Stainless Steel Versus Nonstick Cookware

When it comes to cooking, there’s numerous questions surrounding what kind of pots, pans, skillets, and other kitchenware products you should be using. Some people prefer a nonstick surface, others put more emphasis on its heat-resistance. Some people don’t really care at all as long as it gets the job done! However, the two most frequently owned kitchenware products are stainless steel and nonstick. You hear these two terms being thrown around all of the time, but what’s the difference?  Let’s break down everything you need to know about stainless steel versus nonstick cookware.

Stainless Steel Cookware

What is stainless steel cookware?

stainless steel versus nonstick cookware image 1Stainless steel cookware are pots and pans that are made from stainless steel. These pots and pans are oven safe, dishwasher safe, and can often withstand oven temps of up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. They’re the old-school pots and pans you may have grown up with and they provide even-heat surfaces for items to cook on.

However, they are not nonstick appliances and need to be cared for in a different way than their nonstick counterparts. You want to purchase a multi-layer stainless steel cookware pot or pan as this will help prevent denting or rounding as the item is used over time. This is a common problem with cheaper products, but as long as you’re purchasing high-quality stainless-steel cookware, you should be safe!

Is stainless steel cookware safe?

Stainless steel appliances do produce low levels of nickel and chromium that go into the air when they are heated. The levels are so low that they aren’t even detectable. However, if used for an extended amount of time, the chemicals could seep into your food. This is often not a concern, but it is important to note. Keep in mind that damaged stainless-steel cookware (such as used products with cracks or scrapes) will emit higher levels of toxins. Additionally, the longer the cookware is on high heat, the more likely chemicals are to be released.

Otherwise, yes, your stainless-steel kitchenware appliances are absolutely safe to use! Just be sure that the stainless-steel cookware you are purchasing is FDA approved.

Can I put a stainless-steel pan in the oven?

One of the primary perks of stainless-steel products is the ability to put it into the oven. However, the grade of the stainless steel will determine the temperature that is safe to do so. Some stainless-steel pans are only safe up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and others can go up to 400. It all depends on the quality of stainless steel used, if there were multiple materials involved, and the number of layers within the product.

Regardless though, you should be careful when putting any stainless-steel pan into the oven for an extended amount of time. No matter how strong it is, everything has a melting point. Don’t keep your stainless-steel kitchenware in the oven for too long. The last thing you want is to open your oven to a melted or burning pan!

How do I wash stainless steel kitchenware?

Most stainless-steel kitchenware is dishwasher safe. The only time it isn’t is if it has some kind of additional coating on it that would prevent it from being able to go in the dishwasher. So, don’t be afraid to give it a rinse after use and popping it into the dishwasher for a thorough disinfecting!

If you prefer to handwash your kitchenware, that’s also a perfect option for stainless steel products. Use a gentle dish soap and a soft sponge. Try to avoid sponges with the scratchy coating as this can scratch the surface of your appliance. Scratches can lead to additional toxin emittance when heated. If you have something that is stuck on, try letting it soak for a while in hot water with a bit of white vinegar mixed in. Vinegar can fight through anything!

Do stainless steel appliances produce toxic gases?

Stainless steel kitchenware can produce mild gases from chromium and nickel. However, the toxins are so low that they are not of concern for your health. The only way they would cause damage is if the pots and pans were significantly damaged as this can produce higher levels of the gases.

Additionally, keep in mind that the longer they are exposed to heat, the more likely these gases are to be emitted into the air and your food. This applies to any kitchenware appliance though. As long as you follow the guideline set by the FDA regarding your product, you are safe.

Are stainless steel appliances nonstick?

As they are, stainless steel appliances are not nonstick appliances. Stainless steel appliances can only be nonstick if a nonstick coating is applied. Most of the time, this is not the case. If you’re planning to cook with stainless steel kitchen appliance, you’ll need to apply a thin layer of cooking oil on the bottom. This will make it “nonstick”!  A big factor in the stainless steel versus nonstick cookware discussion.

Are stainless steel appliances better than nonstick?

Honestly, it depends. Stainless steel appliances definitely have their perks, but they also have their disadvantages.


  • Can withstand high temperatures in the oven – up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Are relatively easy to clean as they’re dishwasher safe
  • Produce little to no toxic gases
  • Are ideal for basic cooking
  • Difficult to scratch or crack


  • They are not nonstick items

 Nonstick Cookware

What is nonstick cookware?

stainless steel versus nonstick cookware image 2Nonstick cookware are items like pots, pans, and woks that have a nonstick coating on the inside and often outside. This nonstick coating is what makes an item “nonstick”. This means that items cooked in the base of the kitchenware will not stick to the bottom. However, sometimes, sticking still occurs pending how old the cookware is, how strong the coating is, and the type of food that’s being cooked.

