Step 1: Buy the best skillet. Step 2: Treat it right.
Last Updated Nov. 2, 2022. Appears in Cook's Country TV Season 14: Regional Sandwich Roundup
There’s nothing like a good nonstick skillet. You can crack an egg into it and count on a perfect fried egg sliding out a few minutes later, even if you get distracted for a minute or are a little clumsy with your spatula. Sautéed vegetables and stir-fries move around the pan with ease and don’t stick or leave behind cooked-on bits that can burn. It’s our go-to for all sorts of other delicate and fast-cooking foods, from omelets and pancakes to pan-seared salmon and quesadillas.
We’ve spent hundreds of hours evaluating nonstick skillets over the years. We know what we like: A slick and durable coating, a wide cooking surface, and a comfortable handle. Several intriguing new models have hit the market recently. Two direct-to-consumer companies, Misen and Made In, launched to much fanfare. Meanwhile, OXO, the manufacturer of our favorite nonstick skillet, launched a new model with a metal handle that can go in hotter ovens than its original model. We surveyed the market, selected our lineup, and all the skillets through the wringer. We made Beef and Broccoli Stir-Fry, pepper and onion frittata, and pan-fried sole—recipes selected to test the pans’ capacity, browning ability, and maneuverability—and recruited three additional testers to use the pans. To zero in on the pans’ nonstick coatings, we conducted a test that’s standard in the cookware industry: cooking eggs in a dry skillet back-to-back, stopping either when they began to stick or when we had made 50 consecutive eggs. We did this at the beginning and end of testing so we could see if the coatings deteriorated with use.
All of the pans’ nonstick coatings were made with polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), a compound best known by the brand name Teflon. The exact names and formulations of the coatings varied, and manufacturers told us that they applied between two and five layers of those coatings. Despite these differences, most performed similarly. Every skillet was ovensafe to at least 400 degrees. None of the coatings flaked or wore off. All but one of the skillets aced our egg tests, both when the pans were brand-new and when we repeated the test at the end of user testing. We also used a paring knife to see if making cuts in the skillets’ cooking surfaces would result in scratching. All of the pans were marred by scratches, proving that you should follow manufacturers’ instructions and not use knives in nonstick cookware. We also recommend avoiding metal utensils.
We also considered how easy the pans were to use. When we cook in a nonstick skillet, we often move food around...
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Kate is a deputy editor for ATK Reviews. She's a culinary school graduate and former line cook and cheesemonger.
Valerie is an assistant editor for ATK Reviews. In addition to cooking, she loves skiing, traveling, and spending time outdoors.
Sarah is an assistant editor for ATK Reviews who is deeply passionate about anchovies and sourdough bread.