Cooking can be such a joy, but stuck-on-food… not so much. Whether it’s eggs or potatoes, a grilled cheese, or something else, we’ve all experienced the struggle. There’s good news, though. Advanced technology, new surfacing materials, and unique designs have allowed manufacturers to create the best nonstick pans to date. That means no more burned-on food, no more scraping and scraping at egg or cheese residue, and less time standing at the sink.Of course, with a wide range of manufacturers, pan designs, and surfacing technologies, finding the right option for your home, cooking style, and budget can be pretty challenging. This list of the top 10 nonstick pans has something for everyone, whether you’re a budding gourmet, an experienced home cook, or you’re just starting on your culinary adventure.
What You Need to Know When Shopping the Best Nonstick Pans
Finding the right nonstick pan for your needs can be pretty challenging. That’s particularly true if you’re buying your first cookware.
There are so many options on the market and so many catchphrases – is five-ply construction really necessary? What’s PFOA, anyway? Is stainless steel the best choice? Why don’t most aluminum pans work with induction cooktops?
These are just some of the questions that you might have. In this section, we’ll walk you through what you need to know when buying a nonstick pan to help ensure you make an informed decision.
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We’ll start our discussion with the coating since that’s what makes a pan nonstick. Note that all nonstick pans have some sort of coating on the inside. If the pan is all stainless steel, then it is not nonstick. You will need to use significant amounts of oil or other fat to prevent food from sticking in that case.
Nonstick pans come with one of two types of coating – PTFE, also known as Teflon and ceramic, which is actually a gel when it’s applied.
- PTFE – The vast majority of pans on the market today use PTFE as the nonstick coating. Many of the pans on our list feature a PTFE coating. Today’s coatings are safe and do not contain PFOA, or perfluorooctanoic acid.
- If you have heard about nonstick pans causing cancer, PFOA was the chemical responsible. It was phased out of use many years ago, so all PTFE coatings today are safe for use.
- Ceramic – None of the nonstick pans we reviewed offered a ceramic coating, and this is for good reason. While the surface does ensure an easy release, ceramic coatings do not last as long as PTFE coatings. So, no matter how high quality your pan might be, it will always fail before a PTFE-coated pan.
What Does “Cladding” Mean?
Shopping for nonstick pans can be confusing for many reasons, including the use of the word “cladding”. Many manufacturers use this to help set their product apart from competitor offerings, but what does it actually mean?
In reality, cladding has nothing to do with the nonstick cooking surface of a pan. It’s all about body construction. Cladding refers to the number of layers that go into making the pan itself. Those layers are then topped with either PTFE or ceramic, depending on the manufacturer and pan in question.
Most manufacturers today use three-layer construction, but some, such as Viking, use more depending on the pan line in question. Usually, commercial-grade cookware features more plies, or cladding, than cookware designed for use at home. That’s simply because there’s more abuse in a commercial kitchen, so cookware needs to be more durable to stand up to daily usage.
Body Construction and Shape
To ensure that you’re making an informed decision with your cookware, it’s important to understand body construction, shape and anatomy. All of these factors will affect your cooking experience.
Stainless Steel – Stainless steel is used to create the outer body of some pans. These usually have an inner core of aluminum to help ensure better heat distribution. The stainless steel exterior resists staining, is easy to clean and is generally dishwasher safe.
Painted Steel – Painted steel is also used as the exterior construction material of choice in some instances. It is strong, light and affordable. It also resists staining pretty well, but may not be as visually appealing as stainless steel.
Hard-Anodized Aluminum – Some of the pans we reviewed above feature a hard-anodized aluminum interior and exterior. Simply put, this means that a mechanical process has been used to harden the aluminum. Anodized aluminum is harder than steel, so it can put up with more abuse.
However, aluminum is not magnetic, so pans without a steel bottom or another conductive metal do not work with induction cooktops. There are some other pros and cons to each material:
Steel – Tri-ply or five-ply pans are heavier than aluminum pans, although they heat up more evenly. Steel usually costs more, too.
