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Is Stainless Steel Cookware Safe? 6 Best Stainless Steel Cookware Sets

Is Stainless Steel Cookware Safe
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Welcome to our guide on the safest stainless steel cookware! Stainless steel is a durable alloy known for its sleek appearance and remarkable safety. The secret lies in its chromium content, which forms a protective layer, preventing corrosion and providing increased durability. With non-porous surfaces and no unwanted flavors, stainless steel ensures worry-free cooking.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the benefits of stainless steel cookware, from its safety, durability, and versatility to its ease of maintenance. Prioritize safety without compromising on style and join us in discovering the best safe stainless steel cookware for your kitchen.

Are you ready to embark on this culinary journey? Get the details on stainless steel safety and considerations, or jump straight to our picks for the best stainless steel cookware sets.

Safety: Why Stainless Steel Cookware Is Non-Toxic

Stainless steel is a type of alloy used in various applications, including cookware. It is primarily composed of iron, carbon, and chromium, with other elements added for specific properties.

The key to stainless steel’s allure lies in its chromium content, which forms a protective layer on the surface, preventing rust and corrosion. Nickel is also often included in stainless steel to enhance its strength, corrosion resistance, and overall durability. This unique feature gives stainless steel its name, as it remains resistant to stains and maintains its sleek appearance over time. 

So, is stainless steel cookware safe?

Yes. Stainless steel is non-toxic due to its composition and properties and is thus considered one of the safest cooking materials. The presence of chromium in stainless steel creates a thin, protective layer on the surface, known as the “passive layer.” This layer acts as a barrier that prevents the transfer of any harmful substances or toxins into food during cooking. As a result, stainless steel cookware is safe to use and does not react with food ingredients, ensuring that your meals remain pure and untainted. Its non-porous surface also means there is no risk of metal leaching into your food, providing peace of mind and a healthier cooking experience. 

However, when cooking acidic foods like tomatoes, small amounts of nickel and chromium can leach into the food. While this is generally safe, we recommend avoiding cooking acidic foods in stainless steel to be extra cautious. Additionally, some people might have allergies or sensitivities to nickel. But don’t fret! You can find nickel-free options out there, so everyone can enjoy the benefits of stainless steel cookware without concern.

Finally, damaged stainless steel cookware is more likely to release nickel and chromium, so it’s important to invest in high-quality, professional-grade stainless steel cookware. More on that coming next!

Considerations When Buying Safe Stainless Steel Cookware

When seeking safe stainless steel cookware, it’s essential to understand the different stainless steel grades and construction methods.

Stainless steel grades are denoted by two numbers, such as 18/10 or 18/8, which indicate the percentages of chromium and nickel present in the alloy—

The first number refers to the chromium content, while the second number represents the nickel content. Higher nickel content enhances corrosion resistance and makes the stainless steel more suitable for cookware applications. 18/10 grade stainless steel is generally considered to be the safest and highest quality.

Additionally, pay attention to tri-ply or cladding construction, which involves layering multiple materials together. While tri-ply, 5-ply, and cladding are equally safe, the layering can impact how evenly the cookware conducts heat. 

  • Tri-ply cookware features a stainless steel body, with a base made of a core of aluminum or copper sandwiched between two layers of stainless steel. This design ensures even heat distribution on the base and eliminates hot spots. 
  • 5-ply stainless steel is constructed from five different layers, rather than three. This means it’s more resistant to warping or denting because it’s thicker.
  • Fully clad cookware goes a step further, with layers of different metals bonded throughout the entire pan, rather than just the base (for example, a 5-ply clad pan means the entire pan is made of five bonded layers of stainless steel and aluminum or copper throughout). Such construction enhances both heat conductivity and durability throughout the entire pot or pan’s body. However, fully clad cookware tends to be more expensive.

