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Types of Cookware

Aluminum is probably the most popular material in cookware with lots of upsides. It is an excellent heat conductor that spreads heat evenly throughout the pan. And the thicker the aluminum, the more evenly the heat spreads. Aluminum can be anodized to harden the surface. Hard-anodized cookware is harder than steel and is extremely durable. Plus, aluminum is dishwasher safe. It's also relatively inexpensive compared to other materials.

The downside? Untreated aluminum is prone to staining and reacting with foods. For this reason, we recommend aluminum with a nonstick interior because it's much less likely to discolor or react with foods.

Cast Iron is very thick and heavy duty. Although it is slow to heat up, cast iron has the ability to retain and evenly disburse heat. This means that it's an excellent choice for browning, drying, braising, stewing, slow cooking and baking foods.

Cast iron comes in either bare iron or with enamel coating. Bare iron needs to be "seasoned" before it is used. To season it, thoroughly wash and dry the pan, lightly rub shortening on the surface and bake it in the oven at 300 degrees for about 60-75 minutes. The seasoning process will give your pots and pans a nonstick surface that lasts forever! Once your pots and pans are seasoned, you should avoid soaking and washing them with soap. The best way to clean is to just wipe it with a cloth (you actually want to leave the grease on them). Enamel-coated cast iron provides all the benefits of cast iron, but it requires less maintenance and cleanup is easier.

However, some foods do not cook well in cast iron. Acidic foods will react with it and will strip off the coating. If that should happen, don't panic, just season your pan again! Also, note that cast iron is not recommended for the dish washer and should be cleaned by hand.

You should also never use cast iron on a glass top stove or cooking surface.

Ceramic cookware is a great insulator, so it does not react quickly to heat. It can usually be found in the form of a casserole dish or other shapes that are great for cooking slowly at constant temperatures.

It's lighter than cast iron, but it is also more fragile. It can be characterized under different categories, including: porcelain and stoneware.

Clad cookware is developed by using two types of cookware materials together to get all the benefits of both materials. Most of the time, stainless steel is clad with aluminum. This gives you the thickness and excellent heat conductivity of aluminum and the easy-to-maintain, corrosion resistance of stainless steel.

Quality clad cookware will last through a lifetime of cooking, so if you're looking for true investment pieces, then this might be your best material. The downside of this type of cookware is that it is generally heavy and expensive.

Copper is the very best conductor of heat. Because of this, it is especially great when cooking on top of the range where the food must be cooked at precisely controlled temperatures. Copper can, however, react with foods and be toxic in large amounts. Therefore, copper pots and pans are usually lined with another material like stainless steel. Traditionally, they were lined with tin, but the tin tended to wear out too quickly.

The biggest disadvantage of using copper cookware is the maintenance. Copper can discolor from being air dried and washed in a dishwasher. Polishing it will remove thediscoloration. Also, copper dents and scratches easily.

Stainless Steel is a very good all-around general-purpose cookware. It's lightweight, durable and easy to care for. Plus, it won't corrode or tarnish, and its nonporous surface is resistant to wear. It is, however, a poor conductor of heat and does not distribute heat evenly. Because of this, many stainless steel pots and pans are made with a copper or aluminum disc in the bottom to help absorb heat more evenly.

Because of its smooth surface, stainless steel is easy to clean and maintain. Plus, it's dishwasher safe. If discoloration occurs, a stainless steel cleanser can be used to restore the natural luster. Stainless steel is great on the range top or in the oven. If your application calls for changes in the temperature while cooking, it's the perfect choice! Metal utensils can be used on stainless steel or aluminum surfaces.

Nonstick cookware has a coating on the interior surface that makes it difficult for foods to stick to it. This makes it very easy to cook healthy, nonfat foods. Plus, since foods don't stick to the surface, cleanup is a breeze! Nonstick cookware can be found in combination with many metals that produce cookware.

