Is Teflon dangerous? (Hint: yes, it is). Do all non-stick pans contain Teflon? (Hint: No, they don’t!) What are the best non-stick pans without Teflon – if any?
These questions flood the minds of most buyers.
And with so much controversy around non-stick cookware, it makes sense.
Worse yet, today’s clever marketing misleads you left and right. Most of the “healthy” non-stick pans available contain Teflon and potential risk. Yes, even the natural-looking, “PFOA-free” versions…
The truth is, there are only four non-Teflon, non-stick pan materials. That’s what you’ll discover below in this guide.
Once and for all, you’ll uncover:
- The truth about Teflon non-stick pan’s health risks and which pans have Teflon.
- The four best alternative materials.
- How we made our picks and how they compare to each other.
- And finally, the best brands for non-stick cookware sets without Teflon that blend safety and convenience – reviewed.
This way, you’ll keep your family safe while leveling up your cooking game.
So let’s dive in!
Why Are Teflon Non-Stick Pans Unsafe?
Why you need to ditch traditional non-stick cookware — and how to do it:
Teflon is a brand name for a synthetic polymer known as polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), commonly used as a non-stick coating for cookware. While it offers excellent non-stick properties, it has been linked to health concerns.
In the past, PTFE non-stick coatings like Teflon were made with perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which has been linked to high cholesterol, thyroid disease, kidney and testicular cancer, liver damage, and even developmental issues in infants and children. While Teflon coatings made after 2015 no longer contain PFOA, they may contain other harmful chemicals.
Today’s Teflon cookware frequently uses replacements for PFOA, such as GenX – the safety of which is up for debate. You can learn more about why PFOA-free cookware doesn’t mean safe cookware in our guide: What Does PFOA-Free Mean in Cookware?
Plus, when Teflon non-stick pans are heated above 500°F, they can release toxic fumes. And when it comes to Teflon pans whose non-stick coating has been scratched, beware – you don’t want to expose yourself to the underlying metal or other chemicals contained in the Teflon coating.
Which non-stick pans actually have Teflon coatings?
Here’s the bottom line; any saucepan, frypan, skillet, saute pan, etc., claiming it’s “non-stick,” is Teflon unless it’s a ceramic non-stick coating.
Look out for these key terms… they’re all made of PTFE:
- Stone-derived coating
- Granite coating
- Titanium non-stick coating
While it’s possible to simply use Teflon safely at low heat, given the potential for risk and margin of error, I recommend choosing non-stick cookware without PTFE coatings.
Instead, pick one of these options below:
4 Types of Non-Stick Pans with No Teflon
Here are the best materials for low to no-stick cooking, while steering clear of PFAS chemicals. These materials are all relatively non-stick and perfectly safe, although each one has its own benefits and drawbacks.
|Nonstick Ceramic||Cast Iron (CI)||Carbon Steel (CS)||Enamel Cast Iron|
-Highly stick resistant; glasslike
-Closest thing to Teflon
-Great for delicate foods
|-Natural nonstick surface|
|-Natural nonstick surface|
-Lighter than CI
-More smooth than CI
-More nonstick than CI
|-Nonstick glass enamel cooking surface
-No need for seasoning
-Like CI without the upkeep
-Great heat retention
-Dish soap/ dishwasher safe
|Cons:||-Often more costly than Teflon |
-Often not oven safe
-Heat retention not as good as other three options
-Not as nonstick as Teflon
|-Needs proper care|
-Not as nonstick as ceramic/ Teflon
-Hand wash only
-Bad for acidic foods
|-Needs proper care|
-Not as nonstick as ceramic/ Teflon
-Hand wash only
-Food can stick if cooking too hot
-Food can stick by not preheating
-Food can stick by using insufficient fats
-Enamel can chip/ crack, affecting appearance or performance
Read more about these materials and other alternatives: 3 Easy Alternatives to Non-stick Pans (Guide & Live Test) or check out some of our other cookware material comparisons.
How We Picked the Best Non-Stick Cookware Brands Without Teflon
We used the following metrics to determine which Teflon-free cookware brands are best.