Pros and Cons of Stainless Steel Cookware

Stainless steel cookware’s remarkable safety, durability, and low-stick properties make it a favored option among many home chefs, providing reliable and efficient cooking for years. However, there are some drawbacks of stainless steel compared to other cookware options.

Pros of Stainless Steel

  • Safety: Stainless steel cookware is considered one of the safest options for cooking due to its non-toxic nature. Especially when compared with Teflon or other nonstick cookware options, which often contain dangerous PFAS chemicals, stainless steel comes out ahead when it comes to safety.
  • Durability & Corrosion Resistance: Stainless steel is renowned for its exceptional durability, making it highly resistant to dents, scratches, and rust. This cookware can withstand the rigors of daily use and maintain its sleek appearance over time, offering excellent value for your investment.
  • Low-Stick Surface: While stainless steel is not non-stick like some coated pans, it does have low-stick properties when seasoned or used with a small amount of oil or fat. This allows for easy food release and hassle-free cooking and cleaning.
  • Eco-Friendly: Stainless steel is a sustainable and environmentally-friendly choice for cookware. It is fully recyclable, making it an eco-conscious option for those who care about reducing their carbon footprint.

Cons of Stainless Steel

    • Pricier Investment: One of the main drawbacks of stainless steel cookware is its initial cost, which tends to be higher compared to other materials. However, its long-lasting durability and safety benefits often justify the higher price in the long run.
    • Leaching with Acidic Foods: Stainless steel is not entirely reactive-proof, and in some cases, acidic foods may cause minimal leaching of metals. However, this is generally considered safe for most people unless you have specific sensitivities to certain metals.
    • Not the Best Heat Conductor: Stainless steel is not the best conductor of heat on its own, resulting in uneven heating and potential hot spots. However, this can be counteracted by opting for tri-ply or clad cookware. As discussed above, this ensures optimal cooking performance and eliminates any heating inconsistencies.

    Still not sure if stainless steel cookware is right for you? For more in-depth comparisons, check out these cookware guides:

    Best Safe Stainless Steel Cookware Sets

    And now, the moment you’ve been waiting for! We’ve done the research to find reliable and safe stainless steel cookware sets that will elevate your cooking experience. Here are our top picks:

    Tramontina safe stainless steel cookware
    Source: Amazon / Edith B.
    • Pieces in Set: 10-Pieces. 8″ Fry Pan, 10″ Fry Pan, 3-Qt Covered Saute Pan, 1.5-Qt covered saucepan, 3-Qt Covered saucepan and 8-Qt covered stockpot
    • Materials: Tri-ply clad stainless steel with aluminum core
    • Stainless Steel Grade: 18/10
    • Dishwasher Safe: Yes
    • Oven Safe: Up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
    • Current Price (when published): $229.95

    The Tramontina 10-piece stainless steel cookware set stands out as a top-notch choice for versatile cooking needs, offering a blend of even heating, durability, and ease of maintenance. We ranked this set as best overall for its great balance of affordability, durability, and cooking performance.


    • Even Heating: Despite being relatively thin, the pans heat evenly across the surface and up the sides, ensuring consistent cooking results.
    • Heavy-Duty Construction: The set boasts a sturdy build that guarantees durability and long-lasting performance in the kitchen.
    • Easy to Clean: The stainless steel material facilitates effortless cleaning, making it a breeze to maintain the cookware’s pristine appearance.
    • Consistent Heat Distribution: The pans provide consistent heat distribution throughout the cooking process, allowing for precise and efficient cooking.


    • Sauce Sticks on Rivets: We noticed that sauce can get stuck on the rivets, making it slightly challenging to clean thoroughly.
    • Thin Handles: While comfortable to hold, the handles’ thinner design may pose difficulties for those seeking a secure one-handed grip.
    • Heavy Weight: The cookware set is relatively heavy, making it harder to maneuver with one hand and potentially posing a challenge for some users.
    • Handles Get Hot: During prolonged cooking sessions, we noticed that the handles can get hot, necessitating the use of pot holders or oven mitts for safe handling.

