According to the FDA, a group of thousands of synthetic compounds known as PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are widely used in many home products, including nonstick cookware. In light of the potential dangers of these chemicals, many PFAS are now banned from production, and the Biden administration plans to ban them from drinking water. Yet, this doesn’t mean you won’t still come into contact with them through older products.
Table of Contents
- What To Look For in a Nonstick Pan
- The best non-toxic non-stick pans: our top picks
- Xtrema 10-inch Traditions Skillet with Lid
- De Buyer Mineral B Fry Pan
- Zwilling Madura Plus Non-stick Frying Pan
- Caraway Fry Pan
- Bonus: The Best in “Nearly Nonstick”—Cast Iron and Porcelain Enamel Cookware
- Best Cast Iron Pan: Lodge Cast Iron Chef Collection Skillet
- We tested the Lodge Cast Iron Skillet
- Le Creuset Enameled Signature Skillet
- Testing the Le Creuset Skillet
- Nonstick Pans: What To Toss
One way to limit your PFAS exposure is to avoid most types of nonstick cookware. The coating on these pans can break down at high heat, leaving the potential for some unwanted ingredients in your stir fry.
Newer Teflon pans claim to be PFOA-free, but they still contain other compounds, such as a PTFE coating. You’re in luck if you’ve come to rely on the convenience of nonstick surfaces—plenty of non-toxic, nonstick pans exist today.
What To Look For in a Nonstick Pan
Nontoxic, nonstick pans come in a variety of styles. Here’s a look at the top nontoxic materials used today.
This natural material is free of heavy metals, coatings, dyes, and polymers and consequently can handle high heat cooking. Cooks love ceramic cookware because it is safe for the stovetop, oven, freezer, dishwasher, and even the microwave. Ceramic is considered the safest cookware for high heat (up to 2500℉), though the pans tend to be fragile at these temperatures.
Get the benefits of ceramic cookware without the heft or price with ceramic coated pieces. They are non-reactive, can handle high heat (up to 600℉), are dishwasher safe, and offer an even heating surface. However, most aren’t compatible with the microwave, and the ceramic surface will scratch and eventually wear out.
Like your favorite cast iron skillet, carbon steel has a seasoning layer that naturally makes it nonstick. It’s thinner, lighter, and heats more quickly than cast iron, making it an excellent choice for frying pans and woks.
Though carbon steel tends to be affordable, it’s incredibly durable and simple to clean. Just note it’s not microwave or dishwasher safe.
The best non-toxic non-stick pans: our top picks
Below, we’ve highlighted the best nontoxic, nonstick pans available today. Each has its advantages, but every product mentioned here will give you the security of knowing you are cooking on a safe surface that won’t release toxic fumes at high heat.
Highlights: This fully ceramic skillet is scratch resistant and stands out for its health safety, but it’s heavy, fragile, and not as nonstick as other options on this list. Xtrema is PFAS, PFOA, and PTFE free.
- Price: $169.99
- Materials: Ceramic
- Specs: 10lbs, 10.5 inches, 2.5 qt capacity
- Country of Origin: China
Xtrema is one of the few brands that sells 100% ceramic cookware. The pure ceramic build means the skillet won’t leach any toxins into your food, but you might sacrifice some performance because of it. For example, it can’t be used on induction stovetops, and fragile foods like eggs tend to stick to it. The ceramic material is also very fragile at high temperatures, and the pan itself doesn’t tend to heat evenly.
Still, this skillet is scratch-resistant and straightforward to clean, even if you get some sticking. It’s also oven and microwave safe, and Xtrema provides silicone handles for use with the skillet to protect your hands.
Suffice to say; if you’re committed to cooking with pure ceramic cookware, this is one of the best brands you’ll find.
Xtrema is offering LeafScore readers 10% off their purchase using coupon code LEAFSCORE at checkout!
Highlights: De Buyer’s Mineral B Pan heats quickly, is easy to maneuver, and provides a virtually nonstick surface. However, this pan loses points for only being oven safe for a few minutes at a time. DeBuyer’s pans are PFAS, PFOA, and PTFE free.
