Cooking Spray May Be Sneakily Ruining Your Nonstick Pans


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There seems to be a slew of rules to follow in the world of nonstick cookware, from avoiding metal utensils to never using it with your oven’s broiler setting. Still, when it comes to protecting your nonstick pans from wear and tear, we have one more tip to add that you’ll certainly want to follow.

There’s no question that nonstick cooking sprays save time in the kitchen. But despite being safe to use on most cookware, cooking sprays such as Pam can eventually damage nonstick finishes.

Nonstick surfaces are adversely affected by the emulsifier in cooking spray called lecithin. Lecithin serves as a barrier between the heated surface and the food being heated. Over time, it forms a sticky buildup on nonstick surfaces that is difficult to remove. After a while, this film can cause the pan’s nonstick properties to suffer, making it nearly impossible to cook with ease. 

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In order to extend the life of your nonstick cookware, it’s best to skip cooking spray altogether. But what are the alternatives? And are they just as effective for preventing food from sticking to the pan?

Cooking Spray Alternatives

Replacing your cooking spray with pure cooking oils such as olive oil or butter will not only enhance the taste of your dish but will also extend the life of your nonstick cookware. 

If you want to limit your calories or simply reduce waste, choose a refillable oil mister. These oil spritzers are useful not only for nonstick pans but also many other cooking tools such as air fryers and Instant Pots. And for salad lovers, they’re a convenient way to add your favorite light dressing.

Aside from foregoing cooking sprays and opting for gentler alternatives, there are other ways to maintain the integrity of your nonstick pans:

  1. Season your pan! Similar to cast iron, you can add a little oil to a warmed pan which should aid with flavor and help with its nonstick properties.
  2. Avoid the dishwasher. Dishwashing detergent is generally harsher than normal dish soap, so it could potentially ruin the finish over time.
  3. Don’t preheat an empty pan. If your nonstick pan is made from polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), that chemical can break down and release potentially harmful fumes if heated above 500°F. Adding a little butter or olive oil can help give you a visual cue the pan is hot and ready to go before it hits that level.

By avoiding cooking spray and keeping these rules in mind, your nonstick pans will look and function better for much longer.

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