Ceramic vs. Stainless Steel Cookware – What’s the Difference?
Healthy cooking always starts with your choice of cookware. You might choose the best and most natural ingredients and also use the safest and smartest cooking methods, but you will still not be eating healthy food if your cookware is leaching poisons and other harmful substances.
And when it comes to cookware, ceramic and stainless steel are two of the most popular options. And in most homes, you will find both in the kitchen. Stainless steel and ceramic are much safer than others like the Teflon coated non-stick cookware.
But, choosing between the two is not always a straightforward affair because while your personal preferences might make your choice easier, you still need to know what you are getting from each.
Below we provide a breakdown of the advantages and disadvantages of both cookware and also compare them to help make your choice a more informed one.
Ceramic cookware is one of the newest additions to the nonstick cookware market, and it is also a more environment-friendly and safer option when compared to others like Teflon. Although it is not quite as tough as stainless steel, it is still durable enough.
There are two kinds of ceramic cookware which are pure ceramic which is baked clay and the ceramic coated cookware that entails spraying other cookware like stainless steel and aluminum with a ceramic coating.
Advantages of Ceramic
- Toxic-Free – Perhaps the biggest advantage of using ceramic cookware is that it is completely toxic-free. The material is all-natural and will not leach any foreign and harmful substances into your food. The natural minerals used to make ceramic coating will also not contain common toxins like cadmium and lead.
- Non-Stick – If you are looking for safe non-stick cookware, ceramic is one of the best options. This material provides natural non-stick properties which means you will not need to deal with harmful coatings like Teflon. Stainless steel, on the other hand, is not non-stick.
- Simple Clean-Up – Because food does not stick on ceramic, cleaning up your cookware is a breeze. There will be no hard scrubbing require like when using other cookware and some modern ones are even dishwasher-safe to make cleaning even easier.
- Even-Heat Distribution – Ceramic heats up more evenly which ensures that your food cooks evenly and more consistently as the material will hardly ever have any hot or cold spots.
- Relatively Affordable – This cookware is also relatively affordable, and this is more so if you go for the ceramic-coated types.
Disadvantages of Ceramic
- Only Usable at Low to Medium Heat – If what you plan to cook requires you to use high heat, ceramic will not work for you as the high heat can damage it. Hence, this will limit its flexibility and restrict you to using the cookware for certain food types only.
- Shorter Lifespan – When compared to stainless steel, ceramic has a relatively shorter lifespan as it is flimsier and breaks easily. An accidental fall on the kitchen’s surface will probably be the end of the service life for your ceramic pot but a stainless steel one can take more abuse.
- Not Safe for Use with Metal Utensil – Many people seem to prefer metal utensils over the plastic ones as they are more durable. But, if you will be using ceramic cookware, you might not be able to use them comfortably as they can easily break these delicate pots. To keep the coating in great shape, you have to use wood or nylon.
Advice for Using Ceramic
Ceramic heats up quite quickly, and so it is important to make sure that you start with low heat setting before you master how to use it. Also, unlike stainless steel which can withstand the highest cooking temperatures, ceramic should be used at low to medium heat.
You also need to ensure you do not expose the ceramic cookware to heat for extended periods as it is not built for this. And when storing the cooking pans, make sure that you use some padding between them as they can break when they bump into each other.
Stainless Steel Cookware
Stainless steel cookware has been in use for a long time, and it does not seem to go out of fashion. With appropriate maintenance, this is the kind of cookware that will be passed on from one generation to the other as it can last many lifetimes.
This amazing cookware material comes from a blend of different metals that include carbon, silicon, nickel, manganese, chromium, and iron. The resulting alloy is stable, durable and safe.
Besides being tough, stainless steel has a pleasant shine that will ensure that your clean pots will always add some glamour to your kitchen. Better yet, the material does not leach any toxins or harmful substances on the food which makes it safe for cooking.
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Advantages of Stainless Steel
- Highly Durable – What gives stainless steel cookware an edge over many others is that it is way more durable than most others probably only coming second to cast iron ones. With stainless steel, you will never have to worry about common cookware issues like chipping or even rusting as it is resistant to all these things and super tough.
