What are the best materials for kitchen cookware? It depends on the utensil in question. Outfit your cooking space with tools that last longer and work best.
A craftsperson is only as good as their tools, and that goes for cooks as well. Whether you whip up a snack or create a several-course meal, the utensils you use can affect the taste, texture, and production of the dishes you’re creating. Choose your tools wisely, and keep the stuff they’re made of in mind. Here are the best materials for kitchen cookware and why.
While there are plenty of easy-to-clean and lightweight materials for pots and pans—stainless steel, Teflon, ceramic, copper, and others—nothing beats cast iron for durability, conductivity, and the little bit of nutritional iron it adds to a meal. Heavy and strong, cast iron cookware heats up quickly, keeps food warmer longer, and lasts practically forever. All it requires is some basic upkeep. Don’t use soap to clean it—use salt, water, and a sponge before drying it off. Keep it seasoned by greasing and baking the pot or pan in the oven for several hours a few times a year. This prevents rusting and provides a thin layer of nonstick coating when you cook.
While cast iron pans beat it out for cookware, stainless steel does have its place and function in a kitchen. Most kitchen gadgets and appliances made of stainless steel are easy to use and clean and aren’t easily damaged. Stainless steel is durable, resists rust, and is machine washable. The steel’s chemical content also keeps it from becoming scratched, pitted, or rusted even after repeated contact with water and acidic foods. Plus, this material won’t retain the flavors of other ingredients or transfer them to your dishes. Pick stainless steel for tools like garlic presses, measuring cups and spoons, peelers, graters, zesters, whisks, servers, and other implements.
Even when not being used, a wood kitchen utensil lends visual variety to your kitchen as well. As for the best wooden utensils, you can never go wrong with wooden cooking spoons. Incidentally, they aren't all “spoons” per se. Most sets come with a large stirring spoon, a slotted spoon for stirring and draining, and various spatulas that can flip or break up meat and other ingredients. Wood is also best for cutting boards. Wooden cutting boards are cleaner than plastic, safer than glass, and most self-repair even under the continual chopping of the sharpest chef’s knives—plus, wooden cutting boards achieve all this while still letting those knives retain their sharpness.
Transparent, heat resistant, and clean, glass is one of the best materials for kitchen cookware. Need to see what’s cooking? Glass is great for bakeware and storing ingredients in containers that show what’s inside while keeping freshness in and pests out. Also, while some glass runs the risk of shattering due to high heat or heights, the tempered glass used in baking pans and those eternally handy measuring cups is tough and can stand the heat. Also, clean-up is a breeze, and food and flavors wash right off.