Take a side-by-side look at the different cookware materials and collections to find the perfect cooking tool for your kitchen.
Nonstick cooking surfaces are popular because they release foods easily and clean up with little effort. Nonstick pans require little or no oil for cooking, so they're great for preparing low-fat and non-fat dishes. Even if reducing fat is not a primarily goal, most cooks find that it's useful to have at least one nonstick fry pan in their cookware arsenal to make foods like eggs or pancakes.
Stainless steel is steel that has been mixed with chromium, which makes it corrosion resistant. Look for high-grade stainless steel that is eighteen parts chromium and ten parts nickel, which is stamped 18/10 on the base of pots and pans. It is important to note that stainless steel is not completely corrosion-proof.
Stainless steel is ideal for pan exteriors because it does not dent easily and it is usually magnetic, so it's compatible with induction cooktops. The durable metal does not react with acidic or alkaline foods and won't pit or scratch easily. Stainless steel is dishwasher, oven and broiler safe.
Copper is the best heat conductor of any material used to make cookware. It heats rapidly and evenly and cools down as soon as it's removed from the heat, giving you maximum control over the cooking process and making it a favourite among chefs. The best-quality copper pans are made of a heavy gauge, 1/16 to 1/8 inch (1.5 mm to 3 mm) thick.
Copper is not magnetic and therefore cannot be used on induction ranges. Copper cookware should never be placed in the dishwasher.
Cast-iron cookware is extremely durable and resists warping, denting and chipping. Although cast iron heats slowly, the metal distributes heat very evenly and retains it extremely well, long after it's removed from the stovetop or oven. Cast iron is ideal for browning meats or poultry and frying all types of foods. It is magnetic and therefore can be used with induction ranges, even if the cookware has an enamel coating. Pure cast-iron pieces should not be used to cook acidic foods such as wine, vinegar or lemon juice.
Cast iron is heavy and, unless it has an enamel lining, requires seasoning to protect it from rusting and food from sticking. Most unlined cast-iron pans come "pre-seasoned," but maintaining this surface is an ongoing process. Clean cast-iron cookware with hot water and mild soap. Unlined cast iron cookware should be hand washed and must be dried thoroughly before storing. If cared for properly, a cast-iron pan will last for generations.