How To Choose The Right Nonstick Pan For You

What pan do you have?

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ILLUSTRATOR Roselle Miranda

The nonstick pan is the pan that is one of the most hardworking pans you have in your kitchen. It's the pan you need to cook any kind of egg, especially gently scrambled eggs, for cooking resto-worthy pancakes that are perfectly golden brown on both sides, and for almost any food that you're afraid might stick to any other kind of pan. 

There are many affordable pans on the market for you to choose from, ranging from a few hundred pesos to expensive branded pans, but there are also different kinds of nonstick pans to choose from. 

How do you choose which is the right one for you? Here are a few points to consider: 

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For the newbie cook who wants an easy-to-use pan: regular nonstick pan

PROS: For new cooks, it's best to choose regular nonstick pans. These are the most affordable kind of nonstick pan which makes it easier to replace when necessary. Not only will you learn how to use a nonstick pan as you learn how to cook, but you will also learn how to take care of it, too. This is the nonstick surface that will create the evenly browned coatings you want to achieve and it gives you peace of mind when frying meat. While it may stick to the surface as soon as you cook, you know it won't stay stuck for every long as the surface of both the meat and the pan itself will release it readily. 

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CONS: Nonstick pans with the traditional black coating are not durable. Depending on how often it is scratched using metal utensils and other hard tools, the surface will develop pockmarks that will result in sticking in those spots. This means that if enough of the surface has been removed, it will result in the pan being less and less nonstick overall. Flaking, too, is a concern for some who fear that the material might be ingested.

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The good news is that these pans are more affordable than other pans. Modern technology has advanced in recent years to make more durable surfaces. While the surface of these pans is still not as durable as you want, it's easy to find traditionally coated nonstick pans that are more resistant. That's where you find traditional nonstick pans that are allegedly made harder with other materials such as diamond and crystal. Plus, it's been proven that the flakes even if ingested are not poisonous. 

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For the cook who wants a harder, more durable coating: stoneware nonstick pan 

PROS: Pans with a stoneware coating have a gray to black coating with what looks like speckles of other materials fused to the pan's surface. It is less smooth than the traditional black coating but this where it has an advantage. The pebbly surface feels like it has little bumps all over its surface. It is this that encourages less sticking compared to the smooth black surface. 

This is how it works: since the surface is also a nonstick coating, this bumpy surface makes sure that not all the food is touching the surface of the pan so it minimizes how much of the food can be stuck to the surface. Plus, this coating is more durable than the traditional black coating. The result is a pan that better ensures your food won't get stuck. 

CONS: Stoneware coatings while more durable than traditional nonstick pans will still chip and flake off. Plus, these kinds of pans are more expensive than traditional nonstick pans. 

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For the experienced cook who takes care of pans well: ceramic nonstick pans

PROS: These are also known as enamel-coated pans. In fact, stoneware, as well as enamel, is a kind of ceramic coating on frying pans and it's because of this special coating that makes it more durable than traditional pans. That's because these pans are coated in a powder that fuses with the metal of the pan, creating a surface that is harder, more durable than traditional nonstick pans. 

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CONS: Since the coating of these pans are harder, these coatings have a tendency to chip, break, crack, or even shatter, especially when dropped or otherwise mishandled. These chips are basically like glass shards so taking care of your ceramic-coated pans is necessary and important. 

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For the hardcore cook who will maintain the seasoning: carbon steel and cast iron pans

PROS: The carbon steel and cast iron pans are the kind of pan that you might have inherited. These are old-school pans that have proven to have stood the test of time. The great news is that these types of pans, even if the pan is rusty, can be restored to good as new! A properly seasoned carbon steel and cast iron pan can be as nonstick as a traditional nonstick pan, plus, it has a coating that is as almost as durable as a ceramic-coated one.

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These pans need to be used regularly to create a durable and nonstick quality that you want in all your pans. Plus, these materials hold heat well and are commonly completely made of steel and iron that can go from stove to oven to the table easily.  

CONS: The one aspect that might make you not choose this pan is the time and effort it needs to maintain that nonstick coating. The surface in particular needs to be regularly seasoned to maintain the slickness of the coating that develops with time and use. 

Plus, the cast iron pan, in particular, is a heavy pan so lifting it can be an issue. 

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