- Price: $49.95 to $109.95
- Materials: 99% iron / 1% carbon
- Specs: 8-inch model: 5.5-inch cooking surface, 2.2 lbs. 14-inch model: 10.25-inch cooking surface, 7.8 lbs
- Country of origin: France
This French-made pan is lighter than cast iron but handles high heat just as well. You can move it from the stovetop to the oven with ease, and each pan works for baking, browning, sauteing, and even searing meat. (Note: it’s only rated for ten minutes of oven cooking at 400F).
The cooking surface is made from 99% pure iron and includes a signature beeswax finish to help the seasoning and reduce oxidation. This naturally nonstick surface requires regular seasoning, but with the right care, you should expect your pan to last for decades.
It’s a smart choice for anyone who likes cooking with woks, and the pan improves the more you use it. Just make sure you can commit to handwashing it, so you don’t ruin the seasoning.
Highlights: Rugged and versatile, this nontoxic Italian cookware should hold up in the kitchen—unless you want to put it in your oven. Zwilling pans are PFAS, PFOA, and PTFE free.
- Price: $49.99 (8-inch) – $69.99 (11-inch)
- Materials: Forged aluminum
- Specs: 8-inch: 1.65lbs. 11-inch: 3.1lbs
- Country of origin: Italy
Combining Italian design with German engineering, Zwilling cookware never compromises on form or function. This nonstick pan is made from forged aluminum that offers stellar heat distribution and retention for even cooking on any stovetop.
The nonstick surface is PFOA-free and utilizes the company’s ‘three-layer DuraSlide granite coating.’ Note: ‘granite’ is in reference to its durability, not its composition. Instead, the pan has a forged aluminum core and a hard-wearing, nontoxic cooking surface.
As the company claims this pan is up to 40 times more durable than traditional nonstick coatings, you can use metal utensils within the pan without worry. It also includes an ergonomic, stay-cool handle design and a dripless pouring rim for streamlined work in the kitchen—and it’s safe for the dishwasher, too.
However, note that this pan is only rated oven safe up to 300°F, making it less versatile than many options on this list. There are also customer complaints that the nonstick coating comes off after use.
Highlights: Enjoy the benefits of ceramic cooking without the heft with this nonstick pan. But, while it heats up quickly, it doesn’t hold heat well and isn’t safe for oven use. Caraway pans are PFAS, PFOA, and PTFE free.
- Price: $95
- Materials: Ceramic coated
- Specs: 2.8lbs, 10.5 inches, 2.7 qt capacity
- Country of origin: China
This nontoxic fry pan offers a Teflon-free cooking space that’s coated instead in a durable ceramic interior. It boasts a nonstick interior that will stand up to high temperatures while letting you cook with less oil. The pan’s relatively thin design means it will heat up fast, and the ceramic coating should withstand heavy use without damage.
Unfortunately, this pan won’t stand up to induction cooking surfaces, and it loses effectiveness at high heat. You also can’t put it in the oven, which limits its versatility for those who want one pan that can do it all.
Another drawback—Caraway doesn’t sell a compatible lid.
Bonus: The Best in “Nearly Nonstick”—Cast Iron and Porcelain Enamel Cookware
Though these two materials don’t fit the technical definition of what most of us consider nonstick cookware, we think they deserve a second look. Both offer a nontoxic cooking surface that, when properly maintained, cooks beautifully and couldn’t be easier to clean.
Here’s a summary of these materials and a closer look at two of the best options available.
- Cast iron: As the original ‘nonstick pan,’ cast iron takes some getting used to, but it offers an ultra-durable, versatile cooking surface. Their seasoning layer makes for a naturally nonstick surface, and you can use the same pan to do everything from searing, sautéing, baking, broiling, frying, grilling, and even cooking over a campfire. Cooks love how well cast iron retains heat, but these pans are heavy, tricky to clean, and may rust if you let them dry wet.
- Porcelain Enamel: This cookware is typically made from cast iron that is coated with enamel. This gives you the even-heating benefits of this traditional material without having to worry about rust or keeping the pan seasoned. Porcelain enamel wins points for ease of use and simple cleaning, but the pans tend to some of the priciest available. You can also damage the pan’s surface if you use metal utensils within it.
