You can tear your hair out trying to figure out which pots and pans to buy, which is why we have a primer. You know what’s as straightforward as it sounds, though? Nonstick. A traditional nonstick pan is an essential part of your culinary arsenal. (Confused about traditional versus ceramic nonstick? Right this way.) Here’s how to get the most from your nonstick cookware.
Adherents to the seasoned cast-iron skillet method of pre-heating, listen up: You’re not busting that flame up to high heat, then searing once you’ve got popping-hot oil. Instead, choose medium heat, preheat the pan for just a minute or two, and use just a scant amount of oil, if you like. Oil isn’t really necessary in nonstick, so long as you’ve given the pan a bit of time to heat up. (If your food is sticking or burning, you probably had the heat cranked up too high!) Avoid aerosol cooking sprays, too; those result in permanent carbonized build-up over time, which blocks the nonstick coating from performing properly.
In an ideal world, you’re not stacking pans one on top of another, without a protective layer in between. You’ll likely end up with ugly scuffs from the bottoms of the other pans. Consider hooks, a pegboard, pan organizers or open shelving, perhaps with paper towels or pan protectors between them. And always make sure pans are clean and dry before storing them.
Check the labels of your particular brand; some traditional nonstick pans (such as Scanpan) are best cleaned while warm, but many others are best left to cool completely before washing them. And yes, you can use the dishwasher, but to extend your pans’ lifetime, wash by hand. Warm, soapy water and a soft dish sponge (never steel wool) is best. Be sure to clean and dry every time, too! Nonstick doesn’t mean “don’t clean.” A soft-bristle brush designed for non-stick pans may also be used for gentle scrubbing. For tough stains, try a baking soda solution or Barkeepers Friend, which is safe for many of these pans. (Again, check the fine print!) When it comes to cooking spatulas, choose wood or silicone for nonstick; metal can scratch surfaces. And keep in mind that nonstick cookware is naturally subject to wear and tear; replace them as needed or approximately every five years.