Our Guide to the Best Nonstick Frying Pans
We seared, flipped and scrambled to find our favorite nonstick pans.
When most people think of nonstick pans, their thoughts are not usually positive: chemicals, one-trick pony (read: eggs) and a throwaway tool. But did you know that most nonstick pans are ovensafe? Some can even go under the broiler! And for those afraid of chemicals, we’re here to tell you that most nonstick pans no longer contain Polytetrafluoroethylene (PFOA), better known as "Teflon." We tested a variety of pans to find our favorites, and whether you’re making pancakes for the kids or whipping up a weeknight dinner, we found a pan for you.
First, a Nonstick Pan Primer
If you follow a few specific rules, your pan just might last a lifetime!
- Never use nonstick cooking spray. These sprays are not compatible with non-stick pans and create a buildup on the surface of the pan that, over time, is impossible to remove. If you need to use fat, use a minimal amount of butter or oil.
- Skip the dishwasher. Even if a brand says its pan is dishwasher-safe, stick to hand-washing. The harsh soaps and high temperature and pressure of dishwashers can dull and damage the coating of the pan that is essential to maintaining its nonstick magic.
- Don’t use over high heat on the stove. There are a few pans that you can use over high heat, but, in general, low to medium low heat is recommended for nonstick pans. This is not only to keep them functioning properly, but also to keep them from releasing any harmful odors or chemicals.
- Never heat an empty pan. This can release that awful odor that can be dangerous, and the high heat may be damaging to the pan.
The Anolon pan is our favorite for most people — and not just because of the great price! This pan cooked perfectly golden-brown pancakes, fluffy frittatas and fish without leaving any skin behind. Plus, it’s also a cinch to clean — sometimes even with just a dry towel.
The pan is PFOA-free, metal utensil safe, ovensafe and suitable for all stovetops (except induction). With a rubber handle that feels secure in-hand and sloped sides just like the expensive brands, flipping and turning food is effortless. Finally, the sleek, clean design would complement any kitchen collection.
Want a super reliable pan that won’t let you fail, but also won’t break the bank? This pan won’t be ruined if you use it over high heat, allowing the beginner cook a bit more room for error. The handle has a safety net, too, with a gap near the pan to make sure your hands remain burn-free. And this made-in-the-USA pan not only cooks like pans twice its price, but it looks that way as well. No need to sacrifice form over function while you hone your skills in the kitchen.
The Tramontina Professional series are utilitarian style pans that look like those you would find in a professional kitchen. With a heavier weight and a heavy-duty, long handle, this pan feels like it could handle the rigors of a restaurant without being out of place in your home.
Even with the super low price, this pan is PFOA-free, dishwasher safe and ovensafe, and it's compatible with gas, electric and ceramic glass cooktops. As an extra bonus, it is made in the USA and comes with a silicone handle guard that allows you a burn-free, secure grip.
This pan has it all: the most even heat distribution, the ability to cook over high heat and induction-compatibility. Plus, it’s ovensafe, dishwasher safe and metal utensil safe. Not too shabby — but it comes at a price. The most-expensive of the lot, this pan is made for those that want to cook like the pros.
The pan doesn't skimp on looks either; it has a super sleek design with a shiny silver outside and handle with a smooth black, inner surface. As an added bonus, this pan is also made in the USA.
Consistent with Le Creuset's famous aesthetics, this pan is our favorite to look at. It has a smooth, all-black pan with a shiny, stainless steel handle complete with Le Creuset’s insignia at the base. The handle is ergonomic and hollow to keep it from taking on too much heat. It's PFOA-free and dishwasher safe, broiler safe and ovensafe (up to 500 degrees F). It provides consistent and even cooking and has a smooth and easy-to-clean surface; the only thing you might think twice about is the price tag.
If you have a serious concern when it comes to chemicals, have no fear, the Green Pan is here. Its surface contains a ceramic nonstick coating called Thermolon™, which is made from a sand derivative that requires no toxic chemicals to produce. The uniqueness of the coating is also reflected in the design with the option of a slate blue or white interior.
You also won’t be skimping on performance, as this pan is safe to use with metal utensils, designed for use on all stovetops (except induction), and ovensafe (up to 600 degrees F), and broiler and dishwasher safe. Super bonus? It’s PFAS-, PFOA-, lead- and cadmium-free! The only concession to consider is that this pan takes a little more effort to clean, as the chemical-free surface is not as supremely nonstick.
How We Tested
After careful research from reputable consumer buying guides, we purchased 10 10-inch non-stick frying pans. We put these pans through rigorous tests. To get started, we noted how each was packaged and what kind of literature was included, and then we took down general information like weight and dimensions. We then used an infrared thermometer to test the heat distribution of each pan. From there we cooked a variety of items to check the form and function.
We seared skin-on fish fillets to test the slickness of the surface and how well it crisped. For pancakes we tested how evenly the pans cooked, how smoothly the food moved in the pan, and how easy it was to flip and maneuver within the pan. In pans that were ovensafe, we baked frittatas to record how evenly the pans cooked in the oven, how comfortable the pans felt while handling and how smoothly the frittatas slid out of the pans.
Throughout this process we recorded how much food stuck to the pan (if any) and how easily it was to clean the pan with just a dry towel or with soap and water. We considered pricing, performance and design when picking our favorites.