Stainless steel, copper, aluminum, cast iron, ceramic, non-stick materials, and so many more. If you are a cooking expert, chances are that you have used most of these common cookware materials and know exactly when to use what.
However, if you are a beginner and have no prior experience in cooking, these options might overwhelm you. For instance, which one should you use for baking and which one is best for frying and grilling?
While that is a detailed discussion best left for some other time, let’s shift our focus towards stainless steel cookware.
Stainless steel is one of the best cookware materials and a favorite among chefs around the world. It is incredibly durable and can hold up for years if used and maintained properly.
It is also incredibly versatile and can be used for a variety of cooking techniques without getting damaged. But what about baking?
One of the most common questions regarding stainless steel is whether it is oven-safe and how well it holds off in a hot oven.
So, can stainless steel go in the oven? Yes, you can use stainless steel in the oven, provided that it is made of high-quality steel that does not react with food at high temperatures. You also need to be careful if your stainless-steel cookware has wooden or plastic handles since they can get severely damaged in the oven.
Read on to find out how to choose high-quality stainless-steel cookware, the advantages of using it over other common cookware materials, the best tips on how to use stainless steel in the oven, and much more.
Is Stainless Steel Oven-Safe?
Stainless steel is a metal-alloy containing chromium, silicon, nickel, and manganese, with some elements of carbon and nitrogen.
The amounts of these components vary depending on the manufacturer and quality of the final product.
Stainless steel is generally oven-safe; however, to avoid any mishaps such as the pot or pan breaking, splitting, or melting, you must choose the best-grade stainless steel and use suitable oven temperatures.
In addition to that, some stainless-steel cookware comes with handles made of wood, plastic, or silicone. While this may add to its aesthetic appeal and make it easier to touch when it’s hot, it is not safe to put in the oven.
If you want to use your stainless-steel pans and pots in the oven, it is best to get ones without wooden or plastic handles since the high heat of the oven will burn and damage them.
While wooden and plastic handles are a complete no-go, baking silicone is oven-safe at temperatures up to 428°F.
Therefore, while you can use stainless-steel cookware with baking silicone in the oven, you have to be careful to not exceed the temperature.
The highest quality stainless steel is very durable and is resistant to rust and corrosion. It has the right amount of elements to provide good tensile strength and prevent them from transferring and leaching into your food.
Quality stainless steel has around 18% to 20% of chromium content, with a higher level meaning it is more resistant to corrosion. Stainless steel used for cooking must contain at least 16% chromium, according to US standards.
The acceptable amount of nickel is around 8% to 10% since anything less than that will make it susceptible to rust, and anything more than that will cause it to leach into your food.
Stainless steel is available in multiple grades depending on its alloy composition and slightly different characteristics. Grade 304 stainless steel is the best quality for cookware due to its incredible corrosion resistance and value.
Advantages Of Using Stainless Steel In The Oven
Stainless steel cookware has been around for quite some time and is a staple in both domestic and commercial kitchens. For many, they are the go-to choice when it comes to kitchen cookware, and all for good reason.
Here are the top advantages of using stainless steel in the oven as compared to other cookware materials!
Stainless steel cookware can last for decades, or more, if used and maintained properly. Forget about it scratching, chipping, or breaking due to little accidents in the kitchen.
Good-quality stainless steel can withstand general wear and tear and is resistant to rust and corrosion.
Due to its quick heat absorption and even heat distribution, multi-ply stainless steel cookware is a great choice for use in the oven.
The layers of stainless steel and aluminum produce a more homogenous cooking surface that will heat up evenly from the bottom and sides of the pan.
Compared to other cookware materials such as aluminum, copper, cast iron, and Teflon, stainless steel is naturally non-reactive and will not interfere with the chemical structure of your food.
You may bake anything at all without worrying about leaching any harmful chemicals or giving a metallic flavor to your food.
Stainless steel is extremely low maintenance and easy to clean.
If you encounter a baking mishap and have burnt food residue stuck to the bottom of the pan, you can simply soak it in the sink (something you would never be able to do with cast iron) and scrub it clean using a mild soap.
You may also use special cleaners and polishes for stubborn messes.
Tips On How To Use Stainless Steel In The Oven
Stainless steel cookware is extremely versatile and very easy to use and clean. Here are a few useful tips on how to best use it in the oven!
Don’t Go Over 500°F
Stainless steel is sturdy and durable and can withstand high temperatures without getting damaged. However, extremely high temperatures can damage any type of material, even stainless steel.
Therefore, it is best to not exceed the oven temperature over 500°F since it will be too hot for your stainless-steel cookware. This shouldn’t be a problem since the normal baking temperature ranges from 375-400°F.
Also, the multi-ply construction in most stainless-steel brands means that the pots and pans will heat up evenly from both the sides and the bottom, cooking the food in more than one direction.
This is why it is advised to use a lower temperature since it will heat up quicker than other cookware.
Never Skip Preheating
When stainless steel is cold, it becomes porous, the edges of which cause the food to stick to the surface.
Preheating causes the stainless-steel cookware to expand, closing the pores and creating a smooth surface to cook your food in, which is why you must never skip preheating your stainless-steel pots and pans before baking.
Preheating stainless steel is very important and must be done the right way.
