If you love to cook and spend time in the kitchen preparing your favorite dishes, then you can probably agree that using the best nonstick pans can make all the difference in terms of how your food turns out and how easy cleanup is after making a meal. But not all nonstick cookware is created equal. In fact, many lower-priced pans have a reputation for chipping and peeling easily, after just a few months of use. So, if you’re tired on wasting money on a nonstick pan that’s going to need to be replaced every six months or so, then this buyer’s guide will be invaluable. This guide that I’ve put together includes all the information you need to know that can prevent you from buying those same old low quality nonstick pans that can’t handle daily use. I’ve also tested several of the best-selling nonstick pans on the market, narrowing it down to six pans that are perfect for daily use and come equipped with the type of quality nonstick coating that will make your life a little easier. Below, you’ll find a comparison chart that includes each of the pans that landed on my list, how they rated, and other important information you need to know before you buy.
Nonstick Pans Comparison Chart
Cuisinart 622-30G Chef’s Classic Nonstick Skillet
This 12-inch pan by Cuisinart is made with anodized aluminum that’s harder and denser than stainless steel. The handles are made out of stainless steel that will remain cool to the touch, so you can handle the pan, without getting burned. The nonstick coating is made out of quantanium, which is reinforced with titanium, offering long lasting food release. The pan’s tapered rim allows you to pour easily and mess free, while the pan’s overall durability makes this model perfect for everyday use. The aluminum offers better than average heat up time, in addition to even heat distribution. This pan is oven safe, up to 500-degrees.
- Oven safe
- Stay cool handles
- Tapered rim for easy pouring
- Nonstick coating is reinforced with titanium
- Limited lifetime warranty
- Nonstick coating begins to show signs of damage after one year
- Not recommended for glass cooktops
Cuisinart has a reputation for producing high-end cookware that’s made with the latest nonstick technology. Their latest pan to hit the market scored well in a variety of areas including nonstick surface quality and thickness, durability, and versatility.
This pan is made out of the finest anodized aluminum and features sloped sides, with a wide flat bottom that’s perfect for browning, sauteing, or frying. The pan’s anodized finish gives the cookware a pro look, while the nonstick coating will make cooking and clean up a cinch.
Tramontina 80114/535DS Professional Aluminum Nonstick
This pan is made out of commercial-grade, NSF certified 3004 heavy-gauge aluminum. On the inside of the pan, there’s a thick nonstick coating that’s PFOA-free. This model is designed to handle heavy-duty use, whether this pan is for home use or a professional kitchen. It’s very versatile and can be used to sauté, brown, or fry your favorite dishes. The handle is made out of cast stainless steel that’s riveted in place for added support. The handle grip is removable and made out of silicone, which helps improve user comfort and grip during use, while also working to keep the pan cool. This pan is compatible with ceramic, electric, and gas cooktops and can be placed in the oven for temperatures up to 400-degrees.
- Lifetime warranty
- Oven safe up to 400-degree
- Nonstick PFOA-free coating
- Removable silicone grip
- Made out of NSF certified materials
- Riveted handle
- Does not come with a lid
- Must be washed by hand
This high-performance model provides effortless clean up and cooking, thanks to its quality nonstick coating and sturdy construction.
This 10-inch pan by Tarmontina is made out of durable heavy-gauge aluminum and features a thick layer of PFOA-free nonstick coating for easy food release and clean up. This model can handle heavy-duty use at home or in a professional kitchen, it’s that durable. It also comes with a lifetime warranty, which will give cooks every reason to buy and put this pan to the test.
OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro Open Frypan
This is a 10-inch pan that features a hard anodized body that offers scratch resistance and excellent heat conduction. The three layers of nonstick coating is PFOA-free. The pan’s rolled edges make it easier to pour a full pan, without spilling its contents. Additionally, the pan itself is oven safe up to 430-degrees. While the manufacturer claims that the pan is dishwasher safe, it’s still recommended that you wash it by hand to prevent any damage that may occur during the washing process.
- Lifetime warranty
- Oven safe up to 430-degrees
- Scratch resistant
- Three layers of PFOA-free nonstick coating
- Rolled edges make it easier to pour a full pan
- Dishwasher safe
- Handle is much heavier than pan, causing balance issues
- Handle gets very hot during use
This versatile pan comes with a lifetime warranty, a durable design and can be used with most types of stovetops, with the exception of induction. This model is scratch resistant, equipped with multiple layers of nonstick coating, and designed for easy food release. Its quality construction and thick nonstick coating will have you reaching for this pan on a daily basis.
