Best Cooking Oils & Can I Use Oil On Nonstick? [+ PDF table]

CRYSTAL H.  |   |   Updated
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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.

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.

best cooking oils for nonstick
Do you use oil in a ceramic pan or bakeware – what is the best oil to use?

I compiled the following from my own experience and manufacturer and user claims. It answers some frequently asked questions and contains some useful cooking tips.

If you’re looking for info on air frying I explain what’s best in my article solving questions around using oil in air fryers.

Cooking without oil in cookware that’s Nonstick

Do you need to put oil in a nonstick pan? It depends. Some manufacturers market their product as ‘nonstick pan no oil needed‘. You can choose to cook without oil in a frying pan that doesn’t need oil and the following is how to get the best results…

How to use a non stick pan – no oil

  1. Pre-heat pan: Place the pan on low or medium settings for a few minutes to heat it sufficiently before adding the food.

    This will maximize the nonstick properties of the pan.

    Never overheat and don’t use very high heat with nonstick cookware as you risk warping the pan or damaging the surface.
  2. Cook 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…

Can you put oil on a non stick pan?

In answer to putting oil in a non stick pan or ‘do I need to use oil on a non stick pan‘, for the most part, yes, it’s acceptable. Using a minimal amount of oil or even more works fine with non stick cookware.

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

  • The recipe says to use it
  • You prefer it for 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. If it says specifically to avoid extra virgin olive oil then it makes sense to not use extra virgin olive oil when cooking. 

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

Can you use vegetable oil with non stick cookware? Yes, vegetable oils such as light olive oil and canola oil are popular choices when using nonstick cookware. Other ones are grapeseed oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, and sunflower oil. But, use them in view of their smoke points.

What oil is best to use on your non stick pan? My preference is avocado oil. I write about avocado oil below. But, at the end of the day, my take is it’s down to personal preference. There are some to avoid, however, and I mention them below.

Cooking spray on ceramic pans that are nonstick

This is one to avoid. 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).

Why sprays are not the best oil for non stick pans: 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.

Using olive oil on non stick 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 (avoid) vegetable oils with soy that will lessen the nonstick life.

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.

Light olive oil is a viable cooking option with nonstick pans.

Regarding extra virgin olive oil, especially if you have a design from GreenPan

The GreenPan olive oil advice is to avoid extra virgin olive oil:

“We always recommend using a little bit of oil or butter when using your GreenPan. It’s good to note that Extra Virgin Olive Oil and oil sprays carbonize very quickly when the pan is heated and should be avoided when cooking with ceramic non-stick.
P.S. no need to season your pan!” ~ GreenPan care and use instructions

Here’s the deal…avoid overheating any cooking oil; it will leave a varnish-like coating on the cookware and with nonstick cookware, such a coating would certainly reduce its performance.

Coconut oil

Coconut oil is a healthy choice with polyphenolic properties that supposedly protect us from inflammation and heart disease. 

Like with extra virgin olive oil, while virgin coconut oil is considered a healthy choice, you need to watch you are not using high heat settings, because of its smoke point.

Is avocado oil nonstick cookware safe?

Avocado oil 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 I’ve had no problems in using it with ceramic nonstick.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Downloadable: Best cooking oils and their smoking points

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.

As you’ll see on my list, avocado oil has the highest smoke point of the many popular cooking oils you’re likely to buy.

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

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.

© original article created: 2018-11-05