When you think of healthy cooking, you automatically assume it is all about using the most natural, organic ingredients.
From the oil you choose to the meat, vegetables, and the spices, everything can be perfect.
But you might still not be eating healthy if your cookware is releasing harmful toxic substances into your food.
So for healthy cooking, apart from the best ingredients, your choice of cookware is also critical.
And when it comes to cookware; ceramic, Teflon and stainless steel are the three most popular cookware options widely used in kitchens all over the world.
In most homes, you will find all three types of cookware in the kitchen.
Each type of cookware comes with its own set of pros and cons.
While ceramic and stainless steel are considered safer compared to Teflon, the choice is not very straightforward.
Your personal preference, cooking style, and the type of cuisine all affect your choice.
Other variables such as price, durability, ease of cleaning, and use are also some of the factors which can affect your choice of pots and pans.
Below we will have a look at ceramic vs. Teflon vs. stainless steel cookware.
Here is a detailed description of some of the costs and benefits of all three types of cookware.
This information will surely help you in making a choice and decide which one is the best for your kitchen.
But before you delve deep into the comparison, it is important to understand what non-stick cookware is.
- 1 What is Non Stick Cookware?
- 2 A Comparison of the Cookware – Ceramic vs. Teflon vs. Stainless Steel
- 3 Teflon vs. Ceramic vs. Stainless Steel – Which One is the Best?
- 4 Bottom Line
What is Non Stick Cookware?
Often people think of Teflon as being synonymous to non-stick.
In fact, Teflon is a synthetic chemical used to coat the surface of the cookware and provide a non-stick finish.
While it is the most popular one, an emerging non-stick cookware option is ceramic. It is also used to make non-stick cookware.
Non-stick cookware is coated with a surface which reduces the ability of other food items to stick to it.
So it prevents your food from sticking to the pan, and at the same time, it allows your food to get completely cooked.
Both Teflon and ceramic are used as a coating on different materials to give a non-stick finish to the pots and pans.
So your non-stick pot might actually be made up of aluminum, copper, or stainless steel, but has a non-stick finish of Teflon or ceramic.
Non-stick cookware is a kitchen essential. From whipping up scrambled eggs to frying delicate foods like fish, there are many situations in the kitchen which require the use of non-stick cookware.
Certain foods are best cooked on low to medium heat. In that case, a non-stick pot or pan is the best choice.
A Comparison of the Cookware – Ceramic vs. Teflon vs. Stainless Steel
Now that we know what non-stick cookware is, let’s compare the two non-stick options.
We will also compare the non-stick cookware with stainless steel, which is another popular type of cookware widely used in kitchens.
Teflon vs. Ceramic
When it comes to Teflon vs. ceramic, one of the major differences lies in the type of non-stick coating.
Teflon is synthetic material and belongs to a highly useful class of plastics.
While the word ‘plastic’ in cookware might sound alarming, it is a safe and stable compound which is less reactive with low to medium heat.
This is the reason why Teflon is a popular material for cookware and its use is still considered safe by many people.
However, on very high heat, the coating might start to break down and release toxic chemicals into the air.
Constantly inhaling these fumes can have a negative impact on health.
Also, since Teflon is made from organic material, it poses a greater risk to the safety of the food, especially once the coating begins to wear out.
As many people today cook on high flame, they are now concerned about the use of Teflon in kitchens.
This has created a rise in the popularity of the other non-stick option, ceramic.
This type of non-stick coating does not involve the use of plastic polymers.
Instead, it is created by combining ceramic polymer with silicon and oxygen, and is considered safer compared to Teflon.
Also, since ceramic coating is made from inorganic matter, it is harder than Teflon, making it more heat resistant and durable.
Ceramic cookware heats up more slowly compared to Teflon, but retains heat for a longer period of time.
However, sooner or later, both Teflon and ceramic coating will chip off.
Once that starts to happen, it is recommended that you should change your cookware.
In case of both Teflon and ceramic, use of silicon or wooden utensils is recommended.
This way you will reduce your chances of damaging the coating.
Both Teflon and ceramic are oven-safe, but each material has a different temperature threshold.