There is, however, one disadvantage to nonstick cookware; the nonstick coating can be easily scratched. Stainless steel or other metal utensils can scratch the surface. Nylon utensils are recommended when cooking with this type of surface.

Materials Comparison Chart

Material

Advantages

Disadvantages

Uses

Aluminum

Heats up fast and evenly; dishwasher safe; inexpensive.

If untreated, it may stain easily and react with foods.

Great for general-purpose cooking.

Copper

Heats up very fast and evenly.

May react with food; discoloration from water; dents/scratches easily.

Ideal for cooking delicate sauces.

Stainless Steel

Lightweight; durable; easy to clean/maintain; doesn't corrode or tarnish; won't scratch.

Doesn't conduct heat as well as other materials.

Good for general-purpose cooking — especially stir-frying.

Cast Iron

Thick and heavy duty; won't scratch; spreads heat evenly.

Doesn't conduct heat as well as other materials; reacts with acidic foods if it's not coated.

Perfect for browning and frying.

Nonstick

Easy to clean, great for cooking low-fat foods.

Scratches easily.

Best for low-fat cooking without much oil.

About Hard Anodized & Stainless Steel Cookware

What is "hard-anodizing?"

Hard anodization is an electro-chemical process that hardens aluminum. (Hard-anodized aluminum is 30% harder than stainless steel). During hard anodization, aluminum is submerged in an acid bath, then subjected to electrical charges. The result is a chemical reaction wherein the surface of the aluminum combines with oxygen to become aluminum oxide. This reaction is also known as oxidation, a process which occurs spontaneously in nature.

What does it do?

Hard-anodized surfaces resist abrasion and corrosion. A hard-anodized pan is the most durable pan you can buy.

Anodized materials have an extremely long life span. Anodized surfaces do not chip or peel. In fact, anodized aluminum is used to protect satellites from the harsh environment of space, to harden automotive racing parts against friction and heat, as well as for display cases, coolers and grills for the food industry.

An anodized finish is chemically stable. It does not decompose. It is nontoxic. High heat levels will not damage the anodized finish. Anodized surfaces are heat-resistant to the melting point of aluminum (1,221°F).

Most important for cookware, hard anodizing makes cookware surfaces so ultra-smooth that they become virtually nonporous (without pores). Pores in metal cookware are one of the leading reasons why foods stick while cooking.

So, because hard-anodized aluminum cooking surfaces are virtually nonporous, you have fewer problems with stuck-on foods. The surfaces are stick resistant. And when you use the simple steps to stick free cooking you’ll be amazed at how easy and trouble free cooking can be.

Stainless Steel - 18/0 vs. 18/8

Stainless steel is an alloy that starts with basic iron with up to 8 alloys added depending on the quality. The major alloys in stainless steel are chromium and nickel. The chromium provides rust and corrosion resistance and durability. Nickel provides additional rust resistance, hardness, and high polishing characteristics.

The numbers 18/0 and 18/8 refer to the percentage of content of chromium and nickel. To be classified as stainless steel, the metal must contain at least 11% chromium (no nickel; required). Stainless steel used in cookware is normally 18% chromium and 8% to 10% nickel (300 series).

Features and Benefits of Cookware Handles

Glass/Ceramic - are molded parts of the cookware. Durability is directly related to the strength of the glass/ceramic. Since glass/ceramic is an insulator of heat, the handle will not get hot during stove top use.

Phenolic (high heat plastic) - stay cool on the stovetop. They are generally oven safe up to 350° F/ 180° C. Though durable with normal use, they can chip, crack, break or blister if abused by overheating or exposure to heavy and repeated impact.

Metal Handles

Hollow Core Stainless Steel - handles stay cool longer than solid cast stainless steel handles and are oven safe to 500° F. The air in the core insulates against heat during stovetop cooking.

