It can get intimidating when you are on the hunt for the best type of cookware. With so many types of cookware to choose from, you have narrowed it down to Teflon and stainless steel, but now you are stuck and aren’t sure which one you need to choose. I was in this situation not too long ago, and I had to know Teflon vs. stainless steel; what are the pros and cons of both for cookware?
Teflon is a non-stick coating on steel or ceramic cookware. Some pros are that the food won’t get stuck and is easy to clean. Some cons are that the Teflon can come off, and the food can stick. Stainless steel cookware has pros like it won’t rust, and cons, like food, can get stuck to the bottom.
Using either type of cookware has advantages and disadvantages, but the trick is to find advantages that you like and disadvantages you can live with. After seeking the advice of a friend who is a chef, I have compiled a list of Teflon and stainless steel pros and cons to help you make an informed decision to suit your needs.
Teflon Vs. Stainless Steel: Pros & Cons Of Both For Cookware
We will take a closer look at Teflon and stainless steel cookware, including the pros and cons of both. We will examine what each cookware is made of and why many people like using it, starting with Teflon.
All You Need To Know About Teflon
When looking for cookware that won’t leave you stuck on food at the bottom, you might want to take a closer look at Teflon cookware.
What Makes Teflon Cookware Different?
Teflon cookware is standard cookware that has a protective coating applied on the inside of the pots or pans. This coating is non-stick, meaning your food won’t stick to the bottom or sides of the pot/pan. The coating is made using chemicals that include PTFE (commonly known as Teflon).
Using non-stick cookware comes with some risks. Many scientists and environmentalists were concerned about the toxic chemicals used in the non-stick coating. The main issue was with the chemical called PFOA. It’s a chemical that is dangerous to your health.
Luckily the Environmental Protection Agency has succeeded in getting most manufacturers of Teflon cookware to phase PFOA out of the Teflon non-stick coating, and Teflon has been free of PFOA since 2013.
The Pros Of Teflon Cookware
When choosing Teflon cookware, you must consider all the product’s advantages. Below we will be discussing all the pros of Teflon cookware.
Teflon Is Non-Stick
Teflon is one of the best cookware choices for beginners, as you don’t have to worry about your food sticking to the bottom of the pan or pot. The non-stick coating gives you peace of mind when cooking with ingredients that burn easily.
You still need to keep a close eye on the food you are cooking as it will still burn and turn black, the food just won’t stick to the pan, and you can clean it very easily; it won’t make a mess.
Teflon Is Easy To Clean
One of the pros most people like the most about Teflon cookware is how easy it is to clean. You can clean up even the oiliest pan or pot with a little soap and warm water. When cleaning your Teflon cookware, remember that you can’t use harsh chemicals or scrubbing scour pads.
Any steel or plastic scouring pad will damage the Teflon coating, and your cookware won’t be non-stick anymore, and you will find that food will get stuck in the scratches.
Teflon Is Lightweight
While many other types of cookware like stainless steel have heavy bottoms, Teflon cookware is a lightweight option. It means you won’t need to worry about the water taking ages to boil or the pan taking too long to heat up before you can start cooking.
Some Brands Of Teflon Is Highly Heat-Resistant
Some brands of Teflon can be used in an oven at 350°F for up to an hour, making it great for baking and regular cooking. Be careful not to place any Teflon in an oven without reading the manual from cover to cover to ensure the brand you have bought has been treated to withstand temperatures as high as this.
If you place a Teflon pot or pan that can’t stand those temperatures in the oven, your cookware might warp, and it will damage the Teflon non-stick coating.
The Cons Of Teflon Cookware
While there are many pros to using Teflon cookware, there are some cons you need to keep in mind when deciding what type of cookware to buy. Here are some cons of Teflon cookware:
Teflon Is Dangerous When Damaged
Teflon chips and scratches easily, and as time goes on, these chips and scratches get bigger, and you might find some of the coatings in your food. The chemicals in the coating are dangerous to ingest.
Teflon Cookware Can Stain
As time goes on, the Teflon can stain, and as you can’t use harsh chemicals and scouring pads to keep the surface clean, there is not much you can do to keep your Teflon cookware from staining.
Teflon Can Have High-Risk Chemicals In The Coating
When you go and buy Teflon cookware, you need to remember that all Teflon cookware manufactured before 2013 still has the chemical PFOA in the coating. This coating is dangerous when inhaled because the natural gas released as the cookware gets hot exposes you to that chemical.
The Environmental Protection Agency has stopped manufacturers from using this chemical in their non-stick coating. So Teflon cookware made before 2013 still has these chemicals in the coating and should be avoided.
The other chemical that is dangerous in non-stick coatings is perfluorocarbons or PFCs. As the pot or pan gets hotter, chemical gasses are released; these gasses are inhaled as we are cooking. PFC has been linked to many diseases, including cancer, developmental problems, and liver damage, and might lead to early menopause.
