Skillets can be made of a number of different materials. Things like copper, cast iron, and stainless steel are common, but they don’t release food as easily as Teflon and ceramic.
Because of their nonstick properties, these two substances offer very practical advantages when preparing delicate food like eggs and fish. They also offer health benefits since you can operate with little to no oil. Though they don’t conduct heat quite as efficiently as metal skillets, using modern nonstick cookware is still usually a net positive no matter what type of cooktop it’s on.
While most nonstick skillets perform equally well on basic tasks like frying eggs and preparing fish fillets, important differences in style and design may make some better than others.
That’s why, in this article, we’re going to discuss how to choose the best nonstick skillets. Then we’ll share some of the most promising picks that we’ve found during our research.
Are Nonstick Skillets Safe to Use?
Early PTFE (otherwise known as Teflon) coatings were problematic. Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) was used in the production process, which turned out to be a major problem.
PFOA is a toxic man-made material that can have adverse effects on the environment and human health.
Fortunately, PFOA has now been eliminated from the process, so new nonstick skillets are risk-free unless you heat them above 500°F.
If the cookware surface reaches extreme temperatures, it will deteriorate and emit toxic fumes. Inhalation of PTFE fumes is considered an exposure pathway to a wide range of flu-like symptoms in humans. It’s also a mortality threat to birds whose respiratory systems are more sensitive to inhaled toxins.
According to research by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), hundreds of pet bird deaths were reported globally due to PTFE fumes. The high demand for nonstick cookware is likely to cause that death rate to increase further unless your birds are kept far away from your kitchen.
Another point worth noting is that Teflon coating can flake off and leach into your food. Accidental ingestion of a small amount of nonstick material does not impair your longevity, though. Most of the time, the flakes pass through the digestive tract without impacting your health at all.
The scratched surface of your pan will not work as well, though. It will become “stickier” to your food and may not transfer heat as evenly, so it’s still important to be careful.
How to Choose the Best Nonstick Skillet
Whatever you choose, remember that your nonstick skillets are not compatible with metal utensils. That’s because the hard, sharp edges will cause the coating to chip off. Plus, Teflon’s potential for adverse health effects means it is not suitable for high-heat cooking tasks.
Here’s what you should look for in a good nonstick frying pan:
1. Types of Coating
Nonstick skillets are classified based mostly on their cooking surfaces, with the two common types being Teflon and ceramic. While both materials allow you to limit the cooking oil yet still come away with an intact end product, their aesthetics and durability ratings are different.
Teflon cookware is popular for its non-reactiveness, moderate thermal conductivity, and competitive price tag.
As mentioned above, your nonstick pans are entirely safe to use unless you heat them beyond approximately 500°F. Once the coating decomposes due to overheating, it may cause polymer fume fever, which can be lethal to birds and detrimental to human health.
Skillets with ceramic coatings perform almost identically to those coated with Teflon, but they are usually more expensive and not as durable as their competitors. Their nonstick coating is more prone to flaking off with use, causing the cookware to lose its nonstick effectiveness sooner.
Because the coating doesn’t involve PTFE, however, it won’t emit hazardous fumes even when heated to high temperatures. This makes it a healthier option than Teflon cookware. Ceramic nonstick pans are still not intended for high-heat cooking tasks, though.
2. Construction and Performance
A good nonstick skillet should be able to conduct heat evenly. Its efficiency in this regard depends on its component materials. The type of coating applied to the cooking surface is part of this equation, but it’s not actually what drives the heat distribution.
Under the surface, your frying pans are usually made of either anodized aluminum or copper
Both are inexpensive-yet-durable materials. Unfortunately, they’re highly reactive with most foods, making it potentially unsafe to cook on badly scratched nonstick skillets. As the materials leach onto your food, they may alter the food’s flavor and even cause toxicity if ingested in considerable amounts.
