Why Stainless Steel?
We’re not gonna lie: Nonstick cookware is pretty great. Most of us start out with it and learn that cooking isn’t quite as hard as we thought. Stuff doesn’t stick to the pan, it’s easy to wash up, and it’s relatively inexpensive.
But then things start to go wrong. The interior isn’t quite so nonstick. The coating starts flaking off into your food. The pots and pans get warped. So you try again with a new set. Eventually you learn that you just have to replace your cookware every few years.
The truth is, even the best nonstick isn’t going to last a lifetime. Additionally, there are some particular guidelines you should be following for best results, and most cooks aren’t even aware of them. There’s also the question of safety – while nonstick cookware manufacturers have mostly stopped using the dangerous chemical PFOA, there are still some concerns about PTFE, which is used in most nonstick coating (and has been linked to deaths in pet birds!)
Aside from the not-all-proven-but-still-worth-considering health concerns, there are a few compelling reasons to make the switch from nonstick to stainless (permanently!)
1. To become a better cook
If you’re interested in growing and improving as a cook, nonstick cookware is going to limit you. It’s just not possible to get the same results with nonstick as stainless – beautifully seared meats and delicious pan sauces to name a few.
Stainless steel also demands a different approach to cooking, a more mindful approach, if you will. Switching to stainless after years of nonstick will challenge you. Nonstick cookware spoke to a generation of home cooks who wanted easy cooking and cleanup with minimal effort. And for a lot of folks, that still works. But when cooks find themselves with more time to prepare meals and a desire to enhance their skills, stainless cookware is a natural match.
2. To stop replacing cookware every few years
We talked about this in the opening, but it’s worth emphasizing. Cooks seeking new cookware overwhelmingly cite “durability” and “quality” as key factors in their search. Nonstick cookware – especially the inexpensive kind – doesn’t last as long as stainless. For some home cooks, replacing cookware every five or so years is just the way things are, and that’s fine. But many cooks ultimately realize, “Hey, I’m sick of spending money on a short-term solution.”
A quality stainless steel set can be the last cookware set you ever buy. Sure, it’s not completely indestructible and it can’t withstand all abuse (for example, please don’t plunge your hot pan into cold water), but it’s not going to experience the same degradation that’s customary with nonstick pots and pans.
3. To elevate your meals
This point is related to the first one about becoming a better cook, but with more emphasis on the most important part, the food. Nonstick can cook pretty much everything, but the question becomes, how well it can cook it? Stainless takes cooking meat, for instance, to a whole new level. Stainless imparts a beautiful sear on a cut of steak, giving it a lust-worthy golden brown crust that locks in the juiciness inside. Once you've cooked the steak to your desired temp, simply deglaze the pan with a liquid of your choice and quickly whip up a pan sauce to finish the meat. That's a simple, everyday meal that has a dramatic flare.
There are also other fabulous recipes that work best in stainless, particularly those that start on the stovetop and finish in the oven. Most nonstick cookware cannot withstand higher oven temps, so stainless is a better option for those delicious, restaurant quality meals.
4. It doesn’t have to be exclusive
Even some of the most fervent stainless steel fans save room in the cupboards for one nonstick pan. You can cook anything in stainless cookware, but many cooks prefer having one pan that can take care of delicate foods like eggs and certain fish.
We are advocates for stainless cookware, but we also believe in the power of a high-quality nonstick pan (like hard anodized aluminum) as a partner in the kitchen. Plus, having just a single nonstick pan for some things means it will last longer than if you were using it exclusively.
Ready to Make the Switch?
A few things to know before making the move from nonstick to stainless:
Want to learn more about cooking with stainless steel? Get our Professional Guide to Stainless Steel Cookware here!