Difference Between Nonstick and Stainless Steel Pots and Pans September 15, 2017
Time to go back to (cooking) school! Today, we’re talking about stainless steel pots and pans and how they differ from nonstick — all while sharing our favorite All-Clad beauties for sale on our Kitchenware site (and a discount code for 20% off the Stove-to-Table Kit… HAPPYCOOKS20).
Pots and pans are the bread and butter of our kitchen, our never-goes-out-of-style little black dress, our cooking side-kicks — so it’s important to choose wisely and care for them correctly. But with so many options to choose from (nonstick, stainless steel, aluminum, cast iron, etc), the world of pots and pans can get a bit, well, intimidating.
That’s why we’ve put together this handy educational guide just in time for the back to school season. ‘Cause hey, it’s never too late to learn a thing or two.
And if you’re looking to retire those blackened pots and scuffed pans you’ve had forever, we highly recommend stocking up on top-quality All-Clad items for sale on our Kitchenware site — all of which are handcrafted in the USA. Just take chef Nate’s word for it!
“All-Clad produces reliable, elegant, and durable pots and pans that cook food evenly and are perfect for home cooks of every level!”
Nonstick pots and pans
- Great for health-conscious home cooks who want to use less oil or butter.
- Easy to clean thanks to a slick coating that keeps food from sticking.
How to care for them:
- Avoid using metal utensils when cooking. Instead, stick with wooden, nylon, plastic, or silicone utensils.
- If you notice that the coating is starting to chip or flake, it’s best to toss out and upgrade to a new one before the coating begins to mess with your food.
- Never heat an empty pan over high heat.
- Use oil rather than nonstick cooking spray, which can create a gummy texture on your nonstick surface over time.
- Don’t stack nonstick cookware since doing so can scratch or chip the cooking surface. But if you need to, be sure to put a layer of paper towels between each pot or pan.
- When in doubt, wash by hand to avoid harsh detergent that can corrode the nonstick surface over time.
- Cooking eggs (like you would in this Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Brioche sandwich), pancakes, fish (like this Crispy Breaded Tilapia), and other foods that tend to stick to the pan’s surface.
Avoid any and all sticky situations with the help of this 12-inch fry pan. Unlike traditional nonstick skillets, this one is safe to cook with metal spatulas, spoons, and even whisks thanks to the fact that it’s free of a chemical called PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid).
Stainless steel pots and pans
- Produces a better searing and browning effect on your food (known as the maillard reaction).
- More durable than a nonstick-coated pan, which can chip or flake if not cared for properly.
- Usually oven-safe (as long as the handles are made of heatproof material).
How to care for them:
- Although it’s okay to use metal utensils, avoid knives or electric beaters.
- Allow cold foods to come to room temperature before placing them in the hot pan. Otherwise, they’re more likely to stick.
- To avoid salt damage (which appears like small white dots or pits), add salt after food begins to cook or after liquids begin to boil.
- Dry immediately after washing to prevent water spots.
- If food is stuck to the pan, try scrubbing with a non-abrasive sponge. If that doesn’t work, sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda onto the dry surface. Rub with a dry cloth or sponge, adding water to achieve a paste-like consistency.
- If discoloration occurs (likely from overheating), wash your pan with vinegar or cook a high acid food such as tomato sauce.
- Getting a nice brown sear on meats (like these Cherry-and-Balsamic-Glazed Pork Chops) as well as cooking sauces, gravies, and other liquid-based foods that aren’t likely to stick.
Deeper than a traditional fry pan, this 3-quart sauté pan features a large surface area and tall, straight sides that hold in juices, prevent splattering, and allow for easy turning with a spatula. Ideal for a wide range of foods, this stainless steel pan offers the convenience of browning or searing, then deglazing or finishing in liquid… all in one place.
The lid locks in moisture to heat and thoroughly finish meats on the stovetop or in the oven, while its stainless steel interior and extra smooth finish offers natural stick resistance to let you know when food is ready to release. Bonus points for the fact that it doesn’t react with ingredients.
This 10-inch, slope-slided fry pan is ideal for whatever your recipe throws your way. Sandwiched between the exterior and an 18/10 stainless steel interior is a thick, aluminum core that spreads heat evenly across the bottom and up its sides. Perfect for cooking with oils and helping food develop rich flavor and crisp texture, this pan’s stainless steel handle stays cool so you can cook safely and comfortably.
Because of its shape, this 3-quart sauce pan is ideal for making sauces, heating or cooking in liquids, and reheating. With high, straight sides and a smaller surface area, this sauce pan holds heat well and limits evaporation. Its smooth, stainless steel interior offers natural stick resistance, and its long, stay-cool handle is designed for a comfortable grip.
This multi-use 3-quart steamer was made for all your veggie, meat, and fish steaming needs. It comes with a tight-fitting lid and fits 2-, 3-, and 4-quart sauce pans and casseroles. Ingredients sit in the insert, and the wide loop handles make for easy removal when the broccoli is perfectly tender. Don’t want to use it as a steamer? No problem! It works perfectly as a small pot as well.
For a curated bundle of all our favorite chef-approved pots and pans, check out the Stove-to-Table Kit complete with a sauté pan, sauce pan, frying pan, oven mitts, and pot holders. And for a limited time, take 20% off the kit with the code HAPPYCOOKS20 at checkout.
Remember — that roar of boiling water is just the kitchen cheering you on!