Confession time: We love a good nonstick pan. Cast iron skillets, we love you to death, but sometimes we want something that isn't going to give us an arm workout or require patient scrubbing. We totally get why our grandmas eventually packed their cast iron pans up in the attic (to be later discovered by foodie grandchildren) and stocked their cupboards full of lightweight black nonstick coated pans: easy clean up and dishwasher-safe. Sometimes you just really, really don't feel like doing the dishes.
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The problem is that Teflon, the chemical traditionally used to coat nonstick pans, has been linked to a host of health problems and environmental damage. It begins to break down at high temperatures, emitting toxic fumes that have even been known to kill pet birds. PFOA, the main chemical component of Teflon, was banned in the US in 2015, so you won’t find it in newer pans, but unfortunately PFOA is only one of a large family of perfluorinated chemicals (PFOs), and the similar nonstick chemical replacements being used are likely just as bad.
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Enter ceramic pans, the eco, health-conscious nonstick lover’s dream come true. Ceramic nonstick pans are made without any PFOs. Instead, the metal pans (usually aluminum) have a nontoxic nanoparticle coating derived from sand that is more environmentally friendly to make and doesn’t release toxic fumes when you turn the heat above “low.” They're also wonderfully lightweight and dishwasher-safe.
You do still generally have to use a bit of oil with ceramic pans, but they require much less than you would need with cast iron or stainless steel, making them a healthier way to cook your morning omelette. And though they do tend to be more durable than cheap Teflon-esque pans, the ceramic coating can get scratched over time—but a couple of wooden spoons and spatulas can go a long way to prolonging the life of your pan. (Keep your pan in perfect shape with these tips for making making ceramic pans last a lifetime.)
Ready to give one a try? Check out these highly-rated, high-value ceramic nonstick pans on Amazon.