Let's Talk About Everyday Pans
(Whether You're Oil-Free Or Not)

So one day I woke up and realized I was not using oil to sauté or fry my food anymore. Here I'll teach you about the pans (and pots) I use in my kitchen - including the non stick pan I use - and why. I've even included a handy dandy chart with pros and cons about the various types of pans out there.

When you begin researching which pan to use (for sautéing and frying) your head will start swimming and you'll hear many different points of view.

What I'm about to share is from personal experience, per usual!

Now, the goal is not to name a particular brand of pan (although I WILL tell you what I personally use because most people want to know).

My main goal is to tell you what type of pan to look for to do the job you need to do.

Because the last thing you want is to spend a boatload of money on pans that simply will NOT give you the results you're after. ESPECIALLY if you're 100% vegan. And DOUBLE-ESPECIALLY if you don't use oil!

That's because there is a dark little secret that you don't hear about very often...

SOME vegan foods require a non-stick surface especially if you avoid oil. Period. Exclamation point!

I thought it might help you to learn the results of my years of trial and error. Here are the four major types of pans you can find out there, pros and cons, and other things to know to help with your decision.

Types of Sauté and Frying Pans Super-Sleuth Investigation
Non-Stick Pros: No oil needed. Perfect for making high-protein foods that stick, like scrambled tofu, veggie burgers, and tempeh patties.
Cons: As these pans age, they begin to chip and flake and must be tossed -- good for a couple of years before you must buy a new one (depending on usage);
Things to know: Never, ever use metal utensils. Never use aerosol spray oils;
Warnings: Never scrub with steel pads like Brillo or you'll ruin the finish. You can scrub with nylon pad and a little dish soap.
Ceramic-Coated Pros: No oil needed for cooking veggies perfectly;
Cons: Whether using oil or not, you cannot make high-protein foods in it or they will stick -- maybe not at first, but eventually!
Things to know: Never use metal utensils. Never turn heat up to over the Medium mark. Never use aerosol spray oils;
Warnings: Never scrub with steel pads like Brillo or you'll ruin the finish. You can scrub with nylon pad and a little dish soap.
Stainless Steel Pros: Higher heats can be used. Last for years if you take care of them;
Cons: It's difficult to learn how to cook things so they don't stick -- even WITH oil, although I don't recommend using oil in a high-heat pan (be sure to see my stainless steel pan experience below);
Things to know: You can use metal utensils. You can scrub with metallic pads like Brillo;
Warnings: None.
Cast Iron Pros: Can last a lifetime once well-seasoned. Can also go into the oven;
Cons: Suuuuuper heavy;
Things to know: Once seasoned, you don't scrub them again -- unless you want to start over with the seasoning process;
Warnings: Using cast iron transmits iron into your food. Must use oil to season it -- if you're oil-free, this won't work for you.

So with all that out of the way here's what I, personally, use in my own kitchen and have for years now and they all look great with very little wear and tear:

My Non-Stick Pan

I have one extra-special non-stick pan that I use to make ANY high-protein foods like scrambled tofu or pancakes. I promise you, if you try to make these foods in any other type of pan you will pull all of your hair out of your head because your attempts at removing them from the pan will fail!

Some people shy away from non-stick pans because of the fear of adding chemicals to their food. This was and still is a valid concern when it comes to a chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) which has been contaminating food since the 1950s as it liquifies/gasifies and is absorbed into food (and air) and can cause health problems. AVOID products that contain PFOA!

These extra-special pans are not made with PFOA, but are made by a process called anodization that changes the structure of aluminum, making it safe to use. Anodization creates a surface that heats up evenly and quickly, is sturdy like steel, handles extremely high temps, is easy to clean, and easy to cook with.

While I don't use or recommend using metal untensils in it, many chefs claim it is supposed to easily handle them without chipping. I don't recommend scrubbing it with steel wool; a good scrubby sponge will do the job.

I recently purchased a brand new pan exactly like my old one (because we celebrated it's 3rd birthday). It had not started chipping AT ALL, but it was just looking sort of stained and sad and the non-stick-ability had started to wear off. Still, it did its duty for a long time because I follow my own rules and don't use anything metallic in it, I never scrub it with stainless steel, and I never put it in the dishwasher (but then again, you really shouldn't put ANY pans in the dishwasher).

My Stainless Steel Pots and Pans

For all my other stovetop cooking needs, I use these amazingly efficient and professional stainless-steel pots and pans. They can be used with gas, electric, or even induction cooktops - so no matter which kitchen your life leads you to, your pans will be ready to go.

Now, I'm the type of person that never subscribed to purchasing "sets" of cookware. Nothing ever matched because I would always just pick and choose the pots and pans I needed at any given time.

But there's something extremely special about having an entire set of beautiful matchy-matchy cookware. I feel so grown-up.    ;)

They're my most beautiful favoritest pots and pans EV-ER. Not only do they look gorgeous, but because they're made with high quality stainless they'll last a long time.

As you might know, stainless steel is NOT an efficient heat conductor. Aluminum is a very good heat conductor.

Of course, we don't want aluminum touching our food do we? No!

So one common cookware structure is to have one aluminum layer sandwiched between 2 stainless steel layers. The aluminum helps the pans achieve even heating while the stainless steel keeps the aluminum from touching the food. The thicker the aluminum layer, the easier it is to heat evenly.

In these pots and pans, the aluminum layer (surrounded by the stainless) is three times thicker than most pots/pans you'll find out there. This ensures that it will heat very evenly, even on an induction cook top which is notorious for creating hotspots. In addition, they use Whole Clad bonding for this process instead of an encapsulated base construction which extends the life of the cookware.

I am now using these nearly exclusively.

I LOVE my stainless pots and pans! (woop woop!) I use and highly recommend Barkeeper's Friend to keep them sparkling.

But I gotta tell you, they are NOT really appropriate for cooking high-protein foods.

Now, you might hear that you can make stainless steel act like a non-stick pan by turning the heat on the pan up to VERY high heat, then after a few minutes flick some water onto the surface of the pan (or pot) and when the beads of water dance quickly across the pan, turn the heat down a little and add your oil...

Only it doesn't work. The food still sticks. PLUS you're using oil in a very hot pan which is so super unhealthy!

So instead, I use my gorgeous stainless steel pots and pans with veggie broth or water for sautéing or cooking of just about everything (except my pressure-cooked food). And whenever I need to "fry" something that is protein-packed, I pull out my trusty non-stick -- and because I use it less often and take good care of it, it has lasted me a VERY long time.

Hope this helps. And thanks for visiting.    :)

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