Nonstick Skillet Shopping Tips
BY ANNA STOCKWELL
Looking for a new nonstick skillet? Let us break down the different types.
To all those who doubt, dismiss or otherwise hate on nonstick skillets, I pose just one question: How are you cooking your eggs? Because a perfect egg situation is one where they slide out of the pan and onto your plate in one easy, clean sweep. If that’s not happening for you, you’re torturing yourself by using a non-nonstick skillet, or your nonstick skillet isn’t working anymore. Either way, it’s time to buy a new nonstick skillet.
And that’s where this guide comes in.
The nonstick market is crowded, not just with shapes and sizes but also with different nonstick technologies. So how do you know which one you should buy? To answer that question, I called Norman Kornbleuth, owner of my favorite cookware shop in New York City, Broadway Panhandler. Just as he does with his customers, Norman led us through the process of picking the right nonstick skillet. First step: understand the options:
The original nonstick cooking product was Teflon, trademarked by DuPont in the early 1960s. Treated with PTFE—the chemical that puts the non in nonstick—these pans are the only true nonstick pans, with a surface that lets food slide right off. PTFE is safe for humans—and in fact, many other manufacturers have adopted the technology—but if you super-heat it (above 500ºF), the molecules can start to break down and release harmful gasses.
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Still, this type of nonstick cookware has a bit of a bad rep, because it used to be made with the chemical PFOA, which has been found likely to be a human carcinogen. That’s why you want to look for nonstick skillets with a “PFOA-Free” label.
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Classic nonstick coated cookware has improved significantly over the years, and manufacturers have learned to apply better coatings to make the pans stronger, more scratch resistant and better heat conductors. Norman’s favorite nonstick skillets are made by Swiss Diamond, which mixes diamonds with PTFE to create a pan that’s superstrong.