The ceramic skillets we’ve tested have never been able to compete with regular nonstick cookware. Have they improved?
Last Updated Sept. 1, 2022.
OXO, the maker of our winning 12-inch nonstick skillet, recently debuted a ceramic nonstick skillet, so we put it to the test. We recommend it, but the GreenPan Valencia Pro Hard Anodized Nonstick Frypan remains our winner.
Ceramic nonstick skillets promise to be as slick and reliable as the best regular nonstick skillet, which we like to use when cooking delicate foods such as fish and eggs. Because manufacturers of Teflon and similar coatings have faced allegations that their coatings are dangerous for cooks and bad for the environment, ceramic pans are often marketed as safer, more environmentally friendly options. Unfortunately, we’ve found in testing after testing that most ceramic nonstick skillets aren’t very good. Some of the models we've tested couldn't release food cleanly even when they were brand-new, and even the best nonstick surfaces quickly deteriorated with use. But since kitchen equipment is constantly improving and because we regularly hear from readers who ask us about the performance of ceramic nonstick cookware, we’ve remained curious. We set out to answer two questions: Since our last testing has any manufacturer been able to make a ceramic nonstick skillet that’s both nonstick and durable, and, if so, how does its performance compare to that of our favorite regular 12-inch nonstick skillet from OXO?
We purchased a range of ceramic nonstick skillets and subjected them to our standard battery of evaluations for nonstick cookware. We ran a test that’s common 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 at the end of testing so that we could see if the coatings deteriorated with use. In between those egg tests, we made Beef and Broccoli Stir-Fry, Pepper and Onion Frittata with Arugula Salad , and Pan-Fried Sole with Lemony Herb Butter to help us assess each pan’s capacity, browning ability, and maneuverability. We also recruited three additional testers who were unfamiliar with these pans to use them to make Sautéed Peas with Shallots and Mint. To test the durability of the skillets, we cut in them with a knife, heated them and then plunged them into ice water, and, finally, whacked them three times on a cement block.
The key component in the coatings of traditional nonstick skillets, including our favorite from OXO, is a substance called polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). Its unique molecular structure makes for a superstrong, fairly flexible, and very slippery coating. PTFE is inert (or chemically inactive) once it’s made and applied to a product, but it can degrade and release dangerous fumes when it’s heated above 500 degrees. That is and will always be a limitation of traditional nonstick pans. Also of conc...
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Kate is a deputy editor for ATK Reviews. She's a culinary school graduate and former line cook and cheesemonger.
Sarah is an assistant editor for ATK Reviews who is deeply passionate about anchovies and sourdough bread.