The Best Nonstick Frying Pans of 2023
Nonstick cookware is not just a nice addition to your kitchen, in the context of a modern lifestyle, it’s indispensable to enjoy cooking your favorite recipes. But how much do you really know about nonstick? Are you getting the most out of it? Do you really own the best nonstick cookware for you? Are you caring for them right? Read on to explore the world of nonstick pans.
1. What is a nonstick frying pan?
Nonstick cookware has been manufactured with a coating that allows them to cook foods without them sticking to the surface. Common items with nonstick properties are pans, nonstick skillets, saucepans, pots, and woks.
The original nonstick material was Teflon; created by accident in 1938. This new material they found happened to be the most slippery substance available on Earth. Sometime later, a French engineer and his wife came up with the idea of using this substance in their cookware.
So it started. Today, nonstick frying pans are highly useful for cooking certain foods, and indispensable for others (at least in my case). They are present in almost every kitchen, especially the kitchen of a home cook.
There are numerous myths and concerns concerning nonstick cookware in general. Are they all made the same way? Is it true they can be toxic? Are they better than other materials? Can you cook anything you want in a nonstick skillet? (And if not, then what should you be cooking with them?). Let's find out.
2. Different Types of Nonstick Surfaces
To better understand how nonstick frying pans work, and which one is the best nonstick pan for you, we should first take a look into the different types of nonstick surfaces.
In general, all non stick coatings have qualities that may be advantageous for some cooks and less convenient for others. The choice of a pan set will depend on individual preferences.
PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene), is a slippery material better known as Teflon, the most common type of coating found on non-stick cookware. Teflon cookware is easy to clean and can last several years with proper maintenance. But Teflon’s maintenance is the tricky part: constant high temperatures and metal utensils will damage the coating, having to replace them for food safety reasons.
Ceramic coatings came to the market as an alternative to Teflon in the 60s. Modern ceramic coatings are environmentally friendly, are made from organic materials, and are free of toxic chemicals. Ceramic pans are an excellent non-stick option because they are non-porous and do not absorb food flavors or colors. They are also not reactive to alkaline foods. On the downside, a ceramic nonstick pan is delicate and not as durable as other coatings (is brittle and prone to cracking).
Another nonstick cooking surface found in kitchens around the world is silicone, which comes from a natural compound extracted from a mineral called silica. When heated to extremely high temperatures, in combination with other chemicals and water, it becomes a flexible coating.
Attention: silicone non-stick pans must still be oiled before use.
A hard-anodized aluminum coating is created by hardening aluminum through an electrochemical process until a non-stick top layer is formed. The good thing is that this cooking surface is not as prone to scratching, chipping, or peeling. As a con, hard-anodized nonstick is a bit more expensive and not compatible with induction cooktops.
Porcelain enamel is a non-stick coating applied to cookware from different materials like steel, aluminum, or iron. Powdered glass is melted at very high temperatures onto the base of pans and pots. It does not contain PFOA or PTFE, but it’s heavy and a bit fragile.
Cast iron is not originally non-stick, but when you season the cooking surface of a cast iron pan, it does the job great. This is done by heating oil over high heat in the pan every time you are going to use it. Cast iron cookware is very durable and requires little maintenance, but they are kind of heavy and don't heat that evenly. The same thing happens with carbon steel, once seasoned, makes for a great nonstick option.
3. Why Use A Nonstick Frying Pan?
If you don’t have a non stick frying pan on your own, there are many reasons why you should acquire one. And if you have one but are doubting your decision, this is a great opportunity to discover its value.
It’s a game-changer when it comes to cleaning and maintenance after cooking. Nonstick coating prevents the food from sticking, which conveniently reduces time and steps in the washing process.
Because food won’t stick, you don’t need to use a big amount of oil or butter when cooking something, which translates into less fat in your overall diet.
Some delicious recipes just call for a nonstick coating to be successful. So if you’re into scrambled eggs and pancakes on a Sunday morning, there’s no doubt you should have a nonstick skillet.
4. Foods You Must Cook In A Nonstick Frying Pan
- Eggs. Eggs are, par excellence, the one food you should always cook in a non stick pan, it doesn’t matter the presentation: scrambled, omelets, tortilla, fried eggs.
- Foods that require flipping. You want your morning pancakes to cook nicely and flip easily. Nothing ruins a breakfast like half a pancake stuck to a skillet. This applies to other foods that need to be flipped, like crepes.
- Delicate foods. Scallops and fish, for example, have a delicate, soft texture. They should be turned or lifted easily so as not to tear them or break them in the process.
- Nuts. Nonstick surfaces are ideal to toast nuts.
