The Real Reason You Should Never Use Metal Utensils On Nonstick Pans

Nonstick pans are a great tool for the home cook. Easy to use, they're the perfect pans for cooking the fluffiest pancakes and omelets and having them slide effortlessly onto your plate intact — and all without making a huge mess. Not only are nonstick pans easy to cook on, they are also a breeze to clean. They also require a lot less oil and butter when cooking than other types of pans, which make them ideal for healthier cooking and eating.

Despite their relative ease of use, there are still right and wrong ways to use nonstick pans. And like nearly all pans, nonstick pans do also require a certain level of care to ensure their optimal use and longevity. One of the top rules of using non-stick pans you probably already know, and that is to never use metal utensils on them. But why is that such a bad thing? Is it really that big a deal to use the occasional metal fork to stir, or that metal spatula to flip, the food on your nonstick pan? In a word, yes, and here's why.

Metal utensils will scratch the coating on nonstick pans

What makes nonstick pans nonstick in the first place is the Teflon coating that creates a nonreactive and nearly frictionless surface for cooking, explains Healthline. Metal utensils, including spatulas, tongs, whisks, spoons, forks, and knives, have sharp edges, which can scratch or chip that nonstick surface, warns Eat This, Not That!. Not only might small fragments of the coating end up in your food, but the nonstick coating gets destroyed over time, and food will start getting stuck on the pan, which defeats the whole point of cooking with a nonstick pan.

Once the nonstick coating on the pan has been compromised, you shouldn't continue to use the pan and should replace it instead, recommends Food & Wine, which also cautions against using the dishwasher, steel wool, or anything abrasive, to clean your nonstick pans. Instead, you should be hand washing your nonstick pans, using a soft sponge or plastic scourers, explains The Spruce Eats. For cooking, always use wooden, plastic, or silicone utensils with your nonstick pans. With proper use, cleaning, and care, those nonstick pans should last you up to 5 years.