We all love a good homemade meal. While we may argue on whether we enjoy cooking or not, I am sure all of us will agree on one thing – we hate cleaning the dishes afterwards. And what makes the process even harder before even starting washing up is seeing fond stuck on our pans – yes, they have a word for the brownish residue stuck to the bottom of our pans!
Here's the deal – I love homemade food, and the lockdown period urged me to unleash my inner chef. But this did not ignore the fact that I despise scraping and dislodging the fond from my pots and pans. In an attempt to kill both the birds with one stone, I set out on the hunt for the best nonstick pan.
Now, there are multiple things that I learned during the process. For example, nonstick pans are readily available in the market (bless the industrial development), but not all of them are worth investing in. It took some trials and errors to gather complete information of these godsends, but I got it.
To save you the problem of searching for a decent one, I have composed this post as a guide on nonstick pans. Also, if you stick to the end, I will share my recommendation on the best nonstick pan you can find in the market. So, let's get started!
About Nonstick Cookware
Let's start our discussion with the basics:
What is a Nonstick Pan?
I think the name is pretty self-explanatory, but I'll still spare a few lines for those new to the culinary realm. As simple as it gets, a nonstick pan is a utensil that doesn't accumulate residue from browning meat and frying eggs.
There is a high demand for nonstick cookware. Nonstick skillets had a market value of around 1.47 billion dollars in 2019, and with good reason. Nonstick pans are easy to clean, making cooking a breeze. For delicate items like eggs, shrimp, and rice, they're the finest — and in some cases, the only option.
But how do they work? What makes a nonstick pan "non-sticky?" Let's find out!
How do Nonstick Pans Work?
When you look at a standard stainless steel pan under a microscope, you'll notice that it has cracks and holes. The cracks and crevices expand when you heat the pan, allowing food and fluids to seep in and cling to the surface. You can minimize the sticky aspect by coating the pan with oil. Oiling gives you a smooth cooking surface that does not allow food to enter, solidify and stick.
But those people, who prefer convenience over spending five minutes coating their pans with grease to make an omelette, can invest in a nonstick pan. The technology is simple; nonstick pans are industrially coated with a nonstick compound. These compounds seal the open pores of the utensil, giving it the nonstick attribute.
What are the Different Types of Nonstick Coatings?
Quick question: what makes a nonstick pan a nonstick pan? Hint: we discussed it in the previous section. A pat on the back to those who guessed coating! Unlike cast iron skillets that haven't experienced variation since the Stone Age, nonstick pans are available in various materials. Here are the most common types of nonstick coatings that you can find in the market:
When nonstick pans were first introduced, they had a Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) coating. PTFE is a synthetic polymer of carbon and fluorine; its slippery white waxy texture makes rough surfaces nonstick. It has an exceptionally high melting point, water resistance, and low coefficient of friction, making it ideal for pans.
Ceramic nonstick cookware has acquired a lot of popularity as a healthier alternative to PTFE. Ceramic cookware isn't truly made of ceramic. Instead, it features a "sol-gel" ceramic-like covering (short for solution gel) made up of silica (a component of sand), oxygen, binders, colour pigments, and a reinforcing agent. Ceramic pans are widely used because they provide a clean, scratch-resistant surface that heats up quickly and evenly.
Silicone is a nonstick substance that is frequently used in culinary equipment. It is an eco-friendly option, which can tolerate high temperatures without breaking or releasing chemicals into the food. The only con is that silicone cannot hold up well to direct heat, which is an issue with cooking pots and pans.
4- Anodized Aluminum
Many cooks choose this scientific-sounding substance as a nonstick option. It begins with an aluminium or aluminium-alloy substrate processed to make it twice as robust as stainless steel cookware. After being anodized, aluminium becomes a scratch-resistant, non-toxic, non-reactive nonstick lining.
Which Nonstick Pan Lasts Longest?
The benefits of nonstick pans are self-evident, but they have a downside. Nonstick pans do not survive forever, unlike cast iron pans that you can pass down from generation to generation. The lifespan of nonstick pans varies with the different materials used as lining. So, which nonstick coating lasts the longest?
Nonstick pans have a life from one to five years. PTFE (Teflon)-coated nonstick pans endure at least three years, while ceramic-coated nonstick pans last an average of two years.
However, the layers of nonstick coating also determine the lifespan of the utensil. In general, the more coats of nonstick layer a piece of cookware has, the more scratch resistant it is and the longer it will last. This is because the extra layers protect the underlying material and prevent the cooking surface from deteriorating from minor scratches.
Now, just because your pan has several layers doesn't mean that it would last an eternity. The coating will ultimately wear out, just like any other nonstick pan, and you'll need to replace it. However, they may last longer than five years if properly cared for.
How Can You Tell the Quality of a Nonstick Pan?
The increased demand for nonstick pans among households has resulted in many companies entering the market. But guess what – not all of them sell the best quality products! So, how can you tell if a pan is worth investing in or not? Some factors can help you distinguish the quality of a nonstick pan. They may seem minor at first, but once you head to the market, you will find them more noticeable:
Good quality nonstick pans have a dark grey tint on their inside layer and a shiny metal coating on the outside.
2- Cooking surface
Premium nonstick cookware has a glossy, smooth and scratch-free cooking surface when you first buy it. Inferior quality pans have a dull or dry surface. You can distinguish between the two by touching their surface; low-grade nonstick pans have a gritty and uneven surface.
The metal construction and protective layering add weight to the nonstick utensils. Compared to low-quality pans that are notably lightweight, top-quality nonstick pans will have a weight. So, you can immediately tell the quality of a nonstick pan by picking it up.
Which Is the Best Nonstick Pan?
