There's been a lot of buzz about titanium cookware in the past few years. But what exactly is titanium cookware?
Turns out, "titanium cookware" can mean several completely different things (click on the links to see examples on Amazon):
- It can be camping cookware--prized for its lightness, but not good for daily cookware.
- It can be clad stainless cookware with a titanium cooking surface (rather than a 18/10 stainless), great for people with a nickel sensitivity. (Titanium contains no nickel.)
- It can be nonstick cookware with a titanium reinforced cooking surface.
- It can be cookware with the external surface reinforced with titanium for extra strength.
- It can be marketing jargon meaning "durable" without any actual titanium in the cookware (I think this cookware fits in this category, but sometimes it's hard to tell).
- It can refer to the color of the cookware.
This article is about nonstick cookware with a titanium-reinforced cooking surface: What it is, what makes it different from other nonstick cookware, and the best nonstick titanium cookware to buy. In fact, this article is about nonstick skillets, because that is really the only type of nonstick cookware that anyone needs.
In this article, "titanium cookware" refers to nonstick cookware with a titanium reinforced cooking surface.
The Best Titanium Cookware at a Glance
You may already know that we are not fans of nonstick cookware in general. However, we do think most kitchens benefit from having one or two nonstick skillets. They're good for eggs, fish, and other delicate foods known to stick (if you've ever made candied pecans or caramel sauce, you'll know just what a lifesaver that nonstick pan is!). And if you take proper care of the pan, the nonstick surface can last for up to several years; this is particularly true for PTFE nonstick that's been reinforced with titanium or other materials (the other common reinforcement material is industrial diamond particles, as with the Swiss Diamond skillets--which are also pretty good quality).
Anyway, here are the TRK favorites, at a glance. Click the link to see them on Amazon. (In the reviews, there are also some other buying options.)
Best Nonstick Titanium at a Glance
-Steel bottom resists warping
-Limited lifetime warranty
You want an inexpensive pan that's induction compatible
-Steel bottom resists warping
-Limited lifetime warranty
You want a big, affordable saute pan with a lid
-Ceramic (Not titanium reinforced)
-Tri-ply clad w/induction-compatible steel
-You prefer ceramic over PTFE
-You want clad stainless performance with nonstick coating
What Is Titanium? (And Why Is It Getting Into All the Cookware?)
Titanium is a lightweight, non-reactive metal. It's as strong as steel and is primarily used as an alloy with other metals such as aluminum and iron. These alloys have been used in the aircraft industry for decades. You can also find them in consumer gear like camping equipment, bicycles, drill bits, golf clubs, and more. Because titanium is somewhat rare, it's expensive, so most consumer products containing titanium alloys are high-end and spendy.
More recently, titanium has become a buzzword in the cookware industry. In its different applications, titanium is prized for all three of its characteristics: its lightness, its non-reactivity, and its strength.
Titanium-reinforced nonstick cookware is more durable than non-reinforced nonstick cookware. It can take more abuse and has a longer life span. Both PTFE nonstick coatings (e.g., Teflon and Teflon copycats) and ceramic nonstick coatings can be enhanced with titanium. titanium cookware
Interestingly, titanium nonstick cookware isn't much more expensive than regular nonstick cookware. In fact, much of it is downright, well, affordable. This is probably because it requires a very small amount of titanium to make nonstick cookware more durable. In fact, "titanium dust" might be a more accurate phrase.
This is only a good thing, as titanium nonstick cookware is within the reach of cooks with every budget.
A Quick Primer on Nonstick Cookware
To understand how titanium enhances nonstick cookware--and also just to understand what is the best nonstick cookware for your needs--you first have to know a little bit about nonstick cookware in general.
There are two types of nonstick cookware, and only two types of nonstick cookware:
- Hydrocarbon-based PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) nonstick, also known as Teflon, has been around for going on 60 years. Teflon is a proprietary name owned by the Dupont company, and today there are several competitors who make similar or identical products, so Teflon is now mostly known as simply PTFE. ("PTFE" is also the more popular term these days because Teflon got a bad rap for its potential health threats. But keep in mind that all nonstick cookware labeled as PTFE, PFOA, or even PFOA-free is Teflon or a Teflon copycat.) You can read more about PTFE here.
- Ceramic nonstick is the new kid on the block and has been around for only about 10 years (since 2007).
Both types can be reinforced with titanium or other materials to enhance durability.
These are the ONLY two categories of true nonstick cookware. There are no others (although cast iron and carbon steel are "nearly nonstick"). So if a manufacturer is vague about what their cookware is made of, then it's probably PTFE.
In fact, the titanium-coated nonstick has become a new way for manufacturers to avoid overt disclosure about whether or not a pan has PTFE in it: people pay attention to the titanium aspect and forget to ask whether the pan is Teflon or ceramic. titanium cookware
If a pan is called "titanium nonstick," it's still either PTFE or ceramic, and most likely PTFE: because PTFE has gotten a bad rap lately, manufacturers sometimes like to bury that information. Calling it "titanium nonstick" is one way they do that.
