Friday, October 23, 2009

Article: In Defense of Stainless Steel Cookware

My original objective in publishing a blog about cast iron cooking was to get my friends and family away from teflon-coated cookware.

I figured if I could demonstrate how simple it really is to care for and season cast iron cookware, it would help the people I love overcome their reservations about using "the original nonstick cookware." In the process, I was hoping to take a few toxic chemicals off their menus.

While an alternative to nonstick cookware seemed the most pressing need, not everything should be cooked on a nonstick surface. And there are several healthy options out there.

Stainless steel cookware is a great example. Stainless is just the thing when you want your food to stick to the pan. Such is the case when a pan sauce is desired... where you first develop a heavy fond (browned bits of yumminess that stick to the pan) and then lift the fond into the sauce through a process called deglazing.

Stainless steel is also a preferred choice for boiling darn near anything, making soups or traditional sauces like bechamels and marinaras, or for high-acid recipes where cast iron can negatively affect taste.

In terms of health and safety, stainless steel is considered one of the safest types of cookware by many.

Stainless steel is made of iron, nickel, and chromium.

Iron and chromium are recommended dietary minerals, and stainless steel cookware releases so little of these trace elements that it is considered safe—if not slightly beneficial.

Nickel is not considered a dietary requirement like the first two, but so little of it is released during cooking that no sources I could turn up consider it a hazard.

Here are some of those sources:

National Institutes of Health - Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Chromium

National Institutes of Health - Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Iron

Google Answers - How safe are stainless steel pots and pans?

So, there you have it. I can dig the stainless. I use it often.

I'll start featuring recipes cooked on stainless steel in the near future. Hope you like them!


  1. Any specific brands of stainless steel that you would recommend?

  2. Hi Ingrid,

    I have both Cuisinart and All Clad, and have been happy with both. Cook's Illustrated often does comparisons of cookware that are really excellent.

    Hope that helps!



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