    If you’re looking to save a little money, this set also comes in an 8-piece version for $175 without the saucepan. Looking to go all out? Take a look at the 14-piece set with more frying pans and large stockpots.

    You can also find this set on Tramontina’s website.

    Source: All Clad / The Happy Husband reviewer
    • Pieces in Set: 10-Pieces. 8″ and 10″ fry pans, 2-Qt and 3-Qt covered saucepans, 3-Qt covered sauté pan, and an 8-Qt covered stockpot
    • Materials: D3 tri-ply (fully clad stainless steel with aluminum core)
    • Stainless Steel Grade: 18/10
    • Dishwasher Safe: Yes, but not recommended
    • Oven Safe: Up to 600 degrees Fahrenheit
    • Current Price: $694.99

    Crafted with All-Clad’s super-durable D3 tri-ply clad construction and capable of withstanding temperatures up to 600 degrees, the All-Clad cookware set delivers exceptional performance and reliability in the kitchen – and especially in the oven.


    • Great Heat Distribution: The D3 tri-ply construction that All-Clad is known for ensures even heat distribution across the cooking surface, promoting consistent cooking results. This stainless steel cookware is fully clad, meaning that it is made of fully bonded stainless steel with an aluminum core throughout, rather than just the base.
    • Made in USA: All-Clad proudly manufactures their cookware in the United States, upholding high-quality standards and craftsmanship.
    • Interchangeable Lids: The set features lids that can be used interchangeably across different pans, providing versatility and convenience in the kitchen.
    • Durable: With its robust construction, All-Clad cookware is built to last, offering long-lasting performance for many years to come.


    • Pricey: The exceptional quality and craftsmanship of All-Clad cookware come at a premium price, making it a significant investment for some consumers.
    • Difficult to Clean / Gets Spotty Over Time: Some users have reported challenges in maintaining the cookware’s pristine appearance over time, as it can be difficult to clean and may develop spots with use. This appearance doesn’t impact the performance.
    • Not Truly Dishwasher Safe: While All-Clad says this is dishwasher safe, we recommend against it because there is a bit of aluminum exposed at the edge of the cookware, which can corrode in the dishwasher.

    You can also find this stainless steel cookware set on the All-Clad website.

    calphalon stainless steel cookware
    Source: Amazon / Sydnee Spruiell
    • Pieces in Set: 10-Pieces. 8″ fry pan, 10″ fry pan, 1.5-Qt. saucepan with cover, 2.5-Qt sauce pan with cover, 3-Qt saute pan with cover, 7-Qt dutch oven with cover
    • Materials: Tri-ply stainless steel with aluminum core
    • Stainless Steel Grade: Not indicated, but professional-grade
    • Dishwasher Safe: Yes
    • Oven Safe: Up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit
    • Current Price: $199.99

    With its excellent value for the price and cool-to-the-touch handles, the Calphalon Classic stainless steel cookware set stands out as a budget-friendly yet reliable option in the kitchen.


    • Includes Measuring Marks and Pouring Spouts: The cookware set comes with convenient measuring marks inside the pots and pouring spouts, facilitating precise and mess-free cooking and pouring.
    • Longer Handles = Get Less Hot: The longer handles of the cookware stay cooler during cooking, ensuring safer and more comfortable handling.
    • Lids with Built-in Strainers: The set’s lids are designed with built-in strainers, allowing for easy straining of liquids directly from the pots and pans.


    • They Get Less Shiny Over Time: Over extended use, the cookware may lose its shine and require more frequent cleaning to maintain its appearance.
    • Single-Layer Sides: The cookware’s sides are single-layered stainless steel, leading to slightly less even heating along the sides compared to higher-priced sets with fully clad construction.
    • No Indication of Exact Metal Grade: The specific grade of metal used in the cookware is not explicitly stated, which may leave some consumers uncertain about its composition and performance. However, Calphalon notes “Calphalon does use 18/10 material in many of our products; however, we do not indicate the grade of stainless steel used on packaging.”