Foods that are prone to stick. This one is kind of obvious, but nonstick pans are great for cooking those foods that are likely to stick to the bottom, like rice.
- Bacon. One of the worst meats to cook in a pan that isn't nonstick.
- Dishes with cheese. A grilled cheese sandwich or quesadillas will be easy recipes on a nonstick pan and a pain to clean on any other coating.
- Stir-fried noodles, yum!
Cases in which you shouldn’t use a nonstick pan:
- Searing meats like steaks and burgers.
- Foods that require high temperatures, like a stir fry (for this reason it’s not recommended to put nonstick cookware in the oven either).
- Foods that call for a crispier crust (because of high temperatures).
- Tomatoes, citrus fruits, wine, and ingredients with a high acidic content can damage the nonstick coating.
- Browning butter.
- Deglazing (for example sauces or certain meat recipes).
5. Maintenance Tips For Your Nonstick Pans
The first recommendation is to follow in detail the instructions of the manufacturer. Each brand will explain how to handle and clean its products. However, some general recommendations may apply to all nonstick pans, to ensure that they will last many years in your kitchen.
- Wash your nonstick pans before using them for the first time.
- It’s best if you season your new nonstick cookware to seal pores and possible imperfections on the cooking surface. Here’s a simple way to do it: rub the surface of the pan with oil and heat over medium heat for 3 minutes. When cool, remove excess oil with a paper towel.
- Always preheat the pan with a bit of oil or butter. Distribute the oil evenly while the pan is still cold. Don’t heat an empty nonstick skillet.
- It is best to use small amounts of oils that have a high smoke point, like sesame or avocado oil, for example. Other oils with a low smoke point such as olive oil, burn faster and affect the non-stick properties of the pan.
- Try to avoid non-stick spray because it burns and accumulates residues that could harm the cooking surface and shorten its lifespan.
- Always cooking on low or medium heat will help keep the smoothness and efficiency of the coating for longer.
- Wait until the pan cools down before washing it. Immersing hot frying pans in water can damage them quite quickly.
- Wash them by hand. Even if they are dishwasher safe, it is best to avoid the heat and chemicals in the dishwasher.
- Do not use abrasive tools such as steel wool. A cloth or sponge, and mild dishwashing soap are more than enough.
- If the pan has stubborn residues, burnt oil, or stuck-on food, soak it in warm water and mild soap.
- Do not use metal utensils or utensils with sharp edges on nonstick surfaces. Use wooden spoons and silicone utensils that do not scratch or damage this material.
- Dry the pan thoroughly after washing and before storing it.
- For storage, it is recommended to use a pan protector or, if you don’t have one, a cloth or paper towel over the non-stick surface will be enough to avoid scratches, (especially if stored with other kitchen utensils).
6. What To Consider When Buying A Nonstick Pan
There are concerns surrounding nonstick cookware, particularly chemicals found in Teflon such as PFOA. When choosing your pan, look for the words “PFOA free” and “APEO free”.
Teflon is the most traditional nonstick coating, although ceramic cookware is also well known and silicon has a small fan club. Teflon is arguably more durable.
Always a vital aspect when it comes to any product. Here, you’ll want 3-ply cladding as a minimum when it comes to aluminum or stainless steel (“ply” is referring to several layers of metal). The material also influences things like weight, balance, and heat distribution; two things that will define the profile of the best nonstick cookware set.
In any case, check if the material you’re buying is compatible with the type of stovetop in your kitchen.
Directly related to the material, look for cookware that’s built to last. This is especially important when it comes to nonstick pans because if we’re being honest, this is a coating that won’t last very long unless the proper conditions are met. Some nonstick constructions will be more durable than others, depending on the extra features brought by the manufacturer.
Of course, everyone will manage a different budget and will need specific characteristics. But in the case of nonstick, I say: Make sure you have the budget available for a good-quality frying pan, considering potential health concerns for you and the extremely short lifespan of cheap nonstick products.
Look for features that match your overall lifestyle. If you have a busy schedule, you need a product that’s easy to clean and maintain. If you need to carry it around, make sure it is light or medium weight. The design and aesthetics are not minor details either: you have to like their style.
A strong lid, an extra side handle, and a limited lifetime warranty. These are some of the things that can make a difference when deciding which pan to buy.
7. Best Nonstick Frying Pans
This high-performance frying pan, made in the USA, will allow you to cook eggs, fish, delicate omelets, thick proteins, and even more healthy oil-free and fat-free recipes. The perfect conductivity, courtesy of the Oberon Series, allows for the pan to heat quickly and cook food evenly.
- 35-micrometer premium non-stick coating (extra thick and extra durable)
- 3-Ply aluminum core fused with 18/10 stainless steel
- Perfectly angled handle for a comfortable and secure grip.
