The Most Surprising Thing We Learned About How to Avoid Ruining Nonstick Pans

updated Sep 10, 2021
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

Nonstick pans and skillets are some of the easiest pieces of cookware to work with, especially for beginner cooks just starting to learn their way around a kitchen. But that doesn’t mean they’re completely foolproof.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Pearl Jones

Several makers of nonstick cookware shared how not to ruin a nonstick pan. Some tips really surprised us! Here’s what we learned:

Some brands of nonstick pans need to be seasoned, similar to cast iron! Check with the manufacturer, but the first time you use one, here’s what you do: Clean the pan with soapy water, dry it, and then rub the pan with a little vegetable or canola oil. Even after pre-seasoning, the director for Nordic Ware recommends oiling the pan after each use. One big benefit: seasoning a nonstick pan ensures there are no uneven spots on the coating as you continue to use it!

Less surprising, but still a good reminder, is that nonstick cookware shouldn’t be used over very high heat. We always thought this was simply a safety precaution to avoid heating Teflon to the point of releasing toxic chemicals. Instead, it’s because high cooking temperatures can actually crack the Teflon coating.

That’s pretty good advice to remember since no one wants the frustrating (and expensive!) ordeal of regularly replacing pots and pans! But if you are currently in the market for a nonstick pan, the OXO Good Grips 12-inch skillet is one of our favorites. “Nothing sticks to its durable nonstick surface,” says Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm, the Kitchn’s Tool Editor. “And because nothing sticks, it’s also easy to clean. I’ve been using mine for a while now and it’s well past the point when other pans would have failed me.”

Do you cook with nonstick? Any disaster stories or bits of advice to share?