, and the handle is soft-touch and stays cool, so you can flip with abandon.
Thin lipped and wide, this really is ideal for fulfilling flipping fantasies. It can also go into the oven (up to 170 degrees C), so you can keep your stack warm. A great, inexpensive choice.
If you're a chef that simply has to have the best, hang the cost, this is the pancake pan of your dreams. It's non-stick surface is reinforced to three layers – this is a silky smooth pan, there's no oil required here.
Although it has a stainless steel handle, it is curved, and hollow, so it won't heat up – but it does mean you can place this pan into the oven up to 260 degrees C, handy if you want to finish off thicker dishes like a Dutch Baby or okonomiyaki .
Cleaning is also blissfully swift: just wipe the surface and you're done.
It's a pretty pan, and it will serve you well for a lifetime (it comes with a lifetime guarantee, too, so Le Creuset are prepared to back us up).
We are generally loath to recommend extra appliances (our kitchen is bursting at the seams, anything that is not multi-purpose has no place here – literally), but this gadget is a superb little performer.
Compact and non-stick, there's no flipping involved – just pour the batter in and wait. You'll be rewarded with fluffy, American style pancakes. A fool-proof tool if you like your stacks tall and smothered in maple syrup.