Apart from designs, the pans also differ in terms of material. Each material has its own merits and demerits. The factors that one should look for while selecting a suitable pan material include heat distribution and retention, reactivity, sturdiness, and induction compatibility. The pros and cons of various materials used to construct pans have been discussed here.
Stainless steel pans are non-reactive, which implies that they will not react with acidic, alkaline, or any other kind of food cooked in them. Thus, there is no chance of metallic taste entering the food. Stainless steel pans heat quickly. They are dishwasher safe. Resistance against oxidation and rusting make them easy to maintain.
Stainless steel pans are poor in distributing heat due to low heat conduction. This is the reason why stainless steel pans having an inner core of copper or aluminum are recommended. Another disadvantage of stainless steel pans is that food particles tend to cling on to stainless steel surfaces, thereby requiring a lot of scrubbing to remove the particles.
Cast iron pans are highly durable because of single-piece construction devoid of joints and high thickness and strength. Cast iron has 85-90% iron, which is more than the iron content in stainless steel. Cast iron pans are known for withstanding high heat, which makes them suitable for slow cooking. They also retain heat for a long period of time, which helps in cooking evenly. Cast iron pans are also versatile when it comes to the type of cooktop as they can be used to cook in the oven, stove, grill, and even fire pit. The surface of cast iron pans is nonstick naturally if seasoned properly.
Cast iron pans are reactive, which makes them unsuitable for cooking acidic food. They also take a long time to heat up. The distribution of heat in such pans is also not even. This is the reason why cast iron pans need to be preheated for 10 minutes and turned a quarter after every few minutes. Cast iron pans are susceptible to rusting, cracking, and chipping. Hence they require quite a bit of maintenance. Heavyweight is another disadvantage of cast iron pans.
Carbon steel contains iron and some percentage of carbon. Carbon steel pans have many characteristics of cast iron pans but are thinner and lighter as compared to the latter. They can withstand high heat and are good conductors of heat. Carbon steel pans are naturally nonstick if seasoned properly.
Carbon steel pans retain less heat as compared to cast iron pans because the mass to hold heat is less. They are also reactive with acidic and alkaline food. Carbon steel pans are susceptible to rust and corrosion, thereby requiring a lot of maintenance. Regular seasoning is essential to maintain the natural nonstick surface.
Copper is an excellent conductor of heat, which is why copper pans distribute heat evenly, leading to uniform cooking. They also heat up very quickly, which reduces cooking time. Copper pans are highly durable due to their immense density.
Copper pans react with acidic and alkaline food. They require frequent polishing with vinegar or lemon to preserve their shine. Copper pans are expensive.