The Best Nonstick Cookware Sets, Pans and Griddle, According to Food Network Kitchen
Use this guide to choose the best nonstick cookware whether you’re looking for a whole set or a small pan for omelets.
Our Top Nonstick Cookware Picks
- Best Nonstick Cookware Set: Anolon Smartstack
- Best Value Nonstick Cookware: T-Fal Endurance Collection 14 Pcs Cookware Set
- Best Ceramic Nonstick Cookware Set: GreenPan Valencia Pro Ceramic Nonstick 11-Piece Cookware Set
- Best 12-inch Nonstick Skillet: AnolonX 12-Inch Frying Pan with Helper Handle
- Best Nonstick Omelet Pan: Tramontina PRO Series 8 in Fry Pan
- Best Nonstick Griddle: Nordicware Two Burner Griddle King
By Sharon Franke for Food Network Kitchen
There’s nothing like a nonstick finish to prevent food from sticking, which makes a nonstick pan pretty much essential for preparing things like frittatas, pancakes, and crepes. But even when you’re simmering tomato sauce or steaming rice, you’ll find a nonstick surface a big help. When it’s time for cleanup, you won’t find yourself scrubbing to get off the residue that’s stuck to the pan. You can also use a skillet with a nonstick surface to fry steaks, chops, and hamburgers. Contrary to popular opinion, you will get good browning and delectable brown bits to incorporate into a delicious pan gravy. The only caveat is that you can’t use a nonstick pan over a high heat setting so it may take longer to get a good sear.
Today, the best nonstick finishes can be used with metal utensils and rarely peel or flake off. Nonetheless, over time, you will find that their stick resistant properties diminish and may want to replace your nonstick cookware. That’s why we don’t recommend paying a sky-high price for nonstick cookware. Here's our top picks for nonstick cookware you need in your kitchen.
Is Nonstick Cookware Safe?
Traditional nonstick coatings contain a chemical called PTFE. There is no evidence that finishes with PTFE are toxic or harmful to cook in. You also hear a lot about a substance called PFOA which used to be part of the manufacturing process. During production, it ran off in the water during production and didn’t become part of the final nonstick surface. However, the PFOA in the runoff is linked with health problems for people living near the factory and caused consumer concern about the safety of nonstick finishes. Since 2015, PFOA has been completely phased out and is no longer used in the process of making nonstick cookware.
However, nonstick cookware can release fumes if it’s overheated which can happen if it’s preheated empty or used over very high heat. If you’re nervous about nonstick safety, you can choose a ceramic nonstick coating. Made from sand, these finishes are not always quite as good at releasing food and aren’t as long lasting, but they can be safely used at higher temperatures.
Nonstick Cookware Dos and Don'ts
Don’t use nonstick cooking spray.
It builds up on the surface of the pan and is almost impossible to clean off. If you use it, you’ll notice your cookware becomes tacky to the touch and doesn’t release food as well.
Don’t preheat your pan without any food in it.
By preheating your pan empty, you take the risk that it’ll risk overheat. Although the general cooking wisdom is to preheat a pan with or without some oil or butter before cooking, you’ll be surprised that if you put your food in a cold nonstick pan, you’ll still get good browning results. If you do opt to preheat, stay nearby and place your food in the pan as soon as oil sizzles.
Do use a low to medium heat setting.
Although it’s unlikely you’ll ever heat your nonstick pan to high enough of a temperature to release fumes, you’re better off playing it safe by sticking to low to medium heat.
Don’t cut in your skillet with a knife.
You’ll wind up with little grooves in your pan that will affect its nonstick performance. Also avoid using the sharp edge of a stainless-steel spatula to slice into a hamburger to check for doneness or to cut a frittata into wedges.
Do use a nonabrasive scrubbing pad.
It won’t abrade the finish the way steel wool or one of those scrubbers with a rough green finish will.
Included: 8.5", 10.5", and 12" skillets, 2- and 4- quart saucepans with lids, 8-quart stockpot with lid, stainless steel steamer insert
The nonstick finish on Anolon cookware is consistently among the best you can buy when it comes to sliding out fried egg after fried egg without even a touch of butter. In addition, the hard anodized aluminum base offers even heat distribution so you don’t have to constantly rearrange and stir as you cook. We love the straight sides on the saucepans that prevent food from boiling down too quickly and the sloped sides on the skillets, which help you to toss food like a pro or roll out an omelet. As the handles have silicone grips, they’re comfy to hold and don’t get hot on the stovetop. You can use this cookware in the oven up to 400 degrees F, which is high enough to finish off salmon but not hot enough to put a crispy topping on mac 'n cheese. The handles are attached with rivets, but the rivets are flush with the sides of the pans and are coated with the nonstick finish so you won’t find yourself scrubbing to get them spotless. And yes, these pots and pans can be popped in the dishwasher.
In this set, there’s a great collection of truly useful pieces. It includes a 12-inch skillet for one dish meals, an 8-quart stockpot for pasta and soups, and a colander insert for steaming veggies or easily draining spaghetti; these are pieces that are often not included in cookware sets. But what makes Smartstack truly innovative is that all the pieces can be stored in two stacks, each under 13 inches high, so it doesn’t monopolize space in your cabinet.
