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The Ultimate Guide to Buying Non Stick Cookware

Everything you need to know before you add to (or begin) your Non Stick collection.

By Emily Borst
Aug 29, 2023
non stick product assortment
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If you were to open the cabinets in any kitchen, odds are you’d find a piece of non stick cookware in almost all of them. This popular cookware material is lightweight, versatile, easy to use, and available at a range of price points, making it accessible for anyone from a college student to a professional chef.

If you’re looking to upgrade your existing non stick or are adding it to your kitchen for the first time, there are a few things to keep in mind while shopping.

What Is Non Stick Cookware?

non stick frying pan with egg

Non stick cookware’s defining feature is its convenient, easy to clean, and frictionless cooking surface that prevents almost any ingredient from sticking, be it flaky fish or fluffy eggs.

The most popular shape of non stick cookware is a skillet or frying pan—the obvious essential in any kitchen. However, non stick comes in many different shapes and sizes, from saucepans to stock pots, all of which are excellent additions to any cookware collection.

How Is it Made?

Though the construction and materials will differ from manufacturer to manufacturer, non stick cookware is generally made by applying layers of a non stick material to a metal base (usually aluminum, stainless steel, or a combination). Typically, the more layers of non stick coating that are applied, the longer the coating will last.

The construction of the metal base matters just as much as the coating itself, as this is what will dictate even heat distribution and control. Read more about why workhorse construction and design matters when it comes to non stick.

How Long Will it Stay Non Stick?

Non stick cookware does not last forever, but high-quality construction materials, multiple layers of non stick coating, and proper maintenance and care will dramatically prolong its life span.

This means that a pan used with non stick-friendly utensils, cleaned, and stored properly each time will have a much longer lifespan that one that continually had metal utensils used on it, food stored in it, and was cleaned in the dishwasher.

It will also last longer than a "ceramic" pan, which tends to lose its non stick capabilities quicker than even a low-quality Non Stick pan. Check out this guide to learn more about ceramic cookware.

Non stick pans may not last as long as Stainless Steel or Cast Iron, but Non Stick isn’t—and shouldn’t be treated like it is—disposable. Especially if you treat your cookware with care, you can extend the life of your tool for many years.

Is It Oven Safe?

Having oven-safe non stick cookware unlocks dishes that are prone to sticking, like Dutch babies, and the ability to oven-finish your meals. But finding oven-safe non stick is often easier said than done, and generally you’ll be limited to higher-end options. If any part of the cookware is plastic, nylon, or silicone, such as the handles, then it’s not safe to put in the oven.

Oven-safe non stick cookware are generally higher-quality than their non oven-safe counterparts, and are trusted by chefs for their high performance and durability. Most are oven safe up to 500F, meaning it can be used for everything but broiling.

If having an oven-safe non stick pan is important to you, then you’ll want to make sure the handles and body are composed of entirely oven-safe materials, like Stainless Steel. You can also check out our guide on if (and when) non stick can go in the oven.

How Do You Care for Non Stick?

Non stick is some of the easiest cookware to clean and maintain, and will last for years with proper care.

For everyday cleanup, its non stick surface can easily be wiped clean with water, soap, and a non-abrasive cloth or sponge (we recommend avoiding the dishwasher, as this will quickly cause the coating to wear out). Tougher burnt on residue is quickly removed by simmering water in the pan until stuck-on food is released. Our guide on how to clean non stick cookware has more details on step-by-step cleaning instructions, as well as how to get off even the toughest grease or oil stains.

How Does it Compare to Other Cookware Materials?

non stick stainless comparison

Non stick cookware has easily earned its place in the kitchen, but it’s important to know how it fits into your already existing collection. To help you see what gaps it can help fill, here’s how non stick compares to other popular cookware materials.

Non Stick vs. Carbon Steel

Though a relatively newer addition to the scene for cooks in the USA, carbon steel cookware is an increasingly popular choice for both home and professional chefs. In terms of performance, it combines the best parts of stainless steel and cast iron cookware.

