Does your cookware contain aluminum? In particular, is the aluminum located where the food can have direct contact with it? If so, you may want to reconsider and replace your kitchenware. Otherwise, you may put yourself and your family at certain risks related to having aluminum in cookware.
But how can you ascertain which cookware is aluminum-free if they all pretty much look the same? With my help, you’ll quickly learn all about the best stainless steel cookware without aluminum.
The ELO 99805 stands above the competition due to its near-perfect combination of performance and aesthetic appeal — making it a worthy choice regardless of what your kitchen looks like. As a 10-piece set, the ELO 9985 is consistent in terms of thermal conduction whether on a gas or induction stove.
Furthermore, ELO 99805 never had problems with food sticking. I’ve prepared pasta, fish, eggs, and all types of meat, none of which stuck to the surface. And unlike other aluminum-free cookware, this is completely safe for cleaning with dishwashers. No pieces left residue on the towels I used to dry them.
Granted, some edges could’ve been smoothed out more, but I have no major qualms about this set of aluminum-free stainless steel cookware. It’s tough, polished, largely ergonomic, and worth the price.
Offering one more pot and lid than the ELO 99805 Skyline set is the 12-piece Heim Concept W-001. It’s a collection of three-layered cookware, which ensures efficient heating while preventing any material leak onto the food. And apart from being safe for dishwasher use, you may use it for your oven up to 550°F.
Moreover, what I like the most about the Heim Concept W-001 is how it’s clearly designed with sauces and stews in mind. While many pots and pans led to liquid falling outside bowls and containers, the food here always landed right where they should — all thanks to the drip-resistant tapered rims.
The Heim Concept W-001 doesn’t look flashy or distinct, but it fulfills what any decent aluminum-free stainless steel cookware should accomplish.
If you don’t want to splurge on non-aluminum stainless steel cookware, why not try a single cooking pan? I wasn’t initially impressed with the Ozer ZP4-26 given its price tag, but its durability and tri-layer construction changed my opinion. Plus, I love that this pan was made with sustainability in mind.
I tried all three color versions (black, bronze, and stainless steel) for the interior, and I’m impressed: No discoloration or rusting was apparent. Even when I constantly cooked my meals in high heat, the handle never got too hot to touch — and the sides didn’t show any warping whatsoever.
Unfortunately, the non-stick coating failed a few times when I prepared tuna and salmon. But you can’t really go wrong with the Ozeri ZP4-26 if you’re on a budget.
In sheer contrast to the Ozeri ZP4-26 is the Anolon 82693, an 11-piece cookware set that costs around $250 — much more than my first three picks combined. Still, this was clearly cookware made for those willing to splurge: The Anolon 82693 had top-of-the-line hard-anodized coating to stop metal leaching.
This isn’t just a collection of redundant saucepans and pots either. From the grill pan to the saute pan, the Anolon 82693 is meant to be your go-to cookware no matter the dish you’re preparing. I wasn’t a huge fan of only handwashing the cookware, but I recommend it to further prolong its lifespan.
And with five colors to choose from (bronze, graphite, indigo, onyx, and pewter), the Anolon 82693 set should satisfy the visual preferences of any user.
My top picks all had excellent ergonomic features, but perhaps the best aluminum-free stainless steel cookware when it comes to comfort is the T-fal E938SA. The black design may not appeal to everyone and its scratch-resistance could be better, but this cookware has the best handle I’ve tested so far.
Apart from being adequately long, the handles of the T-fal E938SA are wrapped with riveted silicone. This not only gave me a better grip, but I didn’t strain my hands even when I held the cookware for an extended period. The handles aren’t significantly cushiony, but they’re comfortable and never get hot.
Also, I like the heat indicator because I no longer have to put my hands above the interior to check if it’s hot enough. Lastly, the T-fal E938SA doesn’t have a mere one-year warranty — it offers a lifetime limited warranty.
Stainless steel cookware is primarily characterized by its iron-based alloy material. In particular, the alloy has eight kinds of metal. One of these metals is chromium: an essential element for keeping your kitchen utensils both durable and highly resistant against rusting.
At least 16% of the stainless steel for cookware should be made of chromium. This percentage is crucial — it’s the lowest allowable amount for stainless steel to be considered food-grade. This means that you can safely use the cookware not only for preparing food but also for storing and eating them.
Besides, the aforementioned alloy material for stainless steel cookware also has nickel. Like chromium, this element safeguards the product from rusting. But perhaps its most notable function is to provide the clean and polished aesthetic of stainless steel cookware.
If the surface was the only aspect that mattered, stainless steel cookware would easily win by a mile over other types. Stainless steel allows the cookware to achieve a remarkably smooth surface that’s not just a visual benefit: This kind of surface ensures food is evenly cooked — no burnt or undercooked parts.
Since your food gets cooked as intended, you save time and electricity (or gas). Likewise, the surface of a stainless steel variant is always non-porous. It can resist not only leaks but also cracks. Also, it ensures that your food won’t stick to the cookware.
Stainless steel cookware is appealing due to its durability, polished look, and non-porous surface. But it’s also a better option to go for aluminum-free variants. By this, I don’t mean that the cookware shouldn’t have any hint of aluminum whatsoever — the material does have benefits.
