Best Cookware Material - Aluminum vs Nonstick vs Stainless Steel

What is the best cookware material? If you’ve ever been struck with indecision while shopping for cookwares, not knowing whether to go with the anodized or the stainless steel pots and pans? Or trying to figure out the differences of aluminum vs nonstick vs stainless steel cookware? This cookware material guide will show you the pros and cons of the materials, functions, cooking methods and how they should be maintained.

Different types of cookware materials:

  • Copper Pots & Pans
  • Aluminum Pans
  • Cast-Iron Pans
  • Stainless Steel Pots & Pans
  • Glass Ceramic Pans

According to the table, you can find that copper is the best material, it heats up quickly and evenly. The con is that it is costly. Want to find more detail? Keep reading.

Material Specific Heat (J/kg*C) Thermal Conductivity (W/m*k) Thermal Diffusivity(mm2/s)
Copper 390 401 114.8
Aluminum 910 120-180 48.84-73.26
Cast Iron 460 55 16.58
Stainless Steel 490 12.1-45 3.15-11.7
Glass Ceramic 840 0.8 0.34

Feel free to share this infographic.

Best Cookware Buying Guide

<a href="https://thingsreview.com/best-materials-pots-pans.html">
<img src="https://thingsreview.com/assets/images/cookware-infographic.jpg" alt="Best Cookware Buying Guide" class="cover" />
</a>

Copper Pots & Pans

Features

Needless to see Copper is the best conductor of heat, cooking quickly and uniformly, and reacting well to temperature changes. Copper cookware also has been hundreds of years history. It can cool down rapidly after heating in order to control the temperature more precisely. This helps you maintain the temperature and taste of your food while cooking. For high-temperature rapid cooking, such as stir-frying, copper cookware is the ideal choice. Since most Copper cookwares are pricey, copper is the go-to cookware for professional chefs.

Maintenance

Copper Pots & Pans belongs to the "delicate" type of kitchenware, so it requires regular wiping and polishing to maintain color and luster. There are many copper-based cleaners on the market, e.g. Wright's Copper Cream, and you can choose to DIY at home - just mix flour, salt, lemon juice and ammonia to clean the pan.

For best Copper Pots & Pans, Editor's Pick:

Cuisinart Tri-Ply Copper Cookware Set

Copper exterior will let this set heats and cools quickly for precise temperature control, and it is 3-Ply Stainless Steel-Clad Construction, can oven Safe to 500° F. It's a so beautiful Copper Cookware Set, and easily outstanding in your kitchen.

The copper surface will acquire a dark patina with use, it's not a defect, you can follow the maintenance to clean the surface. Finally, it's a very good set of pans for the money and will serve you well for decades.

go to list

Aluminum Pans

Features

We can say that Aluminum is a great conductor of heat, it is lightweight and heat food evenly. Since Aluminum reacts with acidic food which causes the metal to leach into the food, most of the aluminum cookware has either coated with a non-stick layer or it is anodized. When choosing Aluminum Pans, its quality is determined by the thickness. Generally, Small-caliber Alumium Pans are usually thicker and more durable. People usually asked "Is Aluminum cookware safe?", the simple answer is yes, you can find more details from this article.

Maintenance

After using the Aluminum Pans, it's better to cool it down before cleaning, in order to prevent deformation. It is better to use nylon or wooden tools to prevent scratches.

For best Aluminum Pans, Editor's Pick:

Rachael Ray 10 Piece Hard-Anodized Aluminum Nonstick Cookware Set

This is a fantastic set of Aluminum Cookware. It is light, good thermal conductivity, and interiors Coated in long-lasting nonstick for beautiful food release. Its handles are double riveted for strength and rubberized for grip and Comfort. It also oven safe to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, conveniently dishwasher safe and Lifetime Limited warranty.

go to list

Cast-Iron Pans

Features

Safe for: Direct Fire, stovetop, grill, oven and broiler.

Good for: Frying, searing, roasting, stove-to-oven recipes, and baking.

Cast iron is one of the most versatile cooking materials and a great alternative to Nonstick cooking surfaces. Many professional chefs think the cast iron pan is a indispensable kitchenware. Cast iron is extremely durable and can be preheated to temperatures that will brown meat, with good maintenance, it can be used for several decades. Cast-Iron pans are all-around players in the kitchen, suitable for frying, cooking and baking.

Maintenance

Cast iron pans need to be seasoned before use. For home use, it is better to buy the seasoned Cast-Iron Pans. It should be noted that, after use, please do not immediately cool it down, to prevent the deformation of the vessel. Carefully protect the surface when you clean up, it is better not to use dishwasher. After clean, please put the pans over a burner on high to dry. Then wipe the interior and exterior of the Pan with a small amount of vegetable oil to protect the cookware surface.

Lodge is one of best Cast iron brands. America’s oldest family-owned cookware manufacturer, and its cookware are "natural nonstick."

For best Cast-Iron Pans, Editor's Pick:

Lodge Seasoned Cast Iron 5 Piece Bundle

Cast iron cookware is the original nonstick cookware. And this Cast Iron cookware is able to cover all your bases. Another reason for this set is that they are all well seasoned already. The more you use your iron, the better the seasoning will get. Some reason for Lodge, it has been making cast iron cookware since 1896. With over 120 years of experience, their cast iron is well known as high quality design, lifetime durability, and cooking versatility.

go to list

Stainless Steel Pots & Pans

Features

Stainless steel is the most common kitchenware due to fast thermal conductivity, durability, corrosion resistance and ease of maintenance. The metal surface is extremely smooth and strong enough to prevent scratches caused by normal friction. In general, the Stainless Steel Pots & Pans are the best choice for kitchen novices.