The only similarity carbon steel and non stick cookware share is their non stick surface, and even that is different in how it’s achieved. The cooking surface of non stick is non stick straight out of the box, while the surface of carbon steel is built up with layers of seasoning. They’re akin to ships passing in the night—where non stick starts strong and slowly fades over several years, carbon steel needs coaxing to develop its non stick surface but will last for as long as you maintain its seasoning.

Once fully seasoned, carbon steel can handle the same sort of delicate ingredients that non stick can, but shouldn’t be used with acidic ingredients like tomatoes or lemons—since carbon steel is considered reactive, these ingredients can degrade the seasoning and are better used in a non-reactive pan like non stick.

Think of these materials not as an either-or choice, but as building blocks of a fully stocked cookware collection. See more about the differences and similarities between the two in our guide to non stick vs. carbon steel.

Non Stick vs. Cast Iron

Whether bought new or passed down as an heirloom, the cast iron skillet is a cookware staple. Made of either enameled or unfinished pure cast iron, these pans can be used for anything from simmering to searing. Both non stick and cast iron cookware have no-stick surfaces, but unfinished cast iron is similar to carbon steel in its need for seasoning.

The main differences between non stick and cast iron lies in their weight, maintenance, and lifespans.

  • Weight: Due to its construction materials, non stick is much lighter than cast iron and some may find it easier to wield.
  • Maintenance: Unfinished cast iron requires special maintenance and seasoning in order to develop and prolong its non stick capabilities, while non stick is much less demanding—note that enameled cast iron is just as easy to care for as non stick.
  • Lifespan: Even the most high-quality non stick pan will eventually lose its coating and need to be replaced—premium pans will buy you more time and better results. When cared for properly, both unfinished and enameled cast iron can last for multiple generations, hence its reputation as a heirloom piece.

Non stick and cast iron skillets have their similarities and differences, so we recommend having both in your collection. They both have their place in the kitchen, and fill gaps each other leaves in terms of use.

Non Stick vs. Ceramic

Unlike its name implies, ceramic cookware is not made of an actual ceramic material (like stoneware or kiln-fired pottery). Instead, it’s a type of non stick composed of a silicone coating applied over a metal base. This is a self-sacrificing surface with a limited lifetime—meaning that when heated, a small bit of the coating  is released, used up, and then gone for good. Often within 1 year of purchasing, the “ceramic” surface will wear out completely.

In addition to degrading much faster than traditional non stick, ceramic non stick’s construction materials (though colorful) tend to be incompatible with the heat of the oven, making the pan less versatile. Check out our dedicated guide for more information on how non stick compares to ceramic cookware.

Non Stick vs. Stainless Steel

Of all the comparisons to make between non stick cookware and another material, stainless steel is the least similar one. Known for its tendency to stick, stainless steel cookware is uncoated and hyper durable, making it an ideal surface for high-heat cooking and searing, while non stick is perfect for lower-heat cooking and more delicate ingredients.

This is just part of why, similar to carbon steel cookware, non stick and stainless steel should be treated as complements and not competitors in a cookware collection. Read our comparison guide on non stick vs. stainless steel for more reasons why this shouldn’t be treated as an either-or decision.

How Much Is Non Stick Cookware?

non stick set in kitchen

Depending on factors like which materials are used during manufacture, a set of non stick cookware can range from relatively inexpensive (less than $100) to quite expensive (over $1,000). It will generally be more affordable for individual pieces of non stick, such as one non stick pan, but it can be worthwhile to invest in a set if you need to outfit or overhaul an entire kitchen.

In the long run, it will ultimately be cheaper to invest in high-quality non stick than buying inexpensive Non Stick that will need to be replaced often. We also recommend avoiding ceramic non stick cookware due to its limited shelf life and durability.

You likely knew that it was helpful to have at least one piece of non stick cookware in your kitchen arsenal—but hopefully, now you understand why it’s an absolute staple in your cookware rotation.

If you’re ready to add or expand upon your Non Stick collection, look no further than our line of chef-loved Non Stick Cookware. Award-Winning Stainless Clad is topped with multiple layers of professional-grade Non Stick coating that results in an oven-safe, incredibly durable, high-performing tool that makes an excellent addition to any kitchen. Made in the USA and Italy and trusted by chefs and cookware with over 100,000 5-star reviews, you know you'll be getting the best there is.