Why You Should Never Use Non-Stick Pans Under The Broiler

If you ever baked anything like egg whites or cheese into your pan, you immediately appreciate the magic of a non-stick pan. The time you save on cleanup may tempt you to use them exclusively. Sadly, it just isn't a good idea to use non-stick cookware for everything, especially not for direct, high-heat cooking under the broiler.

To better understand why, it may help to learn more about how the pain was made. Many nonstick pans are aluminum pans that are sprayed with up to five layers of Teflon, also known as polytetrafluoroethylene, or another non-stick coating. Older non-stick pans may be coated with perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is trying to phase out PFOA use in pans due to concerns about some of the chemicals used. They requested the biggest manufacturers to stop it by 2015. If you have an older non-stick pan, you may want to be extra cautious about using it or even consider replacing it. Teflon and others used PFOA as an ingredient in the coating, but newer non-stick pans shouldn't include PFOA. Even with newer EPA-compliant non-stick pans, temperatures above 500 degrees Fahrenheit may break down the coating and cause it to release toxic chemicals, according to America's Test Kitchen

Safety isn't the only reason to avoid overheating your non-stick pans. When you need to use your broiler, your traditional cast iron or stainless steel pans may be your best bet. 

Baked, not broiled

Some non-stick pans are oven-safe, while others are not. Be sure to check the manufacturer's instructions to know which kind you have. Teflon or other PTFE coatings may break down if used at temperatures of 500 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Good Housekeeping reports PTFE coated pans are safe to use as long as you don't overheat them and they don't have scratches or other signs of damage. Preventing damage to the non-stick coating is also why many recommend using silicone spatulas or wooden spoons rather than metal cooking utensils.

Even if the pan is oven-safe, that may be for baking not for broiling. As Calphalon, a popular non-stick cookware brand, states, "Nonstick cookware cannot tolerate broiler temperatures." It explains that the heat damages or destroys the pan's finish and will "void the Warranty." As it turns out, both your safety and the life of your non-stick pans rely on avoiding damage from the broiler's heat. While we are on the subject, for similar reasons, avoid putting your non-stick pan in the dishwasher.