- Usage - Will the cookware conduct heat well and provide evenly cooked food?
- Safety - Is the cookware safe to use long-term?
- Longevity and Durability - How sturdy is the cookware? How long will it last you?
- Maintenance - How easy is the cookware to maintain? Will you have to season or shine it often?
- Price - How much do you want to spend (remember, investing in quality cookware means it will last for years and years)
Below is an overview of the most popular types of cookware as well as the pros and cons of each:
Non-stick cookware is great to cook with because, as the name implies, most foods will not stick to the surfaces. Sets like Circulon are also relatively inexpensive, which make it a commonly used product in most homes. While there is still some debate as to the harmfulness of Telfon coating, if you are at all concerned you should choose a set that is PTFE-Free, PFOA-Free and Cadmium-Free, such as the non-stick ceramic set made by WearEver.
Pros: Inexpensive, easy to clean.
Cons: Teflon coating may be toxic at high temperatures, so look for PTFE-Free, PFOA-Free and Cadmium-Free.
Stainless Steel is a very common type of cookware and most of you probably own one piece. It is a great choice for cookware as long as it has an aluminum or copper core, which allows the pan to distribute heat evenly. All Clad and Cuisinart are both great choices for high-end stainless steel cookware and will last you a very long time if taken care of properly.
Pros: Durable, non-reactive, scratch resistant.
Cons: Poor heat conductor if no aluminum or copper core.
Copper cookware provides excellent heat conduction but can be quite expensive. It allows great control over your cooking and is used by most professional chefs. More reasonably priced sets will be a combination of stainless steel and copper, such as the sets made by Cuisinart.
Pros: Excellent thermal conductivity, cooks food evenly.
Cons: Reacts with acidic and alkaline foods (can create a metallic taste in food), requires polishing, can be expensive.
Cast Iron cookware is extremely durable, and distributes heat well. Like copper, cast iron is reactive with acidic foods. Brands such as Lodge make relatively inexpensive sets that will last for years if well taken care of.
Pros: Durable, inexpensive, and retains heat well.
Cons: Heavy, reactive, requires regular seasoning to maintain.
Enameled Cast Iron
Enameled cast iron is cast iron coated in porcelain enamel and is one of the favorites of top chefs. It has all the benefits of cast iron but without the extra hassle, so it's great to cook with and it will last forever if properly taken care of. Brands like Le Creuset are the top of the line cookware that every cook wants to own. Lodge is a less-expensive brand that also makes excellent enameled cast iron cookware.
Pros: Non-reactive, easy to clean, will last a long time, good conductor of heat.
Cons: Can be expensive.
Aluminum is an excellent heat conductor and is very lightweight, unlike other styles of cookware. It is a softer metal and can dent or warp easily. It is also reactive with acidic or alkaline foods. Despite that, it is a well loved cookware material for many, and brands like Magnalite are very popular. If you are choosing to cook with aluminium, a hard anodized set is a better option as the anodization process creates a hard, nonreactive substance that forms a tough coating and prevents any metal from leeching into food.
Pros: Great heat conductor, lightweight.
Cons: Reactive, scratches and dents easily if not anodized.