Also the handles and lid might not be oven safe so when using in an oven, make sure you cover your pots and pans with a heat resistance material to avoid any damage to the food or the cookware.
Hand washing is recommended for non-stick cookware, regardless of whether it is Teflon or ceramic.
Use warm water and soft sponge to avoid scratching the coating.
Since ceramic is non-porous, it is easier to clean ceramic cookware compared to Teflon.
However, it should be cleaned immediately after use.
Leaving remains of cooked food in ceramic pans and pots will allow them to harden over time which can damage the surface.
Given that ceramic is heat resistant, made from inorganic material, is durable and easy to clean, it is a pricy non-sticky cookware option compared to Teflon.
In short, when compared to Teflon, Ceramic is
- More heat resistant
- More durable
- More expensive
- Easier to clean
So if you are choosing between Teflon vs ceramic, your choice depends upon your style of cooking, the type of food and your budget.
Non-Stick vs. Stainless Steel
The difference between non-stick and stainless steel cookware is obvious; one is non-stick, the other is not.
While ceramic cookware is heat resistant and is more durable than Teflon, it is not as durable as stainless steel.
Stainless steel is usually made from a combination of metals including iron, carbon, and chromium.
This gives it extra strength. So in terms of durability, nothing beats stainless steel cookware.
Also, this type of cookware is made up of various layers of metals and steel, but on the surface, only stainless steel comes in contact with the food.
This gives more safety and stability to the cookware.
So unlike non-stick pots and pans, the food cooked in a stainless steel cookware is free from toxins.
Another notable difference between non-stick and stainless steel cookware is heat resistance.
When cooking in a non-stick cookware, it is important to take care of the heat.
On very high heat, non-stick coating can get damaged. But this is not the case when it comes to stainless steel cookware.
You can cook at high heat without the fear of damaging your cookware or contaminating your food.
Apart from the heat, you don’t have to worry about the choice of utensils when cooking in stainless steel cookware.
You can use wooden, silicone or coated metal utensils without damaging the surface of your cookware.
In case of stainless steel, you can also use uncoated metal utensils, but that comes with a risk of causing small scratches on the surface of your cookware.
Also, since stainless steel cookware is made up of efficient heat conductors, the heat distributes more evenly, which allows for more even cooking of the food.
Stainless steel is, therefore, perfect for boiling foods such as noodles, pasta, rice, or vegetables.
As the heat distributes more quickly, stainless steel is a better choice compared to non-stick when you are in a rush.
Since stainless steel cookware heats up easily, non-stick cookware is a friendly option for a beginner level cook.
So you don’t have to worry about food sticking to the surface and cleaning the pot following the sticking.
If you want a crisp, brown piece of meat, you can easily do that in a stainless steel cookware.
Something which is not possible in a non-stick pan.
But to make sure your food does not stick to the surface, you will need to add too much oil or butter.
Although there are many advantages of using stainless steel cookware over non-stick, it has its own drawbacks as well.
Stainless steel is not a very good option for foods which require gentle heat such as sautéing vegetables.
Also, delicate foods such as eggs or fish might stick to the surface.
Unlike non-stick cookware which can do wonders with little or no oil, you need a much more oil in stainless steel cookware.
This means that cooking in a stainless steel pan might not be as healthy as in a non-stick pan.
As mentioned earlier, unlike non-stick cookware, food cooked in a stainless steel pot or pan can stick to the surface.
So while you can simply wipe and clean non-stick cookware, cleaning stainless steel might be slightly more challenging.
A major difference between non-stick and stainless steel cookware is price.
All types of non-stick cookware, including Teflon and ceramic, are cheaper compared to stainless steel.
However, there are different grades of stainless steel cookware available in the market.
Always make sure that you opt for good quality, food grade stainless steel.
Since good quality stainless steel cookware is more durable and efficient, it is always more expensive compared to its non-stick counterpart.
In all, when compared to non-stick cookware, stainless steel is always
- More durable
- More expensive
- More heat resistant
- Difficult to clean
So if are planning to invest in cookware and are confused whether to go for non-stick or stainless steel cookware, your choice will depend upon your personal preference, health concern, style of cooking and your budget.
