Have you ever been in the middle of a heated debate about whether stainless steel is better than non-stick cookware?
Well, I have! It is often a topic of discussion among cooking enthusiasts and ‘experts’ alike.
Whether you just want to take part in one of these debates or whether you really need an answer for informational purposes, this article is just for you.
I will take you through the nitty-gritty of both types of cookware and in a manner which will help you make your own decision based on what catches your fancy.
You will also find 5 different product reviews for both types of cookware, which means once you make up your mind about what you want, it will be a simple matter of going through the reviews and ordering the one you desire.
Let us start with stainless steel first.
Part 1: Stainless Steel. What Is It?
Steel is an alloy which consists primarily of iron along with some carbon. Stainless steel is a variant of steel wherein chromium constitutes 10.5 % or more of the total weight.
The National Science Foundation International Standard for Food Equipment stipulates that chromium has to make up at least 16 % of the total weight of the stainless steel.
Stainless steel gets its name from the fact that it does not stain (I can hear you say “duh!”). Sometimes, other elements are also added to stainless steel such as nitrogen, nickel, titanium, etc.
Stainless Steel Key Features
Does Not Stain
The name is a bit of a giveaway here to say the least. Stainless steel does not stain.
If you have seen stainless steel cookware before, then chances are that you will know that it is somewhat like a mirror.
Has To Be In The (AISI) 200, 300 or 400 Series
Without getting too technical (it really isn’t needed, quite frankly), the NSF International Standard for Food Equipment mandates that stainless steel cookware must be in the (AISI) 200, 300 or 400 series.
Stainless Steel Pros
Stainless steel is available at very reasonable prices with cookware priced for virtually every kind of budget.
Great Aesthetic Appeal
Stainless steel is very easy on the eye. Its smoothness and shine are a sight to behold.
Very Resistant To Scratches And Stains
Stainless steel seems to last forever. It is nigh on impossible to scratch or stain it.
Stainless steel is so tough that its cookware could well last you in excess of 20 years if handled decently.
Given its incredibly high resistance to damage, this does not really come as a surprise. It is quite easy to maintain and clean.
Stainless steel cookware are usually dishwasher safe.
Lower Energy Consumption
Stainless steel is faster at heating food and also uses lower energy.
Stainless Steel Cons
Small Nickel Content
While this is not an issue for most people, the small nickel content may pose a problem or two if you are allergic to nickel.
Use Of Oil Is Essential
In most cases, cooking in stainless steel cookware is not possible without the use of oil.
Uneven Heat Distribution
Stainless steel does not distribute heat evenly. Some of the newer variants come with an inner covering of aluminum or copper to offset this, but then it also pushes the price up.
What To Look For When Buying Stainless Steel?
The follow are some of the criteria that you must carefully consider:
The Type Of Steel
Choose cookware with 18/10 stainless steel. This means it is made up of 18% chromium and 10% nickel. This is the heaviest and most durable.
Aluminum Or Copper Core
As already discussed, stainless steel with aluminum or copper inner cores in them are much better conductors of heat. Go for them even if they cost higher.
Usually, the heavier the stainless steel product is, the better it is.
Part 2: Non-Stick Cookware. What Is It?
In essence, non-stick cookware constitutes a coating of materials which do not let food items stick to the pans during cooking. Non-stick cookware tends to polarize opinion, with some claiming it to be the best thing since sliced bread and others terming it responsible for everything from flu to cancer. The truth, of course, is somewhere in between.
Non-Stick Cookware Key Features
•Food Doesn't Stick To The Cookware
The name says it all! The best feature of non-stick cookware is that food does not stick to the pan while cooking. This is inarguably its most defining feature and the “raison d’etre” of non-stick cookware.
•Ability To Cook With No Oil
Yes, it is possible. You can cook with literally no oil. Of course, it may take a little longer depending on what you are cooking, but from a health perspective, you cannot argue too much against that.
•PTFE Cookware and Ceramic Cookware
PTFE is the ‘classic’ non-stick cookware. Its functionality is great, but there are musings about its safety. In comparison, ceramic is relatively new to the playing field. It has been recognized as the safer and more environmental friendly option. However, the downside is that it tends to have shorter lifespans.
Non-Stick Cookware Pros
•Promotes Healthier Cooking
Given that oil usage is at a bare minimum (if not completely eliminated), non-stick cookware promotes healthier cooking.
•Easy To Clean
Non-stick cookware is quite easy to clean and wash
Non-stick cookware comes with coating that is scratch resistant. The caveat here is that it is imperative you use the right kinds of spoons.
•Even Heat Distribution
Non-stick cookware has uniform heat distribution, which saves both time and fuel.
Non-Stick Cookware Cons
Unsafe For Pregnant Women
It has been established that pregnant women should avoid non-stick cooking.
May Be Harmful To Health
It has been said that non-stick cookware releases harmful toxins while heating, which can cause myriad health issues. In fact, it is believed that non-stick cookware is made using a carcinogen (cancer causing agent).
What To Look For When Buying Non-stick Cookware?
The following are some of the criteria that you will find handy while buying non-stick cookware:
Ceramic pans tend to have the best non-stick surfaces which make them very popular with the masses. They also offer great heat conductivity and considerable durability.
Cookware sets do not come cheap. They are usually long-term investments. Therefore, it is up to you to ensure that you go for the most durable metals to ensure that your non-stick cookware set lasts longer.
Type Of Handle
Opt for non-stick cookware with a metal handle rather than rubber or plastic. This has the added benefit of allowing you to cook both in the oven and on the stovetop.
One of the most overlooked things is a glass lid. It is the most common type of lid, so you get the best option by default a lot of the time; but, it is not always the case.
A glass lid will allow you to see what is going on without actually removing the lid and taking a peek. If you have any kind of prior experience with cooking, then you will know how invaluable this is.
Check the label to ensure that the non-stick cookware you intend to buy can be cleaned using a dishwasher. It will make your life much easier.
At this point, you will appreciate that both stainless steel and non-stick have their pros and cons. It does not really have to be an either/or situation.
I have always maintained that the ideal kitchen should have a good mix of both stainless steel and non-stick cookware.
If you are looking for crispiness, browning and deglazing, then you should opt for stainless steel. If delicate fish, eggs and oil-free cooking is what you are after, then you will gravitate towards non-stick cookware.
That brings us to the end of this article. I hope you have had as much fun reading it as I have writing it. Until next time, goodbye!