To know if your pot or pan is hot enough, do a simple water drop test. To do so, wait until the rim of the pan is hot, and then add a few drops of water. If the droplets stay in a ball and roll around the pan, it is ready.
Two other important things to note are that your stainless-steel cookware can go from perfectly preheated to overheated very quickly, which is why it is advised to have your ingredients ready before you preheat it.
Secondly, always oil after preheating because if you add it when the pan or pot is cold, it will sink into the pores on the surface.
So, wait until it is properly heated before adding in some oil and make sure to swirl it around to cover the surface of the pan.
Don’t Discard The Brown Bits
A classic issue with stainless steel cookware is that the food tends to stick to the surface, especially if it is not oiled properly.
When working with meat, if you have to put in some effort to lift it with a spatula, and you see that it is sticking to the surface, there can be two possible explanations: the surface wasn’t greased properly or that the meat isn’t done.
Properly seasoned, oiled, and cooked meat will never stick to a stainless-steel pan, and that is how you will know that it is done. However, if there are some brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan, do not discard them.
These stuck-to-the-bottom brown bits are known as “fond” and are packed with flavor.
To utilize them properly, remove the food from the pan, drain all the fat, add a liquid of your choice (water, stock, or wine), scrape up the brown bits, and let the mixture boil for a while.
When it is reduced by half, adjust the seasoning and pour the sauce over your food. Yum!
Clean Them Properly
There are a few basic tips when it comes to using stainless-steel cookware and ways you can prolong its life.
As mentioned above, stainless steel cookware does not handle extreme temperatures too well, which is why you must never run your hot just-used pots and pans under cold water.
The sudden combination of hot and cold can lead to adverse reactions and cause them to warp and get damaged. Simply let them cool on their own before washing with water.
Also, when cleaning your stainless-steel cookware, stick to non-metal scrubbers and avoid using harsh and abrasive cleaners such as bleach.
You must never use a scouring pad or steel wool to clean your stainless-steel cookware under any circumstances. For stubborn stains, you can sprinkle some baking soda and let it soak for a while.
Now that we’ve covered all about stainless steel cookware, whether it can go in the oven, and tips on how to use it to prolong its life and maintain its quality, here are a few additional questions we thought you might have:
Can stainless steel go in the microwave?
Most of us already know that metals and microwaves do not work well together. But what about stainless steel? Well, stainless steel is also a type of metal and must not be used in a microwave.
Like other metals, stainless steel reflects microwaves, and due to this shielding effect, the microwave radiations are blocked and the food cannot be properly heated.
Other than this reason, there are also potential dangers in putting stainless-steel cookware in the microwave.
If the stainless steel comes into contact with the walls of the microwave, it can cause arcing to occur, leading to sparks and crackles inside the microwave.
This can be a serious fire hazard and can cause the cover on the microwave oven walls to burn down and seriously damage it.
It is important to note that not all stainless-steel cookware can start a fire in your microwave. If it stays clear of the microwave wall when heating and the reflection surface is smooth enough, it may not cause such adverse reactions.
However, there is a good chance that putting stainless steel in your microwave can damage your appliance, which is why our suggestion is to not risk it and never to use stainless steel in the microwave.
Can stainless steel go in the dishwasher?
The short answer is: yes, stainless steel is dishwasher-safe and can easily be cleaned in one. The long answer is that while stainless steel is generally regarded as dishwasher-safe, there are a few risks.
Many people put their stainless-steel pots and pans in the dishwasher and they come out just fine. However, at times, they acquire spots and watermarks that may be difficult to get out.
Dishwasher detergent is considered to be extremely harsh with continuous use causing spotting and discoloration.
The only stainless-steel pots and pans you should use in the dishwasher are those that explicitly state so since they are tested to make sure that that is the case.
For others, it is best to stick with handwashing and immediately drying them to prevent any damage.
Are there any disadvantages of using stainless steel?
Nothing is perfect, right? While good-quality stainless steel cookware can be one of the best purchase decisions for your kitchen, albeit a bit pricey, poor-quality stainless steel has quite a few drawbacks.
Poor-grade stainless steel may show smudges and fingerprints and may leach toxic chemicals into your food.
To prevent that from happening, get grade 304 stainless steel that is ideal for cooking and grade 400 that is best for utensils.
Also, as mentioned above, the components in stainless steel must be in the right quantities or else they may pose a risk to your health.
For instance, stainless-steel cookware that contains more nickel can cause allergic reactions in some individuals and lead to accumulation in the body.
While the best quality stainless steel is highly durable and resistant to heat and rust, inferior quality one will most likely rust and corrode at the slightest temperature change and pressure.
What cookware materials are considered oven-safe?
Most cookware materials are oven-safe, and if you wish to identify whether yours is or isn’t, you need to look for a special oven-safe symbol underneath your pots, pans, and crockery.
Some common examples of oven-safe cookware materials are metals such as stainless steel and cast iron, ceramics (avoid ones that are glazed or are decorated with an adhesive design), oven-safe glass, and food-grade silicone.
Two materials that should not be used in the oven are plastic and wood. Under extreme temperatures, they will likely melt, burn, split, and warp.
Also, be extremely careful when using the above-mentioned oven-safe materials with plastic or wooden handles or lids.
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