Good Question: What Kind of Nonstick Pan Should I Buy?

Here's a good question from Elizabeth, and we actually found a great answer for her at the Home and Housewares Show this week. Read on for our answer...

I need a new nonstick pan - what kind should I get? The coating on my All-Clad LTD 12-inch pan is gone. I'm not a huge fan of knowing that my family and I essentially ate the coating in our food, so I might prefer to get something that's nonstick without a coating like that.

If I got one pan, what kind should it be? Is it worth the heft to get cast-iron? Should I just get another All-Clad? What are the other options? I use the pan at least once a day - sometimes 3x - and it really is the workhorse of my kitchen.

Thanks!

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Elizabeth, usually we would advise against a nonstick pan for reasons connected both with cooking and with health. Most nonstick pans contain polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) - which both have serious health-related concerns, and are suspected to be carcinogens. Also, you usually can't heat nonstick pans at high enough heat to get the dark browning and crusts we prefer.

A new material that several manufacturers are using is Thermolon, a coating that is PTFE and PFOA free. We met one Belgian company at the Housewares show who is using this on their GreenPan products. Their skillets and pans are carried on HSN (branded under Todd English's brand) and at Macy's in Martha Stewart's line.

We like the price point - just $25 to $40 - but they have received some mixed reviews. See the Cook's Illustrated and Chowhound boards for some talk about reactions to these pans.

If you're interested in these, we do feel that they are a step in the right direction. They also can be heated to higher heats than traditional nonstick pans. We haven't cooked with them, though, so our review here is based solely on company materials and their supposedly healthier properties.

We do like the design of these particular pans, too; they are not too heavy, but not too light, either. We have photos of some other pans from the company we'll show you later - all organic curved shapes. They also explained how they've changed styling to cut down on tooling and energy used in their factories, which we appreciate as a whole other side to "green" product life cycles.

Here's the Macy's info on these pans:
Martha Stewart Collection GreenPan™ Cookware

Anyone used Thermolon? Thoughts? Other recommendations for Elizabeth?

(Photo: Faith Hopler for The Kitchn)