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Stainless-Steel Nonstick Enamel Aluminum Cast-Iron Tin Carbon Steel Copper


  • Made of steel mixed with chromium for corrosion resistance
  • Look for high-grade stainless steel: 18/10, stamped on pan’s base (18 parts chromium, 10 parts nickel)
  • Ideal for pan exteriors because it does not dent and holds a high polish
  • Ideal for pan interiors because it does not pit or scratch easily
  • Nonreactive with acidic and alkaline foods
  • Usually magnetic, thus compatible with induction cooktops
  • Choose stainless-steel exteriors with a heat-conductive core of aluminum or copper
  • Dishwasher, oven and broiler safe
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Anatomy of a Pan


  • Releases food smoothly and cleans up easily
  • Requires little or no oil for cooking, thus good for low-fat or nonfat dishes
  • Perfect for cooking eggs or pancakes
  • Not ideal for browning or caramelizing ingredients
  • Avoid metal utensils and aerosol cooking sprays
  • Avoid overheating (cooking above medium heat levels)
  • Avoid thermal shock (placing a hot pan under cold water)
  • Wash by hand to preserve nonstick coating
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Anatomy of a Pan


  • A thin layer of durable colored glass coating the interior and exterior of cast-iron or steel cookware
  • Prevents corrosion and eliminates the need to season pans
  • Nonreactive with acidic and alkaline foods
  • Holds heat efficiently but does not conduct or transmit heat well
  • Enamel-exterior cookware is compatible with induction cooktops
  • Dark, textured enamel interiors allow for browning with easy cleanup; thus often used for grill pans and fry pans
  • Light-colored enamel interiors allow for monitoring changes as food cooks
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Anatomy of a Pan


  • Transmits heat rapidly; second only to copper in conductivity
  • Often used as the core of stainless-steel cookware
  • Alloyed with metals such as magnesium, copper or bronze for added strength
  • Lightweight aluminum alloys are ideal for large cookware pieces like stockpots
  • Often lined with stainless steel or nonstick coating to eliminate reactivity and susceptibility to pitting
  • Anodizing seals aluminum’s surface pores, making it extremely durable and nonreactive
  • Use on gas or electric ranges; not compatible with induction cooktops
  • Aluminum alloy cookware is not dishwasher safe; anodized aluminum cookware is typically dishwasher safe; check manufacturer’s instructions
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Anatomy of a Pan


  • Extremely durable and resistant to warping, denting and chipping
  • Heats slowly and evenly and retains heat extremely well
  • Ideal for browning meats or poultry or frying all types of food
  • Compatible with induction cooktops
  • Reactive with acidic foods such as wine, vinegar and lemon juice
  • Requires seasoning to protect from rusting; check manufacturer’s instructions
  • Hand wash and thoroughly dry unlined cast-iron cookware
  • Lasts for generations if cared for properly
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Anatomy of a Pan


  • Used as a lining for copper pans to prevent reactivity with acidic foods
  • Transmits heat better than stainless-steel linings
  • Use over low heat only
  • Never heat while pan is empty as tin may blister or melt
  • Use wooden, silicone or nylon cooking utensils
  • Discoloration will occur over time and is normal and harmless
  • Refurbishing, or “retinning,” extends the life of the pan
  • Hand wash using a sponge or soft bristle brush and warm soapy water; not dishwasher safe
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Anatomy of a Pan

Carbon Steel

  • Metal alloy formed by combining iron and carbon
  • Extremely hard and durable
  • Conducts heat rapidly and efficiently
  • Ideal material for woks and omelette or crepe pans
  • Must be seasoned to avoid rusting
  • Often reserved for cooking one specific dish and nothing else
  • Wipe clean with paper towels; avoid washing
  • If necessary, hand wash with mild soapy water and soft brush; never place in a dishwasher
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Anatomy of a Pan


  • Best material for conducting heat
  • Heats rapidly and evenly and cools down quickly, providing maximum control of cooking process
  • Best quality copper pans are heavy gauge, 1/16 to 1/8 inch thick
  • Because copper is a reactive metal, most copper pans are lined with a nonreactive metal such as tin or stainless steel
  • Tin-lined copper pans may occasionally require a new lining
  • Stainless-steel-lined copper pans should be made of thick copper to maximize performance
  • Not compatible with induction cooktops
  • Heavy copper pans will usually have iron or brass handles, which are safe for oven use
  • Hand wash; never place in dishwasher
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Anatomy of a Pan