Viking Culinary Nonstick Fry Pan
If you’re looking for a smaller pan that offers pro-quality cooking results, then you’ll fall in love with this pan by Viking. The inside of the pan comes equipped with Eterna nonstick coating, while the pan itself features a 5-ply construction for superior heat up time and even heat distribution. This model also comes equipped with Viking’s patented stay cool handle, which features an ergonomic design that ensures user comfort and a secure grip. It will also protect you against burns, even when you’re cooking with high heat.
- 5-ply design
- 3-ply aluminum core for fast heat up time and even heat distribution
- Dishwasher safe
- Can withstand oven temperatures up to 500-degrees
- Works for all types of cooktops, including induction
- Lifetime warranty
- Can be difficult to clean
- Does not come with a lid
This pan is versatile, can withstand higher oven temperature, compared to competing models and comes with an ergonomic stay cool handle that improves user comfort while protecting the hands from burns during use. The pan’s 5-ply construction improves durability while maximizing heat distribution, for fast and even cooking. Dishwasher safe, covered by a lifetime warranty, and designed for daily use, this is one pan that will fit right in whether it’s for commercial kitchen use or home use.
T-Fal E93805 Professional Total Nonstick Fry Pan
This pan by T-Fal is made with a titanium nonstick surface that’s designed to handle heavy-duty use. This model also comes equipped with thermo-spot technology that turns bright red to show the user the that the pan has been preheated properly. The pan’s thicker induction base does an excellent job of distributing heat evenly, so you won’t have any issues with hot spots. The riveted handle is covered in silicone for an improved grip and added safety. Additionally, this model can also be placed in the oven and can withstand up to 400-degrees.
- Dishwasher safe
- Oven safe up to 400-degrees
- Silicone handle
- Lifetime limited guarantee
- Compatible with all types of cooktops
- Titanium nonstick coating
- Bottom of pan can become scorched when cooked on a gas range on high heat
This latest model by T-Fal is built tough, designed for home or pro use and includes a durable nonstick coating that offers excellent food release. Additionally, this pan comes equipped with thermo-spot technology, which alerts users when the pan is ready for cooking, making this pan a great choice for beginners. It also features a thick induction base that promotes even heat distribution and a faster heat up time.
CSK Red Granite Frying Pan
This is an 11-inch nonstick pan that’s PFOA and APEO-free. The pan is made out of sturdy aluminum alloy, which offers excellent heat distribution and a faster heat up time. The bottom of the pan is made out of composite materials that offer excellent thermal conductivity. This model is designed to withstand temperatures up to 356-degrees. The pan’s ergonomic Bakelite handle is heat resistant and designed to improve user comfort and grip. Unlike many competing models, this pan comes with a double visual glass lid that allows you to keep a close eye on your food as it cooks, without removing the lid.
- Bakelite handle
- Heat-resistant glass lid
- Compatible with all types of cooktops
- Nonstick material is PFOA-free
- Easy to clean
- Must be washed by hand
- Cannot be placed in the oven
- Does not include warranty
This CSK pan is built tough and equipped with an ergonomic handle and heat-resistant glass lid. This is one of those pans that you can use daily to cook a wide range of foods from steak and eggs to sauteed onions or pork chops. The pan is easy to clean but should be washed by hand to prevent damage to the nonstick coating. Additionally, this model should not be used in the oven. Overall, this pan is a great buy for cooks of all skill levels and will make a great addition to any kitchen.
Nonstick Pans Buyer’s Guide
With the right type of nonstick pan, you can make golden brown, fluffy pancakes or the perfect sunny side up egg. These pans are also perfect for pan frying a steak, cooking fish, browning your favorite cuts of meat, and more.
While many types of nonstick pans seem to work the same initially, after a few months of use, many of the nonstick coatings start to fail. You may notice that there are specs of the coating in your food, or that the coating seems to be peeling. This is a common occurrence with low quality nonstick cookware.
Fortunately, there is high quality nonstick cookware out there, you just need to know what to look for and what to avoid.
Benefits of Nonstick Pans
Using nonstick pans comes with plenty of benefits, so you can easily and quickly prepare your favorite dishes, without scouring pans, or leaving a pan to soak overnight.