The only options for nonstick cookware are ceramic, like this Zwilling Spirit skillet...
or PTFE (aka Teflon), like this Woll skillet.
PTFE (aka Teflon)
PTFE is the oldest and best known nonstick cookware coating. PTFE also has many other applications and has been used as a cookware coating since the mid-1950s. PTFE was discovered by accident in a Dupont laboratory; Teflon became its registered trademark. Since the patent expired, many companies make Teflon compounds, but because it's a proprietary name (and also because it's gotten a bad rap of late), it's referred to as PTFE. For all practical purposes, new brands of PTFE are identical, or nearly identical, to Teflon.
PTFE is an inert and nontoxic type of plastic. If ingested, it will pass through a human body unchanged. However, PTFE begins to break down around 500F (some sources say as low as 400-450F) and completely decomposes at 662F (source: Wikipedia). When it breaks down, it gives off fumes that can make humans and other mammals ill, and can kill birds. titanium cookware
Just as concerning, if not more so, is PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid). Because PTFE is extremely slippery, it doesn't adhere easily to the metal (usually aluminum) it's being applied to. So it needs a "glue" to help it stay put. That glue is (PFOA).
Or at least, it used to be used: as of 2015, PFOA has been phased out of PTFE cookware in the US because it's a very, very nasty chemical. It's terrible for the environment (doesn't break down) and not too good for living creatures, either (carcinogenic).
There hasn't been a lot of information released about what's being used in place of PFOA, which could mean it's a similar compound with similar ill effects (not unlike how PTFE has become the new Teflon, although it's basically the same compound). At this point, we don't have enough information to say for sure.
But this is for certain: Just because a cookware is marketed as PFOA-free doesn't mean it's PTFE-free. In fact, if it's marketed as "PFOA free," it's almost certainly PTFE coated, but with a different adhesive. How do we know this? Remember that there are only two categories of nonstick cookware: PTFE and ceramic. If it were ceramic, manufacturers would proclaim so proudly. Instead, they skillfully try to avoid the subject with terms like "PFOA free" and "titanium nonstick surface." titanium cookware
Unless it's ceramic, it's going to contain some type of PTFE- and PFOA-related compounds. Yes: even if it says "PFOA free." Keep this in mind when you're researching nonstick cookware, or you may end up with a product you don't want.
Unless it's ceramic nonstick, skillets are going to contain some type of PTFE-related (and probably PFOA-related) compounds. This is true even if it says "PFOA free." Keep this in mind when you're researching nonstick cookware, or you may end up with a product you don't want.
Ceramic nonstick cookware came on the scene just a little over a decade ago. Ceramic is basically fire-hardened clay, and that is primarily what ceramic nonstick coatings are made of. As such, they're more environmentally friendly than PTFE in just about every way.
Ceramic nonstick can be heated to more than 800F before it begins to deteriorate. And even when it does break down, it doesn't emit any dangerous fumes (being made of clay and so forth).
Ceramic nonstick cookware was originally patented under the name "Thermolon" by the Korean company who invented it (remember Green Pan, the original ceramic nonstick?). Today, there are several ceramic nonstick products available, but Thermolon is considered to be one of the highest quality. You can find Thermolon ceramic in Green Pan and Zwilling J. A. Henckel's Spirit cookware. Healthy Legend is also considered a good quality maker of Greblon ceramic pans, a "new generation" ceramic. titanium cookware
Which Type of Nonstick Pan Is Best?
You may think ceramic nonstick is a no-brainer. It's a tougher material than PTFE, it has a higher decomposition temperature (800F vs ~500F), and, unlike PTFE, it contains no toxic chemicals.
But not so fast: because PTFE is, by most accounts, the superior product.
PTFE is fragile and has a short life span. Yet ceramic nonstick has, by most accounts, an even shorter lifespan; some people say their pans lost their nonstick properties after just a few uses (although at this extreme, you have to wonder how they abused their pan).
Ceramic is great while it lasts, but that may not be for very long.
And while ceramic is harder, it's also brittle, which means it chips motr easily than PTFE. titanium cookware
In fact, if you want to buy high-end nonstick cookware, there are a huge number of PTFE options on the market, including the major brands (All-Clad, Calphalon, T-fal, Cuisinart, etc--all are PTFE). There are only a few high quality options for ceramic nonstick (the aforementioned Spirit line by Zwilling J.A. Henckels, for example).
This might be because PTFE is just better, or it might be because cookware giants have invested all their eggs in the PTFE basket. But the fact remains that most high-end nonstick cookware is PTFE. ("High-end" meaning that the cookware has excellent heating properties, durable handles and lids, etc.)
Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of top quality titanium-reinforced ceramic pans on the market. Oh, there are a few brands out there, like Gotham Steel and Michelangelo, but overall they're cheap and poorly made, so TRK can't recommend them. And while it's smart to buy on the low end of the market when it comes to nonstick cookware, poorly made pans are going to be un-fun to use, and will not contribute to your quality of life or your pleasure in the kitchen. So even though you may not get longer nonstick lifespan, you nevertheless ought to be willing to pay a little more for pans that won't warp, have better heating properties, better handles, and the little extras that make cookware a joy to use. The few dollars more you'll spend for a quality brand is money well spent. (And in most cases, it really isn't that much more.) titanium cookware
Whether there's a lack of titanium-reinforced ceramic options is because the market is so new, because titanium doesn't add a lot to ceramic pans, or because the big manufacturers simply haven't yet gotten into ceramic cookware marketing, we don't know. But if you want ceramic nonstick, your best bet is to stick to the Spirit or Healthy Legend brands (the Zwilling Spirit being our preference). Green pan is another Thermolon option, although we can't attest to the quality of these pans: they make a lot of different options, including cast aluminum, clad stainless, and induction-compatible.
If you go the ceramic route, your best bet is Zwilling Spirit or Healthy Legend. (Read more about them in the review section.) Green Pan is the original ceramic nonstick, and may also be a good option.
Durability of Nonstick Cookware
Both kinds of nonstick cookware are notoriously short-lived, especially when compared to clad stainless and cast iron. The lifespan of an average PTFE pan, even with the gentlest use imaginable, is usually only a few years. For ceramic nonstick, that span can be even shorter, even while touted as being more durable than PTFE. (Durability apparently does not equal longer nonstick-ness.)
And if the skillets don't have a steel bottom disc (as for induction or simply for reinforcing the strength), they are also prone to warping. (This is not true for cast aluminum and anodized aluminum, both of which make a sturdier pan--it's also probably going to have better heating properties.
So, as you can see, as great as the concept of nonstick cookware is, there is definitely room for improvement.
Enter titanium coating--and titanium cookware!
Nonstick Titanium Cookware: Revolutionary or Gimmicky?
Because of all the shortcomings of nonstick cookware, manufacturers continue to work on making it better. One of the things they discovered was that you could combine the nonstick coating--both PTFE and ceramic--with a harder substance to make it more durable. Titanium is one of those substances; another one is diamonds.
Here's how adding titanium (or diamonds) to a nonstick coating works: Think of the metal surface of the skillet as a pond, think of the nonstick coating as the water, and think of the titanium as very tiny rocks protruding from the pond's surface. Because the nonstick coating lies below the titanium, it's protected. Utensils scraping the pan are scraping the titanium, not the PTFE or ceramic. Or at least, they are scraping the nonstick surface less. Yet the particles are tiny enough and unobtrusive enough to allow the nonstick coating to still work its magic.
Here's a graphic depiction of a titanium nonstick coating:
The result: a more durable, longer-lived nonstick pan. (See also our article on The Best Induction Cookware.)
So yes, titanium can prolong the life of a nonstick pan. But revolutionary? Well, sort of.
Unfortunately, nonstick is never going to be as durable as clad stainless, or cast iron, or really, any other type of pan. Because at its core, it's still a nonstick pan. And that nonstick surface is still going to wear out with use.
And just as with regular nonstick, you should baby your titanium nonstick too. It is not a miracle substance. It doesn't make nonstick cookware as long-lived as other cookware.
So to answer the question "revolutionary or gimmicky?", it's actually a bit of both. Titanium nonstick is more durable than regular nonstick, and it will last longer--a little longer. But it's still a nonstick pan, and it's still going to lose its nonstick properties, most likely within a couple of years (depending on use). titanium cookware
The good news is that most nonstick pans are cheap. Yes; even titanium-coated ones. You'd think that titanium would increase the cost of nonstick pans greatly, but it really doesn't.
(I suppose if we were really cynical, we might say this begs the question, "How much titanium is actually in there?" But we know it's enough to add durability, so we'll leave it at that.)
The price range of titanium nonstick cookware is approximately the same as regular nonstick cookware. That is, it starts somewhere around $20 and goes up to a few hundred, depending on what the rest of the pan is made of (stamped aluminum being the cheapest, clad stainless being the most expensive).
As for the PTFE: is it better quality on more expensive cookware such as All-Clad? This has been a difficult question to find an answer to. But we do know that all PTFE is pretty much the same: it's one molecule made into hundreds of different configurations (or at least brand names). However, you may get a thicker coating, or more layers of nonstick coating, on a more expensive pan. And you are certainly going to get a better quality pan with better heating properties.
But the nonstick coating is still going to wear out within a few years (again, depending on use).
Nonstick titanium cookware is more durable than regular nonstick cookware, but if you want it to last as long as possible, you should still treat it like regular nonstick: that is, be very, very careful with it.
Is Titanium Cookware Healthier to Use than Other Nonstick Cookware?
In a nutshell, the answer is no.
Whether PTFE titanium or ceramic titanium, you're still buying nonstick cookware. Any nonstick surface reinforced with titanium may last longer and take more abuse, but it's still going to have all the properties of the nonstick coating.
Which is to say, ceramic is probably the healthier choice. Although if used and cared for properly, health shouldn't be an issue with PTFE, either.
Is Titanium Cookware Better than Stainless?
Once again, titanium nonstick cookware has exactly the same issues and concerns as non-titanium nonstick cookware. It's only "better" than clad stainless if you really need a nonstick surface, such as many people prefer for eggs and other sticky, finicky foods. For all other things, we highly recommend clad stainless as the best option. It's more durable and will last a lifetime, unlike both types of nonstick cookware.
