If you are looking for pans to help with everyday cooking or those special-occasion meals, nonstick pans may be what you need. They are a versatile and easy-to-clean addition to any cookware collection. Whether you need one high-quality nonstick pan to use for frying, sautéing, or grilling or a complete set of pans to use for all of your cooking needs, this guide can help you find the best nonstick pans.
- BEST OVERALL: T-fal Dishwasher Safe Cookware Fry Pan with Lid
- BUDGET SET: Calphalon 2 Piece Classic Nonstick Frying Pan Set
- UPGRADE SET: Calphalon Premier Hard-Anodized Nonstick Cookware Set
- BEST FRYING PAN: Rachael Ray 87631-T Hard Anodized Nonstick Skillet
- BEST SAUCEPAN: Calphalon Contemporary Nonstick Sauce Pan
- BEST GRILL PAN: OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Square Grillpan
- BEST STAINLESS STEEL: Cuisinart 726-38H Chef’s Classic Stir-Fry Pan
- BEST CERAMIC: Blue Diamond Toxin Free Ceramic Nonstick Frypan
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Nonstick Pan
When shopping for nonstick pans, it’s important to consider things like material, cooking surface, and required maintenance. Check out the following important considerations that can help you choose the best nonstick pan for your cooking needs.
Individual vs. Set
Nonstick pans can be purchased individually or as a set. If you are looking for different-size pans that can be used for cooking a variety of items, look for a full set for maximum versatility. These sets can range from two pans to several pans. If you need just one or two specific pans, like a frying pan (also called a skillet) or saucepan, you can also purchase quality nonstick pans individually.
When shopping for nonstick pans, consider your favorite cooking techniques. Some pans are better suited for sautéing, whereas others are designed for frying. There are also nonstick saucepans and grill pans, and some pans can be used in the oven as well as on the stovetop.
Grill pans look similar to frying pans, but they have raised grill lines that allow oil to drip, and they function similarly to outdoor grills. Since they transfer heat evenly, they do not require constant monitoring like outdoor grills. If you like to experiment with different cooking styles, look for a multipurpose pan or set with an assortment of pans designed for specific ways of cooking.
Nonstick pans are made from aluminum or tri-ply stainless steel, which contains two layers of stainless steel and an aluminum core. While aluminum pans heat up quickly but may not always provide even heat distribution, tri-ply stainless steel pans offer consistent heating and are safe to use on any type of cooktop, including induction.
There are two main types of nonstick coating: PTFE and ceramic. PTFE stands for polytetrafluoroethylene, which is a synthetic coating that repels water and reduces friction. The most common type of PTFE coating is Teflon, but there are a few other types made by other manufacturers.
You may have heard about the potential harmful effects of Teflon, but today’s nonstick pans with a Teflon coating are PFOA-free, which means they are safe to use. A ceramic coating is actually a silica-based gel coating. Both types of nonstick coatings help prevent food from sticking to the pan, but Teflon pans are known to last longer than ceramic pans.
Heat Conduction and Retention
Heat conduction measures how well a material can transmit heat. Nonstick pans with higher heat conductivity heat up faster than those with low heat conductivity. Heat retention indicates the material’s ability to retain heat.
Aluminum pans are excellent heat conductors, but they don’t retain heat very well. This means that the temperature of the pan may vary as food is added. Stainless-steel tri-ply pans may not be the best heat conductors, but they do provide even heat distribution and retain heat for longer periods. The best nonstick pans have even heat distribution to keep food from burning. They also last longer than other types of pans because they lack hot spots that can cause a nonstick coating to break down faster.
Cooking Surface and Depth
Nonstick pans with flat cooking surfaces are preferred because they provide even coverage, unlike convex or domed pans. However, nonstick pans with flared sides also are preferred because the wide design allows for quick and accurate flipping while preventing water from collecting inside.
Nonstick pans are compatible with most types of stovetops, but only certain types work with induction cooktops. Fully aluminum pans won’t work on induction cooktops because they aren’t magnetic. If you want to use an induction cooktop, look for an aluminum pan with bonded steel plates on the bottom or a thick layer of aluminum wrapped with stainless steel. You can also opt for stainless-steel tri-ply pans, which can be used on any type of stovetop.
Most nonstick pans are safe to use in the oven. Just be sure to pay attention to the heat limit for each pan, which is typically around 400 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Nonstick pans with plastic handles should not be used in the oven because the plastic could melt. Very high temperatures can damage a nonstick coating.
Cleaning and Maintenance
Check the care and maintenance instructions that come with your nonstick pan for proper cleaning. Nonstick pans usually benefit from hand-washing with dish soap and soft sponges, even if they are classified as dishwasher-safe. The high temperature, pressure, and strong soap used in dishwashers could damage the delicate surface of your pans.
