Let’s start this article with a don’t. DON’T skip out on these little steps that help ensure your non-stick cookware has a long and happy cooking life. They are easy to remember and follow, and if you do, you will indeed enjoy the best value for your investment in them. Oh joy!
Let’s start with the basics
Having some basic understanding of non-stick cookware will help you understand why the following tips will help to upkeep your pans. Non-stick cookware is cookware that has been coated in a material that prevents food from sticking to it while cooking. Examples of such materials are Teflon or ceramic. Frying pans and saucepans with these coatings often require very little butter or oil for cooking and can be cleaned by wiping it down with a paper towel. These coatings, while they make cooking easy, also require care so that they do not deteriorate in quality or functionality.
DO wash your pan before your first use
Always wash your non-stick cookware prior to its first use. Sometimes packing boxes can contain dust and very fine debris that could get into the food you cook if not washed thoroughly beforehand.
DO wash your cookware by hand
While most non-stick pans are dishwasher safe, we recommend washing your cookware by hand with warm soapy water and dry it with a towel to prolong your pan's lifespan.
DO use plastic or wooden utensils
Metal forks, spoons, and spatulas are never to be used in any type of non-stick pan. Metal utensils are meant to be used on grills and can end up scratching and ruining the coating on pans, reducing their ability to keep food from sticking to the surface.
DO season your pan after use
Just like cast iron cookware, seasoning your pan will help preserve the non-stick coating - especially non-stick ceramic coatings. This is easy to do. Just wash and dry your pan as normal, then heat a small amount of oil in the pan on the stove over medium heat. Remove it from the heat and wipe the pan down with a paper towel to remove the excess oil. It is now ready to be stored until the next usage.
DON’T heat an empty pan on the stove
When heating any type of non-stick pan, always add a small amount of oil, tilt the pan to evenly distribute the oil, then pour off the excess. Heating an empty pan with no oil can damage the non-stick coating causing it to break down and coatings such as Teflon may start to release fumes.
DON’T use non-stick cooking sprays
Cooking sprays can cause build up on the surface of the pan, making it sticky. Lecithin is one of the main ingredients in cooking sprays and this forms a bond with the coating that is hard to clean off. A small amount of oil brushed around the pan works much better.
DON’T put a hot pan in cold water
After cooking, always let the pan cool down by removing it from the heat and letting it come to room temperature. Rinsing it under cold water immediately after cooking can cause the metal in the pan to warp. Once that happens, it won’t sit right on the burner and won’t cook food as efficiently anymore.
DON’T use high heat
Pans with a non-stick coating are not designed for use on high heat. If you want to sear a steak before cooking it in the oven, you should use a cast iron skillet instead, which can withstand high heat and is also better for creating that crispy sear around the edges of the meat. Non-stick pans should only be used on a low to medium-high heat.
DON’T stack your pans
Never stack non-stick pans on top of each other without cushioning it with cardboard, a piece of cloth, or other soft material (paper towel or sponge mat) to eliminate contact between pans, and reduce the risk of scratching the surface.
In short, hand washing, air drying, and seasoning your pan with a bit of oil after every use will help keep your cookware in prime condition. Taking proper care of your non-stick cookware can keep it looking great, working great and lasting twice as long, ensuring a good return on your investment.