Other benefits include:
- If you’re determined to lose weight, one of the best cooking tips is to learn to prepare dishes without oil. Most of us cook with oil so often, the thought doesn’t even occur to us that it can be so unhealthy, and fattening. When you start cooking with a nonstick pan, you’ll find that you can cook and prepare your favorite dishes, without relying on a thick layer of oil to prevent the food from sticking. This results in food that doesn’t taste oily and has a lower fat content.
- If you’re tired of scrubbing pans or leaving them to soak overnight in the sink, then a nonstick pan can be the answer. Because these pans come with a thick coating of nonstick material, it easily releases food from the pan’s cooking surface, without leaving behind burnt or stuck on food. You’ll be amazed at how much time cooking with nonstick cookware can save you.
- Even heat distribution is important. With older, traditional cookware, you need to stir constantly to ensure all of the food is cooked evenly and will be done at the same time. Unlike traditional cookware, you won’t have to deal with hot spots. Nonstick cookware promotes even cooking, so your food will turn perfectly cooked.
Types of Nonstick Coatings
There are a couple of popular options when it comes to nonstick coating: ceramic and PTFE. When you’re shopping for a new nonstick pan, your main focus will be on the type of coating the pan has and how it rates in terms of ease of use, cleaning, and durability.
PTFE is one of the most commonly used types of nonstick coating. But what is it exactly? Basically, the coating is a type of white waxy substance that’s applied to rough surfaces to make them nonstick. This synthetic fluoropolymer was discovered in the late 1930s and registered under the name Teflon a brand most people are familiar with. This type of material prevents food from sticking to the surface of a pan, which can make both cooking and washing the pan a cinch. However, this type of material does come with some drawbacks.
PTFE can be harmful to both people and animals, under certain conditions.
The material will begin to release different types of toxic fumes, once the pan reaches 464 degrees. If the fumes are inhaled, it can lead to polymer fume fever in humans. If birds inhale these fumes, it can cause instant death. Because of this, you should never preheat an empty pan with this type of coating and avoid exposing the pan to temperatures higher than 400 degrees.
With proper care, this type of nonstick coating can last two to three years. To protect the integrity of the surface, avoid using metal utensils or abrasive cleaning products and tools.
Ceramic is a common type of cookware material, one that’s been popular since the 1960s. Ceramic is a great, safe, and nontoxic alternative to PTFE coated pans. This mineral-based coating is made out of a mixture of color pigments, binders, oxygen, silica, and other types of reinforcing agents. The original manufacturing process included lead; however, modern ceramic coated cookware no longer does. The biggest drawback of ceramic coating is that it’s not quite as durable as PTFE. This material is prone to chipping. Additionally, the non-reactive material usually only lasts a year. However, you can extend the life of the cookware by properly taking care of it.
Porcelain Enamel Coating
Porcelain enamel is often used in cast iron pans and is made by fusing a type of powdered glass to the surface of the pan. As the powdered glass melts, it coats the pan’s surface and hardens into a smooth coating. Porcelain enamel is eco-friendly, safe, and free from PTFE.
Most types of porcelain enameled cast iron cookware is categorized as nonstick, so you can prepare your favorite dishes using less oil. Additionally, this type of cookware has a reputation for easily outlasting other types of nonstick coatings, with proper care.
Raw aluminum is a type of reactive metal that has to be processed prior to being made into cookware. Once a pan has been anodized, it becomes non-reactive, non-toxic, and heat resistant. Keep in mind, only the surface of the pan is non-reactive. This means if the anodized coating becomes scratched, the food you’re preparing may come into contact with the raw aluminum underneath.
This is one of the newest types of nonstick coatings on the market. While it’s not used as commonly as the other nonstick coatings listed here, many people believe that superhydrophobic coating is going to be the nonstick coating of the future. Superhydrophobic coating features a nanoscopic layer that’s water-resistant. The coating is made from a wide variety of materials, including manganese oxide polystyrene, carbon nano-tube substances, precipitated calcium carbonate, and zinc oxide polystyrene.
This material is extracted from silica to create a nonstick coating that’s flexible and commonly found in kitchen utensils and bakeware. Silicone is mixed with water and methyl chloride to create polydimethylsiloxane, which is used to create silicone rubber. It’s derived from a mineral that’s found in sand and is heated up to 1800 degrees Celsius, then it’s mixed with water to create the type of thick rubber silicone that you can commonly find in nonstick cookware. Unlike other types of nonstick coating, silicone coated cookware will not release fumes when it reaches higher temperatures. It’s nonreactive to alkaline foods and nontoxic. In fact, it’s considered one of the safest nonstick coatings on the market.
