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You’re probably familiar with that feeling: you spend lots of time and effort cooking a complicated meal, and you’re hungry by the end because you’ve been inhaling delicious food aromas for a while now, but you’re also excited to taste what you’ve made and display it to others.
Then, you try to remove it from the pan, and it falls apart. Oh well, I guess you’ll have to do with a crumbly pile of food instead of whatever you were making.
Not only that, but cleaning your cookware is now going to be a huge pain because so much of your meal is stuck to the pan. That feeling is the stuff of a chef’s nightmares.
To make sure you don’t go through this experience anymore, I’ve put together this post about the best nonstick cookware sets out there and how to take care of them to prolong their use.
About Nonstick Cookware
There are lots of kinds of non-stick coating applied to every kind of cookware you can think of. Not all non-stick coating is created equal, though; some non-stick cookware can actually contain chemicals that are bad for your health, and some types of non stick coating are durable or easier to clean than others. Let’s look at 4 frequently used types of non-stick coating.
This is the original nonstick coating discovered in 1938. I’m surprised it’s still the most common type of nonstick coating used considering that it emits carcinogenic fumes when it is heated above 260 degrees Fahrenheit.
Titanium is a non-toxic, durable, and lightweight material. Cookware made with it is also scratch resistant. The best part is that, since titanium conducts heat incredibly well, things cook faster in titanium cookware. It’s pretty expensive though, and that awesome heat conductivity can also be a con since it can cause foods to cook unevenly and burn.
Ceramic coating (Sol-Gel)
The big upside of this one is that it is 100% natural, being derived from clay. The downside is that it’s very easy to wear off, so you have to be careful to wash gently and only use wooden utensils on it unless the specific model says otherwise. Even then, it usually only lasts about a year before losing its non-stick properties.
Enameled cast iron
This is made by taking cast iron cookware and melting glass on the bottom. The melted glass sticks to the pan and prevents foods from sticking. This is my favorite type of nonstick coating, and the favorite of most professional chefs because it is safe, durable, and effective. Unfortunately, enameled cast iron cookware is expensive and very heavy.
Normal cast iron
You can achieve a non-stick effect with normal cast iron cookware by coating it with a thin layer of oil using a paper towel. Then, heating it in the oven or on the stove for 20 minutes before each use. It’s a lot cheaper, but also more time-consuming.
8 Best Nonstick Cookware sets
Here’s a table of what I think are the best nonstick cookware sets in each of eight different categories. Below the table, I’ll detail why exactly I made each pick.
1. Overall: Scanpan CS+ 10-Piece Set
by Sur la Table
This is my pick for the best nonstick cookware set because it delivers in every category. Each of the 10 pieces in the set is incredibly durable; you can use metal utensils on the cookware without a problem, and you can even use abrasive cleaning methods without scraping off the coating (although you still may want to stay away from scraping the pan as hard as you can with steel wool).
The bottom of each piece contains 5 layers of aluminum, which makes for impeccable heat distribution. Plus, there are a lot of features like the tempered glass windows on the lip of each pan, the easy-to-grip-handles, and the ability to heat the cookware to 500 degrees that make the set shine.
And then, of course, there’s the main event: the nonstick capabilities. Scanpan developed a technology called Stratanium+ that really is like magic with how well it does nonstick. Any food or juice will slide right off the pan beautifully. The nonstick never goes away, either, so you won’t have to replace the pans.
2. Budget: T-Fal ProGrade Titanium Nonstick 10-Piece Cookware Set
I’m still amazed at the price of this set because all 10 of the pieces included are just great. They are durable and provide excellent nonstick functionality.
They also look very nice since they’re made from cast iron and all have that neat red dot in the middle of the base. And speaking of that red dot, it’s my favorite feature of all; it glows bright red when the pan is fully heated on the stove. That’s an especially nice feature for me to have, since I have a bad habit of letting an oiled pan heat up too long until it starts to smoke, and I have to take it off the stove for a few minutes to cool off.
3. Dishwasher-safe: GreenPan Levels Stackable Hard Anodized Ceramic Nonstick 11-Piece Cookware Set
I love ceramic nonstick coatings because of how all-natural they are, but usually they’re pretty easy to ruin by using abrasive cleaning methods. That is not the case with this set, which includes an impressive 11 pieces.