Aluminum – Aluminum pans tend to heat up more quickly than steel, but thin aluminum doesn’t offer optimal heat distribution (thicker aluminum used as pan cores does, though). Aluminum is often cheaper, though, but may be thinner and may not last as long as thicker steel pans.
Note that anodized aluminum pans are different from other aluminum pans. They are thicker, stronger and harder, which means they offer the same heat dispersion as steel and provide the same lifespan, often 15 years or longer with the right care.
The rim of the pan plays several important roles in cooking. It can help or hinder pouring from the pan, and it can affect how easily you can get a utensil into the pan and under your food for flipping or removal.
You’ll find two styles of rim on the market – straight and rolled, each of which excel in different areas.
Straight – Straight rims are better suited to situations where you will toss ingredients in the pan. The rim goes straight up and down, which means there is less tendency for ingredients to fan out while tossing.
Rolled – Rolled rims bend slightly outward and downward. This is better for situations where you’ll be pouring from the pan, as it helps prevent liquid from running down the front of the pan instead of going where you want it.
You probably noticed that the pans we reviewed have a wide range of side heights. These are more than just stylistic considerations; they affect cooking and performance, too.
Tall Sides – Tall sides are better for pans where you might need to simmer a liquid while reducing evaporation.
Flared Sides – Flared sides jut out at an angle from the base and help accelerate evaporation while cooking.
The base of your pan plays a role in how well it functions with your stovetop. For instance, if you have a glass-ceramic stove, you’ll want a smooth, flat base. If you have a gas stove, any type of base will work. If you have an induction cooktop, then the base needs to be magnetic.
However, you also need to consider the thickness. The thicker the base, the more even the heat distribution will be. Having said that, thicker bases also take longer to heat up. Thinner bases heat up more quickly, but not as evenly. Pans with thicker bases also last longer than pans with thinner bases, so this affects longevity.
Handle Type, Shape, and Construction
The handle plays a pivotal role in your pan usage. The right handle will be comfortable, stay cool during use (they all warm a little, though), and will be secure enough for worry-free cooking. Not all pans measure up, though.
Bolt-In – Some handles are secured to the base of the pan with nuts and bolts, or a bolt with a permanent nut welded to the pan. These are affordable and widely available. However, over time and through normal use, the nut/bolt will begin to loosen and you’ll find yourself having to tighten them regularly.
With that being said, if the handle is damaged, you can easily replace it. Just remove the bolt, take the old handle off, and install the new handle.
Riveted – Riveted handles offer a more stylish appearance, but the benefits go deeper than mere aesthetics. Rivets are permanent, which means you don’t need to worry about having to tighten them over time.
However, because rivets are permanent, you can’t replace a bent or damaged handle. You’ll need to replace the entire pan.
A quick glance at the list of nonstick pans we reviewed will show you several different materials, each with something different to offer.
Soft-Touch – Some pans have soft-touch handles. These are designed to be more comfortable while holding the pan. They also remain cooler during use.
However, soft-touch materials are more prone to wear and tear and will not last as long as metal handles. They are also often not oven-safe, and if they are, they are usually only safe to lower temperatures.
Plastic – Some of the nonstick pans we reviewed feature handles made of a special type of plastic. It’s designed to withstand the heat of cooking, and in some cases is even oven safe. However, like soft-touch materials, plastic handles will not last as long as metal.
Stainless Steel – Several of the nonstick pans we reviewed have stainless steel handles. These are ultra-durable, look great and perform very well. They are oven safe to higher temperatures, as well.
However, steel handles do get warmer than soft-touch or plastic handles during use, although almost all manufacturers use a design that keeps handles safe to touch during stovetop cooking.
Handle shape is an important consideration for several reasons, but primarily because it affects your ability to grip the handle and manipulate the pan.
- Contoured – Contoured handles are the easiest to hold. They’re specially designed with an indented top and curved bottom to fit the curvature of your hand, ensuring a strong, firm grip.
