The Different Types Of Pans

Non stick vs stainless steel vs cast iron vs copper pans – what are the differences and which pan do you use for cooking eggs, steaks or sauces? It can be pretty confusing when you are out shopping for your pots and pans and you see all these different types of cookware. If you are wondering which one you should buy, we are here to try to help. Below we have listed out the different types of pans for cooking and what they are best for.

The Different Types Of Pans For Cooking

One of the most common pans for cooking that you can find in the market is of the non stick variety. Previously, Teflon is the coating used for non stick pans but now, there are more variety available. Ceramic cookware and other types of non stick coating that is stronger and without harmful chemicals have made their way into the market.

The next type of cookware that is commonly used is the stainless steel. Stainless steel cookware tends to have a very wide range of prices because of the differing number of layers that goes into the construction of each product line. At the upper end, you can have 7 metal layers that are cladded up to the rim of the cookware while at the bottom end, you might only have a single layer up the walls of the pot.

The third type of cookware would be copper. Copper pans are at the high end of the scale. They tend to be expensive but they do have their specific uses. The last type of cookware that we are going to discuss here would be cast iron. Cast iron cookware are cheap but they are not as popular partly because of the weight.

Non Stick Pan – What They Are Good For?

The best type of pan for eggs would probably be the non stick. Why? Because non stick pans are easy to use and egg is a type of food that has a tendency to stick. Many people can’t get eggs to slide out of a stainless steel pan and hence, the non stick is the easy solution. WearEver Pure Living, Red Copper and T Fal Professional are examples of the different types of non stick cookware.

If you are in a hurry in the morning and you want to scramble some eggs for breakfast, the non stick pan is a great help. Or if you prefer to eat healthy without consuming too much oil or greasy stuff, the non stick pan is also the answer.

In short, the non stick pan is good for food that requires only low to medium heat for cooking. So, naturally, egg is one of the most common for these type of foods. But if you want a good sear for your steaks, the non stick pan will be lacking.

The downside is non stick pans don’t tend to last long. They are replaceable items in your kitchen. The non stick coating will wear off over time. You must also be careful when using the cookware like sticking to wooden or silicone utensils, handwashing it and cooking on low to medium heat.

Stainless Steel Pan – How To Make It Non Stick?

Because non stick pans tend to scratch, peel and turn sticky over time, some people will take the leap and replace their non stick cookware with stainless steel ones. The best uses for a good quality stainless steel pan would be for browning and searing steaks. Examples of a top quality stainless steel pan would be the All Clad Tri-Ply and D5. A step down from that would be the Calphalon and Cuisinart brand names which are also more affordable.

The main complaints about stainless steel pans are that they tend to stick and hence, hard to clean. But they are not if you know how to use them right. In fact, you can fry eggs with a stainless steel pan without them sticking. Even if things get stuck pretty badly, there are also ways to clean stainless steel pans pretty easily by using common household items.

The trick to making a stainless steel pan become non stick is to ensure you get the temperature right before you put in your food. Don’t throw in food straight from the fridge either because the coldness will reduce the temperature of the pan and your food will end up sticking to the surface. You must also use an adequate amount of oil that covers the entire cooking surface so that your food will not have uneven browning.

The good thing about a good quality stainless steel pan is that it can last you a lifetime. It is a durable cookware that can take a lot of abuse unlike non stick ones. The bad thing is you need to use oil to make it work which isn’t a healthy choice for some. You also need patience and practice to learn how to cook without food sticking but it isn’t that hard either to get things right.

Copper Pan – Do You Need It?

After stocking your kitchen with the best non stick and stainless steel cookware, you might be asking if you need a copper pan next. The short answer is you don’t, unless you are always cooking delicate stuff that requires very precise heat. Copper is an excellent conductor of heat. That means the moment you change your burner settings, the heat will change almost instantaneously on the pan. This reduces the need to preheat your pan and use high heat settings for most food that you cook.

While copper conducts heat supremely well, it is not the vessel to get for heat retention. What this means is that copper cookware is great if you need to increase or decrease temperature quickly while cooking. Think of caramelising sugar, making jam or cooking delicate items like fish. This is where copper pots and pans shine.

Many copper pans now are lined with stainless steel for its interior and exterior. The All Clad Copper Core is one such example. Others would retain the copper exterior which make them beautiful to look at. But copper pans are costly, heavy and require maintenance to keep their good looks.

Cast Iron Pan – What To Cook In It?

The cast iron pan is well-known for its heat retention capabilities. So, when you add food to the pan, the temperature doesn’t dip unlike thinner stainless steel cookware. In short, a cast iron pan can get very hot and stays hot. Generally, food that requires high heat will do well in a cast iron pan. Searing and roasting meat are perfect opportunities to put your cast iron cookware to the test.

You will need to preheat your cast iron pan because it is not an excellent conductor like copper. But once it has absorbed heat, it can give you a perfect sear or roast with a nice crust but without burning your meat. You can also use it for stir frying as it can keep your vegetables crunchy and juicy.

However, there are also foods that are not suitable for cast iron cookware. Acidic foods like tomatoes can react with the cooking surface. Delicate items like certain fish species that flake under high heat are also best avoided. Sticky foods like eggs can still be cooked with a cast iron pan if it is well-seasoned.

So, this brings us to the downsides of this type of cookware. It needs to be maintained and well-seasoned so that food is less likely to stick. Otherwise, forget about cooking eggs with a cast iron skillet. The other disadvantage is that this type of pan is really heavy and is not for the weak. On the flip side, a cast iron pan like Lodge is cheap and can last you decades.

Which Type Of Pan You Should Buy?

As you can see from the above, each type of pan has its good and bad points. Which one you should buy really depends on the type of foods that you usually cook and what you hope to achieve with your cooking results.

If you can afford it, there is no harm in investing in all 4 types of cookware. But if you are short of cash, then go for the stainless steel pan as your workhorse. This is because it is durable, affordable, has low maintenance and can be used to cook a wide variety of foods. You can also have a non stick as a backup for cooking eggs. After all, a non stick pan doesn’t cost you a lot of money.

Then, once you can afford it, you can gradually upgrade your cookware pieces one by one as your needs and cooking skills change.


  1. claudia rizzo says:

    i am comparing 10 piece select calphalon set and chefs classic 10piece cuisinart in ss, please give me your opinion on which is best. we have a cook top that will only work with ss.thanks.

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