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Stainless Steel vs Nonstick

Stainless Steel vs Nonstick – A Comparison of Pros and Cons

By David Burke

Stainless Steel vs Nonstick 

When it comes to selecting cookware for your kitchen, the choice between stainless steel vs nonstick can be quite a dilemma. Both of these materials have their pros and cons, and the best choice ultimately depends on your cooking style and preferences.

The importance of choosing the right cookware cannot be understated. It influences not only the quality of your meals but also the ease of cooking and cleanup. Furthermore, your cookware can have significant impacts on your health, given that certain materials might release harmful substances when heated. As such, it is crucial to make a well-informed decision about whether to go with stainless steel or nonstick cookware.

Stainless Steel vs Nonstick

To help you out, we’ve compiled all the important information about stainless steel and nonstick cookware in one place. In this post, we’ll explain why each type of material is worth considering as you evaluate your options. We will also provide some helpful tips on how to choose quality pieces regardless of what type of cookware you end up selecting. Whether you’re looking for a new set or just replacing an old piece, this guide has everything covered – read on!

Understanding Stainless Steel Cookware

Stainless steel cookware is a popular choice for amateur and professional chefs alike due to its durability, versatility, and aesthetic appeal. This type of cookware is made from a steel alloy that contains a minimum of 10.5% chromium, which provides a protective layer that makes the material resistant to rust, staining, and corrosion. In order to achieve the best cooking results, it’s important to understand the properties of stainless steel cookware and how to care for it properly.

Stainless steel cookware is available in a variety of grades, with 18/10 being the most common. This grade of stainless steel contains 18% chromium and 10% nickel, which provides added durability and resistance to corrosion. Higher-grade stainless steel cookware, such as 18/0, contains less nickel and is, therefore, more prone to corrosion. When selecting stainless steel cookware, it’s important to choose a grade that suits your needs and budget.

Advantages of Using Stainless Steel Cookware

When it comes to cooking, the type of cookware you use is just as important as the ingredients you choose. Stainless steel cookware, in particular, offers a wide range of benefits that make it a popular choice among chefs and home cooks alike.

One of the primary advantages of stainless steel cookware is its durability. Unlike other materials, such as nonstick coatings or cast iron, it won’t lose its coating over time or suffer from wear and tear. This means that you can rely on your stainless steel cookware to perform well for years to come, making it a worthwhile investment for anyone serious about cooking.

In addition, stainless steel is great for searing and browning meats. Its ability to handle high heat means that you can achieve a delicious golden crust on your meats, which can enhance their flavor and texture when cooked properly.

Stainless steel is also an excellent material for sautéing, thanks to its even heat distribution and non-reactive surface. It won’t react with acidic ingredients, such as tomatoes or vinegar, which can cause other types of cookware to discolor or even impart a metallic taste to your food.

For those who like to use their cookware in the oven, stainless steel is oven safe at high temperatures. This means that you can move your dishes seamlessly from stove to oven and achieve perfectly cooked meals every time.

Another advantage of stainless steel cookware is that it can be nonstick when oiled and heated properly. This makes it ideal for cooking delicate items such as eggs or fish, without worrying about them sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Stainless steel cookware is also safe to use with sharp and metal utensils, which can be useful when flipping or stirring food. Unlike other materials, such as nonstick coatings, stainless steel won’t scratch or peel when used with metal utensils, which can save you money in the long run.

Finally, stainless steel cookware has a high level of durability and can last a lifetime. With proper care and maintenance, it can withstand frequent use and continue to perform well for many years to come.

In summary, stainless steel cookware represents a great investment for anyone serious about cooking. Its durability, even heat distribution, and versatility make it a popular choice among both home cooks and professional chefs. Whether you’re searing meats, sautéing vegetables, or baking in the oven, stainless steel cookware is a reliable and long-lasting option that won’t disappoint.

To summarize, these benefits include:

  1. Durability: Stainless steel is resistant to wear and tear and won’t lose its coating over time, ensuring long-lasting performance.
  2. Exceptional for Searing and Browning: It can handle high heat, enabling you to achieve a golden crust on meats to enhance their flavor and texture.
  3. Great for Sautéing: Thanks to its even heat distribution and non-reactive surface, stainless steel doesn’t react with acidic ingredients, preserving the quality and taste of your dishes.
  4. Oven-safe: High-temperature resistance allows for a seamless transition from stove to oven, leading to perfectly cooked meals.
  5. Potential Non-stick Functionality: When properly oiled and heated, stainless steel can prevent food items from sticking, which is ideal for cooking delicate foods like eggs or fish.
  6. Compatible with Sharp and Metal Utensils: Stainless steel doesn’t scratch or peel when used with metal utensils, saving you the cost of replacing damaged cookware.
  7. Lasts a Lifetime: With the right care, stainless steel cookware can serve you for many years, making it a worthwhile investment.

