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How To Cook Eggs Without Using Nonstick (And Answers to FAQs About Enameled Cast Iron)

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As I sat down to write this post on how to cook eggs without using a teflon-like nonstick pan, I kept having a twisted version of Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham running through my head…

“Do you cook them here or there? Do you cook them anywhere? How do you cook them Sam I Am? How do you cook green eggs and ham?”

When it comes to all the options of cookware these days, I feel like the abundance of choice sends me into a Seuss-inspired swirly vortex. I mean, here’s just a short list:

  • stainless steel
  • aluminum
  • teflon nonstick
  • hard anodized nonstick
  • cast iron
  • enameled cast iron
  • ceramic-coated aluminum
  • copper-bottomed
  • dual walled stainless steel

And then you run into different pan types: fry pans, sauce pans, sauté pans, stock pots, braisers, dutch ovens, roasters, griddles, grill pans…


Oops. Sorry. I lost myself for a moment.

What’s the Deal with Nonstick?

If you were around Kitchen Stewardship® two weeks ago, you may have caught my post on why our family no longer uses nonstick pans. I addressed some of the controversy surrounding nonstick, explained the three universal rules of nonstick that everyone agrees on – and also shared a bit of my personal experience and how I regret letting fear motivate my changes.

At the time our family was in a season where we were really struggling with our health – we were battling asthma, severe food allergies, gluten-intolerance, digestive difficulties, and horrid bacterial infections. It was a very dark and hard time. For every ounce that our physical lives were spiraling out of control, I felt compelled to try to “fix” it by being better and more perfect in our living.

Read it here: Cookware, Cookware, Controversy, and Cancer: Our Family’s Journey With Nonstick

So What Pan Do We Use?

In my previous post, I mentioned that we use enameled cast iron instead of regular cast iron. (This is a regular old cast iron pan and one with a lid. There are even cast iron griddles!)

I don’t have any personal experience using ceramic cookware, though I know others have and love it. Katie loves her ceramic pan for eggs. And I have a friend who likes her Fiesta Ware ceramic cookware. Personally, I stayed away from ceramic because I had heard things about the lack of durability of the pans … and America’s Test Kitchen confirmed those doubts.

If I was going to shell out $$$ on a pan, I wanted something with a proven track record of durability. So our family settled on using enameled cast iron made by Le Creuset.

Related: Recipes With Cast Iron Skillet

Let me say up front: I do not work for Le Creuset or any kitchen store. I’m not getting paid a penny by Le Creuset for my thoughts. I’m just sharing what has worked for us. 🙂

How to Cook Eggs without Using Nonstick

Whether you are using enameled cast iron, a ceramic pan, stainless steel, or plain cast iron, here’s what you need to know.

1. Use plenty of butter or oil.

For some, this may be an automatic turn off. If you are used to making eggs without any fat in the pan, you’re in for a learning curve. However, I don’t believe oil and butter are evil. (You can click here for a handy printable that explains the different oils in the grocery store and how they are best used.)

Butter/oil is key to making your pan stick resistant.

If you are making crepes or omelets, be sure to butter the sides of your pan as well.

{If you read through your owner’s manual for your nonstick pan, you’ll even see that they recommend using butter or oil. Or, in the case of this T-FAL pan (Link no longer available), seasoning the pan with oil after every 10 washes.}

We prefer using butter or coconut oil with our eggs. Bacon grease is also fine (though we eat kosher, so I don’t use it). If you like using olive oil, be aware that it has a low smoke point. EDIT: Oops – we originally said “high smoke point” for olive oil, but both olive oil and butter have a low smoke point, meaning you need to be careful not to burn the oil itself. Coconut oil, lard, and tallow are all great high-heat-safe, traditional fats.

pan on burner

(Read more about sautéing with olive oil. Some fascinating research that may surprise you! We do sauté with olive oil on occasion.)

2. Keep the pan NO HOTTER than medium heat.

You should never use any pan higher than medium heat – whether cast iron, enameled cast iron, stainless steel, or nonstick.

Again, if you read your nonstick manual (Link no longer available), you will see that they don’t recommend heating on anything above medium heat … even for boiling water. 

Then why do stoves come with high heat options?! Well – just think about it. Your car’s speedometer shows that it can go up to 120mph. But how often do you drive that fast? (Hopefully never). Just because the capacity is there, doesn’t mean it’s supposed to be used.

This is important especially for cast iron products. It takes a little longer for cast iron to warm up because the material is so dense. And once the pan is hot, it keeps cooking long after the burner is off.

