Love 'em or hate 'em, nonstick skillets make certain cooking tasks a whole lot easier. We tested a bunch of the top nonstick pan brands to find the perfect one.
If you're still getting your bearings in the kitchen, a proper nonstick frying pan can be a godsend. They're a versatile kitchen essential, and are perfect for just about everything from whipping up fluffy omelets to toasting walnuts for a salad. I've tested some of the best nonstick pans on the market right now, and Misen's 10-inch pan is my overall favorite, but below you'll also find my picks for the best cheap nonstick fry pan and the best nonstick skillet for use on an induction stove.
Nonstick cookware may lose some points with critics for its inability to get as hot as stainless steel or cast iron, but that's the trade-off for pots and pans that rinse clean in seconds and require very little maintenance. This quality also makes nonstick frying pans more forgiving for someone new to cooking, with a much lower chance of overcooking eggs or burning a chicken breast.
To find the best nonstick fry pan to buy in 2023, we put a dozen to the test. With great balance, a flat cooking surface and an extra-comfy handle courtesy of a rubber sheath, Misen's excellent pan topped the field. But other nonstick skillets caught my eye, including a true budget pick, and a unique nonstick pan that costs more but should last longer (more on that in a bit).
And if you're wondering if nonstick cookware and Teflon are safe to use, the answer is yes. But that wasn't always the case. You can read more about that here.
For a nonstick skillet, the Misen 10-inch frying pan ticked more boxes than any others I tested. It's sturdy but not heavy, and has an excellent nonstick surface that released eggs and pancake batter with ease. Misen's nonstick pans use a PFOA-free, three-layer platinum coating that I found just slightly more nonstick than others. The three coats of nonstick are also intended to keep your nonstick surface from degrading as quickly. This pan is also oven-safe up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
The gently flared sides allowed for pancakes and eggs to slide out without the use of a spatula but still kept contents from spilling over during cooking, even when given a few shakes.
What pushed the Misen pan over the top for me was the handle. It's encased in a protective and removable rubber sheath and makes for a seriously comfortable gripper. The handle also has almost no slant, something I find makes negotiating things like eggs and pancakes easier since they often require a good bit of maneuvering and flipping.
It's also a great-looking skillet. The Misen pan is sleek, ergonomic and looks much like something you'd find in a professional kitchen. Nonstick skillets don't generally have much swagger, but this one does. Misen's excellent nonstick pan is available in three sizes: 8, 10 and 12 inches. For some reason, the 8-inch is only available when bundled with another size.
Tramontina's 10-inch skillet takes the top spot for the best budget nonstick fry pan. You can find cheaper pans, but none of them match Tramontina's excellent combination of nonstick surfaces, even heating and comfy handle. The base is cast aluminum which should resist warping over time and continue to heat quickly and evenly with age. It's also oven-safe up to 400 degrees F.
This wallet-friendly pan is available in four sizes from eight inches up to 14 (which is an unusually large size and more pan than the average chef would want or need). The 10-inch pan is an ideal size for most people and is the one I evaluated in my testing.
HexClad is an intriguing addition to the nonstick conversation. While I'd almost never recommend spending over $100 -- or even close to that -- on a single nonstick pan given the inevitable surface erosion, HexClad may be the exception. This unique skillet has a surface that combines traditional nonstick with a honeycomb pattern of raised stainless steel to protect it.
The HexClad promise is that you'll get the benefits of nonstick but with the searing abilities of stainless steel, and a pan that should last longer than the average nonstick. I found the hybrid surface does indeed release food much in the way most other nonstick pans do. And while it doesn't sear quite like stainless steel, as the marketing lingo would have you believe, it does a better job than most other Teflon or nonstick skillets.
Nonetheless, this recommendation should be taken with a grain of salt since I've not had the luxury of testing it over time (the line hasn't even been around that long) to see how the nonstick holds up. But in the three or four months I've been using this pan with metal utensils to expedite wear, the skillet has shown no signs of nonstick or visible patina loss.
Read my full review of HexClad cookware here.
If you want a small set of nonstick fry pans, I recommend All-Clad's excellent hard-anodized nonstick pans, which come in a set of two for around $70. If you're keeping up with the math, that's less per pan than our budget pick. All-Clad is a high-end cookware brand favorite of professional chefs.
Instead of a fully aluminum base, these nonstick pans are made with an aluminum core encased in bonded stainless steel so they'll work when used with induction cooktops. Be warned: The steel also makes them heavier than traditional nonstick pans. I've personally used an All-Clad's hard-anodized nonstick pan regularly for about six years. The nonstick coating is as good as any and it's only just now beginning to show major wear and signs of corrosion.
One consideration is that the sides are just barely flared and more like a saucier, so you'll likely have to use a spatula (plastic or wooden) to extract certain foods.
While you might only really need or want one nonstick skillet, consider this: If you spread the use of your nonstick pans out over two pans, you'll almost certainly extend the life of both. Plus, the smaller lighter 8-inch pan is great for quickly frying a single egg or reheating a small portion of leftovers from the night before.
In truth, a lot of these nonstick pans performed well in their most basic duty to cook food and then subsequently release it for an easy clean. The reason many didn't make the cut was a bloated price tag that just doesn't seem worth it for a pan that only lasts a few years. Others didn't have handles I loved, had balance issues, cooked less evenly than the winners or had other small flaws that edged them out of the top spots.
