Hard-Anodized Vs. Stainless Steel Cookware: Which One Is Better?
Whether you just moved into your first home or you’re shopping for a gift for your mother-in-law, cookware is a big deal. Whatever reason you’re buying new pots and pans, this guide will help you find the perfect set. The material of the cookware plays a massive role when it comes to picking out high-quality products.
Hard anodized cookware can conduct heat better than stainless steel, but stainless steel is more durable. Stainless steel is more expensive than anodized cookware, and anodized cookware doesn’t work with induction cooktops. Anodized cookware is easier to clean than stainless steel, but it is harder to find than stainless steel.
I’ll answer all of these questions and more in this article. You’re going to learn all about the pros and cons of each material and why one may benefit you more than the other. We’ll look at heat conductivity, cost, safety, and more.
With so many cookware models on the market, it can be hard to know which one you should spend your hard-earned money on. There are benefits and drawbacks to each material, so it’s important to be informed. Let’s take a look at what stainless steel has to offer.
What Do We Know About Stainless Steel Cookware?
Stainless steel is one of the most popular materials used in cookware today. It’s durable, makes any kitchen look upscale, and lasts for years. Surprisingly, the main drawback of this material is that it isn’t the best conductor of heat.
Professionals often will opt for copper or aluminum when cooking in high-heat scenarios. Stainless steel comes out on top in a lot of ways because it’s resistant to corrosion. This is due to being an alloy of iron and chromium, which are both strong substances.
Stainless steel is available in five different types when it comes to cookware.
- Precipitation Hardening
Out of those five, Austenitic has shown to be the best. When shopping around for stainless steel pots and pans, you’ll often see a set of numbers on the label. These numbers show the number of specific metals.
For example, if you see 18/6, that tells you how much stainless steel and chromium the cookware is made from. This isn’t something you need to pay a lot of attention to unless you find yourself working in a professional kitchen.
Stainless Steel Safety Precautions
Some people question whether or not stainless steel is safe to use in the kitchen. In fact, it’s one of the safest you can buy. Out of all the materials cookware is made from; it falls in second place, just behind cast iron.
Stainless steel makes it practically impossible for harmful chemicals to reach the food. Copper and aluminum can pose a threat, whereas stainless steel does not. The only safety concern would be when putting it in the oven.
Most pots and pans are oven-safe, but not all of them. It’s best to reach out to the specific manufacturer to find out whether you can use yours in the oven.
What to Know When Shopping For Stainless Steel Cookware
There are certain things you’ll want to consider when purchasing stainless steel cookware. Consider these factors when shopping around:
- Heat Conductivity
- Durability (look for 18/10 on the label)
- Handles and lids (avoid plastic)
- Ply Cookware
- Magnetic or non-magnetic
Benefits of Using Stainless Steel
- Extremely durable, making it long-lasting
- Easy to clean
- Can save you time
- Poses no health risks
- Has a polished, shiny finish
- Relatively inexpensive
- Makes any kitchen look more upscale
- Doesn’t react negatively to chemicals or acids
- Resistant to corrosion
- Can be dishwasher-safe
Drawbacks of Using Stainless Steel
- Higher upfront cost
- Might not cook things evenly
- Not the best material for conducting heat
What We Know About Hard-Anodized Cookware
Now that you know everything there is to know about stainless steel let’s move onto hard-anodized cookware. This type of pots and pans are made out of a specific type of aluminum. Hard-anodized aluminum is put through an electrochemical process that makes it much more durable.
This process makes aluminum around 30% stronger than stainless steel. One of the biggest benefits is how amazing it is at conducting heat. Since this is where stainless steel falls short, many people will choose hard-anodized cookware over it.
The only other material that’s better at conducting heat than this is copper. Similarly to stainless steel, hard-anodized aluminum is very lightweight and easy to use. It tends to be a lot more budget-friendly than other materials on the market.
The major downside to cooking with hard-anodized aluminum is that it can react to some foods. You may have heard of a company called Calphalon. It took the beauty of hard-anodized aluminum and added a non-stick finish to it.
This keeps food safe from the aluminum and makes the product better than anything else you can get your hands on. Just like Teflon, the non-stick surface on Calphalon products can deteriorate over the years. Some people like seasoning their hard-anodized cookware to help it last as long as possible.
Hard-Anodized Aluminum Safety Precautions
This type of cookware is safe to use, thanks to the anodization process. It lessens the chances of anything reacting with the aluminum of the pot or pan. If there’s a non-stick coating, this is even safer because it seals the aluminum up.