This material is a great heat conductor and extremely heat-responsive. Compared with its counterparts, cookware clad in anodized aluminum is lighter and more economical.
The drawback is that it isn’t able to work on induction stoves. If you want to buy induction-compatible aluminum pans, choose the ones with an encapsulated bottom (a magnetic layer of steel or copper sandwiched between the outer aluminum surfaces).
High thermal conductivity and great heat retention are what set copper apart from the rest. It heats up twice as fast as aluminum, thus promoting more energy-efficient cooking. It distributes heat more evenly, too.
Due to its toxicity, however, copper is often used only as the pan’s core; it’s lined with other nonreactive materials to prevent food contact. So, if you find a brand of cookware that advertises a nonstick copper interior or pure copper exterior, that may be false advertising. Visible copper layers are generally considered decorative; it doesn’t lend you any advantages other than beauty.
12-inch skillets are perfect for most home kitchens. With a cooking surface 9 to 10 inches in diameter, it offers enough space for 3-4 eggs, a 9-inch pizza, or 3-4 chicken breasts.
For singles, couples, or small families, we recommend 10-inch skillets. Anything smaller than this size (8-inch) may not give you enough maneuvering space for your food. The limited cooking surface also causes food to be crowded in a pan, so moisture has no space to escape. As a result, food may get steamed rather than being browned.
Modern skillets can either have full metal or silicone-coated handles.
Silicone has significantly lower thermal conductivity, so the handle will stay cool throughout cooking. This allows you to easily lift your pans without a potholder.
Some silicone-coated handles are able to withstand temperatures up to 500°F, making it possible for the pans to go directly from the stovetop to the oven or broiler. The coating is, however, prone to discoloration from heat. Though this will not affect the pan’s performance, it makes your cookware less aesthetically pleasing.
Note that, if you put the pan in the oven, the handle will be hot when you take it out, silicone or not. The handle’s surface is getting heated along with everything else in the oven.
Whatever type you need, your cookware’s handles must be secured with high-quality metal rivets for added support. We have found that skillets whose parts are joined using welds or screws aren’t durable. Their handles may loosen over time or even fall apart while handling — and that may cause serious scald burns if hot liquid is involved.
Reviews of the Best Nonstick Skillets in 2021
- OXO Good Grips Pro – Best to Buy
- Cuisinart 622-30G – Best Large Nonstick Skillet
- MICHELANGELO – Best Copper Nonstick Skillet
- T-fal E93802 – Best Nonstick Skillet for Eggs
- GreenPan Lima – Best Ceramic Nonstick Skillet
1. OXO Good Grips Pro – Best to Buy in 2021
Made of hard-anodized aluminum and coated with up to three layers of German-engineered nonstick coating, the OXO Good Grips Pro has high thermal conductivity and moderate scratch resistance. It is a gold standard skillet for making perfect omelettes, pancakes, or delicate fish fillets without requiring extra care.
- Excellent heat conduction
- Durable and Efficient
- Limited lifetime warranty
- Oven- and dishwasher-safe
- Not induction compatible
- Handle gets hot
Out of all the nonstick skillets on the market, the OXO Good Grips Pro is among the least vulnerable to discoloration, even after years of heavy-duty use. At 2.5 pounds, it’s reasonably lightweight, but still sturdy enough to remain stable on the stovetop while you’re stirring ingredients. Also, it isn’t so thin that it can easily warp when there is a dramatic change in temperature.
With the exception of induction, the OXO Good Grips Pro is compatible with all stovetops. Its bottom is perfectly flat, so it won’t leave scratches on your cooktop and should distribute heat evenly no matter what type of stove you use.
The main body has a rolled pouring lip around the edge to prevent food from dripping down the side. It’s oven safe up to 430°F and can be put in the dishwasher for hassle-free cleaning. We recommend washing it by hand, though, to prolong the non-stick coating’s service life.
