stainless steel vs nonstick pans

Choosing a cookware might be an overwhelming experience, especially if you don’t have firsthand observation on what works for you. In this article we will take a look at the two options people most often opt for – Stainless steel vs Nonstick cookware. 

While nonstick and stainless steel cookware shouldn’t be seen as opposing choices, being aware of the differences is essential for the quality of the end results in the kitchen as each type of cookware is suitable for different dishes. Researching the differences is beneficial especially if you are about to order a cookware online as making a decision simply based on pictures and vague descriptions can easily result in making a bad purchase.

We won’t tell you which one is better though but will give you all the information you should consider, in order to make an informed decision yourself, based on your personal cooking behavior, preferences and needs. Continue reading to find out what factors you should keep in mind and what are the pros and cons of both Stainless steel and Nonstick cookware.

“It is all in what you are cooking”

The simplest answer to the question “What cookware should I choose?” is “It is all in what you are cooking”. If you have both Nonstick and Stainless cookware at home, you can simply use the one suitable for your planned dish. However, if you are in the store and you have to choose one, you might need to consider what your cooking style is, what you cook most often and how you like your dishes in order to make the optimal choice.  

If you are a newbie in the kitchen or you simply are not a fan of spending a lot of time there, you might consider getting a Nonstick cookware. This type of cookware is perfect for simple dishes such as eggs, pasta, pancakes, delicate fish and every meal that tends to stick. Frying eggs in a nonstick pan requires nothing but a drop of oil and the results are more than perfect. Due to the fact that fat or oil is not required to keep food from sticking, the non-stick cookware is usually preferred by the health-conscious people.

If you are a newbie in the kitchen or you simply are not a fan of spending a lot of time there, you might consider getting a Nonstick cookware. This type of cookware is perfect for simple dishes such as eggs, pasta, pancakes, delicate fish and every meal that tends to stick. Frying eggs in a nonstick pan requires nothing but a drop of oil and the results are more than perfect. Due to the fact that fat or oil is not required to keep food from sticking, the non-stick cookware is usually preferred by the health-conscious people.

On the other hand, if you are a higher-level cook and you often aim to achieve that lovely golden color on your meat, cooking in a nonstick pan is not the best option. Stainless cookware is perfect for browning and searing food, making the texture crispy and flavorful. This process requires high heat and adherence of the food to the pan that cannot be achieved by the non-stick cookware.

Stainless steel is preferable in one more cooking area – deglazing sauces and juicy meals. What is more, stainless steel cookware can be used in a wider range of recipes, not only because it is suitable for more than the nonstick, but also because its high heat resistance allows putting the pan in the oven.

Why do you need to know the differences?

Knowing the difference between Nonstick and Stainless steel cookware is important for two reasons. Firstly, if you are buying your first set of cookware and you are looking for the perfect one for you, it is highly important to be able to make the difference between these two in order to choose the one that fits your needs the most. For instance, if you don’t have a big experience with cooking, you are most likely going to start with simple recipes suitable for nonstick cookware.

It is also important to know the difference between nonstick and stainless steel if you have both at home in order to choose the best one for the dish you are planning to cook. The cookware that it is being cooked in plays a crucial role in the final result of the meal. Sometimes you might want to avoid sticking at all costs, while sometimes sticking might be important to achieve that lovely brown color. Knowing which cookware to use for the dish levels up your cooking skills significantly.

NonStick Cookware

Cooking in a nonstick cookware does have some basic principles. If you have figured out that a nonstick cookware is the better option for you, avoid buying the cheapest one. A low-quality Nonstick pan has a major drawback – when heated at a higher temperature it may give off harmful chemicals. Furthermore, the cheapest ones are not durable and are easily scratched and compromised. 

NonStick Cookware Benefits

Food doesn’t stick to the pan

The main advantage of nonstick cookware is that it is pretty easy to cook in and it does not require any cooking skills. The food can hardly be overburnt or be ruined by sticking to the pan resulting in very consistent results.

Easy maintenance

Due to the fact that the food doesn’t stick to the pan, the nonstick cookware is very easy to maintain – it can be cleaned in a minute with no effort. If your nonstick pan is decent you can go with a simple paper towel wipe.

Suitable for diets

If you own a higher quality cookware, you can avoid putting even a small amount of oil. The lack of fat makes this type of cookware highly suitable for people who try to maintain low-oil diets.

Low price 

As with everything else there are exceptions, but the nonstick cookware is a relatively cheap choice compared to other options. It is generally made of aluminum, which is less expensive than other options such as stainless steel or copper. However, as mentioned already, try not to opt for the cheapest versions in order to use it for a longer period.

NonStick Cookware Downsides

Suitable for a limited range of dishes

Cooking with a nonstick pan is a great choice for some recipes but they are not many. This cookware is suitable for delicate food, such as some types of fish, eggs and pancakes. To achieve good results with everything else, to brown, sear or deglaze, opt for stainless steel cookware. The nonstick is also not suitable for dishes that require extremely high temperature to cook, nor dishes that have to be cooked in the oven, since the non-stick coating might melt. In this case, a stainless cookware will do a better job. 

