Teflon. Non-reactive. Sheds water. Once thought to be the perfect cookware coating. But this miraculously non-stick compound has been the subject of controversy for decades.
Teflon is Chemour’s brand name for a polymer called polytetrafluoroethylene or PTFE. Prior to 2013, it contained a chemical called PFOA or Perfluorooctanoic acid. When exposed to high heat (500F or more) the coating started to break down and release harmful fumes. Not something you want in your kitchen, right?
While Teflon no longer contains PFOA, it is still manufactured with other “forever chemicals” or PFAs, whose health effects are, at best, not fully known. Many consumers still avoid it and are on the hunt for some Teflon-free nonstick options. That’s where I come in!
This article surveys ten great Teflon-free nonstick pans and includes a full buyer’s guide to help you weigh the pros and cons of these alternative cooking technologies.
What’s the Best Nonstick Pan Without Teflon?
Options for nonstick pans without Teflon can be made from ceramic, oil-infused ceramic, or diamond-infused technologies like GreenPan. You can also get a good nonstick finish on carbon steel or cast iron pans with proper maintenance. They all have unique properties and are useful for different functions and cooktops.
My favorite pan is the GreenPan SearSmart Ceramic Nonstick because it’s wonderful for searing, has a quick-release finish, and is versatile for so many applications.
GreenPan SearSmart Ceramic Nonstick Skillet Set– Best Nonstick Pan Without Teflon
|Star Rating:||5 ⭐|
|Material:||Hard anodized aluminum, Thermolon nonstick ceramic coating, stainless steel handles.|
|Size:||8 and 11-inch set|
|Uses:||Searing, all-purpose, eggs|
The GreenPan SearSmart Skillet Set is sitting here at the top of the list for a reason. This is a premium nonstick skillet set from a brand that is known for high-quality, nontoxic, nonstick cookware. The company created their diamond-reinforced nonstick ceramic coating, Thermolon, in 2007 and it has been a fierce competitor for Teflon ever since. It’s also completely plastic and PFA-free so you can cook in peace knowing that your pan is safe.
The SearSmart surface has a slight texture, which is why this pan is a game-changer for me. You may presume that a textured surface would make your food stick but, in fact, this innovative design makes the food release more easily. The nonstick coating creates the perfect surface for even browning that is extra crispy while the aluminum spreads the heat evenly across the pan. These elements make this GreenPan perfect for eggs.
In comparison to other pans, this one is very lightweight and easy to maneuver. One downside, however, is that you can only use plastic, wood, or silicone spoons or spatulas on the surface as metal utensils will damage the coating. You can use this with electric or gas cooktops, but unfortunately, it is not compatible with induction stoves.
- Even heat
- Oven safe up to 600 F
- Dishwasher safe
- Heats and retains heat well
- Not induction compatible
- Not suitable for metal utensils
GreenPan Valencia Pro Hard Anodized Nonstick Frying Pan– Best Induction Frying Pan
|Star Rating:||4.5 ⭐|
|Material:||Hard anodized aluminum with diamond-infused ceramic coating|
|Uses:||Induction cooking, searing, sauteing, sauces|
The GreenPan Valencia frying pan is a wonderful all-purpose skillet that is effortless to use and maintain. Not only does that ceramic coating release food with ease but it is also simple to clean as it is totally dishwasher safe.
This coating is made from diamond-infused ceramic rather than the Thermolon used in the previous pan so using metal utensils for this pan is safe as it won’t damage the coating.
Apart from those aspects I really enjoy how evenly this pan heats. It means that I get even browning on my meat every time without any sticking. This even heat retention is due to its innovative Magneto base, which is made from thermally reinforced iron and copper.
These magnetic particles work together to distribute the heat and also makes this skillet induction compatible. Most aluminum pans can’t be used on an induction plate, but this base solves that issue so you can take advantage of the swift heating of aluminum on any cooktop.
- Sturdy but not heavy
- Compatible with all cooktops including induction
- Dishwasher safe
- Compatible with all utensils
- Handles get hot
- Can’t use aerosol nonstick spray or it will damage the coating
Read More: Best Cookware for Cooking on Induction
Calphalon Oil Infused Ceramic Cookware – Best Nonstick Cookware Set
|Star Rating:||4 ⭐|
|Material:||Hard anodized aluminum, ceramic interior, tempered glass lids|
|Size:||8-inch frying pan, 11-inch frying pan, 1.5-quart saucepan with lid, 2.5-quart saucepan with lid, 3-quart saute pan with lid, 5-quart Dutch oven, 12-inch round griddle pan.|
|Uses:||Whole set will cover all your cooking requirements|
This Calphalon Oil Infused Ceramic Cookware Set is an 11-piece cookware set that will satisfy every cooking need you could possibly have! In my opinion, if you are going to invest in a whole set of cookware then you might as well make it nonstick. It will make your life easier in the long run and make clean-up simple!
