How To Pick The Best Stainless Steel Cookware (Without Regret)
At a glance:
From utensils, pans and pots to appliances and even kitchen islands, steel cookware is present in so many corners of every kitchen. As one of the most versatile, durable and safe materials currently available, stainless steel is always a top choice for cookware. Even so, the variety of brands, sets, and products, all of which come with different names and rather uncommon technical terms, make buyers have plenty of questions when deciding whether to opt for this material or not.
This definitive guide is meant to clear things out and ease your worries. Read on to find answers to all your questions, from the basics to the more complicated aspects detailed in plain language.
BEST STARTER SET
For those who still wonder what is this steel alloy is, we will outline some general information. To begin with, let’s have a look at what this material is made of and what the numbers that usually describe it really stand for:
So now we know what this famous metal is made of, let’s see what it’s good for.
What Are The Best Stainless Steel Cookware Uses?
Most commonly sold in different configurations of cooking ware set, the classic, uncoated and long-lasting high grade metal suits all kinds of cooking techniques.
In a nutshell, as long as you have a bonded or clad stainless steel cookware – or other material options – you are sure to get the most flavored dishes with the least hassle. This really is the perfect alternative to Teflon-coated aluminum core cookware, which happens to be not only very easy to scratch, but also somewhat unsafe for your health.
And just to show you how good is this cookware, let’s ponder the goods and the bads of having such utensils in your kitchen.
On the plus side, this alloy is:
On the downside, steel in its various combinations is:
All in all, the reason why most people have so many questions about it regards the poor heat distribution and transfer that is known to have. Nevertheless, the popular brands nowadays combine layers of stainless steel with further aluminum or copper, making these flaws history.
This technique of enhancing the simple formula of “stainless steel” also raises some concerns about how safe these products really are. And since we just mentioned the presence of aluminum, we’d better tackle another stringent aspect:
Is Stainless Steel Cookware Safe? What about the Aluminum in them?
Since, as already indicated, steel usually has chromium, nickel and other potentially heavy metals in its composition, some people worry that it’s not safe for cooking. Others, on the contrary, claim that it is actually completely non-reactive, therefore totally safe. The truth is that the current production of this type of cookware is long focused on using as little cheap heavy metals as possible.
The safest cookware (such brands as Calphalon, Cuisinart, Cook N Home, and other famous manufacturers) make use of a high-performing technology that leaves no room for metal leaking.
Their cookware boasts impact-bonded aluminum bases that not only retain and conduct heat flawlessly but are also the safest and easiest to sanitize products currently on the market.
Combining steel alloy with aluminum is one of the best choices because:
Long story short, if you shop for the best quality products, you will enjoy the food you can get! While this statement alone should considerably ease your mind, it can still leave room for some other uncertainties.
If there are high-quality products on the market, completely safe to use, how can you spot the low-quality ones? Otherwise said…
What is NOT so Good About This Steel Cookware?
We wondered the same thing and we found some brands lacking in certain departments.
To spot the not so good steel cookware, the first thing to do would be to look at the warranty. A renowned brand offers a decent warranty for its products and a not so good one sadly doesn’t.
Aside from that, carefully read the product details, to understand what metals they have in their composition.
The more features you will read about and the more products you will get to compare, the easier it will be for you to spot the low-quality products that you should really avoid. Some helpful queues would include the following aspects:
From the low cost and weight of the product to the anonymity of the manufacturer, all these are indicators that you should be focusing on other products available out there. While you do so, consider the following:
Technical and Practical Aspects of Choosing The Best Stainless Steel Cookware
Now that you know the basics, you probably wonder what surfaces can steel cookware be used on, whether it is fit for induction cooktop and glass top stoves or how difficult will it be for you to clean it up…
For starters, versatility is one of the biggest advantages of relying on steel as cookware in the kitchen. Think of it as a true workhorse, perfect to use for anything from deep-fried dishes to finger licking stews, all cooked pretty much everywhere from stovetop to oven.
Since induction is one of the biggest concerns of our readers, allow us to set things straight in this chapter:
How to Take Proper Care of Your Steel Cookware
Taking care of these products refers to both the most recommended cooking techniques and how to clean them when you’re done cooking.
The basics of handling such cookware include:
If the staining is too hard, fill the pot or the pan with water; let it boil for about 20 minutes until you can easily scratch the tough burnt stains with a wooden spoon; drizzle it with Bar Keeper’s Friend or baking soda and gently scrub with a mesh dishcloth. Repeat, this time with vinegar added into the water if the burn still doesn’t go away gently.
If rust shows up, you should scrub it again, with Bar Keeper’s Friend or with a paste of tartar cream and lemon juice (as a natural alternative); dry it thoroughly and wait for a couple of days until the protective layer of chromium oxide will form again.
