Updated September 4th, 2018 – Aluminum’s useful properties mean that you’ll find it everywhere, even in the kitchen. However, when it comes to cooking our food, using this metal might be problematic. It leaches into the food consumed by you and your family. While not dangerous on a once-off basis, over time continued consumption of small amounts of aluminum may have health consequences.
Owing to these health concerns, many people are choosing to switch to stainless steel cookware that does not contain aluminum.
You can check out our favorite cooking set on Amazon: All-Clad copper core tri-ply. The set from the industry leader in stainless steel cookware includes only what you will use on a daily basis.
Why avoid aluminum cookware?
Stainless steel is not very conductive, while aluminum offers excellent thermal conductivity. It’s also lightweight and durable, which is why you’ll often find it in stainless steel cookware. Despite these benefits, research suggests it might be prudent to avoid cookware that contains aluminum.
There is no single living life form that uses aluminum as part of the biochemical process. It has a tendency to accumulate in the brain and bones. Excessive aluminum consumption has been linked to a number of conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Also, oddly enough, children who suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder have higher levels of aluminum in their hair samples.
Fluoride is a byproduct of aluminum, which can have an effect on children’s neurological development. Fluoride consumption can also lead to a deterioration of the bones, often resulting in hip and knee problems in the elderly.
Individuals with kidney problems are especially at risk as they may have difficulty removing the metal from their bodies, causing it to build up over time.
According to estimates given by the World Health Organization, healthy adults can consume a small amount of aluminum without harm. There are precautions you can take to reduce how much aluminum makes its way from the cookware into your food.
- Avoid using pitted pots and pans.
- Do not use abrasive sponges or cooking utensils that damage the surface of your cookware.
- Do not store food in aluminum cookware for prolonged periods of time, especially leftovers.
Leafy vegetables and acidic foods (such as tomatoes and citrus) absorb the most aluminum from cookware.
A note about anodized aluminum: You may have heard about this alternative to standard aluminum. While the process to create an anodized coating does make aluminum cookware less reactive, this coating can eventually wear off.
Are you trying to eat healthier? Read my recommendation on the best spiralizer that offers a fun twist on prepping veggies for salads and stir fry!
What are good alternatives to aluminum?
While it’s unlikely the aluminum core of your stainless steel cookware will seep into your cooking, repeated use over years will wear away the steel. This could expose your food to the aluminum. Negligent cleaning, by way of steel scrubbers, will do this. So, what are the best pieces of stainless steel cookware that you can use instead?
Avoid damaging your pans by cleaning them with the best sponges for stainless steel cookware.
One option is copper core stainless steel cookware. Copper offers a similar level of thermal conductivity to aluminum, making it a viable alternative. One factor to consider regarding the healthfulness of copper cookware is that copper can also leach into the food.
According to studies, the average adult should limit their copper intake to 900 micrograms daily. It is possible to exceed this amount if you’re consuming a lot of food or beverages prepared in copper pots and pans.
There are many excellent copper-based stainless steel cookware products on the market. Let’s take a look at a few of the most popular brands.
All-Clad is known for its quality cookware, which is sold individually and as sets in varying sizes. Their 10-piece set includes an 8-inch and 10-inch frying pan, 2-quart and 3-quart sized saucepans, a 3-quart sauté pan, an 8-quart stockpot, and 4 lids.
All pieces contain 5-ply bonded layers of stainless steel and copper, which allows for even heating. While there are aluminum layers sandwiched inside, the stainless steel exterior will prevent it from mixing with your foods, making it a safer alternative.
I recommend hand-washing this superior set of pots and pans to avoid water spots and potential damage. All-Clad has a lifetime warranty against defects, making this a sensible, quality purchase that won’t need replacing.
Ozeri 10-inch stainless steel pan
Ozeri uses an 18/8 stainless steel body with the longest lasting PFOA and apeo-free nonstick coating to keep your pan looking brand new and your food from sticking to the surface. The magnetized base conducts the heat rapidly and evenly for a smooth cooking experience.
These commercial grade products can withstand temperatures of up to 500°F and are suitable for gas, electric, or ceramic stovetops. They are also oven-safe!
Are you cooking on high heat? Check out some great oven mitts here!
You can also find stainless steel cookware that uses neither copper nor aluminum. These are highly recommended by professional chefs but can be hard to come by. The two grades in the ‘300 series’ used for pots and pans are 304 and 316. While the difference between these two grades is minimal, 316 contains a small percentage of molybdenum or titanium. This cookware is more expensive but is also more corrosion-resistant.
