One of the greatest investments one can make when it comes to spending money in the kitchen, is in the realm of cookware. Providing an interaction between our food and heat source, cookware can truly make or physically break a meal, especially if one is trying to prepare something delicate.
We’ve all experienced the frustration of a much anticipated meal getting stuck to the pan, and thankfully, nonstick skillets have come to the rescue!
That being said, not all non stick pans are created equal, nor are they made with the same materials. There is a great deal of controversy with Teflon pans, which have been known to release toxic chemicals in the face of high heat.
Thankfully, there are more nonstick options available on the market, without Teflon.
Here are a few factors to consider when shopping for a new nonstick skillet.
Perhaps the biggest question – if not Teflon, then what?
Some of our favorite pans are made of a durable nonstick alternative, carbon steel. Carbon steel works in a similar way to cast iron; it needs to be “seasoned” with oil to be effective, but once your pan is prepared, it can handle a variety of tasks, from eggs to stir frying.
Some of our favorite carbon steel pans include this 8 inch model by Mauviel.
And this similar model by De Buyer.
Another favorite choice is this pick by SOLIDTEKNICS; it is a bit pricier, but the skillet comes pre-seasoned and is ready to be the nonstick pan of your dreams.
Alternately, ceramic is used as a non-stick material, and this selection by GreenLife is a good alternative, being both dishwasher-friendly, and coming in a variety of fun colors.
One of the greatest kitchen tips we ever learned was in the value of cooking with an appropriately sized pan! An appropriately large (or small) pan can make a real difference in how your food will cook, through heat distribution, as well as when cooking a large amount.
If you’re regularly cooking eggs, a smaller pan might be more beneficial than one sized for sautéing a bunch of veggies and some meat for a stir fry.
If you’re looking to try out a new material, it might be worth purchasing a smaller sized pan, and trying it out before splurging on a larger size.
Check the reviews which have been posted, looking for consistent themes or concerns which may have arisen with a particular type of pan, especially one with a special coating.
Pay attention to these reviews before you make your purchase, and compare between products.
Does a coating wear off after a certain amount of time?
Have users experienced problems with odor, stains or chipping?
Nonstick skillets can be an investment, and it is worth spending your money wisely. Perhaps most importantly, research the materials used to keep your pan from sticking to your food, and learn about the health benefits or potential concerns with each material.
Read the fine print
One of the biggest tips to offer, is the encouragement to read the fine print around your new (or potential) nonstick skillet! Is there a set expected lifespan for the nonstick coating?
Are there specific directions for how to best heat the pan up, before use?
Many do not know how to properly use a pan according to the material and manufacturer directions, and the efficacy is decreased accordingly.
Some pans will require gradual heat, others might require beginning the cooking process cold, still others might require oil to be added at a certain point, or no oil at all.
Learn to work with the tools you have.
Check for utensils and cleaning
Each pan and material will vary according to how it should be cleaned, and what utensils should be used. Generally speaking, it is best to avoid scratching the coating or surface of a pan, but certain models might discourage specific materials, while encouraging others.
As a general rule, food-safe silicone is a great option as it is nonstick, while not being susceptible to heat, though some pans might be perfectly fine with metal utensils, or being cleaned with steel wool.
Check what your pan’s manufacturer recommends, and see how that method would fit within your regular routine.
Cookware can be a pricey investment, but with some research and care, you’ll be sure to find a piece that works well for you and your lifestyle.
These tips should be a good launching point, offering a number of things to consider while shopping for your next nonstick pan or skillet.