If you’re looking for the best non-stick pan without Teflon, your search ends here! Non-stick pans are popular in cookware and are present in most homes.
They are easy to clean, long-lasting, and can save you time. However, most pans come with a non-stick coating made of Teflon.
This synthetic polymer may be popular due to its non-stick properties, but it’s not always safe. Read the article to know all about Teflon pans and their alternatives.
Background And History Of Teflon
Teflon is a shorter name for a chemical coating polytetrafluoroethylene, also known as PTFE. Invented in the 1930s, Teflon was used to create a non-reactive, non-stick surface.
It’s primarily used on cookware but is also known for its use in materials such as fabrics or wires. Coating these materials with Teflon makes them waterproof.
The main risk of using Teflon comes from a chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid (also known as PFOA). This harmful chemical was used to make Teflon until 2013.
Even though the manufacturing process is supposed to burn it off, traces of PFOA are still present in cookware. The health risks of using this cookware include thyroid disorders, chronic kidney disease, testicular cancer, liver disease, low birth weight, and infertility.
PFOA was so highly present in the United States that a study in 1999 showed that more than 98% of people living in the country had it in their blood. Cooking may be a cause, but it can also be due to other environmental exposures.
This led to a program known as the PFOA Stewardship program. The EPA initiated this to get the top eight PFOA companies (including DuPont, the maker of Teflon) to eliminate the use of PFOA.
This was successfully done in 2015, ahead of schedule in 2013. They achieved this by replacing PFOA with PTFE, a synthetic polymer manufactured in the 1930s by a DuPont employee who was working on a different project.
Initially used as a pipe and valve sealant in the 1950s, PTFE quickly started being manufactured for other industrial applications due to its properties (it’s strong, tough, and flexible). Its use began much before 2015 when a French chemist’s wife in the 1950s encouraged him to coat her pots and pans with Teflon.
The advantage PTFE has over PFOA is that it’s inert. It means that it doesn’t react with the chemicals in your body. The American Cancer Society doesn’t consider PTFE to be dangerous in terms of cancer risk.
However, if a Teflon-coated pan is left on the stove for too long or if it reaches a temperature over 660° Fahrenheit, it can cause symptoms such as coughing, sore throat, or a fever. These might be temporary, but the symptoms can get severe in some cases, which can be a matter of concern for people with sensitive respiratory systems.
For this reason, it’s better to cook with pans that don’t have a non-stick Teflon coating.
In this article, we will discuss some safe alternatives to Teflon. Most of the options are widely known and proven to be healthy.
Examples Of Safe Alternatives To Teflon
First things first, you need to look for pans with safe, non-stick coatings. Here are some non-toxic alternatives for PFOA and PTFE:
Enameled Cast Iron Coating
The Porcelain coating on enameled cast iron pans prevents the iron from getting into your food.
If your food gets infused with iron, it’s only dangerous if you have hemochromatosis or are cooking for children under 6. You can get the enamel in various colors, which is a plus considering most cookware is only available in black or grey coatings.
Carbon Steel and Cast Iron
While bare carbon steel or cast iron pans aren’t popular non-stick alternatives for PFOA coatings, they can give you somewhat similar results when seasoned and appropriately maintained.
Ceramic Non-stick Coating
A ceramic coating is widely favored over Teflon because it’s a safe and healthy natural component. The main problem here is that while most pans on the market claim to be Teflon-free, they actually have a PTFE coating.
So it’s important that you look deeply into the product before purchasing. Another problem with ceramic non-stick pans is that they aren’t as durable as some of the other options.
They tend to crack or shatter under sudden temperature changes or when dropped. The non-stick coating can also get worn out over time.
Even if these pans are visually appealing, they might not be practical if you’re looking for long-lasting cookware.
Being flexible and durable, Silicone makes a great Teflon alternative. This coating is widely used in modern bakeware, cookware, and even utensils.
It’s considered to be non-reactive and safe even though there hasn’t been much research to prove this. The downside to using this is that you can use this at temperatures above 300°C.
It’s also very flexible, which isn’t what you want when baking a cake. Another thing you should keep in mind is that Silicon pans don’t have an inner coating that’ll allow you to use them on stovetops.
However, you can opt for Silicone bakeware such as cake pans.
Thermolon is comparatively new material on the market. The non-stick pans made from Thermolon are natural, non-toxic, and PTFE-free.
Third-party testing labs have confirmed that Thermolon meets the international regular food contact standards set by The USA Food & Drug Administration, KTR (authoritative test institute certified by Korea Laboratory Accreditation, the Swiss government, and the German LFGB.
This material has a high heat stability of up to 450℃, which is more than enough for baking.
This coating is an excellent alternative to Teflon since it’s non-stick, can repel water, and is easy to clean.
Materials used to make this coating include Zinc oxide polystyrene, Carbon nanotube structures, and Silica Nano coating.
If you prefer natural-looking surfaces, you can opt for stone cookware. It’s best if you do some research on the stone pans you want to purchase since some pans contain PTFE.
