I grew up in a house of foodies. My dad loves to cook, and one of my older brothers is now a chef, and so, cooking wasn’t something I did when I was growing up. Instead, I left that to the professionals. And because they were so invested in cooking, they both invested in nice cookware. The cast iron skillet was not to be washed with soap (I was told several times), and make sure you’re using oil in this pan, butter in that one. Don’t put the heat on high for this pan, keep it on medium to low. Needless to say, it was enough to turn me off of cooking for a few years.
But now that I have my own kitchen, I love to cook. And I’ve also discovered why they were so strict about their cooking gear (and only really, about that). Using the wrong type of cookware can not only ruin a recipe, it can ruin the cookware itself. Taking care of your cookware is important, sure, but you’ll also get some more benefits of actually cooking things with the right instruments. And so, to help you parse through the nitty gritty and help up your cooking skills, I’m answering the age old question: What is the difference between stainless steel and nonstick cookware, and more importantly, why does it even matter?
Odds are, you have a nonstick skillet. I love mine. They are coated with Teflon that are now PFOA-free, so they are safe to use, although, if the coating does begin to chip, it’s probably a good idea to replace it sooner rather than later. They are convenient because they are extremely easy to clean since things...don’t stick to them even if you don’t add butter or oil. However, if you turn up the heat, it won’t sear or brown foods the way you’ll want it too, and it will just ruin the coating. Furthermore, you can’t deglaze meats to create delicious sauces from their browned morsels. They are a little less expensive than a stainless steel alternative but they will also degrade faster. They really are only meant for delicate items that you’d cook over medium to low heats, like eggs, crepes, pancakes, delicate fish, or something like a risotto. But look: in a pinch, they get the job done.
Food 52 Greenpan Set of 2
Something that has always bugged me about nonstick cookware is it feels like little design goes into them. Food 52 and Greenpan collaborated on this absolute beauty, that is extremely functional too. It’s a little thicker than normal so heat distributes evenly and it's made with ceramic nonstick without any of those nasty chemicals. Plus, just look at that sage blue exterior and tell me it wouldn’t look wonderful on your stovetop.
STAINLESS STEEL COOKWARE
So here’s the crazy thing: stainless steel pans can be nonstick, if you’re doing it right. If you heat up your pan with oil or butter until it’s hot enough then add your food, things will not stick. Stainless steel pans can withstand really high temperatures, so you can sear and brown things like meat in them, and you can also add water to the pan to deglaze the brown bits from the bottom and create a delicious sauce. Also, since they don’t have a coating like a nonstick, they last significantly longer. The downside is really just that you’ll have to pay a little more attention while you’re cooking. You need to make sure that you’re heating them properly and adding oil, too. And the cleaning can be a little more arduous, since brown bits can be difficult to clean off. But other than that, stainless steel pans are pretty amazing.
Made in Stainless Steel
These are absolute workhorses. Made with 5-layers of metal, it can create a restaurant quality sear, or roast in an oven up to 800 degrees. Don’t worry about touching the handle, it’s designed to stay cool, and is ergonomic so the pan has some balance if you’re shaking it around. It can fit an entire spatchcocked chicken or just a bunch of chicken breasts at once. You’ll have this pan for life if you take proper care of it.
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