Included: 8.5" skillet, deep 12" skillet with lid, 1.5- and 3-quart saucepans with lids, 4-quart sauté pan with lid, 8-quart stockpot with lid, 3 tools
Back in the 1960s, T-Fal was the first company to introduce nonstick cookware and it still sells excellent performing lines and offers them at great pricepoints. In fact, for pots and pans with a nonstick finish that’s durable enough to be used with metal utensils, you can’t beat this set. With classic shapes and riveted stainless-steel handles, it looks like it costs far more than it does. You will notice that it’s not heavyweight, so best to be vigilant about using it on lower heat settings. Endurance pans can go in the oven up to 500 degrees F, so you can use the skillet for a Dutch baby pancake.
This set includes the pots and pans you’re most likely to use including a small skillet for omelets and a large one for a recipe like chicken cacciatore. There’s also an 8-quart stockpot, which is the size we recommend for spaghetti. Even though three of the 14 pieces are stainless steel utensils, you still get a lot for your money with this set. And you can safely wash it in the dishwasher.
Included: 8", 10.5" and 11" fry pans, 2- and 3-quart saucepans with lids, 3-quart sauté pan with lid, and 5-quart Dutch oven with lid
If you’d prefer to have ceramic nonstick cookware, which can be used over high heat without any worries that it will overheat and give off fumes, this is our top pick. Without the lids, these pans can be used at temps up to 600 degrees F, which means you can use them to sear a steak on high or run them under the broiler to crisp up a topping or caramelize sugar. Unlike many ceramic finishes, this one rivals traditional ones for releasing foods like sunny-side up eggs and for staying nonstick for a long time. The cookware is constructed of hard anodized aluminum to keep it from denting and give even browning. When you cook on the stovetop, the stainless-steel handles don’t get hot so you can grab them without a mitt.
The set include three different size skillets with sloped sides and a straight sided sauté pan for making dishes like risotto, skillet pot roast, or chicken in a creamy sauce. In addition to saucepans, you get a 5-quart Dutch oven which should be large enough for typical soup and stew recipes. However, if you like to cook your pasta in a large pot of water or make big-batch chilis, you may want to supplement with a stockpot. GreenPan says this cookware is dishwasher safe, but recommends that you hand wash it.
We’re totally wowed by this brand-new skillet, which just may be the most even heating we’ve ever tested. Across the entire bottom surface, it browns absolutely perfectly uniformly, which is rare in a 12-inch skillet. Embedded in the nonstick finish is a wire grid that helps oil spread out evenly. In most nonstick skillets, unless you use a substantial amount, oil pools at the edges, making it impossible to plop all your chicken thighs in hot oil at once without swirling the pan. We know this piece is pricey, but we think it’s worth the splurge for dishes like meatballs in tomato sauce or pork chops with peppers that call for browning the meat before simmering. With its rounded edges and sloped sides, it’s the perfect shape for stir frying beef and broccoli or serving wedges of a frittata.
However, because of the wire grid, the surface is not totally slick. While pancakes slide right out and clean-up is effortless, you do need to use a bit of butter when you’re cooking eggs.
AnolonX is made of hard anodized aluminum that’s safe for the dishwasher and can be used in the oven up to 500 degrees F. There’s a helper handle to give you a good grasp if you carry it loaded with chili to a counter or the table. On the bottom, there’s a solid base of stainless steel which makes it safe for use on an induction cooktop and will give great results.
A small nonstick frypan is a must in every kitchen. Without one, it’s near impossible to roll out an omelet or flip out a crepe. It’s also a pan that comes in handy when you’re scrambling one or two eggs, frying a single grilled cheese sandwich, or toasting sesame seeds. We don’t recommend investing in an expensive one. This is one pan where great release is super important so you may find yourself replacing it as soon as you notice it’s starting to stick.
The Tramontina is made of aluminum and comes with a silicone grip that slips over the handle. It has the classic shape you want for sliding an omelet onto a plate. You can clean it in the dishwasher, but be forewarned that if you do, the aluminum may not remain bright and shiny.
If your family’s idea of breakfast is more than a bowl of cereal or a toasted bagel, you’ll want a griddle to cook up bacon, blueberry pancakes, and French toast, not to mention fried eggs. This aluminum griddle with a nonstick finish spans two burners to give you plenty of room so you can make your griddlecakes in fewer batches.
You’ll notice that the Nordic has small handles but unlike with a skillet, you don’t need to use them when you’re cooking; and we like that they don’t stick out or add bulk to an item that is already awkward to store. Hand washing is recommended by the manufacturer.
How We Picked
To select our best nonstick cookware sets, we relied on our years of turning out flapjacks and just about anything else you can think of both to develop recipes and to feed our families. We double checked to see what professional reviewers recommended and what home cooks reported about home use.
In addition to considering how well pots and pans released food as well as how evenly they cooked, we considered if they were easy to use and keep clean. Another important factor was the usefulness of the assortment of pieces included in each set. Our selections include complete sets for those looking to replace all their cookware to single pieces for those who are looking to add a piece to their collection.
Sharon Franke has been testing and writing about kitchen equipment for over 30 years. Before becoming a cooking tools expert, she spent seven years working as a professional chef in New York City restaurants. In her free time, she's busy baking sourdough bread and rustling pots and pans on her own stove.