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Ask Dr. Gourmet

What temperatures are safe for non-stick skillets?

What temperatures should be used with non-stick skillets for cooking various foods? Are there any guidelines? I read somewhere that eggs should be cooked on med-low, is that correct?

Dr. Gourmet Says...

eggs cooked in various ways, from hard-boiled to poached to omelets

Thanks very much for this question. I have had a debate about this with a chef friend who claimed that I should not have used a non-stick pan at high heat as I did once in a television segment.

I have looked at a great deal of opinion on this and many manufacturers suggest temperatures between 350°F and 450°F. There is no clear consensus. I do use my pans occasionally in a hot oven (temperatures in the 500°F range).

duPont is one of the major manufacturers of non-stick coatings and here is some information released by them on the subject:

"Low to medium-high heat is recommended for cookware with non-stick surfaces but, on occasion, when you need to cook with temperatures up to 500ºF (260ºC), you can without damaging the finish."

I cook eggs on medium low because cooking them on a higher heat can result in a rubbery texture.

Thanks for writing,

Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP, CCMS
Dr. Gourmet