How do I choose good nonstick cookware?

Why are nonstick pans so popular? It offers fat-free cooking, an aluminum core for even heating, and good food release so cleanup is quick. is it safe? In fact, most nonstick cookware no longer contains polytetrafluoroethylene (PFOA), also known as “Teflon.” Whether you’re cooking on a gas, electric, or induction hob, a quality nonstick cookware set will provide you with regular use.

Nonstick cookware makes poaching eggs (especially scrambled) easier and frying fish simpler. It also keeps your favorite pancake recipes from tearing up in the pan. There are two main types of nonstick cookware: traditional nonstick and ceramic nonstick. The difference is the nonstick coating and sometimes the material of the pan. This list focuses on traditional nonstick pans, but you can also check out our picks for the best ceramic nonstick cookware, which includes many more options.

Unlike most stainless steel cookware, nonstick cookware degrades significantly over time. The nonstick coating wears off, making the pan no longer nonstick or, worst case, safe to use. Nonstick pans do require a little more maintenance through things like seasoning and special cleaning, but the tradeoff is that they’re surprisingly easy to clean up, foods that require little or no oil to cook, and crispy exteriors that don’t require any work.

7 Things You Need to Know Before Buying It

1. Use medium heat or lower.

Avoid heating on coated pans as it will shorten the shelf life of the pan. There are also concerns that the heat could release toxic fumes.

2. Food cooked in a nonstick pan will not turn brown.

The browned surface requires high heat to develop, and aside from heat restrictions, the general understanding behind nonstick pans—to prevent food from sticking to the surface—means that food cannot adhere to the surface and form the brown parts that make up the golden crust.

3. Avoid using metal utensils.

Use wooden, plastic or rubber utensils to protect the coating from scratches.

4. Do not preheat an empty pan.

The temperature in the pan can skyrocket, so add food from the start—even some oil to keep it cool.

5. Store nonstick pans individually or line them when stacking.

Stacking nonstick pans can damage the coating, so line the pans with paper towels to protect the surface.

6. Discard any pans with damaged coating.

Pans are more likely to release toxins when damaged, so throw away pans with signs of wear on their nonstick surfaces.

7. Can be put in the dishwasher

Most nonstick cookware is dishwasher safe, but repeated use of the dishwasher can cause the nonstick surface to dry out. Hand washing will extend the life of the pan.

When shopping for nonstick cookware, keep in mind that coatings are not designed to last a lifetime. Over time, the nonstick surface of the pan weakens and loses its ability to release food. That said, you can save money in the long run by choosing a less expensive option and replacing it as needed. Ceramic cookware is another nonstick option that offers a greener cooking surface and works well with little to no oil.

Many cheap metals warp or have hot spots, resulting in uneven cooking. Look for pans with flat bottoms, sturdy construction, and smooth nonstick coatings. Aluminum is a reliable but inexpensive nonstick cookware material.

Construction

Nonstick pans and cookware are often made of aluminum, which is a good conductor of heat. At least nonstick cookware is made with an aluminum base that responds to temperature. A heavier aluminum pan is usually better because it’s less likely to overheat. The non-stick coating is then applied to the pan at the factory.

Teflon Surface

Teflon is a grade of polytetrafluoroethylene, commonly used as a general term for polytetrafluoroethylene. Metal substrates are roughened by grit blasting and then sometimes arc sprayed with stainless steel. The irregular surface promotes the adhesion of PTFE and also resists abrasion of PTFE. Then spray or roll one layer to seven layers of polytetrafluoroethylene, the more layers, the better the spraying. The number and thickness of layers and the quality of the material determine the quality of the nonstick coating. Better quality coatings are more durable, less likely to chip and flake, and retain their nonstick properties longer. Any PTFE-based coating will rapidly lose its non-stick properties if overheated; all manufacturers recommend keeping temperatures below 260 °C (500 °F).

Ceramic Nonstick Cookware

Ceramic cookware has come a long way since its ancient predecessor. What most people refer to as ceramic cookware is actually metal coated with a sand-based, silicon-based nonstick coating (the technical term for this coating is sol-gel). But you can also find ceramic cookware that is 100% ceramic (that is, made of clay, baked in a kiln and glazed).

If you cook with oil, be sure to completely remove all cooking oil after each use; a layer of cooked oil can build up and hinder the smooth surface of the pan. When you’re using a ceramic pan, the manufacturer recommends not using any oil at all.

Hard Anodized Cookware

Hard anodized cookware is aluminum cookware with an additional layer of aluminum oxide. This makes things more difficult. Hard-anodized aluminum, like regular aluminum, is lighter than other metals used in cookware.

Compared to stainless steel, hard anodized aluminum really comes into its own. It dissipates heat more efficiently and is lighter, with a non-stick layer that makes it easier to clean. Note, however, that stainless steel cookware will almost always last longer.

Advantages of nonstick pans

Using a nonstick coating on your pans can save time and effort.

The nonstick coating also allows cooking with less butter or oil.

These pans make it easier to cook especially “sticky” foods, such as fried eggs.

Disadvantages of nonstick pans

Easily damaged if used with metal utensils or scouring pads.

It cannot be used at high temperature, otherwise the non-stick coating will melt.

Pet birds can be sensitive to fumes from some overheated nonstick pans.

Stovetop only – not oven safe.

It is harder to brown or caramelize food.

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