Pots and pans are indispensable to a kitchen, whether it’s at home or in a full-service restaurant. You can’t do anything in a kitchen without pots and pans. They are made from a variety of materials, ranging from stoneware to aluminum vs stainless steel. But stainless steel and aluminum stand out from the crowd.
Aluminum vs Stainless Steel Cookware
Aluminum pots have the advantage that they are cheaper than stainless steel pots. In addition, aluminum is a lightweight material so the cookware made of it is not that heavy. But aluminum isn’t as strong, it’s more prone to scratches and dents and not all acid resistant, it turns black in the dishwasher. If you use aluminum pots, pay attention to good aluminum alloys with a coated surface.
No other material is as popular in professional kitchens as stainless steel. It is robust, scratch-resistant durable, easy to handle. Stainless steel withstands temperature fluctuations well, is acid-resistant, and can withstand any wash in the dishwasher. However, the thermal conductivity of stainless steel is not as good as that of aluminum.
Which of them cooks safer, healthier, and lasts longer?
Pros and Cons of Aluminum vs Stainless Steel
Stainless steel is the master chef’s favorite cookware material, no matter where you go. It has iron, nickel, manganese, and most importantly, corrosion-resistant chromium. A stainless steel pan comes with a tempered glass lid and a sturdy handle.
Surprisingly, aluminum still carries off a larger market share. Almost 40% of US consumers chose aluminum pots and pans last year. Not only do lower prices win them a green signal but also shorter prep time.
The aluminum vs. stainless steel debate always boils down to one’s preferences. The following ten factors remain influential in this regard.
1. Heat Conduction
Multipurpose utensils must conduct heat. That’s why metallic cookwares are famous!
Aluminum is a far superior heat conductor, helping you prepare and serve food quickly nonetheless. It also cools down as fast as it heats up. Meanwhile, they are ready to wash or refrigerate as you get your fill of savory food!
On the flip side, stainless steel skillets are slower to get warm but retain heat for a longer time.
2. Weight of Pans and Pots
Maneuvering bulky pans is more challenging that restricts your grilling prowess. Thus, people looking for lightweight items are likely to go for aluminum cookware.
The base of a stainless steel pot carries more weight – three times heavier! But it feels feathery in hand when compared to cast iron alternatives. Also, tossing or flipping pancakes doesn’t leave your wrists aching.
Aluminum ranks low in weight and density, giving way to warps at high temperatures.
3. Health Concerns
Food grade stainless steel, especially 18/10 variants, is entirely safe to cook with. Potential risks spring up when it comes to aluminum counterparts!
Anodized pieces contain an extra layer to prevent aluminum from reacting with food. They’re treated with chemicals and current to build a defense wall. It also increases the durability and strength of the metal.
Pitted pans and pots leach a hazardous metal flavor. Dispose of such utensils at the earliest convenience.
4. Non-stick Properties
The nightmare of a culinary venture involves food clinging to the surface. Some aluminum pots and pans offer non-stick coating to rule out this disaster.
Unlike as with stainless steel, you don’t need to pour a lot of oil. They have a specialized Teflon (PTFE) coating, sliding the food on subtle tilts. However, its toxic fumes gave it a bad name.
Instead, manufacturers try ceramics, enameled iron, and even silicon nowadays.
5. Ease of Cleaning
Both stainless steel and aluminum cookware demand little maintenance. Handle them with care and clean them with gentle sponges. If you have non-stick pans, a few tissue wipes will do the task.
As you must’ve noticed, neither non-stick nor anodized surfaces are fit for dishwashers. Stainless steel emerges an ultimate victorious on this turf.
Look out for a dishwasher-safe symbol (a box with plates and water drops) engraved on the package.
6. Range of Cooking Options
From baking yummy cakes to roasting chicken, aluminum or stainless steel utensils are equally applicable. Although they are microwave-safe bakeware, heatproof glass or plastic crockery is recommended.
Aluminum has the upper hand in conductivity and spread of temperature. But using it for an acidic diet, such as tomato and citrus, can hurt both the cuisine and pot. Lastly, stainless steel is the uncrowned king of slow cooking where aluminum fails!
7. Durability of kitchenware
The undeniable strength of stainless steel is no secret. It doesn’t rust, chip, or scratch even with rough handling.
A steel pan you purchase today might pass to generations as a family heirloom – chuckles!
Asserting the longevity of stainless steel dishware doesn’t imply the fragility of its counterpart. Hard-anodized aluminum can withstand occasional wear and tear. In the end, it remains susceptible to buckles on cooking at a high temperature.
8. Compatible Cooktops
The primary stove in your kitchen eventually decides the fate of cookware. Stainless steel pans complement all types of cooktop – so no worries there!
If you’re using a traditional electric or gas burner, then aluminum would suffice too. But it doesn’t get along with ceramic-coated or glass cooktops. It leaves dark blemishes on a smooth surface.
Besides, induction hobs require a magnetized bottom that is not a feature of plain aluminum pots.
9. Aesthetics of a Set
Truth be told, saucepans are never used for simmering alone. They cast an enticing touch on rustic pot racks. Hence, the attractiveness of a cookware set is a redeeming quality for some buyers.
The long array of stainless steel finishes (matte, reflective, brushed) always appeals to the eyes. In comparison, some people nod towards darker, multicolor hues of anodized aluminum sets. Note that aluminum pots and pans will discolor over time.
10. Price of Products
Despite knowing that gold shines brighter, budget constraints can make you buy silver jewelry. Similarly, the cost of kitchen appliances is a significant factor.
Commercial-grade aluminum and stainless steel don’t have a huge price differential. Since aluminum pots and pans weigh a lot less than their substitutes, they naturally claim a lot less price.
Beware of inexpensive and lightweight stainless steel dishware. The apparent downsides work as a certificate of authenticity.
The Middle Ground
If you’re looking for economical additions to delicate cooking, aluminum pots and pans are for you. In any case, the core of kitchen utensils should be made of stainless steel.
Most modern kitchen appliances, such as multicookers or slow cookers, usually have inner pots made of aluminum with a non-stick coating. This has the advantage of being light, having high thermal conductivity, and non-stick properties
Ply cookware is also very popular these days. This type of cookware is made of layers of aluminum, stainless steel, or copper used in the construction of the bottom of the pot or pan, and sometimes the entire vessel. Each layer of metal brings its own characteristics so you can take advantage of the best properties that each metal has to offer.
The combination of the dissimilar metals in ply cookware brings the thermal conductivity of aluminum and the compatibility of stainless steel with dishwasher and induction hobs – the best of both worlds!