What’s the Difference Between Carbon Steel and Aluminum Cookware?
This guide will help you decide which is best for your goals.
If you do a lot of cooking, you already know how important it is to have the right tools for the job, since he type of cookware that you use can make or break a dish. There are many different types of metal out there, each with its own unique qualities.
Carbon Steel and aluminum are two metals that are commonly used in home kitchens today. Both offer benefits and drawbacks that will help you decide which one is best for your cooking needs.
What Is Carbon Steel Cookware?
is one of the most popular choices for cookware, and it's easy to understand why. Carbon Steel is a solid metal that can be formed into pots and pans with excellent heat conduction, meaning it's great for transferring heat from a stovetop to your food. A piece of Carbon Steel will generally have an even thickness throughout, making it durable enough to withstand years of use as you cook.
Carbon Steel is also incredibly versatile—you can use your Carbon Steel Pan on both electric gas, or
without worrying about damaging the pan’s material. You can also cook just about anything in it, although do be cautious with acidic ingredients, as those may strip your
Pros of Carbon Steel Cookware
Heats up quickly
High heat tolerance
Compatible with various cooktops
Safe for the stove, oven, and grill
Is made of 99% iron and 1% carbon
Affordable price for a durable product
Considerations of Carbon Steel Cookware
Heavier than aluminum
Acidic foods may strip the seasoning
Involves more care, but easy to learn
What Is Aluminum Cookware?
Aluminum cookware is the most common type of metal cookware. It's made from a soft, malleable metal that is an excellent conductor of heat. Aluminum has been used for centuries to create pots and pans because it's lightweight, inexpensive, and very durable.
Aluminum pans are usually coated with other materials (like
) to prevent them from corroding in the presence of acidic foods like tomatoes or lemons. However, this coating also prevents you from using non-stick cooking spray on your aluminum pans, so you can't use it as easily as other types of metal cookware when making dishes with sauces or gravies.
Pros of Aluminum Cookware
Aluminum is a lightweight and affordable choice for the kitchen. It conducts heat well and evenly, making it perfect for
or browning meat.
Some of the other benefits of aluminum cookware include:
Pans are dishwasher safe.
You can use acidic ingredients
They’re non-stick, less oil is needed when cooking
Considerations of Aluminum Cookware
Aluminum cookware is lightweight and a good conductor of heat, but it has drawbacks too:
Aluminum is soft and dents easily
Not as durable as Carbon Steel
Not as good at retaining heat
Burns food at high temperature
Which One Is Better?
When comparing aluminum and Carbon Steel cookware, the differences are clear, and we believe one comes out as the clear winner.
If you don’t mind paying a little more for quality, regularly cook at high temperatures, and use a variety of heat sources, our recommendation is Carbon Steel. Though it may be a bit more expensive upfront, it’s a pan you’ll be able to use for decades with
proper maintenance and care
—whereas you’ll need to replace your aluminum pans once every few years when they wear out.