What Utensils Should You Use with Non-Stick Cookware?

Published on 02/25/2024 · 10 min readProtect your non-stick cookware! Learn what utensils to use to prevent scratches and extend the lifespan of your non-stick pots and pans!
Charlene F, Kitchen Expert
By Kitchen Expert Charlene F

Photo by Dada Designs

Tl;dr: Choosing the right utensils for your nonstick cookware is crucial to making it last longer. After damaging a non-stick pan with a metal spatula, I learned the importance of using the right utensils — like silicone, wood, or nylon — to avoid scratches. Still, each material type, from nylon to wood, offers unique pros and cons, affecting durability, maintenance, and suitability for different cooking tasks. Above all, avoid metal utensils because of their potential for damage.

When I got my first apartment, I was given a set of nonstick pans. I was a newbie cook, and up till then, all the cooking utensils I’d used in my mother’s kitchen were of the stainless steel kind, with maybe an odd wooden spoon when we were cooking a sauce. Naturally, all I had with me was a stainless steel spatula, nicked from my mom’s utensil crock on the day of the move, so that’s what I used to cook my first sunny-side egg — on a non-stick fry pan. I don’t need to tell you what happened next. Let’s just say I had to replace that pan almost immediately, and I bought a couple of silicon utensils to cook with.

My experience was one of many lessons learned while navigating the world of non-stick cookware. Aside from learning which dishes turned out best in non-stick pans, I also learned that one important way to maintain a slick non-stick surface is choosing the right kitchen tools that won’t scratch or degrade the nonstick coating. I hope that the mistakes I’ve made will be useful for you when choosing the right utensils for your non-stick pan.

What Are Utensils for Non-Stick Cookware?

Photo by Jason-Briscoe

The best utensils for non-stick cookware are made from materials that won't scratch or damage the delicate coating. These include silicone, wood, or nylon utensils.

What makes non-stick cookware so easy to use is its slippery surface, but it takes some care to keep it that way, Using the wrong kitchen utensils like my metal spatula instead of one made of a nonstick-friendly material like nylon, wood, or silicone instantly leads to scratches and nicks, shortening the lifespan of the non-stick cookware. And while you can fix minor scratches on non-stick coatings with some savvy DIY repairs, it’s often more trouble than it’s worth.

Are you putting together your dream kitchen or just looking to invest in some top kitchen utensils that’ll last you for a bit? Reach out to any of the Curated Kitchen Experts. We will make sure you have everything you need to create some magic in your kitchen!

​​What to Consider When Buying Utensils for Non-Stick Cookware

The best utensils for non-stick cookware are those that won’t scratch or damage the delicate coating, but what else should you take into consideration?

What Are the Best Materials for Utensils for Non-Stick Pans?

The safest utensils for non-stick pans are made from silicone, wood, or nylon that won't scratch the surface. Food-grade silicone spatulas are my favorite as they’re heat-resistant, multifunctional, and made of a material that won't produce any hazardous fumes. My next preferred choice is wood as they’re durable and can last a lifetime if properly cared for. Nylon is another great choice as they’re typically light and affordably priced, but I'm always careful not to expose them to high heat conditions as they’re not as heat resistant as silicone or wood.

What Materials to Avoid With Non-Stick Pans

Take it from me, metal is the arch-nemesis of non-stick cookware. Its hard edges and points can easily scratch and chip away at the non-stick coating, which then renders your non-stick cookware unusable. They may look sleek, and their price point is often very attractive, but they’ll damage a non-stick coating.

How Do I Care for Utensils for Non-Stick Cookware?

Most of the utensils used with non-stick cookware are easy enough to clean using warm, soapy water. Silicone utensils can go into the dishwasher, but a heated dry cycle should be avoided as it can damage the silicone. For wooden utensils, it’s best to keep them out of the dishwasher as the high heat can cause cracks. Regular care by oiling with mineral oil also helps to avoid issues like warping or splitting, which can lead to a spoon harboring bacteria. Nylon utensils are generally dishwasher safe, but check the manufacturer's instructions on temperature limitations to avoid degrading.

What Are the Different Types of Utensils for Non-Stick Cookware?

When it comes to non-stick cookware, not all utensils are created equal. The champions of the non-stick realm are those made from materials that are kind to the delicate surface of your pans.

Nylon

Photo by Candice Bell

Dishwasher-safe and budget-friendly, nylon utensils are commonly found in kitchens as they’re practical for everyday use. They’re often sold in sets, which makes them convenient to purchase. While generally non-stick-coating safe, nylon can sometimes scuff the cookware's surface, as it’s harder than silicone or wood. Additionally, it has lower heat resistance and, if left in a pan for an extended period, it could start flaking or melting off. Over time it can also become brittle and prone to cracking.

Pros:

  • Affordable and widely available, especially in sets
  • Reasonably resistant to heat, making them suitable for cooking at moderate temperatures
  • Gentle on non-stick surfaces, reducing the risk of scratches

Cons:

  • Not as heat resistant as silicone, can melt at high temperatures
  • Durability may be an issue with cheaper models, requiring more frequent replacements

Silicone

Photo by Zyabich

Food-grade silicone utensils are exceptionally gentle on non-stick surfaces and can withstand high temperatures. They do tend to be less adept at flipping larger, heavier items because of their flexibility, but for eggs and pancakes, they work like a charm. Their durability and ease of cleaning make them an excellent option for those using non-stick cookware. They’re usually available in a range of colors so you can mix and match to suit.

Pros:

  • High heat-resistant properties, can withstand higher temperatures without melting
  • Soft and flexible, minimizing the risk of scratching non-stick coatings
  • Available in a variety of shapes and vibrant colors to brighten up your kitchen

Cons:

  • A little too flexible for flipping heavy foods
  • Can hold onto odors and colors

Wood

Photo by Viktor1

Often made from beechwood or maple, wooden utensils are an environmentally minded chef’s preferred choice. They bring a natural charm and warmth to any kitchen setup, and while they don’t conduct heat, they do require occasional maintenance, given their porous nature. Their soft, insulating properties make them safe for non-stick surfaces, reducing the risk of damage during cooking tasks. While durable and long lasting with proper care, wooden tools may not be the best for tasks requiring precision, like flipping delicate foods.

Pros:

  • Naturally anti-scratch properties, ideal for preserving the integrity of non-stick coatings
  • Durable and sturdy, offering a comfortable grip and a touch of rustic charm to your kitchen
  • If maintained well, can last a lifetime

Cons:

  • Can harbor bacteria if not properly cared for, especially in cracks and crevices
  • Can hold onto smells and flavors
  • Requires regular oiling (use a mineral oil) to prevent drying

Features to Look Out for When Buying Utensils for Non-Stick Cookware

When choosing utensils for non-stick cookware, it's crucial to consider factors that help to prevent damage and enhance the overall cooking experience.

Material

Choose utensils that are gentle and won't scratch the surface, like silicone, wood, or nylon. Some materials offer more flexibility or strength than others. For instance, nylon excels at flipping delicate foods or stirring sauces. The soft texture of silicone cooking utensils lets you scrape the bottom of a pot without fear of causing scratches, similar to wood utensils, which are also preferred for their non-reactivity to acidic or alkaline ingredients.

Heat Resistance

Ensuring the utensils are heat resistant to your desired cooking temperature is crucial. Who wants to stir a pot of sauce with a utensil where the handle gets hot so quickly you end up having to use kitchen gloves or mitts? For reference, nylon utensils usually withstand heat up to 392°F while silicone can withstand up to 428˚F. Wood does not conduct heat, so any utensil with a wood handle will stay cool regardless of what you’re cooking.

Price

Utensils are kitchen items that will need replacing now and then, so choosing one that suits your price range is important. Wooden spoons, while aesthetically pleasing, tend to cost a bit more but last longer provided they are maintained well. Nylon utensils are often a great bargain, but they’re more sensitive to heat. Silicone offers a little of everything: it can be cost efficient, it’s very durable, and it’s easy to maintain, so it can typically last, provided you don’t absentmindedly leave it on a hot surface for a prolonged period.

How to Choose the Right Utensils for Your Non-Stick Cookware

Photo by Kevin Mccutcheon

Deciding which utensils to buy boils down to what suits your kitchen and types of cookware best. Here are a few scenarios to help you decide and some recommended products.

Kate: Working Parent Who Prepares Dinner Nightly

Kate juggles a full-time job and parenting. She needs utensils that are durable, easy to clean, and safe for her non-stick cookware. She prefers utensils that can go into the dishwasher and doesn’t mind paying more for utensils that add color to her countertop.

Features to Look For:

  • Aesthetically pleasing designs
  • Utensils that do double duty
  • Silicone utensils that withstand high temperatures.

Recommended Products: Le Creuset Craft Series Utensil Set With Crock, Jeanne Fitz Nylon Measuring Scoop Colander

Liam: Bachelor Who Likes To Host Dinner Parties

Liam likes to cook for himself and friends and prefers high-quality, versatile utensils that won't damage his gourmet non-stick pans as he experiments with new recipes. He likes to invest in products that are durable and prioritizes good-quality materials and clever designs.

Features to Look For:

  • Clever and modern designs
  • Dishwasher-safe utensils
  • Ergonomic handles for easy grip

Recommended Products: Joseph Joseph Nest Plus Kitchen Utensil Set, Misen Silicone Tongs

Grace: Eco-Conscious Chef Looking to Invest in Her Kitchen

Grace prefers sustainable, eco-friendly kitchen tools. She prefers utensils made from natural materials like wood that are compatible with her non-stick cookware, emphasizing minimal environmental impact and longevity.

Features to Look For:

  • High-quality wood utensils that are durable
  • Long handles for easy stirring
  • Clever designs that do double duty

Recommended Products: Anolon Teak Wood Tool Set, Jeanne Fitz Everyday Multifunction Kitchen Tool Set

Find the Best Utensils for Non-Stick Cookware for You

The secret to a long-lasting non-stick pan lies in many factors, but the careful selection of utensils is essential to ensure their longevity. Silicone utensils for great for their heat resistance and non-abrasive nature, wooden utensils for their classic look and gentleness on nonstick surfaces, and nylon as an affordable and lightweight option. By choosing the right tools and steering clear of damaging materials, you can help ensure that your non-stick cookware continues to provide effortless cooking and easy cleanup for years to come.

Are you putting together your dream kitchen or just looking to invest in some top kitchen utensils that’ll last? Reach out to any of the Curated Kitchen Experts for free advice. We will make sure you have everything you need to create some magic in your kitchen!

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