Cooking Tips

How Nonstick is Your Nonstick Skillet?

  This simple test can tell you when it’s time for a new pan.

Published Apr. 20, 2022.

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. 

Sign up for the Cook's Insider newsletter

The latest recipes, tips, and tricks, plus behind-the-scenes stories from the Cook's Illustrated team.

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. 

If the egg lifts cleanly or only sticks in one or two spots, your skillet’s coating is in good shape. If the egg must be scraped from the pan, its nonstick portion has deteriorated— and before you destroy your next omelet or batch of delicate fish fillets, you may want to consider buying a new one. 

5 Great Recipes to Use With a Nonstick Skillet

Omelet with Cheddar and Chives

Rolling sunny, tender eggs around a tidy filling doesn't require much more skill or time than a hearty scramble—but the result is much more polished and satisfying.
Get the Recipe

Bánh Xèo (Sizzling Vietnamese Crepes)

The shrimp-and-pork-studded Vietnamese crepes called bánh xèo look like omelets and are made like French crepes. But this dish is one of a kind.
Get the Recipe

Rye Crepes with Smoked Salmon, Crème Fraîche, and Pickled Shallots

Brittany, France, is famous for buckwheat crepes filled with savory ingredients. Once you've mastered them, it's easy to swap in other whole-grain flours.
Get the Recipe


Holey and spongy, crispy and chewy, crumpets can be hard to find in the United States. Homemade versions have fallen short — until now.
Get the Recipe

Pan-Seared Salmon

For a crisp crust and a juicy interior, the secret is starting your salmon in a cold skillet.
Get the Recipe


This is a members' feature.