How to Buy a Nonstick Pan That’s Right for You

Learning how to buy a nonstick pan that's right for you is easy when you've got tips from a real-life restaurant chef. Our pan buying guide lists the important considerations you need to know before investing.

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 also well-suited for cooking delicate fish and making crepes.

But wait: Can’t nonstick pans cause cancer?

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. Here’s your go-to nonstick pan buying guide:

What to Consider Before Buying a Nonstick Pan

Coating

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!).

Calphalon Contemporary Nonstick Cookware 13-Inch Deep Skilletvia walmart.com

Our Pick for PTFE Nonstick Skillet: Calphalon Contemporary 13-Inch Deep Skillet, $110

 GreenPan Paris 12 Inch Ceramic Non-Stick Fry Panvia amazon.com

Our Pick for Ceramic Nonstick Skillet: Original GreenPan Paris Pro 12-Inch Skillet, $90

Material

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!

Taste of Home 12.5-inch Non-Stick Aluminum Skillet Taste of Homevia amazon.com

Our Pick for Aluminum Nonstick Skillet: Taste of Home 12-Inch Skillet, $35

All-Clad 4709 NS R2 18/10 Stainless Steel 3-Ply Bonded Nonstick Egg Perfect Fry Pan Skillet, 9-Inch, Silvervia amazon.com

Our Pick for Stainless-Steel and Induction-Compatible Nonstick Skillet: All-Clad 9-Inch Skillet, $100

Price

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.

Anolon 82031 Advanced Hard Anodized Nonstick Frying Pan/ Fry Pan/ Saute Pan/ All Purpose Pan with Lid - 12 Inch, Grayvia amazon.com

Our Pick for Budget Nonstick Skillet: Anolon Advanced Hard-Anodized 12-Inch Skillet, $40

Fissler Protect Steelux Premium , Non-Stick Fry Pan, 11-Inch, Stainless steel Cookware, Compatible Stovetops: Induction, Gas, Electric, Dishwasher Safevia amazon.com

Our Pick for Splurge Nonstick Skillet: Fissler Protect Steelux Premium 11-Inch Skillet, $120

Looking for more kitchen essentials? Head over to our guide to the best type of cookware.

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Lindsay D. Mattison
After years of working in professional kitchens, Lindsay traded her knives in for the pen. While she spends most of her time writing these days, she still exercises her culinary muscles on the regular, taking any opportunity to turn local, seasonal ingredients into beautiful meals for her family.