Skip to main content

Choosing the right material for your cookware is a vital step in making a delicious meal. Make or break if you will(pun intended). Listed below are common cookware materials as well as a description for each type.


Aluminum is very popular for cookware. It is dishwasher safe and inexpensive compared to other materials. It is also a great conductor that spreads heat evenly throughout the pan. In addition to the other pros, aluminum is lightweight, making it a great choice for larger pieces like roasting pans and large water pots.

A downside of aluminum is that, if left untreated, it is more prone to become discolored and/or react with certain acidic foods, resulting in a bitter taste. To combat this issue, we recommend using aluminum with a nonstick coating.

Anodized aluminum is a better, though more expensive, option. Anodization is the process used to harden the surface of aluminum, leaving it a dark gray color. Hard-anodized cookware is harder than steel and is extremely durable. In fact, more people are choosing this type because it is attractive and easier to clean, and more scratch-resistant in comparison to regular aluminum.


Copper does the best job at conducting heat rapidly and evenly. It is highly responsive, meaning it responds to a change in cooking temperature rather quickly. For this reason, copper cookware is used heavily by professional chefs that want maximum control over the application of heat.

Copper is similar to aluminum because it also reacts with the natural minerals and acids of many foods. This can add a yellow tint and metallic taste. So, copper cookware is typically lined a nonreactive metal like stainless steel to create a safe barrier. Traditionally, tin is used to line the copper, but it will eventually wear through and will need to be reapplied. The stainless-steel alternative will last a lifetime. The main con to copper is the cost. Copper is a precious metal so, of course it can be a bit expensive. But it is worth the price if you want well-cooked food. Copper cookware also looks good and will add beauty to any kitchen.

Another thing to look out for is the amount of maintenance that copper needs, as it tends to discolor over time. If left untreated, the cookware can lose its shine. It will perform the same, but it surely will not look as good. To remove discoloration, simply polish with a mixture such as vinegar and salt. Also, copper can dent and scratch easily, so watch for that as well.

Copper cookware should not be placed in the dishwasher. Instead, make sure to hand-wash pots and pans. Copper is not magnetic, so it cannot be used with induction cooktops. Iron handles are common on very heavy professional or commercial pans, but brass or stainless-steel handles are used in home versions. All of them are completely safe to use in the oven.


Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is a good general-purpose cookware. It’s lightweight, durable and super easy to clean due to its smooth surface. Stainless steel cookware is dishwasher and oven safe and can be used with metal utensils because it does not scratch easily.

This material works well as an interior cooking surface because it does not react with acidic foods. You can guarantee that your food will never be discolored or have a metallic taste.

Stainless steel is poor conductor of heat so usually a copper or aluminum disc is placed along the bottom to help distribute heat more evenly. This result is called a stainless steel “clad” and it is considered a durable cookware that needs little maintenance.

Another way to improve stainless steel is by “impact-bonding”. This involves putting a heavy gauge aluminum disk to the bottom of a thin gauge vessel of straight stainless steel. Though less expensive than clad, stainless steel that has gone through impact-bonding is not as durable or as evenly conductive.


Carbon Steel

Carbon steel is used in both expensive and very inexpensive cookware. Since it can hold its temperature pretty well, it is perfect for cooking that requires quick heat changes. Because they are used for this kind of cooking, woks and stir-fry pans are commonly made from carbon steel. This material is oven and broiler safe, but enameled pieces are not always recommended for glass stovetops.

Carbon steel is decent when it comes to heat conductivity. The pans are a little slow to heat, but they can achieve a higher temperature, making them ideal for certain high heat techniques. Raw carbon steel is relegated to specialty pan use, mainly as a skillet or wok. This is because it will rust if not oiled properly. When everything is done correctly, the pan will develop a nonstick interior over time.

A disadvantage to carbon steel is that it should be oiled to improve maintenance. Also, cleaning this material isn’t always the easiest. It’s not dishwasher safe and you are not encouraged to cook acidic foods inside of carbon steel pans.

Cast Iron

Cast iron is a thick and heavy material, making it take a little longer to heat up. If you are baking, slow cooking, or even making a stew, cast iron us perfect for you since it retains heat well and distributes it evenly.


Types of Cast Iron

Bare Cast Iron

Bare cast iron is durable and affordable. It just needs a bit more maintenance compared to other cooking materials. Cast iron should be seasoned before use to create a nonstick surface along the pot or pan. Once your cookware is seasoned, avoid soaking and washing them with soap. Long exposure to water would cause rust. Cast iron is also not the best choice when cooking acidic foods, since the food can strip the seasoning over time.

Enamel-Coated Cast Iron

Enamel-coasted cast iron has all the same benefits as the cast iron, but it is pricier. This kind of cookware has a porcelain coating that prevents rust, so it does not require seasoning and the cleanup is much easier. You also don’t have to worry about it reacting to foods. Enamel-coated cast iron works well on the stovetop and in the oven.To clean a cast iron skillet, start by pouring a half cup of kosher salt onto the skillet and then rub it with a paper towel. This action will remove any dust or impurities. Afterwards, wash the skillet with hot, soapy water. Make sure to dry it immediately to prevent any rusting.


Though not as widely produced, glass cookware is still available to those who want to utilize it in their kitchens. A pro is that you can see your food as it cooks. These kids of dishes also tend to look nice, so you can serve your food right inside of them. Glass isn’t the best choice because food may be more prone to sticking and even burning. Also, the heat distribution isn’t so great when compared to other materials.


Ceramic cookware does not react quickly to heat, so it’s typically used for dishes like casseroles that need to be cooked slowly at a constant temperature. Like glass, ceramic can be very fragile. There are three categories: Porcelain, Stoneware and Earthenware.


Porcelain is fired it order for it to harden. It is durable and it can usually be used on the stove, in the oven, and in the microwave. To show more height, porcelain is typically white.


Stoneware is another material that is hardened by being fried. In contrast to porcelain, stoneware is created using a different type of clay. It can also come in multiple color and finishes.


Earthenware is mostly utilized for serving rather than cooking, since it is much weaker and prone to chipping and scratching.

Ceramic is considered to be the safest and most environmentally friendly option. It’s nonstick and free of chemicals like PTFE and PFOA. A downside to ceramic is that it may not last very long. It is recommended to not use high temperatures with your ceramic cookware, as it will eventually affect its nonstick properties. Another way you could possibly rid of the nonstick properties is by cooking with oil. The oil can build up if the cookware is not cleaned completely, so try to keep a note of that. Do not place ceramic inside of the dishwasher, or the nonstick coating may be stripped


Nonstick cookware makes it difficult for food to stick because of the coating it has inside. Since the food doesn’t stick, cleanup is never a chore. Nonstick surfaces are not only very easy to clean, but they also allow for healthy cooking since minimal amount of oil can be used. It is possible to use no oil at all, but that can affect the performance and lifespan of the cookware. The main disadvantage of nonstick surfaces is that it can be scratched easily. Utensils made from stainless steel or other hard materials can scratch the pan, so make sure to use heat-safe materials such as hard nylon, silicone or wood. To avoid additional scraping during cleaning, wash the cookware with a natural sponge or a soft plastic brush.