Those who were wondering is steel cookware non-stick are probably a bit disappointed right now, but there’s really no need to! The following tips will make you feel more confident than ever about making this choice.
Is Steel Cookware Non-Stick?
The term of non-stick defines the cookware coated with PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene), like the ones manufactured by Teflon. But if you are already familiarized with the controversies floating around the safety of cooking with Teflon-coated pots, you will want to read more about the amazing alternative that steel alloy cookware provides.
This material, even though it isn’t a non-stick option by definition, it allows you to get similar results by simply heating the pan properly.
The water droplet trick (also known as the Leidenfrost effect) is a great way to see if the pan has reached the optimum temperature:
Depending on what you get, you can take the pan off the heat or keep it longer and repeat the test. Either way, make sure you wipe de droplets before pouring in the oil.
Alternatively, you can try the butter test: place a cube of butter in the hot pan and spread it with a spoon. If it suddenly starts browning, the temperature is too high. You will know you got the right temperature if it starts bubbling briskly.
Once you have obtained the desired temperature, you just need to add just enough oil to coat its bottom with a very thin layer. You wait again until you notice smoke starting to come out gently, and then you can add in the ingredients. Meat will sear up perfectly under these circumstances, as long as you let it sit until it’s perfectly seared on that side. Small chunks of meat stuck to the pan only if you try to flip it too early.
To sum up, you can use your steel cookware as if it’s non-stick if you:
When you’re done, don’t just pour water into the hot pan. Let it cool off at the room temperature and even soak it in soapy warm water for a while.
And just in case you were wondering if this cookware is dishwasher safe, again, an encouraging answer: YES, most of them are! But just to be on the safe side, always look up for the manufacturer’s indications.
Factors to consider when buying the best Steel Cookware
By now, you already know that the only moments when steel cookware could really show up some weakness signs are when you’re preparing recipes that require sudden temperature changes or a really even cooking.
The secret to solving all these heat distribution and transfer drawbacks and avoiding potential leaks of nickel is to only buy cookware manufactured by well-known brands and made of high-quality stainless steel.
The cookware made of high-quality materials will have low levels of nickel and its formulation will be particularly conceived to resist reactivity, leaching or corrosion for the years to come.
When you decided for a brand, make sure that the products cover some simple yet very practical design features such as:
Nevertheless, the most important feature that your next cookware set should have is a multi-layer structure. Why a multi-clad or multi-ply product instead of plain steel?
Why is This Cookware different than Tri-Ply?
As suggested, the sturdier the pot, the higher the quality, the longer its resistance in time, the safer and tastier the foods you cook in it.
Manufacturers know it well, and that’s why they have recently introduced this technology that relies on alternating metal layers. Every layer is called “clad” or “ply”, hence the terms of multi-clad cookware or tri-ply cookware.
Perhaps you’ve also heard of 5-ply or 7-ply cookware, which are basically the same, only that the number of layers from inside varies.
Some vessels have this construction only at their bottom while others have it inside the walls as well. Obviously, the numerous the layers, the thicker and higher-quality the pot or the pan will be.
The main advantage of sandwiching these layers is the fact that it allows you to enjoy the benefits of each metal and reduce the drawbacks that these metals would have had if used separately.
The combination of steel, aluminum, and magnetic steel is the most successful currently on the market:
As you can imagine, most 5-ply or 7-ply products are rather a marketing strategy, since a 3-ply structure alone is more than enough to provide all the benefits suggested above. If you’re aiming for quality, you should easily find a 3-ply set produced by a famous brand, for a decent price.
Just to prove you so, we’ve put together a top 3 of the best rated steel kitchen cookware sets available, after thoroughly evaluating not just the official manufacturer’s presentations but, most importantly, the direct feedback coming from our readers!
Read on and see for yourself:
Summary of 4 Best Stainless Steel Cookware Reviews of 2020
2 (Runner Up)
3 (Second Runner-up)
4 (Worthy Mention)
Newcomer Made In has created premium 5-ply construction cookware that combines durability, even cooking properties, ergonomic handles that are heat-resistant, and a highly rated nonstick pan…and the best part it’s made in America.
Their “The Sous Chef” 11-piece set is perfect for the frequent cook who fires up all their burners and wants to use the perfect pan for each recipe. We should note all Made In cookware is dishwasher-safe, oven-safe, induction compatible, and stackable.
Right now, Made In’s products are rated 5-stars by 99% of their customers. The use a direct-to-consumer business model to provide their cookware for almost half the price of their competition like All-Clad.
Read on to find out why this is our new favorite stainless steel cookware set.
What’s in the package?
Everything but the kitchen sink. Well, not everything.
But this set includes everything you need to boil, simmer, fry, saute, sear, scramble, and braise. This kit includes 7 cooking pots and 4 covers.
