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The Showdown: Stainless Versus Non-stick

Fox versus CNN, Red Sox versus Yankees, Stainless Steel versus Nonstick. What do all these have in common? They’re rivalries which, in the past, people chose sides and made an allegiance.  At Made In we’re in the camp that each one has its time and place in the kitchen, but it turns out most home chefs are either unaware of the use cases of each technology or historically were not able to afford good Stainless Steel, so resorted to the simplicity of nonstick. Made In's launch line was built around incorporating the best of both types of cookware at an approachable price.

When to use Nonstick:

The majority of amateur kitchens are filled with nonstick pans.  This is because these pans are generally cheaper, entry-level items, and more convenient to clean. Nonstick pans, however, are really only meant to cook a few delicate items.  Examples include:

  • Eggs
  • Crepes
  • Pancakes
  • Very Delicate Fish
  • Risotto

Our nonstick pans also do not require a fat or oil to keep food from sticking to it, so they can be used to maintain low-oil diets. However, with many healthy oils hitting the market these days, this should be less of a factor in your decision-making process (i.e. if you are maintaining a Paleo diet, coconut oil can be used).  

In professional kitchens, nonstick pans are the exception, not the rule, and are used for very specialized functions involving the above food categories. Many low-quality nonsticks may even give off harmful chemicals under high heats and do not brown or sear foods well, further limiting their intended use.  Also, the fond of proteins, the burnt pieces of food stuck to a pan, can actually be used to create delicious sauces. So this begs the question: why are you still using exclusively nonstick in your kitchen?

The Benefits Of 5-Ply Stainless Steel:

Stainless steel is able to perform at higher temperatures with a more even heat than nonstick pans.  How is this a benefit? Searing or browning proteins, which is the best way to add the perfect crisp texture to your outside of your proteins, requires high heat and an adherence of the food to the pan that cannot be achieved by most nonsticks.  Furthermore, because stainless can withstand high heats, your cookware becomes more versatile as it is able to be put in the oven (note: Made In nonstick pans are oven-safe, however, we wouldn't recommend putting cheap nonsticks in the oven). Stainless is also very durable and will generally be resistant to scratches and dents.

Which foods should be cooked in your new stainless steel pots and pans? If it didn’t make the small list of foods that nonstick is designed for above, then you should really be using stainless steel.

Note:

Stainless Steel, for all its performance benefits, can be a little more unforgiving and take a bit of getting used to. Read our blog on getting started with stainless steel to get the most our of your new cookware.

Conclusion

Stainless steel versus nonstick cookware is not an either-or decision.  Using nonstick should be the exception and not the rule. This may be hard to believe because you are so used to cooking everything in nonstick, but that is generally because premium stainless steel cookware has never been affordable. Nonstick, while more forgiving and easier to cook with, should be used for low-fat and delicate foods and stainless should be used for virtually everything else.  Make the effort to expand your collection and learn to work with stainless steel to take your cooking to a whole new level.

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