This may shock you, but I do cook indoors sometimes. And in the 50+ years since I went away to college, I have worked with a lot of frying pans. Just so you know where I am coming from: I have a complete set of stainless steel clad pots and pans with copper and aluminum cores. I have a variety of cast iron pots and pans, a carbon steel wok, and a variety of odds and ends. Here’s the best I can say about them: They work.
But I’m here to tell you, GreenPans are amazing.
About nonstick pans
Here’s the thing about nonstick surfaces. They are nonstick because, among other things, they are smooth. Things slide off them. When you scratch them with metal or abrasive cleaners like Comet, they get microscopic pits and food gets in there and hangs on.
Cast iron and carbon steel pots and pans can be nonstick if you handle them properly. They have to be heat treated with a coating of oil and washed carefully, dried thoroughly. Read more about cast iron here.
The first lightweight nonstick coated pans were made with a Dupont plastic called Teflon (the brand name of a compound named polytetrafluoroethylene or PTFE). PTFE coatings are marketed under many brand names and they are used to make fabrics water resistant, as coatings on wires, in anticorrosion paints, and more.
Unfortunately, PTFE carries some baggage. PTFE and byproducts of the manufacturing process have damaged the environment. As pots and pans wore out, particles could be ingested and tests have shown that many people have PTFE in their blood. If PTFE pans are overheated, to about 500°F, they can produce dangerous gases that could kill your pet canary and make you sick. PTFE pans are still available and they work fine for a few years if you don’t overheat them or scratch them with metal utensils or abrasive cleaners.
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Ceramic pots and pans
Around 2007, a new breed of nonstick ceramic coatings emerged, and my wife bought one, a 12 inch GreenPan Valencia Pro. It was shockingly good. Nothing stuck. We didn’t need as much oil when cooking.
This new breed of ceramic coating, called Thermolon, is amazing. Made from sand, it is a form of silicon and as slippery as a pickpocket. Very hard, this ceramic coating is perfectly safe up to about 842°F (450°C) and produces no gases. No PTFE, PFOA, or PFAS.
You still want to put oil in the pan first, but you don’t need much. Oil enhances the non-stick properties, it conducts heat and produces crispier foods. It also helps with the Maillard reaction. Avoid spray oils because they contain compounds that can burn easily. GreenPans are very efficient heat conductors so dial back the heat as you get used to your new pans.
Use wooden or plastic or silicone utensils on them and do not wash them when they are hot. Don’t stack them. You can put them in the dishwasher, but I recommend you wash by hand. It’s easy! Residues slide off with a swipe! Don’t use steel wool or abrasive cleansers like Comet. You can still burn food in a GreenPan (don’t ask how I know) but carbonized food is pretty easy to clean off. And you will want to clean off any foreign substances and discoloration because they get between the food and the ceramic. If it is persistent, simmer some water in the pan. If that doesn’t work, add a mix of 1 part distilled vinegar to 4 parts water and simmer it for 10 minutes or so.
GreenPan make a variety of lines. The least expensive line, Rio, is aluminum with the ceramic coating on top. The Chatham line has an anodized aluminum underside, a harder coating. Napa has a stainless steel body, that’s what you want for an induction burner. The Venice line is stainless clad copper and aluminum with the ceramic coat. The striking white Padova line is anodized aluminum and is said to be OK for metal utensils.
The Valencia line is anodized aluminum and is said to be safe for metal utensils and dishwashers as well. Some have plastic handles, and some have stainless handles like the Valencia Pro. Some models do not come with lids. All come with a 2 year warranty on the coating.
There are competing brands of ceramic coated pans but I have recently seen Consumer Reports and Cooks Illustrated reviews that scored GreenPan at the top.
I have only worked with the Valencia line. It is compatible with induction stovetops and heats very evenly. Eggs are easy to flip (see the video below) and they slide out like an Olympic skier. I strongly recommend you get one of these pans if you make a lot of omelets.
Meathead, BBQ Hall of Famer - Founder and publisher of AmazingRibs.com, Meathead is known as the site's Hedonism Evangelist and BBQ Whisperer. He is also the author of the New York Times Best Seller "Meathead, The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling", named one of the "100 Best Cookbooks of All Time" by Southern Living.