The handle is made of stainless steel reinforced with solid rivets, so it can withstand heavy-duty use without loosening over time. There is a little hole at the tip, allowing you to hang the skillet on the wall or from a rack if your cabinet space is restricted. Still, the metal handle retains heat, so you’ll need a potholder to protect your hand while holding it.
The OXO Good Grips Pro differs from its competitors in that it serves a variety of cooking styles while still coming in at an affordable price. Though it will not last forever, it can serve you for a very long time.
2. Cuisinart 622-30G – Best Large Nonstick Skillet
We like the Cuisinart 622-30G for its long-lasting construction and nonstick effectiveness. Beyond slow cooking and pan-frying, it is also great for simmering sauces — something that some frying pans are incapable of.
- Heavy-duty construction
- Fitted glass lid
- Limited lifetime warranty
- Oven safe
- Not induction compatible
- Handle gets hot
The Cuisinart 622-30G is a hard-anodized aluminum skillet coated with “Quantanium” nonstick material (a variation of Teflon) for easy food release and even heat distribution. It has a warp-resistant thickened base and a hollow-core handle with an ergonomic design for comfortable grip.
Be aware that the metal riveted handle may be too hot to the touch while cooking, so make sure you always have a potholder available.
The skillet also has a removable fitted lid, which helps minimize splatters and lock in all essential heat and moisture when you’re slow cooking or simmering. The lid is transparent, so you can easily keep track of the cooking process without opening it.
The downsides are that it can shatter if you drop it and doesn’t include a steam vent. So when there is build-up pressure, the steam has to escape out the edges.
In terms of performance, this skillet cannot compete with the top pick, but it gets the job done at a cheaper price. Foods like fish or lean beef can stick to the surface unless there is enough added oil. But most of the time, burnt-on food will come right off after soaking for a bit.
Since there are no plastic parts involved in the construction, the Cuisinart 622-30G can be used in the oven up to 500°F for an extended period. However, its coating will wear off after a few years of regular use, which is to be expected. To retain the cookware’s appearance and performance as long as possible, wash it by hand.
Another word of caution: the Cuisinart 622-30G isn’t broiler-safe. It isn’t compatible with induction cooktops, either.
From frying to simmering sides, the overall customer-friendly design of the Cuisinart 622-30G will let you cook with ease. If you’re seeking an option that can deliver crowd-pleasing dishes, this large 12-inch skillet is sure to please even the toughest home cooks.
3. MICHELANGELO – Best Copper Nonstick Skillet
The biggest selling point of MICHELANGELO skillets is that they are suitable for use on all stove tops, including induction stoves. This makes them a reliable multi-purpose choice for both home cooks and professional chefs.
- Induction compatible
- Oven safe to 450°F
- Heats quickly and evenly
- Elegant look
- Handle gets hot
- No rolled edges to help with pouring.
Plus, they come in multiple size variants (8-, 10-, 11-, and 12-inch), so you should have no trouble finding one that fits your daily cooking needs. And since each size fills specific purposes, you may want to keep a few different ones around.
As mentioned above, due to risks of toxicity, you’re not going to find copper cookware that has actual copper on the cooking surface. In fact, MICHELANGELO’s “copper” skillets are mostly aluminum – the copper only makes up the inner core. The attractive cooking surface is simply a copper-colored version of titanium-ceramic nonstick material.
Despite that, MICHELANGELO skillets combine uncompromising cooking performance with an elegant look. Featuring a high-quality aluminum alloy on the exterior, they heat up quickly with minimal “hot spots,” even at the pan’s sides. Their titanium-ceramic coating promotes healthier cooking and easy cleaning, and does not easily stain or lose its color.
MICHELANGELO skillets can be used in the oven up to 450 ̊F, though this will cause the stainless steel handles to become extremely hot. They can also go in the dishwasher, but you should wash your cookware by hand to prolong the coating’s lifespan.
