How to Season a Nonstick Pan (And Cook Like A Chef)

You’ve just bought that new nonstick pan you’ve been wanting. But before you start using it, you’ll have to season it so you can cook like a chef in your own kitchen.

Every kitchen needs at least one nonstick pan. It’s essential to making the perfect omelet or scrambled eggs. Dessert crepes turn out precise each time. And cooking delicate fish, like sole, is easy with a nonstick pan. Cooking with nonstick cookware is also great for your health – no fats or oils needed to cook your food. You’ll be able to reduce fat and calories in your diet.

As easy and efficient as it is, your new nonstick pan needs a little care before you can start cooking. Here’s everything you need to know about how to season a nonstick pan, as well as how to care for one.

What is a Nonstick Pan?

Non-stick pans and pots are aluminum or stainless steel cookware that’s been covered with a non-porous coating. This coating creates a glossy and smooth surface that prevents foods from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

One of the most common coatings is PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene), otherwise known as Teflon. The other common coating for non-stick pans is a silica-based gel, or a ceramic. Both are ideal coatings that prevent foods from adhering to the pan’s surface.

Do I Need to Season My Nonstick Frying Pan before I Use It?

Before using your nonstick pan, you’ll need to season it. Seasoning a nonstick pan will help fill in the small pits and pores in the surface of the pan. Seasoning helps with any inconsistencies in the finish of the pan and reduces the need to use any additional oil for cooking.

Another reason for seasoning your nonstick frying pan is to extend the life of the pan, so foods don’t start to stick. The oil you use to season the pan builds a protective layer of protection against oxidation.

This prevents rust from damaging the surface of the pan.

Some manufacturers recommend that you season the pan at least twice a year to ensure that it stays in good condition. Still other manufacturers recommend seasoning your pans every few weeks to keep them in top quality shape, so they continue to cook efficiently.

How to Season a Nonstick Pan?

Seasoning your non-stick pan is easy and takes only a few minutes:

  • Using warm water and dish soap, wash the pan to remove any dirt from the factory and any packaging residue.
  • Dry the pan thoroughly with a clean dish cloth or paper towel.
  • Season a nonstick pan by rubbing 1 teaspoon of peanut or canola oil onto the surface of the pan all the way up to the rim.
  • Heat the pan on the stove over medium heat for 30 to 60 seconds.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool and dry completely.
  • Using a paper towel, wipe out any excess oil.

Your seasoned pan is now ready for you to start cooking.

Seasoning Nonstick Pans In The Oven

You can also season the pan in oven – the result is the same as when pans are seasoned on the stove:

  • Preheat the oven to 300-350°F.
  • Pour 1 teaspoon of peanut oil into the pan. Use a paper towel to spread the oil over the surface and up to the rim of the pan.
  • Place the oiled pan in the oven for about one hour.
  • Remove the pan from the oven and let cool completely.
  • Using a paper towel remove any excess oil.

What would happen if I don’t?

It’s highly recommended that you take the time to season your nonstick pan. Otherwise foods will stick to the surface. You’ll then to need to start adding oil to the pan to prevent sticking, which defeats the purpose of using a non-stick pan or pot.

Once food starts to stick to the pan and gets into the pores of the surface, it can be difficult for your non-stick pan to work at its best. If this happens, immediately season the pan to fill in the pores. You may need to season it more than once.

Can you season a non-stick pan with olive oil?

Olive oil shouldn’t be used for seasoning your non-stick pan, even if some manufacturers approve of this oil for seasoning.

The reason for this is that olive oil has a relatively low smoke point, meaning the oil will start to break down at medium to high temperatures and start to smoke. Avoid using butter and other oils that also have a low smoke point.

The best oil to use for seasoning a nonstick pan is peanut oil. It has a very high smoke point. Canola and grapeseed oil are also good choices, with a tolerance to higher heat than other oils.

Can you season a Teflon pan?

A Teflon pan is just one type of nonstick pan, also known as a PTFE coating. As with ceramic coated pans, Teflon should be seasoned following the instructions here for seasoning a nonstick frying pan.

How to Clean and Care for your Nonstick Frying Pan?

