Do You Really Need a Nonstick Pan?
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If you're used to working the line in your kitchen on a Saturday morning—aka alternating between pouring mimosas and coffee, flipping pancakes and omelets, and pan-frying bacon—then you know that nonstick griddles and pans are essential pieces of cookware. A nonstick pan makes simple work of cooking slow scrambled eggs, as well as easily releasing over-easy eggs, sans a broken yolk. But are nonstick pans worth buying? We asked our food editors if— and when—they use nonstick pans. Here's what they had to say.
According to the test kitchen team, a cast iron skillet has nonstick properties and is much more versatile than a nonstick pan. While the latter may only be useful for eggs, you can pan-sear steak or fish and bake a cobbler and skillet cookies in a cast iron pan. "I usually use cast iron, which is basically the same thing as nonstick if it's seasoned well and taken care of," says assistant food editor Riley Wofford. Another benefit of using cast iron pans is that they can handle high heat, unlike nonstick, so they're ideal for cooking crispy chicken or fish with the skin on.
Deputy food editor Greg Lofts also reaches for cast iron over nonstick: "Unless it's something really acidic that could react to the iron, I almost exclusively cook in cast iron, even for recipes that call for a nonstick skillet," he says. Food editorial director Sarah Carey's family prefers nonstick skillets; she likes her 10-inch All-Clad Stainless-Steel Nonstick Fry Pan ($175, williams-sonoma.com) for making Bahn Xio (Vietnamese Crepes) and when frying eggs.
If you want to invest in a nonstick pan, our food editors say choose wisely. "Many nonstick skillets are thin and lightweight, which leads to inconsistent heat, hot spots that can burn food, and a pan that doesn't hold up well," says Greg. Like Sarah, he is a fan of his All-Clad nonstick skillet, which he calls "old-school but durable." Riley reaches for a SCANPAN Professional Nonstick Fry Pan (from $69.95, williams-sonoma.com) when she wants to fry an egg or make crepes.