Is Titanium Cookware Induction Compatible?
Like all cookware, some is and some isn't. However, since a lot of nonstick cookware is coated aluminum, and aluminum is NOT induction-compatible, it can be harder to find induction compatible nonstick cookware.
Most manufacturers make induction-compatible nonstick cookware, but you have to be sure you're buying the line with induction compatibility. All the skillets recommended here clearly state whether or not they are induction-compatible. titanium cookware
Why Just Skillets? Why Not Sets?
We at Rational Kitchen are opinionated about cookware. And one strong opinion is that nonstick coatings belong only in skillets.
- Nonstick coatings don't last very long, so you should only have it where you need it.
- This means skillets and/or sauté pans, in which the bulk of messy cooking gets done. (Other pans are more for heating liquids, so they remain easy to clean even if nonstick.)
- Other cookware materials--clad stainless, cast iron, carbon steel--will last a lifetime, so why put it in pans that don't need it and will limit the life of the pan?
- Even though nonstick cookware is cheaper than clad stainless, you'll spend more over a lifetime replacing it than on one good set of clad stainless.
For these reasons, we only review nonstick skillets and sauté pans. And also for these reasons, we strongly encourage you to stay away from entire nonstick sets. You'll be happier in the long run if you go the clad stainless route, and restrict your nonstick cookware to one or two skillets.
What Size Nonstick Skillet Should I Buy?
It's up to you, of course, but we've found the most versatile size to be around 10 inches or, for sauté pans, 3-4 quarts. In a pan of this size, you can make scrambled eggs for a family of 4 easily.
Sizes vary among manufacturers, but anything from 9 inches to 11 inches will fit this general guideline.
For all-purpose skillets (not nonstick), we recommend a 12-inch/5-6qt size. But in nonstick, the larger pans are prohibitively expensive--because they won't last long enough to get your money's worth out of them. So unless you're routinely cooking eggs for several, a 10-inch/3-4qt size should be fine for a nonstick skillet.
You can also find some great deals on sets of two, usually 8-inch and 10-inch; these are often cheaper than buying one of the pans alone! If you do get a set, the smaller skillet is a nice addition for when you're cooking for just one or two people, or for making a side dish. You won't regret having it. titanium cookware
A Word About Warranties
Some manufacturers, such as T-fal and Woll, offer limited lifetime warranties. This sounds pretty good for a pan that is probably only going to last for a few years, doesn't it? However, these warranties are indeed limited. If you read through reviews by users on Amazon and elsewhere, you'll find that people who actually tried to cash in on the warranty didn't have very good luck.
Nonstick cookware comes with a litany of care and use instructions. If you don't follow these, or if it even appears as though you may not have followed them, companies won't honor the warranty.
For example, companies will claim, by looking at the pan discoloration, that the pan was used incorrectly (e.g., at high heat). Or if they see tiny chips or scratches, they'll claim you used metal utensils or abrasive cleaning techniques, both of which can void the warranty (read the fine print).
The point is, warranties aren't always what they seem. And with nonstick cookware, you probably shouldn't expect too much from what seems like an excellent warranty, even with top brands. The life of the cookware is what it is, and the warranty shouldn't change expectations of the cookware's life span to be more than a few years--yes, even with proper care.
If you get more than that, great!! But don't expect it.
This all seems to be an argument to buy on the cheap end of the market. And in general, we do think that's wise, with a few caveats: first of all, if you go too cheap, the pan will have poor heating properties and shoddy construction overall. It won't last long, and it won't be fun to use. It's wise to go low end, especially if you're on a budget, but not the very bottom of the line.
Buying a skillet with a good warranty is smart, but don't expect any nonstick cookware to last more than a few years. This may be an argument for buying on the low end, but don't buy TOO low, or you'll end up with a cheap, shoddy pan that's no fun to use and may even warp before it loses its nonstick properties.
What to Look for in Nonstick Titanium Cookware
The traits that make titanium cookware a pleasure to use are the same traits that make other cookware a pleasure to use: good heating properties, nice design, a balanced feel, and a good heft that makes it feel substantial in your hand.
The Basics: Skillet Design, Handles, Lids, Even Heating, Ease of Cleaning
As with any cookware, there are certain things to look for that make your experience better.
Note: For a more detailed discussion about good cookware design, see our Guide to Induction Cookware (the "Considerations When Buying" section).
Skillet design is one of the most important considerations. Their shapes can vary considerably!
Probably the most important consideration is the slope of a pan's sides: The longer and more sloped the sides of a skillet are, the less flat cooking area it will have. Thus, a 10-inch skillet can have anywhere from 6- to 9-inches of flat cooking surface. That's a huge range!
Deeply sloped sides can also make a skillet shallower, which you may or may not find useful, depending on what you like to cook. Shallow sides will definitely result in more grease/liquid splatters.
Having said that, there is a place for a shallow skillet in many kitchens. Crepes, for example, require a shallow skillet with short sides. Many egg dishes are also easier to make in shallow pans. So buy accordingly.
