|Good heat retention
|Poor heat retention
|Good heat retention
Comparing ceramic vs. nonstick vs. stainless steel cookware is not easy. Each option has pros and cons.
Stainless steel is considered one of the best materials for pots and pans. It is durable and great for cooking food at high temperatures but food tends to stick to the surface easily. While ceramic and nonstick pots and pans provide an easier to clean alternative, they have their own drawbacks.
If you need to compare stainless steel vs. nonstick cookware, here is everything that you need to know.
What Is Nonstick Cookware?
When people mention nonstick cookware, they are often referring to Teflon-coated pots and pans but it is not the only nonstick material. Ceramic is also frequently used to make nonstick pots and pans.
Ceramic is made without toxic chemicals or metals, which are frequently found in Teflon coatings made before 2012. The coating is made using a ceramic polymer created from a combination of silicon and oxygen.
As it is inorganic, the ceramic coating is harder compared to Teflon and provides greater heat resistance.
After creating the ceramic material, it is sprayed inside the pots and pans, similarly to applying the Teflon coating. This allows the ceramic coating to be added to almost any material.
You can purchase ceramic-coated cookware made from stainless steel or copper. However, most ceramic-coated pots and pans are made from aluminum as it is a cheaper material.
The ceramic coating is also naturally nonstick. It is a non-porous surface, which keeps food from sticking to the pots and pans.
Teflon is commonly made from polymerized tetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). The PTFE material is organic and carries a higher risk of exposure to certain chemicals and metals, especially when the coating begins to wear.
Ceramic vs. Nonstick vs. Stainless Steel Cookware Comparison
The main details that I looked at when comparing ceramic vs. nonstick vs. stainless steel pots and pans include affordability, durability, safety, cleaning, and cooking quality.
- Affordability: Ceramic-coated cookware is often cheaper than stainless steel cookware and more expensive than Teflon-coated cookware.
- Durability: The ceramic coating is more durable compared to Teflon but not as strong as stainless steel. Ceramic can still chip, crack, and wear over time.
- Safety: Ceramic is made from inorganic materials and does not contain any metals or toxic chemicals.
- Cleaning: The nonstick ceramic coating is easy to clean, thanks to the non-porous surface.
- Cooking Quality: You should not use oils in a ceramic pan as they can ruin the nonstick properties of the cookware. The ceramic material heats slowly but retains heat well.
- Affordability: Teflon is the cheaper of the three options. You can often find complete nonstick cookware sets for less than $100.
- Durability: The Teflon nonstick coating is not very durable. It often starts to peel and wear, exposing the food to the metal base.
- Safety: When the nonstick material starts to wear, there is an increased risk of exposure to metals and toxic chemicals.
- Cleaning: Nonstick material is easy to clean.
- Cooking Quality: Teflon is easy to cook with as it heats quickly. However, it does not help retain heat. When added to an aluminum pot or pan, the Teflon cookware offers poor heat retention.
Stainless Steel Cookware
- Affordability: Stainless steel cookware is the more expensive option, especially if it is made with quality stainless steel.
- Durability: With the extra price, you get more durable pots and pans. Stainless steel pots and pans are unlikely to warp or bend.
- Safety: There are no safety concerns with stainless steel cookware.
- Cleaning: Stainless steel cookware is difficult to clean as it does not offer a nonstick surface.
- Cooking Quality: You can safely use oils in the stainless steel pots and pans. In fact, oils are recommended as they help protect the surface from burnt food.
Ceramic Cookware Pros and Cons
When looking at ceramic cookware vs. non-stick cookware, the ceramic coating provides a few advantages. While the Teflon coating often wears quickly, the ceramic coating may last for many years.
- Ceramic-coated cookware is easy to clean.
- The ceramic coating holds heat well.
- Ceramic cookware is heat-resistant.
- Ceramic coating tends to cost more.
- Ceramic may chip more easily.
- Ceramic cookware takes longer to heat.
Ceramic cookware is easy to clean if you clean the pots and pans immediately after cooking. If you allow the food to harden, there is a greater risk of damaging the ceramic surface.
