Break an egg, whip it up, and pour it into your non-stick pan to enjoy a fluffy omelet before you head out. Sounds fun, right?
Non-stick cookware is a time and energy saver for home cooks who want quick meal fixes that don’t leave any mess behind.
But what if I told you that you can’t always use a non-stick pan? There are certain dishes you shouldn’t cook in a non-stick pan if you want your pan to live longer (and your food to come out perfectly).
For instance, once I tried searing pork chops in my favorite non-stick pan, they turned out bland; no sear or flavorful crust whatsoever.
If you’ve experienced such a thing before or want to be sure what to cook in a non-stick pan and what not to, you’re at the right place. Stick around till the end and learn to use your non-stick pans the RIGHT WAY!
First Things First, Why do Non-Stick Pans Need A Special Treatment?
If you’re new to cooking, you might wonder why we have to be cautious while cooking in a non-stick pan – it is a pan, after all. That’s because these pans are coated with a Teflon layer that – when disrupted – isn’t safe to consume.
If we use high heat or brittle utensils with non-stick cookware, its interior coating starts flaking off. And once this layer is damaged, there’s no going back. You’ll soon have to discard that pan/pot and get a new one. So, being careful with non-stick cookware is not a choice; it’s quite mandatory.
What Not To Cook in A Nonstick Pan?
Non-stick cookware essentially serves one purpose; it prevents the food from sticking. But certain ingredients and recipes require some sticking to turn out perfectly well, i.e., bean curries. If you cook these dishes in a non-stick pan, you cannot enjoy their original flavor. Here are the things you should not cook in a non-stick pan:
Dishes that Require Deglazing
You can make braises, soups, and steaks finger-licking good with deglazing. Once you have fried/cooked the main ingredient, transfer it to another dish and add a liquid of your choice – such as wine, stock, or beer – to the pan and let it simmer. And soon after, you’ll have a delicious pan sauce right there.
But sadly, you shouldn’t try this cooking technique with a non-stick pan. Firstly, you’ll need an extremely high temperature to burn/brown some food bits that stick to the pan’s bottom. And secondly, most deglazing liquids are acidic, so they’re a no-no for non-stick pans.
If you want to enjoy enriched food flavors without damaging the pan’s interiors, use stainless steel or cast iron pan to deglaze.
Developing that thin, flavorful crust on the meat is a culinary trick that makes your food more presentable and delicious. Whether you prefer searing meat chops, steaks, or patties, they require prolonged heating to attain the desired color; something you can’t do with non-stick cookware.
Pre-heating the pan is important if you have to sear the food; the high temperature will be unavoidable in such a case. If, however, you use a non-stick pan for seared recipes because you prefer low-fat cooking, you won’t get the desired flavor/color.
Ceramalizing and Slow Cooking
We all love that sweet, flavorful taste of caramelized vegetables. This flavor comes when we cook veggies for a longer than usual time or low-medium heat. And the actual sweet-ish flavor develops when some food particles stick to the pan’s bottom. Which again isn’t doable with a non-stick pan.
First, food won’t stick to these pans, and if it does, that means it’s burnt (not caramelized). So, if you’re a fan of creamy caramelized veggies, spare your non-stick pan from them and select a bare, i.e., steel, pan instead.
Sauteeing at High Heat
Setting the flame to high means you’re exposing the pan’s Teflon coating to several damages. First, this high heat will release toxic fumes into your food, and if you continue this practice, your pan’s coating will start to come off.
What Can You Cook in a Nonstick Pan?
Have the earlier not-to-do tips made you rethink non-stick cookware’s usability? If yes, hold on because you can use this cookware for several other recipes.
A non-stick pan is ideal for cooking anything that needs low fat and medium temperature, i.e., pancakes. Here are some other recipes you can quickly whip up with non-stick cookware:
You can cook fluffy omelets, scrambled eggs, frittatas, and Spanish tortillas in a non-stick pan without adding much fat. Just maintain the temperature at low-medium, add some grease, and these egg dishes will come out perfectly well.
Thin Fish Fillets
You don’t have to pull out a heavy cast-iron pan to cook fish fillets. Use your regular non-stick pan and make delicious fish within minutes. However, if you’re cooking salmon, tuna, or any other harder fish/meat, you’ll need a heavier pan/skillet.
If you’re craving quesadillas, cheese omelets, or any other quick oozy recipe, your non-stick pan has got your back.
Stir-fried vegetables are not suitable for non-stick pans, but you’re all free to cook stir-fried noodles in them. Add meatballs, mince, or anything you like in these noodles and prepare a hearty meal within minutes.
Can a non-stick pan be used for steaming? Yes, you can steam vegetables, thin meat fillets, and eggs (if needed) in a non-stick pan without damaging its interiors. Since you don’t need extraordinarily high temperatures to steam anything, a non-stick pan is safe for it. Use a vented lid while steaming anything in your non-stick pan to maintain a steady airflow.
Can you boil water in non-stick cookware? Yes, you can. Water’s boiling temperature is well below the harmful temperature level that damages non-stick cookware (above 500F); you don’t have to worry while boiling water in a non-stick pot/pan.
However, if your non-stick pan’s coating is heavily scratched, I recommend you don’t boil anything in it because it can ruin the Teflon coating even more.
When should you stop using a non-stick pan? No matter which brand’s non-stick cookware you use, you’ll have to replace it after a few years of continuous usage. Teflon loses its efficacy over time, and if something scratches its surface, it becomes toxic. If your non-stick cookware’s interiors are flaking off, stop using it because these flakes are probably leaching into your food too. And if this coating isn’t coming off, but there are scratches on it, you’ll still have to bin that pan.
Non-stick cookware makes your cooking endeavors easier and quicker, but you have to follow some care instructions to reap these advantages.
If you’re deglazing, searing, or caramelizing food in your non-stick pan, stop right away. These prolonged cooking techniques expose non-stick coatings to several threats, which will eventually force you to replace your cookware.
Avoid cooking the things I have mentioned above in your non-stick pan, and you’re golden!