You’ve got the organic fruits, vegetables, and grains, and you’re ready to start cooking. But do you have the best non-stick cookware for the job? Organic food has been around since agriculture first began, of course. But the organic food movement didn’t start until the 20th century when people started to become concerned about the practices used to grow their food.
As chemical farming grew more popular, so did the resistance to it. You might be surprised to learn that the first lecture on organic food was given in 1924. But it wasn’t until the late 20th century that organic food became a trend that could be found in major grocery stores and popular magazines.
Today, organic cooking is an integral part of many people’s lives. However, it’s easy to give more thought to the food you cook than to the cookware you cook it with. Are you using the best non-stick cookware to preserve the health of your dietary choices? Cookware can do more than you might think. Keep reading to learn how to choose the best non-stick cookware for organic cooking, and why it matters.
Non-Stick Cookware Concerns
Just like with food, not all the cookware on the market is actually safe. Many cookware items contain metals that leach, chemicals that get into the food, and other harmful substances that you may not be aware of.
Your cookware can be the culprit behind many health concerns if you aren’t careful to invest in non-toxic items. One of the biggest culprits of these health issues is non-stick cookware.
It’s easy to see the appeal of non-stick pans. Isn’t it wonderful when your scrambled eggs simply glide out of the pan, making cleanup a breeze? The best non-stick cookware is perfectly safe, as long as you use it properly. But a lot of non-stick cookware isn’t safe at all. With the wrong non-stick cookware, you could be paying for convenience in a serious way.
The History of Non-Stick Cookware
A researcher named Roy Plunkett is credited with inventing the method that makes cookware non-stick. While trying to create a relatively non-toxic refrigerant, he accidentally invented polytetrafluoroethylene (or PTFE). This waxy material was very slippery and quickly got patented.
However, non-stick cookware wasn’t actually invented until a French engineer named Marc Gregoire figured out how to make PTFE stick to aluminum. His new cookware quickly caught on, first in France and then around the world. Within years, non-stick cookware became a regular household item.
The Problem with Non-Stick Cookware
The convenience is great, but over the years since non-stick cookware was invented, studies have pointed to a number of related health concerns.
The non-stick surface contains perfluorooctanoic acid (or PFOA.) Many studies have linked the accidental consumption of PFOA to a host of health issues. It appears to have a connection to cancers, heart attack, stroke, immune system issues, and more serious health problems. The problems start when the non-stick cookware’s surface begins to flake or melt away and get into the food.
More problems stem from the aluminum surface beneath the non-stick coating. As the non-stick layer wears away, the aluminum gets revealed. However, aluminum cookware isn’t safe either. Studies have linked aluminum consumption to diseases like Alzheimer’s. Although these studies aren’t yet conclusive, it’s enough to make anyone think twice before cooking with aluminum.
How to Choose the Best Non-Stick Cookware
With such strong warnings, it might seem like non-stick cookware is best avoided. There are plenty of safe alternatives to non-stick cookware, such as cast iron, stoneware, and stainless steel. However, these alternatives are often expensive, unwieldy, and difficult to clean. The good news is that it is possible to use non-stick cookware. The key is to invest in the best non-stick cookware designed for safety. Cheap non-stick coatings can easily scratch, flake, and come off in your food. But well-maintained, high-quality non-stick cookware can be used for years with no issues.
Many companies make non-stick cookware that’s also non-toxic. They might use base materials other than aluminum to reduce the chances of dangerous metals leaching into your food. And they’ll use higher-quality non-stick coatings that can’t be damaged easily. Although you should still replace any cookware with a damaged surface, the best non-stick cookware is designed to hold up well to repeated use.
The Top Non-Stick Cookware Items You Should Have
Which non-stick items are an essential part of an organic kitchen? Let’s take a look at the top non-stick items to invest in.
You can recognize a saute pan by its depth and straight, tall sides. For true sauteeing, a skillet is actually the better choice, surprisingly. But a good non-stick saute pan is great for braising, frying, and more. It’s the perfect medium-sized vessel when you don’t want to break out your biggest, heaviest pots.
Saute pans are also great for cooking sauces, such as a pasta sauce, from scratch. With the size of the pan, you can easily add the pasta when the sauce is ready, cutting down on the number of dishes you'll need to wash.
You definitely should have a saucepan, in addition to a saute pan. For the best-quality saucepan, invest in a non-stick saucier. In a saucier, you can make sauces, but they’re also great for making soups and anything that you need to cook slowly over low heat.
Since the bottom of a saucier doesn’t have any sharp corners, you can easily stir the whole thing. Combine this with the non-stick surface, and you won’t have any issues with sauces sticking to the pan.
Finally, a skillet is the most essential non-stick cookware item for most organic kitchens. In a skillet, you can saute vegetables, cook perfect eggs, make stirfries, and much more. In fact, you might want to invest in a couple of skillets of different sizes. You’ll need a much smaller skillet for a single omelet than for a family-sized stirfry.
Now is a good time to take stock of your kitchen. If you have any old, warped, or scratched non-stick cookware, throw it out. Is your kitchen missing any non-stick cooking essentials now? If so, you should invest in the best non-stick cookware to make your organic cooking as easy as it is healthy.
We’ve put together the best non-stick cookware items that you might want to have. From essential to luxurious, keep reading for our top cookware choices.
How we reviewed
Beautiful, affordable cookware means nothing if it doesn’t perform well in the kitchen. Customer reviews are one of the top considerations we used in putting together this list. All of these items got top marks from many customers.
Even more important, though, is the brand’s commitment to safety. You can shop confident that everything we’ve listed here is manufactured with health and safety in mind.