The 316 grade is known as marine stainless steel and resists salt water erosion. Another name for this superior grade is surgical steel, as it’s used in the medical industry. If you can afford it, get a 316-grade pot. They have a high resistance to erosion and leaching of chromium or nickel. The base of all 316-grade cookware is normally stamped with 18/10.
Chantal SLIN-9 Induction Set
The Chantal cooking set comes with nine pieces; two saucepans with lids, skillet, a casserole dish with lid, and a stockpot with lid. The lids are made with tempered-glass so you can easily see the progress your food is making.
Copper is melted inside of the steel for added heat conductivity and titanium to help improve the strength of the pans. They are oven and broiler safe (does not include the lids) and can be used on induction stovetops.
Ozeri Stainless Steel All-in-One Sauce Pan
Perfect for everyday use, the Ozeri stainless steel pan is an excellent pickup if you need something versatile for your kitchen. It is a tri-ply pan with a non-stick surface and has a 5.3-quart capacity, making it perfect for nearly any meal you find yourself cooking.
There is no aluminum or copper in the pan, instead, it utilizes a magnetic bottom to conduct heat throughout the pan quickly and evenly.
Because this pan has a non-stick surface, you absolutely should not put this in the oven – EVER. With that said this pan is perfect for almost any meal and you will definitely get your money’s worth with this product. Add the beautiful stainless steel finish, this is a home run of a pot.
Cuisinart Chef’s Classic
Cuisinart’s Chef’s Classic cookware sets are made of heavy-duty, premium stainless steel. Safe for temperatures up to 500°F, the pieces in this set can be used on the stovetop (gas, electric, glass ceramic and halogen), in the oven, or under a broiler, and is freezer safe.
The 11-piece set includes 1, 2, and 3-quart saucepans with covers, a 3 quart saute with helper handle and cover, an 8-quart stockpot with cover, an 8-inch non-stick skillet, a 10-inch skillet with cover, and an 18 cm steamer insert.
Unlike Cuisinart’s Multiclad Pro line, which features 3-ply construction, the body of the Chef’s Classic pots and pans are entirely stainless. The aluminum core is encapsulated deep inside the base of the cookware, far away from your food.
If you’re using the skillet in this set to fry up anything, make sure you grab a good splatter screen too.
Alternatives to stainless steel
It’s difficult to find stainless steel pots and pans without added aluminum. If you still have concerns about the healthfulness of your kitchenware, consider switching to ceramics. Learn more about ceramic cookware by clicking this link.
Ceramic options available
GreenLife Soft Grip 7″ and 10″ Frypan Set
Add a splash of color to your kitchen decor with this frypan set that comes in either turquoise or red (odd considering the name of the company is Green Life). The ceramic coating keeps food from sticking to the surface, making clean-up impossibly easy.
The soft grip handle is comfortable to grasp and is somehow oven-safe up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Here is the issue I have with this set. Coming as a set of two especially with this price tag, I wonder how long these will stay in good condition. I am a proponent of purchasing high-end cookware to be sure that it last several years, this is not one of those sets.
The ceramic coating will begin to chip and scratch after a few months of use and the aluminum will begin to become exposed. However, it is an excellent piece of equipment for a short-term fix, and it is visually pleasing as well.
Calphalon 11 Piece Ceramic Set
The durability of cookware is the number one priority when purchasing a cooking set, and Calphalon is one of the few companies that deliver durable cookware every time. Best of all, this 11 Piece ceramic set is listed at a generous price.
With this set you’ll get; 8″ and 10″ frypans, 12″ round griddle, 3-quart saute pan w/ lid, 1.5-quart and 2.5-quart saucepans (each with lids), and a 5-quart dutch oven with a lid. Every cooking method you can think of is covered.
Another huge advantage you’ll get with these pieces is the ability to go from stovetop directly to the oven (temperatures up to 400 degrees, would not recommend putting the glass lids in the oven).
There is a downside, of course, these are not dishwasher safe and if you use abrasive sponges the ceramic coating will scratch, diminishing its non-stick quality. Cleaning these can be a tad bit tedious if you allow food to get stuck on the bottom of the pan.
Cast iron options
You might also want to try cooking with cast iron, instead. Cast iron is safe, durable, and even has health benefits!
Royal Dutch Cast Iron 11 Piece Box Set
Cast iron will always be an excellent alternative to stainless steel. It is nearly indestructible and if you take care of it you’ll be using it for decades.
This box set includes a 12″ skillet, 4.5-quart dutch oven, 2.5-quart saucepan, and a heavy-duty griddle. You’ll also get a few metal tools and a wooden carrying box for the set.