Below, I’ll go over the different materials used for these pans, what features to look for, and how to choose a pan that will meet your cooking and cleaning needs.
Most pans are made out of either stainless steel three-ply or aluminum. Both types of material do a good job of quickly heating up, but three-ply has a better reputation for even heat distribution. Tri-ply cookware tends to be more expensive and heavier than aluminum cookware. Aluminum pans heat up quickly, but in terms of even heat distribution, you may find them lacking.
If you have an induction cooktop, make sure the pan you choose is induction cooktop compatible. You can also test out a pan by placing a magnet on the bottom. If the bottom of the pan is magnetized, then you can use it on your induction cooktop.
Number of Layers
The number of layers used to coat the pan’s cooking surface will have an impact on the price of the cookware. Higher-end pans will usually have a branded or patented type of coating which can offer better food releasing capabilities. Usually, three layers of a nonstick coating is crucial for a pan that can handle heavy duty use and last year after year. You can easily determine whether or not a pan has multiple coatings by touching the cooking surface. If the nonstick coating feels somewhat grainy, then it probably only has one to two layers. If the cooking surface is very smooth, then it probably has three or more layers. The cooking surface should also have a nice matte finish.
Choose a thicker nonstick pan. While lighter pans tend to heat up faster, a heavier one will last longer and offers the type of durability you need, if you plan on using the cookware daily. Additionally, lighter pans tend to make poor contact with certain types of burners, especially if they’re equipped with a handle that’s heavier than the pan itself.
Not all nonstick pans are dishwasher safe. Tossing your dirty pans in the dishwasher is a faster and easier way to clean up after cooking a big meal, but this can end up doing some serious damage to your pans. Even if the manufacturer claims that the pan is dishwasher safe, I highly recommend washing these pans by hand. As the dishwasher is going, other dishes on the same rack can bang into the pan, scratching the nonstick surface.
Many of the leading cookware companies will offer a lifetime warranty on their nonstick cookware, something you should definitely look into before you buy. If your pan is covered by a warranty, you can send it to the manufacturer and receive a replacement if it becomes damaged. As you know by now, unlike other types of pans, nonstick cookware doesn’t last forever. This means you can expect to replace it every three to five years, depending on the overall quality of the pan and how well you cared for it. If you want to get more bang for your buck, make sure you purchase cookware that is covered under some type of warranty, one that is not just limited to coverage for manufacturing defects.
A good nonstick pan, one you can use daily, won’t be cheap. If you’re on a tight budget, then a lower priced pan can offer the type of nonstick easy cooking experience you’re looking for, however, the pan probably won’t last more than a year. In general, these pans can cost anywhere from $15 up to $60. The type of nonstick coating used, the pan’s materials, and the size of the pan will all impact the price.
Most of the popular nonstick pans on the market have a PTFE coating. As I mentioned earlier, high temperatures can breakdown the protective coating, releasing toxic chemicals. This is just one of the reasons you need to use a little caution when you’re cooking with these types of pans. With proper care, and by following a few simple rules, there’s no reason your cookware can’t last three to five years. Below, you’ll find some important tips to follow that can ensure you protect your cookware when cooking and washing.
Lower the Heat
When using this type of cookware, the key is to not overheat them. When nonstick coatings are heated high enough to decompose there’s an extensive list of chemical compounds that will come off. Many are fluorine containing compounds which are generally toxic.
Ceramic nonstick coated pans are able to handle higher temperatures, but with pans that are coated in PTFE, you’ll want to avoid cooking on high heat. Additionally, you should heat up your pans on low heat. Cooking on high heat can damage or warp the pan.
Most manufacturers will recommend cooking on medium heat. This can help to lengthen the life of the product. It can also prevent the nonstick coating from releasing toxic fumes. You should also avoid preheating an empty pan, which is a guaranteed way to overheat the cookware, especially if the pan is flimsy or lightweight.
Never sear or broil in a nonstick pan. These are both techniques that require a higher temperature than what this type of cookware can handle.