All of our favorites have a nice design with a good amount of cooking surface, but some definitely have more than others. The T-fal Pro Grade skillet has the most sloped sides of all of our recommendations. The Woll, Healthy Legend, and Zwilling Spirit all have fairly straight sides.
And if you want the completely straight sides--better for holding in steam and splatters, and good for dishes with a lot of liquids--then go with the T-fal sauté pan, which is a lot of pan for the price. Woll (pictured below) is also a good choice, but a lot spendier.
You want the handles to be comfortable to grip and preferably stainless. Stainless is just going to be more durable than any type of plastic or silicone.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of nonstick skillets with plastic (aka "resin") handles. It's not quite as much of a minus as it is on clad stainless because you're never (in theory) going to heat your nonstick high enough to melt the handle. Nevertheless, oven heat--even moderate heat--takes a toll on any type plastic/resin handles over time. And if you have a gas cooktop, that, too, is going to be hard on any non-stainless handles.
For larger skillets and sauté pans (more than 10 inches or 4 quarts), a helper handle is an excellent feature, especially if you have any issues with your grip or your wrists.
If you want stainless handles, we recommend going with the All-Clad cast aluminum skillets. They're not titanium reinforced (and so not recommended in this article), but for about $60 you get two really heavy duty, induction-compatible nonstick pans. (Note: since these aren't clad stainless, they're made in China. Only All-Clad's clad stainless products are made in the USA.) titanium cookware
Since this article is primarily about skillets, lids are kind of a secondary issue because most skillets do not come with lids. You have to buy them separately, or use ones you already own.
Sauté pans do, however, come with lids. Unfortunately the lids for nonstick cookware are almost universally glass, which is less durable than stainless. For this reason, you may prefer to buy lids separately, so you can get exactly what you want (which for us would be stainless).
When people are buying nonstick cookware, they can sometimes forget that the same things that make any pan great to use are also what make a nonstick pan great to use: one of the most important of these is even heating.
Most nonstick pans are aluminum, and aluminum, for the most part, has excellent heating properties. It's even, it's fast, and it holds heat well.
But not all aluminum pans are created equally. Cheap aluminum is thin, and since mass is as much a predictor of pan performance as material (that is, the greater the mass, the better the pan will be at conducting, spreading, and holding heat), thin pans don't conduct or hold heat very well. Thin pans are also more prone to warping.
Better made nonstick pans are either: 1) thin aluminum with a reinforced base (T-fal Pro Grade), 2) cast aluminum (Woll, All-Clad, Healthy Legend), or 3) clad stainless tri-ply with nonstick coating (Zwilling J.A. Henkels Spirit).
Our favorites are in the middle: cast aluminum. They're hefty enough to provide good heating and durability, but not as expensive as clad stainless, which is overkill for a pan with such a limited life span.
Ease of Cleaning
The great beauty of nonstick cookware is right there in the name: the nonstick surface makes these pans easy to clean. It's the primary reason people are willing to trade durability and longevity for the fragile, shorter-lived nonstick pans. Most every busy cook wants pans where the food slides right off, as seen in the late night TV infomercials. And all nonstick skillets provide this.
So there's not a lot to say about ease of cleaning. Whether you go the PTFE route or the ceramic route, you're going to love how easy these pans are to clean. No abrasive cleaners necessary!
There's only one thing that makes nonstick even easier to take care of: a rivetless cooking surface. titanium cookware
You'll find this wonderful feature in the Healthy Legend (ceramic, and not titanium-reinforced). And in the case of the Healthy Legend, you don't even have to pay a premium price for it.
A Good Nonstick Surface: PTFE, Thermolon, Greblon
PTFE: Are there different grades of PTFE, or is it all pretty much the same? The marketing lingo makes it hard to tell, but the science makes us think that all PTFE is pretty much the same; after all, it's one molecule. In fact, the greatest thing to happen to PTFE is titanium, which makes it more durable--although it won't stand up to high heat or other bad treatment any better than regular PTFE. So if you pay a higher price tag for nonstick pans (such as All-Clad), you're most likely paying for superior construction, not superior nonstick coating.
Ceramic: There are a few types of ceramic coatings. The two best are Thermolon, which is the original ceramic coating (remember those late night Green Pan commercials with the egg sliding around the pan?), and Greblon, which is a "second generation" ceramic. If you're considering ceramic nonstick, be sure to go with one of these coatings. All the ceramic nonstick pans reviewed in this article are either Thermolon (Zwilling Spirit) or Greblon (Healthy Legend).
Is one better than the other? Hard to say. While you'd think the Greblon would be better because it's the newer and "higher tech" option, there really isn't a lot of difference in performance. In fact, if you go by reviews, or if you want top performing pans, you pretty much have to go with the Thermolon options, such as the Zwilling Spirit. But again, you're paying for the clad stainless construction and stainless handles, not so much the Thermolon coating.
Cast Aluminum or Reinforced Bottom to Prevent Warping
One of the biggest issues with nonstick pans is their tendency to warp. This is because most nonstick pans are aluminum. If the aluminum is thin, it's almost certainly going to warp with use--sometimes, with just a few uses. And once warped, the pan can't be set right. It's a goner.