These compelling features of stainless steel cookware underscore its popularity and reliability in the culinary world. It’s a tool that marries function with durability, providing an exceptional cooking experience every time.

Disadvantages of Stainless Steel Cookware

Besides the advantages, stainless steel also has certain disadvantages. One major drawback is that it must be oiled and heated properly before use, as without adequate preparation the food may stick or burn. This can not only result in less-than-desirable cooking outcomes but also in a greater level of difficulty when it comes time to clean the pan. Indeed, it is widely recognized that stainless steel cookware is more labor-intensive when it comes to maintenance and care, requiring more attention to detail and precision than its non-stick counterparts.

In addition to the somewhat finicky nature of stainless steel cookware, it is also worth noting that it is not ideal for cooking certain types of foods. Specifically, the surface of stainless steel cookware does not lend itself well to foods that are prone to sticking, such as eggs, omelets, delicate fish, crepes, and soft tofu. This can be frustrating for home cooks who enjoy preparing a variety of dishes, or for those who are simply looking for a versatile pan option that can accommodate a range of cooking needs.

Finally, it is worth acknowledging that stainless steel cookware can also be more expensive than nonstick options. While this is not always the case, the higher cost of stainless steel cookware can be a deterrent for those who are working with a budget or looking for a more affordable option. That being said, there are numerous benefits to using stainless steel cookware that make it a worthwhile investment for many home cooks and professionals – from its durability and long-lasting nature to its ability to conduct heat evenly and efficiently.

To encapsulate, the disadvantages of stainless steel cookware include:

  1. Requires Proper Preparation: Stainless steel cookware needs to be suitably oiled and heated before use to prevent food from sticking or burning. This requirement can make cooking with stainless steel more complicated than with nonstick cookware.
  2. Time-Consuming Maintenance: Stainless steel is more labor-intensive to clean and maintain, demanding more attention and precision than nonstick alternatives.
  3. Limited Versatility: Foods prone to sticking like eggs, omelets, delicate fish, crepes, and soft tofu may not cook as well on stainless steel surfaces.
  4. Higher Cost: Stainless steel cookware tends to be pricier than nonstick options, potentially posing a hurdle for those on a budget.

Despite these disadvantages, the advantages of stainless steel cookware—its durability, even heat distribution, compatibility with metal utensils, and potential for nonstick functionality when properly used—make it an appealing option for many culinary enthusiasts.

Ideal Usage Scenarios for Stainless Steel Cookware

Stainless steel cookware is an essential part of every modern kitchen. It is an excellent material for cooking utensils due to its high durability, resistance to corrosion and rust, and non-reactive properties. Here are some usage scenarios for stainless steel cookware:

1. Boiling Water: Stainless steel cookware is perfect for boiling water for tea or cooking pasta because it heats up very quickly and evenly. Additionally, the stainless steel material is easy to clean and maintains its shiny appearance even after prolonged use.

2. Sauteing Vegetables: When cooking vegetables with a high moisture content, it’s important to have cookware that heats quickly and evenly. Stainless steel cookware is perfect for this job as it distributes heat evenly without hotspots, ensuring that your vegetables cook evenly.

Ideal Usage Scenarios for Stainless Steel Cookware

3. Steaming Fish: Steam cooking is a healthy way to prepare food, and stainless steel cookware is an ideal choice for steaming fish. A stainless steel steamer basket can be placed in a pot of boiling water, and the fish placed on top of the basket – the steam generated by the boiling water will cook the fish to perfection.

4. Making Soup: Stainless steel cookware is especially useful for making soup because it can withstand high temperatures without warping. Plus, its non-reactive properties mean that the flavors of the ingredients won’t be altered during cooking.

5. Roasting Meat: Stainless steel roasting pans are perfect for roasting meats like turkey or beef. They distribute heat evenly, ensuring that the meat cooks thoroughly without burning or sticking to the pan.

Overall, stainless steel cookware is a versatile and indispensable item in any kitchen. Its many benefits make it a popular choice among professional chefs and home cooks alike. With proper care and maintenance, stainless steel cookware can last for many years, making it a smart investment for any kitchen.

Read more: Do stainless steel pans go bad?