- Great Cook Ability – Besides being tough, one of the key things that make stainless steel cookware popular is that it has an amazing cooking performance. This material has fantastic heat absorption and when built properly it heats more evenly than even ceramic.
- Low Maintenance – There is nothing much you will need to do to maintain stainless steel cookware as there is no coating to worry about. You will not need to do any seasoning to prevent rusting. Simple regular cleaning is all it takes to maintain this cookware, and there is no special technique required.
- Not Food-Reactive – Because stainless steel is a non-food reactive material, it is safe to use even when dealing with acidic products. You can cook acidic recipes like tomato sauces on these pots without worrying about getting a weird taste or any harmful chemicals leaching into it.
- Simple Clean Up – Like ceramic, stainless steel is super easy to clean up. The smooth, and non-porous surface is super easy to clean, and you can soak and clean it up fast and without breaking a sweat. Also, most of this cookware is dishwasher safe which further makes cleaning it a breeze.
Disadvantages of Stainless Steel
- Not Non-Stick – Not being non-stick is the most significant drawback with stainless steel cookware as it means food will stick on it when cooking. Hence, unless you are deep frying, boiling or sautéing, you will need to use lots of oil to form a temporary non-stick surface to prevent your delicate foods from sticking.
- Poor Head Conduction – If you are using stainless steel cookware that does not have an aluminum or copper coating, the cooking surface will not be very good as it is a poor heat conductor. But, the multi-ply types seem to address this issue almost completely.
- Pricier – If you are shopping on a budget, the stainless steel cookware might not be for you as they tend to be quite pricey. And while there are some cheaper options in the market, these are often low-quality knockoffs.
- Discoloration – When exposed to high heat, the exterior of the cookware can easily discolor. However, there are various ways of healing and restoring the cookware, but this means extra work and time for you.
Advice for Using Stainless Steel
While stainless steel cookware might not be as user-friendly as the non-stick ones like the ceramic types, you can still use them to make some amazing dishes.
Simple advice to keep in mind when using this cookware is that you should always start by heating it before you add oil. Once hot enough, you should add a generous amount of oil and swirl it around to cover the entire bottom. And only add your food once the oil is shimmering as it might stick if you add it any sooner.
Ceramic vs. Stainless Steel Cookware
You can be confident that you will have some amazing cookware whether you choose stainless steel or ceramic. But when you only want to buy either of them, you should keep the following points in mind when shopping.
Which one is Safer?
Both stainless steel and ceramic are safe cookware to use as they are made from natural materials and will not leach any harmful substances to your food. But with stainless steel, even a small scratch can cause small metal particles to leach into your food.
Also, burning stainless steel cookware can cause metal pitting and instigate the release of tiny metal particulate into your food.
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With ceramic, coloring, and glazing the cookware is often what comes with harmful substances like lead or cadmium. But, generally if ceramic is not glazed, it is the safer option, but all in all both cookware is safe enough.
Which One is Currently More Popular?
Stainless steel is still the most popular cookware around, and you can find it in almost any home as many people prefer it over others due to its durability and ease of maintenance. However, as more and more users look for safer non-stick cookware, the popularity of ceramic is also on a steady rise.
Which One is More Durable?
Stainless steel is by far more durable than ceramic cookware because if you get good quality and genuine stainless steel cookware, it will last for a lifetime. Also, stainless steel can take more abuse because unlike ceramic accidental drops or bumping into things in the kitchen will hardly scratch it or leave a dent.
Which One is Cheaper?
Quality does not come cheap, and so it should be obvious that stainless steel cookware will cost way much more than ceramic ones. You can easily get a good set of ceramic cookware for as little as under $100, but for a good set of stainless steel cookware, you might need to spend hundreds of dollars but in the end, it will be worth it.
Your choice of cookware will have a huge effect on everything from the safety to the quality and taste of food that you make, and hence you cannot afford to go wrong with your pick.
And when it comes to picking cookware, stainless steel and ceramic are as good as it can get. But, both are made from different material and will hence be ideal for different situations and kinds of users.
The best idea would be to have a set of both at home. However, if you have to pick one, ceramic is your best bet if you want something more affordable and non-stick while stainless steel is the best pick for you if you do not have budget constraints and are looking for cookware that will last a lifetime.