What is an Electric Skillet?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

An electric skillet is just as it sounds, a skillet or frying pan that instead of being placed on the stove is heated by plugging it into an outlet. The best skillets provide an even heating surface, not always the case with stovetop cooking.

Electric skillets work well for buffets.
Electric skillets work well for buffets.

The electric skillet may be round or square in shape. One variant that is very popular is the electric wok, making stir-frying quite simple. In the past many stoves featured a center griddle, useful for making pancakes or french toast, but now to save space, few stoves offer this feature. An electric griddle, similar to a skillet, may be just the thing for cooking pancakes, because of its even heat features. Pancakes made in a pan on the stove are frequently challenging because pans often have hot spots.

Pancakes are a popular food item made using an electric skillet.
Pancakes are a popular food item made using an electric skillet.

The size of the electric skillet can be as little as a 12 by 12 inch (30.48cm) square or a 12-inch diameter round pan. Some may be considerably larger, about 18 inches (45.72 cm) per side or featuring an 18-inch diameter. They really are very useful when they can be purchased in this size, because this normally exceeds the diameter of pans you can put on a stove. Make sure that you have enough room to safely house one of the larger skillets.

Stir-fries can be sauteed quickly in an electric wok.
Stir-fries can be sauteed quickly in an electric wok.

The electric skillet may feature temperature control, have a non-stick surface and be dishwasher safe. Just don’t forget to remove the plug that plugs into the wall before putting it into the dishwasher! Some also have a “keep warm” function, which allows food to be kept slightly warm, similar to a chafing dish, if dinner needs to be delayed. This chafing dish feature allows electric skillets to work well for buffets.

Most electric skillets are made of aluminum with non-stick coatings. A few may be stainless steel. Don’t forget that with any non-stick coating, you should not use metal stirring or serving utensils, as these will scratch the coating. If your coating begins to flake, it’s time to get a new skillet.

If you have young children, you should be careful when using an electric skillet, and any area where you plan to use it should be off limits. Keep the skillet far back from the edge of counters so little hands can’t accidentally pull it down. When you’re using an electric skillet the stovetop might seem the natural place to place it. But, if you’re cooking other things on the stove, or in the oven, this additional heat could pose a fire hazard. A safer method is to cook with the skillet near the stove, but not on the stovetop.

Some electric skillets are dishwasher-safe provided the plug is removed before washing.
Some electric skillets are dishwasher-safe provided the plug is removed before washing.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments

anon82495

i love the electric skillet. my mom and i use it all the time. and it is great for when i want to cook breakfast food. i can put the eggs hash browns and sausage all in it at the same time. it is amazing.

herffm

I was reading a recipe that said cook dish covered in 350 oven for 50-55 min. Later it stated that the person uses her electric skillet (still bake at 350), this way she plugged it in and kept it warm. Was she referring to transferring the dish to the electric skillet for warming after baking in oven or can you cook the dish in the electric skillet at 350 and not use the oven.

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