The Warning Signs That You Should Replace Your Non-Stick Pans

Non-stick pans make life easy. A spot of oil and a good non-stick pan will keep your eggs, sauces, and seasonings from crusting onto its edges — a dishwashing dream. Like a figure skater dancing on fresh ice, non-stick pans allow your food to glide across a slicked surface that's at once satisfying and stress-free. Plus, if you take care of them, they're long-lasting.

A well-maintained, high-quality non-stick pan can last you up to five years. And while you might want to hold on even longer, it's essential to replace your non-stick cookware when it expires. A compromised non-stick pan can reduce the quality of your food, make cleaning harder, and even expose you to dangerous cancer-causing chemicals called PFAs that are present in older non-stick pans manufactured before 2013.

Although non-stick pans are no longer made with toxic PFAs, and their modern coating is considered safe if accidentally ingested, expired non-stick surfaces can still leave flakes of coating in your food — a serious culinary faux pas. So what are the tell-tale signs that you should replace your non-stick pan?

Look for changes in color, texture, and efficiency

A brand new non-stick pan is smoother than George Clooney. As soon as you start seeing deep ridges, cuts, and streaks in your non-stick cookware, it's time to let it go. Not only does surface breakage increase the risk of non-stick coating getting into your food, but it also reduces the non-stick element of the pan. Small bits of food and sauce can easily get stuck inside cracked and chipped non-stick surfaces making it harder to thoroughly clean.

Discoloration is a common issue with non-stick cookware. As it ages, food residue slowly builds up over time causing a change in the pan's surface color. This is another sign that the non-stick coating has worn down and needs to be replaced.

Finally, if your non-stick pan just isn't working as well as it used to, it's probably time for an upgrade. While they can certainly last you some years, non-stick pans aren't designed to last forever. Even if they still look great, non-stick coating will eventually wear down leaving you with a pan that's better off used as a fly swatter.

If you don't want to replace your non-stick cookware every few years, consider switching to stainless steel or cast iron appliances, both of which can last decades.