Stainless steel is an alloy of various metals such as steel, chromium, nickel, copper, and others. The quality and features of a stainless steel pot or pan is dependent on the degree of other metals used in its making process.
The exact composition of steel and other metals can determine temperature resistance, quality, durability, and more. For example, higher concentrations of aluminum or copper may improve heat conductivity. Chromium helps in enhancing the durability, whereas nickel provides it with corrosion protection. Ultimately, each element serves a general purpose but stainless steel is mostly popular for its anti-corrosive properties and high strength.
Characteristics of Stainless Steel Cookware
Here are some of the most prominent features of stainless steel.
Stainless steel cookware will practically last forever if maintained properly. In fact, it’s much less likely to crack or break than nonstick, cast iron, or ceramic cookware.
While corrosion is possible, most stainless steel sets are made to resist corrosion. This is especially true for sets that are well maintained by their owners.
Professional kitchens often use steel pots and pans because of their classy appearance. Plus, stainless steel is generally easy to clean when enough oil or butter is used.
Scratch Free Surface
Unlike ceramic or nonstick, stainless steel is not prone to the scratches regardless of the type of utensils you use. However, overly rough behaviours can still scratch pots or pans.
A big reason for the popularity of stainless steel products is due to their low maintenance and easy to clean qualities. Provided that enough oil is used, food typically won’t get stuck on stainless steel. However, your favorite dish soap will easily rid stubborn stains and stuck food.
Stainless Steel Cookware Pros and Cons
All types of cookware have advantages and disadvantages, so a lot comes down to your personal preference. This section will cover stainless steel cookware pros and cons so you can decide if stainless steel is right for you!
Pros of Stainless Steel
Great Cooking Performance
The biggest advantage of choosing stainless steel cookware over other options is its brilliant cooking ability. Stainless steel has excellent heat absorption and it can handle very high temperatures (up to 600°F). Once the pot or pan is thoroughly heated, you will have little trouble cooking your favorite dish.
Stainless steel cookware is known for its low maintenance and easy cleaning process. Stainless steel is a mixture of several other metals that combine to present a balanced surface great for cooking. Unlike cast iron, stainless steel doesn’t need to be seasoned first.
Even though stainless steel doesn’t have a nonstick surface it is still generally easy to clean.
Corrosive and Rust Resistant
Do not worry about your stainless steel cookware becoming spoiled with rust or stains. The nickel and chromium used in its construction will keep the surface of the stainless steel spotless with proper care.
As a bonus, stainless steel is quite durable. It won’t easily break or dent if dropped or smashed.
The use of eco-friendly products have become very popular in recent years because of the benefits to both nature and to us. Stainless steel recyclable and uses eco friendly manufacturing processes. More than eighty percent of stainless steel is produced from recycled scrap metal. When stainless steel products are damaged, they are melted at high temperatures and molded into new shapes and forms.
However, as with nearly any material, stainless steel does take quite a bit of energy to create — though not as much as ceramic.
Extremely Sturdy and Durable
Stainless steel has great strength despite being relatively lightweight (especially compared to cast iron). On average, stainless steel cookware is one of the most durable options of any cookware material.
Aside from the general caution cooks and chefs should always employ when using heat, stainless steel is very safe to handle compared to glass or ceramic which can be prone to breaking when dropped or handled improperly.
Cons of Stainless Steel
(Relatively) Poor Heat Distribution
Though stainless steel is solid and sturdy, this is also the reason for its low heat distribution capability. Stainless steel is not as conductive as copper or aluminum which means it takes longer to heat up. This brief waiting period may be frustrating for cooks with a time limit.
However, once the stainless steel is heated to the desired amount, it will retain its heat well. This makes stainless steel ideal for even cooking and is the reason so many professional chefs prefer it.
No Non-Stick Ability
One strong reason why some cooks prefer other materials over stainless steel is the lack of a nonstick surface. Cookware made of stainless steel is usually the best for boiling, deep-frying, and sauteing, but may fall short when it comes to handling delicate foods. This means that you must use a proper amount of oils or fat to prevent burned or stuck food. As such, people who prefer to cook with minimal amounts of oils or fats may want to look elsewhere for cookware.
Even though stainless steel is corrosion resistant, it can still fall victim to scouring or discoloration after many years of use or improper care. This is due to the molecular bonds within the stainless steel breaking down, perhaps due to excessive heat or harsh cleaning. However, with the right treatment, most stainless steel pots can be salvaged if they become discolored.
Stainless steel cookware has a variable range of products that run from very cheap to very expensive. Often, it depends on the grade and level of the stainless steel cookware you are purchasing. High quality (and more expensive) products usually make use of a better mixture of metals in their composition.
It’s always better to buy good quality products when it comes to stainless steel cookware, as cheap products will likely need to be replaced quickly. If you’re cooking often, you’ll quickly reap the benefits of using great quality stainless steel cookware.
Stainless steel is safe to use when it is properly maintained and used in accordance with the manufacturers recommendations. Stainless steel products are also regulated so you should be able to trust brands as far as the quality of metal they use. However, when stainless steel is used with excessive heat, heavy metals in its composition can leach into your food, causing a number of health problems over time.
By avoiding harsh utensils, rough actions, and extreme heat when cooking with stainless steel, most consumers will have little to worry about though.
Best Stainless Steel Cookware Set to Buy
- Cuisinart Multiclad Pro Stainless Steel Cookware Set
- Duxtop Professional Stainless Steel Cookware Set
- Cook N Home Stainless Steel Cookware Set
- T-Fal Ultimate Stainless Steel Copper Cookware Set
- World’s Finest Stainless Steel Cookware Set
Though there are a few disadvantages of stainless steel cookware, its perks have led to its widespread popularity among chefs and home cookers alike. Even though you are now aware of numerous stainless steel cookware pros and cons, consider your requirements before jumping into buying a new cookware set.
Stainless steel is mostly low maintenance but cooks that want to avoid using oils or butters in their cooking may prefer to use a different option, such as a nonstick or ceramic cookware set. That said, stainless steel will of course treat you well if you handle it with care. That means hand washing and avoiding excessive amounts of heat when cooking.
If this sounds like you, then by all means go with stainless steel! We hope that this guide has helped you narrow down your choices! Good Luck!