Cast Stainless Steel Handles - oven safe, durable and expensive. A long handle will stay cool for a reasonable stovetop cooking period. Being solid cast stainless steel, they conduct heat very slowly. Of course, the heat setting and length of the handle determine how long it will stay cool to the touch.

Cast Brass Handles - are oven safe, durable and very expensive. However, they get hot quickly so pot holders are always necessary. Cast brass handles are commonly found on copper cookware and occasionally on enamel on steel and stainless steel cookware.

Cast Iron Handles - are sturdy and oven safe (up to 400°F) but get hot quickly. To prevent injury, pot holders or special rubber grips must be used.

Silicone Rubber Handles

Silicone handles stay cool on the stovetop. They are oven safe up to 350 - 400° F. These can be produced in many colors and are riveted to the pan. Silicone provides a non-slip, comfortable grip that feels secure.

Handle Attachment Methods

Get a handle on cookware.

Riveted: is the sturdiest type of handle. In this application, the handle is permanently applied to the pot or pan with rivets.

Welded: just as the name implies, the handles are welded onto the pot or pan, which provides a smooth interior. This is not as durable as a riveted handled.

FAQ

Can any cookware be put in the dishwasher?

Many of the different surfaces may be safe in the dishwasher, but hand washing them will add to your cookware's longevity. Always double check with the manufacture's cleaning guidelines.

Is a heavier pot/pan always better than a lighter one?

Top of the line cookware is usually heavier than cheaper brands. The heavier a pot/pan is, the more secure; it will sit evenly on the stove top. However, you do need to be able to lift it off the burner with ease. If it's too heavy for you, it could cause other hazards.

Is there one material for cookware that is recommended above the others?

Each type of material can be very beneficial depending on your specific cooking application.

What type of utensil works the best with cookware?

This depends on the material your cookware is made of. Nonstick surfaces will scratch easily and should be used with nylon or wooden utensils. Copper, aluminum and stainless steel are very scratch-resistant, and could be used with metal utensils.

Every time I cook, food sticks to the interior of the pan or the pan is sticky. What's the problem?

It could be that you have the heat turned up too high. Quite a few people do this. High is not always the best option. Food should be heated gently and heat should be turned down as soon as the food reached the optimum cooking temperature.

I have spots or staining on the interior of my stainless steel pans. What is this?

Some food and water contain acids and salts that can cause subtle and minor corrosion to cooking surfaces. To solve this, add salt to dishes only when water is boiling to prevent it from settling on the bottom of the pan. Another reason may be that the pan was overheated. This type of corrosion can be removed by using a stainless steel cleaner.

What does it mean when you see stainless steel is 18/10?

The 18 refers to the percentage of chromium that is found in the steel. It's important because it helps to fend off corrosion. The 10 refers to the percentage of nickel in the piece. This also fights against corrosion and gives items a shiny look. You can also find 18/8 and 18/0 stainless steel.

What are the main features I should look for in cookware?

Heavy-gauge construction is a primary feature in great cookware. If it's not thick enough, it's not going to conduct heat properly. Other features include: stay-cool, oven-safe handles, even-heat conductivity and a non-reactive cooking surface. Always be sure to look for features that meet your individual cooking needs.

Features and Benefits of Bakeware

PYREX® glassware products can go directly from refrigerator or freezer to a microwave, convection, or preheated conventional oven.A small amount of liquid should be added to the ovenware vessel prior to baking foods that release liquids while cooking.

PYREX® glassware is non-porous glass, so it won't absorb food flavors, odors, or stains.

PYREX® glassware is non-reactive, so acid-based recipes, including tomato-based sauces, lemon-infused dishes and vinegar-based poultry sauces can be prepped and baked without affecting the result of the recipe.

Made in America, PYREX® glass products are microwave and dishwasher safe.

Corning French White

- Classic fluting compliments all table settings.

- Durable, crack and chip resistant ceramic stoneware.

- Non porous surface does not absorb food odors, flavors or stains.

- Designed for use in oven, microwave, refrigerator and freezer.

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