Food – especially eggs – will stick if the heat is too high. So be patient. Don’t crank it to high heat because you’re in a hurry and then drop it down to medium heat. Give yourself a little extra time and have it come up slowly.

But also make sure the pan is hot enough before you put in your first egg. A good rule of thumb: if you flick water into the pan and it dances/sizzles in the butter, you know your pan is ready.

If you put your eggs in when the pan is too cold, it may not cook great … or it may stick because it sits in the pan too long (or because you’re tempted to break Rule #3 — keep reading).

FUN SIDE NOTE: The instructions (Link no longer available) for nonstick also say don’t cook with birds in the kitchen because the fumes could “adversely affect the birds” and is “dangerous to their respiratory system.” Their solution is: “Birds should not be kept in the kitchen.” It just makes me think of that whole canary in the coal mine thing.

3. Quit Fussing With Your Food

Do you like to constantly stir your food when you put it in the pan? Try to resist the urge. When I make scrambled eggs, I plop in a pat of butter. Then I dump in the pre-scrambled egg. I let it sit for 20-30 seconds until I can see the edges curling. Then I gently move the eggs around the pan.

It took me awhile to recognize the importance of not fussing with my food. If I start rapidly shoving my scrambled eggs around the pan immediately, I find that they will indeed stick.

Photographic Proof of Cooking without Nonstick

We make eggs almost every day for lunch. It’s an economical, quick, and filling option. I make a fried egg over easy for myself (which I eat on top of toast – delicious). I make a fried egg with a hard yolk for my daughter (also served on a piece of toast). And I make scrambled eggs for my son.

We also eat lots of vegetables at lunch, like carrots, kale chips, leftover steamed broccoli, leftover steamed green beans, peas, and raw sauerkraut we buy from Trader Joe’s.

By the way, be impressed with these photos. Do you know how hard it is to cook eggs …. at lunch time …. with a “starving” toddler wanting your attention … while using one hand on the phone to take pictures … while stirring with my non-dominant hand… HA.

I deserve a gold star.

proof pic

RELATED: If you like fried foods, try these Healthier Air Fryer Fries

Other FAQ’S About Enameled Cast Iron

Q: Exactly what is enamel? Is it safe? Are there concerns about lead?

Enamel (sometimes called porcelain) is a fine glass heated at high temperatures. Le Creuset has been in business for nearly 100 years – and they have withstood the test of time and scrutiny. Their enameled cast iron is still made in their original location in France. They have no lead in their products. [Source 1, 2]

There are other options for enameled cast iron. Tramontina is made in China, but gets the thumbs up from America’s Test Kitchen. Lodge, the famous American cast iron company, also has an enameled cast iron line … though their enamel is also made in China.

You can even find enameled cast iron at Ikea. But not all enamels are created equal, so be forewarned. 😉 

Don’t forget that there are tricks to get enameled cast iron for great discount prices.

Q: How do you handle the heaviness of the pan?

This might be the #1 question I get asked.

I keep my pans in the cabinet right next to the stove. I use a small 9” skillet for eggs, grilled sandwiches, and other personal-sized sautéing.

I use a 12” braiser (3-1/2 quart) with handles on both sides as my main kitchen work horse. Because I can grab it with both hands, I don’t really struggle with the weight.

Honestly, it’s just something you get used to.

How to Cook Eggs without Using Nonstick
Q: Does it stain?

Yes, it can. But don’t think pink tomato stains. Think more of just a darker discoloration as the pan gets seasoned and takes on a patina. Personally, I view the discoloration as a beautiful reminder of the blessing it is to cook for my family.

Q: Do the handles get hot?

YOWZA! Yes. Definitely invest in something to cover the handles!! I use a silicone handle for my skillet and these handy covers for the handles.

Q: Can I make omelets and crepes?

Yes! Follow the tips I mentioned earlier – and don’t skimp on butter. Sometimes I will gently lift an edge of the omelet or crepe to allow the fat to move around more freely under the item. (Sometimes the fat absorbs into the dish and so you need to make sure there is still plenty under the item.)

How to Cook Eggs without Using Nonstick
Q: What tools can I use?

I prefer to stay away from nylon tools. They melt too easily in the heat (big no-no) which means they don’t have a long life. We avoid hard plastic/melamine tools for the same reason.

I have a set of Pampered Chef Bamboo spatulas that I like. I also have a wooden spatula from Jonathan’s Spoons which I like a lot. (Got it for Christmas three years ago and it is still in excellent condition. Works great with pancakes, too.)

