What are the Pros and Cons of Stainless Steel Cookware? Thanks to its durability and versatility, stainless steel cookware is popular among chefs and home cooks.
It is a type of cookware that can withstand high temperatures, making it compatible with all cooktops and safe for use in the oven and broiler.
One of the most significant advantages of stainless steel cookware is its ability to heat up quickly and evenly.
Additionally, it retains heat well, making it ideal for preparing a wide range of dishes. Its versatility and durability make it a go-to choice for many cooks who want all-purpose cookware.
However, despite these benefits, stainless steel cookware has some downsides. For one, it can be costly, making it a less attractive option for those on a tight budget.
Additionally, it can be challenging to clean, and the cooking performance can vary significantly between different brands and models.
This guide will break down its pros and cons to help you make an informed decision before investing in stainless steel cookware.
By weighing these factors, you’ll be better equipped to decide if it’s the correct type of cookware for your needs.
Pros And Cons Of Stainless Steel Cookware At A Glance:
The Advantages of Using Stainless Steel Cookware
Stainless steel cookware is an excellent choice for those seeking durable, non-toxic kitchenware that can withstand much use.
It is beneficial for boiling, sautéing, and baking, as it efficiently retains heat and evenly cooks food.
In addition to its practicality, stainless steel cookware is easy to maintain and clean, making it an ideal option for inexperienced cooks.
It requires a simple hot soapy water wash after use and a scrub with steel wool to remove any stubborn oil buildup.
Stainless steel cookware is also incredibly versatile, with various pots, frying pans, skillets, lasagna pans, roasting trays, muffin tins, and baking sheets available in the market.
One of the most popular stainless steel cookware options is the 3-ply design. This design features a layering of stainless steel, aluminum, and stainless steel, which helps seal the aluminum and prevent potential leaching.
This design also allows for better heat conductivity, resulting in a more uniform cooking surface. Moreover, this type of cookware is sturdier and has a polished finish superior to cheaper alternatives that use low-quality stainless steel.
Drawbacks Of Using Stainless Cookware
Stainless steel cookware is a popular choice for its durability and aesthetic appeal. However, it does have a potential drawback that needs to be considered.
Stainless steel has the potential to release heavy metals into food, especially when cooking acidic dishes for extended periods.
This is due to the steel’s iron, chromium, and nickel presence. Unfortunately, nickel does not offer any nutritional benefits to the body and has been linked to some adverse health effects, including allergic dermatitis in specific individuals.
If you are sensitive to nickel, consider exploring alternative cookware options.
While there are stainless steel cookware products with low or no nickel content, they are susceptible to corrosion.
Nickel is crucial in stainless steel alloys because it helps prevent rust formation and adds durability and shine.
Therefore, if you want to purchase cookware, weighing the pros and cons of stainless steel and determining if it is the right choice for your needs is crucial.
While it may be a good fit for some, there may be better options for nickel-sensitive or who frequently cook acidic dishes.
What Is Stainless Steel Made Of?
Stainless steel, a popular material for various applications, typically comprises 10% chromium, iron, and nickel.
The presence of chromium provides excellent resistance against rust and improves the material’s durability.
The proportion of nickel and chromium content in the steel determines its quality, also known as ‘grade.’
You can learn more about steel grades through the British Stainless Steel Association based in Sheffield, England.
Regarding cookware, you might come across terms like 18/8, 18/10, or 18/1. These numbers indicate the ratio of chromium to nickel present in the steel.
For instance, 18/8 means the steel has 18% chromium and 8% nickel content. By contrast, 18/10 indicates 18% chromium and 10% nickel content, making it a superior grade of stainless steel.
Stainless steel is a material that can be classified into different series, which is perplexing. There are three categories of stainless steel: 200, 300, and 400 series.
The 200 series is made with manganese instead of nickel, making it less expensive and more corrosion-resistant.
On the other hand, the 300 series, sometimes called 304 or 316, is a higher-quality range that is much more corrosion-resistant.
Regarding cookware, surgical-grade steel is typically made with 316 alloys containing titanium and molybdenum.
These elements enhance the material’s resistance to erosion caused by saltwater (saline). The 300 series is the most preferred option for kitchenware due to its high quality and durability.
On the other hand, the cheapest option for stainless steel cookware is typically found in the 400 series.
This type of alloy is less expensive because it is almost entirely nickel-free but is also more prone to corrosion. It is often used for mixing bowls, kitchen utensils, and budget-friendly stockpots.
How Can Stainless Steel Cookware Be Seasoned?
Stainless steel cookware is popular due to its durability and sleek appearance.
However, one major drawback is that it often requires more oil to prevent food from sticking to the surface.
Fortunately, there are ways to overcome this issue and make stainless steel pans non-stick.
Lowering the heat while cooking can reduce the likelihood of food sticking to the pan.
However, for more experienced cooks, seasoning the pan can provide a natural non-stick coating for frying pans and saucepans.
Here are the steps to season a stainless-steel pan:
- Heat the pan on moderate heat and add a substantial amount of oil.
- Once the oil reaches its smoking point, turn off the burner and cool the pan.
- Once the pan is excellent, pour off the fat and wipe it clean.
After seasoning, the pan’s surface will have a reflective finish and be seasoned to be non-stick. It will remain non-stick as long as it is not cleaned with soap.
This is because as the pan heats, the metal expands, and the oil sticks to the surface. A natural non-stick coating forms as the pan cools down and the metal contracts.
Seasoned stainless-steel pans are ideal for cooking dishes like tofu scrambles, eggs, crepes, and more.
However, it’s important not to overdo it with oil, as my grandfather did by covering the bottom of the pan with an inch of lard!