There have been several instances where you may have found yourself debating whether to buy aluminum or stainless steel cookware; I did this a few months ago when I had my kitchen redone, and I had to make a new investment for kitchenware. To relieve me from the confusion, I bought a mixed range of cookware – a few of them were aluminum, and the remaining were stainless steel.
Here is a guide to reveal my experiences with my cookware and its associated metals. My analysis that also help you in selecting the perfect material for your kitchen. To start with, aluminum is easy to source, and thus cheap; it’s a good heat conductor. Stainless steel is easy to maintain and extremely durable in comparison.
Aluminum vs stainless steel cookware: Let’s get started!
Aluminum vs Stainless Steel Cookware: Full Reviews
Aluminum Cookware Review
Aluminum is an element that is used in making several other types of cookware with the amalgam of anodized aluminum. It is easy to source and is relatively cheaper than most materials; it heats and cools down quickly as soft material. Because aluminum is lightweight, it’s convenient to maneuver.
Aluminum is considered as the most preferred bakeware around the globe. The majority of aluminum cookware has steel or silicon handles for extra safety measures. Hard anodized aluminum is the most popular alteration of this material, because of its increased durability and removal of toxicity – more of which we will learn below.
Is Aluminum Cookware Safe?
Aluminum can easily be leached into the food that it is cooked, which adds nothing but toxins, unlike cast iron, which a subsequently healthy alternative. Due to this, aluminum cookware today comes coated with a non-toxic nonstick element such as ceramic, granite, and other coatings. Hard-anodized aluminum is the safest and best version, which provides healthy food.
MORE ABOUT ALUMINUM COOKWARE:
Advantages of using Aluminum Cookware
Aluminum cookware is easy to maneuver because of its lightweight.
It is durable if you choose to buy hard-anodized aluminum – you will end up with great, long-lasting cookware in your hands, with a tough exterior that doesn’t dent easily and is resistant to scratches.
With hard-anodized aluminum cookware, you will not have to worry about the reactivity of the cookware surface with acidic foods.
One of the best features of aluminum is its great heat conductivity, evenly distributing heat and retaining it resourcefully.
Hard-anodized aluminum avails nonstick functionality, which makes it easy to maintain the cookware.
As aluminum is easy to source, it is cheaper and affordable than other metals, including stainless steel.
Disadvantages of using Aluminum Cookware
Aluminum cookware buckles easily, so you cannot use them on glass cooktops.
It is not induction ready; many households prefer inductions; therefore, most aluminum cookware would pose as an issue.
It is not dishwasher safe cookware; thereby, it is necessary to hand-wash it; if not, the coating shall peel off, flake off, and wear off. (This is not valid for hard-anodized aluminum).
Aluminum is relatively toxic for cooking unless your cookware is hard anodized aluminum.
Stainless Steel Cookware Review
Stainless steel is popular with professional chefs because of its versatility and durability. It is created with an amalgam of several materials such as manganese, iron, nickel, and copper – and most importantly, at least 11% of chromium. Because of this, stainless steel prevents corrosion triggered by air or moisture.
This material is heavy and possesses nonstick functionality. Stainless steel is not an easily hampered material – it can withstand great levels of wear and tear but not show any of it. It is scratch-resistant, does not rust, and does not dent as well.
Is Stainless Steel Cookware Safe?
In terms of toxicity, stainless steel is one of the safest cookware materials available. It does not have any external coating, which can be leached into the food you cook. Moreover, the material itself is safe and healthy without having any chemical effects on the ingredients. It showcases little to no reactivity to acidic items such as tomatoes, eggs, etc. But there is some pure stainless-steel cookware that can leach into the food due to its nickel and chromium constituency. Cooking food with a stainless-steel cookware is relatively safe, and free of toxins.
MORE ABOUT STAINLESS STEEL COOKWARE:
Review of Cuisinart MCP-12N Multiclad Pro Stainless Steel Cookware Set
T-Fal Stainless Steel Cookware Review: Ratings & Brand Evaluation
Calphalon Stainless Steel Review: The Best Cookware?
Hard Anodized vs Stainless Steel Cookware – Which Is The Best?
Stainless Steel vs Nonstick: What Is The Best Cookware Material?
Ceramic vs Stainless Steel – Which Cookware Fits Your Kitchen?
Cast Iron vs Stainless Steel Cookware: Which One Should You Choose?
Advantages of using Stainless Steel Cookware
Stainless steel is induction ready and offers high-end versatility. You can use this cookware on stovetops, grills, and ovens; because of this, you have the option to prepare several different types of food items.