Highlights: Cast iron stands the test of time for nonstick cookware, and Lodge offers high-quality pans at attractive prices. It requires some maintenance, like all cast iron, but will hold up for decades with proper care. Lodge skillets are PFAS, PFOA, and PTFE free.
- Price range: $24.95 – $49.95
- Materials: Cast iron
- Specs: 8-inch model: 8.75-inch, 3.17lbs, 0.14 qt. 12-inch model: 12.79-inch, 6.55 lbs, .39 qt.
- Country of origin: USA
Lodge has long been the leading name in cast iron skillets, and for a good reason. The company has sold affordable, long-lasting cookware made in the United States for decades, and with the right care, you can expect each piece to last for generations.
Every Lodge cast iron pan comes pre-seasoned, so it’s ready to use right out of the package. Its cooking surface is naturally nonstick, though you’ll still want to use some cooking oil for most dishes.
The Chef Collection skillet beats out the brand’s standard model with extra features designed to make kitchen work easier. This includes an ergonomic handle, pour spouts on the sides for better handling sauces and gravies, and sloped sidewalls to ease stirring with a spatula. As with all cast iron, you can use this pan just about anywhere—from your induction stovetop to a campfire.
Keep in mind that this pan requires gentle handling as you clean it to prevent rust and maintain the seasoning layer. Never leave it wet, and never put it in the dishwasher.
We tested the Lodge Cast Iron Skillet
An old Lodge Cast Iron Skillet, as well as one of their mini-models, is a staple in our home kitchen. We’ve used these pans for years, and love their ability to season over time.
- Seasons over time
- Versatile (can be used for stir fry or fish/meat)
- May need some oil to be truly nonstick depending on seasoning
- May be too heavy for older kids and the elderly
Highlights: Le Creuset offers the even cooking of cast iron with an enameled cooking surface that makes clean up and maintenance almost effortless. Busy cooks will appreciate the lighter material as well. Le Creuset products are PFAS, PFOA, and PTFE free.
- Price range: $120 – $205
- Materials: Enameled cast iron
- Specs: 6 ⅓ inch model: 10.24 inches, 2.82lbs. 11 ¾ inch model: 13 ½ inches, 6.5lbs
- Country of origin: France
As one of the premier names in gourmet kitchen cookware, Le Creuset’s Signature Skillet doesn’t disappoint. It boasts a nonstick surface of enameled cast iron that eliminates any need for the material’s traditional seasoning and maintenance. In fact, this enamel is formulated for high-temperature cooking (it’s oven-safe to 500F) and develops a natural patina over time that keeps it easy to clean.
Cooks love this skillet’s ergonomic design and heat retention abilities, as well as its durable porcelain enamel that rarely chips and is dishwasher safe. It’s relatively light for cast iron, which makes it more maneuverable around the kitchen.
If you’re serious about your nontoxic cookware, this is a pan worth considering, despite the high price. Just keep in mind that it’s not 100% nonstick and that you will need to use small amounts of cooking oil for delicate foods like eggs and fish.
Testing the Le Creuset Skillet
We cooked an egg in a Le Creuset signature skillet to test its nonstick abilities. The middle pick represents the small amount of a fried egg that stuck to the pan after we fried the egg.
- Excellent quality and durability
- Range of colors
- Peace of mind that the product is non-toxic
- Excellent heat retention
- Not 100% non-stick
- Oil is needed to cook
Nonstick Pans: What To Toss
Many nonstick pans contain more than you bargained for. Avoid using any pan made from the following materials.
Teflon, the trademarked version of polytetrafluoroethylene, was considered a game-changing cooking agent when it entered the market 80 years ago. Until 2013 this nonstick coating often contained PFAS and other compounds like PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid).
Teflon coatings break down at high heat (anything over 464℉), potentially releasing toxic fumes.
Newer Teflon pans claim to be PFOA-free, but they still contain other compounds, such as a PTFE coating. Avoid older Teflon pans at all costs, and consider staying away from newer ones as well.
Uncoated aluminum is highly reactive to acidic foods like tomatoes or vinegar.