This is why we recommend nonstick pans that are either made of cast aluminum, clad stainless, or have reinforced bottoms (which often doubles as induction compatibility).
All of these are constructions that will resist warping.
T-fal makes several lines of nonstick pans. We recommend the Pro Grade line only, which has a reinforced bottom and is also induction compatible. Other T-fal lines cost less, but they aren't going to provide the performance of the T-fal Pro Grade line (or any of our other recommended pans).
What Are the Drawbacks of Nonstick Titanium Cookware?
The drawbacks of titanium nonstick are the same as with all nonstick. For example:
- It requires more specialized care than other cookware to prolong its life. (See the section below on how to extend the life of your nonstick cookware.)
- It's prone to warping unless it's cast aluminum, clad stainless, or has a reinforced base.
- Many nonstick lines have plastic or silicone handles and glass lids (stainless is preferable), which aren't as durable as stainless.
- It will lose its nonstick properties over time (probably within a few years, depending on use).
Yes, titanium nonstick will probably last slightly longer than regular nonstick, but you still have to take really, really good care of it. Titanium reinforcement is not a license to treat nonstick like other cookware.
How to Extend the Life of Your Nonstick Titanium Cookware
A lot of manufacturers today, of both types of nonstick cookware, claim that their pans are durable enough to withstand metal utensils, dishwashers, and high heat. However, if you want your nonstick pans to last as long as possible, you will never, ever do any of the things claimed to be safe. This goes for nonstick titanium cookware too.
Here's a list of ways to extend the life of your nonstick titanium cookware (all nonstick cookware, actually):
- Do not use metal utensils. Use only wood, silicone, bamboo, or plastic. This is true even if the manufacturer says it's okay to use metal.
- Never heat the pan higher than medium heat. PTFE begins to degrade at around 450F, and while ceramic doesn't break down until above 800F, high heat does seem to take a toll on its nonstick surface. Since all cooktops are different, medium heat is the safest way to go. Also, if you have gas burners, the flame will take its toll on resin or silicone handles, too. So for all these reasons, don't cook above medium heat.
- Do not use nonstick cooking spray on nonstick pans, especially PTFE pans. Chemicals in the spray react with the PTFE, shortening its life. Sprays that contain only oil (such as misters you fill yourself) are fine.
- Do not put in the oven above about 350F. If your pan has plastic or silicone handles, any oven heat will take its toll over time, so avoid putting it in the oven at all.
- Do not put in the dishwasher. Dishwashing detergent has abrasive particles that aren't good for any cookware, but especially nonstick (also true for knives, by the way).
- Do not use abrasive cleansers or scrubbing pads, even if the manufacturer says it's okay.
- Always let a pan cool before immersing in water to prevent warping. (Note: This is true for all pans.)
Our Picks for Titanium Cookware (The Reviews)
Here are our picks for the best titanium nonstick PTFE and the best ceramic nonstick on the market. Here are a few points to remember:
- There are no good quality titanium ceramic pans on the market, so our ceramic picks here are NOT titanium-reinforced.
- Our star ratings are our own. They are strictly in the nonstick category, as none of these pans will have the durability and longevity of clad stainless or cast iron cookware. That is to say, don't compare these ratings to ratings for clad stainless. It's apples and oranges.
- These picks are not in order of preference. They are just the nonstick pans that we really like and think offer the highest quality. Some are expensive (Woll and Zwilling), while some are remarkably reasonable (T-fal, Healthy Legend).
- We've included different buying options where we could. Different retailers package pans differently, so some come in sets, some don't, some with lids, most without. Prices vary, too, so you can compare the Amazon price (for example) to the WalMart price or the Sur la Table price.
T-fal Pro Grade Skillet (PTFE)
T-fal stands for "teflon-aluminum," and was originally a nonstick only cookware line. Today, T-fal is owned by the French cookware conglomerate Groupe SEB, which also owns All-Clad, as well as dozens of other brands. In other countries, T-fal is known as TeFal, but Dupont wouldn't allow that name to be used in the USA because it sounded too much like "Teflon" (Dupont's brand name for PTFE).
T-fal's shtick, if you will, is the red dot in the center, which supposedly alerts you when the pan is hot by changing color. The color change is subtle, and not a lot of people (including our testers) find it terribly useful. However, if you're new to cooking or the least bit insecure in your abilities, you might appreciate that indicator. Some people really love it.
T-fal makes a dizzying array of cookware lines, including several PTFE nonstick lines, ceramic nonstick, and even clad stainless. Their products are mostly inexpensive, and the Pro Grade line, which we recommend here, is both inexpensive and nice quality. (No, it's not top of the line, but at this price, you shouldn't expect that.)
As far as we know, it's the only T-fal line with titanium-reinforced nonstick. And it's just a few dollars more than T-fal's most popular pan, which is not induction compatible, not titanium reinforced, and has a plastic handle.
