Skip to content   Skip to footer navigation 

How to get the most out of your non-stick frypan

We explain what to consider before you buy, and how to make sure your pan stays non-stick.

three eggs frying in a non-stick frypan on a blue background

A good non-stick frying pan is essential in any kitchen. Use it to cook pancakes for breakfast, omelettes for lunch, steak for dinner – and since you only need very little oil, your fry-ups are healthier. 

If you've never given non-stick a go, or if your non-stick frying pan is starting to lose its 'non', read our tips for choosing the right pan and how you can keep it in good condition.

CHOICE tester in a lab coat

Australia's source of unbiased reviews

  • No fake reviews
  • No advertising
  • No sponsorships

What is non-stick cookware?

Non-stick cookware refers to the application of a chemical "non-stick" coating to the metal pan during manufacturing. The coating allows foods to cook and brown without sticking to the pan, which is ideal if you're frying eggs or making pancakes. It also means very little oil is needed and in some cases no oil at all.

Is non-stick cookware safe?

Non-stick cookware has been traditionally made using PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) coatings, more commonly known as Teflon. PTFE belongs to a larger group of chemical compounds referred to as PFAS (per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances) which make surfaces slippery and resistant to water and oils. 

They've often been referred to as "forever chemicals" for their ability to persist for long periods of time in our bodies, and break down very slowly (or not at all) in the environment. 

Stop using your pan if the surface is scratched, flaking or if bare metal is showing

Over the years, manufacturing has evolved to make products safer and more durable, with some manufacturers claiming PTFE-free cookware. However, there are still concerns around the safety of non-stick cookware.

You've probably heard conflicting reports about non-stick coatings like Teflon, PTFE and PFAS giving off harmful chemicals when heated and being linked to health and environmental issues. 

But the chemicals used in non-stick coatings only start to break down and release harmful toxins in temperatures above 260°C, and research suggests that no toxins are released from cookware used at or below normal cooking temperatures. 

The toxins seem to be lethal to birds and may cause headaches, nausea and damage to the respiratory tract in humans.

Tips for using a non-stick frypan safely

You can reduce the risk of toxins being released by using your frypan properly and looking after it so the non-stick coating isn't damaged.

  • Don't overheat an empty non-stick pan or leave it unattended on the cooktop.
  • Never heat fat or oil at maximum temperature to the extent where it overheats.
  • Only use wooden or plastic utensils to avoid scratching.
  • Hand wash your pan with a sponge and slightly warm water; let it soak in hot water to remove stubborn residue.
  • Never use steel wool or heavy-duty scrubbers.
  • Stop using your pan if the surface is damaged (scratched, flaking or if bare metal is showing).

Is there an alternative to non-stick cookware that's still "non-stick"? 

If you're looking to replace your non-stick cookware and reduce your exposure to PTFE and related chemical coatings, ceramic non-stick cookware is an alternative to consider. Ceramic cookware has a metal base that's coated with a glass-like ceramic material that's derived from beach sand. Unlike traditional non-stick coatings, ceramic cookware doesn't pose health risks, even when heated to high temperatures. 

However, metal utensils can still damage the coating, so it's important to follow the manufacturer's instructions for use and care to ensure the longevity and durability of your ceramic cookware.

How much do non-stick pans cost?

The non-stick frypans we've tested can cost as little as $14 and as much as $459. In our testing, we've found that you do generally get what you pay for – with the exception of Kmart's $19 Anko frypan which wowed our testers and outperformed pans from Tefal, Scanpan and Chasseur. However, it pays to shop around for discounted prices, as we've found you can usually pick up cookware heavily discounted from the RRP.

Features to look for

Cooktop suitability

If you have an induction cooktop, you'll need a pan that's made of ferrous metal (metal that can be magnetised). For better heat distribution, look for a frypan that is fully magnetised on the base (take a magnet with you when shopping and check the base and sides). For ceramic cooktops (or induction), your pan will need to match the size of your cooktop elements. For a solid/radiant electric cooktop your pan will need a flat, steady base.


For easy cleaning, avoid painted exteriors and grooved surfaces, and make sure the frying pan isn't too big to fit in your sink.


Will you be able to handle the load when the pan is filled with food?


Look for a handle with a soft, moulded grip. For larger pans, look for a handle that's long enough to hold with two hands and an extra support handle for lifting heavy loads.


A thick, heavy base generally has better heat distribution and cooking performance, while a too-thin base can burn your food. Assess the flatness of the base before you buy – a pan that is slightly concave (like a wine bottle base) will usually flatten on heating as it expands. If your pan turns concave on heating, you may find the food runs to the sides of the pan.

Caring for your non-stick frypan

Non-stick frypans are great for the minimal oil they require for frying and sautéing and for their "non-stick" capabilities. However, they do require a lot more attention when it comes to maintaining them. Here are our tips for getting the most out of your non-stick frypan and making sure it lasts a long time.

Condition your frypan before first use

Wash it in warm soapy water and once dry, wipe oil on the surface and rub away any excess.

Don't use metal utensils on your non-stick frypan

Don't cut food in the pan, don't flip eggs with a metal egg flip, don't turn steaks with metal tongs – just don't do it. Silicone coated, plastic or wooden utensils are the way to go.

Avoid extreme temperature changes

Don't put your hot pan in the sink straight after cooking and run cold water on it. This can warp the base so the pan won't sit flat next time you want to cook with it. Let it cool down first.

Avoid using cooking oil sprays 

The sprays can burn at low temperatures and leave behind an invisible build-up of residue that can affect the performance of the non-stick surface.

Don't overheat an empty non-stick frypan

In extreme cases this can cause the surface to bubble and blister, rendering the pan unusable. Preheat and cook using a medium high heat, and don't leave it unattended on the cooktop. For searing meats which require high temperatures, it's best to use a stainless steel or cast-iron pan. Also, be sure to check the manufacturer's instructions regarding the maximum temperature for oven-safe use.

How to clean non-stick cookware

Use non-scratch scouring sponges

Don't try to scrub off baked-on residue straight away. Soak the pan in warm soapy water to loosen any residue and then gently use a soft or non-scratch scourer to wash it away. 

Don't put non-stick pans in the dishwasher

The detergent is too harsh for the coating. Leave your pan to soak if it needs it and wash it by hand.

Store non-stick pans properly

Make sure the pans are dried well before storing and don't stack other cookware on top as it can easily scratch the non-stick surface.

When is it time for new pans?

It's time to start looking for a new non-stick frypan if:

  • food starts sticking to the pan (you can try to fix this by rubbing a layer of oil on the surface to season it again)
  • the pan is warped, as you'll no longer get even heat distribution
  • there are noticeable scratches or chipping of the non-stick coating with bare metal showing.

Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.