Maintenance

Stainless Steel Pots & Pans are easy maintenance and compatible with induction cooktops, Dishwasher, oven and broiler-safe. However, after cleaning, cookware should be dry, so as not to leave water stains. To prevent surface dents, a small amount of salt may be added after the liquid in the cookware has boiled. In addition, avoid placing salt or acidic food in the cookware for a long time to prevent corrosion of the pot.

For best Stainless Steel Pots & Pans, Editor's Pick:

Cuisinart MCP-12N Multiclad Pro Stainless Steel 12-Piece Cookware Set

The Cuisinart MCP-12N Multiclad Pro has 3 layers, it is the best stainless steal cookware set. The outer layer base stainless, middle layer aluminum core and the interior layer stainless for cooking surface. And the interior cooking surface is 18/10 graded and it is durable and great for corrosion resistance. The Cuisinart MCP-12N is the best pots and pans set for stainless steel. It has superior performance in terms of heat distribution technology.

This cookware set and All-Clad D5 have similar traits in this area and they are on par. Both models are constructed with tri-ply with the middle made up of aluminum core. This center layer greatly offers superior heat conductivity. It allows even heat distribution on the bottom and on the side walls. But Cuisinart MCP-12N is much cheaper. This set of cookware has great versatility as you can use it on most of the cooktops such as induction, gas, glass etc. Unlike some other brands lids which can’t support beyond 350 degree F, Cuisinart MCP-12N lids are constructed with great heat resistance that are oven safe up to 550 degree F.

go to list

Glass Ceramic Pans

Features

Heat-resistant glass ceramic cooking utensils as a new material, not only for cooking, but also good food containers. Its surface has an inert impermeable surface, so cooking does not absorb the smell and taste of food. You can take out from the oven, continue cooking food. Glass ceramic cookware is suitable for many cooking methods: grilling, boiling, or baking.

Maintenance

The glass is very sensitive to extreme heat changes and ensures that the cookware has been warmed to room temperature before placing it into an oven that has been preheated. At the same time, do not soak the hot dishes in water, or on a wet countertop to prevent the bottom burst.

For best Glass Ceramic Pans, Editor's Pick:

T-fal C996SE Initiatives Nonstick Ceramic Coating PTFE PFOA and Cadmium Free Scratch Resistant Dishwasher Safe Oven Safe Cookware Set

Ceramic is one of the best material as containers. This Ceramic Cookware interior is PTFE-Free, PFOA-Free and Cadmium-Free safer than traditional nonstick pots. It is limited lifetime warranty, safe for all cooking methods except induction, and it also nonstick.

Tips: we don't recommend to use dishwasher and metal kitchen utensils, they will scratch the surface of the cookware.

go to list

The List Below is What We mentioned Above.

best pots and pans list
Pans Name Rating
1. Cuisinart Tri-Ply Copper Cookware Set 4.1 Check Price
2. Rachael Ray 10 Piece Hard-Anodized Aluminum Nonstick Cookware Set 4.4 Check Price
3. Lodge Seasoned Cast Iron 5 Piece Bundle 4.7 Check Price
4. Cuisinart MCP-12N Multiclad Pro Stainless Steel 12-Piece Cookware Set 4.5 Check Price
5. T-fal C996SE Initiatives Nonstick Ceramic Coating PTFE PFOA and Cadmium Free Scratch Resistant Dishwasher Safe Oven Safe Cookware Set 4.1 Check Price

The difference among Aluminum vs Cast-Iron vs Nonstick Pans


After reading the introduction of different types of cookware materials, pots and pans recommendations, do you know what you would choose? If not, that is fine, let me give you some more advise.

Cooking Rookie / Occasionally Cook

A set of stainless steel pots and pans are the best choice. They are affordable, durable, fast heating, easy maintenance, can be used as a good basic cookware, enough to meet your basic needs. E.g. Chef’s Classic Stainless 10-Piece Cookware Set.

Fitness / Nutrition Experts

As a healthy diet person, you may be more concerned about eating healthy food, non-stick pots and pans will be a good choice. Nonstick can greatly reduce the chances of sticking food on the pot (or pan), you will use less oil which make the cooking healthier. Needless to say nonstick is the best cookware material for health. E.g. Calphalon Unison Nonstick.

Cooking Lover

For those who likes to cook and enjoy the process from ingredients to dishes, you may need a variety of cookware. I recommend stainless steel and Cast Iron material. E.g. Cuisinart MCP-12N Multiclad Pro Stainless Steel 12-Piece Cookware Set.

Professional Chef

For a professional chef, because of better thermal conductivity, copper pots and pans are better choice, however, they are more expensive and less well maintained. E.g. Lagostina Stainless Steel Copper Oven Safe Cookware Set.

By now you should know clearly what kind of material pots and pans you need for your kitchen.

Best Cookware Brands

In order to better help you making the decision, here are some of the best pots and pans brands.

Summary

You should have some basic understanding of the different materials by now. If you have any questions, please contact us.

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” ― Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own.

Reviewer: Jason Lee

Best Cookware Material - Aluminum vs Nonstick vs Stainless Steel

4.6

Review Date:

Comments