You have three basic options for the core material breakdown of your nonstick skillet. All three of these skillet types will have a nonstick coating. These coatings are largely made from a synthetic fluoropolymer called polytetrafluoroethylene, or PTFE. Teflon is a familiar brand name for this nonstick material that you've likely heard of. Some cheap pan producers use fewer coatings of PTFE and so will wear out faster.
It's what's underneath the PTFE that matters more and, depending on your cooking needs and the type of stovetop you use, one might be better for you than the others.
Fully aluminum nonstick skillets are great because they are light and cheap -- nonstick pans have a short lifespan -- but they don't have the structure that comes with tough stainless steel so they're likely to warp faster. They heat up quicker than other pans since aluminum is a fierce conductor but won't work on induction surfaces.
With a stainless steel plate fasted to the bottom, your pan is likely to have more rigidity so if you tend to abuse cookware, it shouldn't warp or dent as easily. These pans are great because they'll work on induction stoves. The downside is that they're a bit heavier and generally more expensive.
This makeup is similar to the above except the stainless steel plate surrounds the aluminum core entirely. These pans will also work with induction heating elements but have even more total weight and often cost more too. On the plus side, you'll have a sturdy pan with a core that should better withstand abuse. Be ready to exercise some patience, however, since a stainless steel-wrapped pan will take longer to heat up than one with only aluminum.
There are a few simple tests I run on nonstick skillets for measuring even heating, surface flatness as well as each pan's nonstick properties and ability to release food.
The first and arguably most important test shows us how well each pan releases sticky foods including eggs and pancakes. I cooked both a fried egg and whipped egg omelet in each. The hope is that each one releases the food completely once cooked with as little food left as possible. In truth, all of the fry pans released the eggs well during this test and with no single skillet flunking it. There were some slight variances in performance, however. The pans I've selected as my top picks in each category all performed as well or better than average.
I also cooked a pan-sized pancake in each pan -- a test that does double duty. Beyond illuminating a pan's non-stickiness, it also shows how evenly a skillet heats and cooks.
After loading a cold pan with one cup of pancake batter, I turned the heat on and let it cook for two minutes. Normally, you'd add pancake batter to a preheated pan but here I want the batter to spread evenly and settle in the pan before cooking so I can really see if they have hot or cold spots. I flipped the pancake out of the pan and upside down. Yes, it was a messy business, but what was revealed on the other side were pancake gradients that shed light on each pan's ability to cook evenly across its surface.
While performing these tests, I'm also careful to note other factors like a pan's overall size, weight and balance on the stove. I also consider the height and slope angle of its sides as well as the angle and construction of the handle. Some of these factors are admittedly subjective, especially handle comfort, so it might make sense to find a cookware superstore and test various handles before making a final selection.
This is a trickier factor to assess. Ultimately, you'll want your nonstick coating to last as long as possible, but you're really only able to gauge this with consistent use over time. In my experience, decent nonstick frying pans will last anywhere from three to four years before they really start to break down. While I don't have the luxury of testing each pan's durability over that timespan, I do look deep into reviews on each pan to see if there were any red flags or patterns that might suggest they corrode faster.
While no nonstick pan will last forever, our top pick the Misen as well as the All-Clad set feature three layers of nonstick coating which should conceivably give them a longer life.
Because of the short lifespan, you'd be wise not to spend a fortune on one nonstick skillet. Besides the HexClad which offers a unique hybrid surface intended to withstand metal utensils and wear and tear, I don't recommend spending more than $60 or $70 on a single nonstick pan.
If you go too cheap (pans under $40 or so), you'll find that nonstick coatings start to corrode much more quickly and you'll need to replace them sooner. I've made this mistake before and it's simply not worth the hassle just to save a few bucks.
Cost and value were some of the biggest determining factors I considered when choosing the best nonstick fry pans for 2023.
If you care for it properly (no metal utensils, only handwashing), a typical nonstick skillet should last about four or five years before it starts to wear down and lose its nonstick properties. If you use your nonstick skillet more than three times per week, this timeline might shrink a bit. And if you only bust it out once per week or less, you'll probably have it a bit longer than five years.
Nonstick cookware is pretty good about letting you know when it's ready to be retired. You'll often see visible signs of wear including faded color, nicks and scratches after a few years. Even if you're extra careful not to damage the surface, with force the slick surface will still wear down. When foods that formerly lifted from the pan with ease start to stick, you'll know it's time to re-up your skillet.
Short answer: No. The harmful chemical previously used in Teflon nonstick coating, PFOA, is banned in the US and was phased out in 2014. The caveat is if you're still using a nonstick skillet made and sold before 2014, it might be time to chuck it and bag a new one. You can read more about PFOA, Teflon and nonstick cookware safety here.
Ceramic has become a popular option for nonstick cookware. The main brag is that these pans use less chemicals than traditional PTFE surfaces. While that may be true, the chemicals used in modern nonstick aren't shown to be harmful.
The downside of ceramic coatings is that they will lose those nonstick properties faster than PTFE surfaces. They also tend to be more expensive, with skillets from popular producers including the Always Pan and Caraway's skillets costing upwards of $100 for a single pan. That's a lot of moolah for a pan that might not see you through the next three or four years.
Yes. You should always use wood, rubber or soft plastic when cooking with nonstick. Nearly all nonstick cookware surfaces will become damaged and break down faster if you use metal utensils.
The one exception we've encountered is HexClad's hybrid skillet since it features a nonstick skillet with raised stainless steel pattern to protect the nonstick. Full disclosure, I've only been cooking with the HexClad for a few months but it has withstood the assault of my metal utensils thus far.