Avoid using nonstick cooking spray on your pans because it could build up on the surface and may cause food to stick after extended use. Metal utensils also could scratch the surface of your pans, so stick to wooden, plastic, or silicone cooking utensils instead. When storing your pans on top of one another, you can protect the surface by placing a towel between pans.
Our Top Picks
From individual frying pans to versatile cookware sets, we have selected some of the best nonstick pans based on their features and benefits in each category. Read on to discover which nonstick pans will best suit your cooking style and your cooking goals.
This 12-inch nonstick fry pan has a hard-anodized aluminum exterior and titanium interior suitable for frying, sautéing, and browning. It’s equipped with patented thermo spot technology that turns red when the pan is preheated. This durable pan also has a strong coating that is resistant to scratches and corrosion. Other features include riveted silicone handles and a vented tempered-glass lid that allows you to monitor the cooking progress while trapping the desired amount of heat and moisture for optimal cooking results. This pan can withstand temperatures up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit in the oven.
This affordable frying pan set includes an 8-inch and 10-inch pan made from hard-anodized aluminum with a dual-layer nonstick interior for fast and even heating and simple cleanup. These pans have gently sloping sides with flared edges that make it easier to flip or fold food such as omelets. The stainless-steel handles stay cool to the touch so you can safely pick up the pans. You can use this set in the oven up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
This durable 13-piece cookware set includes a 10-inch fry pan, 12-inch fry pan with cover, 1.5-quart saucepan with cover, 2.5-quart saucepan with cover, 5-quart sauté pan with cover, and 8-quart multipot with cover, pasta insert, and steamer insert. The pans are made from premier hard-anodized aluminum that is resistant to corrosion and warping. The interior of each pan includes three durable nonstick layers that are designed to extend the longevity of the pans. This premium cookware includes a thick gauge that can support frequent use without damaging the pans. These pans are designed to heat evenly for consistent cooking. They are also oven-safe up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Easily transport these pans from the stovetop to the oven by using the stainless-steel stay-cool handles.
Dishwasher-safe, this large nonstick frying pan is constructed from durable hard-anodized aluminum for quick and even heating. The long-lasting nonstick interior offers easy food release and hassle-free cleanup. This frying pan has a double-riveted silicone handle, which makes it easy to move from the stovetop to the oven or to the table. This pan is oven-safe up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
This saucepan is made out of hard-anodized aluminum for maximum durability. The interior features three layers of nonstick coating with high sides and a narrow opening to reduce evaporation while slow-cooking items like stews and soups. The sloped bottom provides even heating for more consistent cooking. This saucepan comes with a tempered-glass lid and brushed stainless-steel handles that remain cool while on the stovetop. The pan and lid can both be used safely in the oven up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
This 11-inch nonstick grill pan is made from scratch-resistant hard-anodized aluminum with three layers of nonstick coating. It has deep ridges designed for classic grill searing and draining away fat. The cool-to-the-touch silicone grip handle makes it easy to carry this pan from the stovetop to the table. This grill pan also can be used in the oven up to 390 degrees Fahrenheit.
This 14-inch nonstick stir fry pan has a stainless-steel exterior and encapsulated aluminum core that heats up quickly and distributes heat evenly while eliminating hot spots that can burn your food. Convenient features include measurement markings, a stay-cool riveted handle, helper handle, and tightfitting glass lid that seals in flavors. This stainless-steel hybrid pan is safe to use in the oven up to 550 degrees Fahrenheit and also can be used on induction cooktops.
This 12-inch nonstick fry pan is made out of toxin-free ceramic nonstick coating for safe cooking. It also features a durable diamond coating that is five times harder than a traditional nonstick coating and extremely scratch-resistant while offering better heat transfer. This pan heats up quickly and evenly for efficient cooking and can be used for a variety of cooking techniques including searing, frying, and roasting. This ceramic pan can withstand high temperatures and is safe to use in the oven or broiler up to 850 degrees Fahrenheit.
FAQs About Your New Nonstick Pan
After learning about the features to consider when selecting the best nonstick pan for your cookware collection, you may still have questions. Below are some of the most common questions and answers about nonstick pans.
Q. Is nonstick cookware safe?
Yes, nonstick cookware is safe. While most manufacturers phased out the use of PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) in 2015, there has not been any proven harm from using nonstick pans that contain tiny traces of this substance.
Q. Can you use nonstick spray on a nonstick pan?
No, you should not use nonstick cooking spray on a nonstick pan because it can create a buildup that is difficult to remove from the surface of the pan. Instead, you can use a small amount of butter or oil.
Q. Why is my nonstick pan sticking?
Using nonstick cooking spray or temperatures higher than recommended by the manufacturer can cause the coating of your nonstick pan to wear down. When the coating wears down, it can start to stick.
Q. How do you clean a nonstick pan?
Hand-washing nonstick pans can provide the best long-term results. Using a dishwasher can damage the pan’s nonstick coating.