Guide to Cookware Material - Best Pots & Pans Material for the Kitchen

Guide to Cookware Material - Best Pots & Pans Material for the Kitchen
Posted in: Cookware
More from this author

Guide to Cookware Material - Best Pots & Pans Material for the Kitchen

When it comes to choosing cookware, one of the most important aspects to consider is which cookware material is right for you. From copper and aluminum to cast iron and stainless steel, cookware comes in a variety of materials suited to specific cooking styles. This cookware material guide will help you determine which type of cookware material is best suited for your needs.

 

Best Cookware Material Guide - Blue Pot

 

Table of Contents

 

PFAS Guide

Cookware FAQ

 

What is the best cookware material made of?

While many wonder what the best cookware material is, the answer will be different for everyone and depends on which cookware features are most important to you. If you prefer to use less oil when cooking or hate scrubbing burnt food off pots & pans, then nonstick cookware is your best bet. If you like a crisp sear on steak or chicken thighs, then stainless steel is the way to go. Depending on what you like to cook, you may need more than one material of cookware in your kitchen. We'll go over the benefits of each cookware material and help recommend pieces & sets for your kitchen.

 

What are the best cookware sets?

The best cookware sets will have all the pieces you most commonly cook with. For some, that may only include a few staple pieces like a fry pan, saucepan, and stockpot. For others, that may mean investing in a 20-piece set. At Everything Kitchens, we carry many popular cookware brands that offer a variety of cookware sets to choose from including Le CreusetAll-Clad, and Swiss Diamond.

 

What are the best cookware brands?

The best cookware brands are those that stand behind their products. At Everything Kitchens, we strive to only carry quality cookware brands. Our most popular brands include All-Clad, Le Creuset, Heritage Steel, Swiss Diamond, Fissler, Staub, and Hestan. You'll find our recommended brands for each cookware material below.

 

What is the best cookware for induction?

Induction cooktops use a magnetic coil that creates a magnetic field between the cooktop and the base of the cookware. This means only cookware that has a magnetic base can be used on induction stovetops. Cookware materials such as cast iron, enameled cast iron, and stainless steel (as long as the base of the cookware is made with magnetic-grade stainless steel) are all induction ready. The two main cookware materials that are not induction ready are pure copper and aluminum. However, some cookware brands that produce copper or aluminum pans may make a special line within their brand that is induction compatible (usually by adding an induction ready material to the bottom of the pan). To know if your cookware is induction compatible, you can hold a magnet to the bottom and if it clings, it is induction ready. You can also check the base of your cookware for an induction ready symbol. While many popular cookware brands are induction ready, you'll want to make sure to always read the product description when shopping online to know for sure.

 


Stainless Steel Cookware


 Heritage Steel Stainless Steel Cookware

Shop Best Stainless Steel Cookware

Best Cookware Material For: Everyday cooking and multi-tasking. Stainless steel is tough, versatile, and suited for cooking all food types.

Pros:

  • Scratch & Dent Resistant: Don't worry about hurting stainless steel pans - they can handle heavy use & deep cleaning and are not harmed by the use of metal utensils. Because it's not coated or made of reactive material, stainless steel is durable and resistant to damage. 
  • Superior Heat Transfer: Stainless steel on its own is not the best heat conductor, however, high-quality stainless steel cookware is made with multiple layers that typically include aluminum or copper, which are excellent conductors of heat. Multi-ply stainless steel cookware is what you'll want to look for to achieve even cooking & consistent results. 
  • Withstands High Heat: Stainless steel cookware can withstand high heat and high oven temperatures, making it incredibly versatile. Use your stainless steel cookware for sauteing, braising, and even baking. 
  • Non-Reactive (No Transferred Flavors): Because stainless steel is non-reactive to highly acidic foods such as tomatoes or wine, it won't transfer flavors from the pan to your food, making this a great pan for clean cooking & pure flavor.
  • Easy to Maintain: This cookware material is easy to maintain and doesn't require seasoning like cast iron. It's durable to withstand daily use and is easy to clean. Some stainless steel cookware may even be dishwasher-safe depending on the construction.
Cons:
  • Learning Curve: Like any tool, you’ll need to learn to use it to get the most out of it. Food naturally sticks to stainless steel, so for those used to nonstick, it may take a little bit of time to get used to cooking with stainless steel cookware.
  • Variation in Quality: Not all stainless steel cookware is created equally. Cheaper stainless steel cookware options exist, but cookware made from low-quality stainless steel is more likely to pit and warp compared to high-quality stainless steel.