Cookware Needs To Be Seasoned
While Teflon is non-stick cookware, to keep the Teflon coating in the best possible condition, you should ‘season’ the cookware before the first use and every few months as you use the cookware.
It Can Warp From Thermal Shock
If you use Teflon cookware, you should let the pan cool down before you add water to clean it. If you put water in a hot Teflon pot or pan, the thermal shock going from very hot to cold water will warp the surface of the pan. So never put an overheated empty pot or pan on a cold surface or in cold water.
Cheap Is Never The Way To Go
Most of us are working with a budget, so when you have to invest in cookware, you have to consider the quality. In this case, you get the quality you pay for. Depending on the brand and the quality of the Teflon you buy, the cookware might last years or months. The cheaper ones have a less trustworthy non-stick coating.
Vital Precautions When Cooking With Teflon Cookware
When you are cooking with Teflon non-stick cookware, there are some preventative measures you can take to get the best out of your Teflon cookware.
- Avoid letting the pan get too hot too quickly while it’s empty. It will warp if it suddenly gets exposed to cold water or a cold surface.
- Ensure your stove is put on high or medium.
- If your Teflon cookware starts to chip and gets heavily scratched, you should throw the damaged cookware out.
- Remember, you won’t get the perfect searing effect on your food like you would when using stainless steel cookware as your food is cooking in its own juices.
Why Do So Many Chefs Prefer Stainless Steel
The most common type of cookware that chefs will have in their kitchen is stainless steel. What is the mystery behind their love of stainless steel? Stainless steel is suited for all kinds of cooktops and works fantastic to give you a healthy brown sear on your food; this sear is called the Maillard reaction.
Stainless steel cookware is very durable and won’t easily warp. Stainless steel pots and pans don’t rust, and a good scrubbing can remove most scratches. Stainless steel cookware can be used in an oven as long as the handles are made with heat-resisting plastic or plastic-free. Most stainless steel cookware can withstand temperatures of between 500°F and 600°F.
The Pros Of Stainless Steel Cookware
Before you decide to buy cookware, it’s important to know all the benefits of using stainless steel cookware. Here are some pros to consider:
The Durability Of Stainless Steel Cookware
Stainless steel pots and pans are very durable, and with proper care and maintenance, they can last you years. Stainless steel is made to withstand high temperatures (like an oven) and low temperatures (like the fridge) and won’t rust. They don’t dent and scratch easily and can withstand being cleaned in a dishwasher if you have to.
Stainless Steel Preserves Food Flavor
Stainless steel tends to preserve the flavor of the food you are cooking as it doesn’t leach any metallic properties into the food. So the cookware itself does not impact the flavor of the food. No non-stick coating can come off with time, so the food will taste as it was meant to.
Good Quality Stainless Steel Cookware Has Great Heat Transfer Abilities
When looking at stainless steel cookware, buying good-quality pots and pans is important. The better the quality you buy, the better the heat transfer, and you will get even temperatures. The better quality stainless steel cookware has brought copper or aluminum elements into its base to ensure better heat transference.
Stainless Steel Is Recyclable
Stainless steel is the more environmentally friendly option when choosing between Teflon and stainless steel cookware. Stainless steel is entirely recyclable, meaning you don’t have to worry about environmental impact as the steel can be reused to make something else.
Stainless Steel Looks Great
No matter how dull and dreary your stainless steel pots and pans get, you can easily fix that with a gentle wash and rub with a cloth. Stainless steel has a mirror finish, making it one of the best-looking cookware options.
The Cons Of Stainless Steel Cookware
Stainless steel cookware is by far the choice of most chefs, but like any other product, it comes with a few disadvantages. Here are a few of the cons of buying stainless steel cookware:
You Have To Buy Quality
When looking at stainless steel cookware brands, cheaper might mean poor heat transfer ability. Most good-quality stainless steel pots and pans have copper or aluminum incorporated into the base of the pot or pan, but with cheaper and thinner pots and pans, that is not the case.
They might not have great heat transfer properties, so your food won’t cook as well as it should. Therefore, you might need to spend more money on better quality cookware to get the best cooking results.
The Price Point
To add to the previous point on quality, buying stainless steel cookware is expensive. Most quality stainless steel cookware is seen as an investment you only need to make once in a lifetime. That being said, it is more expensive than Teflon cookware.
The last con to buying stainless steel cookware is that food can stick to the bottom if you don't watch the temperatures and water or oil levels. Cleaning a stainless steel pan can be more time-consuming and takes a bit of elbow grease to get clean, but if you can let it sit with a bit of warm water, it should be easier to remove the burnt/stuck-on food.
When you need to make an informed decision on the type of cookware that would best suit you, considering all the pros and cons is the best way to get your answer. While non-stick Teflon pots and pans have advantages, the health risks and the coating coming off are a big disadvantage.
With stainless steel cookware, you have the advantage of the set lasting years if you pick a good quality one. You might have a bit more cleaning up, but if the cookware lasts longer, it might be worth the effort.