    This set is also available on the Calphalon website.

    Want a deeper comparison? Check out our guide to All-Clad vs. Calphalon cookware.

    Cuisinart stainless steel cookware
    Source: Amazon / Thomas L. Harris
    • Pieces in Set: Ten. 1.5-Qt saucepan with cover, 3-Qt saucepan with cover, 3.5-Qt saucepan with helper handle and cover, 8-Qt stockpot with cover, 8″ skillet and 10″ skillet
    • Materials: Tri-ply stainless steel with aluminum core
    • Stainless Steel Grade: 18/10
    • Dishwasher Safe: Yes
    • Oven Safe: Up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit
    • Current Price: $169.95

    Offering what we believe to be the best value for its price, the Cuisinart Chef’s Classic cookware set combines affordability with impressive features that enhance any cooking experience.


    • Easy Pouring: The lip on the edge of the pans facilitates effortless pouring, minimizing spills and messes in the kitchen.
    • Heats Quickly: The cookware’s construction allows for fast and efficient heating, saving you time in the kitchen.
    • No Gaps with the Lids: The lids fit snugly on the pots, creating a tight seal and preventing steam from escaping, ensuring optimal cooking results.
    • Long-Lasting Performance: This ultra-safe stainless steel cookware is also ultra-durable. One reviewer noted that the Cuisinart Chef’s Classic set has withstood the test of time, lasting over 13 years with consistent and reliable performance.


    • Lids Get Hot on the Pots: During cooking, the pot lids can become hot, necessitating the use of pot holders or oven mitts for safe handling. We didn’t notice the same issue on the pans, but it’s worth being cautious.
    • Not Fully Clad: While this cookware heats pretty evenly, it only features tri-ply construction on the base.

    You can also find this set on the Cuisinart website. Looking for even more bang for your buck? Cuisinart also offers an 11-piece stainless steel cookware set and even a 17-piece set.

    Source: Amazon / Lifeisbeautiful
    • Pieces in Set: 10-pieces. 8″ and 10″ frying pans, 1-Qt and 2-Qt saucepans with lids, 3-Qt sauté pan with lid, 5-Qt stock pot with lid, and sponge
    • Materials: Stainless steel body, ceramic nonstick coating, and 3-layer stainless steel base
    • Stainless Steel Grade: Not indicated
    • Dishwasher Safe: Yes, but not recommended
    • Oven Safe: Up to 600 degrees Fahrenheit (lids up to 425)
    • Current Price: $139.99

    The GreenPan Treviso stainless steel and ceramic cookware set boasts a unique non-toxic ceramic coating, enhancing its nonstick properties beyond traditional stainless steel options.


    • Nonstick Ceramic Coating, Non-Toxic: The cookware’s nonstick ceramic coating provides an eco-friendly and safe cooking surface that is free from harmful chemicals.
    • Eco-Friendly: Manufactured in a 30% solar-powered factory and with 60% less CO2 emissions during the curing phase compared to traditional coatings, this safe stainless steel cookware set promotes sustainable and environmentally-friendly practices.
    • Super Easy to Clean: The nonstick ceramic surface makes cleaning a breeze, requiring minimal effort for pristine results.


    • Only One Stockpot: The set includes only one stockpot, and its size may be smaller than what some users prefer for certain cooking needs.
    • Slightly Weaker Heat Distribution: While providing efficient heat distribution through the cookware’s multilayer base, the set’s heat conduction may not be as uniform as fully-clad options, potentially affecting cooking performance slightly.
    • Not Truly Dishwasher Safe: We noticed that putting this cookware in the dishwasher can degrade the nonstick coating over time.