For example, melting cheese on the bottom of a nonstick pan is going to have some sticking in comparison to cooking some like tofu or spinach. Even meat can stick in nonstick pans, it just depends on the brand you purchase. Nonstick pans don’t necessarily mean 100% that no sticking will occur. It really means that minimal sticking will occur, but it’s still good to occasionally add some oil or spray to the base.

Is it safe to use nonstick cookware?

So long as the cookware you are using is FDA approved, it is deemed safe to use! The safety of nonstick cookware has come into question primarily due to substances like Teflon or PTFE and PFOA being used. These substances have recently been linked to several health concerns ranging from immune disfunction to cancer. This is why products containing PTFE and PFOA are currently being phased out of production.

However, it’s recommended to avoid nonstick cookware that uses these substances to make them nonstick if you can. Luckily, there are plenty of nonstick cookware items on the market today that use nontoxic alternatives!

Can nonstick pans go into the oven?

This depends on the brand. However, most nonstick pans are oven safe up to 350 degrees. The reason they may not be depends on the materials used to make the pan itself. Some materials are simply not heat resistant or cannot withstand high temperatures for an extended amount of time.

You’ll want to follow the guidelines set by your cookware production company to ensure you aren’t putting yourself or your oven at risk. The longer that you keep your nonstick cookware in the oven, the more likely you are to experience negative side effects like toxin exposure and denting.

Are nonstick pans dishwasher safe?

Again, this depends on the brand and the products used to make the pots and pans nonstick. Most nonstick pots and pans are 100% dishwasher safe. However, some materials may be better suited for handwashing. You’ll want to check out the instructions and guidelines set by the maker of your products.

If you want to handwash your nonstick pans, that’s perfect as well. You can use a non-toxic, gentle dish soap to get the job done. Use warm water to avoid damaging the nonstick coating and don’t be too abrasive. If you scratch the coating, the nonstick surface is damaged and you’re exposing yourself to toxins.

 Do nonstick applicates produce any toxic gases?

Pending the material used to make an item nonstick, yes. Nonstick pots and pans can produce toxic gases when they are heated to high temperatures. Toxins like Teflon, PTFE and PFOA are known to produce toxic gases when heated or scratched. You want to try an avoid purchasing products with these substances and luckily there are plenty on the market!

Since recent studies have come out, many companies have looked into ways to make nonstick pans using more natural substance that do not provide any harmful toxins.

What makes a product nonstick?

A product is considered nonstick when it has a nonstick coating that prevents foods from heavily sticking to the surface. The most common materials used to make a pot or pan nonstick include:

  • PTFE
  • PFOA
  • Superhydrophobic coatings
  • Ceramic coatings
  • Silicone coatings
  • Anodized coatings

Are nonstick appliance better than stainless steel?

Nonstick appliances are neither better not worse than stainless steel appliances. It all depends on what you want to use your pot or pan for. Additionally, you want to consider how much you want to spend. Nonstick appliances tend to cost more than stainless steel ones. Let’s breakdown a quick pro/con list.


  • Dishwasher safe
  • Oven safe up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Easy to clean
  • Food doesn’t stick ot surface


  • Difficult to find nonstick items that aren’t used with Teflon
  • Cannot withstand high temperatures

When should you use stainless steel versus nonstick cookware?

Pending the reason you want to use the pot or pan, you may want nonstick vs stainless steel. Let’s discuss some reasons you may want to use stainless steel over nonstick

Stainless Steel Cookware

Stainless steel cookware is better suited for cooking items that aren’t prone to sticking. These kitchenware materials are ideal for people who do not cook often but want to have a reliable product on hand for when they do. They are the old school method of cooking, so you do need to protect your pot/pan the best by using a layer of oil or cooking spray. Since they are dishwasher and oven safe though, they’re great for people who like to make things that require oven use and easy clean up!

Nonstick Cookware

Nonstick cookware is great for cooking pretty much any type of food. However, they are prone to producing more toxic chemicals pending the kind of nonstick surface. You want to follow your items recommendations specifically to ensure you’re not potentially causing harm to yourself. These pots and pans are great for people who enjoy cooking, easy clean up, and minimal oven use.

Final Thoughts

Stainless steel vs nonstick cookware comes down to a few factors. Many people enjoy the ease of nonstick cookware but don’t love the idea of potentially ingesting harmful toxins. On the flip side though, stainless steel cookware can also produce harmful toxins and is much more difficult to keep clean. Choosing between the two comes down to preference so it’s important you understand the difference, the pros, and the cons of stainless steel versus nonstick cookware!

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