Stainless Steel vs. Nonstick Cookware: The Full Comparison

It does not matter if you are an expert in choosing the right type of cookware or if you are an amateur who is looking for good cookware; choosing the right one is always a mess. People fret and fume over the wide array of products that cookware companies provide today. And we realize that getting the right type of cookware is very important if you want to really enjoy the cooking process.

Choosing the wrong kind of cookware can amount to a lot of frustration, spillage, and mess. This is why we have come up with a stainless steel vs. nonstick cookware review, which will give you inside-out knowledge of the two kinds of cookware. After having read this article, we hope that you can make a well-informed choice about which cookware to choose when it comes to stainless steel vs nonstick.

Here are a few factors that you need to look at before you invest in any kind of cookware:

  • The quality
  • What you will be using it for
  • The method you use to cook
  • What sort of cleaning you want
  • Decide if you want less oily food


What is stainless steel cookware?

Stainless steel cookware is made from the best quality steel that will not rust and they look beautiful and shiny. They usually last you for a lifetime because they do not have a coating that needs to be taken care of. Their handles are elongated and are made in a way so that they do not get heated up. Today, a lot of stainless steel cookware is also safe to be used in the oven.

Chefs or people who have cooking as a hobby will know about that epiphanic moment when the food turns into a beautiful brown hue. This is termed as the Maillard effect as well and is mostly related to meat that is cooked at a particular temperature. This effect can be easily achieved if you are cooking the food in stainless steel cookware.

So, for those cooking experts out there, stainless steel is the best choice, especially when you are cooking large amounts of food. When you cook food in a stainless steel pan, there will be brown crumbs left after you are done. Those can be utilized to make pan sauces that come in extremely handy when you cook various fancy dishes.

When you go to buy a stainless steel utensil, then it is very important that you consider the quality of its steel, the weight of the item, the price it is coming for.


Does the food stick?

The answer is both yes and no. Whether the food sticks or not depends upon your ability to follow the instructions that one should keep in mind while cooking in stainless steel cookware. You have to heat the pan until it is quite hot and then put the food in. pouring in a bit of edible oil or butter will be of some help.

So, here’s the deal. If we talk about stainless steel vs nonstick in terms of the sticking of food, then both of them are nonstick. However, all of it depends upon how well you know your ingredients that are going to go in, and the exact timing and way of cooking. We suggest that you read the instruction manual when you buy a piece of stainless steel cookware so that you know how the temperature works.


Is greasing necessary with stainless steel cookware?

People who want to use no oil or very minimal quantities of oil might find stainless steel not suitable for their purpose. This is because, preparing food in a stainless steel utensil will require a generous amount of oil, lard, or butter before you actually pour the main ingredients in the pan. This makes the pan greasy and does not let the food stick to the bottom. It will also be easier to clean the pan if you grease it with these oily substances.

Cooking without oil can be quite a task and might actually spoil your food by burning it. If you want to cook fish, meat, or juicy veggies without any oil or butter, then we suggest that you go for nonstick cookware that hardly requires any greasing. But for instance, if you like to sauté your vegetables with a subtle hint of oil, then stainless steel cookware can be the best option.

Using stainless steel cookware the right way

  1. Go for stainless steel cookware that is of a higher quality, even if they cost more. The cheaper ones might not have a sturdy handle and it might heat up and give you terrible burns when you try to move it while cooking.
  2. It is advised that you keep a watch on the food while it is being cooked in a stainless steel pan. This will prevent the food from burning and will also not spoil the surface of the pan. If the food sticks to the pan, you might have to spend hours cleaning the pan and this will also decrease its durability.
  3. Just because stainless steel cookware can withstand a lot of heat, this does not give you a reason to put your utensils on fire. Begin with a low flame because stainless steel cookware anyway, takes really less time to heat up. It also locks the heat in, so that you do not have to keep reheating the pan.

Here are a few pros and cons of stainless steel cookware that will give you a clearer view of things:

Pros of stainless steel cookware:
  • Can take heating up to high temperatures
  • Perfect for deep frying food or crispy food
  • Very durable
  • Oven friendly
Cons of stainless steel cookware:
  • Requires a lot of knowledge about cooking
  • Food might stick a lot
  • Might get spots if not oiled properly
  • Some utensils can be expensive

What is nonstick cookware?

As the name goes, the one striking factor that attracts all the cooking enthusiasts towards nonstick cookware is that it does not let food stick to its surface. All types of nonstick cookware come with a thick coating on the utensil, the components of which might vary from one company to the other.

People, who are worried about their health and are advised to consume less oily food, also prefer nonstick cookware. This is because cooking in a nonstick pan hardly requires you to use any oil or butter unless you make a conscious decision.

