One of the most important choices that all cooks have to make is selecting the right kind of cookware.
The cookware you choose plays a vital role in the food that you cook. Using the wrong type of cookware to make certain dishes can result in sticking, cleaning, and even a funny smell.
Two of the most common cookware choices are stainless steel pans and nonstick pans.
While both of them are used to cook various dishes, each of them has its own pros and cons.
In the past, stainless steel pans were the primary choice of almost all chefs as they are a culmination of different metals. Nonstick pans have only made an appearance in the past decade or two.
This is why it can be very difficult to choose between the two.
However, they have made their own unique place in the culinary world.
Stainless Steel Pans
Stainless steel pans are quite popular among kitchens.
While these are not as easy to cook as the non-stick pans, a lot of people prefer using stainless steel over any other kind of pan (especially when it comes to cooking meat).
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Stainless Steel Pans
There are three primary factors you need to consider when you are purchasing stainless steel pans.
These include the metals the steel contains, the weight of the pan, and its price.
Combination of Metals
Stainless steel pans are made from a combination of various metals including iron, carbon, and chromium. Moreover, they also contain trace amounts of titanium, copper, and nickel.
Even though there are numerous layers of steel and other metals, only stainless steel tends to come into contact with the food.
As stainless steel pans don’t leach any toxic chemicals into the food, they are more durable and reliable than other pans.
However, be careful of using damaged stainless steel pans. They can be dangerous.
Weight of the Pan
Whenever it comes to the weight of a pan, there is one simple rule: the heavier, the better.
The firmness and the weight of a stainless steel pan are vital as they prevent the occurrence of hotspots. This leads to even distribution of heat and properly cooked food.
Price of the Pan
Good quality stainless steel pans can be rather pricey.
Even though you have some low-cost and cheap options available, you should never compromise on the quality.
How and What to Use Stainless Steel Pans for?
You should always oil your stainless steel pan before you start cooking. The best option is to add oil when the stainless steel pan is cold or at room temperature.
You can then put up your pan on the stove and allow it to heat before adding the ingredients.
Stainless steel pans are the ideal type of cookware for browning meat. With these pans, you can easily make brown and crisp meat with the utmost ease.
However, you just need to oil the pan properly before doing so.
Although stainless steel pans don’t need to be seasoned as thoroughly as a cast iron pan, you can still go ahead and season it for better performance.
Benefits of Stainless Steel Pans
Stainless steel pans have various benefits to offer.
Here are some of the pros of using stainless steel pans.
Even Distribution of Heat
Stainless steel pans offer good heat distribution. This results in more evenly cooked food.
For instance, they are great for browning meat or to make pan gravies or sauces. Moreover, stainless steel pans help cook food faster than nonstick pans.
Most stainless steel pans come with steel handles, making them oven safe.
This means that you can move them from the oven-top to the stove without having to use another cookware item.
Stainless steel pans are manufactured with solid materials and metals.
This makes these pans very durable and strong. Therefore, they can withstand exceptionally high heat levels.
Drawbacks of Stainless Steel Pans
As good as stainless steel pans are, they have their own fair share of disadvantages.
Here are a few disadvantages of using stainless steel pans.
Stainless steel pans have no nonstick elements at all (unless you season them well). So, your food might end up sticking to the pan.
This might make cleaning the pan very difficult.
Not Appropriate for all Cooking
Stainless steel pans aren’t the appropriate cookware for sautéing or heating food.
Nonstick pans are used very commonly, especially by people who don’t like adding to much oil to their food.
These pans are convenient to use and even easier to clean.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Non-Stick Pan
Here are a few features of these pans that you should consider when buying a new non-stick pan for your kitchen:
Metals Used for Non-stick pans
Also known as Teflon pans, nonstick pans were typically made of a chemical compound known as Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE).
Even though during the recent years, nonstick pans are also made of anodized aluminum, cast iron, silicon, and ceramics, they are still coated with a thin layer of Teflon.
This is exactly why no food can stick to these pans.