Understanding Nonstick Cookware

Nonstick cookware is an essential kitchen tool that has revolutionized cooking over the years. A nonstick coating is a layer of material that has been applied to the cooking surface of pots, pans, and other cookware to prevent food from sticking to it. This coating provides an easy way to cook, as there is no longer the need to grease the cooking surface or scrape food debris after cooking.

The nonstick coating is made from a combination of materials such as fluoropolymers, ceramics, and silicone. The most popular nonstick coating is Teflon, which was invented in 1938. Teflon’s nonstick properties are due to its excellent thermal stability and its ability to repel water and oil.

Other types of nonstick coatings include ceramic, which is considered a safer alternative to Teflon, and silicone, which is used for bakeware and kitchen utensils. Ceramic nonstick coatings are made from natural materials such as sand and clay, making them a healthier option for cooking.

Advantages of Using Nonstick Cookware

Nonstick cookware offers numerous advantages for home cooks and professional chefs alike. When preparing delicate foods like fish, eggs, and tofu, nonstick surfaces prevent the sticking or tearing of the protein. This feature helps ensure that the food maintains its shape and integrity while cooking.

Another significant advantage of nonstick pans is their affordability. Nonstick cookware is often less expensive than high-end stainless steel or copper options. Furthermore, the simplicity and ease of cleaning make nonstick cookware ideal for busy homes or anyone looking to simplify their cooking process.

Nonstick cookware is versatile and can be used both for stovetop cooking and baking. Nonstick baking sheets and cake pans are available, which make baking and clean-up significantly easier and less time-consuming. Additionally, nonstick surfaces typically require less oil or butter, making dishes healthier and lower in calories.

Nonstick cookware also provides an easier cooking experience for beginner chefs. Due to the nonstick properties, food is less likely to burn or stick to the pan, reducing the risk of overcooking or ruining the dish. Overall, nonstick cookware is a convenient and practical choice for anyone looking to simplify their cooking process and create delicious, healthy, and perfectly cooked meals every time.

In conclusion, nonstick cookware comes with a myriad of advantages that cater to cooks of all levels:

  1. Ease of Use: Nonstick cookware is user-friendly, reducing the risk of food sticking or burning. This characteristic makes it particularly suitable for beginner chefs.
  2. Cost-Effective: Compared to high-end alternatives like stainless steel or copper, nonstick cookware is often more affordable and provides excellent value for the price.
  3. Versatility: Nonstick cookware is not limited to stovetop use. It is equally effective for baking, making it a versatile addition to any kitchen.
  4. Easy Clean-up: The nonstick surface ensures an easy cleanup process, requiring less time and effort compared to other types of cookware.
  5. Healthier Cooking: Nonstick surfaces require less oil or butter, resulting in dishes that are lower in calories and healthier overall.
  6. Ideal for Delicate Foods: Foods prone to tearing or sticking, like fish, eggs, or tofu, can be cooked flawlessly on nonstick surfaces, maintaining their shape and integrity.

Equipped with such benefits, nonstick cookware proves to be a practical and convenient choice for any cooking enthusiast. From simplifying the cooking process to ensuring perfectly cooked dishes, nonstick cookware is a reliable asset in any kitchen.

Disadvantages of Nonstick Cookware

Despite their convenience, nonstick cookware also comes with a number of disadvantages. Firstly, they are generally less durable than their stainless steel counterparts and the nonstick coating can easily scratch or peel off with constant use. This not only affects the overall appearance of the cookware but also renders it quite useless for cooking purposes.

Additionally, the use of sharp or metal utensils is not recommended as they can easily scratch the nonstick coating and cause it to lose its effectiveness. Instead, silicone utensils are recommended for use with nonstick pots and pans as they are softer and will not cause any damage to the nonstick coating.

Furthermore, proper storage, use, and cleaning practices are critical to ensure the longevity of nonstick cookware. They cannot be stacked on top of each other and should be stored separately to prevent any damage to the nonstick coating. The use of harsh abrasives and cleaners is also not recommended as they can easily scratch or damage the nonstick coating.

Another disadvantage of nonstick cookware is that they are not always oven safe and can be damaged by high heat. They are best used for low to medium-heat cooking and should never be subjected to high heat as this can cause the nonstick coating to break down and lose its effectiveness.

Finally, it is important to note that nonstick cookware will not last a lifetime. The nonstick coating will eventually wear away over time and usage and will stop working effectively. It is therefore important to replace nonstick cookware when this happens to ensure that you continue to enjoy the convenience of nonstick cooking.