Stainless Steel can withstand high levels of heat and, therefore, can cook food thoroughly without experiencing any issues.
It is robust, scratch-resistant, and dent-proof; stainless-steel will experience no wear and tear even with rough use.
It can last for years without losing its functionality; it is also rust-free and thus durable.
Extremely easy to maintain, this metal is dishwasher safe and easy to clean – comfortable to wash without any hassle.
Stainless steel doesn’t require any coating to be nonstick and avails this functionality naturally.
Disadvantages of using Stainless Steel Cookware
Because of the multiple metals, it’s an amalgam as stainless-steel is heavy.
It is a bad conductor of heat and thus does not spread heat evenly.
Stainless steel cookware is high-costing than other cookware.
Purely stainless steel cookware has nickel, which can leach into the food.
Aluminum vs Stainless Steel Cookware: The Similarities and Differences
1. Compatibility and Versatility
Aluminum cookware is compatible with oven, and stovetops; for it to work with grills and inductions, there is a requirement for special adjustments or coatings, which will prevent the original aluminum base from deteriorating.
Stainless Steel can withstand high temperatures and is thus compatible with almost all cooktops. It works with oven, grills, induction, and glass stovetops. Because of its versatile nature, most professional cooks and chefs prefer to use stainless steel. You can cook any type of food you want with this cookware.
PS: Stainless Steel offers wide-range compatibility, which makes it versatile too. My stainless steel pot works with all cooktops and utensils; thereby, it is a clear winner here.
2. Durability and Sustainability
Hard anodized aluminum is the most preferred and best version of aluminum cookware; it is more durable and can withstand rough use without getting scratches or denting as easily as natural aluminum would.
Stainless Steel is an amalgam of several metals like nickel, copper, chromium, and is, therefore, a hard material. It can withstand a lot of wear and wear without denting or rusting. It is scratch-resistant and can last for a long period without losing its prime functionalities.
PS: Durability in stainless steel excels most other materials except cast iron. For me, stainless steel overcomes aluminum in this category.
Aluminum cookware is lightweight and a great heat conductor. It distributes and retains heat evenly to the food, which results in it being perfectly cooked. Additionally, because of its lightweight, aluminum cookware is easy to maneuver.
Stainless Steel offers nonstick functionality without external coating and can withstand high temperatures of heat. Cookware of this material is heavy – due to which prevents hot spots. Stainless-steel does not buckle and can be used on any cooktop with optimal performance.
PS: Stainless Steel cookware is power-packed with features; however, aluminum is a better conductor of heat than stainless steel. I am leaning towards aluminum cookware here.
4. Cleaning and Maintenance
Aluminum is a material that can easily rust and leach into the food being cooked in it; therefore, most aluminum cookware today is coated with a layer – the majority of them are PFTE, which can wash away with the dishwasher. Aluminum needs to be hand washed unless it’s hard anodized.
Stainless steel is dishwasher safe and extremely easy to clean and maintain. It is rust-resistant and does not get scratches easily; therefore, you don’t have to worry about cleaning it with hand carefully.
PS: Both materials are easy to clean and maintain; however, aluminum is mostly coated. Cleaning aluminum-based pots and pans require minimal maintenance. Hence, I would pick aluminum here.
5. Value for Money
Aluminum is a good conductor of heat – distributes heat evenly - and lightweight. Hard anodized aluminum avails nonstick functionality and is easy to maintain. But, most aluminum cookware pieces are not compatible with induction cooktops and rust easily. The top coating of layered aluminum cookware can easily wash away.
Stainless-steel is nonstick, does not buckle, is dishwasher safe, scratch, and rust-resistant thus is durable. It can withstand high temperatures of heat and works with almost all cooktops, which offers versatility. But, it does not spread heat evenly and is heavy.
PS: By comparing both cookware, it is clear that Stainless Steel offers value for money because of the many features it avails, along with the sustainability.
Which Cookware Material Is Better: Aluminum or Stainless Steel?
Though full comparison of aluminum vs stainless steel cookware, the stainless steel is the evident winner for me. It offers all the functions and features, which not only makes my cooking experience convenient but also ensures that my food retains its minerals and nutrients essential for a healthy living.
I have made my choice. What about you?
Talya, like all members of the HomeDesignX team, is enamored by all things related to cooking and eating. She’s written cookware articles for numerous publications before working with her lifelong friend Jessica to create their very own website on cookware.
She's currently writing a book on induction cooktops, and enjoys making clean, vegan meals for her family.