Not durable

Although the quality of the nonstick cookware is dependable on the price of the product, even with the most expensive nonstick, the coating can be easily scratched and compromised, especially if used with metal utensils or scouring pads. The nonstick cookware must not be washed in a dishwasher as this could significantly damage the coating. The nonstick last between three and five years, depending on the quality and the maintenance.

Safety concerns

Non-stick pans can decompose much more rapidly at very high temperatures (350 ° C and above), releasing fumes strong enough to cause a polymer-fume fever, transient flu-like illness characterized by chills, fever, and headache. Pet birds whose respiratory systems are weaker than ours can be killed by these fumes. Therefore, it’s best not to use non-stick pans when the dish requires a high heat cooking.

Stainless Steel Cookware

Stainless steel cookware requires some basic cooking skills in order to cook in it and maintain it properly. In contrast to the nonstick, you might consider heating up the stainless steel up to the heat you are intending to cook, and then put the food in.

Stainless Steel Cookware Benefits


The ultimate all-purpose cookware is Stainless Steel. Meat and fish are easily seared, the vegetables sautéed, the chicken browned, sauces simmered, and much more. You can carry out any cooking technique because of the high heat conductivity and even distribution. Overall, Stainless steel cookware trumps other types of cookware when it comes to versatility.


Stainless steel tends to be very resultant. This type of cookware does not, at least easily, chip, rust or even stain. Stainless steel is also resistant to dents and scratches. Destroying it is practically impossible. This makes it, generally, very easy to clean. In general, this cookware is dishwasher safe, can handle going into the fridge and more. Most brands even offer a lifetime guarantee. Even though it is more expensive, due to the fact that a good stainless steel can last a lifetime, many people see it as a one-time purchase and invest in a higher quality product.


Stainless steel cookware responds rapidly to changes in temperature, giving you full control when you cook. Go from high to low heat or vice versa, without waiting the temperature of the cooking surface to change for minutes. This will help you avoid burning food, particularly spices such as garlic, which can become overcooked for seconds. Especially for one-pot recipes, responsiveness plays a huge role. It allows the temperature to be adjusted quickly as you add new ingredients.

Tolerant to high heats

Unlike non-stick cookware, stainless steel cookware can handle extremely high temperatures. That’s a huge advantage, since for many dishes, such as steaks, burgers and other types of meat, searing is required, which can only be achieved on a high heat. More to that, due to their high heat tolerance, the stainless pan or pot can be put in the oven, without having to worry about warping and destroying it.

Stainless Steel Cookware Downsides


One of the biggest disadvantages of the stainless-steel cookware is its high price tag compared to other options, which is probably why the nonstick cookware is more common especially among the unprofessional cooks. The durable and high-quality materials, together with the complicated production process, called bonded construction, make this product more expensive.

Sticking food

The stainless cookware is not completely nonstick but when used properly it can be resistant to sticking. However, with delicate food such as eggs, and fish, you have to be careful. The sticking can be minimized by preheating the pan and poring plenty of oil.

Difficult cleaning

Even though the stainless steel can be washed in the dishwasher, the stuck food doesn’t usually release easily, and it might require a harsh washing by hand. Moreover, washing in the dishwasher is not the recommended way to wash your stainless steel as the harsh dishwasher detergents may discolor or degrade stainless steel cookware.

The Differences in a Nutshell: Stainless Steel vs Nonstick

Nonstick and stainless steel cookware should not be seen as an either-or choice due to the fact that they have completely different characteristics and serve different needs. Having both and, most importantly, using them properly could make a significant difference in your dishes’ taste and texture.

In a nutshell, the nonstick cookware is suitable for newbies in the kitchen, due to the fact that it is very easy to maintain, and even the most delicate food will not burn or stick. In case you are health conscious you might also consider using a nonstick since it doesn’t require any fat. Overall, the nonstick cookware cooks with consistent results and requires little maintenance. However, keep in mind that for more complicated dishes, you won’t achieve the finest taste with a nonstick pan.

The stainless steel cookware, on the other hand, requires some basic cooking skills in order to make the best use of it and not destroy it quickly. In this type of cookware, the food sticks easily and it is not recommended for delicate food. However, this characteristic is what makes stainless steel preferred by most professional cooks – it is perfect for browning meat and sautéing vegetables. Make sure to clean it properly, by waiting to cool down first and put it in the dishwasher only occasionally.


Now, when you know the differences between both types of cookware, you can simply get the one that fits your needs and cooking skills the best. Consider the pros and cons and decide what is important for you and what not. If you have both, you must have become a better cook after reading this article, since knowing what cookware to use for each dish (and how to use it) is one of the most important steps in the process.