If you are concerned about PTFE or PFOA chemical coatings on your nonstick pans, ceramic frying pans are a smart and eco-friendly cooking alternative. These healthy cooking pans are safe to use even at high heat and environmentally harmless, too. On average, they produce 60% fewer greenhouse gasses than traditional pan types.
However, with hundreds of available products, how do you pick the right one? The Zwilling Spirit Thermolon nonstick skillet is produced by J.A. Henckels, a German kitchen tool manufacturer with a long record of quality products. It’s a bestselling and excellent pan, but the company’s brand name comes with a high price tag. We set out to find a perfect alternative that offers the same benefits but also an affordable price tag. The winner is called the GreenPan Lima Pan. It’s a fantastic ceramic frying pan that doesn’t break the bank. Let’s compare the two and get cooking!
If you are a loyal Zwilling customer or prefer companies who have long been established in the cooking and kitchen world, you might prefer the Zwilling Spirit. Its tri-ply stainless steel design is rugged and hefty. This pan also has a magnetic exterior, which works well with magnetic wall storage. In short, it’s a great product but does have a high price tag. However, if you do not have a frying pan brand loyalty yet and don’t need a magnetic pan, we recommend the GreenPan Lima as the best, affordable ceramic frying pan alternative.
GreenPan is a Belgian company that developed and released the first nonstick ceramic cookware now popular everywhere. They introduced their innovative product at a good price, and have continued to develop their designs since their establishment in 2007. So the GreenPan Lima has its own legacy behind it, even if it is a “younger” company. In our view, it provides the same benefits as the Zwilling Spirit but at a budget-friendly price. The GreenPan Lima pans are also lighter than the Zwilling Spirit and come with lids, all for a low price.
The Zwilling Spirit uses a top layer of Thermolon ceramic (also known as CeraForce) inside the pan for a nonstick cooking surface that doesn’t require oil or butter. It works great and helps you cut down on unwanted fat. The ceramic is also scratch-resistant and handles high heat without batting an eye. Nonstick surfaces are also a popular choice for delicate recipes, such as fish. Tip: Olive oil sprays can leave an unwanted layer on ceramic pans.
The GreenPan Lima uses the same Thermolon ceramic layer. The ceramic coating conducts heat very well without breaking down, releasing toxic chemicals, or leaching unpleasant flavors into your food. The company recommends using butter or oils with a high smoke point for extra flavor and lubrication, but you don’t need to. Avoid using olive oil sprays, because they degrade quickly at higher temperatures and leave an unwanted carbonized layer behind.
Ceramic cookware is a new realm of healthy cooking. It is more environmentally friendly than older nonstick methods and performs just as well. The coating used on the Zwilling pan is called Thermolon. It resists accidental stovetop overheating without releasing toxins or damaging the ceramic, and can handle oven and broiler temperatures of up to 400°F.
The GreenPan is also coated with Thermolon ceramic and shares the same properties as the Zwilling pan. The company also added their proprietary Thermolon Marathon blend, which is even stronger than previous generations of ceramic coatings. The surface is extremely resilient, and as a result of its great heat conduction, you can cook food at lower temperatures than traditional nonstick pans.
The riveted stainless steel handle is ergonomically shaped and designed to stay cool. It connects to the pan at two points in a V shape for improved control of the pan’s movements. This helps offset the pan’s overall heavier construction. In short, it works great.
Using a similar hollow stainless steel handle to avoid heat transfer to your hands, the GreenPan is also riveted at two points for extra stability and control. The handle is very similar to the Zwilling Spirit’s handle and offers excellent quality.
The Zwilling Spirit frying pan is lead-free, cadmium-free, and PFOA-free. PFOA is a possible carcinogen released from PTFE nonstick pans when cooking at high heat. We recommend avoiding it. Thermolon ceramic is PFOA-free and much less volatile by comparison. Therefore, it does not have the same potential health dangers, while having a more eco-friendly production process, too.
The GreenPan company was the first to introduce ceramic coated pans and other ceramic cookware as an eco-friendly alternative to PTFE nonstick pans. Even if overheated, the pan’s ceramic coating will not blister or peel, and it will not release toxins. You can also rest assured that they are fully PFOA-free. The other materials used, such as glass and stainless steel, are also unperturbed by heat and remain more or less inert.
Most pans need to be popped into the oven occasionally, either to finish a meal or to keep it warm. The Zwilling Spirit is safe in your oven or broiler at temperatures of up to 400°F, due to its stainless steel exterior and aluminum core. It can also be used on induction stovetops. 400° Fahrenheit is great for most uses, but some people may need a pan that can handle even more. In that case, we recommend looking at the GreenPan Lima
The stainless steel handle is oven-safe at any temperature, while the hard anodized aluminum pan body and ceramic coating are resistant to temperatures of up to 850°F. Yup, that’s no typo, this pan can handle pretty much any oven. In short, the GreenPan Lima can endure significantly higher temperatures than the Zwilling. Although you will likely never need 850°F cooking temperatures, it is a nice safeguard in the case of accidental overheating.
The ceramic coating makes this a remarkably scratch resistant frying pan, but for best results, avoid using metal utensils on the pan, and clean with a sponge rather than nylon or steel wool. Treating the pan well will help you avoid chips and keep clean-up easy. In turn, you can enjoy your ceramic pan for many years.
The GreenPan Lima is equally scratch resistant if cooked with and cared for properly. Use utensils made from rubber, plastic, wood, or silicone to avoid wearing down the ceramic coating over longer periods of time. Ceramic pans should be hand washed rather than put through the dishwasher.
Available in 8 inches, 10 inches, and 12-inch sizes, the pan suits a variety of cooking needs, from a quick fried egg to sauteeing an entire entree.
The GreenPan is also available in 8 inches, 10 inches, and 12-inch sizes, with the difference that GreenPan’s products are very affordable. Each pan size also comes with a matching lid.
Having a lid that perfectly fits your pan is handy for preserving moisture or heat in a dish. Unfortunately, the Zwilling Spirit does not come with a free lid, so you will need to find a different covering method for certain recipes. This may mean investing in additional tools, like a stainless steel pan cover, for each pan you purchase. We find not including lids a strange choice by Zwilling, especially at this price level. It’s a common practice, but brands like GreenPan have their customers’ interests in mind when offering complete pan sets.
The GreenPan Lima pans come with glass lids with stainless steel handles. The materials allow the lid to be used in an oven with the rest of the pan. Whether you need to set a prepared recipe aside to finish up another part of the meal or to let a recipe simmer for a while, the lid will keep moisture and heat where it belongs. The clear glass construction means you can observe the contents of the pan without lifting the lid and releasing precious steam.
The Zwilling 12-inch pan weighs about five pounds due to its hefty stainless steel construction with an aluminum core. Despite stainless steel’s ability to be used with induction cooktops, it is quite heavy. This might not be an issue if you do not expect to be lifting or moving the pan during cooking, but can make storage a little inconvenient, as it is easy to set down a heavy pan too quickly or too hard.
The GreenPan Lima’s hard anodized aluminum interior is an excellent heat conductor and is also very light, with the 12-inch pan weighing in at only four pounds with the glass lid. It cannot be used with induction stovetops, but it is much lighter and easier to cook with. If you like to be able to toss the contents of your pan without breaking a sweat, the GreenPan is the clear winner when it comes to weight. It also makes washing and storage easier.