The ceramic coating has better heat retention compared to the standard nonstick coating. It also has stronger heat-resistant properties, allowing you to use ceramic cookware at higher temperatures without the food staining the cookware.
Compared to Teflon nonstick cookware, ceramic cookware is typically more expensive.
Besides ceramic coating, you can also find 100% pure ceramic cookware. Cookware that is made entirely from ceramic material or porcelain is often used for baking. It offers the same benefits as the ceramic coating, such as better heat retention and heat resistance, but is also prone to chipping.
Pure ceramic cookware is also expensive and takes longer to heat. The material is also heavy, increasing the risk that you may drop and break the cookware.
Nonstick Teflon Cookware Pros and Cons
Teflon is the most common type of nonstick coating. It is found on almost every cookware set that is labeled as “nonstick”.
- Nonstick cookware is often the most affordable option.
- Nonstick cookware made from aluminum is lightweight.
- Nonstick cookware often heats more quickly.
- Nonstick cookware made from aluminum offers poor heat retention.
- There is a health risk when using Teflon-coated cookware.
- The Teflon coating may start to wear quickly.
Most nonstick cookware is made with Teflon coating and an aluminum base. These are two of the cheapest materials, ensuring that you can always find nonstick cookware sets at affordable prices.
Nonstick cookware is also lightweight. Stainless steel is relatively heavy while the ceramic coating weighs a little more compared to the Teflon coating.
The lightweight material heats quickly. If you need to heat a pot of boiling water, you can get there faster with a nonstick pot.
If you want to avoid health risks, Teflon coating should not be used at high temperatures. The heat increases the risk of toxic chemicals or metals leaching into the food. It also increases the chances of the pots and pans absorbing some of the flavors, changing the way that your future meals taste.
Teflon coating does not hold up well. It is prone to scratching and may start to peel or wear out with repeated use. As the coating wears off, the metal material used for cookware shows through.
When comparing ceramic vs. nonstick pans, the latter are often more affordable. Teflon is a cheaper material and easier to apply compared to the ceramic coating.
Stainless Steel Cookware Pros and Cons
Stainless steel does not provide a nonstick surface but it does provide several benefits that you do not get with a nonstick coating. You may even find cookware sets made from stainless steel that feature ceramic coatings.
- It is the most durable choice.
- It is a non-reactive material.
- It is available with different cores.
- It is difficult to clean.
- It is more expensive.
If you are concerned about how quickly the pots and pans heat up, there is no clear winner between ceramic vs. stainless steel cookware. Both types of cookware tend to take longer to heat up compared to a standard nonstick pan. However, both types of cookware are often available with different cores.
You may find cookware sets with aluminum or copper cores. In some cases, multiple layers are added together, which is called multi-clad.
When it comes to stainless steel vs. nonstick cookware, stainless steel has several noticeable disadvantages. It is often difficult to clean and costs more. You should also never allow food to burn in a stainless steel pot or pan.
The stainless steel material does not offer a nonstick surface. Food easily sticks to the pots and pans, making it difficult to clean stainless steel cookware.
Which type of cookware should you get? The choice of ceramic vs. nonstick or stainless steel may depend on your preferences.
If comparing stainless steel cookware vs. nonstick cookware, you need to think about how you intend to use the pots and pans. Stainless steel may take longer to heat up but it holds heat better compared to aluminum, which is commonly used as the base material for nonstick pans.
The drawback to stainless steel is that it is difficult to clean. If you cook daily, you may prefer the ease of cleaning a ceramic or Teflon pot or pan. If you allow food to burn to a stainless steel pot or pan, you may never get it off.
Ceramic and Teflon cookware also tend to cost less compared to stainless steel cookware. If you have a limited budget, you can find more options when searching for ceramic-coated and Teflon-coated cookware.
If choosing between ceramic and Teflon, ceramic cookware has the advantage. It is more durable when used properly and holds heat better but it sometimes costs.
In the end, Teflon is typically the cheapest option while stainless steel is the most expensive and ceramic is in the middle.