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If you're lacking in backyard space or facing less-than-ideal weather for an alfresco barbecue session, you can still enjoy your favorite grilled meats and veggies if you have a good grill pan. And while we know that a grill pan won't exactly give you the smoky, flame-broiled quality of an outdoor grill, they still give your food gorgeous sear marks and drain away excess oil, keeping your well-marbled steaks and sliders flavorful, yet not swimming in grease.
In addition to cooking meat and plant-based meat substitutes, a grill pan is an excellent tool for preparing summer veggies or toasting bread and sandwiches. There are so many different styles, sizes, and materials to choose from when it comes to finding the ideal pan, but we've researched them so you don't have to.
Read on for our round-up of the best grill pans to help bring the grilling experience to the great indoors.
Best Overall: Lodge Cast Iron Reversible Grill/Griddle LPGI3
Can be used as a grill or griddle
Ready to use out of the box
Special care required to maintain seasoning
This grill pan takes the place of two—or more. One side is a ridged grill pan and the other side is a flat griddle. Use the grill side for steaks, burgers, and anytime you want grill marks. The griddle side can be used for pancakes, bacon, grilled cheese sandwiches, heating tortillas, and even a classic British cheese toastie. Put it in the oven to use it as a pizza pan for small pizzas, too.
This is a large pan that will fit over two burners, so you’ll have plenty of space for cooking for a crowd, or cook on half of the pan while keeping the other portion less hot for keeping cooked foods warm. Since it is made from cast iron, it retains heat and cooks evenly. It comes pre-seasoned so it can be used right away, but the nonstick properties improve with additional seasoning and use. Our reviewer noted that its slim profile also made it easy to store.
This versatile pan can also be used on your grill, for cooking foods that might be small enough to fall through the grates, like veggies. However, it is not suitable for all glass-top stoves, so check the stove’s manual to make sure it’s safe.
Material: Cast iron | Oven Max: 500+ degrees | Induction Ready: Yes | Dishwasher Safe: No
"It heats evenly and retains the heat, so you’ll get consistent cooking and impressive searing or grill marks." — Donna Currie, Product Tester
Best Budget: Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Grill Pan With Assist Handle, 10.5 inch, Black
Maintains heat extremely well
Requires special care as with all cast iron
If the Lodge double-burner grill is a little too large for your needs, you can get the same performance with this 10.5-inch cast iron grill pan, also by Lodge. Constructed of a durable steel and carbon alloy, this heavy-duty pan is nearly indestructible and retains heat extremely well. The sear quality on this pan is unmatched—it's an ideal pick for making near-restaurant quality steaks at home since you can start them on the stove and finish them in the oven under the broiler.
Cast iron pans like this can be used on any cooking surface, even induction and open flames. This pan comes pre-seasoned, so it's ready to use immediately. Like with all cast iron pans, a little maintenance is required to keep up the seasoning and preserve its nonstick quality, but it can last a lifetime.
Material: Cast iron | Oven Max: 500+ degrees | Induction Ready: Yes | Dishwasher Safe: No
Best Ceramic: Greenpan Paris 11-Inch Hard Anodized Nonstick Square Grill Pan
Scratch-resistant ceramic nonstick coating
Ergonomic riveted handle
Nonstick properties will lessen with time
If you'd like a nonstick pan, but want to be sure your choice is eco-friendly, then opt for this ceramic pan by GreenPan, a leading manufacturer in ceramic cookware. This pan is made without PFAS, PFOA, lead, and cadmium, so it will not release fumes, even on high heat.
This pan has a durable hard-anodized body, and the trademarked Thermolon lining in GreenPan's Paris collection is reinforced by diamonds, making it extra resistant to scratches. This grill pan features a riveted stainless steel handle, and the entire pan is oven safe up to 600 degrees and good for all cooktops except for induction.
The ceramic coating is nonstick, allowing you to reduce or eliminate the use of additional oil for easier release. Confidently grill chicken, vegetables, and more, and clean up easily by using the dishwasher or simply hand washing.
Material: Ceramic-coated aluminum | Oven Max: 600 degrees | Induction Ready: No | Dishwasher Safe: Yes, but hand washing recommended
Best Round Nonstick: Calphalon Signature Hard Anodized Nonstick
Lighter and easier to handle than cast iron
Oven safe to 500 degrees
Resists scratches from metal utensils
Gets harder to clean with time
This round pan from Calphalon will fit your burners, while the nonstick surface makes cooking and cleanup much easier. Made of hard-anodized aluminum, this pan is much lighter than a similar cast iron pan, so it’s easier to handle. The nonstick interior is metal utensil safe, so you don’t need to worry about using a metal spatula to retrieve your burger. This model is also oven safe up to 500 degrees, so you can finish off steaks in the oven after searing.
The brushed stainless steel handle stays cool during stovetop cooking, and for easy cleaning, the pan is dishwasher safe.
