Whether you're setting up a new kitchen or looking to upgrade your cookware collection, the decision shouldn't be made lightly. After all, a cookware set is a big investment that you want to last a long time.
That's why a stainless steel set should be on the top of your list of options.
Stainless steel cookware is preferred by both amateur and professional cooks for many reasons. It's durable and comes with impressive qualities, including:
- A sleek and professional look;
- Being durable and scratch-resistant;
- Being heat-tolerant, so it's safe to use in the oven;
- Stainless steel is completely non-toxic cookware;
And much more. With proper maintenance, stainless steel cookware can be used for years, or even a lifetime.
If you’re thinking of adding a professional-grade stainless steel set to add to your kitchen arsenal, this guide is for you. We'll highlight the major stainless steel cookware pros and cons to consider.
Benefits of Stainless Steel Cookware
Choosing stainless steel cookware is never a bad idea. Here are just some of the major benefits of cooking in stainless steel:
Corrosion and Rust Resistance
Stainless Steel does not corrode nor rust thanks to its anti-corrosive properties.
Stainless steel is a metal allow containing chromium, an element that prevents the cookware from rusting or discoloring. This means your cookware will never rust or even corrode over time!
Since stainless steel is an alloy, it may also contain other trace minerals such as nickel carbon, and manganese. When you're looking for a stainless steel set, you'll see a fraction indicating the type of steel.
Typically, a good set of stainless steel cookware will be made of 18/10 stainless steel, but you can also find 18/8 and 18/0 sets. This number represents the ratio of chromium to nickel.
The higher the nickel ratio, the more resistant the cookware is to rust and the longer it'll hold its polish. We recommend you go for 18/10 stainless steel cookware sets.
One significant reason why stainless steel cookware is so popular is because of its durability.
In addition to being rust and corrosion-resistant, stainless steel is resistant to physical damage like dings, scratches, and dents thanks to its tough exterior.
Stainless steel cookware will withstand wear and tear much better than other types of cookware. Owning a set of stainless steel pots and pans means you won't have to replace them every few years, unlike other cookware materials.
By 'versatile', we mean two different things.
Firstly, stainless steel cookware is versatile in the sense that it works on just about any stovetop. You can use stainless steel cookware on an electric stove, gas stove, induction stovetop, and more.
Secondly, stainless steel cookware is versatile in regard to the types of meals you can make. With steel cookware, you can sear meat, saute vegetables, boil soups, and more.
Not only can you cook in various ways, but you can also cook many different types of foods which you can't with other cookware. For example:
- You can boil soups with stainless steel pots, which you can't do with cast iron or carbon steel cookware.
- You can't cook acidic foods like tomatoes in aluminum pans, since it'll react and cause a change in your food's flavor. This doesn't happen with stainless steel, however, since it's a non-reactive metal.
- Searing meat to perfection is easy with stainless steel cookware, but you can't do the same with non-stick pans.
Stainless steel responds quickly to changes in temperature. This means when you turn the heat up on the stove, your pan will react quickly, so you don't have to wait around for it to warm up.
However, stainless steel is generally a poor conductor of heat. That's why most good sets will include a layer of either aluminum or copper, two metals that are great at conducting heat.
Finding a healthy choice of cookware is important, especially if you're cooking for your family.
Stainless steel is a great choice in this regard, since there are virtually no health concerns with using it.
Unlike non-stick cookware that use coatings like Teflon and PFOAs, stainless steel pans don't have any coating to chip off into food. It also won't release any toxic fumes if overheated.
Although some reports have been made claiming that nickel may leech out of the cookware and cause health issues, there's generally not much to worry about. Unless you're allergic to nickel, chances are, you won't be ingesting enough of these minerals to have any negative effect.
If you are allergic to nickel, you can simply opt for 18/0 stainless steel cookware, which contains no nickel.
For more about the safety of stainless steel cookware, click here.
Finding cookware that's as functional as it is pretty to look at is no easy task.
Stainless steel cookware has been around forever and is a timeless classic. It looks good on any countertop and will never go out of style.
The shiny, polished surface of stainless steel pots and pans brightens up the appearance of your kitchen. Stainless steel cookware will still maintain its excellent shine even after many years of use.
Wide Range of Options
Stainless steel cookware comes in countless different sizes and designs. You've got a wide variety of options to choose from, both in terms of style and construction.
This means you have more freedom to pick a set that falls within your budget. There are more expensive sets out there, of course, but there are also affordable options.
Stainless steel is a more earth-friendly option for cookware, as it is 100% recyclable.
Half of the stainless steel products around today are made of recycled metal. This means that stainless steel is more eco-friendly than other options, like coated cookware (which can't be recycled).
Can Handle High Heat
Stainless steel cookware can handle very high temperatures. This makes it a great option, as you can use it both on the stovetop and in the oven.
People often ask: are stainless steel pans oven safe? The answer is yes. The vast majority of stainless steel pans are oven-safe, but be sure to check the bottom of your pan to see if it's indicated. If your pan has a plastic or wooden handle, it may not be oven-safe.