Non-stick pans are great for ease of use, quick clean up, and for healthy fat-free cooking. Over time, non-stick pans can slowly start to deteriorate, particularly if they’re not cared for properly. The finish on the surface of the pan will start to wear off, making it less slick. When it comes to cleaning a non-stick pan, follow these guidelines:

  • Before washing, let the pan cool completely before putting in water. A quick change in temperature can cause warping of the pan and damage the non-stick coating.
  • Hand-wash your non-stick pan in warm, soapy water. Use a mild dishwashing soap, not a harsh cleaner intended for scrubbing other cookware. Always rinse the pan well and let it dry thoroughly before storing it. If you need to scrub a bit to get off any stuck food, use a scratch-proof scouring pan that won’t damage the surface of the pan.
  • Never use harsh cleaners or metal scouring pads to clean. This will scratch and damage the pan, leading to open pockets in the pores of the surface. If food is stuck on, let the pan soak in warm soapy water for a while.
  • An alternative to soaking the pan to remove food that is really stuck is to deglaze. Pour warm water into the pan, adding a drop of soap. Bring the water to a boil and let simmer for a few minutes. Then remove the pan from the heat and let cool before washing with warm water. If you should need to deglaze, consider seasoning your non-stick pan again before its next use.
  • Avoid putting your non-stick pan in the dishwasher. Some manufacturers claim their pans are safe for the dishwasher but it’s best to err on the side of caution and skip the dishwasher. The strong dishwashing soap and the high water temperature can damage the pan. Handwashing your non-stick pan will keep the finish at its best for a longer period of time.
  • Store your non-stick properly, using one of two methods. The ideal way to store pans is by hanging them, ensuring that there is lots of space in between each. If you don’t have room in your kitchen to hang pans, nest them carefully. Place paper towels in between them to avoid the bottom of one scratching the surface of the other. This will easily damage the coating.

    A great storage technique is to buy cookware storage racks. They easily fit into the cupboard, with a separate space for each pan.

How do I Cook with My Nonstick Frying Pan?

There’s a right way and a wrong way to cook using your non-stick pan. These tips will help you get the most out of your pan and keep it in good shape for years to come:

  • Avoid using metal utensils in the pan for stirring or cutting, which can easily scratch and damage the surface. You should only be using utensils that are gentle on the pan, such as those made from nylon, plastic, rubber, silicone, and wood.
  • When cooking, avoid high temperatures – cook over low to medium heat only. High temperatures can damage the pan by causing it to warp. High heat can also cause some of the non-stick coating to break down and lose some of the properties that make it a non-stick pan.
  • It’s important to preheat your non-stick pan before cooking. Preheating will promote even cooking throughout the food. Just place the pan over the heat and wait a few minutes for it to heat before adding food.
  • Never use cooking sprays in your non-stick pan. This is one of the quickest ways to permanently damage the pan. Oil sprays coat the surface of the pan and build up a sticky layer of fat. This buildup of oil doesn’t burn off during the cooking process, particularly around the sides of the pan. If you need to use fat when cooking, consider adding oil to a spray misting bottle to add a small amount of fat to the pan.
  • If you need to cook with a bit of fat, such as oil or butter, add the fat to a cold pan before preheating. Adding fat to a hot pan can cause the fat to smoke and also cause damage to the surface of the pan.

What are the benefits of cooking with a non-stick pan?

There are some great advantages that come from cooking with your non-stick pan:

  • One of the biggest benefits of your non-stick pan is how healthy they are to cook with. Because of the non-stick surface of the pan, you’ll be able to cook most foods without large amounts of oil or butter. Less oil equals less fat and calories.

    Whether you’re trying to lose weight or are just watching what you eat, cooking with less fat is one of the top reasons for owning non-stick cookware.

  • Non-stick pans are a great time-saver. When foods don’t stick, you’ll spend less time in the kitchen cleaning up pots and pans.
  • Cooking with non-stick cookware ensures that the heat is evenly distributed throughout the pan. Food cooks faster and more uniformly, which enhances the flavor.
  • Breaded and fried foods are easy to cook in a non-stick pan. The even cooking on a non-stick surface keeps them from falling apart without having to use more than a drop of oil.
  • Delicate foods, such as fried eggs and fish, also stay in one piece in non-stick pans. You’ll be able to have sunny-side eggs without breaking them.

Now that you know how to season a non-stick pan, and how easy they are to care for and cook with, you’ll want more than one in your kitchen.