Teflon Nonstick Pans Are Bad. Consider These Alternatives

As my pro-level-home-cook friend Shannon says, “I can’t imagine doing serious stuff in ceramic.”

It was time to break some eggs. On and off for several months, I cooked with the $50 Oxo Ceramic Professional Non-Stick 8-Inch Frypan, folding it into my daily kitchen testing and home cooking. (I also had a larger 10-inch version but barely used it so I could put as much as possible wear and tear on just one pan.) Scrambled, omelets, sunny-side up, or over easy, my wife Elisabeth and I were up to the challenge, and that small pan size worked very well for eggs for one or two. I even put it in my checked bag on a family visit to New Hampshire.

During these months of use, I’d say there were two big takeaways.

First, I was expecting this ceramic pan to be a dud, but it wasn’t. In fact, I can easily imagine swapping out my T-fal nonstick for it with no regrets. At a little over a pound and a half, it’s solid without being too heavy for most and is comfortable to grip and maneuver. It’s considerably lighter than carbon steel and cast iron, pleasingly heftier and more comfortable than most cheap pans. The interior rivets are coated and flush with the sidewall of the pan. Very importantly, I didn’t have issues with sticking. As a bonus, it is induction compatible, and while it is much slower to heat up than most other pans on my induction stove, I now appreciate that “feature” as a way to protect the coating. After all those eggs and all that coast-to-coast traveling, I noticed only the slightest bits of wear right on the edges, and only if I looked carefully.

Second, and this is a high horse I won’t dismount, if you’re going to use a pan like this—something with a surface that will eventually degrade, causing you to throw away the whole pan—treat it with kid gloves at all times. This is especially important since, by swapping to ceramic, we’re likely moving toward something less durable.

This means no high heat on the stove, no metal utensils on the pan surface, no dishwasher, and no scratchy scrubbers. When it’s not in use, cover it with something—a plastic bag, a dish towel, a hot pad, whatever, especially if you’re going to stack it to store it. You could also take the extra step of turning it into an egg-only pan, using it just for your scrambles and sunny-side-up specials with your sweetheart.

If you’re worried about the environment and waste and are not ready to commit to “walk on eggshells” levels of care for pans like these, maybe don’t use them.

Fortunately, I have another alternative to suggest, as Oxo has also put out a new line of carbon-steel pans that can take a beating and last decades. Before you say, “Hey, what’s with all the Oxo,” I’ll remind you that it’s a big, respected brand with a lot of sway, and it’s using its weight to popularize two types of pans that could use a nudge.

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