Avoid Nonstick Pans When Sautéing Chicken

The secret to delicious chicken recipes is to get a deep brown color on both the meat and in your pan. Browning happens best in a hot pan on high heat, and that means you should not reach for your nonstick pan! Nonstick pans are best used at medium heat or lower to preserve the slick coating. Browning chicken in a very hot nonstick pan can not only ruin the pan surface over time but could also release harmful chemicals in the air as the surface breaks down.

The two most common types of nonstick surfaces are synthetic and ceramic. Synthetic coatings can degrade and become less slippery when exposed to heat over 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Hard to believe, but your electric stove burners on high can actually reach 1000 degrees, and gas flames are even hotter. Pans continue to heat up when left on a burner, which could lead to significant damage to the coating. Ceramic nonstick pan surfaces can develop micro-cracks when used on high heat, creating areas where food will stick rather than glide across the pan.

Pick the right pan for the job

Choose a cast iron or stainless steel pan for sautéing chicken instead. Well-cared-for cast iron is naturally nonstick due to the carbonization of the pan's metal surface. However, both metals hold up well to the high heat required for browning. If your recipe calls for deglazing the pan with an acidic liquid like lemon juice, use a stainless steel pan. Acid is not a friend to cast iron; it can pit the surface and transfer a metallic taste to the sauce. Both pans will allow you to brown chicken recipes perfectly on the stovetop and transfer them to the oven for finishing with no worries of ruining the pan surface.

Save your nonstick pan for recipes that benefit from cooking at lower heat like scrambled eggs, pancakes, thin fish filets, or meat cutlets that don't require browning. Your pan will thank you with a longer lifespan, and you'll have more flavorful chicken cooked in the right pan every time.