Stainless Steel vs Non-Stick Cookware: Which is Better?

Both stainless steel cookware and non-stick cookware are a great addition to any kitchen. They have their own advantages and disadvantages. The choice between them depends on your personal preferences, cooking style, and priorities. Let’s compare them.

Stainless Steel Cookware

  1. Durability: Stainless steel is known for its durability and resistance to rust, corrosion, and staining. It can withstand high temperatures and is less likely to warp or dent over time.
  2. Heat Conduction: Stainless steel cookware may not distribute heat as evenly as some other materials. However, high-quality stainless steel pans often have an aluminum or copper core in the base, which helps improve heat distribution.
  3. Versatility: Stainless steel cookware is versatile and can be used for various cooking methods, including searing, sautéing, browning, and deglazing. It is oven-safe and can handle high heat cooking.
  4. Easy Maintenance: Stainless steel is relatively easy to clean, and it is dishwasher-safe. However, it can be prone to food sticking if not used correctly or without proper seasoning.

Non-Stick Cookware:

  1. Non-Stick Coating: Non-stick cookware features a coating (typically made of polytetrafluoroethylene or PTFE) that prevents food from sticking. This makes it ideal for cooking delicate foods like eggs, pancakes, and fish without using excess oil or butter.
  2. Easy Release: The non-stick coating allows for easy food release, making cleaning a breeze. Most non-stick pans are dishwasher-safe, although handwashing is often recommended to prolong their lifespan.
  3. Heat Sensitivity: Non-stick cookware is not suitable for high-heat cooking methods as the coating can deteriorate at high temperatures, releasing potentially harmful fumes. This limits its use for tasks like browning, searing, or high-temperature cooking.
  4. Lifespan: The non-stick coating can wear off over time, especially if used with metal utensils or subjected to rough cleaning. This reduces its effectiveness and lifespan, requiring replacement.

Stainless Steel vs Non-Stick Cookware – Comparison

stainless steel vs non-stick cookware


Property Non-Stick Cookware Stainless Steel Cookware
Durability They last between 6 month to 2 years; depending upon how often and how carefully you use them. They are durable and can last a lifetime. It is for this reason that you’ll see more stainless steel pans in professional kitchens than elsewhere.
Health Non stick cookware enables you to use less oil, which is good for health. However, use and wash them carefully, or it can have adverse affects on your health. Replace these pans as soon as you see the coating to degrade or peel. Minimal health concerns.
Convenience Non stick cookware are most convenient; not just for cooking but also for cleaning. You need some real cooking skills to avoid food sticking to stainless steel cookware. Also cleaning the outer side of pan can be tough some times.
Versatility Non-stick pans are not ideal for high-heat cooking methods such as searing or broiling. They are well-suited for other cooking techniques such as sautéing, stir-frying, and gentle heating. Especially, when working with ingredients that are sticky or prone to caramelizing. Stainless steel is the most versatile cookware. You can use it for high heat cooking, sautéing, boiling, baking, and more. Also, you can use it with all type of ingredients, like tomatoes, vinegar, etc.
Maintenance Proper care and maintenance are crucial for non-stick pans. Use non-metal spatula/utensils such as silicone, wood, or nylon. Avoid using abrasive cleaners or scouring pads that can scratch the surface. You can use metal ladles, spoons, and spatula on stainless steel cookware without a problem. However, regular seasoning may be required to prevent food (like omelet) from sticking to it.
Washing Handwash non-stick cookware with mild dish soap and a soft sponge or cloth. Some non-stick pans are dishwasher-safe, but check the manufacturer’s instructions to be sure. Stainless steel cookware are dishwasher safe and can be washed in a dishwasher without a problem.

Which Cookware is More Popular?

Consumer preferences are guided by convenience and hype/advertisements. Therefore they should not be believed if you are looking for a safe cookware for your family.

Non-stick cookware are more popular around the world because they make cooking and cleaning easier. Also, as per the current scientific research, they are safe for health. But the same was believed about old generation non stick pans until the year 2013, when Teflon cookware containing PFOA were banned. There is every possibility that science may find another harmful chemical in currently used coatings a few years from now. There is already some evidence of harmful effects if these pans are not used as per specifications, which are difficult to adhere to, on a day to day basis.

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Final Words

Ultimately, the “better” choice depends on your cooking preferences, the type of dishes you frequently prepare, and your maintenance habits. Personally I prefer to have a combination of stainless steel and non-stick cookware in my kitchen, utilizing each for its specific advantages.

I use non-stick pans only for cooking delicate foods like eggs, pancakes, and fish fillets. For rest, I use stainless steel cookware.

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