Which Non-Stick Cookware Is The Best?
With so many choices out there for different cookware, how do we choose which one is the best? Research, research, and research some more. That is my best advice. I was a sales manager for 5 years for a specialty kitchen store and gained a lot of knowledge about the different product lines we carried. We did not work on commission at our store, so our goal was a bit different than our competition.
We needed to educate ourselves with the products, so in turn, we could provide useful information to our customers, so they could make informed decisions on the products they needed. Of course, there were those that wanted a “pat on the back” for getting sales up for the day, but I wasn’t one of those people. I never sold anything, just for the sake of selling it. Let it be noted that there were lots of items I refused to sell because I knew they didn’t work and the customer would just be wasting their money. Not to mention, I would be the one to deal with the unhappy customer when they returned it. This is not my idea of a fun-time.
I can hear all your voices now, “Anyone can read about something, but without trying it you wouldn’t know if it really works.” You are absolutely right! Almost every company we sold for has an open stock option. Which means you can buy the pans singularly or in sets. It is always more economical to buy the entire set, but my purpose was to find out which ones worked. I am not here to badger the ones that didn’t perform well; therefore their names will not be mentioned. I will, however, give you a small list of the ones that I felt were outstanding.
Is it Harmful to Use Non-Stick Pans?
Over the last few years, there has been a wide range of information and speculation about the health risks of using non-stick cookware. Consumers are confused about the scientific mumbo-jumbo and I don’t blame them one bit. Things like PTFE and PFOA. You are probably thinking, “Well aren’t they the same thing?” They are not the same and this is where, we as consumers, get confused when we listen to the reporters on television or read about it in the newspaper. There is a difference, but I am not going to go into each one of these extensively because the definition for each is extremely lengthy. (I will provide a link at the end of this section if you would like to read more.)
What is PTFE? Simply put, it is the base compound for ALL non-stick coatings. It provides the food release. It is FDA approved and is deemed safe for food preparation. However, it may give off fumes when heated in excess of 660 degrees F. Now let’s be real here, no one cooks at that high of a temperature, but some of us may have forgotten a pan or two on the stove before. Meaning that fumes can occur if the pan has overheated or cooked dry because it was left unattended. This, in turn, causes the PTFE to break down and emit fumes.
These fumes have been known to be harmful to exotic birds. Yes, that’s what I said, exotic birds. These birds are known for having extra sensitive respiratory systems. (Some more interesting facts, burnt butter harms them as well.) I say, why risk the bird becoming the main course, because it decided to “relieve itself” in the dish you were preparing. It’s much easier to keep it away from the kitchen, so you are never faced with the task of telling your family that they are actually consuming their beloved pet, Polly. Keep the bird out of the kitchen and everyone stays happy.
What is PFOA? PFOA is an issue with the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and potentially OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), not the FDA (Food and Drug Administration.) To the best of our knowledge, it doesn’t affect consumers, but the workers in production plants may have or have had symptoms related to what some call the “Teflon Flu .” I will leave you with that website now, and let you make your own decisions on what will work best for you. To read more information on PFOA, visit www.epa.gov/oppt/pfoa.
Choices in Non-stick Cookware
The following is a small list of some of the cookware I own. The first two I absolutely love (Scanpan and Swiss Diamond) and have performed exactly the way they claim to. The third (All-Clad) is a great company and is known for producing high quality (mostly stainless steel) cookware. However, I am skeptical of its performance when compared to the others that offer more benefits, but with a lower price tag. You be the judge.
Scanpan-“Ceramic Titanium” 11 pc Classic Chef Cookware Set
- Manufactured in Denmark.
- Dishwasher Safe
- PFOA free
- Guaranteed not to chip, peel, or pit.
- Even heat distribution throughout
- Metal utensil safe
- Oven-safe up to 500 F (including the lids and handles)
- Lifetime Warranty
The 11-pc set includes:
- 10.25” Fry Pan
- 10.25” Covered Sauté Pan
- 1, 2, and 3 qt. covered Saucepans
- 6 qt. Dutch Oven (or some call it a Stockpot)
Note: The MOHS scale is used to measure the hardness of gemstones. Diamonds come in with a perfect 10, Scanpan Classic is a 9.5. Which brings me to my second favorite company.
Swiss Diamond-Diamond Reinforced Non-stick 10 pc Cookware Set
- Made in Switzerland.
- Guaranteed never to warp, crack, blister, or peel.
- Even heat distribution
- Ergonomic handles which stay cool up to 260
- Oven safe up to 500 (this also includes the lids and handles)
- Metal Utensil Safe
- Dishwasher Safe
- PFOA Free
- Lifetime Warranty
The 10-pc Set includes:
- 8” Fry pan
- 10” Fry pan
- 1.4 qt Saucepan with lid
- 2.2 qt Saucepan with lid
- 3.5 qt Sauté pan with lid
- 8.5 qt Dutch Oven/Stockpot with lid
Note: They are one of the very few companies that sell fry pans that actually come with lids. Their lids also have a vent option. Furthermore, Scanpan and Swiss Diamond are known to throw in a “bonus” piece or two. It is usually a stainless steel universal steamer that fits all of the saucepans including the stockpot.
