The Best Non-Stick Cookware You Can Buy, Plus How to Use It (According to a Pro)
Every cook should have a good non-stick pan in their collection. Why? It’s easy to clean, food won’t stick to the surface and there’s less need for butter or oil (if you’ve ever fried eggs, you know a non-stick surface is essential). But with so many options on the market, it can be a little (OK, a lot) overwhelming when deciding what to buy. So we tapped Barbara Rich, lead chef at the Institute of Culinary Education, to find out everything you need to know about non-stick cookware, so you can choose the best non-stick pans for your own kitchen.
Our Favorite Non-Stick Cookware at a Glance
- Best Overall: Our Place Always Pan
- Best Kitchen Aesthetic: Caraway Home 10.5-Inch Fry Pan
- Best “Do-It-All”: Equal Parts Essential Pan
- Best Non-Toxic Non-Stick: GreenPan Lima Ceramic Non-Stick Saucepan Set
- Best Handles: Michelangelo Ultra Nonstick Copper Sauce Pan with Lid
- Best Workhorse Pot: Bialetti Aluminum Nonstick Pasta Pot with Strainer Lid
- Best Budget: Utopia Kitchen Nonstick Saucepan Set
- Best for Professional Use: HexClad Hybrid Non-Stick Cookware 12-Inch Frying Pan
- Best Eco-Friendly: Great Jones “Large Fry” Pan
- Best Lightweight Option: Made In Blue Carbon Steel 10-Inch Frying Pan
- Best Value: OXO Good Grips 12-Inch Non-Stick Frying Pan with Lid
What is non-stick cookware exactly?
The biggest draw of non-stick cookware is that you can brown food without it sticking to the pan. While standard pots and pans require some type of cooking fat (like oil or butter) to prevent the food from gluing itself to the pan, non-stick versions are coated with a slippery surface during manufacturing.
When you think of non-stick, you probably think of Teflon (PTFE or polytetrafluoroethylene if you’re fancy), a chemical that’s been the standard for non-stick cookware since the 1940s. But it’s not the only option: There are also ceramic-, enamel- and silicone-coated pans, as well as seasoned cast iron and anodized aluminum.
Are non-stick pans safe to cook with?
The short answer is yes. In 2019, the FDA found that some of the chemicals used in manufacturing Teflon are toxic to the environment and our health. As a result, those chemicals (specifically PFOAs) are being phased out, but make sure you read the label on the product before purchasing.
Modern non-stick cookware is safe when used correctly. That said, it’s crucial not to overheat a coated non-stick pan (like Teflon). When a Teflon pan is heated above about 500°F, the coating will begin to break down at a molecular level and release toxic particles and gases (some of them carcinogenic)—yikes.
Another thing to watch out for is accidentally scratch the coating… no one is looking to eat their eggs over easy with a sprinkle of Teflon. If you remember to cook at low to medium heat and don’t use metal utensils, non-stick cookware is safe.
So you’re finally ready to make the non-stick investment? These 11 brands make the best non-stick cookware on the market:
1. Our Place Always Pan
We’ve said it once, and we’ll say it again: We love this pan. (Judging by the multiple restocks, we’re not the only ones.) Our Place’s one and only skillet does the work of an eight-piece cookware set and comes with both a nesting steamer basket and a wooden spatula that rests on the pan’s handle. Sure, it’s adorable (and comes in five pretty colors), but it’s also dishwasher-safe and compatible with all cooktops, and the brand is BIPOC- and women-owned. It strikes the ideal balance between aesthetics, quality and versatility (and will actually fit in your kitchen cabinets).
2. Caraway Home 10.5-Inch Fry Pan
Best Kitchen Aesthetic:
Available in an array of trendy colors (sage! cream! “perracotta”!), these are non-stick pans for the millennial set. The nontoxic ceramic coating is oven-safe up to 650°F and holds onto heat, and you have the option to purchase a single pan or the entire set that includes magnetic pan racks and a lid holder for storage. How does it cook? “I’ve found I can just toss in a bunch of veggies and sauté them without even adding any oil,” says Jillian Quint, PureWow’s Editor-in-Chief.
3. Equal Parts Essential Pan
We recently tested this new, direct-to-consumer line and were seriously impressed by the slippery surface. The high-sided, ten-inch Essential Pan is a do-it-all skillet that heats up quickly and evenly, with thoughtful design elements like a heat-dissipating, easy-to-grip handle. It’s only oven-safe up to 450°F, but for quick searing on the stove, it’s a dream. There are five timeless yet modern styles to choose from and it works on gas, electric and induction burners. Plus, it’s nontoxic and it comes in eco-friendly packaging (a nice bonus).
4. GreenPan Lima 1QT and 2QT Ceramic Non-Stick Saucepan Set
Best Non-Toxic Non-Stick
The GreenPan Lima collection is well-loved among chefs and home cooks (hi, Ina Garten), and for good reason: GreenPan is one of the OGs of non-toxic, nonstick cookware. The brand’s signature ceramic coating, called Thermolon, is scratch- resistant and it doesn’t run the risk of releasing toxins into your food—even if you accidentally overheat the pan. (It can withstand temperatures up to 600°F.) In addition, we love that the handles have cutouts so these pans can hang in storage and that these babies are dishwasher-safe and oven-safe.
5. Michelangelo Ultra Nonstick Copper Sauce Pan with Lid
Grabbing the lid without the proper protective equipment is one of the most excruciating cooking injuries we’ve faced… until we discovered the Michelangelo Nonstick Pot. The long stainless-steel handle on this saucepan stays cool, even when the pot’s on the stove, and it’s ergonomic for a natural grip. The vented lid is made of glass so you can supervise what’s cooking without lifting it unnecessarily, and the chic copper interior totally goes with our kitchen’s backsplash.
