Whether it’s fish, meat or vegetables: the pan is coated with stainless steel or aluminium, ceramic or Teflon to ensure that no leftover food sticks to the surface during preparation. You can read about the differences between the materials and the features of a good pan as follows.

Apart from the fact that a non-stick coating is indispensable when preparing food in a pan, far less oil is required for frying than with an uncoated model (e.g. made of cast iron). In addition, most frying pans can easily withstand high temperatures. The question arises: How do you recognize a good pan, how do common coatings differ – and how do you clean them properly? We got to the bottom of the questions.

What distinguishes a coated pan?

From a purely visual point of view, frying pans don’t take much: Most models have a classic (round) shape and a long handle. However, the size of the frying surface, the type of coating and the height of the rim can vary depending on the manufacturer. But what indicators speak for good quality? The following features can be understood as a kind of guide:

This is where the coatings differ

There are different non-stick coatings for pans. We will briefly introduce you to the most common materials:

Stainless steel/aluminium frying pans made of stainless steel or aluminum are plentiful: There are uncoated models that are intended for short, sharp searing – however, a lot of oil is required here so that the food does not stick to the surface. And desserts such as pancakes can also be prepared well in it. A coated pan made of stainless steel or aluminum, on the other hand, is corrosion-resistant and has the advantage that low-fat dishes can also be fried with little or no oil. In addition, cleaning is much easier afterwards. But it can also be scratched more easily. The weight is mostly in the normal to light range.

CeramicA pan with a ceramic coating can easily withstand temperatures of up to 400 degrees. They are therefore also well suited for searing fish, meat or vegetables (with little fat). The scratch-resistant non-stick effect is usually just as good as that of a stainless steel pan – but unfortunately it is still sensitive to metal objects. Ideally, ceramic pans do not contain any environmentally harmful plastics such as PTFE (Teflon) or PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid), you should pay attention to this in the material description. With proper care, the robust material is extremely durable.

Cast IronThe special thing about a cast iron pan is that it can withstand extremely high temperatures. It is therefore particularly suitable for searing meat (especially steaks) – or for flambéing. However, most models are very heavy in the hand and difficult to clean: After the normal rinse cycle, the pan is cleaned with fat that is burned in with heat. In addition, cast iron can rust.

TeflonThis is a plastic coating, called PFTE for short. Depending on the manufacturer, most models can withstand temperatures of up to 270 degrees, with tiny particles already being able to detach from 200 degrees – if they get even hotter (about 360 degrees), even toxic fumes are said to be produced. Apart from that, the surface is much more sensitive to scratches. The biggest advantage of this type of coating is that you need little oil and can therefore cook with little fat: Poultry, fish and egg dishes can be prepared well in a Teflon pan.

How to clean and care for coated pans

It is generally not recommended to clean a pan in the dishwasher, regardless of the type of coating. The aggressive cleaning agents and the machine salt attack the materials and shorten the service life many times over. When rinsing, you should also not use abrasives, but instead only use hot water and a little washing-up liquid. Afterwards you can oil the coated pan with a little rapeseed or sunflower oil (two to three drops are enough) – but this is not a must.

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