We wish the pan was a little heftier, but the stainless base partially makes up for that (as well as making the Pro Grade line induction compatible). titanium cookware
Reminder: this review is for the Pro Grade T-fal skillet only; other T-fal lines are going to have different options and quality levels, so this review does not apply.
- Titanium-reinforced PTFE
- Stainless handle
- Reinforced stainless base
- Induction compatibility
- Oven safe up to 500F
- Limited lifetime warranty
- Made in China.
In some ways, the T-fal Pro Grade skillet is just another cheap, aluminum nonstick pan. It's thin aluminum with a coating of PTFE--and worth just about exactly what you'd be willing to pay for it.
On the other hand, the T-fal Pro Grade skillet has some really nice features that you'll be hard-pressed to find in this price range (e.g., under $30 for a 10-inch skillet).
The skillet is a nice shape. The sides are a bit sloped, but they're deep enough to make up for that somewhat. The 10-inch skillet has about an 8-inch diameter of flat cooking surface, which is pretty standard (although we prefer more flat surface).
The stainless handle is spectacular for a pan at this price point. Most other nonstick cookware, even at higher price points, has plastic handles. But the Pro Grade has a nice, sturdy stainless handle that makes this pan a joy to maneuver (compared to others in this price category). We would prefer that the stainless rivets holding the handle on were covered in PTFE, but that's a small criticism.
The stainless base not only makes it induction compatible, it also compensates (somewhat) for the thin aluminum construction. This will do a few neat things: First, it will make the pan sturdier and less prone to warping, and second, it will enhance its heat conductivity properties. You want that thicker layer between your food and the heating source. With it, you'll see much less scorching and far fewer hot spots than on a comparable pan without the reinforcement (yes, even though it's poor-conducting stainless, as it's the mass that makes the difference).
Also, the titanium is going to make this PTFE a little more durable and longer-lasting than other, comparably-priced T-fal pans. With the prices so close, it seems like a no-brainer to go with the Pro Grade if you're looking at any other T-fal pans of similar construction and quality.
The design has a few serious flaws, however: the stainless rivets are going to be magnets for goop buildup. And let's face it, this is a thin pan, so it's not going to have great heat conductivity, even with the reinforced base. (Just better than comparable pans without the reinforced base.) Plus, it's not a very pretty pan, and you're not going to fall in love with it, like you might with some of our other favorites (Zwilling Spirit, anyone?).
The bottom line is that it's an inexpensive pan, and you get what you pay for--meaning it's probably not going to last more than a few years and certainly not going to outperform clad stainless or cast aluminum. But if this is what you want to spend, the T-fal Pro Grade is one of the best options we've found.
Pros and Cons
- Stainless handle
- Induction compatible
- Thin construction with mediocre heat conductivity
- No lid (standard for skillets)
- Stainless rivets on nonstick cooking surface.
If you're looking for an inexpensive aluminum nonstick skillet with a few nice features like a stainless handle and induction compatibility, the T-fal Pro Grade skillet is an excellent choice.
but the T-fal Pro grade skillet on amazon now:
T-Fal Pro Grade Jumbo Saute Pan w/Lid (PTFE)
The T-fal Pro Grade Jumbo Sauté Pan has all the same characteristics as the Pro Grade skillet reviewed above. We included this sauté pan as another option in case you're looking for a pan that comes with a lid or an overly large pan at a very reasonable price point (or just prefer a saute pan to a skillet).
If you only occasionally need a large sauté pan, such as for the few times a year you cook for company, this is a great option. Or, if you want a big pan with a lid included, this is also a great option. It not only has a stainless handle and reinforced bottom, but it has a great stainless helper handle--essential for when this jumbo pan is full of food.
To find out more about T-fa products in general, read the skillet review above.
- Titanium-reinforced PTFE
- Stainless handle and helper handle
- Reinforced stainless base
- 5-quart capacity with a 12-inch diameter base
- Induction compatibility
- Oven safe up to 500F
- Limited lifetime warranty
- Made in China.
The jumbo Pro Grade sauté pan is a really nice pan if you need to cook for a crowd. For large amounts of food, sauté pans are better: they're deeper, with straight sides, so they hold food better with less spilling and fewer splattering.
As with the Pro Grade skillet reviewed above, the stainless handle is great, as is the reinforced stainless base, which not only provides induction compatibility, but also offers durability, warp resistance, and better heating properties because of the additional mass. titanium cookware
And as with the Pro Grade skillet (above), the jumbo sauté pan has its drawbacks, too. It's a thin pan, so its heating properties are only going to be mediocre, and it has the stainless rivets on the cooking surface that are going to collect goop (and you can't use a scouring pad on them). At this price point (and even above it in a lot of cases), this is going to be par for the course, though, so unless you want to spend a small fortune on a higher end jumbo-sized sauté pan, this is a good option.
Pros and Cons
- Stainless handle
- Induction compatible
- Lid included (this is standard for sauté pans)
- Thin construction with mediocre heat conductivity
- Stainless rivets on nonstick cooking surface.
