When it comes to cookware, choosing what’s best can be intimidating. Whether you’re using nonstick, stainless, cast iron, or another type of cookware, there are pros and cons. Here we explore each use cases and discuss which are our favorites.

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Through the years I’ve been asked repeatedly which type of pans work best.

While there are several to choose from, for this discussion we’ve focused on the “Big 3”, cast iron, stainless steel, and non-stick.

A pan for every need

While I can speak for hours on this topic, in a nutshell, I prefer to have a few different pans on hand depending on the ingredients I’m working with.

If I want to get a good sear on chicken thighs and good development of fond (I said it!), I’ll use a stainless, whereas if I want to fry a few over-easy eggs, I’ll opt for the nonstick.

And cast iron has plenty of uses too. It’s incredibly durable making it ideal for dishes that start on the stovetop and move to the oven, like a potato frittata. It’s great for many other dishes as well, such as cast iron pan pizza, peach blueberry crisps, and many more.

But they all have a downside! Cast iron isn’t fun to clean or maintain, stainless if not heated properly can cause ingredients to stick, and non-stick pans are far less durable and have shorter lives.

In this episode, we take a deep dive into each of these types of pans, as well as others including aluminum and carbon steel, discussing use cases, pros, cons, and more.

Picture of cast iron, stainless, aluminum, and hard anodized pans.


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