Non-Stick Coating is Flaking Off
If your non-stick pan is scratched, it’s probably still useable (albeit slightly less non-stick), unless the coating is actually chipping off. But if you notice that more than scratches, toss the pan; it’s not worth the risk.
The Enamel Coating is Chipping Off
Similarly, if you have enameled cast-iron cookware, it’s not a good idea to use it once it starts chipping. Chips at the top of the sides of the pan aren’t such a big deal since you don’t do much stirring or scraping there (unless there is visible rust that you can’t remove), but once the bottom of the cookware starts to chip, it’s time to replace it.
You Can’t Remove the Rust
If your cast-iron cookware is rusting, don’t automatically assume it’s time to toss it. There are a number of ways to remove rust from cast-iron pots and pans, including all-natural options like vinegar. If you can’t remove the rust after a good scrub, then it’s time to get a replacement.
You’re Seeing Copper
Many stainless-steel pots and pans have a copper core. If the cookware is worn to the point that you can start to see the copper, then it’s got to go!
Kristie Collado is The Daily Meal’s Cook Editor. Follow her on Twitter @KColladoCook.