How does the best cookware stack up to stainless steel?
Stainless steel is a kitchen-friendly option that’s easy to maintain. However, hard anodized cookware is a better conductor of heat and can yield fantastic cooking results. So which is the best stainless steel cookware? Well, that probably all depends on your perspective.
When it comes to the least toxic stock pot for your body, stainless steel, and cast-iron top the list of safe products. Copper without non-stick coating can impart toxins to your food as it cooks, some even associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Other materials, even those that are safe, don’t hold up to the heavy use and high temperatures you may put them through.
Aluminum cookware used to be a famous chef’s classic, much like stainless steel, but it seems to have lost its grip on the kitchen industry. However, hard anodized cookware has taken its place as a safe and convenient alternative.
Anodized cookware conducts heat superbly. It can cook your food more evenly and in a shorter amount of time. Stainless steel will not conduct heat consistently, and you may experience hot spots in your food, including unevenness, and searing.
You can purchase stainless steel pans with aluminum or copper coatings on the bottom, however, which give them better heat conductivity and improve this issue significantly. The heat distribution on these varieties is much better than plain stainless versions, especially on glass stovetops and with glass lids.
The anodization process involves electrochemical procedures, with an aluminum oxide layer on the cookware. This process holds up to impressive levels of degrees Fahrenheit.
Hard anodized pots and pans have this non-stick coating that repels food and makes it hard for it to stick. This feature makes the pans much easier to clean. However, stainless steel doesn’t have this coating, which means it’s more prone to food sticking and metal utensils scratching the surface.
Hard anodized aluminum tends to be more sturdy than plain metal because the non-stick coating provides an extra layer of strength and protection. Hard anodized cookware is some of the strongest on the market. The substance PTFE is known widely through Teflon branding.
However, the coating can wear off over time and be dangerous. See our toxicity discussion above. You need to be aware of the potential risks when buying this type of cookware. You don’t run this risk with stainless steel, and stainless steel is rust and corrosion-resistant.
Hard anodized cookware is not dishwasher safe, which makes maintenance a bit trickier. The coating makes it easier to wash, but you do still have to wash it by hand. You cannot use metal scrubs, or you will damage the coating and risk the lifetime warranty.
Stainless can go in the dishwasher and handle the normal wear and tear of a kitchen. You can also use them safely in the broiler or oven without worrying about melting or damaging them.
Let’s look at the price differences when it comes to hard anodized cookware vs. stainless steel. Stainless steel can get very expensive, especially if there’s a high alloy content to the metal. However, these products last a very long time.
Hard anodized cookware is affordable, but you have to be careful how you care for it, or it won’t last. Both are great options for any kitchen. It all depends on your cooking goals and your budget.