Cons : It requires a little extra TLC to clean and maintain than some other cooking materials. Enameled cast iron has a porcelain coating that prevents rust and makes for easier cleaning.
Pros : It has the cooking benefits of cast iron but cleans up easier and doesn’t require seasoning. Its nonstick quality isn’t always as strong as that of a well-seasoned regular cast iron pan.
Stainless steel is a popular material for cookware, but it’s not all created equal and the higher-end lines deliver better results. Pros : It’s nonreactive so it won’t affect the taste of your food when cooking with acidic or alkaline ingredients.
It’s also tougher to clean, as burnt on foods can really latch on unless you purchase a higher grade of steel. Pros : Like cast iron, it retains heat well which cooks food evenly and makes it ideal for searing.
As long as it’s seasoned properly, it remains naturally nonstick. Cons : It requires seasoning to maintain and cleaning isn’t the easiest.
It’s not dishwasher safe and you shouldn’t cook with acidic foods when using carbon steel pans. Pros : It has great heat retention properties and cooks food evenly.
That’s why some manufacturers add it to the core of stainless steel pans, which are otherwise lacking in that category. It also requires polishing with lemon or vinegar and salt to keep it in good condition.
Similar to cast iron, it’s reactive with acidic and alkaline foods which means those foods can take on the taste of metal and actually absorb small amounts of copper. Yet, there are still advantages to cooking with nonstick pans and pots as long as you keep a few rules in mind.
The material is easy to clean and requires less oil when cooking because of the smooth coating. Cons : Once the coating chips, the high heat is believed to expose food to toxic chemicals often used in nonstick cookware (FOA and PTFE, referred to as Teflon).
Whenever possible, buy nonstick pans that don’t use these harmful compounds. Pros : The biggest pro is that you can see the food as it cooks, keeping a closer eye on progress.
While it’s often referred to as ceramic nonstick cookware, it’s actually often aluminum with silicone finish that has a ceramic-like texture. It’s free of chemicals like PTFE and FOA that tend to scare people away from traditional nonstick pans.
This cookware has become more popular with scares over Teflon in nonstick pans, and it’s made from bonded silicon and oxygen. Cons : Because it’s newer to the market, there’s limited research on how safe it is.
Stainless steel pans also can take a beating from high heat, metal utensils, and deep cleanings and still maintain functionality which is why I keep one in my kitchen. Not all stainless steel pans are created equally, lower ply and cheaper construction can lead to unevenly cooked food and pans that don't heat very well.
Stainless is also not non-stick, you will have to cook with more fats and oils to prevent food sticking (which can be a good thing when making pan sauces). Hammer Stahl's 7-ply stainless steel cookware sandwiches multiple layers of stainless steel and aluminum in their cookware to achieve the ease of care of stainless steel and the great conductivity and heat distribution of aluminum.
Non-stick cookware allows you to cook without fats and oils for healthier meals and helps create perfect eggs, hash browns, and hamburgers that will never stick. Ceramic non-stick cookware material used in pans like Willing Spirit's Thermal Coated Ceramic Cookware has become increasingly popular as it is free from PTFE and FOA, and the coating is scratch-resistant.
With the Willing Spirit collection, you're also getting the heat reactive benefits like from a clad stainless steel pan. Their proprietary coating is made with actual diamonds which has amazing non-stick properties.
I've used mine at home for perfect crêpes and omelets that slide right off of the pan. From aluminum, stainless steel, copper, and other metals, read the manufacturer's description of what your pan is made of.
Cookware Material Best For: Frying, searing, and slow cooking. Traditionally, cast iron cookware was handed down for generations as it is made of no coatings beyond use and oils, cast iron cookware will not be a wasted investment.
Cast iron is the best cookware material for heat retention. These very heavy-duty pans keep in heat which makes it perfect for deep-frying and searing steaks.
Carbon steel cookware works a lot like cast iron with half the weight. When properly seasoned, your pan will take on non-stick properties and will give your food a unique flavor.
The thinness of the pan also helps it heat up and cool down quickly compared to cast iron. Carbon steel cookware is great for high heat fast cooking applications; these pans are a staple in commercial kitchens.
Cookware Material Best For: Frying, searing, and slow cooking. All the benefits of bare cast iron with added beauty and easier maintenance.
This makes enameled cast iron great for deep-frying and slow-cooked meals at low heat. Enamel cookware with lighter color interiors can show discoloration and wear over time.
Enjoy the even and long-lasting heat distribution of cast iron and go straight from stove top to oven in the same pan. The porcelain coating on these pans is cast in many colors making it a tool and a showpiece for your kitchen.
The enamel is simply cleaned with soap and water, no special steps here. Le Crest is one of the most iconic manufacturers of this style and like cast iron, it is one of those tools that you can pass down to future generations.
Enamel cast iron cookware is an investment and has a high price tag. The enamel coating can crack and chip from drops or extreme temperature changes (running a hot pan under cold water).
The copper provides ultimate heat distribution and reaction time while the stainless steel is there for easy cleaning. These won't be as reactive as the 90% copper pans, but will still do an awesome job heating up and cooling down quickly.
We go through all the major shapes and sizes of cookware and explain the types of pans out there and tell you what they're best for. Chef Austin Death is Everything Kitchen's Culinary Wizard, Kitchen-Gadget Reviewer, and New-Product Tester.
It's his job to make sure you choose the kitchen tools that are right for you by testing the best we have to offer. When not cooking, Austin is tinkering with computers or exploring the Ozarks with his wife Amy.