MICHELANGELO skillets don’t have rolled edges to help with pouring. It’s still not hard to pour liquids without splashing, though, so we don’t think it’s a huge issue.
MICHELANGELO skillets are safe for any cooking surface. They are healthy kitchen tools with endless versatility and stylish design. If you’re looking for something that can deliver consistent performance and add a little style to your kitchen, we highly recommend them.
4. T-fal E93802 – Best Nonstick Skillet for Eggs
T-fal E93802 skillets are available in three different sizes. Lightweight and perfectly balanced, they each feature a pure aluminum core sandwiched between the nonstick coating and the stainless steel plate. While the aluminum core cooks quickly and spreads heat evenly, the thick stainless steel base allows the cookware to work well on all cooktops, including induction.
- Thermo-spot technology
- Oven- and dishwasher-safe
- Thick induction base
- Compatible with all cooktops
- Insulated handle
- Less durable than others
T-fal E93802 skillets are oven-safe to 400°F. They have stainless steel handles with silicone overcoats which are safe to grasp with or without a potholder (only when used on the stovetop). The handles are double-riveted for perfect stability, so you can move your cookware from the stovetop to the oven with confidence.
Because the rivets are not flush with the pan, grease, sticky residue, and food debris will accumulate around them. If you don’t clean your cookware thoroughly, this will make it look and feel grubby.
The skillets’ cooking surface is Teflon, enabling you to cook with the minimum amount of fat or oil. This traditional coating, however, is likely to become darker with a few surface marks or abrasions.
We like the unique T-fal Thermo-Spot heat indicator which is specifically designed to tell you when the pan is properly preheated. The Thermo-Spot is built permanently into the skillet’s interior and requires no special maintenance. With normal use, it will not degrade or lose effectiveness over time.
Note: When a skillet hasn’t reached the perfect preheated temperature before you start cooking, the moisture in the food will be drawn to the cooking surface. That, in return, makes the food stick.
Like the MICHELANGELO, T-fal E93802 skillets lack a rolled pouring lip around the edges to ensure drip-free pouring.
Thanks to the toxic-free cooking surface and high efficiency, T-fal E93802 skillets are reliable cookware that you can count on and cook with everyday. Of course, they’re not without drawbacks, but their overall performance is well worth the price.
5. GreenPan Lima – Best Ceramic Nonstick Skillet
The GreenPan Lima is the only skillet on our list that can be used under the broiler. It’s also the only one that has a nonstick coating derived from sand — a natural material that won’t become a health threat or release toxic fumes if it’s overheated.
- iveted handle for extra strength
- Healthy ceramic nonstick coating
- Oven- and broiler-safe
- Not dishwasher-safe
- Not induction compatible
Constructed of hard anodized aluminum, the GreenPan Lima delivers unsurpassed heat distribution. Its healthy ceramic nonstick interior is durable enough to endure at least some abrasion and to be resistant to scratching. Though, the use of metal utensils still should be avoided for best long-term results.
The GreenPan Lima isn’t induction compatible, but it’s able to withstand heat of up to 600°F. Durable and entirely safe under high temperature, it can double as a baking dish, going from the stovetop to the oven/broiler to the table without any damage. Just remember the metal handle will be hot.
The transparent lid is made of tempered glass which can stand up to sudden temperature changes. Overall, the lid is only rated to 425°F, though. As it doesn’t have a steam vent, it will wiggle and shift a little bit in an attempt to let steam escape.
The GreenPan Lima skillet is not dishwasher safe.
The superior even-heat diffusion, thermal shock resistance, and ability to withstand high temperatures make the GreenPan Lima an ideal piece of cookware for multitaskers. For extra reliability and safer cooking, look no further than this frying pan.
So, that is our list for the best nonstick skillets this year. With the help of one of the most suitable one, we hope you can take the stress off your daily meal preparation and then cook with complete confidence. And if you enjoy our article or have something to share, feel free to drop us a comment. That’d be much appreciated.