- Material: Every product pick below has a non-stick coating made from either non-toxic ceramic, cast iron, carbon steel, or enamel cast iron.
- Price: Luckily, quality cast iron and carbon steel are affordable. Enameled cast iron has a steep cost but well worth it. Ceramic coatings will eventually wear down, so don’t spend too much. Yet, don’t go too cheap — aim for somewhere in the middle, like the options below.
- How non-stick out of the box: While ceramic cookware should come shiny and stick-resistant, cast iron and carbon steel get more non-stick over time (with nicer brands often being more non-stick right off the bat). Check each product description for an evaluation of how non-stick the cookware is right away.
- How fast does it heat: The heating speed varies among different materials—ceramic cookware tends to heat up quickly, while cast iron and carbon steel require a bit more time to reach the desired temperature. But, the two dense metals retain heat better. Higher-end brands often exhibit faster heating performance or heat retention, so consult each product description for specific details on heating speed.
- Warranty: Stuff happens. So, always check for a strong warranty (this also signifies the brand’s confidence in their product). Each pan below has one.
- Stovetop: If you have an induction cooktop, make sure the ceramic-coated pan is induction-compatible (like Caraway and GreenPan’s GP5 below). Cast iron, carbon steel, and enameled pans function well on any stovetop.
- Comfort: Apart from weight, you want the pan’s handle to stay cool to the touch. For ceramic pans, we didn’t pick any that had complaints of hot handles. For iron, carbon, and enamel, use an oven mitt or silicone handle sleeve (many come with sleeves).
Finally, my picks are based on my own experiences using the pans, along with family and friends – hundreds of customer testimonials – and deep brand/ material research.
How Do Our Picks Compare? Important Metrics to Consider for Teflon-Free Non-Stick Cookware
Here are important details about our picks – at a glance.
|Caraway – Best Overall Ceramic||Tramontina – Best Budget Ceramic||GreenPan – Best Ceramic Sets||Lodge – Best Budget Cast Iron||Finex – Best Cast Iron||Le Creuset – Best Enamel Cast Iron||Lodge – Best Value Carbon Steel|
|Body Material||Aluminum||Aluminum, Porcelain enamel exterior||Depends on collection (Hard-anodized, stainless steel, or standard aluminum)||Cast iron||Cast iron||Cast iron||Carbon steel|
|Non-Stick Surface||Ceramic||Ceramic||Thermolon diamond-infused ceramic||Pre-seasoned cast iron||Pre-seasoned cast iron||Porcelain enamel||Pre-seasoned carbon steel|
|How non-stick out of the box? (Out of 5)||5.0||5.0||5.0||2 (improves over time)||3 (improves over time)||4.0||2 (improves over time)|
|Oven-Safe Temperature||550ºF||Not oven safe||Maybe – depends on the collection. SearSmart is oven safe to 600˚F||500°F||500°F||500°F||500°F|
|Dishwasher Safe?||No||Yes, but we don’t recommend it||Yes, but we don’t recommend it||No||No||Yes – only pans without wooden handles||No|
|Induction Compatible?||Yes||No Tramontina’s Prima or Tri-Ply Clad sauce pans||Depends on the collection||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Price Tier||$$$ – Amazon||$ – Amazon||$$ – Amazon||$ – Amazon||$$$ – Amazon||$$$$ – Amazon||$ – Amazon|
|Top Pros||Great non-stick properties, even heat distribution||Budget-friendly, Lightweight||Durable pan body and good heat retention||Inexpensive but lasts forever||Super durable, very non-stick right out of the box||Lifetime purchase, low maintenance||Lighter than cast iron, smooth surface|
|Top Cons||More expensive, loses non-stick properties over time||Not oven safe, lacks durability||Coating prone to scratching||Heavy, requires reseasoning||Heavy||Expensive||Doesn’t sear as well as cast iron|
|Made In||China and India||Made in Italy, Assembled in USA||South Korea||USA||USA||France||USA|
|Warranty||Limited warranty valid in US only||Limited lifetime warranty||Limited lifetime warranty||Lifetime coverage||Limited lifetime warranty||Limited lifetime warranty||Lifetime coverage|
7 Best Non-Stick Pans Without Teflon Reviewed
Now let’s dive into the best non-stick cookware without Teflon – options for each material above.