Chef's Thoughts:  

I think it's necessary to have stainless steel in the kitchen. If you want the natural flavor of your food to shine, then stainless steel is the best cookware material because it doesn't have a chemical coating and is a non-porous metal that won’t absorb flavors. Another benefit of stainless steel is that it also can take a beating from high heat, metal utensils, and deep cleanings and still maintain functionality. It’s durable and versatile which is why I keep one in my kitchen. However, not all stainless steel pans are created equally. Lower ply and cheap construction don’t heat well and can lead to unevenly cooked food. Stainless is not nonstick, so you’ll have to cook with more fats and oils to prevent food from sticking (which can be a good thing when making pan sauces). Since not all stainless steel is induction compatible, you’ll want to check before you buy to ensure it’s induction ready. 

Heritage Steel's 5-Ply Stainless Steel cookware sandwiches multiple layers of stainless steel and aluminum to achieve the ease of care of stainless steel and the great conductivity and heat distribution of aluminum. Heritage Steel's hollow, stay-cool handles remain at a lower temp than solid metal handles for easier handling while cooking. And their limited lifetime warranty shows that they stand behind their USA-made pots and pans.

 

 

Shop Chef Austin's Stainless Steel Cookware Recommendations

Heritage Steel Cookware by Hammer Stahl 10 Piece Cookware Set

Heritage Steel 10-Piece Set - The complete stainless steel cookware set. If you love stainless steel, get all of the pans you need for the kitchen at once with this set.

All-Clad Stainless Steel Saucepans with Lid | Multiple Sizes Available

Saucepan - I have at least 2-3 different size saucepans in the kitchen. All-Clad makes these saucepots in 1qt, 1.5qt, 3qt, and 4qt sizes.

Heritage Steel Cookware by Hammer Stahl 4 Qt Deep Saute Pan with Cover

Saute Pan - This is my most used pan in the kitchen. Sear steaks, make risotto, and saute fajitas. I love Heritage Steel's large saute pan that has a lid cover.

Chantal 21 Steel Induction Stock Pot w/ Glass Lid - 8 Quart

Stockpot - A stockpot is great for pasta, mashed potatoes, chili, and soups. Get at least an 8-10 qt size for a family of 4 or below and a 16qt size for families 5 and above.

 

 

 


Nonstick Cookware


Swiss Diamond Nonstick Frypan

Shop Best Non-Stick Cookware

Best Cookware Material For: Tricky & sticky foods. Everything from eggs to fish to anything that sticks will easily slide out of nonstick cookware. Nonstick cookware is also great for oil-free cooking and for beginners who want a pan that’s easy to use.

Pros:

  • Easy to Use: Nonstick cookware is the easiest cookware material to use because of its nonstick coating which allows food to be repelled from the pan. This means you can use less oil while cooking and won’t have to scrub your nonstick cookware to get it clean. Those just getting into cooking will find nonstick cookware a great low-maintenance option and won’t need any special cooking knowledge to pick one of these up and start using it.
  • Easy to Clean: Food washes right off of nonstick pans with minimal scrubbing and elbow grease.
  • Low-Fat Cooking: The nonstick surface allows food to be cooked with little to no oil, fat, or butter for healthier meals.
  • Perfect for Sticky & Tricky Foods: Some foods are notoriously known for sticking and burning to pans. From pancakes and crepes to fried eggs, these foods are perfect for cooking on nonstick cookware.