I remember scrolling through the internet, reading tens of reviews only to buy the best nonstick pan. But don't worry – you don't have to do the same! On coming this far, I am sharing my recommendation on the best nonstick pan with you as promised.
The Imarku 12" stainless steel frying pan is the perfect addition to any kitchen. This product has excellent construction features; it is durable and delivers excellent heat conduction. Rust resistance and warp resistance are other excellent features of this 12" frying pan.
Moreover, it features a three-layered stainless steel base with a sturdy aluminium base. The 304 food-grade stainless steel cooking surface does not react with food, so you need to worry about any cancerous cells entering your body.
Furthermore, the Imarku 12" stainless steel frying pan works with induction cooktops, gas stoves, electric ceramic stoves, and halogen stoves, and you can effortlessly move it from stove to oven. It also features an ergonomic handle, bent just right to provide you with a secure hold. One thing's for sure: the handle would be the last thing to break in this pan.
- Triple layering
- Ergonomic handle
- Easy washing
- Oven safe
- Wide cooking surface
- Compatible with various cooking ranges
- Scratches easily
Caring for Nonstick Pans
I have often seen people purchasing new nonstick cookware only to become no better than a regular stainless steel pan within months. There is only one explanation for that: either they purchased a low-quality pan or misused it (wait, that makes two!)
But if your pan's nonstick lining is chipping off despite it being good quality, then you should probably note down these tips for caring for nonstick pans:
1- Don't Overheat your Pan
Empty nonstick pans can overheat quickly. When you add an ingredient to the pan, it releases chemicals damaging the nonstick surface. After preheating your pan, add a little oil or butter to determine if the pan is good to go or you need to cool it down a bit.
2- Avoid High Heat Settings
Nonstick surfaces are not designed to tolerate high heat temperatures. While some nonstick pans, such as ceramic, may withstand higher heat, others warp when exposed to persistent high heat burners. Allow your pan to heat up to its optimum temperature on a lower setting.
Moreover, if you are searing, browning or cooking something that thrives on heat, you should grab a cast-iron skillet or a stainless steel pan instead.
3- Cooking Sprays are A Big No-No
As convenient as they may be, cooking sprays cause more damage to your pans than you think. They contain lecithin, which leaves a sticky build up on nonstick pans that is difficult to remove. This substance accumulates on the pan and damages its surface over time. Instead, use butter or olive oil, which will give you the same coating while being far healthier and safer for your pan.
4- Avoid Metal Utensils
Metal utensils scratch an unnoticeable amount of nonstick lining each time you use them on your pans. When cooking with nonstick pans, it's recommended to use wooden, plastic or silicone spoons. While metal may appear to be more convenient and durable, investing in a rubber spatula to handle most tasks is advisable.
5- Store Properly
Avoid stacking your pots and pans in drawers and cabinets. This goes for all your cookware – every time you take one out, it scratches the surface of the pan beneath it. Hanging your pans on a pot rack, storing it secluded or placing a liner when storing another pot on top of it are some ways to store your cookware properly.
6- Hand Wash
Ease of cleaning is a great charm of investing in a nonstick pan. No matter how much the "dishwasher-safe" sign urges you, you should fight the impulse and hand wash the pan after each use. While it may seem odd, constantly washing nonstick pans can impair the cookware's quality. Dishwashers can get rather hot, warping the metal and changing the shape of the pan. If you run the pan in the dishwasher long enough, the sealant on the pan will begin to break down.
Instead, you should hand wash the nonstick pan using warm water, dish soap and a soft sponge (never use steel wool).
7- Season The Pan Occasionally
To be clear, seasoning here does not mean sprinkling salt and black pepper on the pan. Seasoning here means the process of coating and filling in the cracks on the surface of any pan with cooking oil.
Seasoning is usually done on cast iron skillets, but it's also necessary for nonstick pans that have been scuffed. Simply rub some olive oil over the pan's surface and heat in the oven for about an hour at 250 – 300 degrees. While you don't have to do this regularly, it's best to do it every few months.
Frequently Asked Questions
People usually have many concerns regarding nonstick cookware, and I'm sure you must have some, too. But there's no need to scan the web for an answer because when I promised a complete guide on nonstick pans, I meant it! Here are some of the commonest queries about nonstick cookware:
Q: Do nonstick pans cause cancer?
A: PTFE has been proven not to link with cancerous bacteria, and the coating itself is considered non-toxic. However, Teflon coatings can start to break down at temperatures exceeding 570°F (300°C). When consumed, these chippings can be dangerous for human health. That said, you can always go for other nonstick varieties like ceramic.
Q: Are nonstick pans better than stainless steel?
A: If you're a beginner chef, you'll generally want to stick to nonstick cookware. It's simpler to use, works on gas and electric burners and is simple to clean.
Q: Can we cook everything in a nonstick pan?
A: No! Unless you want your nonstick pan to lose its nonstick feature, you should avoid caramelizing, searing and glazing food items in a nonstick pan.
Q: Can I add oil to my nonstick pan?
A: Yes, you can add oil or butter onto a nonstick pan to grease it. Moreover, nonstick pans allow you to cut down on the quantity, so a tablespoon or two should suffice.
Q: When should I replace my nonstick pan?
A: Chipping, rusting, discolouration and loose handles are some signs that indicate your nonstick pan is ready to be replaced.
No kitchen utensils set is complete without a good-quality nonstick pan. If not for nonstick pans, we all would have shut our kitchens and settled on store-bought meals or takeaways. These pans are lightweight, versatile, and frequently inexpensive, so the only real challenge is how to pick among the seemingly endless varieties available. And I am sure you would have learnt the art of buying and caring for nonstick pans with this guide on the best nonstick pans.