Best Ceramic Non-Stick Cookware
Ceramic-coated pans differ from Teflon by using a sand-based, eco-friendly coating on bare metal, creating a stick-resistant, safe surface for cooking delicate foods.
To make the most of ceramic pans, follow these guidelines:
- Before adding food, preheat the empty pan for 2-3 minutes over low-medium.
- Never go above medium heat. Ceramic coatings heat so efficiently that medium = high. Any hotter, the food burns and sticks.
- For most sticky foods like eggs and fish, drop a small dab of high smoke point oil onto the pan once it’s hot – but before adding your food. (Much less oil than steel or cast iron, so it’s still low-calorie).
- Then, add your food, but don’t touch it for 30-45 seconds. Let it cook through a little first.
- Avoid metal utensils to protect the coating. Also, avoid plastic as it can leach chemicals and melt – use softer, non-toxic utensils like wood or silicone instead.
- Avoid non-stick aerosol sprays – the propellants damage coatings.
- Avoid the dishwasher – it reduces non-stick performance.
- Avoid oven cooking.
Remember, it’s not Teflon. You need to use it a little differently.
#1 Caraway – Best Overall Ceramic Non-Stick
Caraway stands out as our top choice for the best overall ceramic non-stick cookware brand because of its high-quality ceramic coating free of Teflon, lead, cadmium, and other toxic substances. The ceramic coating is exceptionally non-stick right out of the box, and is a breeze both to cook sticky, delicate foods with and to clean.
The heavy-gauge aluminum body and steel baseplate of Caraway pots and pans is surprisingly durable, and offers quick, even heating on all cooktops – yes, even induction stoves.
My only concern is that the non-stick performance may diminish over time, and the exterior paint can chip easily, affecting its longevity compared to traditional Teflon-based non-stick options. This isn’t unique to Caraway though – this is just how it goes with ceramic non-stick coatings.
The Caraway ceramic non-stick cookware is more expensive than similar GreenPan options, but offers more color options, and a faster speed to boiling. The Caraway pans tend to gain and lose heat faster, and customer reviews show that the non-stick coating tends to stay intact longer on Caraway cookware than GreenPan.
My favorite Teflon-free Caraway set is the 12-piece nonstick ceramic cookware set that comes with a 10.5″ frying pan, a 3 qt. sauce pan with lid, a 6.5 qt. dutch oven with lid, a 4.5 qt. sauté pan with lid, 4 magnetic pan racks for easy storage, and a canvas lid holder with hooks.
You can also find Caraway’s ceramic-coated cookware on the Caraway website.
#2 Tramontina – Best Budget Ceramic Non-stick
Yet, Tramontina cut no corners. A rugged porcelain enamel coating wraps the outside of their cookware– resisting burns, chips, scratches, and discoloration.
On the inside sits a cream-colored non-stick ceramic surface. With a tiny dab of oil, “sticky food slides off like cars on ice,” as one customer said. Another user says, “Cleaning the pan is the next best thing to cooking; wipe with a paper towel.”
Others love how the light-colored surface adds contrast to their food. This helps you avoid burning in low-light kitchens.
Tramontina offers a nice variety of options, too. For a nice middle ground, we recommend their 10-inch ceramic-coated fry pan. The 10” diameter and 1.8” depth is a nice medium size, large enough for main entrees, yet not too bulky for a few eggs. And with a feather-like weight of 1.5lbs (1.6 cans of soda) and a cool-touch steel handle, maneuvering is effortless.
But what’s most impressive? Tramontina’s limited lifetime warranty on such an affordable pan. That said, the warranty won’t cover normal wear and tear, and with such an affordable pan, don’t expect it to last quite as long as the more expensive options.
Other sizes available: An 8″ pan, excellent for single folks. And a 12” version, perfect for families. Also, the Gourmet Ceramica Deluxe edition has deeper sides to sauté more significant food amounts.