It's also great for searing meat, since this requires high heat to do. Most stainless steel pots and pans will tolerate anywhere from 500 to 600 degrees Fahrenheit, but check your specific cookware to be sure.
Looking at all these benefits, it's no wonder why chefs use stainless steel pans over other cookware materials.
Disadvantages of Stainless Steel Cookware
There are pros and cons to every type of cookware. To be fair, we have to look at both stainless steel cookware pros and cons alike.
The cost of stainless steel cookware is dependent on the kind of materials used and the country of origin.
Cookware made with more expensive materials, such as premium stainless steel and copper, will cost more than cookware made with inexpensive materials.
For example, the All-Clad D5 vs the All-Clad Copper Core; these are two very high-quality sets of stainless steel cookware. However, because one is made with a copper base and the other is made with an aluminum base, the copper one is more expensive.
Where the pots and pans are produced also has a significant impact on the price. Cookware made in America or Europe is, of course, more expensive than those from China due to stricter regulations, higher-quality material, and higher labor costs.
However, even if a set may seem expensive, it's important to remember that it's an investment. A good set of stainless steel cookware will last you a lifetime, while a cheap set of non-stick cookware will need to be replaced every couple of years.
Poor Heat Conductivity
Compared to other metals, stainless steel's heat conductivity is very low.
That's why most sets of stainless steel cookware have an added layer of aluminum or copper to help with heat transfer. These two highly conductive materials help the cookware retain heat better.
So, make sure the set you're looking to buy has a base of aluminum or copper.
This one is a pro and a con at the same time, since some people have concerns about cooking with nonstick cookware.
Stainless steel has a slick surface and not all food will stick to it, but some delicate items like eggs and fish will need a bit more caution. You'll need to use a good amount of oil and preheat the pan to prevent sticking.
Also, be careful not to overheat the pan. The only time you should heat a stainless steel pot or pan above medium heat is to boil liquids.
Side note: You can easily season a stainless steel pan to make it nonstick, so this isn't too big of a con.
Difficult to Clean
If you overheat your pan or burn food, remnants may get stuck on the cooking surface and need to be scrubbed off.
Similarly, the pan may get 'heat tinted' if you heat it past medium heat too often. To keep your stainless steel pots and pans looking shiny and new, make sure to follow the basic cleaning and maintenance steps.
Stainless steel cookware contains nickel, so if you're allergic to this metal, you should buy a set with a low nickel content. The lowest possible nickel content would be stainless steel that's 18/0.
Also, stainless steel is classified in series: Either 200, 300, or 400. The 300 range is the highest-quality and most corrosion-resistant. The 200 series uses manganese instead of nickel, making it better if you're allergic, but also making it less resistant to corrosion.
The 400 series has the lowest amount of nickel. However, it's the most corrosive alloy for the same reason. It's also the most inexpensive type of stainless steel.
Tips for Using Stainless Steel Pans
Cooking With A Stainless Steel Pan
**1. Use medium heat
Keeping the heat low to medium is the first step to cooking with a stainless steel pan. Because of the aluminum layer, it already conducts heat very well and cooking above medium is overkill.
A high temperature will cause the food to burn fast and stick to the pan and can cause permanent discoloring over time.
2. Preheat the pan
Preheating your stainless steel pan will help prevent food from sticking. Let it heat up before adding any food or oil.
**3. Use oil
Because a stainless steel pan is not non-stick, you'll need to use some kind of oil or butter to prevent food from sticking to the surface while cooking.
Tips for Maintaining Stainless Steel Pans
**1. Avoid abrasive sponges
When scrubbing the surface, make sure your sponge is non-abrasive. Otherwise, it can scratch the surface of your pan. A soft sponge is best for the job.
Although some sets are dishwasher-safe, it's always recommended to wash pots and pans by hand. This is because harsh dishwasher detergents can degrade the surface of cookware over time and even discolor stainless steel.
Besides, it's not too hard to wash stainless steel by hand if you follow the cooking steps above. Food generally won't get stuck-on unless you use high heat and too little oil, or don't season your pan.
3. Let the pan cool
Never place a hot pan in cold water. This will cause thermal shock, which can lead to warping.
4. Don't use metal utensils
Although some sets are metal-utensil safe, it's best to use silicone, wood, or plastic utensils on the surface only. You don't want to risk scratching a pot or pan that you may end up using for a lifetime.
Why is stainless steel good for cooking?
Stainless steel is great for cooking because:
- It's non-toxic and safe
- It preserves the taste of food and is non-reactive to acidic items
- It can handle high temperature in the oven
- It won't get dented or chipped
- It's very durable and can last years to come
Overall: Stainless Steel Pots & Pans Pros and Cons
You need a good set of cookware to make healthy, delicious meals at home. The wrong type of cookware can undermine your cooking process, while a great set can make all the difference.
Stainless steel cookware has been a household staple for years, and the preferred choice of the world's greatest chefs; this isn't just a coincidence.
Although no cookware material is perfect, the benefits of stainless steel cookware far outweigh the cons.
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