This or That? Nonstick vs. Stainless Steel Cookware
Here’s what you need to know about the most popular types of cookware.
So, it’s time to get some cookware. You’ve heard of nonstick and stainless steel, but you’re not totally sure of the difference. That’s where we come in. We talked to Ron Eisenberg, founder of Chef Central @ Bed Bath & Beyond, who shared some pointers.
Stainless steel: Stainless steel cookware can be made of a variety of metals, but typically it has an aluminum core or an aluminum base. A well-taken-care-of, good-quality piece of stainless steel cookware can last forever.
Nonstick: Nonstick is generally made of aluminum, stainless steel or both, and has a coating that makes food slide off easily. A well-taken-care-of, good-quality piece of nonstick cookware can last from 3 to 12 years.
Stainless steel: “Stainless steel is great for searing and browning since it’s able to withstand high heat,” said Ron. “They are oven safe and generally can even be put under the broiler, though you should always check the packaging for instructions and specifics.” You can also use any utensils with stainless steel, including metal.
Nonstick: Because of the coating, nonstick has a lot more rules as to what you can do with it. While certain high-quality nonstick pans can be used on high heat, most shouldn’t be; keep the stove turned to medium or low heat. Lots of newer nonstick pans are oven-safe, but err on the side of caution and avoid high heat, and be sure to always follow the instructions. Nonstick isn’t great for searing, and it won’t make your food crisp. But it’s great for eggs, delicate fish, and anything else you’d like to slide off the pan. In general, don’t use metal utensils in nonstick. If your pan is “utensil-safe,” it’s still best to be careful. “No cutting in the pan either!” said Ron.
Stainless steel: Stainless steel can go in the dishwasher, although harsh detergents can cause it to dull over time. As for food residuals that can be hard to get out, Bar Keeper’s Friend® makes it easier.
Nonstick: Some nonstick cookware can go in the dishwasher, though most can’t. But the best thing about nonstick is that it’s super easy to clean with a sponge. “Don’t be afraid to really scrub,” Ron said. “The longer you keep your nonstick pans their original color, the longer they will last. If they turn brown, it’s because the oil from cooking hasn’t been cleaned off. After repeated uses, the oil gets baked into the pan and ruins the coating.”
Stainless steel tends to be more expensive, especially tri-ply cookware. Nonstick is less expensive, though certain high-quality pans that are titanium or diamond reinforced can be pretty costly.
While it’s possible to get by with just one pan, we recommend you have two, especially if you’re going to be cooking a lot. If you do choose one, it ultimately comes down to your preference, priorities, and how you’re using your cookware. Got more questions? Stop into your nearest Bed Bath & Beyond and chat with an associate, or reach out in the comments!