If you are a brand new to cooking and cookware, it’ll be too challenging for you to choose the right pots and pans. There are lots of different types of cookware materials available on the market – ceramic, induction, copper, stainless steel cookware, and much more. If you have ever gone to a local department store, you might have felt overwhelmed and frustrated by all the choices. And what is more annoying, sales assistants are always trying to sell the most expensive options, but unfortunately, the most expensive doesn’t mean the best.
The truth is, every type of pots and pans has its own pros and cons. And certain materials will work well for a certain method of cooking. For example, a perfect pot for braising keeps and regulates heat even if the temperature changes, while the best pan for sauteing is sensitive to the smallest temperature changes. So, to find out what the best pans for cooking are, you should know what meals you will often cook. In case, you are going to prepare diverse dishes, your goal is to assemble pieces of cookware made of different materials. We created this comprehensive guide so that you’ll get to know the most popular and useful types of cookware materials, their pros, and cons. By the end of this post, you’ll be able to choose pots and pans which will meet all your needs.
Stainless Steel, Carbon Steel, And Cast Iron Cookware Pros And Cons
Stainless Steel cookware
This type of material is made by adding nickel and chromium to steel, that’s why it’s highly anti-corrosive. The best stainless steel cookware will be stamped “18/10” – it’s the ratio of nickel and chromium. However, other types of stainless steel cookware will also do the job well. It is the best cookware for gas stoves, but you should check in the product description if it’s induction compatible. This material is not porous and doesn’t have a chemical coating, that’s why your food will have natural flavor – it’s one of the healthiest cookware. Don’t get tempted by cheap stainless steel pots and pans, they won’t heat well and food will be cooked unevenly. Let’s take a close look at stainless steel cookware pros and cons.
- Durable – stainless steel cookware is dent- and scratch-resistant. Such pots and pans can withstand heavy use and cleaning; you won’t damage them by metal utensils.
- Sustains high heats – stainless steel cookware can withstand high searing heat, you can put it into the oven; so, this type is versatile and flexible. Just make sure to buy high-quality stainless steel cookware, otherwise, it may leach nickel into the food.
- Heat-reactive – this material heats and reacts to temperature changes quickly, this way you get more control while cooking.
- Clean cooking – stainless steel cookware doesn’t transfer flavor to the food.
- Easy to take care – stainless steel cookware is damage-resistant and easy-to-clean; some utensils are even dishwasher-safe.
- Expensive – you want only high-quality pots and pans, be ready that such pieces are not budget-friendly.
- Not non-stick – you will have to use a lot of oil or grease while cooking, which is not very healthy.
Carbon Steel pots and pans
Both chefs and home cooking enthusiasts like using cast iron cookware sets. It consists of about 99% iron and 1% carbon. Lots of householders ask “Is carbon steel safe?”, the answer is yes, it’s one of the safest cookware materials. This type of cookware retains heat well; it gets hot evenly and can withstand any temperature. So, you can use carbon steel pots and pans for frying, searing, sauteing, even for grilling. Furthermore, such utensils are compatible with any cooktop – gas, electric, induction, plus, you can put them into the oven. Carbon steel cookware is lightweight and relatively thin; if you need to use large skillets, they won’t strain your hands. Plus, pots and pans usually come with long handles, it helps to control and lift them easily. What about carbon steel cookware pros and cons?
- Natural, non-stick – when you season your carbon steel properly, it’ll be non-stick. The non-stick feature will only improve over time and regular use.
- Super durable, built to last – use your pots and pans properly, and they will serve for many years. Otherwise, they’ll bend, but still won’t break
- Great heat conductivity – carbon steel has exceptional heat response and distribution. Utensils heat up and cool down fast.
- Relatively inexpensive – compared to other good-quality cookware, carbon steel one is quite affordable. Plus, utensils don’t need extra cost to make the non-stick coating.
- Carbon steel cookware needs proper seasoning
- You can’t wash it in the dishwasher
- Highly acidic food can damage these pots and pans
Cast Iron Cookware
Cast iron cookware is durable, heavy-duty, and can be used for generations if properly maintained. It’s known for perfect heat retention and distribution; you can sear steaks and deep-fry in it. When properly seasoned, pots and pans take on nonstick properties; the more you use it, the better it becomes. Such utensils can make the best cookware for induction cooktop. Actually, they are compatible with any surface, however, if a pot is too rough, it may scratch glass. Of course, you can use it in the oven and even over the campfire. Let’s get to know the advantages and disadvantages of cast iron cookware.
- It keeps the food flavor – due to high heat retention, cast iron keeps the heat longer, making such utensils the best for searing and slow cooking.
- Naturally nonstick – it develops a natural, non-chemical coating that becomes a nonstick surface.
- Lasts long – if you take the right care of your pots and pans, they’ll last for many, many years, no warping, denting or chipping.
- Cast iron is one of the best materials for the best induction cookware.
- Not heat reactive – cast iron doesn’t heat up and cool down quickly, you’ll have troubles with controlling the temperature.
- Transfers flavors – cast iron holds flavors from the seasoning and the food you’ve previously cooked. It’s not suitable for lighter tasting foods.
- Needs special care – cast iron might rust and lose its non-stick properties if not maintained properly. Such cookware is not dishwasher-safe.
- Heavy – it can weigh up to 10+ lbs.