Our top choice
The All-Clad copper core set in an easy winner in our eyes. All-Clad consistently releases incredible cookware and the Copper Core 5-Ply set may be the best yet. Copper is an incredible heat conductor and isn’t susceptible to warping, plus the thin copper ring around the pans make it a handsome set to showcase.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do any of the lids of the All-Clad pots and pans get hot?
Yes, all the lids of our cookware will get hot. This is because All-clad is nothing but high quality and does not include any plastic or rubber coating on the sides of the pots and pans. All you need is a kitchen towel to pick up these lids. They shouldn’t be scorching hot but do not offer any sort of “cool feature” functions.
Does the Ozeri 10-inch stainless steel pan come with any sort of warranty?
Yes, all Ozeri products come with a lifetime warranty. This warranty does come with certain conditions and is what you would call a limited lifetime warranty. Any damage that you cause to it, even by accident will not be covered. If the pan is not properly maintained you are not covered. This warranty basically covers you if Ozeri has done something to not manufacture the product to a high quality and starts to deteriorate or break.
Does the Chantal SLIN-9 Induction Set handles get hot?
The short answer is no. The handles of the Chantal SLIN-9 Induction cookware set do not get hot. Chantal has implemented some stay-cool handles in their cookware. The handles may get warm when cooking on high temperatures, but you should be able to easily grab them with your bare hands. This can make grabbing and moving your hot pots and pans simultaneously more comfortable and efficient!
Is the bottom of the Ozeri Stainless Steel All-in-One Sauce Pan completely flat and smooth?
Yes, the bottom of the Ozeri Stainless Steel All-in-One Sauce Pan is completely flat and smooth. Ozeri purposely designs its cookware with a smooth bottom to allow the user to cook with this saucepan on all types of stoves. Including ceramic, gas and electric. If for some reason you are not able to cook effectively or evenly on your stove, Ozeri provides a warranty for all their products to compensate you.
Do the handles on the side or lids on the top of the Cuisinart 77-11G Chef’s Classic Stainless 11-Piece Cookware Set get very hot?
The lids on top will definitely get quite hot when boiling or cooking something on a high temperature. You will likely need to use a kitchen towel or pot holder to make sure you don’t hurt your hand. The handle or handles on the sides of the cookware should not get very hot. They are designed with a Cool Grip Helper Handle which should make it so you can use your bare hands to pick up the pots and pans with ease. The handles will likely not be a cool temperature as the name suggests. They will likely be a warm temperature, not piping hot and your hands will not get burned!
Can I use metal objects or utensils in the GreenLife Soft Grip 7″ and 10″ Frypan Set?
No, you cannot! Any metal object in any sort of nonstick cookware is asking for trouble. Metal is like kryptonite to these nonstick frying pans! Using metal will chip away at this nonstick coating, causing it to scratch its nonstick surface and become a lot less effective for cooking. Also, there’s the risk of chipping away at this nonstick surface and bits of it going into the food you are cooking and then you could be ingesting this material. I would probably not want to eat bits of a frying pan.
Do the pots and pans stack or nest neatly without chipping or scratching for the Calphalon 11 Piece Classic Ceramic Nonstick Cookware Set?
Yes, you can stack and or nest the pots and pans. This can make storing this cookware set in any size kitchen really easy! If you would like to be extra careful you can turn the lids upside down and stack the pots on top this way. This gives you zero chance of any sort of scratching or damage to the cookware’s nonstick surface, as the pots and pans are not directly touching each other.
Is the Royal Dutch Cast Iron 11 Piece Box Set pots and pans dishwasher safe?
I would highly advise not putting anything of cast iron into the dishwasher. These items all come pre-seasoned for you to be able to use right away, using 100% organic vegetable oil. By soaking these items in water or putting them in the dishwasher you strip all this seasoning away and any flavor that may have been on and ready for your next cook. Also washing in this way could potentially cause rusting of the cookware. Simply wash these lightly by hand and dry immediately.
Be aware of what you’re eating!
Healthy cooking isn’t just about the food. It’s important to do a little research before purchasing the cookware in which you prepare it. There are a lot of great pieces on the market, but you may wish to avoid ones that contain aluminum. It’s worth spending the extra money for peace of mind and the longevity of a quality product.
Protect your All-Clad stainless steel cookware. Follow my handy tips to keep your cookware in tip-top shape.
For great healthy ideas on how to use your aluminum-free cookware, check out this post on how to prepare Brussels sprouts. You might also like these articles on pizza cooked in a cast iron skillet and my recipe for pan-fried walleye fillets.