Weight of the pan
Nonstick pans are pretty lightweight compared to stainless steel pans.
They are easy to maneuver around without any fear.
Price of the pan
The price of a nonstick pan depends on its quality.
While they are usually cheaper than stainless steel pans, you can also find high-quality expensive ones in the non-stick category
How and What to Use Nonstick Pans for?
You don’t require much oil or butter when cooking in nonstick pans. Most people don’t oil their pans at all. In a way, many people view this as a healthier cookware option in comparison to stainless steel pans.
You can use these pans to fry eggs, make omelets, etc. However, they aren’t a very good option for seared meat.
All in all, nonstick pans are the best cookware option for all edible items that can stick to a pan.
Benefits of Nonstick Pans
Nonstick pans offer their fair share of benefits in the kitchen.
Here are a few important advantages of nonstick pans that you should know about.
Non-stick property of the pan
As the name suggests, nonstick pans are most appropriate to cook those foods that generally tend to stick.
Easy to Clean
Cleaning nonstick pans is a piece of cake! Due to their surface, the food you cook in them won’t stick. This makes it super-easy to wash them.
Moreover, you can also simply use a paper towel to wipe them off.
This feature makes them uber-convenient as it saves a lot of time and energy.
Don’t Require Greasing
Nonstick pans contribute towards healthier cooking.
You require little to no oil to grease them. Even without the oil, the coating of the pan will keep your food from sticking to the surface.
Nonstick pans have a strong resistance to acids.
They don’t react to acids like wine or tomatoes as stainless steel does.
In comparison to other pans such as stainless steel pans, non-stick pans are much lighter and easier to handle. So if you’re planning to take some pans with you while traveling or camping, non-stick pans can fit the bill.
However, there are certain nonstick pans that are quite heavy, so you should choose wisely.
Nonstick pans usually cost lower than stainless steel pans.
However, the higher the quality of the pan, the more expensive it is.
No Preheating Required
You don’t need to preheat nonstick pans.
You can just add the ingredients and then put it on the stovetop.
Drawbacks of Nonstick Pans
Like stainless steel pans, nonstick pans also come with their own drawbacks.
Here are a few cons of using these pans.
Nonstick pans are greatly associated with various health concerns. A damaged or scratched nonstick pan can be rather dangerous as the chipped scraps can end up in your food.
Moreover, these pans are very delicate and highly susceptible to damage. This is the main reason that people use silicone or wooden utensils when they are cooking with this pan.
Once your coating starts to peel off, your pan won’t be nonstick anymore.
A massive drawback of nonstick pans is its main material – Teflon. This material gives off very unhealthy fumes if the pan overheats.
This poses a major threat as your food is exposed to potentially toxic chemicals. When cooking in nonstick pans, you should avoid using a high flame.
Not Appropriate for Cooking all Foods
Nonstick cookware is great for certain foods, but not all of them.
You can’t expect to cook brown or golden meals in this type of cookware. Moreover, it isn’t appropriate for deglazing either.
Deciding Between Stainless Steel Pans and Non-Stick Pans
So, which cooking pan is better for you?
It is a rather tough decision to make. Both nonstick and stainless steel pans serve their own purpose. Therefore, it is best to have both of them as a part of your cookware.
However, if you have to choose between the two, consider three things before making your choice. Firstly, the type of food you are preparing. Secondly, the cooking method you are planning to use. Thirdly, the amount of cleaning up that you will have to do.
A stainless steel pan is ideal to sear a steak, but a nonstick pan is more appropriate for cooking an omelet. Moreover, a nonstick pan requires little to no oil, whereas a stainless steel pan requires quite a lot of grease.
Nonstick pans are hassle-free and easier to clean due to their nonstick surface. On the other hand, stainless steel pans can be rather difficult to wash.
When it comes to durability, stainless steel pans steal the show. However, they have to be preheated and food is more likely to stick to them.
All in all, the choice depends on what you prefer. Based on the pros and cons and factors mentioned above, you can make a choice.
However, if you go for non-stick pans, just make sure you throw them away when the coating starts coming off.
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