Anyone with a well-stocked kitchen can agree: Nonstick pans are an essential. You can’t make a perfect omelet or fluffy pancakes without one. It’s not all about brunch, either—they’re are also well-suited for cooking delicate fish and making crepes.
But wait: Can’t nonstick pans cause cancer?
Yep, we’ve all seen the press about cancer-causing nonstick coatings. But the good news is that most pans aren’t made with perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) anymore. In fact, you’ll find the words “PFOA-free” on almost every nonstick pan—so look for that! (More on coatings later.)
Knowing that there’s a lot to consider, we broke down the differences between nonstick pans to help you choose the right set.
What to Consider Before Buying a Nonstick Pan
These days, there are two different kinds of nonstick coatings. The most popular coating is PTFE (commonly known as Teflon), a synthetic coating that repels water. The other type of coating is called ceramic, although it’s actually a silica-based gel.
Either type of coating works well to prevent food from sticking to the pan’s surface, although Teflon coatings are reported to last longer than ceramic coatings. Just be sure to follow the care guidelines (basically, don’t scratch it!).
Most nonstick pans are made out of either aluminum or stainless-steel try-ply. The latter is much more capable of providing even heating, but these pans will be heavier and tend to be more expensive, too. Aluminum bases heat up more quickly but they’re not ideal for even heat distribution. They also can’t be used on induction burners (unless there’s a stainless steel plate welded to the bottom).
If you cook on an induction cooktop, make sure to check the package to ensure the pan is induction compatible. You can always test the pan by sticking a magnet to the bottom: If it’s magnetized, you’re good to go!
I’ll be the first one to tell you that you get what you pay for when it comes to kitchen equipment. That being said, don’t spend a lot of money on a nonstick pan. Even if you take exceptional care of your pans, that nonstick coating will eventually start to wear off. Save your money for expensive stainless-steel pots and pans that will last a lifetime and replace your inexpensive nonstick egg pan when its performance starts to suffer.
Our Pick for Nonstick Skillet: Calphalon 2-Piece Classic Nonstick Fry Pan Set, $45
Our Pick for Nonstick Pan Set: T-fal Ultimate Thermo-Spot 14-Piece Nonstick Cookware Set, $158
Our Pick for Induction Cooking: All-Clad Nonstick Frying Pans, $60
Looking for more kitchen essentials? Head over to our guide to the best type of cookware.