    You can also find this set on the GreenPan website.

    le creuset stainless steel set
    Source: Amazon / Midge207
    • Pieces in Set: 10-pieces. 10″ fry pan, 2-Qt saucepan, 4-Qt saucepan, 3-Qt saute pan and 9-Qt stockpot with deep colander insert.
    • Materials: Fully clad tri-ply stainless steel and aluminum core
    • Stainless Steel Grade: 18/10
    • Dishwasher Safe: Yes
    • Oven Safe: Up to degrees 500 Fahrenheit
    • Current Price: $849.95

    Le Creuset’s tri-ply clad cookware set impresses with its super lightweight design, providing ease of handling, although it comes with a high price tag.


    • Lightweight: The cookware’s lightweight construction makes it easy to handle and maneuver in the kitchen.
    • Excellent Performance & Heat Distribution: The tri-ply clad design ensures rapid heat response, even heat distribution, low stickiness, and consistent cooking performance for exceptional results.
    • Easy to Clean: The cookware’s nonstick properties make cleaning a hassle-free task, saving you time and effort in the kitchen.
    • Set Includes Largest Stockpot: With a generously-sized 9-quart stockpot, the set offers ample capacity for cooking large quantities of food or preparing stocks and soups.


    • Handles Get Hot: During cooking, the handles of the cookware can become hot, necessitating the use of pot holders or oven mitts for safe handling.
    • Pricey: The Le Creuset tri-ply clad set comes with a premium price point, making it a significant investment that may not be worth it with so many other options for great stainless steel cookware on the market. That said, this set is an investment that you can be sure will last for years.

    How To Use & Maintain Stainless Steel Cookware

    To keep you safe – and ensure the best cooking results – here are some tips for how to use and maintain your stainless steel cookware.

    How To Care for Stainless Steel Cookware
    • Preheat the Cookware: Stainless steel cookware benefits from preheating before adding ingredients. Preheating helps to evenly distribute heat throughout the pan and ensures consistent cooking results.
    • Use Medium to Low Heat: Stainless steel is an excellent conductor of heat, but it can develop hot spots if exposed to high heat for an extended period. To avoid scorching or warping, use medium to low heat settings for most cooking tasks.
    • Add Oil or Butter when Needed: While stainless steel cookware has low-stick properties, adding a small amount of oil or butter to the pan before cooking can enhance its nonstick performance, especially when preparing foods with a tendency to stick.
    • Avoid Abrasive Cleaners: To maintain the cookware’s shine and longevity, refrain from using harsh or abrasive cleaners. Instead, use mild dish soap, warm water, and a soft sponge or cloth for cleaning.
    • Don’t Overcrowd the Pan: To achieve the best cooking results, avoid overcrowding the pan with too much food. Overcrowding can cause the temperature to drop and result in uneven cooking.
    • Use Wooden or Silicone Utensils: When cooking with stainless steel, opt for wooden or silicone utensils to avoid scratching or damaging the cooking surface. Metal utensils can potentially scratch the stainless steel, affecting its nonstick properties. Read more: 6 Best Cooking Utensils for Stainless Steel Cookware
    • Be Mindful of Acidic Foods: While stainless steel is generally safe, it’s best to avoid cooking highly acidic foods for extended periods, as this may lead to leaching of small amounts of nickel and chromium into the food. If necessary, use alternative cookware for acidic dishes.

    By following these care and cooking guidelines, you can ensure the longevity, safety, and optimal performance of your stainless steel cookware, providing you with reliable kitchen companions for years to come.

    Final Thoughts on Safest Stainless Steel Cookware

    In conclusion, when it comes to safe and reliable stainless steel cookware, the Tramontina set stands out as an excellent option with its reasonable price tag, even heating, heavy-duty construction, and easy-to-clean features…

    While the runner-up Cuisinart Chef’s Classic set offers great value for its price, with cool-to-touch handles and rapid heat distribution. 

    No matter which safe stainless steel cookware you end up with, you can cook with confidence, knowing that your cookware is both safe and efficient.