Material: Hard anodized aluminum | Oven Max: 500 degrees | Induction Ready: No | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
Best Deep: Anolon Advanced Hard Anodized Nonstick Square Griddle Pan/Grill
Spacious with high sides to prevent splatter
Easy to clean
Oven safe only to 400 degrees
Takes a while to get used to
Most grill pans have low sides, but this one has high sides that help protect from splattering, whether you’re using this on the stove or in the oven at up to 400 degrees. The high sides also let you use the pan for sauces when grilling is done and makes it even more useful for roasting juicy chicken or roasts.
The nonstick surface is metal utensil safe and offers superior food release and easy cleanup, The handle is designed to be comfortable, with a secure rubberized grip that stays cool during cooking, and it has dual rivets for security. A channel around the outer edges of the pan collects and holds liquids, while the pour spouts on either side of the pan make it easy to drain those excess fats and liquids.
Our reviewer found that using this pan required some trial and error to figure out where the "sweet spot" was in terms of heat. Once you've figured it out, it makes beautiful char marks on whatever you're cooking, from steaks to French toast.
Material: Hard anodized aluminum | Oven Max: 400 degrees | Induction Ready: No | Dishwasher Safe: No
"It has a ‘sweet spot’ in terms of heat, and if you’ve never used a grill pan before, it may take a while to figure it out." — Camryn Rabideau, Product Tester
Best Korean Style: TeChef Stovetop Korean BBQ Nonstick Grill Pan
Large surface area
Lightweight aluminum heats well
Drains away grease
Does not work on all stoves
Question about durability of nonstick over time
This Korean-inspired grill pan is designed for tabletop cooking, using a portable burner (not included). Made from heavy-gauge aluminum with a nonstick surface and a unique swirled channel design, you can use this to make all of your Korean barbecue favorites from thinly sliced beef to hearty pork belly.
The dome-shaped bottom drains fats away from the food and a hole in the pan drains the fat completely, but you’ll need to make sure you’ve got a small cup or bowl ready to catch the drippings. Because of the hole, this shouldn’t be used on a standard cooktop.
Material: Cast aluminum | Oven Max: 450 degrees | Induction Ready: No | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
Best Pan with Press: Staub Enameled Cast Iron Grill Pan & Press
Heats quickly and evenly
Oven safe to 500 degrees
Works with all cook tops
While you certainly could use any grill pan to grill a panini, this heavy-duty 12-inch pan makes it much easier, since it includes a 10.3-inch press. But its use isn't limited to hot sandwiches—the included heavyweight press is just as handy for pressing a spatchcocked chicken to mimic the “under a brick” cooking method. And of course, you don’t need to use the press when grilling burgers, steaks, and more.
Made in France using thick cast iron, this virtually unbreakable pan heats evenly and retains heat well. It features a smooth enameled exterior and a slightly textured matte black interior that promotes browning. The pan is oven safe to 500 degrees, so you can use it for finishing your steaks, or for a small roast. While this pan's price point is on the steep side, it is a piece that is built to last—you'll be able to hand this down to future generations.
Material: Cast iron | Oven Max: 500 degrees | Induction Ready: Yes | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
What to Look for in a Grill Pan
You’ll find grill pans in a wide range of shapes and sizes, so it’s important to consider your needs. While bigger might seem better for times when you’re serving guests, a larger pan will also take up more storage space.
Like other cooking pans, there are pros and cons to different grill pan materials. Cast iron heats evenly, retains heat well, and can be used on induction cooktops, but it can be heavy. Aluminum, usually with a nonstick or another coating, heats quickly, is lighter in weight, and is responsive to heat changes, but all-aluminum pans can’t be used on an induction cooktop.
Because of the ridges and grooves, grill pans can be a little more difficult to clean than flat pans. Pans with a nonstick coating are easier to clean, but might not fare well with aggressive scrubbing or when metal utensils are used. Uncoated pans can withstand more aggressive scrubbing, but food might stick more frequently. Some pans are also dishwasher safe, which makes cleaning easier.
How do you use a grill pan?
You'll want to preheat your grill pan according to the pan's material. Note that cast iron grill pans will require a longer preheating time, but will retain heat better than their aluminum counterparts. Whatever your pan is made of, you'll want to make sure your pan is evenly and adequately heated over medium to medium-high heat, then you can start grilling your meat or vegetables.
Can you use a grill pan on an electric stovetop?
Yes. Grill pans work better on gas stoves, but that doesn't mean you can't use it on electric or induction cooktops. Just be aware of any uneven heating so you know if there are any hot spots on your grill pan as you cook.
Do you need to season a grill pan?
Many of today's grill pan options come with nonstick surfaces, so you won't have to season those. Some of the cast iron options arrive pre-seasoned, so all you'll have to worry about is maintaining your seasoning. If you have a bare cast iron grill pan, learn everything you need to know about seasoning and upkeep by reading this guide on How to Season or Cure Cast Iron.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Donna Currie is a food writer and product tester for The Spruce Eats. A self-professed "kitchen geek," she's written many roundups on a range of essential kitchen items, from the best Thanksgiving gadgets to the top seafood kitchen tools of the year.
This piece was edited by Bernadette Machard de Gramont, an LA-based writer who specializes in global food and wine content. After a 2-year stint at Williams-Sonoma Headquarters in San Francisco, she now researches and tests a variety of cookware, bakeware, and wine tools, and interviews field experts for their insight