A nonstick skillet is only as good as its coating. But even if the pan’s surface looks smooth and unmarred by scratches, the nonstick portion of the coating may be still be worn away.
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In the test kitchen, we check the slickness of our nonstick pans with a test used in the cookware industry: frying eggs in a dry pan that we’ve heated to 350 degrees. If the coating is in optimal condition, the eggs will curl at the edges and almost hop out of the skillet. However, if the coating has worn down, the egg will cling stubbornly to the pan, leaving traces behind in the skillet.
Fried Egg Test, Adapted for Home
But even if you don’t have an infrared thermometer at your disposal to check the temperature of your pan, here’s a way to approximate the test without one:
1. Heat 1 tablespoon of water in your nonstick skillet over medium heat.
2. Thirty seconds after the water has evaporated, crack 1 egg into the center of the pan.
3. Cook the egg for 21/2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, and lift the egg from skillet with a spatula.