Our cookware buying guide walks you through everything you must consider when buying cookware so that you can fearlessly make an educated decision when it comes time for your next purchase!
Choose a material that is appropriate to the cooking technique. Experience has shown, and science has verified, that certain cooking techniques are more successful when used with certain types of cookware. Sauteed foods like pans that transmit heat quickly, braised foods need pans that hold heat well for long periods of time, and you shouldn’t cook white sauces or tomato sauces in aluminum pans as it reacts with the metal.
Finally, always use proper handling, cleaning, and storing techniques. Avoid subjecting cookware to extreme temperature changes, and always follow manufacturer's care and handling instructions.
Maybe you need to fry potatoes or cook soup, but with hundreds of cookware types, how do you know which one is best for you? What, for example, is the difference between a fry pan and a saute pan? Read on to find out!
With a thorough understanding of the defining features of each type of cookware, it is now important to consider some of the various construction factors that affect the overall performance of these products.
Cast Iron: Cast iron cookware is a good heat conductor and maintains temperatures well due to the density of the metal. It is durable but heavy, and will rust quickly if not kept conditioned and dried at all times. Cast iron cookware requires seasoning to maintain a non-stick surface.
Aluminum: Aluminum cookware is an excellent heat conductor, as well as reasonably durable and lightweight. It is, however, prone to discoloration and can discolor light colored foods and sauces which can make them taste bitter. As a countermeasure, anodized aluminum is coated to prevent such side effects.
Copper: The best heat conductor for cookware, copper is also favored because it is visually appealing. However, it is a heavy metal that will bend and dent easily. Another big concern is that it can react chemically with some foods to create poisonous compounds, so copper cookware is often lined with another type of metal.
Stainless Steel: Stainless steel has the advantage of being very durable while not reacting with foods or discoloring them. Since it is a poor heat conductor and prone to hot spots and scorching, stainless steel cookware sometimes features a multi-ply construction where a disc of conductive metal is attached to the bottom of the pan to aid in heat conduction and distribution.
It is worth noting that many cookware instruments come with non-stick surfaces that greatly reduce the amount of clinging food. See our fry pans buying guide and stainless steel care buying guide for more information.
Beyond material construction, it is always important to consider the thickness of the cookware you're investing in. But how do you know how thick an item is? The thickness of cookware is generally measured in either gauge or mils, but the way you read these numbers is totally different! 1 mil is equal to 1/1000”, so you know that the higher the mil, the thicker the metal.
Gauge, however, works in the opposite fashion—the higher the gauge, the thinner the metal. Most of the cookware you find will fall somewhere between a thick 10 gauge construction and a thinner 22 gauge construction.Download Conversion Chart
|Pros of thicker metal||Cons of thicker metal|
|Provides more even heating||Heavier|
|More resistant against denting and warping||Takes longer to heat up|
|Holds more heat for better searing|
While we're talking about the thickness of your cookware, did you know the way in which an item's metal is formed can directly impact its thickness? Cookware is primarily molded through one of two processes known as drawing and spinning.
Drawing is a metal forming process in which sheet metal is "drawn" into a forming die by gradual pressure applied by a mechanical punch.
The spinning process starts off with sheet metal placed between a mandrel (used to form the sheet) and a tailstock (holds the sheet in place). The mandrel and tailstock then begin to rotate rapidly, and force is applied to the sheet metal, causing it to flow over the mandrel.
|Drawn Cookware Purchasing Considerations||Spun Cookware Purchasing Considerations|
|Drawn cookware is prone to having variations in thickness throughout its construction, which can lead to uneven heat transmission from your stove's burner.||Spun cookware delivers more reliable results. Because of the rapid spinning, the force applied to the sheet metal flows across the surface numerous times to ensure the item's thickness is uniform throughout.|
|Cookware with a drawn construction tends to be more affordably-priced.||Uniform thickness in spun cookware gives it a sturdier construction than drawn cookware and allows for more even heating, which is particularly important with stock pots and sauce pans for simmering soups and sauces.|
There are also some purchasing considerations that you should keep in mind when looking at the type of handle that is attached to your cookware.
Riveted handles are the sturdiest handles available and, because they are permanently attached, they never need to be tightened. However, they do require more thorough cleansing care to prevent bacterial buildup around the rivets.
Welded handles present a uniform construction and allow for a perfectly smooth interior, but they are not as sturdy as riveted handles.
By now you have likely selected a piece of cookware that is perfect for what you're trying to achieve, and if you really want to get the most out of your new product, your job is almost done! We offer a variety of cookware accessories that are compatible with standard cookware tools to make them more versatile, more efficient, and even more comfortable than their original state.