All items are made with 5-ply, American-sourced metal, which is combination of alternating layers of aluminum and steel. This composition combines the strength of steel with the heat conductivity properties of aluminum.
This cookware comes with a few notable benefits:
On the plus side:
On the downside
If you’re looking for chef quality cookware…
At more approachable price than the rest of the premium market, this set is perfect for you. The 11-piece “The Sous Chef” set from Made In is a great deal and the five-star ratings and 100 day free trial should ease any hesitation about buying this set today.
Tell them we sent you!
Best VALUE Cookware #2:
Our second best rated cookware set is a 10-piece classic combo manufactured by Calphalon. Including all the necessary types of pots for frying, searing, simmering, boiling, and even more, this top pick comes with a lifetime warranty! Safe to use on the stove, oven or broiler, and compatible to use with the dishwasher, it makes your life in the kitchen not only easier but also a true pleasure. So read on to find out what makes this particular set our favorite steel cookware.
What’s in the package?
This Calphalon stainless steel set includes 6 cooking pots and 4 covers. All items are made of pure steel alloy, with an impact-bonded aluminum base:
Opting for this particular cookware set comes with plenty of benefits. The most notable ones are:
As suggested, plenty of other aspects is worth mentioning in this chapter. All in all, you will notice that this steel cookware is made of high-quality materials and with impressive attention to details. The design of every single item of this set reflects the manufacturer’s concerns for comfortable use:
On the plus side:
On the downside
Just to draw a conclusion, as most of our readers say, if you’re looking for good quality at a fair price, you have to buy these! The 10-piece classic steel cookware set from Calphalon is a gem for your kitchen. It doesn’t just make your life easier, but it also helps you cook in a healthier way, no matter what dishes you have on the menu. Any potential concerns that one may have should be eased by the lifetime warranty. Makes sense why we’re calling it the best rated steel cookware?
BEST DURABLE Cookware #3:
Part of the Multiclad Pro line manufactured by Cuisinart, this 12-piece cookware set offers deluxe cookware for professional home chefs and passionate amateur chefs just as well. If you’re tired of cooking just stews and soups, this one will come in handy, offering you a lot more than the basics. From steaming veggies to grilling cheese or putting together a divine béchamel sauce, there’s little you cannot do. So here’s what you should know about it before opting for this particular product:
What’s in the package?
As suggested, the offer consists of 12 items; all made of stainless steel, in an elegant silver shade, with mirror-polished, non-reactive interiors and brushed 18/10 steel exteriors:
If you’re eager to know what makes this steel cookware set the perfect instrument for those truly passionate about cooking, here are some of the most outstanding benefits:
Given the variety of items and the quality of their material, this cookware set is obviously a great fit for any kitchen, no matter what cooking instruments you have and what cooking style you adopt. The features below listed will give you an even better image of how to make the best of these pots, pans, and skillets:
On the plus side:
On the downside
There’s really little that one can complain about this multi clad pro steel cookware set from Cuisinart. The two most often commented issues regard:
Nevertheless, the user’s instructions are pretty simple and clear, indicating how these stains might occur and what one would have to do in order to keep them look at their best or to avoid sticking the food.
All in all, this set comes from one of the most reputable manufacturers of classic steel cookware. The technology behind it is meant to provide an excellent cooking experience even for the pickiest persons. From the tri-ply structure to the design of each item, everything is conceived to help you get to the next level in the kitchen. So if you’re ready to experience more with your food, feel free to make the switch from a classic steel cookware set to this deluxe version. The price is really great for the quality that it provides!
Best STARTER SET Coowkare #4:
Not on the top 3 but a worth recommendation includes a stainless steel cookware set manufactured by Cook N Home. While it caters all the basic needs of every kitchen, it also comes with an incredibly economical price. If you want to know more about it, here are the basic details, as described by the manufacturer and our readers who already got to test it:
What’s in the package?
This set consists of 6 pots with dedicated, tightly fit glass lids – sauce pan, casseroles, stock pot, and a frying pan:
Despite being conceived as a rather economical option, all the products in this set:
What else should you know before purchasing them?
On the plus side:
On the downside
Without pretending to be top-notch steel cookware, this set from Cook N Home is your best choice in terms of budget steel pots and pans. All items look and feel nice, and as long as you follow the basic rules of cooking with stainless steel, you should be able to enjoy all the benefits, without worrying too much about sticking food or discoloration.
Your Go-To Resource To Shop For Quality Steel Cookware Sets
Our definitive guide to finding the best stainless steel cookware sets should be your go-to resource every time when in doubt about what to choose. With the hope that we’ve put together all the aspects that matter to you, so you won’t have to waste days of reading all kinds of Amazon reviews, here’s a quick reminder: we’re here to help!
Whatever extra questions you may have, feel free to ask!