Common Problems And Solutions
Non-stick pans can make cooking much easier, but they can also burn your food and lose their non-stick properties if not used correctly. Here are some common non-stick pan problems and their solutions:
Non-stick pans burn food more often than other cookware.
It happens when you don’t preheat your pan before cooking. Putting your food on a cold pan surface will cause it to stick to the bottom.
It’s true the other way around as well. If your pan is sitting on high heat, you’ll end up with burnt food.
Non-stick pans are designed to have a high tolerance or heat, which means that they can withstand high temperatures. So, you should always ensure that you’re cooking on low heat.
Food residue keeps building up on the pan.
There are a few ways to get rid of this problem.
- If the pan is starting to stick, you can use a non-abrasive cleaner such as baking soda.
- Soak your pan in hot water for a while to soften the residue. Then you can clean it was a soft sponge and dish soap.
- When cooking, refrain from overcrowding the pan.
Non-stick pans lose their coating over time.
- When you heat your pan too much, it can melt the coating over time which is why you should use it on low heat.
- Also, try not to use metallic utensils in your non-stick frying pans. They can scratch the coating. A better option would be to use Silicone utensils.
- You should also avoid using non-stick sprays as their chemicals can break down the coating and create holes.
- Wash the pans with your hands instead of putting them in the dishwasher. The harsh sulfates in the dishwasher soaps and detergents can stick to the coating and damage it.
- Even when you’re handwashing, don’t use a sharp scraper. Instead, use nylon sponges since they are softer.
- Lastly, never let your dirty pans sit too long. The leftover oils can bond with the non-stick surface.
Here are some tips that may help you extend the shelf-life of your non-stick pan without Teflon:
- When cooking with oil, always pour a small amount after heating the pan. When you see tiny wisps of smoke, that’s your sign that your pan is ready for food.
- Avoid using highly acidic foods such as tomatoes and citrus since they can speed up the aging process and cause the non-stick surface to blister.
- When storing your non-stick pans, avoid stacking them because the bottom of one pan can scratch the interior of the pan below it. If you don’t have any storage option other than stacking, make sure that you place soft towels above and below the pan. If you don’t have towels, you can also use paper plates. However, it’s best if you hang them instead.
You have to put your health before anything else when looking for pans. It’s better to do your research first to know exactly what type of non-stick pan you want to purchase.
Here are some things you need to look out for:
- Check if the non-stick coating is made from non-toxic material.
- Ensure it’s safe to use in ovens and can withstand high temperatures without cracking.
- The cost will matter depending on what material the pan is made of. If you want a long-lasting one, you may have to invest a little more than the common ones in the market.
- Make sure that the material of the pan’s body is durable so that it doesn’t shatter or crack in case it gets dropped.
- The panhandle should be designed to stay cool on the stovetop and have a firm grip.
- It’s best if the pan is dishwasher safe. However, there’s always a chance for the non-stick coating to get damaged if anything contacts the pan’s interior. For that reason, you should always wash your non-stick pans by hand. It does take up some extra time, but it’ll ensure that your pan lasts longer.
- Check what type of utensils can be used with the pan. Sometimes metallic utensils can damage the non-stick coating.
Top Non-stick Pans Without Teflon
1. GreenPan Lima 12″ Ceramic Non-Stick Covered Frying pan
If you’re looking for a pan that can withstand high temperatures and stay in its best shape, you should opt for GreenPan. This 12-inch, non-stick frying pan is perfect for cooking foods such as chicken and fish.
There are no harmful chemicals such as PFOA, lead, cadmium, or PFAS.
You can use a thermolon ceramic coated pan such as this for numerous cooking styles, including baking, searing, broiling, roasting, and frying. Since the pan is made of durable materials, you don’t even have to worry about flaking or cracking the ceramic coat.
The pan comes with a glass lid that allows you to keep a watch on your ingredients inside. Another feature I like is that the stainless-steel handle is designed for efficiency and a firm grip, so you can easily toss and turn the ingredients.
This ceramic pan is also lightweight, which makes it easy to handle, especially when your meal is filled to the top.
The best part is that the washing process doesn’t require you to scrub the pan’s surface and give yourself an arm workout. Only a little amount of dish soap is enough to clean it under running water and remove the grease or smell from its surface.
However, the downside is that you can only handwash this pan. Putting it in the dishwasher can shorten its life.
2. GreenLife Soft Grip Healthy Ceramic Nonstick Frying Pan Set
This GreenLife Open Frypan set is one of the most popular non-stick pans in many homes and even on Amazon. Similar to GreenPan Lima, this non-stick pan is made from aluminum and doesn’t contain harmful substances such as PFOA, PFAS, lead, and cadmium.
It can withstand heat without damage and doesn’t take too long to cool down. The pan is lightweight to help you carry it easily when it’s hot.
Even though the aluminum can react with some foods and be harmful in that sense, the outer and inner coating on the pan prevents this from happening.
