Hard Anodized Cookware vs. Non-stick Cookware: What is the Best Non-Stick Cookware?
The debate over hard anodized cookware vs. non-stick cookware has been raging since hard anodized cookware entered the market, and de-throned non stick cookware as the go-to cookware for home cooks looking for cookware that was easy to use, and easy to clean.
Non-stick cookware has been the most popular cookware in millions of home kitchens around the world, since the slippery coating that prevents food from sticking was developed in the 1940’s, and marketed to the public in the 1950’s by DuPont as Teflon® coated non-stick cookware.
There are now several types of non-stick cookware on the market today, some made with and without the potentially dangerous Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). A popular type of cookware, which was developed by leading cookware manufacturer Calphalon, in 1968 to prevent food from sticking to the pan and withstand the daily beating of a professional kitchen is hard anodized cookware, This type of non stick cookware is popular with professional chefs and home cooks who want a non-stick cookware, but that is 100% PFOA-free.
Problems with Non-stick Cookware for Professional Chefs
While Teflon coated non stick cookware was an immediate hit with home cooks when it was introduced in the early 50s, and to this day remains a popular type of cookware for daily use in home kitchens, even though most non stick cookware is now made with a natural PFOA-free non-stick coating, professional chefs quickly found that Teflon coating was unsuitable for the rigors of metal utensils and high temperatures of an industrial kitchen.
The Teflon coating can scratch or chip easily, if used with metal utensils, thus rendering the cookware useless and even dangerous. In addition, high stove top and oven temperatures that are often above 450 degrees Fahrenheit in professional kitchens can actually cause Teflon to liquefy and give off toxic fumes. Some studies show that toxic particles of PFOA (Perfluorooctanoic acid) or PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene) can be transferred to the food, where these odorless particulates can contaminate food and lead to potentially dangerous health risks.
Searching for a Alternative to Teflon coated Non-Stick Cookware
The desire of professional chefs to find a safe alternative to Teflon coated non-stick pans that offers the same non stick capabilities as Teflon, without dangers of exposure to PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene) and PFOA (Perfluorooctanoic acid), that was as sturdy as stainless steel yet prevented food from sticking, lead several cookware manufacturers to search a new revolutionary cookware surface.
Calphalon hit the mark in 1968 with it’s invention of the first hard anodized aluminum cookware, that eliminated the risks of non-stick cookware and yet was sturdy enough to withstand the punishing conditions of an industrial kitchen.
What resulted from this dilemma was a new type of cookware called Hard Anodized Cookware, which offered the best features of each type of cookware in one:
- light weight like aluminum pans
- heats up quickly and evenly
- sturdy like stainless steel cookware that can handle high temperatures common in a professional kitchen
- can handle metal utensils without scratching, cracking or chipping
- has a superior non-stick surface like Teflon coated pans, but without the risk of Teflon
Several companies now make hard aluminum cookware for home and professional kitchens. For instance, Rachael Ray Cookware produces a popular and affordable hard anodized cookware line as does famed TV chef Emeril Lagasse with his Emerilware Hard Anodized Cookware made by All-Clad.
What is Hard Anodized Cookware?
In 1968, Calphalon invented hard anodized aluminum cookware, which encompasses the best featured of non-stick cookware, stainless steel skillets and durability of cast iron cookware.
Hard aluminum cookware is basically aluminum cookware that has been hydroelectrically treated to harden the aluminum to the strength of stainless steel cookware, and has a layer of oxidization that gives the cookware the non-stick consistency of Teflon-coated pans.
I am sure you are wondering about the benefits of hard anodized cookware? This light weight professional quality cookware has been shown to be extremely durable, resists scratches and is non-porous, meaning it won’t absorb smells from the food that has been cooked in it.
This is important for high volume professional kitchens, where the pan may be used to cook fish in one dish, cleaned and then used to cook a pasta dish without transferring smells or flavors from between dishes.
Benefits of Hard Anodized Cookware
- Made from light or medium weight aluminum
- Pans are as hard as stainless steel cookware
- PFOA Free non-stick cookware
- Made with reveted on ergonomic handles
- Oxidization process creates a non-stick surface
- Cookware can withstand high oven temps up to 400° Fahrenheit
- Doesn’t scratch or chip
- Nonporous to resist absorbing food smells
Is Non-stick Cookware Safe?
For the average home cook, who uses non-stick cookware regularly at medium or lower stove top temperatures at 350° Fahrenheit, and uses wooden or silicone utensils to prevent scratching, non stick cookware is generally safe.
The best non-stick cookware you may never have heard of is PFOA-free non stick STONELINE Cookware. This cookware is made with a natural micro-stone coating that is 100% PFOA and PTFE Free, is reported to be 10 times harder than other types of non-stick cookware, and no oil is required for healthy cooking. You can read our STONELINE COOKWARE review here.