- It is not recommended to use non-stick surfaces in the oven, but if you must, this pan is oven safe and broiler safe. Ideal for a recipe that calls for transferring from the stovetop to the oven.
- Sober, elegant, luxurious design.
- Brushed finish induction bottom for electric, induction, and gas stoves.
- It comes with a padded pan protector and a silk carrying bag for the best care.
- Dalstrong’s limited ifetime warranty on defects.
- This medium-weight nonstick skillet may not feel so “medium” to some who are used to lighter cookware.
- The handle shape may not be everyone’s cup of tea.
A beautiful and functional frying pan with a unique, full coating; combining layers of food-grade stainless steel. Designed for browning or sautéing foods without affecting the life of the pan. Made to last generation after generation.
- The Eterna® nonstick technology lasts much longer than traditional nonstick coatings.
- Made of non-toxic, non-hypoallergenic materials that do not contain PFOA or APEO.
- Perfect-fitting tempered glass lid, 4 mm thick and extra-strong.
- Compatible with electric, gas, and induction cooktops.
- Freezer and refrigerator safe.
- Consistent cooking results, no matter the recipe.
- Unbeatable price-quality ratio.
- Some may need a larger non-stick frying pan for their recipes.
- The all-steel, silver look may not be your style.
Every cook should own a quality nonstick pan like this one: beautiful, all-terrain, and built to last forever. The impeccable conductivity will have you cooking the perfect eggs, croquettes, French fries, fish, or meats: quickly and evenly.
- Thick layers of stainless steel plus 3-Ply aluminum core.
- The coating is made to last and resist all your kitchen adventures.
- A second side handle to hold and move the pan with greater safety and confidence.
- This is strong, thick cookware that withstands prolonged heat.
- The lid is extra thick and has a vent hole to release pressure and prevent food from spilling. A detail: the lid knob, made from cast steel with a mirror polish, displays Dalstrong’s epic lion insignia.
- Coated aluminum rivets will never lose or break.
- A bigger size influences the price, and not every pocket might be ready for this.
- A high-quality nonstick pan like this is an important investment, so I would suggest you only get one if you are willing to give it the proper care and maintenance to avoid any frustrations.
A wok is a kind of deep bowl-shaped pan. It is ideal for stir-frying at very high temperatures because it’s designed in such a way that ingredients always return to the center of the wok without sticking, allowing for a proper rotation and heat distribution.
This Dalstrong frying pan wok brings the best qualities of an authentic wok, with a concave shape and high walls, ideal for easily sautéing with little oil and high heat; or browning, frying, boiling, steaming… a beautiful, highly versatile product.
Made with 3 layers of aluminum and a superior quality nonstick coating for high-performance.
- The nonstick technology used by the Oberon series has been rated the most durable in the world.
- Twenty-six times better than competitors when tested in terms of food release.
- Beautiful honeycomb pattern (to be honest, my favorite feature).
- Two handles (one long and one short) will better distribute the weight of the pan.
- The flared lip ensures drip-free pouring.
- Healthy cooking: this pan is non-toxic and non-hypoallergenic.
- It doesn’t alter food’s nutritional value, taste, or color.
- Depending on what you cook the most, you may need a full-shaped wok or a full-shaped frying pan.
- The price may appear expensive, although it is justified by uniqueness and quality.
- This is a coveted product that might not be available at the time that you want it (if you see it’s in stock, don’t think twice).
8. Frequently Asked Questions About Frying Pans
Which non stick cookware is best?
Look for nonstick cookware with at least 3-ply cladding, non-toxic, durable, strong, and safe. For a detailed list of desirable characteristics, read point #6 what to consider when buying a nonstick pan.
Do professional chefs use non-stick pans?
It depends on the chef or the kitchen. Many chefs enjoy cooking with cast iron cookware or carbon steel because these materials can withstand the heavy workload of a busy restaurant.
What’s the difference between a frying pan and a skillet?
Most people use the terms “pan” and “skillet” interchangeably; but technically there are small differences like the shape: a frying pan has a flat base and flared sides, while a skillet is a bit deeper with slanted sides.
A stainless steel skillet is a non stick?
A nonstick skillet can be made of stainless steel. And actually, a stainless steel skillet can become a non stick skillet if you oil them right before cooking. Stainless steel is durable and resistant to high heat.
Is a stainless steel skillet oven-safe?
Most stainless steel skillets are oven safe. When cooking something in the oven with a stainless steel skillet, watch out for an oven-safe handle that doesn’t get too hot.
Written by Eva ContrerasFood & travel writer based in Buenos Aires. Superpowers include relentless curiosity and high tolerance to spicy foods.