#3 GreenPan – Best Ceramic Non-stick Sets
- Materials: Ceramic non-stick coating, body material depends on collection (Hard-anodized aluminum, fully-clad stainless steel, or standard aluminum)
- Price Tier: $$ – Amazon
- How non-stick out of the box? 5/5
GreenPan has secured its place as a top choice for ceramic nonstick cookware sets, offering innovative solutions that combine non-stick ease with enhanced flavor and durability. With seven standout collections, GreenPan addresses the need for safe, high-performance non-stick cookware without compromising on quality.
GreenPan’s coatings are crafted from Thermolon diamond-infused ceramic, providing a non-toxic and durable cooking surface. (Like other ceramic coatings, the GreenPan coatings do tend to start to degrade over time…you’ll have about a year with perfect non-stick use).
The GP5 Collection:
- Features an extra-thick (5mm) hard-anodized aluminum body means it’s extra resistant to warping and damage.
- Features GreenPan’s Infinite8 Ceramic Nonstick coating that lasts a bit longer than the Valencia Pro Thermolon™ coating.
- Features a Balance Pro Base, which helps keep it flat and is induction compatible.
- The whole pan, including the stainless steel lids, are oven-safe to 600˚F.
- More expensive than Valencia Pro
The Valencia Pro Collection:
- GreenPan’s best-seller for its mix of more affordable price points and great quality.
- Valencia Pro features a hard-anodized aluminum body (thinner than the GP5) and diamond-infused ceramic coating (GreenPan’s Thermolon™ Advanced coating) for efficient heating, resulting in improved food texture and even browning.
- Its rugged coating resists scratches and allows for effortless, low-oil cooking, while also being safe when accidentally overheated.
- Unlike lower-end GreenPan models like Lima, Valencia Pro’s diamond-infused layering ensures prolonged non-stick performance.
- The unique iron/copper Magneto base, found in few GreenPan models, enhances heat conduction and retention on all stovetops, contributing to consistent browning.
- Features glass lids
- Oven safe to 600˚F (Lids 425˚F)
Best Cast Iron, Carbon Steel, and Enamel Cast Iron Cookware
Both cast iron and carbon steel cookware naturally develop a non-stick surface over time through a process called seasoning, where oils and fats bond with the pan’s surface, creating a smoother and more stick-resistant cooking surface with each use.
Cast iron, carbon steel, and enamel cast iron work on all stovetops, including induction.
Cast iron and carbon steel’s natural non-stick property actually improves with proper care and maintenance, making these materials favored choices for long-lasting, non-stick cooking. Here are some care and maintenance tips:
- Don’t use the dishwasher or soap. Degreasers wreck the seasoning layer.
- To clean, hand wash with hot water and a coarse brush. For stubborn residue, scrub the pan with coarse salt.
- After washing, dry the pan and apply a thin layer of vegetable oil to preserve the seasoning.
Don’t want to worry about seasoning? Consider enameled cast iron, which is simply raw iron wrapped in a thin glass coating.
Enamel cast iron offers the benefits of excellent heat retention and searing without the need for seasoning. Cleaning is a breeze, and rust is not a concern if you forget to dry the pan.
Complaints about food sticking (on enamel, raw cast iron, and carbon steel) all trace back to three things…
- Cooking WAY too hot.
- Not preheating.
- Not using enough fats.
Check out our FAQ for more tips on cooking with cast iron.
#4 Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron – Best Budget Cast Iron
If the limited lifespan and versatility of non-stick coatings frustrate you, do yourself a favor. Grab a Lodge – my absolute favorite pan. While it’s a bit less non-stick right out of the box (and has a rougher surface) than pricier cast iron options, like the Finex below, it does the trick – and at a very affordable price.
Lodge forms their cookware entirely as one solid piece, including the handle. So, don’t worry about breakage or having to pick at crusty handle rivets.
My favorite medium-sized skillet measures 12” wide x 2.25” deep and includes a silicone handle sleeve for comfort. Across from the main handle sits a convenient helper handle – a must-have…
Although the pan weighs 7.3 lbs (about eight soda cans), the helper handle makes it feel lighter. You can support the skillet with an extra hand when serving or removing it from the oven. And cleaning is significantly easier using this handle (your wrist will thank you!).
