Having at least one nonstick pan is essential in every cook's kitchen, from the most professional to the very beginners. It's almost impossible to make eggs without one, they make pan searing fish a lot easier, and they keep pancakes from tearing apart in the pan.
Sometimes, nonstick pans get a bad rap, but nonstick cookware is safe as long as the pieces made with Teflon are not overheated to temperatures above 500ºF. They’ve come a long way since they first came out and some perform just like stainless without the staining and difficult cleanup. We tested all types of nonstick pans to determine the best ones on the market.
In the Just Cooking Tools Kitchen Appliances and Technology Lab, we fried 165 eggs, seared 50 steaks, and more to rate more than 35 new cookware lines. We tested how evenly skillets distributed heat on gas and electric ranges, how well they browned meat, and how well saucepans maintained a steady simmer and resisted scorching sauce. We evaluated how well nonstick surfaces released eggs and pancakes and how easy they were to clean. Finally, we checked how easy all cookware items were to use, including whether handles became hot to the touch and whether each piece was oven- and/or dishwasher-safe.
Our favorite nonstick pans were the ones that could do it all, from cooking an egg with no oil, to searing a steak and being able to pop it in the dishwasher after. Below are our favorite nonstick pans, including top-tested picks, editor favorites, and new releases with innovative features that make cooking easy. Here are our picks for the best nonstick pans of 2021:
- Best Overall Nonstick Cookware: Calphalon 10-Piece Nonstick Cookware Set
- Best Value Nonstick Cookware: T-fal Signature Nonstick Cookware Set
- Most Durable Nonstick Cookware: Ninja Foodi NeverStick Premium Hard-Anodized Cookware Set
- Best Nonstick Cookware for Even Heating: Anolon Advanced Hard-Anodized Non-Stick Cookware Set
- Most Versatile Nonstick Cookware: All Clad Essentials Nonstick Cookware Set
- Best Ceramic Nonstick Cookware: Scanpan CTQ Nonstick Cookware Set
- Best Aluminum Nonstick Cookware: Zwilling Forté Nonstick Cookware Set
- Best Hybrid Nonstick Cookware: HexClad Hybrid Nonstick Cookware Set
- Best Nonstick Cookware for Beginners: Rachael Ray Hard Anodized Nonstick Cookware Set
- Easiest to Clean Nonstick Cookware: KitchenAid Aluminum Nonstick Cookware Set
What to consider when shopping for nonstick cookware sets
- Number of pieces: Consider how many pots and pans you actually need. Our pros recommend at least an 8-inch fry pan for quick, small tasks like eggs and pancakes; a 10-inch fry pan for cooking larger dishes or for family sizes; a stock pot for pasta and batch sauces and soup; and a small sauce pan for quick, easy tasks, deep enough to boil an egg, good for reheating and simmering.
- Weight and size: You want a cookware set that’s mid-weight — lightweight ones are too flimsy and heat too quickly, so make sure the pots and pans have some heft. Heavier-weight cookware allows you to get a good sear, but may be difficult to lift. For easy, efficient storage, we love sets that nest neatly within each other to save space.
- Handles: How cookware feels in your hand is important: You want to feel comfortable and have control when cooking. Some have silicone-wrapped handles which generally stay cooler to the touch and feel more comfortable in the hand than metal handles. For easy maneuvering, look for helper handles (an extra handle on the opposite side of the main one) which are beneficial for lifting to create extra balance.
- Dishwasher- and oven-safety: Dishwasher-safe cookware saves you time and energy — you can just pop it into the dishwasher instead of scrubbing. Keep in mind that hard anodized metal will stand up to multiple washes, whereas other coatings can fade faster with repeated washing. Oven safety is useful for a range of dishes since it allows you to move your cookware from the stovetop to the oven to finish cooking or keep warm.
Made of anodized aluminum (with a nonstick finish that's Teflon-free), this line combines unbeatable performance with durability. Each piece is dishwasher-safe pieces and we love that the handles stay cool while cooking. We were blown away by the pieces’ outstanding heat distribution, quick boiling and even searing. The nonstick coating was so effective that we could scramble eggs or sauté veggies without oil or butter — they slid right off the pan!