The dangers of using PFOA or PTFE coated cookware are only a concern for people who:
- use their cookware heavily and the Teflon coating can be chipped or scratched by using metal utensils
- if you often cook food at high stove top or oven temperatures above 350°
- if you are prone to burning food
- if you wash your cookware in the dishwasher and not by hand
If you are in the market for new home cookware for yourself, as a house warming gift or as a wedding gift and you are trying to decide on hard anodized cookware vs. non-stick cookware, follow the tips in this article to help you decide which is the best non stick cookware to get. If this is for your use, determine the amount of cooking you will be doing on a daily or weekly basis; will the cookware be used frequently or infrequently; and finally what is your budget? If this is wedding or house warming gift, hard anodized cookware will definitely be a step up from most non-stick cookware, and the recipient will enjoy years of use.
What is the Cost of Hard Anodized Cookware?
A good high quality 14 piece Hard Anodized Cookware set is approximately $200 – $300 at a department store. You may pay less at online stores, such as Amazon.com.
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Awesome content and comparison between the two that everyone can refer through it.
Thank you for your insight. Wondering your thoughts about hard anodized vs. Ceramic. I recently bought the ceramic henkels cookware and had to return.
Interresting discussion. I am researching currently a similar question in regards to ‘baking steels’. Looking at what is better, carbon steel vs aluminum.
The debate usually centers around heat capacity and heat conductance and secondarily about non-stick capability.
For steel (carbon steel) the specific heat (in kJ/kgK) is 0.49, and 0.46 for cast iron.
For aluminum it’s 0.9. By weight about twice as high as that of cast iron.
However, aluminum has a density of 2.7 g/cm^3, while steel or cast iron is about 7.8 g/cm^3.
So, for a given griddle size the aluminum has to be about 1.5 times thicker to have the same heat capacity as a steel or cast iron griddle, but would still weight only half.
Heat conductance is how fast heat travels through a cross section of a material, for example through 1 cm^2. It’s measured in W/mK
For carbon steel it’s 43, for cast iron its 55, for stainless steel it’s 16, and for aluminum it’s 205.
So aluminum conducts heat about 4 times better than carbon steel or cast iron, and about 13 times better than stainless. But as said above, to get the same heat capacity, aluminum has to be 1.5 times thicker, the lateral heat transfer from the center of the aluminum griddle to the edges is also 1.5 times enanced, so a griddle constructed this way would conduct heat even more evenly than the material numbers suggest.
In terms of non-stick properties: Iron can form alloys with carbon. The ‘seasoning’ surface layer of carbon steel or cast iron is carbon bonded to the iron molecules. Carbon is a relatively soft material that burns at ~600C (1100 F).
Hard anodizing of aluminum is an electrochemical process where the surface of aluminum is oxidized to form an aluminum oxide layer of more than 25 micrometer thickness. Aluminum oxide (AlO3) is a VERY hard material that is, among other things, the primary ingredient in grinding stones and sand paper to grind steel and other hard metals.
Aluminum melts at 630C (1220 F), about the same temperature where the seasoning of carbon steel or cast iron would be burned off. However, aluminum oxide melts at 2,072°C, higher than steel at 1510 degrees C.
You seem to offer a great review. The couple of people that complained about their Rachael Ray sets, did they have the hard anodized set, or a cheaper set because looking on-line, it looks like there are different levels of quality in her line? I’m looking to buy a new set and I’m leaning towards the hard anodized set after reading your reviews. Is it safe to use metal utensils on the hard anodized set, or do you need to only use wood or plastic? Is the Cucina line the same as the 14 piece set just a different color? I’m trying to decide if I should get the 14 piece or the 10. I prefer the color of the Cucina over the orange.
Thanks for the comment.
I can see how anyone can get confused as to which product, since Rachael Ray has several different lines and quality of cookware. You need to do your homework before buying.
Cucina is her newest line. I like the hard anodized cookware vs non stick, but in in the end it is all personal opinion.
The Cucina line is about rustic colors, so a few of her cookware lines are included in Cucina, such as hard anodized and hard porcelain enamel non stick cookware.
Some people say it is ok to use metal utensils. I always use wood or silicone. Use whatever is recommended to preserve the warranty.
The 14 pc set is not Cucina. The Cucina line only has 10 and 12 piece sets.
I hope that helps a little.
Best cookware I’ve found is Berghoff’s Eurocast. Ceramic and titanium surface to create a non-stick. Everything just slides right off and they’re easy to clean. Absolutely love them.
Thank for the advice. I’m going to buy a hard anodized cookware. Do you know any cookware which can be used on the induction stove?
Thanks for your comment on my blog https://the-cookingpot.com/, and your question – Do you know any cookware which can be used on the induction stove?