All-Clad-Open-Stock Non-Stick Cookware
All-Clad is made in the USA, with some exceptions. All-Clads’ tools, accessories, lids, and electrical kitchen appliances are manufactured over-seas, which meet strict U.S. Food and Drug Administration testing. Note: Emerilware is the result of successful collaboration between All-Clad and Emeril Legasse. Emerils’ line of cookware, however, is made in China. (I do not own any Emerilware and have not researched his product; this article is not based on HIS cookware. Maybe that will be another article. LOL Emeril, Rachel Ray, and Paula Dean (who, by the way, is my absolute favorite!) Woot..woot!! I might be on to something there! I apologize for getting overly excited..back to the task at hand..pfftt)
- Oven safe up to 500 (but not broiler safe)
- PFOA Free
- Dishwasher not Recommended
- Limited Lifetime Warranty – which means they will not replace if it has been misused or abused. (i.e placed in dishwasher, metal utensils were used in the pan, use of scouring pads, steel wool, abrasive cleaners will void your warranty. Please read instructions and care manual carefully)
Although I was not able to find a complete set of All-Clad in non-stick. They do offer single pieces for purchase.
I would like to point out I do have several other pieces by different companies that I did not supply details for. A couple more would be Berndes (complete set sells for about $150 and may not have a lot of the features as mentioned above. But I have been extremely impressed by their endurance and performance. Cuisinart is also another great company. I have a few of their non-stick pans also, and can honestly say they have stood the test of time.)
Tips: Always read your manual, thoroughly. Warranty information and instructions on the care of your pans are always included and do plenty of research. I truly believe there are two things you should splurge on in the kitchen, your cookware, and your cutlery. It will be money well spent and if taken care of properly, should last you a lifetime.
My Take on Rachel Ray Cookware
I also know that a lot of people love Rachel Ray and rush out to buy the newest kitchen accessories and pots and pans that she has made available to the public. Here is a note I would like to put my two cents in here. I have had the opportunity to do side by side comparisons with her products, and many others. In my opinion, the quality is poor. Like many others, her pans are made in China and are mass-produced.
When we received shipments of our items, it was our job to inspect each and every piece for defects and damages. Because the companies on all of the products we carried, only give you a small window to make “damage claims.” We did not carry her non-stick cookware. Mainly because you can find it in almost any department store and we were a “specialty store” our focus was geared towards culinary arts. And bringing items in that the general public may have never seen, let alone, heard of.
We did try her line of enamel coated cast iron, which was compared to other brands we carried. And we soon found out the craftsmanship was poor, to say the least. I guess my point is this, don’t buy into the hype and if you know someone that just “has to have” a set of her non-stick pans (or other brands like Caphalon, etc) make sure that you purchase the ones that say – Hard Anodized. It does not have the hefty price tag as the others I have mentioned in this article, but will last a lot longer than those pan sets you can purchase for $60.
Do Your Research
I used to say, “You get what you pay for.” That was until a young couple came into the store one day looking at cookware sets. I walked over to see if they needed any help. They started asking questions about all the different types of cookware and I seen this “look” come across the husband’s face. He was getting more frustrated by the minute and I couldn’t figure out why. Suddenly he walks over and slams his hand on one of the boxes. “You mean to tell me all these companies have this and that but cost only $500!”
I know I jumped about 5 feet in the air when he hit that box and I was quite confused as to why he was so agitated. I mentioned that we carried other companies if he wasn’t looking to spend that much. He started laughing, hysterically. Then exclaimed, “No, you don’t understand,” as he stared at his wife. “Tell her, Lisa. Tell her how stupid we’re feeling right about now.” He proceeds to tell me that the weekend before they were at a County Fair. At this fair, there was someone selling cookware sets. They bought a set on a payment plan for $3500!!
I would like to say that I felt bad for them, but I didn’t consider them stupid. They were misinformed or not informed at all. And without knowing what questions to ask and doing research before they made a major purchase. They believed the sales pitch and signed a contract. The husband also informed me that they had no clue what their warranty was if they could use metal utensils, oven-safe, etc.
He asked if I had ever heard of the company and I had not. But I added that there were a lot of companies I had never heard of. He apologized for being so upset, which I quickly assured him, was perfectly alright. They browsed the store for a while and came to the counter with their items. Crème Brule and gourmet coffee. They thanked me for my help and off they went. I do have to say that, if I spent $3500 just to find out I was probably scammed, I would need a whole lot more than a sugar fix and some espresso to make me feel better.