Should I renew my non-stick pan? Non-stick pans revolutionized modern cooking, making it easier to prepare food without anything sticking, and also reducing the need to use large amounts of oil or butter, since they were the most used agents to prevent food from sticking (beyond add flavor).

However, like so many things, non-stick pans have a limited lifespan : a non-stick pan was previously expected to last between two and three years; Now, with technological advances, they can be expected to last even longer... But all of this will also depend on the treatment given to the pan.

But whether sooner or later , non-stick pans need to be changed. The question is knowing when the change should be made. In this article, we'll explore when is the right time to replace a nonstick pan and what signs we should look for to determine if it's time to say goodbye to our cooking companion.

About the durability of non-stick pans

A decade ago, the life expectancy of a nonstick pan was relatively short, but today, pans with quality coatings can last five to seven years , according to the Cookware and Baking Tools Alliance in the US.

However, there are two conditions to the life of a non-stick pan:

  • The quality of the non-stick: a good non-stick will better resist the passage of time and handling. There are many ranges and qualities of non-stick on the market, and it is important to choose well (you can see them here )
  • How we treat our nonstick pan will determine how long it will ultimately last us.

Both traditional (PTFE-coated) and ceramic (often touted as "green") nonstick pans won't last nearly as long as cast iron, carbon steel, copper, or stainless steel pans. The non-stick layer (the one that prevents food from sticking) is thin and is made up of materials with a limited useful life, because they wear out, damage or burn, and stop performing their non-stick function correctly.

Although ceramic pans tend to wear out faster, both types will eventually lose their nonstick ability.

Signs to Replace your Nonstick Pan

If you notice any of the following signs on your nonstick frying pan, whether after a few months of purchase or after several years, it is important to stop using it and replace it:
  1. Coating Peels Off: If the nonstick coating is peeling off in bits or pieces, it's definitely time to replace it. This situation is more common in ceramic pans. There is no solution and the problem will simply get worse, making cooking with the pan increasingly more complicated because the food will stick to it.
  2. Deep scratches or raised coating: Handling food in the pan can cause light scratches to appear on the nonstick, which should not be a concern (although food may stick more, the nonstick is a few millimeters thick, and should be usable). ). But depending on what utensils you use, how you treat it, and the passage of time, food is likely to stick more, especially if the scratches are deep. If you notice that the scratches are somewhat whitish or silvery (you are looking at the interior aluminum!), or there are streaks or spots where the coating lifts (sometimes even along a scratch, you can see that there is coating on form of tiny scales that rise), it is important to change the pan.
  3. Dryness or burning of the coating : The passage of time, intensive use or the use of high intensity heat in a non-stick pan will cause it to dry out or burn. Thus, you will notice that the nonstick is either whiter or, just the opposite, has an entire darker area (normally in the shape of a circle, which is the shape of the stove or flame that burned it). If you notice that color change in the pan, which will normally be accompanied by the food sticking, it is advisable to change the pan.
  4. Persistent sticking problems : If you constantly struggle to prevent food from sticking to the pan, whether in a specific spot or area or on the entire surface in general, it is time to consider a new pan.

Recommendations to make your non-stick pan last as long as possible

  1. Always heat the pan over low/medium heat
  2. Never cook in it over high heat, you will burn the non-stick.
  3. Do not use tongs, spatulas or other stainless steel utensils, always silicone or plastic.
  4. Do not wipe the pan with kitchen paper if there is flaky salt, bones or other foods in it that could scratch the pan.
  5. Wash it by hand with a sponge and soap: despite the manufacturer's instructions, it will last longer if you do not expose the non-stick to the long washing processes and dishwasher temperatures. Most non-stick pans are dishwasher safe, but it is not recommended to wash them in the dishwasher.
  6. Never use a scouring pad to clean the pan, always a soft sponge.
  7. If you store them stacked, always have a pan protector between them.

Alternatives and Maintenance

I think it has become clear that a non-stick pan can last for years, but its life will be limited. Therefore, it may be interesting to limit its use : use a non-stick pan only for gentle cooking and white fish, which are the most suitable uses for this type of pan, and use other more durable pans for other types of cooking.

In this sense, it is interesting to consider carbon steel (Mineral iron, such as De Buyer's Mineral B ) or cast iron ( Le Creuset's iron pans ), both of which, with minimal maintenance, will become naturally non-stick over time .

Another type of non-stick pans are stainless steel pans , which, although they have a learning curve when cooking in them and will not generate natural non-stick, are lightweight pans that do not require any special maintenance.


In short, although nonstick pans have improved in durability, they will still be more fragile than other types of pans. If you notice that the coating is peeling off, that it has deep scratches or the coating looks lifted or if you simply see that a specific area or in general you are struggling to keep the food from sticking, it is time to replace your non-stick pan .

Non-stick pans are ideal for gentle cooking, and it is important that you take care of them (follow the recommendations given for using and maintaining them) if you want to prolong their useful life. And it may be interesting to consider alternatives such as Mineral steel, cast iron or stainless steel for a more durable and sustainable kitchen.

Claudia Ferrer

Leave a comment