Just follow the Use & Care Instructions. We’re kidding. Here’s how to use your T-fal frying pan for the first time (and in general).
So you bought a T-fal frying pan or you received it as a gift. Now, you want to know how to use it properly for the first time, and how to keep using it from that moment on. (Readers outside of the United States will know T-fal as Tefal; they are two brand names for the same piece of cookware.)
First of all, congratulations on your brand new cooking vessel! You—or the person who gave you this frying pan as a gift—definitely made the right call.
When it comes to non-stick cookware, T-fal is a household name for good reason: In the 1950s, the company’s founder was the first person to come up with the idea of coating pans and pots with Teflon, the slick material that worked so well on his fishing rods.
Marc Grégoire invented non-stick cookware as we know it today. Since he founded Tefal, based in the small commune of Rumilly, population 15,373, in southeastern France, his company has been setting the trends for non-stick cooking.
With T-fal’s high-quality non-stick coatings and the patented Thermo-Spot, that red dot in the center of the pan that tells you exactly when it’s ready to cook in, these frying pans are about as durable and as easy to use as non-stick cookware gets.
So let’s waste no more time in formalities and dive right into the knowledge you need to use your T-fal pan correctly from the start. Along the way, we will also cover a few tips to help you maximize your pan’s useful life as you cook in it on a daily basis.
Using Your T-fal Pan for the First Time
To use your T-fal pan for the first time, unpack it, wash it, season it, and cook with it. Here’s how this process works—and why you shouldn’t miss any single step of it.
Remove the pan from its packaging, wash it by hand with warm, soapy water, and pat it dry. Season the pan by heating it over low heat for 20-30 seconds, then removing it from the heat and rubbing the cooking surface with oil and a paper towel. From that moment on, the pan is ready to use.
The first step in this process is more or less obvious. You need to unpack the pan, remove the plastic wrapping, and then unglue the cardboard label from the cooking surface and the bottom of the pan that’s facing the burners on your stove.
Some T-fal pans come with a protective piece made out of plastic that’s attached to the base of the handle; be sure to remove it before using the pan. Double-check for remnants of cling film stuck to the rivets or where the body of the frying pan meets the handle. (You will be surprised how many people overlook these plastic scraps, then have them melt onto/into the pan.)
The second step is to sanitize the pan. You don’t know where this pan was stored, whether it was on display or not, or who touched it during storage and transportation. Fortunately, all you need to do is to squirt dishwashing liquid on a soft sponge, give the pan a good soap down, and rinse it well with warm water.
Before you can proceed to the next step—the seasoning—pat the pan thoroughly dry with the help of a clean, lint-free dish cloth or a bunch of paper towels.
First-time owners of non-stick cookware are often surprised by the fact that they have to “season” their non-stick pans and pots. Seasoning—the application of a thin coating of cooking oil to the bottom and sides of a cooking vessel—is normally reserved for uncoated skillets such as those made out of cast iron skillets or carbon steel.
In its Use & Care Instructions for non-stick cooking vessels for customers in the USA, T-fal recommends seasoning your pans and pots using exactly this technique. The technique, demonstrated by this lady at Tefal Malaysia in the video below, takes only 20-30 seconds:
T-fal’s Use & Care Instructions also recommend re-seasoning the pan with this technique after every 10 dishwasher cycles. This protects the pan’s non-stick coating and ensures that even the stickiest foods (such as eggs, bacon, or pancakes) glide across the pan like a ballerina on an ice skating rink.
Tips for Cooking With Your Non-Stick Frying Pan
Non-stick pans consist of an aluminum body sprayed with a non-stick coating. That coating is made from a chemical called polytetrafluoroethylene, which many of us know as “Teflon,” the trademark for the chemical owned by the company that discovered it in 1938.
When it comes to cooking with non-stick cookware, there are a few ground rules you should know about (and follow diligently) if you want your pans and pots to last you a long time.
Preheat the pan for 20-30 seconds, no longer:
For starters, non-stick coatings shouldn’t be heated to temperatures above 500°F (260°C), or they can outgas with toxic fumes known to cause “polymer fume fever” and flake off. If this happens to your frying pan, it may get damaged beyond repair and need a replacement.
Aluminum is a great conductor of heat, which is why a non-stick pan or pot doesn’t need more than 20-30 seconds to get up to heat. When you’re using a T-fal frying pan, you know it’s hot enough to cook in once the Thermo-Spot in the middle of the cooking surface turns red.
Cook over medium-low to medium-high heat, never over high heat:
Because aluminum is such a good conductor of heat, non-stick pans heat quickly and evenly. This means that you will need medium-low to medium heat for most recipes, and medium to medium-high heat for when you need to sear (brown) steak or sauté (pan-fry) mushrooms.
Never crank the heat on your stovetop all the way up to high, even when a recipe calls for it. That is a sure way to damage the non-stick coating on your frying pan and fill the air in your kitchen with toxic fumes potentially harmful to your health.
Use silicone or wooden utensils, never metal:
Non-stick coatings are tough, especially on higher-end makes and models like T-fal, but they are not scratch resistant. The easiest way to damage a non-stick frying pan is to use a metal spatula, fork, or knife to maneuver and flip food inside it.
So get a good silicone or a wooden spatula (check out our best spatula picks), and, whenever you’re cooking with your T-fal non-stick pan, remember to use it for all of your maneuvering and flipping needs.
How Long Does a T-fal Frying Pan Last?
Most non-stick frying pans will last 3 to 5 years under normal use, with T-fal pans generally at the higher end of the spectrum. However, lifespan varies from person to person and intensity of use, so your pan’s life may differ from this estimate.
As long as you take good care of your pan by preheating it for no longer than 20-30 seconds, cooking with it over low to medium heat, and not using metal utensils to move and turn food items in it, you can expect your pan to last for a good few years.
Sooner or later, any non-stick cookware will need to be replaced because the PTFE coating will scratch badly or begin to flake off. When that happens, your non-stick pan is no longer safe to use for cooking, and you should look for a replacement immediately.