Cons:

  • Inexpensive Options May Not Be Durable: Nonstick cookware can wear down incredibly fast, and cheaper coatings may flake and shorten the lifespan. You'll benefit from investing in high-quality nonstick cookware if you want to avoid this.
  • Not for High Heat: Nonstick coatings aren't made for high-heat applications like searing or broiling, as it breaks the coating down.
  • Special Utensils Needed: Avoid using metal utensils and abrasive cleaners on nonstick pans, as they can scratch the coating and diminish the lifespan.

 

Chef's Thoughts:

Nonstick pans are great for those who are just starting to cook. Most nonstick cookware gets its nonstick properties from a specially designed nonstick coating that’s sprayed and cured onto the pan. Many manufacturers have unique formulas and methods to make their own nonstick coatings. Nonstick cookware allows you to cook without fats and oils for healthier meals and helps create perfect eggs, hash browns, and hamburgers that won’t stick. I avoid Teflon nonstick because there are far superior nonstick materials nowadays.

Best Nonstick Frypans

Ceramic nonstick cookware material from brands like GreenPan has also become increasingly popular as a toxic-free alternative to traditional nonstick coatings. With the GreenPan Venice Pro Evershine collection, you'll also get the heat-reactive benefits of stainless steel cookware with the convenience of nonstick.

My top pick for best nonstick cookware is Swiss Diamond's XD Nonstick Cookware collection. Their proprietary coating is made with actual diamonds, resulting in an incredibly tough nonstick surface. It's also a 'clean cooking' pan that is free of PTFE chemicals. I've used mine at home for perfect crepes and omelets that slide right off of the pan. 

Like stainless steel, there are many variants of what nonstick pan bases are made of. From aluminum, stainless steel, copper, and other metals, you'll want to read the manufacturer's description to find out what your pan is made of. Look for even heat-dispersing metals like aluminum in your nonstick cookware. Coatings are susceptible to scratches which diminishes their lifespan, so investing in ceramic nonstick cookware that's scratch-resistant is a great option for those who want their cookware to maintain its look. While some brands claim their nonstick cookware can be used with metal utensils, as a general rule of thumb, we recommend silicone or wooden utensils for nonstick pans.

 

Shop Chef Austin's Recommendations For Nonstick Pans

Swiss Diamond | XD 10-Piece Set - Ultimate Kitchen Set

Swiss Diamond Nonstick Cookware Set - The ultimate nonstick cookware set. If you love stainless steel, get all of the pans you need for the kitchen at once.

Swiss Diamond | HD Fry Pan - 7 Try Me

The Perfect Egg Skillet - There will be no hassle cooking eggs with Swiss Diamond's perfect egg pan. This 7" pan is perfect for 2 eggs over easy or an omelet. Lifetime warranty included.

All-Clad HA1 Non-Stick 4-Quart Saute Pan

Large Frying Pan - If you want oil-free cooking or if you're not the most skilled chef in the kitchen, an All-Clad anodized nonstick frying pan will be better for you versus a stainless steel frying pan.

Swiss Diamond | XD Double Burner Griddle

Griddle - If you make hash browns, crepes, big omelets, or pancakes for the family, cook a massive amount all at once with a 2-burner griddle. Cleanup is so easy with the nonstick Swiss Diamond griddle.


Cast Iron Cookware


 

Finex Cast Iron Cookware

Shop Best Cast Iron Cookware

Best Cookware Material For: Frying, searing, and slow-cooking. Cast iron can handle high heat, making it ideal for searing. It can also keep oil hot for deep-frying.

Pros:

  • High Heat Retention: Once a cast iron pan is hot, it will maintain its heat longer than other metals. This makes cast iron great for quick sears or slow-cooking stew at low heat.
  • Naturally Nonstick: Cast iron pans can develop a natural nonstick coating, making it a great option for cooking just about anything.
  • Adds Minerals to Dishes: Using a cast iron pan transfers iron (an essential mineral) into food, making it a viable source for helping you maintain iron in your diet.
  • Long Lifespan: Cast iron has an incredibly long lifespan if it is cared for properly. Thanks to its incredible durability, cast iron cookware is traditionally passed down through families for generations, making it a great lifetime investment. 