Now, being heavyweight may seem like a drawback for cast iron. But it’s actually a primary advantage! Lodge cast iron’s dense mass provides unrivaled strength and heat retention: Aka, better searing, browning, and flavor. Other generic, no-name brands often use impure, poor-heating iron that leaves cold spots. I also love how cast iron’s weight keeps it from sliding around as I stir.
Overall, Lodge cast iron is a workhorse. Cook fluffy eggs and pancakes, sear pork chops, grill juicy steaks, saute veggies, and bake cakes in the oven… All without sticking.
#5 Finex Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron – Best Overall Cast Iron
Finex reigns as the best in cast iron cookware, setting a high standard for quality and performance. Crafted with precision and pride in the USA, their pre-seasoned cast iron pans offer exceptional durability and impressive non-stick capabilities right from the start. Finex cookware is built to withstand the test of time.
Finex and Lodge both offer durable cast iron cookware, but Finex sets itself apart with a smoother (smoothed by machine) and more non-stick surface right out of the box. While Lodge provides budget-friendly options, Finex commands a higher price for its premium quality, precision, and artisanal craftsmanship.
That said, many customers say that Lodge works just as well – so consider buying a Finex if it’s on sale!
Finex cookware distinguishes itself further with a user-friendly design, featuring handles that are easier to grip without the need for an oven mitt. The clever addition of an octagonal outer edge not only enhances its aesthetics but makes it super easy to pour liquids – it’s not just a gimmick!
#6 Lodge Carbon Steel Pan without Teflon – Best Value Carbon Steel
Don’t want to deal with cast iron’s weight? Yet, you desire a non-stick pan that lasts forever? Then check out Lodge’s carbon steel cookware, perfected over 125+ years.
With carbon steel, you can almost pan-flip eggs as you would with aluminum. It heats faster and weighs less than iron, so to me it’s a better day-to-day pot or pan; it’s easier to manage.
Yet, you don’t sacrifice performance. Carbon steel retains heat better than non-stick and steel cookware, despite being thinner than cast iron: Aka, better browning, searing, flavor, and cooking versatility. I’ve yet to find another pan that browns meat and transitions from stove to oven so smoothly for under 8lbs.
I also notice my carbon steel Lodge releases food easier than my cast iron skillet from Lodge. Likely, this is thanks to the smoother surface.
I also like that Lodge’s carbon steel pan comes with a silicone handle sleeve that keeps your skin cool throughout (carbon steel gets hot!). Then, you can simply remove the silicone sleeve and slip the pan into the oven to braise. The shallow design also slides easily under your broiler, perfect for finishing a dish.
And, of course, Lodge backs you up for life if you notice any defect.
Want to buy elsewhere? Head over to Etsy to shop Lodge carbon steel, as well as other brands.
Etsy allows you to support small, ethical sellers, plus they offset 100% of their shipping carbon emissions!
#7 Le Creuset – Best Enamel Cast Iron
The benefits of cast iron without the extra upkeep? Go with Le Creuset!
They form their Teflon-free non-stick pans as one single, warp-proof piece of casted French iron. Then, coat the pan in a smooth glass enamel, offering unique advantages over raw cast iron…
Raw cast iron can be a pain some days; for me it is, at least. Scrubbing, drying, oiling, etc., it’s a process. But Le Creuset’s glass enamel seals the iron, preventing rust and eliminating the need for seasoning. It’s also easier to clean – unlike raw iron, you can use dish soap to cut grease!
Cooking is always predictable with enameled iron too. You don’t rely on external factors like non-stick coatings wearing down or seasoning layer upkeep. Le Creuset is always ready for optimal use—
Proper heat and a dab of oil are all you need to prevent sticking. However, make sure to preheat correctly, as shown here. My first time with this pan, I went too hot and it wasn’t pretty!
