Using Oil in a Nonstick Pan or Bakeware

Do you need to put oil in a nonstick pan or bakeware? Or butter? Some manufacturers advise using a small amount of oil others say no oil. What is the best? Here we look at some of the myths and more about using oil with nonstick cookware and bakeware.

nonstick cooking oils

Using Oil In Nonstick Cookware

Do you need to put oil in a nonstick pan? Theoretically, no. Most manufacturers will claim their product provides fat-free cooking.

If you choose to cook without oil (in these no oil frying pans), maximize the nonstick performance by preheating the pan on low to medium heat (never use high heat with nonstick cookware) before adding the food.

When cooking meats, eggs, or halloumi (or other protein foods) allow the food to cook slightly (like a minute or two) before trying to flip or move the food around the pan.

The food will be less ‘sticky’ after the proteins coagulate (or set) from that bit of time given to the cooking process.

Tip: never use metal utensils on nonstick ware – I explain this in my article on how to care for ceramic nonstick cookware.

Cooking With Oil Or Butter

While all of the above is true, many recipes involve using oil in the cooking process. And…you may want to use oil or butter to add flavor.

So, to the bit about cooking with oil or butter…

Why use oil or butter? Apart from adding flavor, another main reason is that cooking with oil or butter helps heat the food and cook parts that aren’t in contact with the pan surface.

Cooking with oil helps with frying the food rather than burning it. And some people like to add butter to certain recipes for the flavor it adds.

But…Can you use vegetable oil with non stick cookware? You can add vegetable oil when using nonstick cookware. Vegetable oils such as olive oil and canola oil are popular choices.

Much less oil is required, however, when using nonstick pans than with other cookware, usually. Just modify the amount of oil stated in the recipe, starting with less and adding more if needed. 

The disclaimer here is to check the manufacturer’s instructions for the specifics regarding your appliance. You may want to do this for warranty reasons.

What Oil to Use on  Non Stick Pan

ceramic cookware care, best cooking oil to use, healthiest cooking oil
Choose a healthy cooking oil suited to low to medium heat settings

There is much advice out there on avoiding cooking oil sprays. Why? The reason given is that the fine aerosols falling onto the pan form a polymer layer and over time this layer harms the nonstick performance.

Again, check the manufacturer’s instructions.

But, the most popular options in cooking oil or fats for nonstick cookware and bakeware are olive oil, canola oil, grapeseed oil, coconut oil, sunflower oil, and butter.

Using Olive Oil With Non Stick Pan

Olive oil is a source of bioavailable phenolic compounds that can protect us from chronic diseases. So it makes sense that people choose olive oil in cooking.

Best Olive Oil For Cooking

What is the best olive oil for cooking? Cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil is the best as a healthy choice to use in cooking as it is high in omega 9 fatty acids, which are good for your heart and reducing inflammation. Being cold pressed means chemicals are not used in the extraction process.

Some people, however, may choose extra light olive oil as the best because it has a neutral flavor.

Does Olive Oil Ruin Non Stick Pans?

Olive oil is considered a viable cooking option to use with nonstick pans. Whether it will ruin non stick pans or not? most likely relates to the heat settings when cooking.

More often I’ve seen olive oil recommended for use with nonstick pans. Some users claim that olive oil extends the life of a nonstick pan but warn to steer away from vegetable oils with soy that will lessen the nonstick life.

This is the thing…Using excessive heat with any oil can leave a varnish-like coating on the cookware and with nonstick cookware, such a coating would certainly reduce its performance.

How To Use Olive Oil With Non Stick Pan

In this regard, extra virgin olive oil is best used at low to medium heat settings. The smoking point is 331°F, so extra virgin olive oil is fine to use in the normal heating of nonstick pans of low-to-medium heat (never higher).

See the table below for the smoke point of other oils.

What is the smoke point of oils? The temperature at which the oil stops shimmering and starts smoking is the smoke point of that oil. So if the oil starts ‘smoking’ you know your stovetop heat setting is too high.

Using a minimal amount of the oil is best with non stick cookware.

Again, you should always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. This will cover you for warranty claims. If it says specifically to avoid olive oil then it makes sense to not use olive oil when cooking. 

Smoke Point Of Oils

You should consider the smoke point of oils that you intend using so as to avoid harming the surface of your pans with deposits of black carbon or a varnish-like coating.

It also helps to avoid destroying the goodness of the food. So, the smoke point of oils is an important factor to consider for health reasons as well as caring for your pans.

Cooking Oils and Smoke Points

Olive Oil, Extra Virgin331166
Butter, unsalted & salted350176
Coconut Oil350176
Canola Oil400205
Sunflower Oil, refined450232
Peanut Oil459232
Olive Oil, Extra Light465240
Grapeseed Oil485252
Rice Bran Oil490260

When cooking with high heat, which you can with cast-iron pans, for example, you need to look for oils with high smoke points.

About ‘Healthy Oils’

I mentioned the health benefits of olive oil earlier, but, coconut oil is also considered a healthy choice because of its polyphenolic properties that purportedly play a role in protecting us from inflammation and heart disease. 

While extra virgin olive oil and virgin coconut oil are considered healthy choices, you need to watch you are not using high heat settings, since their smoke points mean they are not suitable for this temperature range.

Greasing Nonstick Bakeware

Do you have to grease non stick baking pans? No, you don’t need to grease non stick baking pans. Basically, the same applies to nonstick bakeware as it does to nonstick cookware. That’s the whole reason for buying them, right!

However, check with the manufacturer’s directions. 

And, never use a knife to slice that loaf in the baking pan (always remove the cake or loaf from the pan before cutting). Using metal utensils like this will damage the surface and the nonstick performance of the pans. 

Final Thoughts

The main recommendation with nonstick pans is to avoid the nonstick sprays and stick with the low to medium heat settings. Non stick bakeware should not need greasing. If it does, it might be time to use baking paper to line it or look for a replacement. Check out my article on ceramic bakeware.

And, just to reiterate, follow the manufacturer’s instructions. 

Crystal Hodge

Hi, This is Crystal Hodge, a believer in healthy eating starting with the cooking. I'm a seaside-loving mom from the east coast and I love helping people make informed choices about healthy cookware. I'm a wholesome living wannabe. All I wanna do is: Live. Love. Cook. Healthily!

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