Just as a hammer is the best tool to tackle a nail, the right cookware is key to serving up a perfectly prepared meal. Sometimes, what’s “right” is a matter of personal preference—maybe you appreciate the lightness of carbon steel or feel like you have better heat control with aluminum. Other times, it’s more about which material meets the needs of a specific situation. If you’re wondering when to use what, we’ve pulled together a list of common cooking concerns (and solutions) to give you a headstart.
When to Choose Non-Stick
The answer to that depends on how sticky the food is that you are preparing. Are you planning on eggs, pancakes, crepes, skin-on fish, cheesy dishes or fried rice? If yes to any of those, a non-stick pan will be your friend. OXO’s Non-Stick cookware is triple-coated, so it releases foods easily. The Ceramic Professional Non-Stick line has a diamond-reinforced non-stick coating to let foods slide freely (bonus: you can use metal utensils to cook with ceramic non-stick). Both types of pans are made with a hard-anodized aluminum body that resists corrosion and staining and allows food to cook evenly.
The Best Choice for Searing
For a searingly good time, call on the carbon steel and stainless steel pans. OXO’s Carbon Steel Obsidian Series is safe on induction cooktops, works with metal utensils and comes with non-stick benefits, like a pre-seasoned surface that gets better every time it’s used, plus it works beautifully at high temperatures. The induction cooktop-safe Tri-Ply Stainless Mira Series rises to a high heat quickly and cooks evenly, so those steaks and scallops achieve a delicious crisp brown crust. If you want to finish off a seared item in the oven or you are reverse searing (which starts in the oven and finishes on the stovetop), both carbon and stainless steel cookware from OXO are oven-safe up to 600 degrees Fahrenheit.
What to Take Camping
Heading off on a weekend wilderness trip? Carting supplies out to the grill? Carbon steel saves the day with its lightweight portability (much easier than cast iron). And it’s a high-temperature hero, searing and browning with the best of them. Our go-to is the Outdoor Carbon Steel 12-Inch Frypan which is perfect for cooking veggies or delicate fish over an open flame. So pack your carbon steel pots and pans (also safe for metal utensils) to make French toast, veggies and burgers, and save the hefting for something, well, heftier.
The Right Option for Making Sauce
If you’re in for a session of simmering, you want cookware material that transmits heat evenly and reliably. Stainless steel pots do this well. Non-stick pots are another good choice, especially ones made of hard-anodized aluminum, which is a strong heat conductor that produces steady cooking temperatures. Low heats are best for simmering (and to prevent scorching). OXO’s Enhanced Non-Stick cookware also offers angled side walls and round bottoms for easier stirring.
We get it: Easy clean up is dreamy after a long morning or evening at the stove. Stainless steel items and OXO’s Ceramic Professional Non-Stick and Enhanced Non-Stick lines can go in the dishwasher. It’s better to hand-wash carbon steel with minimal soap (so you don’t strip off the seasoning), but even so, the surface and smooth handles make cleaning fast and simple. That goes for OXO’s non-stick pots, too.
Now that you’ve got your cookware sorted, check out the best way to care for your pots and pans.