Stainless steel cookware has both pros and cons for cooking and health benefits. For this reason it’s important to understand the benefits of stainless steel cookware, and the drawbacks as it’s really popular especially when it comes to picking the best cookware for glass top stoves due to it not damaging glass like cast iron.
Below I have covered in-depth every positive and negative to stainless steel cookware so you can make an informed choice, as not all of them apply to everyone in the same way.
Advantages of Stainless Steel Cookware
There are many advantages of stainless steel cookware, some obvious, some not so obvious. It’s important you know the advantages so you can utilise it for your health and for your cooking. So what are the benefits of stainless steel?
No PTFE and PEOA
PTFE and PEOA are harmful chemicals that can cause kidney disease with prolonged use. Luckily stainless steel cookware does not contain any of these harmful chemicals. They are also both linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
It’s not corrosive
Corrosion is a big risk with cookware, after long uses it begins to break down and erode. Even stainless steel cookware erodes. However it erodes much much slower, and with proper care it’s insignificant in comparison to some materials that are nonstick. So for this reason, cookware stainless steel provides a safe cooking environment for food.
Stainless steel helps to retain taste when you cook food in the pan. The stainless steel prevents reactions taking place with acidic and alkaline foods, ensuring safety while providing a great taste.
High quality stainless steel is non porous, however lower grades of stainless steel are porous. This is because stainless steel is made up of 10.5% chromium, 1.2% carbon and other alloying elements such as titanium, niobium, manganese, molybdenum and nickel.
The higher quality stainless steel cookware use higher amounts of elements such as chromium and nickel giving the stainless steel cookware this trait.
My advice is to looks for stainless steel cookware with more chromium and nickel, as chromium and nickel are normally the commonly added elements to stainless steel and the more you add the less porous the stainless steel gets.
Chromium is main element to look for first, then nickel.
Generally speaking, stainless steel cookware is dishwasher safe making it even easier to clean.
However you should always look for a label on the cookware stating that it is. Many people report no issues with rust or damage when it comes to putting stainless steel cookware in a dishwasher.
However… after a long time, it can cause dulling and some rust spots, which is annoying as rust is the last thing you want on your cookware.
In terms of the health benefits of stainless steel cookware, it’s completely safe.
Disadvantages of Stainless Steel Cookware
Although there are benefits of stainless steel cookware, there are certainly disadvantages to it. Weighing up the pros and cons of stainless steel cookware is difficult as there are quite a few of each. Below I cover all the disadvantages to stainless steel cookware.
As you always need to make sure you get higher grade stainless steel cookware, it can become very expensive in comparison to other types of cookware like aluminum or copper.
Probably not too expensive if you just need a stainless steel pan, but if you are looking for a full set of stainless steel cookware then you better be prepared to dig deep into your wallets.
Unfortunately, due to the nature of the alloys used in stainless steel cookware, it is extremely susceptible to food sticking. You may have seen people cook with steel cookware and found that they are left with burnt patches on it. This is due to the food sticking and burning.
However, a quick and easy solution to stop food from sticking is to use oil while you are cooking, this acts as a barrier between the pan and food which stops the food sticking. See the best oil for stainless steel pans
When stainless steel cookware is exposed to high heats time and time again, it can cause the pans to discolour, if you have ever used a stainless steel pan previously, you might have noticed it turn a rainbow colour. This is simply due to the extreme heats.
Keep in mind that high heats do not affect the quality of the stainless steel pans and your cooking experience will still remain the same. It’s only the aesthetics of the pans that are brought down.
Poor Conductor Of Heat
Just like cast iron, stainless steel is naturally a poor conductor of heat and therefor takes longer to preheat the pans for cooking.
Because of this, you may see stainless steel pots and pans coated with a non stick coating to improve the time it takes to preheat and cool down. Some pots and pans are even coated with aluminum.
Personally I prefer the stainless steel cookware that are not non stick, simply because a non stick coating is easily damaged and cannot handle extreme heats like stainless steel can.
Non stick coverings can take away the health benefits of stainless steel cookware if they are damaged as they can leak chemicals while you are cooking food in the kitchen.
Poor Heat Distribution
As stainless cookware is a poor conductor of heat, it’s also comes with a poor heat distribution trait which leads to parts of the pan being hotter than other parts. This is especially true when the pan has warped.
The solution to this is investing in a higher quality pan that is multi-layered with a different core metal that has better heat distribution and conductivity like aluminum as aluminum is a great conductor of heat and has great heat distribution.
If you do buy a multi-layered stainless steel pan, then this is no longer a con and becomes an advantage instead.
Vulnerable To Salt
Stainless steel pots and pans have both pros and cons, sadly this one is the one I hate.
Stainless steel is susceptible to a process called pitting. This is where weakened parts of the steels surface get attacked by acidic foods or most commonly by salts.
This can become a big problem if you look a lot of salty food such as pasta, where you need to salt the water.
As pitting starts to attack the metal surface, it quickly gets worse and worse leading to more and more holes in the surface of the metal pan.
Although nickel boasts a high melting point and resists corrosion, it can take away from the health benefits of stainless steel.
There is some evidence to show that contact with nickel can cause dermatitis. And anyone looking for stainless steel cookware that thinks they might be allergic to the metal nickel, should try and opt for a lower concentrate of nickel in their stainless steel.
Which Is The Best Stainless Steel Cookware?
Although it’s very expensive, we recommend the Kitchen Aid 5-ply cookware set. It’s 5-ply which means it has 5 layers.
It has 3 layers of aluminium between 2 layers of stainless steel for optimum heat conduction and distribution. Making a good versatile option to do anything from intense sears or low heat braises.
Not only do the 5 layers of aluminum and steel make it the best for heat conduction and distribution, but it also makes them the best for durability with an extremely long lifespan.
And to add to that, it has a brushes base which hides any wear and tear, so they always present beautifully no matter how much you use them.
You can also use them in the dishwasher making them easy to clean, and look beautiful in your kitchen.
If this option is too expensive, my next recommendation is to get a used set from a car boot sale as you can inspect the quality in person and possibly get one that’s a bargain. Many passionate cooks would recommend car boots for cooking equipment as they are fantastic for good quality bargains.
If you are interested in getting the kitchen aid for your kitchen, then you can use the link below which takes you to their page on amazon.