Cuisinart GreenGourmet 10-Inch Open Skillet
Let’s start with the basics. This is an affordable, safe, medium-sized skillet that’s sure to become a staple in any kitchen.
The GreenGourmet brand uses a ceramic base to keep its cookware safe. The non-stick coating doesn’t have any potentially toxic PFOA or PTFE. The design also has great heat conductivity for even cooking, and often uses recycled materials to help save the planet. This skillet has a quite reasonable price of $20 to $25.
PROS & CONS
The Amazon rating for this pan is 3.7 out of 5 stars, and many customers have noted that the non-stick surface is excellent. However, if you don't care for it according to the manufacturer’s guidelines, you can damage the pan.
GreenPan Mini Ceramic Non-Stick Round Egg Pan
GreenPan is another non-stick option that uses ceramic for safety. This Belgian high-end cookware brand uses Thermolon, made from sand, to create a ceramic non-stick coating. It’s free of PFAS, PFOA, lead, and cadmium, all of which are dangerous when they leach into food.
You can also use these pans at high temps without damage. The company uses green production methods, too, so this is a really guilt-free brand to buy from. Although their larger items are sometimes pricey, the non-stick round egg pan is just $10 to $15.
PROS & CONS
This little pan has 3.8 out of 5 stars on Amazon. People found it to be the perfect pan for cooking a single egg. However, some of the negative reviews stem from its small size: it’s not a very versatile tool for the kitchen.
Scanpan Classic 10 1/4-Inch Saute Pan with Lid
Scanpan calls its non-stick coating Green Tek: a ceramic titanium layer that has no PFOA or PFOS and resists scratching. The pans use recycled aluminum, but since the coating won’t scratch they’re safe to use. The aluminum is also pressure-cast, so it holds and distributes heat better than most aluminum pans.
Scanpan doesn’t come cheap: the saute pan is $95 to $105. However, this is an investment that will last a long time.
PROS & CONS
Customers have given this saute pan 4.1 out of 5 stars on Amazon. They say it is easy to clean and not too heavy. One reviewer said they received an item with a broken handle, but this doesn’t seem to be commonplace.
Zwilling Spirit 3-Quart Stainless Steel Ceramic Nonstick Saucepan
You might have heard about the famous Zwilling knives. However, this German cookware brand makes much more than just cutlery.
Their ceramic non-stick cookware is known for being easy to use and easy to clean. Although pricey, their cookware is also very durable, so you can consider this a lifelong investment. The three-quart saucepan clocks in at $85 to $95.
PROS & CONS
With 4.4 out of 5 stars on Amazon, customers vouch that this investment is worthwhile. Many people note the durability of everything about the pan, from the handles to the coating. But if you don't care for the pans properly, the coating will start to peel off, so make sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions.
Ozeri 12-Inch Green Earth Wok
A non-stick wok can make a surprisingly versatile kitchen implement, and Ozeri is a great brand to buy from. This company uses Greblon, a German non-toxic, non-stick coating. The ceramic-based surface has no PFOA or PTFE and resists scratches, and the wok comes in a fun lime green color. At just $35 to $40, it’s also incredibly affordable.
PROS & CONS
A rating of 4.0 out of 5 stars is great for a wok with such a low price point. Many reviewers love the wok for its roominess and even heating. However, some took points off because the non-stick surface scratches more easily than it should.
GreenLife Ceramic Non-Stick Cookie Sheet
Even your baking pans can be non-stick and totally safe. GreenLife also uses Thermolon, which holds up well to high heat in the oven. You can safely clean this surface with gentle abrasive agents, on occasion. Since Teflon can release toxic fumes when heated to high temps, this is a much better choice for any avid baker. It also costs just $10 to $15.
PROS & CONS
This baking sheet has earned 3.9 out of 5 stars on Amazon. Many people love its pretty color and large size. However, the ceramic coating is thin, so you’ll have to take care not to scratch it.
Beka Chef Eco-logic Nonstick 9 1/2-Inch Fry Pan
The Beka brand’s Eco-logic line uses a safe, environmentally friendly non-stick coating. These products avoid PFOA and PTFE and are made using green methods. Biodegradable materials like bamboo powder make the cookware unique and safe to use. The 9 1/2-inch fry pan costs $85 to $95, so this is on the high end as far as price goes.
PROS & CONS
Reviews gave this pan 2.9 out of 5 stars on Amazon, saying that it’s durable and easy to use. Some reviewers have had issues with stickiness, but note that this may come from not following the manufacturer’s guidelines. For example, if you spray these pans with non-stick spray, they will never be the same.
Ecolution Bliss Ceramic Nonstick Cookware Set
If you want to get all of the best non-stick cookware in one go, consider a set like this one from Ecolution. The brand’s Bliss line uses a coating of water-based ceramic with no PFOA or PTFE. You can use these pots and pans on gas, electric, and induction ranges.
Try one of the four colors to match your kitchen style: red, black, gray, or white. They print the packaging on recycled material, making this another choice that will be easy on your conscience. It’s also easy on your budget: the eight-piece set costs just $115 to $120.
PROS & CONS
The set has 3.6 out of 5 stars on Amazon. The top reviews note that the products are attractive, easy to clean, and very non-stick. Other people noted that there was some warping and that using these products on induction cooktops proved difficult.
All of these top cookware items have their pros and cons. But what’s the best non-stick cookware piece for any kitchen?
Although it all depends on your unique kitchen needs, we give top marks to the Cuisinart GreenGourmet 10-Inch Open Skillet. It’s a versatile size and shape, easy to use, and very affordable for the quality.
Because of safety concerns, non-stick cookware has a bad rap. But lots of companies are now addressing this by making the best non-stick cookware that’s non-toxic, even if you scratch it. Will you be picking up any items from this list? Let us know in the comments!