We also have an Oxo Good Grips silicone turner because my husband prefers it.

You can use metal spoons, but it isn’t recommended. It can leave shiny marks on your enamel. While it won’t impair your cooking or cause hazards to your health, it does make me cringe to do something like that to an expensive piece of cookware.

Should you get a scratch, don’t panic. Unlike teflon pans, your pan is still usable.

Q: How do I wash enameled cast iron? Do I have to season it?

Because the cast iron is coated in enamel, you can wash it just like you would a stainless steel pot: by hand and with plenty of warm, soapy water. You can use a sponge or scrubber pad, but make sure it’s a non-scratching type. (Avoid the dishwasher.)

If you have food that is really sticking, pour in some hot water and let it soak for twenty minutes. If it is still stuck, one reader recommended (in the comments of a previous post) to use coffee grounds as a gentle abrasion aid.

Ready for some awesome news? You do not have to season enameled cast iron.

Q: Are all your pans enameled cast iron?

No. We have a blend of enameled cast iron, plain cast iron, stainless steel, and one hard anodized nonstick that my husband likes to use on rare occasion.

A few years ago, my husband and I began to embrace the minimalist philosophy. We try to have fewer things, but of higher quality.

In an effort to pare down, last year I went through my kitchen and took a dry erase marker and marked the date on my pots/pans. (The idea being, if I use it, I will be wiping off the date.) 8 months later I went through the kitchen and saw what pans weren’t being used. I sold them and have had no regrets.

What’s your cookware of choice?
How To Cook Eggs Without Using Nonstick And Answers to FAQ About Enameled Cast Iron
Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

46 thoughts on “How To Cook Eggs Without Using Nonstick (And Answers to FAQs About Enameled Cast Iron)”

  1. I have a vintage Copco 109E enameled cast iron skillet that is excellent for cooking eggs without sticking. Is it safe to continue using?

    1. Carolyn @ Kitchen Stewardship

      The consensus I can find online is that there’s the possibility that there are heavy metals in the enamel because it wasn’t as well regulated at the time. If the enamel is damaged (cracking, chipping or wearing away in places) then it shouldn’t be used. You’d have to get it tested for heavy metals to be sure if it’s safe or not. I hope that helps!

  2. Is the enamel coating done on cast iron cookware ( that is advertised as enameled cast iron) same as porcelain enamel coating that is also in done in some aluminium cookware?


    1. Carolyn @ Kitchen Stewardship

      It is Sarah. However, be aware that some companies add non-stick finishes over the enamel so be sure to look into the specific pans you’re looking at before purchasing to make sure it’s really just enameled aluminum. Hope that helps!

  3. thank you so much for this!!!

    i made the perfect tamago base for my sushi rolls today, based on your good advice here. really appreciate it. i am using a ceramic baking dish to make the tamago sheet as i don’t have non-stick cookware. i had no idea that heating the dish with the butter in it first would help but it so did! thanks again, going to share this information with others.

  4. Does anyone know about the safety of baking with pans made of that pizza stone type of material? I don’t know what its called but you season it with oil and you aren’t supposed to wash it with soap. It’s always seemed iffy to me- the safety of the material since it is obviously slightly porous but I bake my bread in loaf pans made of it and they plop right out with out oiling them or anything.

    1. I own several of the Pampered Chef stoneware and some thick baking tiles I got for high heat baking (artisan pizza and bread — which I still have yet to make). When I was researching stoneware, I read that you should make sure the clay used to make it is lead-free. I’ve read of people using things from the hardware/construction supply store for cooking (because they’re cheaper/bigger), and I’m just not sure of the safety of the things they’re using. Another thing about stoneware is that if it’s thin, it shouldn’t be preheated in the oven without food on it (like you need to for a good crust), or it may break. That’s why I bought the thicker tiles (from Amazon).

  5. The skillet in the picture has a white enamel, but all the skillets I see from Le Creuset have a black enamel:
    From looking at them in a store, the black enamel is not as smooth as the white and I was under the impression that it is “semi-enameled”. Does it matter which type? And are the white skillets still available somewhere?

    1. Bethany Wright (Contributing Writer)

      Sarah – I answer that question in today’s post:

  6. I’m using a non-coated Lodge pan. It’s working great but as I see you use both types of cast-iron I would love your take on which you like better and why!

    1. Bethany Wright (Contributing Writer)

      Sarah – Lodge cast iron pans are wonderful! 🙂 I prefer the enameled cast iron, especially for ease of clean up. And because there is no seasoning required.

