I’ve never been a huge fan of nonstick cookware. There are so many conflicting reports about its safety. The only reason I use it is so that I can make things like eggs/omelets with little to no oil (now that I’m on this diet!). I even make a light version of shrimp scampi in a nonstick pan. I own only one nonstick fry pan. That’s it. I really don’t see any other reason to own a set of nonstick cookware. To me, it’s not worth the risk. It should be replaced often and we all know that we’re not going to buy a whole new set of cookware every three years.
So, what to do? Use it or not?
I did a little research and found some interesting information about how you can more safely use a nonstick pan if you choose to do so. In an article entitled “Nervous About Nonstick?” on goodhouskeeping.com, I learned that Teflon coated pans can be dangerous at very high temperatures. Temperatures over 500 degrees can cause chemical reactions that are toxic. I have provided the link and recommend that you give it a read.
The article provides a list of cook smart precautions:
- Never pre-heat an empty pan. Even preheating a pan with oil or Pam in it isn’t a good idea. Once you have food in the pan, taking up surface area, it is less likely to get overheated as quickly as it would if it were empty.
- Don’t cook on high heat. Most nonstick manufacturers will tell you not to go above medium.
- Ventilate your kitchen to cut down on any fumes that are emitted.
- Don’t broil or sear meats in nonstick pans
- Buy good quality, heavier weight pans. It takes longer for them to overheat
- Avoid chipping or damaging the pan by always using wooden spoons for stirring. Don’t use a scrubbing pad to clean it and don’t stack the pans. If you stack them, put paper towels between the pans. Replace them every 3-5 years. Most importantly, if it does get damaged, do NOT cook with it! Throw it out and replace it!
I happen to have an All-Clad Nonstick Frying Pan. It was expensive for sure, but I have an induction cooktop, so I have to use pans that have magnetic grade aluminum, which I take as a fancy phrase for ‘expensive pans.’ I take very good care of it.
Recently, I was watching a chef doing a cooking demonstration at a local appliance store, Yale Electric (fabulous store, btw), and he said that it’s okay to use cheaper nonstick pans because you should be replacing them often. He recommended that if you buy a $10 pan in the grocery store, just plan to toss it out once a year. I’ll add the caveat that you want to be extra careful about the temperature because cheap pans are thin and will overheat much quicker than heavier, more expensive, nonstick pans such as All-Clad and Calphalon.
Overall, I will not advocate for the use of Teflon coated (nonstick pans). If you choose to use one, please make sure to heed the precautions listed above. It’s better to be safe than sorry.