What’s The Best Cooking Oil & Can I Use Oil On Nonstick Pans?

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Can you use oil on nonstick pans? This is a question I see often, followed by “what’s the best cooking oil to use”. Here are my tips on this. I cover how best to cook with nonstick, some best oils for cooking + their smoke points, and some frequently asked questions.

best cooking oil for nonstick

I’ve compiled the below information from my own experience and from researching product descriptions and user claims. Here’s what I’ve found.

Can I use oil in a nonstick pan? Yes, you sure can use oil in a nonstick pan much like any other cookware, but certain oils or oil sprays may ruin the pan’s “non-stickyness”. I cover why (and more) below.

Nonstick frying pan: no oil or fat

Let’s start with knowing how best to cook in nonstick pans without oil or fat.

Some manufacturers market their product as ‘nonstick pan no oil needed’. If you choose to cook without oil in a frying pan that doesn’t need oil, here is how to get the best cooking results.

  1. Pre-heat the pan before cooking: This will maximize the nonstick performance of the pan.

    To preheat the pan, place the pan on low or medium settings for a few minutes to heat it sufficiently before adding the food.

    Never overheat and don’t use very high heat with nonstick cookwareas you risk warping the pan or damaging the surface.
  2. Cooking one side until the proteins set: When cooking meats, eggs, or halloumi (or other protein foods) allow the food to cook slightly (like a minute or two – you’ll know because it easily comes away) before trying to flip or move the food around the pan.

    This is because food becomes 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 why in my article on how to care for this type of cookware.

Now onto using oil in nonstick pans and what is that best oil to use…

Nonstick frying pan: using oil / butter

Using a minimal amount of oil or fat is fine with non stick cookware.

Much less oil is recommended than with other cookware. So, try reducing the amount of oil given in the recipe, and then adding more if needed. I only ever use a smidgen to start with!

Why you’d be using oil or butter in nonstick pans? Here are some reasons:

  • The recipe says to use it in the cooking process
  • Adds your prefered flavor
  • Helps cook the food through
  • Fries the food, adding a brown crisp edge

Cooking with oil or butter helps heat the food and cook parts that aren’t in contact with the pan surface.

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

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

What oil to use on non stick pan & what not to use

What oil is best to use on your non stick pan? Can you use vegetable oil with non stick cookware? Yes, vegetable oils such as olive oil and canola oil are popular choices when using nonstick cookware. Other popular ones are grapeseed oil, coconut oil, and sunflower oil.

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.

Why sprays are not the best oil for non stick pans: There’s much advice out there on avoiding cooking oil sprays when using non stick pans. I’m talking about the spray aerosol type (vs the pump-action bottle type). This is because with continued use, the fine oil droplets in the aerosol tend to form a polymer layer that interferes with the surface stickiness of the pan.

Again, check the manufacturer’s instructions.

Smoke point of oils & fats

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.

It’s helpful to know the smoke point of oils you intend using so that you have the best choice for the cooking style needed and you also want to avoid harming the surface of your pans with deposits of black carbon or a varnish-like coating.

list of cooking oils and their smoke points, Best oils to use when cooking
Source: Complete Guide to Cooking Oils & Smoke Points1

Burning or overheating of an oil ruins the goodness of the food you are cooking. The heating of oils above their smoke point also creates harmful free radicals.

So, it’s a good idea to get an overall view of the smoke point of oils that are used in cooking as this pertains to health as well as caring for your pans. The list given here is a guide only. The oils can vary from brands to brands.

When frying with very high heat, which you can with cast-iron pans, for example, you need to look for oils with high smoke points, such as avocado oil, which has one of the highest smoke points.

BetterBody Foods Refined Non-GMO Cooking Avocado Oil for Paleo and Keto, 1 Liter, 33.8 Fl Oz
Get non-GMO cooking avocado oil online
— at Amazon.

About ‘healthy oils’

I mentioned the health benefits of olive oil earlier, but, coconut oil and avocado oil are also considered healthy choices. Coconut oil has 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.

Avocado oil on the other hand has a very high smoke point and so is a healthy option to use at very high temperatures in cooking. Avocado oil is an excellent source of lutein and considered a “heart-healthy oil, high in oleic acid”.2

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. 


Can You Use Olive Oil On Ceramic Pans?

Olive oil is a source of bioavailable phenolic compounds that science tells us 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?

No. Olive oil does not ruin nonstick pans. Whether it will ruin non stick pans or not most likely relates to the heat settings when cooking. Avoid using high heat when using olive oil and nonstick pans.

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.

Olive oil is considered a viable cooking option to use with nonstick pans.

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

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).

Final thoughts

My main recommendation with nonstick pans is to avoid the aerosol sprays. Non stick bakeware shouldn’t need greasing. If it does, maybe look to replace your pans. I cover some good brands in my article on ceramic bakeware. Otherwise, try using parchment paper suited for baking to line the bakeware to give you that same “nonstick-ness” …

Hiware 200-Piece Parchment Paper Baking Sheets 12 x 16 Inch, Precut Non-Stick Parchment Sheets for Baking, Cooking, Grilling, Air Fryer and Steaming - Unbleached, Fit for Half Sheet Pans
Get precut non-stick parchment sheets for baking, online
— at Amazon.

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

Info sources

  1. Anova Culinary Complete Guide To Cooking Oils And Smoke Points accessed 6 Jan 2020.
  2. Avocado Oil: Is It Good for You? WebMD accessed 29 Mar 2021.
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