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Never Use This Kind of Oil in a Nonstick Pan — Here’s Why

Here's what to use instead!


I love a good nonstick pan. There’s nothing more wonderful than cooking up my favorite meal and letting it slide out of the pan and onto my plate — no scrubbing required. But I can never seem to get those pans to last. Over time, food just starts to stick to the surface. And the more I have to scrub, the more likely I am to ruin the non-stick coating. Thankfully, I finally found out why: The culprit was my cooking spray. 

Why do PAM and other cooking sprays ruin nonstick pans? 

Most cooking sprays, like PAM, damage the coating of a nonstick pan. That’s because they usually contain an emulsifier like lecithin, which adheres to the nonstick surface. It’s not easy to remove emulsifiers with soap and water, so they start to build up on the pan. Eventually, the buildup degrades the surface and leaves your nonstick pan, well, sticky.  

If you want to cook with some type of fat, a swirl of olive oil or a pat of butter is a much better option than a cooking spray. If you love getting an even coating of oil on the pan, however, there are some cooking sprays that won’t damage your nonstick cookware.

Sprays That Are Safe to Use in Nonstick Pans 

Some cooking sprays don’t contain emulsifying agents, which makes them nonstick friendly. To protect your pan even further, we suggest opting for sprays that don’t even contain propellant or preservatives. Our top picks include:  

  • Chosen Foods Avocado Oil Spray (Buy from Amazon, $10.99). Available in many grocery stores, this avocado oil spray works like a charm in all my pans. It doesn’t spray as well as a traditional cooking spray, but considering that the only ingredient is avocado oil, I’ll take it.  
  • Pompeian Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil Spray (Buy from Amazon, $3.34). This cooking spray uses only compressed air to create a powerful stream of oil — in fact, olive oil is the only ingredient. The price is right, and reviewers love using it in their air fryers.
  • Mantova Grapeseed Oil Spray (Buy from Amazon, $11.99). Like the avocado oil spray, this grapeseed oil spray can withstand higher temperatures. It contains no added preservatives or propellants, either.  

Just remember: While your oil spray may withstand higher temperatures, your nonstick pan might not. Nonstick cookware isn’t designed for high heat, and soaring temperatures could easily damage the coating and even release harmful toxins. If you use the right products, cook on low to medium high heat, and gently wash your pan after use, your pan will be in great condition for a long time to come. 

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