The base of these pans is made from hard anodized aluminum, which is known for its even heat distribution and retention. But what makes these pans really special is the oil-infused ceramic finish inside. It is longer lasting than regular ceramic finishes and allows you to cook with less oil or butter.
One issue I find with this finish is that it can stick if your pan is not sufficiently preheated. But this can be easily remedied by warming the pan well before adding your ingredients.
- Stay cool handles
- Easy release surface
- Oven safe to 450 F
- Scratch resistant
- Expensive initial investment
- Will stick if the temperature is not correct
- Handwash only
Country Kitchen Nonstick Induction Cookset– Best Looking Non-Stick Pan
|Star Rating:||3.5 ⭐|
|Material:||Aluminum with a stainless steel base with Bakelite handles, PTFE-free nonstick coating|
|Size:||4-quart casserole dish with lid, steamer, 11-inch frying pan, 8-inch frying pan, 11-inch deep frying pan with lid, 2-quart saucepan with lid.|
|Uses:||The whole set covers all possible cooking options|
Ok, I don’t know about you but I am a sucker for a beautiful cookware set! I know the most important part is functionality but if it can look cute at the same time then I’m pretty much sold!
This Country Kitchen Non-Stick Induction Cookset is the best of both worlds; non-stick and just so beautiful to look at! Every pot and pan in this 11-piece set is finished in navy blue with a faceted texture on the outside and a speckled, nonstick surface inside.
Besides their looks, another thing this pan set has going for it is its adaptability. The stainless steel bottom makes the pans suitable for induction but I also find that they work great on glass cooktops.
Some pots struggle to grip the surface and end up moving around but these stay put with no problem. This is a fairly new product but reviews are great so far.
- Cool touch Bakelite handles
- Suitable for all cooktops including induction.
- Stacks easily for simple storage
- Handwash only
- No metal utensils
Caraway Non-Stick Ceramic Saute Pan – Best Pan for Sauteing
|Star Rating:||3.5 ⭐|
|Material:||Aluminum with ceramic nonstick coating|
|Uses:||Sauces, sauteing, stir-fries|
The Caraway Non-Stick Ceramic Saute Pan is the perfect pan for those of you that love to cook efficiently in style! This range of pans is known for having very effective nonstick that comes in various trendy colors (sage green is my favorite).
This saute pan has an elegant design, and high sides that make sauteeing easy and mess-free. The nonstick finish also allows you to cook with less oil so every meal you make in this pan will be that little bit healthier.
In my book, this pan loses points because it can only be used over medium to low heat. Any hotter and you risk damaging the pan. This is very inconvenient and unforgiving if you make the small mistake of overheating your pan.
- Beautiful range of colors
- Small business
- Oven safe up to 550 F
- Compatible with all stovetops
- Handwash only
- Low to medium heat only
Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Skillet – Best Non-StickCast Iron Skillet
|Star Rating:||4.5 ⭐|
|Material:||Cast iron with enamel coating|
|Uses:||Searing proteins, sauces, sauteing|
When it comes to enameled cast iron, you really can’t go wrong with the Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Skillet. This comes from a brand with a reputation for high-quality cookware that lasts a lifetime so you know you’ll have this pan for life!
The initial cost may be expensive but there are countless customers who say that Le Creuset is worth every cent! There are plenty of knock-off Le Creuset brands on the market right now because of their popularity but they are not as longlasting and effective as the real deal.
Since seasoned cast iron is naturally nonstick, you can use any utensils on the surface and even scrub at stubborn stains without damaging the surface. One crucial tip for cast iron is to preheat it well beforehand, cold cast iron will not have the same nonstick qualities so don’t skip this step.
- Pre Seasoned
- Various color options to match your kitchen
- Dishwasher safe
- Can be used on the grill
- Oven safe up to 500 F
- Must be seasoned after each use
- Dry well to prevent rust
Tramontina 10-inch Ceramica Fry Pan – Best Budget Option
|Star Rating:||4 ⭐|
|Material:||Aluminum with Ceramicas nonstick coating|
Just because you’re on a budget, it doesn’t mean that you need to settle for low-quality cookware. This Tramontina Fry Pan is affordable yet effective as a starter nonstick pan. It also has a very attractive copper look finish, which I enjoyed.
