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.
Many brands of nonstick cookware can be used on any type of stovetop, whether electric, gas or induction; you need only check the perimeters of your brand. Stovetop heat is best kept in check. To maintain the lifespan of your pan’s nonstick coating, limit the heat to medium, 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. And, although metal utensils can be used on many types of durable nonstick cookware without risk of nicks or scratches, opting instead for silicone or wood utensils can prolong the life of your nonstick cookware.
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 or nicks from the bottoms of the other pans that could affect your pan’s nonstick performance. 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!) And keep in mind that nonstick cookware is naturally subject to wear and tear; replace them as needed or approximately every five years.