You can use metal cooking utensils on these pots and pans if you want, and you don’t need to dread hand-washing each individual piece because they are dishwasher-safe.
Besides the great selection of cookware—and the stacking ability—the set includes three pan protectors that allow you to put down the pans on the table without burning it and a couple of melamine sponges for gentle cleaning when needed. It’s little touches like that which make this one of the best nonstick cookware sets.
4. Durable: Cookware Set
This is another super-durable ceramic nonstick cookware set. This one stands out, though, because of the pan and lid storage racks that come with the set.
Being able to store the separate pieces in their own convenient spaces in the cabinet or on the counter may sound a little gimmicky, but it is actually super convenient. It prolongs the lifespan of the pieces, too, because stacking your pots and pans haphazardly one on top of the other in the cupboard causes more wear and tear than you might think.
5. High-End: Non Stick Set
From the first glance at this product, it screams quality. The design is minimalist but gorgeous, with each pan having a brushed iron exterior and an interior tinted with a deep shade of blue.
Looks are not deceiving in this case, either; the 5-ply aluminum construction of the pan bases does an absolutely incredible job of transmitting heat evenly and producing perfectly cooked meals time after time.
You don’t need to worry about the PTFE coating, either. Through some process that I’m not scientifically savvy enough to understand, Made In manages to bond the coating to the pan and keep it from giving off any fumes. The result is a surface that you can heat to hundreds of degrees and what are perhaps the best nonstick properties I’ve ever tested.
6. Space saving: Always Pan
This pan does it all, capturing the functionalities of most major cookware types without necessitating a lot of storage space.
The base is a deep saucepan with a stay-cool handle and the lid has a modular shape to release and trap steam. The pan includes a notch for a nesting steam basket/colander and a wooden spoon holder. It can cook just about any basic recipe you can think of. I’ve prepared entire meals using only this pan.
I absolutely love the color selection, too. The pan is available in 10 muted colors, from pale gray to golden yellow. My favorite is “spice,” which looks completely like a red clay pot.
7. Ceramic: GreenPan™ Reserve Ceramic Nonstick 10-Piece Cookware Set
The nonstick coating on these pans is ceramic, but it is one of the more durable examples of ceramic coating I’ve seen thanks to the hard-anodized process used to make the set. It can be heated to extremely high temperatures (up to 600 degrees!), and all the pieces have exceptional heat transfer.
What really makes this set stand out, though, is appearance. All the pieces are made from a ceramic with a gorgeous jet black finish, but the handles and lid handles are made from striking gold-brushed steel. It is definitely a luxurious look, and it will bring an added feeling of nobility to your kitchen.
8. Copper: 4 Piece Copper Aluminum Non-Stick Pan Set
Copper cookware is great because it heats more quickly than any other material, and it distributes heat especially well. This set uses copper to its fullest potential, combining it with a steel interior brushed with a PTFE nonstick coating that works like a charm. The pots and pans set is effective as it is visually appealing, and I’d recommend it especially for newer chefs.
Nonstick Pan FAQ
Nonstick pans are most effective for light foods that are mostly contained in one large piece like omelets, pancakes, vegetables, and fish filets. Heavier foods, especially ones like stews that contain a lot of very small pieces of food, are not ideal unless you’re using a very high-end nonstick pan like those in the aforementioned Scanpan CS+ set.
A few tips on how to best care for nonstick pans:
• Don’t overheat them. Different types of non stick coating have different heat tolerances, so familiarize yourself with what you’re using.
• Don’t use metal utensils unless your specific nonstick cookware says it’s okay.
• Wash nonstick surfaces gently with warm water and soap. If that’s not enough to get off a particularly sticky mess, try soaking the afflicted area in a mixture of water and dish soap for 30 minutes before gently scrubbing again.
• Even though it’s nonstick cookware, using butter or oil on it before cooking will help prolong its lifespan. Do not use nonstick spray.
Don’t Put Yourself in a Sticky Situation!
I love my nonstick cookware and use it every opportunity I get. It’s saved me countless hours of scrubbing during my post-meal cleanups, and it’s saved a lot of dishes I’ve made from coming out in more than one piece.
When I see one of my friends cooking with cookware that is not treated with nonstick spray, I internally shake my head and make a mental note of what I’m getting them for their next birthday: one of the fantastic nonstick cookware sets on this list.
Last update on 2022-02-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API