      You can read more about my reasoning (and experience) here:

  7. Bethany, thanks for your post. I noticed you said you keep kosher… we do too and it’s so hard to find kosher bloggers/writers who write about it and who share a similar diet/eating philosophy. I didn’t see that you have a blog. Is there some way we can exchange recipes or something? Do you have a pinterest account with recipes that I can follow?
    Thanks! Audrey

    1. Bethany Wright (Contributing Writer)

      Audrey –

      Sorry, I do not have a blog outside of KS. And I don’t really use pinterest. Guess that makes me a bit of a boring person, eh? 🙂 You may like this blog, though. Hope that helps? Keep in touch!

  8. You mention that no pan should be used over high heat. What about when cooking with a wok (a “real” wok without any nonstick coating)? I’ve always heard that when stir frying in a wok, it should be done over high heat. I don’t have much experience with wok cooking, but I have one and want to use it more.

    1. Bethany Wright (Contributing Writer)

      Karen – I think that would be a “check what your owner’s manual says” situation. I’m an owner’s-manual-nerd (aka – I always read them) and I was surprised a few years ago when I realized that they all said to cook on medium heat. I did more learning with America’s Test Kitchen and it confirmed the same.

      But I’ve never cooked with a true wok, so that’s outside my realm of knowledge. 😀 Let us know what you find out!

      1. After a bit of internet research, I’ve learned that you do need to cook with high heat in order to cook properly with a wok. There’s also a great video about how to properly season a wok on YouTube (search Grace Young season wok). I just bought the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle and enrolled in Grace’s Craftsy class about stir frying with a wok. I’m excited that this was offered as one of the free classes when buying the ebook bundle!

  9. John Peterson

    I use a stainless steel pans from all-clad, the little 20cm fry pan is great for a couple of eggs sunny side or omelet and I slowly worked out that if you ensure that the oil/butter has reached it’s correct cooking temp, which takes a minimum of 5 minutes on my stove and the oil takes on that lovely sheen of heat and the fluidity of hot oil then the eggs will start to cook instantly and not stick to the pan when dropped in, a couple of minutes later perfect fried eggs, and if any egg does leave a residue, I pour off the oil add some water and drop back on the cooling hot plate (electric) the water will boil and the residue will simply wipe away in the wash. The same goes with butter for scrambled eggs. I am glad I gave up on “non” stick coatings, PITA at the best of times. I think to often people drop food onto oil/butter that is still warming up to cooking temperature and the food it self can then sear to the pan as it and not the oil is begining the cooking process.

  10. Above you say beware that olive oil has a HIGH smoke point, but I think you meant to say a LOW smoke point.

      1. Bethany Wright (Contributing Writer)

        Good catch! My brain said one thing and my fingers typed the opposite. Meant to say that it has a LOW smoke point because it starts smoking quickly at HIGHER temperatures. 🙂

  11. I thought peanut products were a no-no because they were inflammatory due to the high levels of omega 6s, based on your cancer diet post. Right? (This is very fresh in my mind because we eat peanut products a LOT and, since reading that, I realized that it might have something to do with why I always feel like I am inflamed.)

    1. LB,
      I can’t find mention of peanuts in this post (?) but I’ll answer anyway – peanuts are a legume, therefore can be hard to digest when not properly soaked/cooked – and what peanut butter is? I thought they were decent on omega 3s, but I’d honestly have to look back to see that post myself too…they may be one of those things that got a “good reputation” because they’re high in UNsaturated fat before people realized that omega 6 unsats weren’t good at all. Peanuts aren’t allowed on diets like the Whole30, which is designed to cut inflammatory foods. Hope that helps! 🙂 Katie

  12. I’m glad you mentioned this because I can’t use a lot of oil or butter due to health problems and I was going to try out one of these pans. I wouldn’t be able to use these pans with no or little oil as I’m able to do with Teflon. When I boil things, I use stainless steel but I don’t see a solution besides Teflon for cooking with no or little fat.

    1. Bethany Wright (Contributing Writer)

      Bev – Hmmm. That is indeed a tricky situation. Be sure to click over to the post from last month to learn ways to treat your nonstick properly (and to know when it’s time to replace it).

      Some people swear by ceramic pans for an alternative to nonstick — and do so without using butter. Might be worth a try?

  13. Thank you so much for this info! I’ve been in the process of slowly replacing my cookware (a lot of which is non-stick) over the past few months and have recently tried using cast iron for the first time. I wish I had known all this back when I got married so I could have registered for some of this stuff!