Avoid Using Cooking Sprays
Cooking sprays can make clean up easier, while also preventing certain types of foods from sticking to the surface. Unfortunately, these cooking sprays can do plenty of damage to a nonstick pan. Cooking sprays will build up on the pan’s surface over time, creating a barrier between the surface of the pan and the food. This can minimize the pan’s ability to heat up quickly and evenly. If you’ve noticed that your food is taking longer to cook or it has cold spots, this can be due to cooking spray use. Instead of spray, try using an oil or butter.
Wash Them by Hand
As I mentioned earlier, even if the manufacturer gives you the green light for dishwasher use, you should always wash this type of cookware by hand. Unfortunately, most people end up sticking their nonstick cookware in the dishwasher, since it’s easier and faster. However, doing so can cause the nonstick surface to wear out faster and can also lead to peeling, scratches, or chips in the cooking surface.
Additionally, a dishwasher can get very hot. This can cause a pan to warp. After enough times in the dishwasher, you’ll find that the sealant on the cookware has also started to break down. Dishwasher detergent can be very harsh on cookware and can also contribute to damaging the cooking surface. Instead of sticking the cookware in the dishwasher, wash them by hand in warm water, using a soft sponge and a mild detergent.
Season the Surface
Use a cooking oil to help fill in the ridges and coat the surface of the pan. A diminished sealant, scratches, and chips can be remedied temporarily, with a good seasoning. While seasoning is more commonly done for cast iron, it can also be used for certain types of nonstick pans, such as ceramic and aluminum coated models.
All you need to do is take a little olive oil and rub it into the surface of the pan, placing it in the oven at 250-degrees for approximately an hour. You can do this every three to four months to keep your pans in great shape.
Don’t Use Metal Utensils
Using metal utensils can do some serious damage to your cookware. Because of this, you’ll want to stick with plastic or wooden utensils only. While metal utensils are more durable, they can scratch, chip, and damage the cooking surface.
Avoid Thermal Shock
While tossing a hot pan in a sink full of water may be tempting, when metal goes from high heat to colder temperatures rapidly, it can easily and instantly warp the pan. Doing so can also break down the nonstick seal.
Never stack nonstick cookware, since doing so can damage the cooking surface. Invest in a good pan rack to prevent damage and to keep your cookware neatly organized.
Recoating Nonstick Cookware
Nonstick coatings can become scratched or damaged during use, storage, or the cleaning process. If you ended up investing quite a bit in your new cookware, then you may want to consider having the pans recoated.
For an at-home method, you’ll need a nonstick coating repair spray. These sprays are commonly sold online. The next step is applying the spray to the pan’s cooking surface and allowing it to dry overnight.
Another option is to send the cookware to a company that specializes in this type of job.
You can also contact the cookware’s manufacturer to check whether your pans are under warranty. If so, you can send your pans in for repairs or a replacement.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Should I Look for When Buying a Nonstick Pan?
The processes and materials used to make a nonstick pan directly affects the quality of the cookware. Look for a pan that’s made from five-ply metal cladding, with multiple layers of nonstick coating.
When Should You Throw out a Teflon Pan?
If you’ve found a high-end set of nonstick cookware, you can use it for three to five years. Make sure you inspect your cookware often. If the cooking surface is scratched, chipped, or peeling, then it’s time to upgrade.
Does Baking Soda Ruin Nonstick Pans?
Grease and cooking sprays can leave residue behind on nonstick pans and can be difficult to use. Baking soda works as a gentle abrasive that can remove the residue without damaging the cooking surface. Once the residue has been removed, the cookware can be washed by hand as usual.
Why do Eggs Stick to My Nonstick Pan?
When an egg is cooking, the proteins are forming a chemical bond with the pan’s metal. Pans with a nonstick coating will interfere with the bond, as does adding fats such as butter or oil. This layer of fat gets between the egg and the pan, preventing the protein from sticking.
The best nonstick pans will save you plenty of time in the kitchen, especially when it comes to cleaning up. The pans that made it onto my top six list all earned high marks for their durability, thick nonstick coating, and overall quality. Bottom line look for a pan that’s reliable, safe to use, and long lasting. Do a little research and familiarize yourself with the pros and cons of each type of nonstick coating, to find one that will work for your stovetop and cooking style. Always follow the care and usage instructions provided by the manufacturer, especially if the pan is covered by a warranty. With this buyer’s guide and my list of the leading pans on the market, you should have no trouble choosing a new everyday pan for your kitchen, one that can easily handle heavy-duty use, for a price that’s affordable.