The nonstick behind this pan is called Ceramica. This is a porcelain enamel coating that covers the interior of the aluminum pan and makes it incredibly durable. It is PFOA, PFa, lead, and cadmium free, which means you can cook safely, even on a budget.
A true test of a nonstick pan is how well they handle eggs and this frying pan passes that test with flying colors. That being said, this pan works best when well preheated.
- Easy to clean
- Stay cool, soft grip handle
- Dishwasher safe
- Oven safe up to 350 F.
- Not induction compatible
- Not long-lasting
|Star Rating:||4.5 ⭐|
|Material:||Enameled cast iron|
|Uses:||Bread baking, stews, slow cooking|
When it comes to Dutch ovens, not everyone considers whether or not they’re non-stick. But I’m here to prove that it can actually make all the difference. This Le Creuset Cast Iron Signature Dutch Oven is not only going to last you a lifetime, but it will be a breeze to clean every single time.
Enameled cast iron has been coated in a thin vitreous enamel glaze that fuses with the cast iron to prevent rust, make it easier to clean, and prevent the need for seasoning. It is also naturally nonstick when it has been well-preheated.
I love this Dutch oven for starting off stews. I sear the meat in a little oil and it doesn’t stick at all before I deglaze the pan and easily scrape the delicious bits from the bottom of the pan. Then all you need to do is pop on the tempered glass lid and put it in the oven to slow cook.
- Oven safe 500 F
- Easy to clean
- Dishwasher safe
- Long Lasting
- Handles get hot
Eleulife Carbon Steel Wok – Best Non-Stick Wok
Once you’ve tried a non-stick carbon steel wok, you’ll never be able to go back, I guarantee it! This Eleulife Carbon Steel Wok is a versatile and easy-to-clean wok that makes whipping up stirfried, noodles and fried rice a daily occurrence.
When you hold this wok in your hands you will be able to feel the quality right away. It’s a little on the heavy side but it’s clear that it is sturdy and made to last. It’s very fast heating and retains heat very well so I love it for stir-fries.
- Great value for money
- Easy to clean
- Suitable for all utensils
- Suitable for all cooktops
- Needs to be seasoned
Quality Nonstick Pans without PTFE – A Buyer’s Guide
Alright, now that I’ve provided you with ten great nonstick options I want to get into the details about materials and why consumers are avoiding Teflon. This way you can get to know all the nonstick options on the market in detail to make an informed buying decision.
But first, we need to start off with the all-important question…
What is Teflon?
Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) is the compound branded as “Teflon” by DuPont (now Chemours Company) and it has become synonymous with non-stick to the general public. PTFE is a hydrophobic blend of carbon and fluoride that is cold molded onto the surface of cookware to create a powerful nonstick layer.
The reason that consumers have been steering away from Teflon is health concerns. PTFE used to be made using PFOAs (perfluorooctanoic acid) during manufacturing, a toxic forever chemical whose effects on the human body are not fully known. However, since 2013 all Teflon products are PFOA free. But they still contain PFAs poly-fluoroalkyl substances), which are still being researched for their health effects.
The lingering health concern involved with Teflon is with overheating. When Teflon is overheated (to temperatures over 500 F) the coating can start to break down and release harmful chemicals into the air. When inhaled, this can cause a phenomenon called ‘Teflon flu.’ The sufferer will experience chills, fever, headaches, and body aches setting in between 4-10 hours after exposure and lasting 12-48 hours. The effects are temporary but the risk of repeated exposure has not been fully explored yet.
If you are a careful cook that never leaves a pan on the stove this will likely not happen. But I do understand that a lot of consumers don’t want to take that risk. And why should you when there are so many options available that are non-toxic at all temperatures?
Although Teflon is a non-stick household name, there are actually multiple different options for non-stick cookware without any PTFE. Here I am going to expand on alternative chemicals and technologies for making a pan nonstick and whether they are safer or not so you can choose a non-stick alternative
- Ceramic Non-Stick Pans
A relatively new product on the market, ceramic non-stick is a non-toxic, PFOA and PFA-free coating made from silicone dioxide, which is a byproduct of sand. The silicone dioxide goes through a process called sol-gel, which turns it into a gel that is evenly sprayed across the pan’s surface. It sets to a hard, durable ceramic-like surface so, technically, it’s not made of real ceramic but imitates it enough to warrant the name.
One thing that makes this coating less effective than Teflon is the fact that its effects are finite. The nonstick effects will not last as long as regular nonstick and they are most effective when the pan has been well preheated.