    1. Bethany Wright (Contributing Writer)

      Rebecca — Glad to help you out on your journey. And I know what you mean about the registry… oh well.

  14. Before i ask my question i want to thank you for all the research and info you share with us. I can’t even begin to tell you enough how helpful it is
    I’ve been wondering for quite some time now, ppl seem to get all hyped up about their cookware, stainless, teflon, cast iron, enamal…. why don’t more ppl use glass? i have a set of vision ware pots and pans and i absolutely love it. Is there a reason not to use glass cookware?

    1. Bethany Wright (Contributing Writer)

      RB – There’s no reason to NOT use glass cookware that I can think of. Personally, I’ve not heard of glass pots/pans. But that doesn’t mean they don’t exist or aren’t good! They sound fascinating. Although I do love me some glass for baking! 😀

  15. Penny McLoughlin

    So what about anodized aluminum? It is considered a “non-stick” surface and I know that aluminum in general is bad for us. I’m asking though since the only thing I’ve been able to find out about it, is that the aluminum is supposedly so tightly bound up during the anodizing process that nothing leaches off of it. Do (or anyone else) you know of any actual testing that may have been done on these types of pans to see if they are out gassing or transferring anything into the food?

    1. Bethany Wright (Contributing Writer)

      Penny — I haven’t done much research on it (partly because I found what worked for me with enameled cast iron). Personally, I’m wary of “new” cooking technology. I think of Nalgene water bottles that had BPA in them and then how we realized “oops, not good.” They have been replaced with Tritan material. In another 15 years, will we realize it was equally nefarious? I honestly don’t know.

      So for now I use my enamel cast iron. But it certainly is enough to make your head spin! You asked some good questions. If you find out the answer from a credible source, let us know!

  16. I suggest doing some research into the benefits of rice bran oil, versus olive oil. We have switched almost exclusively to using rice bran oil at home. It has more of those “good fats” than other “healthy” oils and a higher smoking point than olive oil. The flavor is neutral, compared to olive oil, which means it’s great for any dish and won’t impart that distinct olive flavor.

    Also, the way the article was written, it almost seems to imply that a high smoking point is a bad thing. It’s not. It means the oil can handle higher temps before smoking and burning/combusting. Butter has a very low smoking point, in comparison.

  17. My grandmother’s (now) 70 year old 7 inch cast iron pan has the permanent place of honor on our front right burner. On an average day, at least 3 people cook their breakfast eggs in it, using a little coconut oil to grease it. When I need to clear the stove top, it goes into the oven with Grandma’s 10 inch and 14 inch cast iron skillets. We store them in there because if the oven is turned on without removing them, no harm done. Cleaning is usually as simple as wiping out with a paper towel. Someday, I may pass these same pans on to my own grandchildren!

    1. Gosh, how is it I never thought of sticking the cast iron pans into the oven to get them out of the way?! We have a small kitchen and keep our two cast iron skillets on the stovetop, but sometimes they are in the way when we’re cooking with other pans. They’ve gone on top of the toaster oven, onto the dining room table, even on the floor…. WHY didn’t we think of the oven? Thanks for the tip!

    2. Bethany Wright (Contributing Writer)

      Kathleen – 70 years?! That’s AWESOME! And thanks for the handy tip about storing in the oven. Brilliant. 🙂

    1. Jill,
      I’m sure Bethany can chime in with the quarts, but here’s my affiliate link to Amazon’s braisers to start with:

      Thanks! Katie

    2. Bethany Wright (Contributing Writer)

      Jill — If you are looking for what I referenced/use, hunt for a 3-1/2 quart braiser from Le Creuset. I use it as my large skillet and it is wonderful!

  18. I use well greased stainless steel, with some sticking. Recently I started using my mom’s old seasoned cast iron pan that she had given me ages ago. I am pleasantly surprised! Sticking is nonexistent, if I heat it up well and add fat! It behaves almost like a nonstick pan for me. I plan to keep using it as much as possible.

    1. Bethany Wright (Contributing Writer)

      Rebecca – what a blessing (and neat legacy) to have your mom’s seasoned pan. Happy cooking!

  19. 20 years of infomercials have convinced the average american that non-stick pans are essential for cooking. It has been been effective brainwashing. I gave up my Teflon coated pans about 5 years ago and only use high quality stainless steel pans. Eggs cook easy with adequate butter, but more importantly make sure the bottom of the pan is cleaned well each time. I don’t miss the Teflon.

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