Aluminum Cookware Pros And Cons
Householders and chefs like using aluminum cookware because it is lightweight, so it’s the right choice for large pieces – griddles, roasting pans, large water pots, and rondeau pots. However, aluminum is not durable, prone to buckling, plus, acidic food can harm it. Luckily, you hardly find pure aluminum pots and pans nowadays, they’ll have a coating – nonstick or anodized. Anodized aluminum cookware has a hard, durable surface, and is safer for health because coating acts as a seal between aluminum and food. Let’s sum up the pros and cons of aluminum cookware.
- One of the most lightweight materials – you won’t strain your arms when you work with it
- Great heat conductivity – if you need to cook something fast, aluminum cookware is irreplaceable because it heats up and cools down in minutes. Besides, you can control the temperature easily – such utensils react to the smallest temperature changes.
- These pots and pans are relatively inexpensive.
- If not coated natural aluminum reacts with acidic foods and buckles easily
- If the coating is damaged, metal can leach into the food
- If aluminum pots and pans don’t have steel exterior, they can’t be used on induction cooktops
- It may not be dishwasher- and oven-safe – however, it’s better to watch specific care requirements for each brand.
Copper And Granite Cookware Pros And Cons
Copper Pots and Pans
If you want to cook an ideally finished culinary masterpiece, opt for copper utensils. They give you max control over the application of heat. Top chefs’ kitchens can boast cookware made of this material. The best copper cookware consists of 10% stainless steel and 90% copper. This ratio is perfect because stainless steel provides easy cleaning whereas copper offers great heat reaction and distribution. We often get asked, “Is copper cookware safe?” The answer is – yes, it’s safe because copper pots and pans have metal, a non-reactive coating which keeps food safe. What are the copper cookware pros and cons?
- Incomparable heat distributor – copper conducts the heat greatly. It lets precise temperature control, change temperatures quickly from boiling to simmering
- Doesn’t transfer any additional flavor due to stainless steel coating
- Looks wonderfully – the mirror finish is so beautiful. It’ll become an adornment of your kitchen.
- Expensive – pots and pans made of real copper come with a great price tag
- Heavy – a medium pan may weigh over 3 lbs.
- Special care is needed – you’ll have to polish such cookware because copper develops a patina over time if you don’t take proper care.
Granite Pots and Pans
Granite cookware is a type of enamelware. It is not made of granite, as the name implies, it’s named this way due to speckled and mottled look.
This cookware has carbon steel or stainless steel core + aluminum alloy for glass coating, thanks to this the surface is glossy, nonstick, nonporous and inert. Modern graniteware is relatively thin and light. Granite utensils are safer than some of the non-stick cookware because they don’t contain PFOA, lead, and cadmium. However, some of the granitewares still use PTFE for the non-stick coating; it’s safe for your health, just don’t expose it to very high temperatures (not over 350C).
Let’s take a closer look at the granite cookware pros and cons.
- Graniteware doesn’t rust
- It has an inert coating – acidic food doesn’t damage it
- Conducts heat well due to aluminum or steel core – you’ll be able to cook fast
- Non-stick surface – no seasoning is needed
- Looks attractive – it has a smooth and glossy surface
- Graniteware is easy to clean
- Poor heat retention because of thinner core
- The coating is prone to chipping – you’ll have to stop using such cookware
- It’s not absolutely nonstick, as Teflon-coated or titanium cookware; you’ll need to add a bit of oil.
Ceramic Cookware Pros And Cons
The best ceramic cookware is made of kiln-baked clay, such pots and pans are specially glazed to be nonstick. This cookware is much safer than Teflon-coated pans. However, there are some drawbacks that require you to have other types of cookware in your kitchen, especially if you want to develop your cooking skills. Ceramic cookware is very safe since it doesn’t contain chemicals such as PTFE and PFOA; plus it’s glazed instead of being dipped or coated, which makes it healthier.
- It’s non-toxic cookware – high-quality ceramic is natural and doesn’t contain any chemicals, so it’s safe for your health and environment.
- Non-stick – the surface of ceramic pots and pans is slick and smooth, there is no need to use oil or butter. If you are leading a healthy lifestyle, this material is the right choice for you.
- Easy to clean – you’ll have to wipe your cookware with a wet cloth after cooking, no scrubbing is needed.
- Affordable – this cookware is one of the most budget-friendly.
- Short lifespan – this material wears off pretty soon, and the surface gets sticky even if you use lots of oil.
- Not dishwasher-safe – if you want to prolong the life of your ceramic pots and pans, hand wash it; dishwasher can damage the coating.
- Low or medium heat only – high temperatures will damage the ceramic coating.
Is Non-stick Cookware Harmful To Health?
The quick answer is no – non-stick cookware is not harmful to health. However, you should remember that there are different types of non-sticking surfaces. Some of them come with non-stick properties right from the package – Teflon, granite, ceramic, whereas other types need seasoning – cast iron, carbon steel, etc. Those materials you season yourself are completely safe; others are healthy while you treat them right. Teflon- and graniteware may contain chemicals, and if the coating is damaged, or cookware is exposed to very high temperatures, chemicals can leach into the food.
To sum up, read the manual carefully and treat your cookware properly, then it’ll be safe and healthy.
What Is The Healthiest Cookware?
As you could see from this post, the majority of cookware is safe, just make sure not to pick cheaply made pots and pans. However, our experts on mykitchenadvisor.com consider cast iron as the best cookware material for health since it doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals that can leach into the food. Contrary, it can add a bit of iron to whatever you cook. Plus, cast iron cookware becomes naturally non-stick, just season it properly.
Hopefully, you could have chosen the right cookware material for your chef games while reading this post. Being cooking enthusiasts, we should denote that it’s better to have several types of different cookware because there aren’t cross-functional pots and pans which you can use for preparing any kind of meals.