Author Ryan Goldstein / Published: Oct. 22, 2019
Here's why you should start cooking with stainless steel
An evenly heated cooking surface, metal that doesn't leech into your food, pretty much indestructible, and much more - that's why stainless steel cookware is trusted in the top restaurants. So why are so many people still trying to get a good sear on chicken thighs at home using an old non-stick pan? Stainless steel is the only way to go if you're looking for crispy brown sears and tender insides, but it also takes a little bit of understanding on how to cook with stainless steel.
The quick and dirty? This video will tell you everything you need to know in 3 minutes!
If stainless steel cookware is so great, then why aren't more people using it? The truth is, stainless steel cookware can be awful if you use it the wrong way. When you use it the right way, you get a naturally nonstick pan that's durable and lasts a lifetime.
And it's simple! The main thing to know with stainless steel cookware is that it's all about temperature.
1 - Always preheat the pan AND THEN add oil. This creates a natural nonstick surface without having harmful nonstick coatings like Teflon. You can tell if your pan is hot enough by dropping a small amount of water (1/4 teaspoon will do) into the pan. If properly preheated, you should see the water break up into small little balls that scatter around the pan, rather than just pool and bubble away.
2 - Make sure you get stainless steel cookware with an aluminum core. Aluminum cores ensure even heat distribution so you don't burn one area and undercook another. Look for "3-ply" and "5-ply" cookware and ignore anything else.
Some important tips on cookware materials
Aluminum Pans will impart metallic flavors into your food - this is called leeching. When you cook acidic foods (such as tomato sauce) in aluminum pans, it will pull metal into the food. If you do have aluminum pans, you can actually make then shiny and new by scrubbing them with tomato sauce. (Fun fact, but not what you want in your mouth)
Copper Pans are very great alternatives, but they can also be really expensive. Copper is also a little more difficult to maintain.
Cast Iron Pans are fantastic and can be used for a wide range of cooking styles. The porous nature of the iron traps in flavor from your previous meals and imparts that onto your cooking. It truly gets better with time! However, cast iron needs to get a lot of attention. Iron rusts very easily, so the pan needs to be properly "seasoned" and maintained.
Coated Nonstick Pans are in almost every home kitchen. While they are great for delicate foods, such as scrambled eggs, they are not great for searing, sauteing, braising, reducing, or any other kitchen term you can think of. The coating that creates the nonstick surface will also chip off over time (hopefully not in your food) and then the pan needs to be replaced.
So that brings us to Stainless Steel Cookware, which is the option you want to go with for your general, everyday home cooking. Stainless steel with an aluminum core is a great heat conductor, which means it heats up quickly and evenly, while being very responsive to changes in temperature. Stainless steel also doesn't chemically react with food, so the only flavors you'll taste are the ones you add. While stainless steel cookware, like any cookware, can get tiny scratches if you use metal utensils or knives on them, they are very resistant to scratching and also your strongest option against dents and warping.
Which brand should you go with?
There are a lot of options when it comes to stainless steel cookware, such as legacy brand All Clad, but these will cost you several hundred dollars. Luckily we live in the time of online shopping and direct to consumer companies that can cut out the markup cost of traditional retail.
One of the best stainless steel cookware options out there is Brigade. The stainless steel cookware from Brigade has all of the characteristics you should look for, at a price point that is half the cost of All Clad. All Brigade products have a 60-day trial period - that means free returns and no questions asked!