Electric skillet are basically frying pans which are usually square or oblong in shape, and consist of flat cooking surfaces, long insulated handles, and sides flaring outwards. It utilizes electricity to serve its primary function of frying, searing or browning food, thus enabling it to function even without a cooking stove. It is equipped with the capability of frying foods over very high temperatures and distributing heat evenly. These can be as small as a 12 by 12 inch square or a 12- diameter pan and can be as large as an 18 by 18 inch square or an 18- diameter pan. In more advanced electric skillet, cooking temperatures are controlled through an adjustable thermostat which can be easily removed or detached whenever necessary such as when the skillet is washed.
In comparison, non- electric skillet or plain frying pans are usually round-shaped. They require cooking stoves to fry, sear or brown foods, thus unable to distribute heat evenly. The amount of heat in this cooking device cannot be specifically regulated as it is directly proportional to the heat from the stove, unlike electric skillet which are popular for their thermostatic control feature. They usually come in smaller sizes, ranging from 8 inches diameter to 12 inches diameter, making them more useful when cooking. Most, if not all electric skillet are made up of stainless steel or aluminum a coating is usually applied to their surface to make them non-stick.
At present, there are three different types of electric skillet. First are electric skillet with plastic lids. These are convenient for preparing quick meals. Second are with tempered glass lids wherein it is easier to monitor the food being cooked. Lastly, we also have those with stainless steel lids, wherein it’s much easier to clean, maintain, and store.
Except for some foods with high fat content, the surface of the device is coated with a layer of oil to fry food. The layer of oil serves several functions. First, it lubricates device’s surface; Second, it increases the contact or conduction of heat from the device to the food being cooked, thus achieving chemical change in the composition of the food to increase flavor and color. The amount of oil/fat applied varies. When frying beef, chicken or pork for example, the oil is applied in large amounts on the inner surface, but when frying eggs or pancakes, the oil is applied in very small amounts to keep the batter from sticking. Sometimes no amount of oil is needed at all. Some cooking techniques such as blackening or browning as in preparing toasted breads or biscuits only need an intensely high temperature, which quickly cooks the food on the skillet.
Electric skillet have proven to be very helpful and functional compared to the traditional non-electric frying pans, taking into account the convenience that we can derive by just plugging the device to an electric outlet anytime and anywhere we want. Even with the advent of microwave ovens, electric skillet are still used in most kitchens.