5 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using Nonstick Cookware

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Leela Cyd)

When used and stored properly, nonstick cookware is quite a handy tool in the kitchen. These pans are easy to use (especially for beginner cooks), and especially easy to clean. When used incorrectly, though, it’s also easy to damage and all out ruin nonstick pans.

From cooking to cleaning, here are five common mistakes people make when using nonstick cookware — plus our best tips on how to avoid these pitfalls!

1. Cooking over high heat

Cooking over high heat should be avoided for a few reasons. First, the higher temperatures are bad for the nonstick coating on the cookware. Over time exposure to high heat will deteriorate the surface. Also, depending on the type of nonstick coating on your pan, cooking over high heat can lead to the release unhealthy, potentially toxic vapors.

Follow this tip: Cook over low and medium heat with nonstick cookware.

2. Using nonstick cooking spray

Using nonstick cooking spray on nonstick cookware is a big no-no. Here’s the problem with it — after a while your pan will get a sticky buildup of the spray that doesn’t burn off during cooking. This usually happens around the sides of the pan. Scrubbing this sticky film off takes some serious elbow grease and doesn’t happen very easy.

Follow this tip: Use whole fats, like oil or butter, instead of cooking spray.

3. Failing to season your pan

Just like cast iron, it’s helpful to preseason and re-season your nonstick cookware. Not only will this help your pan last longer, it will also improve the way food cooks in it.

Follow this tip: To preseason your pan, simply rinse and completely dry, then use a paper towel to rub about a teaspoon of oil (any type will do) around the inside of the pan. It’s also a good idea to re-season the pan by rubbing it will a small amount of oil each time before using it.

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

4. Using sharp or abrasive objects anywhere near your nonstick pan

This goes for both cooking and cleaning. Using sharp objects like, knives or metal spatulas to stir food or remove it from the pan, along with things like steel wool for cleaning, can scratch and damage the coating on the pan. Once the coating on nonstick pans starts to peel or gets pitted, it’s best to replace them.

Follow this tip: For cooking, stick with wooden spoons or silicone spatulas for stirring food. When it comes time to clean, use a soft dishrag or non-metallic sponge or brush.

5. Cleaning nonstick cookware in the dishwasher

True, many nonstick pans claim to be dishwasher safe, but the super hot water and harsh detergents aren’t good for the nonstick coating. Over time this will cause the pan’s coating to deteriorate much faster than washing by hand.

Follow this tip: Wash non-stick cookware by hand. It will help your pans last a lot longer.

More on Nonstick Cookware

What are your best tips for using nonstick cookware?