Several different colors are available for this pan, so you can choose what best matches your taste. The non-stick Thermolon coating on the pan has a creamy white color and is a harmless alternative to the toxic Teflon.
The Bakelite handle is fully covered with rubber to ensure a strong, firm grip and keep the handle cool, especially when your pan is still on a burning stovetop. You can use the pan for baking as well.
However, the oven temperature must be below 350°F to prevent the pan from getting damaged.
One advantage it has over most other non-stick pans is its dishwasher safety. This means it will last a long time without getting scratched or stained.
3. MICHELANGELO 10-Inch Nonstick Copper Frying Pan
This fry pan has a durable aluminum body with a titanium and ceramic coating. This allows the pan to conduct heat evenly and prevent your food from burning due to hot spots.
The pan comes with a glass lid enabling you to monitor the food as it cooks. What’s better is that you have a comfortable, firm grip with its stainless steel handle, which also stays cool during the cooking process.
The main downside to this pan is its convex shape, which results in a ring of oil around the outer edge. While this is excellent for cooking eggs, it can be inconvenient for foods that require a flat-bottomed pan.
This pan is dishwasher safe. You just have to ensure that the interior coating doesn’t get scratched. Still, it’s better to handwash it since it’s safer.
4. T-fal Initiatives Nonstick Ceramic Coating Fry Pan Set
This T-fal Initiatives Non-stick Ceramic Coating Fry Pan Set includes two pans, an 8-inch one, and a 10.5-inch pan. Both are non-stick without Teflon and suitable for 1-2 servings.
The pans have a ceramic interior which makes them PFOA and PTFE free. The heavy gauge aluminum used to manufacture these make the pans lightweight and allows them to conduct heat evenly.
While the non-stick feature of these pans doesn’t require oil or butter, you shouldn’t avoid using them if you’re worried about removing the grease. The pans are easy to clean.
You can wash them with a small amount of dish soap or put them in the dishwasher without worrying about causing any damage to the non-stick coating.
These are suitable for various cooking styles, including baking, as long as the oven temperature doesn’t exceed 350°F. However, they won’t get damaged on the stovetop even with temperatures as high as 570°F.
Their handles are Bakelite and ergonomically made for your convenience. This means they’ll be comfortable to hold and won’t heat up when you cook.
The only con with these pans is even though the handles have practical features, they can be challenging to clean.
5. Green Earth Frying Pan 3-Piece Set by Ozeri
Designed for a beautiful look and durability, the Ozeri Green Earth pans are perfect for your needs. There are 3 pans in this set: an 8.5-inch one, a 9-inch one, and an 11-inch pan.
All three are free of PFOA and PTFE. Instead, they have a harmless coating with a honeycomb textured surface that allows even heat distribution and prevents the food from sticking to the surface.
The aluminum body is designed for durability, and the Silicone handles enable you to have a comfortable grip. It also has a magnetized base optimized for rapid heat transfer.
The pans have a dual coating that prevents chipping or cracking of the surface on high heat. However, the con is that they may still get damaged due to the relatively low-temperature support.
6. WaxonWare 11-Inch Ceramic Nonstick Frying Pan
This non-stick Waxonware frying pan is free of PFOA, PTFE, and APEO. You can cook without worrying about any harmful chemicals getting infused into your food.
The flat bottom allows the oil to spread evenly on the surface and evenly distributes the heat throughout the pan. The electromagnetic induction bottom lets you use the pan on different cooking surfaces, including gas, induction, halogen, and even electric stove.
You can use this for baking as well, but ensure that the temperature doesn’t exceed 350°F. The high-grade aluminum and alloy exterior is durable and protects the metal body as well as the ceramic coating.
The riveted handles are heat resistant and allow you to toss and turn your food without burning your hand. As a bonus, the pan includes a table mat to protect your table surface and countertops from heat damage.
This pan is dishwasher safe, but it’s better to clean it by hand under running water to protect the non-stick coat from damage.
Can you repair non-stick pans?
That depends on how damaged your pan is. If the damage isn’t too bad, you can use a non-stick spray to recoat it.
However, the spray will probably have Teflon in it. Remember that the spray will only recoat the surface, not repair any damage.
You can also go to a professional if the damage is too bad. If your pan isn’t useable any longer, it’s best to purchase a new one.
What is the best alternative to non-stick Teflon pans?
There are various options you can choose from. The most popular ones are ceramic, cast iron, enameled cast iron, Silicone, and Thermolon.
Why is it harmful to use Teflon pans?
PFOA can cause health problems, including cancer, kidney disease, thyroid disease, infertility, and low birth weight.
In comparison, PTFE doesn’t result in severe health issues but can cause symptoms like coughing, sore throat, and fever. This is why it’s best to find safer alternatives.
Now that you know all alternatives you can use, keep the buying guide in mind to ensure you get the best pan for your needs. Make sure that you use, clean, and store your pans appropriately to keep them safe and increase their shelf life.
If you think your pan is no longer useable, it’s best to replace it to stay on the safe side. It’s important that you put your health before anything else!