Teflon vs. Ceramic vs. Stainless Steel – Which One is the Best?
Choosing the best cookware is not always easy.
Teflon, ceramic, and stainless steel all have their own benefits and shortcomings.
However, apart from the benefits, there are various other factors which can affect your choice.
Some of the other deciding factors are:
With increased access to information, people are increasingly becoming more health conscious.
They now go for the healthiest option whether it is oil, meat, spices or cookware. In terms of safety, Teflon is notorious.
This is because it is made up of chemical compound named Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE).
On low and medium flame, the chemical is stable and does not react with food. But on high heat, it can release toxic fumes.
Also in case of damaged coating, Teflon can also release harmful chemicals in the food.
The second best option in terms of safety is ceramic.
It is more heat resistant compared to Teflon and is made up natural minerals, so the possibility of leaching toxic substances in food in much lesser compared to Teflon.
Similarly, stainless steel is a safer cookware option. It is made up of different layers of metal so it does not pose any safety risk.
The food cooked in a stainless steel cookware has almost zero possibility to getting contaminated due to release of toxic substances.
However, you should always go for high quality, food grade stainless steel cookware.
So in order of safety, you go for:
- Stainless steel or ceramic
When you compare Teflon vs. stainless steel vs. ceramic, it is important to see how durable each cookware is.
Since Teflon is made up of PTEF, it is ideal to be used on low to medium heat.
At high heat, the non-stick finish can easily get damaged. Ceramic is slightly more durable compared to Teflon.
The material used to coat ceramic cookware is inorganic. This gives a harder finish which is also more heat resistant.
As a result, ceramic cookware is more durable. However, both ceramic and Teflon are coating so over time, they wear out.
When comparing Teflon vs. ceramic vs. stainless steel, it is obvious that stainless steel is the most durable among the three types of cookware.
In all, the order durability of each cookware is:
- Stainless steel – most durable
- Teflon – least durable
Price is the most important determining factor when it comes to all buying decisions.
And buying cookware is not an exception. In terms of price, non-stick cookware is always cheaper compared to stainless steel.
However, different types of non-stick cookware are available at different prices.
As a general rule, Teflon is cheaper compared to ceramic. Since the latter is a relatively new type of cookware, it is available at a higher price.
While it comes with endless advantages, In terms of price, stainless steel is always the most expensive option. In order of affordability:
- Teflon is the cheapest
- Followed by ceramic
- And finally stainless steel which is most expensive
Ease of Cleaning
Each of the three cookware are suitable for different cooking styles.
So if you want to turn our meat brown and sticky, you go for stainless steel.
But since the food sticks to the surface of the cookware, cleaning it can be a challenge.
However, cleaning non-stick cookware, including both Teflon and ceramic, is easy.
You can simply wipe your cookware with a kitchen towel and it is good for use.
So when it comes to ease of cleaning, your first choice will be:
- Teflon or ceramic
- Followed by stainless steel
In cooking, time is of essence. There are days when you want to make a quick meal.
On others, you don’t mind spending a few hours in your kitchen.
If time is your concern, it will certainly reflect in your choice of cookware.
Stainless steel is made up of metals so it heats up really quickly.
At the same time, it retains heat. Ceramic, on the other hand, heats up slowly but is good at retaining heat.
Lastly, Teflon has poor heat retention. In order of heat retention, go for:
- Ceramic or stainless steel
- Teflon is the next in line
The choice of cookware has a huge impact on the safety, taste and quality of your food so this is something which needs to be well thought out.
When comparing ceramic vs. Teflon vs. stainless steel, just remember that they are all as good as they can get.
But since they are made from different materials, they are ideal for different situations and kinds of users.
If you want to invest in non-stick cookware that is safe and durable, then ceramic is a better choice compared to Teflon.
But it comes with a higher price.
And if you are looking for something which is safe, heat resistant, last in the long run and do not have a budget constraint, you should go stainless steel.
That said, your personal preference, cooking style and cuisine will still remain some of the factors which will influence your decision.