We tested nine non-stick frying pans just in time for Pancake Day 2021 so we know for a fact it's not just your signature pancake recipe that's going to guarantee success come 16 February.
Our tests uncovered which frying pans didn't cook as evenly as others, which ones food stuck to, which had the least resilient non-stick coatings and which were easiest and hardest to clean once covered with burnt-on fat.
You might imagine that all non-stick coatings are created pretty much equal. But we discovered a vast difference in how much food stuck to our frying pans or not during cooking.
To test for this we put the non-stick coating to the ultimate test by cooking fried eggs in each frying pan without oil.
Our eggs slid right onto the plate from the best pans, leaving almost no mess. The worst left us with a big, dirty patch of egg residue like the chalk outline at a crime scene. In fact, we were forced to scramble our fried eggs to remove them from the worst pan in our selection.
With the best non-stick pans you can make your pancakes that little bit healthier by using a little less oil. That being said, even with the best non-stick frying pans we recommend you grease the pan to ensure your pan's surface survives to fry another day.
The best frying pans at cooking evenly will leave you with a uniform leopard-like pattern on the underside of your pancake. You should see even golden-brown coloured spots across the whole pancake.
Frying pans that cook less evenly leave undercooked areas on the pancake.
Once you've cooked with and cleaned your pan, you need to store it correctly to protect that prized non-stick surface.
Our tests revealed that most of the non-stick pans we reviewed were easily damaged when stored under other cookware.
If you can't pop yours at the top of your pan pile, use an old tea towel or a few sheets of kitchen roll to protect the non-stick surface from the heavy bottoms of the pan above.
To find out how resilient the non-stick coating on each frying pan we reviewed is, we subjected them all to a three-part scratch test:
We recorded the results of each of these three tests and ranked the frying pans from least to most scratched. The least scratched pans were ranked higher.
The difference between the best and worst is stark. The surfaces of the most resilient frying pans showed no noticeable damage to the naked eye, while the worst have big chunks torn out.
Also, never use metal utensils on your non-stick frying pans. Stick to wooden or silicone utensils, which won't dig into the pan's non-stick coating.