However, choosing the right nonstick cookware involves taking care of some concerns. The coating on a nonstick utensil might prove to be harmful when it is heated and the food is cooked inside. Many of the nonstick cookware can contain harmful chemicals like PTFE and PFOA. Also, if your nonstick cookware comes under contact with high temperatures, then it might let out some toxic chemicals that will cause long-term health issues. You need to take precautions to avoid this from happening.

Nonstick pans are also more helpful if you want to cook medium boiled or lightly fried food. The crispy or browning effect that a stainless steel pan will give to your food will not happen in the case of a nonstick pan. On the other hand, you will save up some money because you do not need to buy cooking oil or butter. This will surely make your eating habits healthier and you do not need to worry about gaining weight easily.


Does the food stick?

This question has its answer in the name of the cookware itself. A good nonstick cookware item will never let your food stick to the pan. However, you should be careful about what temperature you are cooking the food at. This is to avoid spoiling the nonstick coating that is the whole point of concern in nonstick utensils.


Some precautions to take in using nonstick cookware

Nonstick cookware is usually a bit delicate and if you want them to last you longer, then certain issues need to be taken care of. The first thing that you should avoid is using sharp-edged utensils like ladles and spoons on the nonstick pans. You can instead use ladles that are made of wood and have blunt edges. If they are sharp, then the nonstick coating might be scratched and might come off in due course of time.

The second thing that should be avoided is to expose your nonstick pan to extreme heat. This might not create problems at the moment but will surely have long-term effects on your utensil. The inability to follow this will have the possible consequences of the coming off of the coating or the surface releasing harmful chemicals. If you want to avoid burning the pan, you can put the food into the pan first and only then switch on the heat.

Maintenance of nonstick cookware

  1. Although nonstick cookware is dishwasher safe, it is better if you clean it with your hands. This will have the benefit of making your products more durable and the nonstick surface will preserve its quality. The dishwasher might affect the properties of the nonstick surface.
  2. Whenever you are using nonstick cookware, remember using utensils that are compatible with nonstick cookware. For instance, using steel or metal utensils might spoil the nonstick covering. So pot for wooded, nylon, or silicone utensils to go with your nonstick pan.
  3. Test the heat before putting your nonstick pan on it. Start with low temperatures and as you get to know the tolerance level of your nonstick cookware with time, you can adjust the heat settings accordingly.

Here are some advantages and disadvantages of using nonstick pans so that you will understand how they work in a clearer manner:

Pros of nonstick cookware:
  • Can be cleaned in a jiffy
  • Requires no oil or lard
  • Easy to cook fragile food items like fish or eggs
  • Prepares healthier food
Cons of nonstick cookware:
  • Not compatible with high temperature
  • Coating might come off and requires extra care
  • Food cannot be glazed or deep fried
  • Might not be very durable


So which is the better choice?

If you ask for us to make a choice for you, then it will not be fair for both of us. This is because our preferences are different, while you might have different priorities. As a cooking expert or a chef, it is beneficial that you have both the types of cookware. If you love cooking, then the debate of stainless steel vs nonstick cookware should not really affect you much.

While stainless steel cookware is better for a sumptuous meal that is fried in different sauces, a nonstick pan will be good for preparing a humble breakfast that will keep you fresh all day. So, you see, the needs and the functions of both the varieties are different. But, if you have mastered the art of cooking and know all about the exact temperatures and the quality of food, then go ahead and buy anyone you want. You will do great with any of them.

If we have not been able to make you understand the differences and the benefits of stainless steel cookware and nonstick cookware, then given below is a table for you. Reading this table carefully will give you an in-depth knowledge of stainless steel vs nonstick cookware. In addition to this, we have listed the features side by side so that you can instantly make a comparison between the two different types of utensils.

FeaturesStainless steel cookwareNonstick cookware
DurableProved to be very durable Durability depends on the usage
GreasingDurability depends on the usageDoes not necessarily need anything
StickinessFood can stick a bitFood can stick a bit
PreheatingRequires to be preheatedCan work without preheating
Temperature capacityCan resist high temperaturesMight not be safe for high temperatures
Safe to useUsually has no safety issuesSafety issues might arise, especially with heating
Dishwasher safeSafe for dishwasherSome users might not recommend
Conduction of heatConducts heat easilyDoes not conduct heat easily
How to cleanMight take some effort to cleanCleans with ease

Stainless steel cookware clearly has its advantages which always come with some disadvantages as well. There are always ups and downs, which we have to accept. The same is the case when we speak of nonstick cookware. So, if it comes to stainless steel vs nonstick where you have to choose only one, then a lot of factors come into play. And, you have to take the final call depending on which type of cookware serves your purpose the best.

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