- Calphalon Oil-Infused Nonstick Pans
Calphalon is a well-known cookware company that has its own oil-infused non-stick ceramic formula. This coating works in a similar way to the above but with some industry secrets that make it more effective and long-lasting than regular ceramic coatings.
The coating has a very effective quick-release finish and is simple to clean. The oil-infused quality also means you will have to use far less oil or butter than with regular pans.
- Carbon Steel with a Patina
I love carbon steel cookware, especially for woks like I recommended above. Carbon steel is nonstick because the surface has been nitrided. This involves heat treating the metal and diffusing nitrogen into the surface. The resulting surface is nonstick and incredibly durable on a relatively lightweight material.
The treated carbon steel is 1% carbon and 99% iron or other steel alloys like nickel, chromium, or copper so there are no chemicals to leach into the food, even when it gets scratched. It will, however, transfer some iron to your food – which, depending on your mineral needs, may not be a bad thing. The nonstick surface needs to be fully preheated for the effects to activate and it must be seasoned regularly to maintain the finish.
- Cast Iron and Enameled Cast Iron
Cast iron and enameled cast iron are old-school materials that have remained relevant through the years because of their immense durability and consistent cooking. They are made from an iron-carbon alloy that is cast all in one piece, which makes them incredibly durable.
Cast iron is naturally nonstick because it’s seasoned. This is a process of infusing the surface of the cast iron with oil to create a barrier. While most modern cast iron comes pre-seasoned, this process needs to be repeated after each use to maintain the nonstick.
Companies like Le Creuset have pioneered the enameled cast iron industry by providing cookware that harnesses even heating, non-toxic quality, and non-stick properties of cast iron that is coated in a colorful enamel that you can match your kitchen decor. The pots that are covered with enamel make the cast iron easier to clean and let you skip out on the seasoning process.
So now you are fully clued up on all the materials available for Teflon-free nonstick pans but where do you go from here? How do you know which option is best for you and which type of pot you need? I’m going to break down a few areas to take into consideration before you pick the non-stick pan that will best suit your needs.
Your Cooking Style
There are two main factors that I like to consider here and that’s what cuisine you cook and what you cook on.
Each pot and pan is useful for a different task so choosing the correct pot for the cuisine you’re cooking is crucial to getting the dish right. For instance, if you love cooking steak and other proteins that require a good sear, then you need a wide skillet that is oven safe so you can finish the dish off in the oven. On the other hand, if you make a lot of pasta and sauces, you’ll do better getting yourself a large pot for boiling and a saute pan to make your sauce.
As we explored in our product round-up, not every pan suits every cooktop. You may be working with gas, induction, electric, or glass and each one has a set of requirements that a pan needs to meet to make it suitable.
Construction, Durability, and Longevity
For me, If I’m going to spend my money on a good piece of cookware I need to know that it’s going to last me for years, ideally for my lifetime so I never have to replace it.
Worst case scenario, your cookware can start to flake on the outside or the inside. This is an issue that can happen with ceramic non-stick coating especially if you use the wrong utensils. I like to head for clad cookware with durable coatings that are built well from the inside out. This may mean that you spend a little extra cash but I feel like it’s worth it in the long run.
Ease of Use and Cleaning
When it comes to the effectiveness of a non-stick pan, the most important thing to keep in mind is maintaining the coating. One little scratch and that non-stick is ruined! And that’s just a huge waste of money!
When you buy your pan, I recommend reading the leaflet that comes with it to learn exactly how to maintain the specific surface and what is safe to use on it. If it doesn’t come with a brochure, give the product a quick search to make sure.
Many people think that you can’t put non-stick pans in the dishwasher or use metal utensils on them but this is not the case for every non-stick surface, in fact, many that we have delved into are perfectly safe for both these uses. That’s why it’s so key to get to know the specific material your pan is made of.
Some pans are easier to maintain than others, especially when comparing coated pans to carbon steel and cast iron. Both these materials need to be seasoned after each use, cleaned without submerging them in water and dried thoroughly to prevent rust. If you’re busy and prefer more ready-to-use cookware then I’d avoid these two and go for a ceramic-coated hard anodized aluminum option.
Health, Safety, and Environmental Concerns
So, the question that everyone is asking is, is the non-stick material safe? The main concern leading people away from buying Teflon, as we discussed, is the health concerns so I have only included PFOA and PFA-free nonstick options in this guide.
