There are so many different types that it can be overwhelming when it comes to cooking pans. Knowing the different cookware types will make selecting the best one for your kitchen and style easier.
The most popular cookware metals are stainless steel, aluminum, copper, and stoneware. Each has its pros and cons.
Stainless steel is a durable material that resists rust and corrosion. It’s also dishwasher, oven and broiler safe and a great choice for cooks who want to keep their kitchen looking and smelling fresh.
Finding quality stainless steel cookware can be difficult, but it’s worthwhile. Generally, the higher the grade, the better.
The best stainless steel sets are rated 18/10 or 18/8, meaning they contain a minimum of 10.5% chromium and 16% nickel.
They are also regarded as one of the safest forms of cookware since, unlike other metals, they do not leach chromium or nickel into food.
However, stainless steel can discolor from hard water (calcium) or burning food. It’s also prone to staining from chlorine-based detergents, so using mild dish soap and avoiding high heat when cooking is important.
Aluminum cookware is popular for cooks because it heats up and cools down super fast, making it easy to create various foods. It’s also a good conductor of heat, so you can use it to make meals requiring high temperatures.
However, untreated aluminum can react with acidic foods and leach into your food. Most manufacturers apply a nonstick coating to their aluminum pots and pans.
Copper cookware is loved by many, both professional chefs and home cooks. It’s a versatile and beautiful material used for everything from delicate proteins to sauces that need precise temperature control.
Copper is a highly conductive metal, which spreads heat evenly throughout the pan’s cooking surface, making food less likely to burn. It also responds quickly to changes in heat, which makes it a great choice for cooks who make temperature-sensitive dishes.
Most copper cookware is lined with either tin or stainless steel, although unlined or “bare” copper cookware is also available. The lining protects the copper from reacting with acidic foods and prevents corrosion.
Stoneware is a nonstick cookware made of clay or stone particles. It is commonly used in both traditional and modern kitchens.
It is easy to clean and can come in various colors to match your decor. It also safely stores food and is dishwasher safe.
However, some low-quality stoneware can contain lead if not properly glazed and fired. It should be tested for information before purchase.
Ceramic cookware is made of porcelain, earthenware or stoneware and is glazed for a nonstick surface. These dishes are typically oven-safe and are good for slow, steady cooking.
Clay cookware is an ancient form of cooking that’s still used today. In North Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi cuisine, they’re called handis (pronounced “hon-dee-yah”).
These unglazed, porous pots have a natural ability to absorb water when submerged in water. They slowly heat food, releasing steam that gently cooks it, retaining nutrients while preserving the natural juices and flavors.
Also, they are very simple to clean. Rinse with warm water and completely dry. Detergents should not be used on these pots since they may seep through the porous clay and contaminate the food.