Safe Alternatives To Teflon Cookware

If you are looking for the best nonstick cookware, you might want to avoid buying Teflon. Is Teflon safe? Well, there are a lot of questions regarding this particular type of nonstick pan. As I help my college students fill up their first apartment, I am looking for alternatives to Teflon that won’t break the bank.

Ceramic cookware, cast iron, anodized aluminum, and stainless steel are currently the best nonstick pan alternatives. Since there are so many safe, non-toxic cookware options, I highly recommend leaving the Teflon behind.

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non stick frying pan with eggs and bacon and text overlay 'safe and healthy nonstick pans that are not teflon'

What is Teflon?

Teflon is a brand name for a synthetic chemical called polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). It is commonly used in frying pans because it is waterproof, cuts down on friction, and creates a nonstick surface.

Is Teflon safe to cook with?

Well, maybe. While it is safe to cook on within moderation. It’s best not to heat it at very high temperatures or over too long of a period because eventually, the Teflon starts releasing toxic gases and particles into your food, especially if the surface is scratched.

At what temperature does Teflon become dangerous?

According to the Environmental Working Group,  464 degrees. Which you can reach after just a few minutes on a hot burner. 

Should I throw out my Teflon pans?

Are they scratched or damaged in any way? You might want to replace them with safe alternatives to Teflon when you can afford to.

If you are unsure of what type of pan they are damaged, throw them out. There is no safe level of Teflon exposure according to the Environmental Protection Agency. So if they are starting to wear down and have scratches, then toss them.

Is Teflon bad for the environment?

So, picture this. You buy a brand new Teflon nonstick frying pan. YAY, right? Well, after a few years, the pan is scratched and you have to toss it in the trash because

A. It isn’t nonstick anymore and

B. It isn’t safe to use a scratched Teflon pan.

So, there goes one more useless item into the trash heap. So, yes, in that sense, Teflon is bad for the environment.

Not to mention the fact that your old Teflon pan at the dump is now leaching chemicals into the earth and our water supply.

So, look for Teflon alternatives whenever possible.

gnocci in nonstick cookware sliding onto plate

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Best nonstick cookware options

Here is a quick summary of some safe alternatives to Teflon that you might want to look into.

  • Cast Iron: Safe and lasts a lifetime. It’s also easy to clean, but it is heavy.
  • Ceramic Coated Cookware: Safe alternative to Teflon without the toxic chemicals. The ceramic coating is safe and PTFE-free. It’s a great option for cooking eggs.
  • Anodized Aluminum: Safe nonstick cookware that doesn’t have the toxic chemicals found in Teflon or other coatings. Cooks very evenly making you less likely to burn your meal.  
  • Stainless steel: High-quality stainless steel is safe at high heat, will not react with food, flake, or leach harmful chemicals into food.

peppers onions and beef cooking in cast iron on grill

Cast Iron Pans

Cast iron pans are safe and non-stick. A high-quality cast iron skillet is also durable, inexpensive, and long-lasting. One downside of cast iron is that it must be seasoned before you cook anything in it for the first time. Seasoning a pan will create a natural protective coating on its surface so your food won’t stick.

How to season cast iron

The best way to season it is by heating up oil or bacon grease, coating both sides of the pan with it, and then holding it overheat until smoking or it is a light to medium brown. Allow it to cool down and then wipe off any excess oil with paper towels or cloths.

How to clean cast iron

To clean a cast iron pan, use a little bit of mild dish soap with hot water. Scrub to get out the food particles and rinse well before drying it off completely.

Be sure not to let any moisture stay on the surface because this can lead to rusting or warping. After washing, wipe down both sides with oil—just two drops should do! This will help prevent rust from forming over time when storing in cabinets for long periods of time.

Cast iron cookware sets

Here are a few reputable cast iron cookware brands to consider buying:

  • Lodge cast iron:  You can buy Lodge preseasoned cast iron pans to make your life a bit easier. 
  • Le Creuset: Their enameled cast iron cookware has a bright, vibrant exterior coating for those of you who want a splash of color. 
  • Staub Cookware: Made in France, very sturdy, although a little on the pricey side.  They have a unique selection of pots and pans.  I found the cast iron griddle particularly appealing.

Set of empty ceramic coated dishes on a stone kitchen worktop surrounded. Kitchen table surrounded by Italian cuisine ingredients and frying pan.

Ceramic-coated cookware 

Ceramic-coated cookware is one of several affordable alternatives to Teflon. It has a ceramic coating that is PTFE-free, making it healthier to cook with than Teflon. Bake, fry, and even make eggs in these pans without worry. Ceramic also lasts longer than Teflon coatings do so they’re safer.

Ceramic coated cookware brands

Here are a few well-known, high-quality ceramic-coated cookware brands that you might want to try.

Anodized Aluminum Cookware

What is anodized aluminum? Anodizing is the process of coating the exterior surface with another material (usually aluminum). Anodized aluminum has been proven to be safe. It heats up quickly and evenly, preventing hot spots that can burn food.

One of the benefits of aluminum cookware is that it doesn’t react with acidic foods like tomato sauce or wine. The best part about anodized aluminum cookware is that it’s safe for the environment and safe to use.

Best Anodized Aluminum Cookware Brands

If you want a high-quality anodized pan, check out Circulon. It’s safe for cooking without the toxic chemicals found in other coatings. They also have a wide variety of styles and styles to choose from. Its a PFOA-free, metal utensil safe nonstick pan that will last a long time. 

If you want a deep-walled frying pan, look at the Circulon Radiance deep fry pan.  

Stainless steel pots and pans

Stainless Steel Cookware

Stainless steel cookware comes in various shapes and sizes – from pots and pans to skillets. It can handle incredibly hot temperatures and conducts heat very evenly.

Is stainless steel cookware safe? Stainless steel combines a variety of metals during the manufacturing process, including chromium and nickel.

This combination makes a very hard cooking surface, however, if poorly made, a stainless steel pan can potentially leach a small amount of nickel into food. While the risk is minimal, quality matters!

High-quality stainless steel cookware brands include All-Clad, Le Creuset, and Mauviel. Made in France since 1830, Mauve is the leading cookware manufacturer for professional and household chefs throughout the world.  Check out their stainless steel frying pan and you will never have to buy another one in your lifetime. 

chicken cooking in teflon pan with wooden spoon

How to cook safely in Teflon

If you can’t ditch the Teflon pans quite yet, consider a few of these tips for safely cooking in Teflon. For safe cooking, be gentle with that nonstick coating!

First, never use a pan that has scratched or chipped non-stick surfaces. These scratches can release toxic particles while cooking and potentially cause harm to you and your family.

Be mindful of how hot you get your pan. Pans should never be heated on high heat. In addition, never use metal utensils in a Teflon pan, and always wait for the pan to cool before washing it or putting it away.

Do not use abrasive cleaners such as steel wool, scouring powders, or powdered cleansers to scrub away cooked-on food.  Just clean Teflon pans with a rag or soft sponge and dish soap.

Keep Reading For More Cooking Tips

Want more tips about sustainable cooking?  Read a few of these posts, too:

  • Tips For Cooking In Natural Clay Cookware: Here are a few tips on how to cook in natural clay cookware in case this is something you want to try in your own kitchen.
  • How To Cook Vegetables On The Grill: If you are looking for healthy barbecue ideas, these tips for grilling vegetables will come in handy this summer. 
  • How To Cleaning Cutting Boards Cleaning wood cutting boards properly is important if you want them to stay in good shape.  

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