Cons:

  • Not Heat Reactive: Cast iron is slow to heat up and slow to cool down which is not good if you're trying to do fast, precise cooking that requires changing temps throughout the cooking process.
  • Transfers Flavors: Cast iron can hold flavors from what you cook and naturally season your food. This is great for foods like burgers, but lighter-tasting foods could pick up too much of the natural seasoning of the pan.
  • Special Care Needed: Bare cast iron can rust and lose its nonstick properties if not cared for properly. Special cleaning and maintenance are required, and there are special tools on the market to make this easier for even the novice cook.
  • Heavy Lifting: Cast iron cookware can easily weigh 10 lbs. or more. If this is an issue, you may want to consider different cookware.

 

Chef Austin's Thoughts:

Cast iron is the best cookware material for heat retention. These heavy-duty pans lock in the heat which makes them perfect for deep-frying and searing steaks. Cast iron can be used for generations when correctly cleaned and maintained. When properly seasoned, your pan can take on nonstick properties and give your food a unique flavor that can’t be reproduced with other types of pans. Cast iron is versatile and can move from the stovetop straight to the oven. You can even cook with it over a campfire. Almost all modern cast iron has a rough, bumpy surface, whereas vintage cast iron has a machine-smoothed surface. Seasoning and proper cleaning is a must with this cookware material. Cast iron is not dishwasher-safe, and soap destroys the naturally built-up oils on the pan which can cause it to rust. Due to the thickness and material of the pan, it takes a while to heat up and cool down.

Shop Chef Austin's Recommended Cast Iron Pans:

 

Field Company (Made in USA) No. 8 Cast Iron Skillet | 10.25

Cast Iron Skillet - At the minimum, I'd say have at least one cast iron skillet. Field Company Cast Iron is pre-seasoned and is ready to use.

Field Company (Made in USA) No. 8 Dutch Oven | 4.5-Quart

Cast Iron Dutch Oven - You need a dutch oven in the kitchen for long-simmered beef stew, jambalaya, and whole roast chickens. Cast iron is not good for acidic foods, so avoid chili and tomato soup. 

 

 


Enameled Cast Iron Cookware


 

Enameled Cookware

Shop Best Enameled Cookware

Best Cookware Material For: Frying, searing, and slow-cooking. All the benefits of bare cast iron with added beauty and easier maintenance. 

Pros:

  • High Heat Retention: Enameled cast iron is great at retaining heat, making it ideal for both deep-frying at a high heat and slow-cooking at a low heat.
  • Low Maintenance: Unlike bare cast iron which has specific cleaning and maintenance requirements, enameled cast iron is easy to clean & maintain. Simply wash with soap and water - no seasoning required.
  • Longevity: When properly cared for, you can pass your enameled cast iron cookware down to your children. Most enameled cast iron at Everything Kitchens is backed by a lifetime warranty.

Cons:

  • Not Heat Reactive: Enameled cast iron pans have slow reaction times to heat, making them slow to heat up and slow to cool down.
  • Enamel Can Deteriorate: The enamel on the cast iron can crack or chip if dropped or mishandled. Enamel cookware with lighter color interiors can show discoloration and wear over time.
  • Pricey: High-quality enameled cast iron cookware comes with a high-dollar price tag. While there are cheaper options available, lower-quality pieces that are produced cheaply can easily chip and crack. Investing in high-quality enameled cast iron cookware is worth it if you're looking for staple pieces that'll last a lifetime. 
  • Heavy Lifting: Just like bare cast iron, enameled cast iron cookware can easily weigh 10 lbs. or more per piece, so it can be difficult to maneuver for some cooks.

 

Chef's Thoughts: 

Enameled cast iron has the benefits of bare cast iron without the work & maintenance. Enjoy the even, long-lasting heat distribution of cast iron and go straight from the stovetop to the oven in the same pan. Enamel cookware is where functionality meets beauty. The enamel coating on these pans is available in many colors, making it not only a great tool but a showpiece for your kitchen. The enamel is easily cleaned with soap and water- no special steps here. Le Creuset is one of the most iconic manufacturers of enameled cast iron and has a following for their beautiful colors and designs. Enameled cast iron cookware is an investment but will last for generations. The enamel coating can crack and chip from drops or extreme temperature changes like running a hot pan under cold water. Cast iron is already heavy to begin with, but the enamel coating adds to the weight of the pan, making these some of the heaviest pans around.