The best way to make sure that your cookware is safe, no matter what material you use, is proper maintenance. Avoid preheating an empty pan and cooking on extremely high heat as this can be damaging for some coatings. I also like to keep my kitchen well-ventilated because, even if there aren’t any harmful fumes present, it’s overall better for your health.
But what about the safety of these nonstick coatings? Ceramic coating is safe to cook with because it contains no harmful chemicals and will not leach anything into the food. Cast iron, on the other hand, is also safe because it’s made of pure iron and carbon and no other chemicals go into the manufacturing process.
Different Pots and Pans for Different Purposes
In our product round-up, I highlighted some individual pots and some sets so how do you decide which option is best for you? There are pros and cons to both so let’s look at them in more detail.
Individual pans are cheaper as an initial investment so if you are working on a budget then I suggest saving up for one pot at a time. Also, let’s face it, not everyone is going to use all these different sizes of pots and pans. A prolific cook that makes a variety of dishes might use them all but your average cook will have a few select pans that get them through making their favorite dishes.
Buying sets is great for those of you that cook often and with a lot of variety. If you tend to fry up or saute most of your meals and only use one other large pot, then a set will be a waste for you.
I find that if you can handle the initial cost, buying a full set will save you money in the long run as buying individual pans can add up. Plus, and this is totally up to personal taste, having a matching set of pans is very aesthetically pleasing especially when you are hanging them and they’ll be on display. It’s a little thing but it’s something to consider, especially if you’re into interior design.
Accessories for Pots and Pans
Using the right utensils on your shiny new non-stick pan is vital in maintaining that precious coating. Here are a few accessories that I think are crucial for looking after your pots and pans:
- Whisk– I like making sauces in my nonstick cookware, but this can be a problem when you need to whisk it to get the lumps out. I like to use a silicone whisk like this one to protect my pans.
- Spatulas– These are key when you’re cooking steak or eggs and you don’t want it scraping your nonstick off when you go to turn your ingredients. These spatulas are great for nonstick pans and they can be used for many ingredients.
- Spoons– Serving spoons can very easily damage the nonstick on your pans if you use the wrong. My tip is to pick up a set like this that has a variety of serving and large cooking spoons that are all suitable for all nonstick surfaces.
As we have seen, there is a tremendous amount of variety in price when it comes to these non-stick pots and pans.
The cheaper pans tend to be less hardy with nonstick coatings that won’t last as long as their pricier counterparts. But, if you know what you are looking for from using this guide, it’s totally possible to buy an affordable nonstick pan that will last you at least a few years while you save for something better.
Investing in a more expensive pan should result in a product that lasts longer and is very reliable. However, you need to be careful about paying more for the brand name than for quality.
For instance, the pans I’ve suggested here are well-known solid brands that have a good reputation and make high-quality cookware. But other brands may be more flashy colors and designs or have a celebrity chef’s name plastered on them that will cost the same price.
My advice is to approach with caution and use the info I’ve supplied you with here to assess the cookware and determine if it’s truly worth that price tag.
Frequently Asked Questions
When Should You Replace Non-Stick Pans?
While you can continue using your non-stick pan once the food starts sticking, I prefer to replace the cookware with a new non-stick pan. The damaged coating can, in some cases, lead to chemicals leaching into the food so this is the safest option.
What is Quick-Release Coating on Pans?
Quick-release coating is any non-stick coating, PTFE-free or otherwise, that prevents your food from sticking and will release with a gentle nudge of a utensil. Many people use this pan when referring to Teflon but one of the ceramic or HexClad options can also be considered quick-release.
Can You Use Ceramic Non-Stick Pans with Induction Cooktops?
The majority of ceramic non-stick pans are not induction compatible because they have an aluminum base. But there are options available that have a stainless steel ring set into the bottom to make the pan suitable for inductions.
Clad cookware that uses stainless steel, ceramic, and aluminum will also be induction compatible.
Does HexClad contain PTFE?
HexClad is a patented hybrid steel design with an aluminum core that creates pans that are long-lasting and nonstick. The nonstick coating contains PTFE but is nontoxic according to the company’s claims.
However, if you are avoiding Teflon, you probably want to avoid HexClad too because they have the same health concerns.
As you can see from this extensive roundup, there are so many great options available to you for Teflon-free nonstick cookware.
My two favorites are the GreenPan SearSmart skillet and the Calphalon Oil-Infused Ceramic Cookware Set. The first is a wonderful all-rounder at a competitive price that is always reliable. The Calphalon set has a very effective nonstick coating across a range of pots and pans that will cover all your cooking needs.
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