My favorite Le Creuset pan is a nice medium size. It measures 10.25” wide x 1 ⅝” deep; it weighs 6 lbs (or about 6.5 soda cans). It has the thermal mass to perfectly brown steaks. Yet, it’s compact and versatile enough to fry a few eggs without being cumbersome.
This skillet’s helper handle is a godsend, as it helps you easily maneuver the weight. Use it when serving, handwashing, and slipping the pan in (or out of) the oven or dishwasher.
Finally, Le Creuset offers this skillet in nine vibrant color options to match your kitchen. And they cover you with a lifetime warranty, of course.
Eggs will stick to your non-stick pan if: You didn’t fully preheat your pan, and it’s too cool. Or, the pan is too hot and fuses the egg to the surface. To check if your pan is at the right temperature, place it over medium heat and use the water drop test method:
Add a few drops of water to the pan – the water should ball up and roll around when the pan’s ready. Once it is, add oil (if desired), then your food.
Cast iron as a non-stick pan? You bet. With a few simple tips, you can whip up all your delicate foods with this versatile material.
First, you need to season your pan to build a non-stick layer. For the simple, step-by-step instructions to season cast iron, visit our Teflon Alternative Guide.
Once finished, you’ll notice the pan takes on a smooth, Teflon-like, non-porous surface. By following the easy steps below, you can prepare even the stickiest of foods like eggs.
How I cook eggs and other delicate foods with my cast iron pan:
- ALWAYS preheat the empty pan over med-low to medium heat for 5-10 minutes. Cast iron heats slowly. To check if it’s ready, splash water droplets on the pan. The water will ball up and roll around (like mercury) when the pan reaches the proper temperature for non-stick cooking.
- Don’t set your stove too hot. Food will burn and stick.
- Once preheated (remember – mercury ball), add about 1 tbsp of butter or oil.
- Right after you drop in your fats and let them disperse, add your food on top. Let the food sit for 30-60 seconds before touching it.
Here’s me frying eggs in my 12″ Lodge cast iron skillet (without sticking). I follow those steps every time I cook. Proper heat. Proper fat usage. That’s it!
No, olive oil will not ruin non-stick pans, nor will any cooking oil by itself. The problem stems from cooking at temperatures past olive oil’s smoke point. Going too hot can ruin the oil and create a sticky mess on your non-stick pan.
To prevent that, cook at low to medium temperatures or use a higher smoke point oil like vegetable or avocado oil.
Most non-stick pans use Teflon, also known as polytetrafluoroethylene unless they contain a ceramic-based coating. While toxic PFOA, or perfluorooctanoic acid, was phased out of production in 2013, modern non-stick pans contain GenX or PFBS instead. Their safety is controversial.
Ceramic-coated non-stick pans do not contain Teflon. Instead, they have a natural silica-based sol-gel coating. Also, cast iron, carbon steel, and enameled cast iron can replace Teflon non-stick pans with a few easy steps…
Non-stick pans don’t last forever, although some longer than others. So throw away your non-stick pans after about 4-5 years. Or once they appear warped, badly discolored, or riddled with deep scratches where shiny aluminum peeks through the non-stick coating.
When your non-stick pans are scratched up, the exposed aluminum leaches into your food. If you suffer kidney problems, this isn’t safe. Also, the non-stick pan’s coating can flake off into your food. So, if your pan is all scratched up, throw it out.
Conclusion and Key Takeaway
While the pans above take a little more effort than Teflon, they’re safer and still produce remarkable flavor!
For the closest thing to Teflon, grab ceramic. It requires little to no oil, cleans in seconds, and helps lower calories. Caraway is our top ceramic pick.
Cast iron, carbon steel, and enamel all demand more work, but you’ll notice it gets easier each use. Plus, they’re more versatile and will last forever.
I recommend grabbing one of each – a ceramic-coated pan for the most delicate foods – and a cast iron or carbon steel for everything else.
So that’s a wrap! Now you have a deep understanding of the best non-stick pans without Teflon. Consider yourself freed from the Teflon burden!
P.S. Ditching Teflon is the first step. But are your dinner plates safe?
Check out our post on the safest lead-free dishes to find out if your dinnerware leaches lead. And of course, see our top safest dish set picks.
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