If you're looking for an inexpensive, nonstick, oversized sauté pan, the T-fal Pro Grade Jumbo Saute Pan has some features that make it better than other pans in its price range.
to buy the t-fal pro grade jumbo saute pan:
Zwilling J.A. Henckels Spirit Skillet (Ceramic)
Check price on Amazon (2 piece set, 8-inch and 10-inch)
Check price at Sur la Table (8-inch, 10-inch, and 12-inch options)
Check price at everythingkitchens.com (9.5-inch skillet with glass lid)
Zwilling J.A. Henckels is a German conglomerate that owns several kitchen brands, including Demeyere, which is one of our favorite lines of cookware. They are also well known for their good quality knives, best known under the Henckels name. The Zwilling J.A. Henckels Spirit is a fairly new line of cookware, and it has a lot going for it: It's clad stainless with an aluminum interior. Being so, it has a lot of the great properties of clad stainless pans, including good heating properties and stainless handles, not to mention the nice heft that quality construction provides. titanium cookware
Most large manufacturers go with PTFE coatings. It's good to see ceramic nonstick on a stainless pan (rather than on late night infomercial products, which are sometimes of questionable quality). Over the next few years, we'll probably start to see a lot more of this, as people move away from PTFE because of its potential environmental and health problems.
Zwilling Spirit is coated with Thermolon ceramic, which is considered the highest quality ceramic. Whether that coating is better than less expensive Thermolon pans (such as the original Green Pan line), it's hard to say. Only time and use will tell.
In any case, these are really nice pans.
Note that the Zwilling Spirit cookware is not titanium-reinforced; to reiterate, we couldn't find any titanium-reinforced ceramic pans that we liked. We are including these as an option to the titanium-reinforced PTFE pans, should you be looking for a good quality nonstick ceramic.
Yes, it's on the expensive end of the nonstick spectrum, but it's not as much as a lot of clad stainless, and it's not even as much as the Woll skillet (reviewed above). The 9.5-inch skillet with lid included from everythingkitchens.com is a pretty good deal at around $60 when not on sale; if you have a discount (such as for a first time buyer) it becomes a great deal. titanium cookware
- Thermolon ceramic nonstick coating
- PTFE/PFOA free
- Clad stainless construction with aluminum interior for excellent heating properties
- Stainless handles and stainless helper handles on large skillets
- Induction compatible
- Oven safe up to 400F
- Limited lifetime warranty
- Made in China.
Being clad stainless, the Zwilling Spirit pans have the characteristics that make cookware a pleasure to use: an aluminum interior for great heating properties, a stainless exterior for durability (and great looks, too), stainless handles (also for durability), and the heft and solidity of a well-constructed pan.
The pan holds heat really well. In fact, it holds and conducts heat almost like an All-Clad tri-ply pan, which is fabulous. titanium cookware
The stainless handle is comfortable to hold. The only drawback is the stainless rivets on the cooking surface, which you can't scrub to clean.
We wish the lids were stainless rather than glass (especially at this price point), and actually consider this kind of a major drawback.
Theoretically, the ceramic coating should last longer than it does on less expensive pans. When you pay more for a pan, you should get a thicker layer of nonstick (whether PTFE or ceramic). We don't know if that's the case, but it should be. And if you take very, very good care of your pan, as outlined in the care section above--that should make for a fairly long-lived pan. Ceramic typically doesn't last as long as PTFE, but we have high hopes for this skillet.
In reality, though, it's hard to say. We'd love to give a great report on the longevity of the nonstick surface, but it's hard to predict under the short testing conditions we've given it. We can sat that in a few months of use and careful care, we've found this pan a joy to use. But as with all ceramic nonstick (and nonstick in general), there are a huge number of differing opinions and experiences.
If it lasts, the Zwilling Spirit will be hands down our most favorite nonstick pan ever.
Pros and Cons
- Durable, clad stainless construction
- PTFE/PFOA free
- Stainless handles, with stainless helper handles on larger skillets.
- Ceramic nonstick tends to lose its properties fairly quickly even with proper care
- Oven safe only to 400F
- Glass lids (should be stainless at this price!)
- Stainless rivets on cooking surface
- On the expensive end of the spectrum.
These are really nice, high quality ceramic nonstick pans. They're a little expensive, and the jury is still out on just how long even the best ceramic lasts. But if you want safe nonstick cookware that's got high-quality design and features, the Zwilling Spirit skillets are truly pans you can love.
Amazon: 2-piece set
Sur la Table: Several size options
everythingkitchens.com: 9.5-inch skillet with lid
Buy the Zwilling Spirit nonstick skillet now:
Buy on Amazon (2 piece set, 8-inch and 10-inch)
Buy at Sur la Table (8-inch, 10-inch, and 12-inch options)
Buy at everythingkitchens.com (9.5-inch skillet with glass lid)
Nonstick titanium cookware--or at least nonstick titanium skillets--are a great addition to any cookware collection. It's not for every day, but for eggs, fish, and other delicate foods that cook best at medium heat or below, nonstick titanium cookware is a great option.
We hope we've answered all of your questions about titanium cookware. If not, we'd be happy to! Shoot us an email, or leave it in the comments below. Any and all thoughts are welcome.
Thanks for reading!
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