Which Type of Cookware Is The Healthiest To Use?
Updated: Feb 27
When you moved out on your own, most likely, you got a little overwhelmed by all the options—and opinions—on what cookware to stock your kitchen with. Non-stick, green something or other, cast iron, ceramic, stainless steel, etc. In this article, I’ll give you a few reasons why to avoid certain cookware and why cast iron is my personal favorite, and then a few ways to care for cast iron.
On the surface, non-stick cookware seems like a great invention. It keeps things, especially eggs, from sticking to the pan and that makes for easier cleaning. But there is one reason I personally never buy non-stick pots and pans: most of them contain PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) which is a group of 5,000 synthetic compounds that can be linked to certain cancers, liver damage, and more.
In addition, using metal utensils can cause the non-stick coating to chip off into your food which means you are ingesting the coating. Heating it up to over 350F can also cause the coating to decompose quicker and emit fumes that can be dangerous.
The biggest downside to stainless steel is the difficulty to keep food from sticking to the bottom unless you use a lot of oil or season it. That being said, I have stainless steel pots and pans for boiling water and cooking tomato products in.
A big upside is that stainless steel can be used for cooking anything. Cast iron has a few limitations like the aforementioned tomato products. It also doesn’t give your food any extra flavors. For a novice cook, stainless steel might be the best option.
To season a stainless steel pot or pan, heat the pan until beads of water dance across the surface, not bubble. Now the pores have closed and are ready for your food.
Cast iron has quite a few benefits to it. It is naturally non-stick (it might need seasoning every so often to keep it this way), provides a little extra iron in your diet, lasts practically forever, is easy to clean, and is fairly inexpensive. It can take a little time to get used to the slightly metallic flavor, especially if you are already sensitive to metallic tastes. You can also use cast iron over an open fire! If you like camping, make sure you take your cast iron pan with you. Cast iron is also safe to put in the oven.
A downside is that the acid in tomatoes will ruin some of the seasonings on your cast iron. So if you cook a lot with tomatoes, you should get some stainless steel cookware as well. A few warnings: