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I had brought brownies baked in a non-stick pan to a potluck. My friend used a metal knife to cut the brownies and scratched up my pan. I plan to bring a non-stick safe knife in the future to save my other non-stick pans from getting scratched up.

Can I use a ceramic knife to cut things in a non-stick pan or will they also scratch my pan? The plastic "silverware" knives work but not very well so I was hoping to get something that's better than them but less damaging than metal knives.

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    Just because you put a knife intended for your pan next to the pan, that doesn't mean people won't use whatever happens to be in their hand. – Scott Seidman Jan 28 at 17:14
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    I use metal knives in non-stick all the time. The problem was that you let someone else have at it, whom does not know the rules for (or has no vested interest in) how to carefully cut in a non-stick. If people can use exacto knives to detail cars, then you should be able to cut some brownies with a butter knife :) – Mazura Jan 28 at 20:28
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    @Mazura - I see what you did there: "...whom does not know the rules...". Nice! – Greg Nickoloff Jan 29 at 18:51
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    It is far, far easier and cheaper to use butter and, perhaps, parchment paper. Then no time and effort is wasted searching for solutions. – Rob Jan 30 at 13:43
  • Other random bit of advice: you can season nonstick pans with vegetable oil to glue down the flaps of nonstick material. Look up "seasoning cast iron" and use the same recipe. I just do my whole pans once they start getting damaged. – nomen Jan 30 at 16:47
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I'd pre-cut them myself - I tend to cut mine in the tin using a plastic spatula; after all they're soft and easy to cut. Then

There are stiff plastic knives (for some reason sold for use on lettuce). They're much better than metal and will easily cut brownies.

If you did want something disposable, some of the wooden disposable cutlery is surprisingly robust, and should be safe on non stick. As you're reckoning on getting the tin back, I'd hope you'd get the knife back too. There are also semi-disposable plastic pie slices/servers (eBay link) but I haven't tried them myself.

You can't just use a ceramic knife. It's harder than metal and just as sharp, and the problem is both, but especially the hardness. Even a table knife or the edge of a metal spoon can damage a non stick coating.

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    Those stiff plastic knives with a large blade work well on many kinds of pie and can double as a server. – Mast Jan 28 at 14:46
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    +1 for the "Plastic lettuce knife". Not only stiffer, but much larger than a little white plastic knife from the "silverware" box. About the size of a chef's knife. You can get one for a few dollars (USA). – Damila Jan 28 at 14:47
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    Plastic cutlery intended to be used at serving temperature might catastrophically fail in a hot pan.... – rackandboneman Jan 28 at 19:38
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    @rackandboneman yes, in fact my lettuce knife has a slightly deformed tip as a result of being used too hot (on something straight out of the oven). But generally things have had at least a little time to cool down before cutting – Chris H Jan 28 at 20:12
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    As for the 'for some reason sold for use on lettuce': Some old etiquette guides suggest lettuce is supposed to be torn into pieces by hand, then eaten by folding it with a fork, because cutting it with an iron blade knife would ruin the taste, especially if a lot of vinegar/oil is used (same with fish, some fruits and eggs requiring silver/bone tableware, something to do with iron rusting too). It's also used as an explanation for why people still believe lettuce shouldn't be cut with metal knives. ;) – Tinkeringbell Jan 29 at 10:57
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You can use soft cutters for some baked goods, but not for all. Wherever you need a sharp cutting implement, the solution is to change not the knife, but the cutting surface. I have three typical options there:

  • Bake with a paper layer under the batter. Probably the most useful for something like brownies and other things which stay in the tin and tend to stick.
  • Bake in a tin made from a different material. Glass and ceramics are reasonably "nonstick" for many kinds of cakelike things, and I cut with knives on them. You do get scratches on glass, but they are cosmetic.
  • for "official" things like a birthday cake or a beautiful torte, I take them out of the tin and serve them on a separate dish that can take the cutting. These tend to be the ones which are the least likely to hold up against cutting with a plastic knife, because they tend to be more layered.

If you want to keep the convenience of serving something baked in a nonstick tin, you have to live with unclean cuts caused by plastic knives/dough scrappers/spatulas/whatever you have lying around. Anything that is sharp enough for a nice clean cut is sharp enough to damage teflon.

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  • Silicone pan, sturdier against a metal knife as long as it is not too sharp. Or tip the whole thing out (also easier with a silicone pan) and cut on the cutting board of your choice, then plate and present it on a platter...you can get plastic platters that are sturdy enough to reuse, but not so expensive that you have to worry if something happens to it. – user3067860 Jan 28 at 19:44
  • Cutting on glass ruins the knife. – d-b Jan 28 at 20:21
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    I've seen many recipes for brownies that recommend lining the entire pan with aluminum foil and pouring the batter into that. When it's done, you can just lift the entire thing out of the pan, put it on a suitable surface, and cut it up with reckless abandon. – Michael Seifert Jan 30 at 12:45
  • @d-b Only the very tip of the blade will be in contact with the glass when cutting at a high angle into the dish, so I think ruining the knife shouldn't be that much of a concern. – maxathousand Jan 30 at 13:34
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Although you say that disposable plastic knives don't work well, they're frequently recommended for cutting brownies because of their naturally non-stick properties. I've used one frequently for this purpose, but I do recommend using heavy-duty ones.

https://lifehacker.com/use-a-plastic-knife-to-cut-brownies-cleanly-1760035173

That said, I wouldn't bring any container you care much about to a potluck. Remove the items from the pan, cut them into serving size yourself, and place them in a less valuable and less delicate container for serving.

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4

Wooden knives work well, even the block-shaped ones for children.

Avoid using any other materiel than wood and silicone. However, repeated cutting or excessive pressure will wear out the surface. it's much more sensible to transfer your food to a cutting board and return it to the pan afterwards.

Non-stick care tips: https://www.thespruceeats.com/ways-to-ruin-a-nonstick-pan-1907507

Many types of Wooden knives exist: https://www.etsy.com/ca/market/wooden_knives

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Adding to Chris H's answer, precut the brownies for the potluck, but...

...line the pan with foil or parchment paper, and lift the brownies out of the pan before cutting them. Cut the piece of foil several inches longer than the pan to give yourself good handles. If you do this the right way, you won't even need to wash the pan.

Here's what it looks like:

Foil lined pan

If you want to use the pan to transport or store the brownies, just place them back in the pan after cutting.

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You could use a wooden or plastic spatula.

Use the end in a straight downward action, as if it's a chisel. It depends on how hard your brownies are, mind you.

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