6. Bialetti Aluminum Nonstick Pasta Pot with Strainer Lid
Best Workhorse Pot
Inspired by Italian style and design, this non-stick pasta pot features an oval shape that allows you to cook all shapes and sizes of pasta without needing to break the noodles up. We love its clever design, which features a lid that locks in place for draining without spilling what you’ve cooked. The pot was designed with versatility in mind and has two thick side handles for pouring hot water without losing your grip. The handles stay cool to the touch so you can hold the pot safely, and its aluminum construction ensures that the pot will heat quickly and evenly. We’ve never met a carb we didn’t like, and this pot gives us an excuse to cook pasta all summer long.
7. Utopia Kitchen Nonstick Saucepan Set
While these aluminum alloy non-stick pans are smaller than some options, they have a 3-milimeter thickness and heat-resistant paint on the outside to make sure that they won’t chip, scratch or warp on you. The see-through lids let you check on food without disturbing your cooking and the pans’ nonstick coating is two layers thick, which allows for easy cleanup with soap and water in the kitchen sink. Not to mention, $26 for two durable saucepans is pretty hard to come by—proof that you don’t have to spend a fortune on non-stick.
8. HexClad Hybrid Non-Stick Cookware 12-Inch Frying Pan
Best for Professional Use
If you’ve ever been caught red-handed scraping at a non-stick pan with a metal spatula (yikes!), HexClad has your name all over it. The commercial-grade cookware is etched with a hexagonal pattern that is not only suuuper non-stick but scratch-resistant and metal-utensil safe. (During a demo in the PureWow office, a HexClad rep actually took an electric hand mixer and put it on high, grinding it into the pan. No marks, swear!) The line earns bonus points for being dishwasher safe.
9. Great Jones “Large Fry” Pan
According to the brand, this non-stick frying pan is healthy for both you and planet Earth (Read: no bad chemicals or Teflon). With a fully baked stainless steel exterior and a non-toxic, non-stick ceramic rivetless interior, this pan promises to heat up your food evenly without chipping or scratching. Our favorite part? It’s induction-, oven- and dishwasher-friendly, and its signature handle means it’s optimized for ergonomics.
10. Made In Blue Carbon Steel 10-Inch Frying Pan
Best Lightweight Option
Not familiar with carbon steel? It has the same heat-retaining and non-stick abilities of cast iron, but the lightweight feel and cooking speed of stainless steel. (It’s a favorite of food professionals.) It’s safe to use at temperatures up to a whopping 1,200°F, and it transitions seamlessly from stovetop to oven. The only caveat? It has to be seasoned like cast iron before use, and it can’t be cleaned in a dishwasher (but wiping out the smooth surface is easy).
11. OXO Good Grips 12-Inch Non-Stick Frying Pan with Lid
If you’re not in the market for bells and whistles but still want a pan that’s functional and durable, the OXO non-stick skillet is that pan. It’s lightweight yet sturdy, and if you follow the non-stick rules (no metal utensils!), its coating will last. You would think the grippy handle means it’s not oven-friendly, but it’s actually heatproof up to 390°F. It is handwash only, and it won’t work on an induction stovetop, but with a palatable $50 price tag, you can’t go wrong.
When should I use non-stick cookware?
According to Rich, you should absolutely reach for a non-stick pan when cooking eggs: “Use non-stick cookware 100 percent of the time when cooking eggs. At the Institute of Culinary Education, we use non-stick pans during our lessons on eggs.” Non-stick also great for cooking fish, she tells us, because of its delicate nature. And don’t forget about cheese, which is notorious for sticking and burning onto pans.
When should I not use non-stick?
Skip coated non-stick for high-heat cooking or transferring from the stove to the oven. “If you have cookware made with Teflon or that’s coated, I wouldn’t recommend putting it in the oven at all,” Rich tells us. Searing a steak on the stove and finishing it in the oven? Use stainless steel or cast iron for that. In fact, stainless steel cookware is generally a better choice for searing meats and cooking fatty foods or sauces that aren’t prone to sticking in the first place.
How to Take Care of Your Non-Stick Cookware:
To keep your coated non-stick pans looking brand-new, hand washing is the way to go. Because it wipes clean like nobody’s business, you probably won’t need the dishwasher anyway. Use soapy water and a non-abrasive sponge to maintain the coating, and line the inside with paper towels if you plan to stack during storage.
When cooking with non-stick pans, keep in mind that the coating is prone to scratches. “It’s important to use non-scratching utensils like rubber spatulas or wooden spoons when cooking on non-stick cookware,” Rich recommends. “Don’t mix anything with a fork or metal utensil.” Don’t put it in the oven or preheat it, either. And don’t use the non-stick cooking spray: It can bond to the surface when it heats up, leaving a sticky residue you won’t be able to wipe off (and rendering that once slick coating pretty much useless).
The Bottom Line When Choosing Non-Stick Cookware:
When buying non-stick cookware, “you need to think about what you’ll use it for,” Rich tells us. “In this day and age, the ones that are coated or Teflon are the least sensible to purchase because you may damage it by using a sponge that’s too abrasive or a metal utensil like a fork or tongs.” She prefers ceramic or seasoned cast iron. “When you’re looking for ceramic, look for ones that are not coated,” she says. “The coating is generally painted on, and that’s when you want to be careful because it can get scratched.”
This article reflects prices at publication that may change.