In summary, while nonstick cookware offers various benefits, it also comes with several disadvantages:

  1. Less Durable: Nonstick cookware is generally less durable compared to stainless steel cookware. The nonstick coating can scratch or peel off with regular use, diminishing its appearance and functionality.
  2. Requires Special Utensils: Nonstick cookware is incompatible with sharp or metal utensils, which can damage the coating. Using silicone or wooden utensils is recommended instead.
  3. Requires Specific Care: Nonstick cookware needs careful storage, usage, and cleaning to maintain the coating. They must not be stacked, and harsh cleaning agents should be avoided.
  4. Not Always Oven Safe: Nonstick cookware isn’t always safe for oven use and can be damaged by high heat. They are ideal for low to medium-heat cooking.
  5. Limited Lifespan: Nonstick cookware doesn’t last forever. The coating wears away over time and usage, after which the cookware should be replaced to ensure continued nonstick convenience.

Ideal Usage Scenarios for Nonstick Cookware

Nonstick cookware has revolutionized the way we cook and clean up in the kitchen. It’s essential to use nonstick cookware for certain cooking scenarios to ensure the best possible results. Let’s explore some of the ideal usage scenarios for this type of cookware in more detail.

1. Cooking delicate foods: Nonstick cookware is perfect for cooking delicate foods like fish, eggs, and pancakes. These foods tend to stick to traditional cookware, making flipping and removing them difficult. But with nonstick cookware, you can cook these foods without worrying about them sticking to the pan.

Ideal Usage Scenarios for Nonstick Cookware

2. Cooking with less oil: Nonstick cookware is designed to cook food with less oil. Due to its nonstick surface, the food doesn’t stick to the pan, making it a healthier option for those who want to limit their oil intake.

3. Cooking sticky foods: Certain foods like caramel, toffee, and jam tend to stick to traditional cookware, making the cleaning process tedious and time-consuming. Nonstick cookware makes cooking these types of foods incredibly easy, and cleaning up is a breeze.

4. Cooking in large quantities: Nonstick cookware is perfect for cooking in large quantities because it distributes heat evenly across the surface, preventing hot spots that can cause the food to stick.

5. Cooking on a budget: Nonstick cookware is an affordable option for anyone on a tight budget. It’s a versatile cookware that can be used for various cooking purposes, making it an ideal option for those who don’t have the budget for multiple cookware pieces.

In conclusion, nonstick cookware is an excellent investment for anyone who loves cooking. Its nonstick surface makes cooking and cleaning a breeze, and it’s perfect for those who want to cook healthier meals. Nonstick cookware is versatile and can be used for various cooking scenarios, making it a must-have in any kitchen.

Stainless Steel vs Nonstick – Key Differences

When comparing stainless steel cookware to nonstick cookware, it is important to note their distinct differences. Stainless steel cookware is known for its durability, exceptional searing and browning capabilities, excellent for sautéing, and oven-safe. It can potentially serve as a non-stick option for cooking, which is perfect for those health-conscious home chefs. Moreover, stainless steel cookware allows for the use of sharp and metal utensils, ensuring a lifetime of functionality.

On the other hand, nonstick cookware boasts its ease of use, cost-effectiveness, versatility, and easy clean-up capabilities. It is ideal for delicate foods that need gentle cooking, making it a popular option for preparing omelets, pancakes, and other such dishes that require a careful touch. Additionally, using nonstick cookware can result in healthier cooking with less added oil or fat, making it a great choice for those watching their waistline.

Despite these advantages, however, nonstick cookware has its limits. It is generally less durable and has a shorter lifespan than stainless steel cookware, requiring more frequent replacements. Nonstick cookware also requires the use of special utensils to protect its coating from scratches, which can damage its effectiveness. Moreover, it requires specific care such as avoiding the use of dishwashers and detergents, which can easily damage its non-stick properties.

In terms of versatility, stainless steel cookware outshines nonstick cookware with its ability to handle a wide range of cooking methods, including broiling, baking, and roasting. Nonstick cookware may not be oven-safe or may have limited heat resistance, limiting its cooking capabilities. Cost-wise, although nonstick cookware is generally cheaper than its stainless steel counterparts, a higher-end non-stick set can be surprisingly expensive, exceeding the price of mid-range stainless steel cookware.

In conclusion, both stainless steel and nonstick cookware have their unique advantages and disadvantages. It is up to the individual cook to determine which qualities are most important for their specific cooking needs and choose a type of cookware that will best fit their style.