- Flat – Flat handles can be easier to hold than some other shapes, but they lack the curvature of contoured handles.
- Ergonomic – Generally made of soft-touch materials or plastic, ergonomic handles are supposed to provide a better grip overall. Usually, these handles are wider or thicker than flat or contoured handles to better fill the palm of your hand.
Different pans may feature a metal or glass lid, or may not have a lid at all. Using a lid can help you prevent liquid from evaporating, increase cooking heat, prevent oil or grease from splashing, and more. Here’s what you need to know:
- Metal – Metal lids can take a beating in the kitchen and still perform well. They’re lighter and require less care when handling, as well.
- Glass – Glass lids let you see the contents of the pan while you’re cooking. They can also be as durable as metal in some instances.
- No Lid – Some of the pans we reviewed do not include a lid at all. Many foods don’t require a lid to cook, or may even burn if you use a lid.
The size of your pan is a crucial factor to consider. Too small, and you won’t be able to fit enough in the pan. Too large, and it may be unwieldy. However, it’s usually better to opt for a pan that’s a little larger than you need than to go with one that is too small.
What size do you need, though? Here are a few tips to help you choose the right size pan for the job:
- 14+ Inches: Pans 14 inches or larger are best suited for large meals for many people. They may be too large for most needs. However, if you need to cook a large amount of food, or to cook a moderate amount of food that needs room, such as a pack of bacon or four chicken breasts, this may be a good size for you.
- 12 Inches: A 12-inch pan is an ideal size for larger meals, and can hold just about anything. They work well for frying, but also browning, sautéing, and other forms of cooking. Even smaller families can benefit from this size pan.
- 10 Inches: A 10-inch pan is one of the most versatile options and is well-suited for many things, including cooking eggs, cooking cutlets, reducing sauces and more.
- 8 Inches: An eight-inch pan is more useful for small families or individuals. You can cook a couple of eggs at a time, brown a single piece of meat, or reduce a small amount of sauce.
Top 10 Best Nonstick Pans
Designed specifically for use in commercial kitchens but offered to home cooks, the Tramontina 80114/535DS provides a sturdy, durable aluminum base and a rugged nonstick surface that will last and last. The nonstick coating is PFOA-free, and the pan’s satin exterior finish is not just attractive but also designed to help prevent stuck-on food and stains.
The handle is made from steel and riveted directly to the pan base. That means no bolts or nuts to loosen on you during use. It also means years of worry-free use. You’ll be able to protect your hands from heat with the included silicone handle cover, but it also comes off if you want to toss the pan in the oven. Note that the pan is oven-safe up to 400 degrees. The entire pan is NSF-Certified and meets the standards for professional kitchens.This is a 10-inch frying pan, which is large enough for most meals. However, if you regularly cook for several people at one time, you may want to go for a larger 12-inch pan that holds more food at one time.
T-fal has been a go-to brand for home cooks for decades at this point, and the company continues to innovate in their designs. The T-fal 2100086427 E93805 Professional Total Nonstick Thermo-Spot Heat Indicator Fry Pan fits in nicely with that heritage. The interior is made with a specially-designed finish that resists scratching, making it safe for metal utensils like spatulas. The Thermo Spot heat indicator also tells you without a doubt when your pan’s hot enough for use.
The base is made from high-quality steel that offers even heat distribution and prevents warping. You can also go straight from stovetop to oven with this pan, despite the padded handle. It’s made from oven-safe materials, so you don’t have to remove it. The handle itself is riveted in place for years of trouble-free use.Note that this is a 10.5-inch frying pan, which is large enough for most meals. However, if you cook for multiple people or prepare larger meals, a 12.5-inch frying pan may be better for you.
3. Cuisinart 622-36H Chef's Classic Nonstick Pan
Cuisinart is one of the oldest and most respected brands in the cookware and kitchen appliance industries. The 622-36H Chef’s Classic Nonstick Hard-Anodized Skillet reflects the company’s decades of experience and dedication to precision and performance. The interior is highly durable and features titanium reinforcement to help resist wear and tear. It’s even safe for metal utensils.
