Best Kitchen Cookware: Stainless Steel vs Non-Stick vs Cast Iron

There has been a long debate whether cast iron, stainless steel, or non-stick makes the best kitchen cookware. We at Down to Earth Cuisine believe stainless steel is the best, all-occasion cookware. While cast iron and non-stick have their purposes, they have bigger drawbacks than stainless steel, making it the obvious winner for us.

Here is a breakdown of the three types of cookware with their pros and cons and our favorite stainless steel brands of pots and pans.

Non-Stick Kitchen Cookware

Best for: Beginners on a budget

Non-stick cookware is great for beginners. It’s cheap and does a great job with little or no oil or butter to grease the pan for fried foods that would normally stick on other surfaces. Eggs are especially easy to cook on non-stick surfaces.

Non-stick cookware has a lot of drawbacks too. It rarely lasts as long, and plastic or rubber tools are needed instead of more industrial and durable metal cookware.

Pros

  • Can save time and energy due to its low maintenance
  • Cooking with less oil or butter can lead to a lower-fat diet
  • Sticky foods have a smaller learning curve than other materials

Cons

  • Their life expectancy isn’t as long as other materials
  • Must use soft utensils while cooking
  • Decomposition rate (above 350 Celsius) grows high, and the fumes from the coating can kill small animals

Summary – Non-stick coated cookware is great for beginners, but it can’t be taken far. It’s great for low-temperature, fried foods.

Cast Iron Cookware

Best for: Intermediate chefs without time constraints

Cast Iron is a great option, depending on how it’s used. It can be moved back and forth between oven and stovetop to create complex meals. The cookware heats evenly, but acidic foods can take some of the iron with them, leaving a dish with a hint of metallic flavor. It is also very high-maintenance, with pan seasoning as a must.

Pros

  • Cheaper than stainless steel
  • Heats evenly
  • Well-seasoned pans are almost non-stick
  • No synthetic materials
  • Great for sauteing, baking, and searing
  • Acidic food taking iron from the cookware may benefit those with iron deficiencies

Cons

  • High maintenance
  • Handle can burn an unfamiliar chef
  • May leave a metallic flavor to foods
  • Too heavy for some
  • Boiling water can rust the iron

Summary – Cast iron has a large learning curve, is heavy, and may leave a metallic flavor in more acidic foods. At the same time, it is very versatile and may lead to more complex dishes and recipes for advanced chefs.

Stainless Steel Kitchen Cookware (our pick)

Best for – Everyday use, intermediate to advanced chefs

Stainless steel, when paired with a copper core or bottom can heat almost as evenly as cast iron. it’s durable, and unlike cast iron, the same metallic flavor doesn’t transfer. Great quality stainless steel cookware should be considered an investment, as it can be expensive, and learning to use them takes time.

Pros

  • Copper cored or copper bottoms help stainless steel cook evenly
  • Very durable
  • Non-reactive to acidic foods like wine or tomatoes
  • Dishwasher-safe

Cons

  • Quality cookware can be expensive
  • There is a large learning curve for how much oil to use

Final Look – Stainless steel is a versatile and durable material that is dishwasher safe, and despite its higher cost can be used for many years if properly cared for.

Best Stainless Steel Cookware Brands

Now that you’ve seen why Down to Earth Cuisine loves stainless steel pots and pans, you may want to know what’s next. Are all cookware sets the same?

In short, no, they are not, but our choice is All-Clad. All-Clad is considered one of the highest quality stainless steel cookware companies. Their steel manufacturing is second-to-none, which allows for better performance and durability compared to other brands with both aluminum and copper cores, and was invented in the 1970s. To top it off, All-Clad cookware comes with a lifetime warranty.

Final Thoughts

We at Down to Earth Cuisine believe in sustainably-sourced, natural foods, providing meal preparation services with a personal touch, no matter the dietary limitations you may have for Seattle-area based clientele for a second-to-none dining experience.

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