The Teflon-free nonstick coating on T-Fal’s pots and pans makes them foolproof when it comes to turning out crepes, frittatas, and other sticky foods. Their handles stay cool to the touch, so they’re comfortable to use when cooking with a finger grip for extra control. They’re lightweight and should be used over low to medium heats; the thermo-heat indicator lets you know when it's ready to use. In our tests, scrambled eggs and pancakes cooked evenly with zero sticking. Plus, the griddle was a fun addition for breakfast items, especially bacon. Whether you hand-wash or use the dishwasher, these pieces clean up beautifully thanks to their dark nonstick finish inside and out.
Cookware is the latest from Ninja, the brand that makes our best overall air fryer. Their pots and pans are durable enough to handle a steak, but light enough to move around and use for the simplest of tasks, like frying an egg or boiling water. They have straight edges, which helps maximize surface area, and slim lids. Their nonstick coating is applied at a very high temperature to help avoid chipping and scratching and is oven-safe up to 500ºF. Unlike most cookware, Ninja’s lids are also oven-safe up to 500ºF.
In previous tests, we were very impressed with Anolon’s ability to distribute heat evenly, maintain a steady simmer, and make scrambled eggs without oil. We also liked how their silicone-covered stainless steel handles stayed cool to the touch during cooking. Since we reviewed the Anolon 82693 Advanced Hard Anodized Nonstick Cookware Pots and Pans Set, the set was changed a little to include updated shapes — the small sauce pan with pour spout is a favorite!
We continue to like how the handles feel in our hand and how easy the pots and pans are to move around. We also like the large sauteé pan with rounded edges, which gives a lot of surface area for browning and makes a good pot for simmering. The set is Teflon-free.
The All Clad NS1 Nonstick Cookware Set was a top performer in our cookware tests. It heated evenly, prevented food from sticking, and browned meat very well. Now, trusty All Clad released a new nonstick line that could also go in the oven up to 500°F. We’re fans of sets like these that include small and medium sauteé pans, both of which fit into the larger pan for storage.
We also like that each pan has a helper handle, which allows for easy movability. The 13-inch square pan is a unique size, ideal for browning and then braising or baking; it can be stored under the large skillet, while the pots can be stored on top of the in a compact fashion. The entire set is dishwasher safe and Teflon-free.
With the Scanpan Classic line, you can enjoy the perks of nonstick without the use of Teflon. Unlike many nonstick pans, these can be used for high-heat searing, plus they’re oven safe up to 500°F (!) and super easy to clean. The handles are comfortable to hold and each piece is relatively lightweight but durable and will last for years. The assortment of fry pan and pot sizes especially stands out in this set – they’re perfect when you’re cooking for one or an entire family.
Zwilling's Forté line is here to challenge the notion that nonstick cookware is flimsy. The aluminum pans have five layers of Teflon-fee nonstick coating. The five layers make them super durable and resistant to peeling, scratching, or corrosion. They're also induction friendly. In our tests, they won top scores for cleaning and maintaining cool handles during cooking.
Even professional chefs rely on nonstick skillets to cook tricky items like eggs and fish. It’s evident that HexClad knows that from looking at their product line, which only includes skillets and one wok. Unlike traditional nonstick pans, they’re designed to withstand high temperatures in order to achieve a good sear. They can also go in the oven up to 500°F and can be used with metal utensils. We use our 8-inch pan to fry crispy eggs in olive oil all the time. We also use it to make fluffy scrambled eggs with butter. HexClad pans boast a patented hexagon design that’s laser etched onto the inside and outside of the pan. This layer provides the nonstick attribute, while still allowing the pan to get very hot and cook evenly thanks to its stainless steel base and aluminum middle layer. The design on the outside helps prevent staining and allows for easier cleanup. Hex Clad pans are Teflon-free.
The Rachael Ray Hard Anodized pans (made without Teflon) landed high scores in our tests for heat distribution and staining. They also scored high for easy release and browning. The two small pots are great for boiling eggs and heating soups, and the silicone-grip handles make moving them around easy. They’re a popular seller on Amazon, with red, light blue, teal and burgundy being the new colors for 2019. The slotted spoon and fish spatula are a useful bonus.
The red finish on these KitchenAid pans will add a pop of color to your kitchen. On top of stellar cooking results, these induction-safe pieces clean up beautifully, thanks to nonstick interiors and exteriors. In our tests, they scored high in cooking eggs with no oil and for having good heat distribution.