Hard-anodized aluminum cookware is even safe to use in the oven. You can usually raise the heat up to 450 degrees without damaging the product. As always, wear oven mitts or use potholders whenever taking anything out of the oven.
Benefits of Using Hard-Anodized Cookware
- Fantastic material for conducting heat
- Costs less than most other cookware on the market
- Non-stick finish
- Provides an even cook for every food
- Incredibly easy to clean
- Can be safely used in the oven
Downfalls of Using Hard-Anodized Cookware
- Can react negatively to food and acids (unless there’s a non-stick coating)
- Can’t be used with induction cooktops
- Not as commonly found in stores
Stainless Steel vs. Hard Anodized: Comparing Cookware
In this section, we’re going to take a look at which type of material is better in specific areas. This can vary from one person’s preferences in the kitchen to others. Let’s get started by talking about one of the most important factors: heat-conducting.
When putting hard-anodized aluminum and stainless steel head-to-head, heat conductivity is a big feature. A lot of materials lose their ability to conduct heat thoroughly once they become anodized. Thankfully, this doesn’t happen with aluminum.
In fact, I’d go as far as to say that the process makes it better at conducting heat. Stainless steel lacks in this area, which results in hot spots when cooking. If a stainless steel product has a good conductor, it can have excellent conducting powers.
Another place where hard-anodized aluminum cookware takes first place is non-stick coating. Most stainless steel cookware doesn’t have a non-stick coating. This can get annoying, especially when cooking things like rice.
Just like most other things in your life, the price plays a part. Prices can vary depending on where you purchase from, but we’ll talk about that in the chart below. In general, you can find inexpensive and high-end versions of both types of cookware.
In my opinion, I think durability is one of the most important factors to consider. Both of these materials are incredibly strong and durable. Each of them is known for resisting corrosion and is safe from scratches.
Due to the anodization process, aluminum is about 30% stronger than stainless steel. So technically speaking, the hard-anodized cookware will be more durable. To increase the longevity of your pots and pans, season them when you first unbox them.
Stainless steel takes the cake when it comes to safety. While they both can be used in the kitchen, hard-anodized aluminum can pose a toxicity threat. Aluminum becomes reactive when used to cook acidic foods.
This means you’ll get trace amounts of aluminum in your food. If this becomes excessive, it can cause major health issues. Thankfully, brands like Calphalon add a non-stick coating to keep you and your loved ones safe.
No one wants to come home after a long day, cook a meal, and have to spend a ton of time cleaning up. The maintenance of cookware can save you plenty of time and stress. Stainless steel is a lot easier to clean because you can safely put it in the dishwasher.
Hard-anodized aluminum should be maintained similarly to cast iron. The harsh detergents in a dishwasher can harm the non-stick finish on aluminum cookware. Speaking of, the non-stick finish makes it easy to wipe off the grime from pots and pans.
Cost of Cookware
Though it can range from one store to another, I wanted to give you an idea of what you can pay for each type of cookware. Factors like your location and availability may play a role in the cost as well. Here’s what the average price for stainless steel and hard-anodized aluminum is at three popular retailers.
|Stainless Steel||$20 for 10 pieces||$80 for 14 pieces||$60 for 12 pieces|
|Hard-Anodized Aluminum||$20 for nine pieces||$60 for 12 pieces||$40 for 18 pieces|
Is hard anodized cookware safer than stainless steel?
It depends on what you’re using it for, but in general, stainless steel is likely safer. Hard-anodized cookware can’t be used with metal utensils due to potential damage to the coating. Stainless steel can also handle more heat than hard-anodized and ceramic dishes.
Does hard-anodized cookware have Teflon?
Teflon quickly grew in popularity due to the infamous non-stick feature it delivered. Thankfully, hard-anodized pots and pans are also non-stick. Some are finished with a Teflon coating, while others have a Teflon-like layer. Teflon acts a little differently on hard-anodized cookware than it does aluminum. It keeps it from becoming damaged and makes normal wear and tear a thing of the past.
Can stainless steel be anodized?
Technically, stainless steel can’t be anodized in the true sense of the word. You’d need to add a hot caustic solution during the process for it to work. You can reach a similar product that you’d see in other types of metal like titanium or aluminum.
Kirstin is a passionate writer who loves helping people learn new things when it comes to home improvement. When she's not behind a keyboard, she enjoys DIY projects, crafts, spending time with her pets, and making videos. She hopes that with all she writes, someone is finding a solution to their home improvement needs.
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