You see, stainless steel alone will have problems with thermal conduction. Aluminum helps cookware retain heat and attain consistency in heating your food. Plus, the light and tough characteristics help improve not only the cookware’s ergonomics but also its lifespan.
While aluminum is advantageous for stainless steel cookware, it’s a risk to keep it on the surface section — the part where food comes in contact with the cookware. Why? If you prepare acidic foods like meat, dairy, and grains on your cookware, some aluminum may get into your food.
If you’ve once had meat and thought it had a slight metallic taste to it, that’s probably the aluminum from the cookware surface. Aluminum leaching may also ruin your cookware. Thus, the aluminum should be either located at the bottom or be covered by stainless steel — away from food.
Aluminum and its effects on human health have been studied many times, especially since Alzheimer’s Disease is associated with aluminum intake. Similarly, the aluminum byproduct known as fluoride has been linked to dental fluorosis, bone disease, thyroid problems, and neurological conditions.
Sure, you might be fine with tasting a little bit of metal now and then, but not everyone can afford to be exposed to aluminum — especially if it happens regularly. Plus, it’s wise for any consumer to ensure that their stainless steel cookware won’t be ruined due to constant aluminum leaching during cooking.
The following are the primary factors to consider in buying aluminum-free stainless steel cookware.
Given that stainless steel is unideal for thermal conduction, you’ll need stainless steel cookware with other elements mixed in. And as I’ve mentioned, it’s completely fine to choose aluminum as long it isn’t on the surface — but you may also choose cookware with copper or other materials instead.
The layer will be sandwiched between stainless steel. This allows it to provide optima thermal conduction without ever coming into contact with the food. You may see ply cookware with different numbers.
A tri-ply or 5-ply stainless steel cookware means that three or five layers are present, respectively. Those almost always include stainless steel, copper, and/or aluminum (but in this case, you’ll be avoiding those with aluminum).
While it’s common to think that it’s always better to pick stainless steel cookware with the most number of layers, it’s not always practical or necessary. A tri-ply already has sufficient thermal conduction while a five-play provides more thickness to resist warping and provide better heat distribution.
Lastly, 7-ply stainless steel cookware is often the heaviest and most expensive layered variant. Apart from stainless steel and aluminum or copper, it may also have a magnetic layer. It’s heavy, but it also offers the best in induction cooking.
Examine how the stainless steel cookware feels in your hands. Does it feel too light or is it too heavy to handle for extended periods? You may want to opt-out of cookware that already feels cumbersome even without food on it. Plus, check the handle: Is it comfortable and does it provide a decent grip?
If you’re getting a cookware set, ensure that all the lids have the right dimensions. Otherwise, they may not completely cover the cookware — allowing more heat to escape. Moreover, any parts you have to touch while cooking should be heat-resistant.
As the handles and knobs, you’ll have to choose between easy maintenance and toughness. Some pricey cookware features no rivets to ensure a smooth interior. Welded handles or knobs aren’t as tough as the riveted variants, but they’re harder to clean.
Aluminum-free stainless steel cookware isn’t cheap, even for variants with the least number of layers. If you’re buying any cookware, especially if it’s a set, ask for the warranty and return policy. Some brands offer a lifetime warranty while others have return policies that aren’t clear-cut and confusing for clients.
It will take time to read all the details, but they’re important. You must ensure that the company does provide refunds, replacements, and/or repairs for a decent period.
When it comes to material, you can choose between copper and non-copper stainless steel cookware in place of aluminum-containing variants.
Copper Stainless Steel Cookware
Fortunately, copper possesses the same qualities of aluminum in thermal conduction. Still, ensure that no copper reaches the surface — copper leaching isn’t good either.
Copper intake isn’t necessarily bad for your health. A typical adolescent or adult consuming around 900 micrograms of copper regularly won’t have medical problems associated with either too few or too much copper intake. If you take in more than 10 milligrams a day, you may suffer from copper toxicity.
Here’s a video on copper deficiency:
Non-Copper Stainless Steel Cookware
While you can get non-copper variants that professional cooks prefer, they’re often more expensive than copper-type stainless steel cookware. You can usually find the non-copper 304 and 316 series cookware in stores, and one difference is that the latter has molybdenum or titanium for better rust resistance.
My top choice for the best stainless steel cookware without aluminum is the ELO 99805 Skyline Stainless Steel Cookware. The primary reason for buying aluminum-free cookware is to prevent leaching — and I can attest that the ELO 99805 has accomplished that with every dish I prepared daily.
Admittedly, the pieces of the ELO 99805 aren’t as comprehensive as the 11-piece Anolon 82693, but the latter costs three times more than the former. And that’s another strong argument for the ELO 99805: It works well for a variety of stoves (electric, induction, glass-ceramic, and gas) without being expensive.
Moreover, the ELO 99805 didn’t fail with any of my primary concerns in picking stainless steel cookware without aluminum: It had a warranty and refund policy, provided well-distributed thermal conduction, and its lids adequately covered the interior for efficient cooking. They were all durable and polished.
Overall, the important thing is to know what pieces you need. Not all cookware sets have grill pans and skillets, but not all customers prioritize those items either. Read about the products and take note of the essential factors I mentioned to ensure you’re getting authentic aluminum-free stainless steel cookware.