Most high end stainless steel cookware sets are induction ready.
I am also a fan of Stoneline cookware. The bottom has an induction ready steel plate.
If your cookware is not made for induction, you can buy a plate for $10-$20 on Amamzon. You place the plate on your induction burner, then place your non induction pot on the plate, and wala! You have induction cookware.
Helpful. Thanks v much for posting.
Just wanted to leave feedback, you seem to be pushing Rachel Rays cookware: her cookware is NOT high quality and doesn’t last over 6 months of heavy use. The 12-inch skillet (the workhorse) started chipping and peeling in the center and has now flaked off.
Hi Kaitlyn, thanks for your comment. I don’t push any particular brand of cookware, rather I offer unbiased reviews of several cookware lines, including Rachael Ray Cookware. Rachael Ray Cookware is a budget cookware line. At just over $100 for a 12pc set, it is recommended for the casual home cook, or someone getting their first cookware set, with the idea of moving up to a more sturdy cookware set as your cooking skills improve. It is probably not the best choice for heavy daily cooking use.
The Rachael Ray cookware product line that include both a sprayed on non stick coating as well as the hard anodized finish. As Ken mentions, the hard anodized is the safest choice. I purchased my wife her first set of Rachael’s hard anodized over 12 years ago and other than some minor discoloring the cookware is still functioning well. A 12 piece set then was over 200 dollars. Like with most things you get what you pay for.
Nice comment. Thanks.
I try to make my product reviews as accurate as possible, so you are buying the right product for your needs and budget.
I have Rachel Ray I don’t like her pots and pans they chipped so bad use plastic utensils didn’t even last a year
So sorry to hear your pans didn’t last. I hope you were able to get a refund.
I also would like to purchase some nice pots and pans but am concerned because I have a conure. I think this is saying it would be safe for birds without the chemicals and giving off no fumes but I am not ready to bet my bird on it quite yet. I would also like to know how the ceramic coatings weigh in with the non stick and safer anodized pans.
Teflon coated non stick pans are safe unless scratched, chipped or burned, such that they can give off toxic fumes.
That is why I recommend non stick cookware with a natural ceramic non stick surface, hard anodized cookware, or stoneware. These types of cookware have a non stick surface and won’t give off toxic fumes that can cause injury or death to your pets.
If you want cookware with ceramic coating, I recommend Cuisinart Green Gourmet. It has a natural ceramic coating. Never buy cheap ceramic coated cookware. It is aluminum with a synthetic ceramic coating. It will last you 2-5 years max.
I am a big fan of hard anodized cookware. It is affordable, non stick, no fumes to hurt your pets and won’t chip. The hard anodized coating is safe.
My other favorite is stone cookware. You just add a few drops of water, and the food will not stick.
Hope that helps,
My Cook’s Essential deep ‘pot’ is coated with a substance which is not identified by QVC where it is sold. Could you please tell if it is Teflon or non Teflon Hard anodized? If this is not possible, is there a place which identifies the coating? I love that pan and use it with regularity for deep frying, shili, soup and stewing chickens etc.
I have a pet parrot and am concerned about the hard anodized non stick cookware. Regular Teflon is lethal to birds. Is anodized non stick safe for cooking around my pet parrot ?
The hard anodized pans are made from aluminum. Are aluminum pans safe?
Is the STONELINE cookware only PFOA free or is it both PFOA and PTFE free?
Since Stoneline is made with stone and does not use a PFOA coating to give it a non stick coating, it is PFOA free.
PTFE and PFOA are similar products that are designed to give cookware that slippery non-stick coating. Most Teflon coated non stick cookware is now made just with PFOA. PTFE for the most part has been eliminated.
Since Stoneline is made with stone and does not use a PFOA coating, it is 100% PFOA free. I was very impressed the first time I used it, and think you will be impressed as well.
While I certainly appreciate the information, you really should proofread your work. Here’s a good example: “This is due to Teflon is not recommended for”…… Here’s another- “since the slippery non-coating”. There is a lot of really awkward phrasing, to the point of being difficult to understand. It really undermines any authority you are trying to establish. I’m not trying to be mean, just sharing my take on your blog. Also, the word is “rigors”, not “riggers.”
That being said, I still appreciate your effort to put this out there.
Hi Robin, I didn’t take your comment personally. It was a good opportunity to visit the article where I made a few needed modifications to tighten it up.
Thanks for your reviews, it is very helpful – I need to chose between the non-sticks and anodized, now I learned something new!
I tried to press on two links on this page, “14 piece Hard Anodized Cookware set ‘ and on “Hard Anodized Cookware Review “, the links are not working.
Hello Katy, Thank you for your comment. I am glad you found the review helpful, and I am sorry about the broken links. I have fixed them, and all the links are now working.
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