The handle is riveted in place for durability, and it is also contoured to provide a more secure grip. And, while the handle is made from stainless steel, it is engineered to stay cool during cooking. Finally, the rim of the pan is tapered to assist with pouring and help eliminate drips and spills.This 14-inch frying pan is usable on most cooking surfaces, but will not work with induction stovetops due to the aluminum in the construction.
4. All-Clad E785S264/E785S263 HA1 Hard Anodized Nonstick Fry Pan
The All-Clad E785S264/E785S263 HA1 is a set of the nonstick pans, giving you both an eight-inch and a 10-inch pan. Both feature the same hard-anodized aluminum construction for durability, performance and heat distribution. Plus, unlike other anodized aluminum pans on the market, this set has a bonded steel base, which means you can use them on induction cooktops.
Also, you’ll find that both pans feature riveted stainless steel handles. That means less worry and maintenance over time, but it also allows you to put the pans in the oven if needed. Both pans also come with tempered glass lids so you can see your food cooking.Note that if eight and 10 inch pans are too small, All-Clad also offers a similar package deal with 10 and 12-inch pans featuring the same construction and benefits.
5. Scanpan Classic 9-1/2 Inch Fry Pan
Not familiar with the Scanpan name? You’re not alone. It’s a small artisan pan-manufacturing company located in Denmark dedicated to crafting high-quality cookware that works for commercial cooks and home cooks alike.
This is an excellent choice for many reasons, including the fact that it is designed to allow you to reduce the amount of oil you use in each dish. You can fry, sear, deglaze, braise and more. Plus, it’s oven safe up to 500 degrees, so you can safely practice those advanced stove to oven techniques.The interior is super-nonstick, but it is also resistant to scratching and can be used with metal utensils. It’s also dishwasher safe for easy, simple cleanup. However, note that this particular pan is not usable on induction stovetops. An induction-focused model is available from Scanpan, though. Also note that the handle is not riveted to the body, although the material is safe to use in the oven.
6. Calphalon Contemporary Hard-Anodized Aluminum Nonstick Cookware Fry Pan
Calphalon is no stranger to American kitchens, and this omelette frying pan is a nice addition to anyone’s setup. It’s a 10-inch pan, which means you have plenty of room for most meals, and the triple-layer nonstick surface is designed not just for easy release of cooked foods, but for durability in everyday use.
It’s oven-safe up to 450 degrees for stove to oven cooking, and the sloped sides offer easier access for cooking utensils. The pan features a brushed stainless steel handle that’s riveted to the aluminum body for durability. The body itself is made from thick anodized aluminum to offer even heat dispersion. It is also dishwasher safe, so cleanup is a breeze.This pan is backed by a lifetime warranty for peace of mind, as well. However, note that because of the aluminum construction, it does not work with induction cooktops. It is also not designed for use with metal tools – only use wood, silicone, or nylon.
7. All-Clad 4114 NS R2 Stainless Steel Tri-Ply Bonded Nonstick Fry Pan
This stainless steel frying pan from All-Clad measures in at 14 inches, which means it’s large enough for even your most demanding meals. Plus, the triple-layer PFOA-free nonstick surface ensures easy release of just about anything you might want to cook.
The pan also features three layers of construction, beginning with an aluminum core for even heat distribution. Around that core, All-Clad wraps additional layers of polished stainless steel for durability and beauty. Finally, the stainless steel handle is permanently riveted in place, ensuring a lifetime of hard use without any worries.This frying pan is oven-safe up to 500 degrees, and it can be used with all cooktops, including induction types. It is also backed by a limited lifetime warranty. Finally, because it’s dishwasher safe, cleanup is quick and easy. Note that this pan is not designed for use with metal utensils, so stick with wood, silicone and nylon.
8. Farberware 39001 Classic Deep Nonstick Frying Pan
Farberware has long been known for its budget-oriented yet durable kitchen tools. This 10-inch frying pan is no exception. It offers a polished metal exterior that looks great, while also resisting staining, plus the non-PFOA, nonstick interior releases foods quickly and easily.