Which Should You Choose?

When it comes to choosing between stainless steel and nonstick cookware, the decision largely depends on your cooking needs. If you are frequently boiling water, sauteing vegetables, steaming fish, making soups, and roasting meat, then stainless steel cookware is an ideal choice for you. This is because stainless steel is highly durable, heat-resistant, and can withstand high heat levels without warping or reacting with acidic ingredients.

On the other hand, if you’re looking to cook delicate foods, or want to cook with less oil to maintain a healthier lifestyle, nonstick cookware should be your go-to option. Nonstick cookware is also great for cooking sticky foods, such as eggs or pancakes, without the fear of them sticking to the pan. Additionally, nonstick cookware is a great choice when cooking in large quantities or when cooking on a budget as it requires less oil and reduces the risk of food sticking to the pan, making the clean-up process much easier.

While both stainless steel and nonstick cookware have their unique advantages, it’s important to note that nonstick cookware comes with a shorter lifespan when compared to stainless steel. This is because nonstick coating tends to wear off over time, especially when exposed to high heat levels, international scratching, or when using metal utensils.

In conclusion, when choosing cookware, it’s essential to consider your cooking needs, budget, and the longevity of the cookware. If you’re looking for a durable, heat-resistant option that can withstand high heat levels, then stainless steel cookware is the perfect choice. However, if you’re looking for a budget-friendly, easy-to-clean, and healthier option for cooking delicate and sticky foods, then nonstick cookware should be your go-to choice.

If you want to know how to cook with stainless steel cookware, read here: https://theintrepidgourmet.com/2019/01/21/how-to-cook-with-stainless-steel/


1. What are the main differences between stainless steel and nonstick cookware?

Stainless steel is a highly durable material known for its excellent heat conduction and longevity. It’s resistant to scratches and can handle high heat. Nonstick cookware, on the other hand, is known for its easy food release and cleanup. However, it doesn’t handle high heat as well and can scratch easily.

2. Is stainless steel or nonstick better for cooking?

It largely depends on what you’re cooking. Stainless steel is excellent for searing, browning, and deglazing, while nonstick pans are best for cooking delicate items like eggs or fish.

3. Which is more durable, stainless steel or nonstick?

Generally, stainless steel is more durable than nonstick. It doesn’t scratch easily and is often dishwasher safe, whereas nonstick requires special care to maintain its surface.

4. Does food stick to stainless steel pans?

Yes, food can stick to stainless steel pans, especially if they’re not properly preheated or lubricated. However, this sticking can be desirable for creating flavorful fonds for sauces.

5. Can I use metal utensils with nonstick cookware?

It’s generally not recommended to use metal utensils with nonstick cookware as they can scratch the surface and damage the nonstick coating.

6. How should I clean my stainless steel and nonstick pans?

Stainless steel can often be cleaned with a mild abrasive cleaner, while nonstick pans should be cleaned gently with a soft sponge and mild detergent.

7. Which type of cookware is easier to maintain?

Nonstick cookware is easier to clean after cooking but requires more careful handling to prevent damage. Stainless steel is more robust but can require more effort to clean.

8. Can stainless steel pans be used on any type of stove?

Yes, stainless steel is versatile and can be used on gas, electric, induction, and even grill or oven.

9. Are stainless steel pans worth the investment?

Absolutely, stainless steel pans are a great investment. They are durable, versatile, and excellent heat conductors, making them a favorite among professional chefs.


The debate between stainless steel and nonstick cookware is an enduring one, with each type offering unique pros and cons. Selecting the right cookware can significantly enhance your cooking experience while meeting your culinary needs. But remember, no single type of cookware will do everything perfectly. Therefore, make an informed choice and consider investing in a combination of both stainless steel and nonstick pieces to reap the benefits that each offers.

Take into account the style of cooking you most often engage in, the health aspects, the ease of cleaning, and the durability of the cookware. Above all, don’t shy away from doing some research, read product reviews, and better yet, try using different cookware types if you have the chance.

Ultimately, the choice between stainless steel and nonstick cookware is a personal one. What works best for you depends on your individual cooking style, budget, and personal preference. Choosing the right cookware is an investment in your culinary journey, and it’s worth taking the time to make an educated choice.

Thank you for taking the time to read this comprehensive guide on stainless steel vs nonstick cookware. We hope you found it informative and helpful in your journey to select the right cookware for your kitchen. Remember, the right choice depends on your personal cooking style, budget, and preference. For more useful information about cookware and kitchens, click here!


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