If you are about to invest in some new cookware, it’s worth thinking about what material is best. So, today, we’re looking at the best cookware materials to find out which you should buy.
Just like many other cooking questions, the answer depends on who you ask. You see, the best cookware material for you greatly depends on what you like cooking, how you like cooking it, the budget you have and several other factors.
Instead of trying to offer the best cookware material for everyone, we thought we’d discuss some of the best materials. So that you can you choose which ones might be better for you and your cooking needs.
Stainless steel is a great choice for cookware if you like natural non-stick properties and a very tough surface.
Stainless steel doesn’t react with acidic food, and it doesn’t scratch or corrode easily either.
Most stainless-steel cookware also features metal handles too. Which means you can transfer pots and pans into the oven and finish off the cooking process.
Stainless steel isn’t the most responsive metal to heat. In fact, it’s one of the worst heat conductors in the kitchen.
If speed is a concern, there are stainless steel pans with copper or aluminium bottoms that take advantage of their heat conductivity.
Stainless steel isn’t the cheapest cookware material, but it is highly durable, dishwasher and oven safe too.
Check out our roundup of the best stainless steel cookware sets if this material sounds right for you.
Cookware made from copper has the best heat conductivity in the kitchen. It is extremely responsive to heat changes, so for boiling things quickly or changing temperatures very fast, copper is a brilliant choice.
Traditionally, copper cookware was lined with tin, but nowadays, most of this cookware is lined with stainless steel. This is because copper can react to some foods, and it is also very soft, so it can damage easily.
Copper cookware is usually the most expensive cookware you can buy, but it looks great and offers control over heat like no other cookware on the market.
Check out our roundup of the best copper pans if you’re ready to invest in some copper cookware.
Aluminium is the most widely used material for cookware. Almost any non-stick pot and pan in the world has aluminium underneath the non-stick coating.
Aluminium by itself doesn’t have very good non-stick properties, but it has very good heat conductivity, which is why it’s used so much.
It is also cheaper than most other cookware materials, so you can buy a set of aluminium cookware for much less than most other cookware.
The non-stick coating on aluminium pots and pans doesn’t last forever. In fact, most aluminium cookware should be replaced after about five years.
This makes aluminium cookware the most disposable cookware in the world, but it is cheap and will work well for you for a few years.
Carbon steel isn’t seen in home kitchens very often, but it does make some excellent cookware that many professional chefs use in restaurant kitchens.
This cookware is very durable, and it is often extremely thin, so it responds well to heat. Many woks are made from carbon steel because of this.
You need lots of heat to cook quickly in a wok, and carbon steel is the best choice for this cookware as a result of its ability to be incredibly thin yet very stable.
The issue with carbon steel for home kitchens is that it offers hardly any non-stick properties at all. This can make cooking with it quite a challenge, so many home cooks avoid it.
Learning to use carbon steel cookware isn’t too tricky, though, and it is fantastically cheap. It can be transferred to the oven and has some of the best heat responsiveness available in cookware.
Finally, we have cast iron cookware. Cast iron has been used in the kitchen for hundreds of years, and it really isn’t difficult to see why.
These heavy pieces of cookware hold heat extremely well, allowing you to lock in flavours and sear steak and fish nice and easily.
They can also be seasoned, which offers a natural non-stick coating comparable to some not-so-natural non-stick coatings. See our picks of the best cast iron skillets in the UK if you’re ready to make the switch from Teflon-style non-stick pans.
Now, cast iron is extremely heavy, so moving it around can be an issue for some. However, its heat retention is the best in the world, and it is a joy to cook with.
Also, cast iron can be relatively cheap. Which is surprising, considering if you keep it in good condition, your great, great grandkids could be using the same pan as you once did.
Cast iron is very robust if you look after it and the perfect choice for searing meats and veg.
So, the best cookware material for you greatly depends on your needs as a home chef, but we hope this look at cookware materials has helped you decide which is right for you. We’re big fans of stainless-steel pots and cast-iron pans, but the choice is yours.
Why not take a look at some cookware in the material of your choice in one of our many lists? Chef’s Pick has all of the best cookware available in the UK made from all the materials we discussed above.
Scott is a writer and a passionate home chef. His passion for cooking began when he was 10 years old. Scott has been writing professionally for over five years now and loves to combine his passion for cooking with his day job.