This pan features deep sides to make holding and manipulating food easier and less messy. The body is made from aluminum for more even heat distribution, and the handle is riveted in place for worry-free use. The convenient ring at the end of the handle allows you to hang the pan for storage if needed.This frying pan is oven safe up to 350 degrees and requires very little oil while cooking. However, it is not dishwasher safe, nor is it designed for use with metal utensils. The manufacturer recommends using wood, silicone, or nylon instead.
9. Cuisinart 6422-24 Contour Hard Anodized Open Skillet
A smaller pan than the previously reviewed Cuisinart option, this model still features robust anodized aluminum for durability and a long life in the kitchen. At eight inches, it’s definitely a smaller pan, generally useful for cooking only a few things at a time, or for small meals.
This pan offers full aluminum construction for even heat distribution and to eliminate hot spots. The interior non-PFOA nonstick interior releases food easily, too. The handle is double riveted to the body for optimal durability, and it is contoured for a better grip, as well.This frying pan is oven safe up to 500 degrees and the included glass lid ensures you can always see your food as it cooks. The pan is also freezer safe for food storage, but it is not dishwasher safe. Cuisinart recommends handwashing and avoiding the use of metal utensils. Note that this pan is also not compatible with induction cooktops.
10. Viking Culinary 4015-1N18S Frying Pan
The only frying pan from Viking to make our list, the 4015-1N18S pan measures just eight inches but manages to pack a lot into that little space. It’s oven, grill, and dishwasher safe for convenience and seamless cooking and cleanup. It’s also designed for a lifetime of use and features five-ply construction.
The interior PFOA-free coating ensures that food slides easily out of the pan even without a lot of oil. However, Viking recommends using wood, plastic, or silicone cooking utensils to avoid scratching the surface. The body of the pan is formed around a core of aluminum to ensure even heat distribution. Then the manufacturer adds multiple layers of steel and stainless steel. The result is a durable, versatile pan that looks as good as it performs.
The handle is double riveted and contoured for a better grip. It is also designed to stay cooler during cooking, and he pan comes with a stainless steel lid. Note that this pan is compatible with all types of cooktops, including induction.
Do you have an induction stovetop? If so, you’ll have a narrower range of nonstick pans available to you. Induction cooktops work through magnetism, rather than direct application of heat, the way that electric, gas, and glass-ceramic stoves work.
If you’re looking for a nonstick pan to use on your induction stovetop, you will need to check the packaging or the product information to make sure that it is compatible. In general, all-aluminum pans are not usable unless they have a conductive metal base attached.
If you don’t have an induction stovetop, you can use any pan you like. However, consider the size of the eyes versus the size of the pan bottom. Smaller stoves may not work well with larger pans.
Oven and Dishwasher Safety
The nonstick pans we reviewed were noted as being safe for the oven or the dishwasher (or not, in some cases). These are also important considerations to make.
Oven Safe – An oven-safe pan can go from the cooktop to the oven without any transition necessary. This makes it simpler to complete cooktop to oven cooking styles. For instance, you may want to sear meat at a high temperature on the stovetop to lock in juices and create a delicious crust, but then finish the meat in the oven. Oven safe pans ensure that you’re able to do that without changing pans.
Dishwasher Safe – Cleanup is probably the least exciting thing about cooking, but it’s something you’ll need to consider. Dishwasher safe pans can be rinsed and then loaded into the dishwasher and run with the rest of your dishes. However, not all nonstick pans are dishwasher safe.
Double-check the packaging to ensure that the pan you want can be cleaned in the dishwasher, or you might find yourself handwashing it instead. As a general rule, only all-aluminum pans are not dishwasher safe.
By this point, you should have a good idea of what to look for in the best nonstick pans. Whether you’re cooking for a large family, need to find a pan that works with an induction cooktop, are concerned about being able to go from the stove to the oven, or something else, you should be able to choose the right pan for your needs.