 

Shop Chef Austin's Recommended Enameled Pans:

Le Creuset | Cookware Sets

Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Cookware Set - The Complete Enameled Cast Iron Cookware Set: Multiple colors available and different size sets to fully outfit your kitchen.

 Saucepan

Saucepan - If you want saucepans to match or accent your kitchen, you can't go wrong with Le Creuset. 

Le Creuset 10.25 Signature Enameled Cast Iron Skillet | Flame Orange

Frying Pan - For searing, sauteing, and transferring straight to the oven, get an enameled cast iron frying pan. Le Creuset has many color options and Staub has frying pans with stay-cool wooden handles.

Staub 3.75 Qt. Essential French Oven with Rooster Lid | Grenadine

Dutch Oven - Transfer the coq au vin or beef bourguignon straight from the stove to the oven. You can't go wrong with a dutch oven from Le Creuset and Staub. For an in-depth dutch oven review, check out our Top Dutch Oven article

 

 

 

 

 


Copper Cookware


Mauviel Copper Cookware

Shop Best Copper Cookware

Best Cookware Material For: Ultimate control while cooking. Copper cookware has the best heat distribution and heats up and cools down quickly, making it the top choice for precision & control.

Pros:

  • Superior Heat Conduction: Copper is the most conductive of the cookware metals, making copper cookware incomparable when it comes to heat distribution.
  • Best Pan For Chefs: Copper pans have quick heat reaction times so you can prevent food from burning and quickly bring a boil down to a simmer. Modern copper pans are lined with stainless steel, so they won't transfer any additional flavors to your food.
  • Beautiful: Copper cookware has a beautiful color and a showstopping mirror finish. This gorgeous cookware should be displayed and admired.  

Cons:

  • Pricey: Real copper pans come with an impressive price tag. Of all the cookware we've covered, it's the most expensive.
  • Special Care Needed: You must regularly polish copper cookware or it'll develop a natural patina over time.
  • Heavy: Pure copper gets quite heavy; a single medium skillet can weigh over 3 lbs.

 

Chef Austin's Thoughts: Copper cookware is what you’ll see in the top chefs' kitchens from around the world. Hestan's CopperBond cookware is our recommendation for best copper cookware. Hestan's pans have a 100% pure copper core with an 18/10 stainless steel interior. The copper provides ultimate heat distribution and reaction time while the stainless steel makes cleaning a breeze. It's also made in Italy and is safe for use on all cooktops including induction.

Copper is also by far the most expensive cookware material there is. If you want the benefits of copper without the price, check out All-Clad's Copper Core collection. These stainless steel pans have a layer of heat-distributing copper in the middle. These won't be as reactive as the Hestan pans but will still do an awesome job heating up and cooling down quickly.

Mauviel Copper Cookware Skillet

Shop Chef Austin's Recommended Copper Pans:

 

 

 


Should I use a skillet or saucier? What cookware do I need? 


 

Different Types of Pots & Pans

What are the essential pans for the kitchen? What pan do I use to cook a steak? What about a pan for risotto? In our Guide to Cookware - Types of Pots & Pans, we cover all this and more to educate you on how to get the best results with your pots & pans. 

 


Learn More: 

Types of Pots & Pans Buying GuideDutch Oven Buying Guide All-Clad Cookware Buying Guide

 

1 year ago
Comments
Kate Manning
1 month ago at 3:34 AM
I am moving into a home with an electric range. The cooktop is flat glass material... gas is not available ( ugh). What type of pots and pans would you recommend for this cooktop? I know my grandmother's treasured cast iron pieces will only be okay in the oven. Help!! KM
Robert Lee
1 month ago at 8:50 AM
I've cooked in cast iron on electric stoves for over 40 years. Works fine. The cookware doesn't care where the heat comes from. I love the glass top for ease in care and clean up.

Why Buy From Us

© 2002 - 2024 Everything Kitchens. All Rights Reserved.