Aluminium Cookware vs Stainless Steel

Aluminium Cookware vs Stainless Steel

All About Aluminium Cookware vs Stainless Steel

Two of the most common types of cookware used in cooking are aluminium and stainless cookware. It is not uncommon for people to own both types of cookware. However, there are things that you should know before deciding which type of cookware you will use to cook with. This guide will discuss everything you needed to know about aluminium cookware vs stainless steel, including the drawbacks and advantages of each one. 

Stainless Steel Cookware

This type of cookware is made from a combination of different types of metal. Depending on the brand of cookware that is purchased the type of combined metals can fluctuate. However, stainless steel pots and pans typically consist of the following metals:

  • Chromium
  • Nickel
  • Carbon
  • Iron

The outer layers are made of stainless steel and it is what gives the cookware its weight. When it comes to this type of cookware, the heavier the better.

Advantages of Stainless Steel

  • Easy to care for because it cleans easily with soap and water.
  • Durable- This type of cookware can handle high heat and temperatures for long periods of time.
  • Safe to cook acidic foods with since it does not leach when cooking unlike some other types of cookware such as aluminum.
  • Good for searing and browning or cooking things that have a lot of fat or require high heat. You want to avoid cooking lean meats or eggs with this type of cookware because it is known to stick to the surface when cooking.
  • It can be used in the oven.

Drawbacks of Stainless Steel

  • Uneven heat distribution is a common complaint of stainless steel. It is known to have hot spots unless it has an aluminum or copper core.
  • Food can stick to the surface unless you use oil, butter, or a cooking spray to create a temporary non-stick surface.
  • High heat, salt, and hard water can leave white spots, pits, or a chalky white residue in the pan. This results in an unattractive discoloration

Cleaning and Maintenance

Although it is easy to clean and care for stainless steel cookware, it is known to discolor, become scratched, and develop water spots if not properly cared for. Before you use stainless steel pots and pans for the first time you want to make sure that you thoroughly wash them with soapy hot water. Unlike cast iron pans, you do not need to season the cookware before you use it for the first time. However, it is recommended to do this to create a non-stick surface.

Cleaning and Maintenance Tips

  • Avoid using harsh or abrasive cleaners, this can cause scratching to the surface of your cookware.
  • Always make sure to clean and hand dry a stainless steel pot or pan thoroughly after each use. If food is stuck in the pan, use a little baking soda to clean the pan. It is the preferred cleaner for restoring stainless steel to its natural beauty.
  • Use a soft sponge when cleaning the pan, avoid steel wool, scouring pads, or oven cleaners because it will scratch the pan.
  • Apply cooking oil, non-stick cooking spray, or butter to a cold pan when cooking to avoid food sticking to the pan.
  • Do not place the pot or pan in the dishwasher if used daily. It is best to hand wash and dry this type of cookware especially if it is used daily.

Aluminum Cookware

Aluminum alone is known to be a soft metal, therefore most aluminum cookware will contain other metals to add strength to this type of cookware. The most common materials found in aluminum pots and pans include:

  • Magnesium
  • Copper
  • Bronze

This type of cookware is not as durable as stainless steel, however, it is a good conductor of heat and is lightweight.

Advantages of Aluminum

  • Heats food quickly and evenly because of the conductive properties.
  • Lightweight- It does not matter how large the aluminum pot or pan is because aluminum is a soft material it is known to be very easy to carry around and transport.
  • Resists corrosion because it does not contain iron which is prone to rust and corrosion. This doesn’t mean aluminum pots and pans won’t develop corrosion, it just means it is more resistant to it and it won’t rust.

Drawbacks of Aluminum

  • Easy to stain if the aluminum cookware is not anodized. Non-anodized aluminum pots and pans tend to stain when they are used to cook acidic foods.
  • Known to leach metal if it is non-anodized aluminum cookware. Highly acidic foods cause this type of cookware to be more prone to leaching metal into foods which can lead to health issues.
  • Can be high maintenance and it is less durable than stainless steel. This makes it more prone to deformation when removing from heat and adding water to the pot or pan while it is still hot.

Cleaning and Maintenance

When cleaning and maintaining aluminum pots and pans, it is important to remember that it is not as durable as stainless steel. This means constant banging of this type of cookware can cause it to easily break.

Cleaning and Maintenance Tips

  • Avoid using cleaners containing acetic acids such as vinegar or vinegar-based solutions. This can cause the cookware to deteriorate over time.
  • This type of cookware is not dishwasher-safe. You should use hot water and a soft cloth with non-abrasive cleaners when washing aluminum pots and pans.
  • To prevent food from sticking use oil or butter when cooking.
  • Aluminum heats quickly therefore to prevent burning it is recommended to heat the pan before adding oil or butter.
  • Allow this type of cookware to completely cool before washing it.
  • Make sure to completely dry aluminum cookware after washing it to prevent limescale buildup.
  • Thoroughly wash and season the pan before the first use to remove residues and help create a non-stick surface.

Bottom Line

The bottom line is not favoring one over the other. It’s knowing when to use aluminium cookware vs stainless steel cookware. Both types of cookware are relatively easy to clean and transport, however, each type has its drawbacks. This is why most chefs keep both types of cookware in their cooking arsenals.

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