Aluminum Cookware vs. Stainless Steel Cookware – Which One is Better?

Aluminum and stainless steel have had a long-standing contest with each other.

They both are high-quality materials, but the question still remains. Which one makes for better cookware?

We must consider how each material can stand up to heat, corrosion, and general cooking use.

In that regard, while aluminum comes close, you’re likely better off with stainless steel.

Strength and Weight

Aluminum and stainless steel have their pros and cons when it comes to strength and weight.

Aluminum Cookware

Overall, aluminum is a bit weaker than stainless steel. However, it’s also a much lighter material to store and use. Aluminum is roughly a third of stainless steel’s weight. 

Because it is a light, soft metal, aluminum cookware usually includes other metals for additional strength. Bronze, copper, and magnesium are common choices.

If you need to cook something fast using a lot of cookware, aluminum might work best. It’s lightweight but durable, so it won’t be a struggle transporting it.

Stainless Steel Cookware

Stainless steel cookware is made out of a combination of tough metals, like nickel, chromium, carbon, and iron. In that case, it’s certainly heavier than aluminum. 

However, if you’re taking things slow and don’t need to use too much cookware at once, stainless steel might work better. 

WINNER: Stainless steel


You may find that aluminum and stainless steel work differently for various sorts of cooking.

Aluminum Cookware

Aluminum is pretty good at standing up to corrosion since it has iron in it. It’s also fire-resistant, so it’s excellent for baking. It comes with a non-stick coating surface made from PTFE coating

However, depending on the food you cook, you could risk acid degrading the aluminum’s protective coating. That can affect the color or flavor of your food.

Many cooks don’t recommend you cook extremely salty or acidic foods with aluminum cookware unless you have anodized the cookware. 

Anodized aluminum cookware is the most widely used type. It’s made from aluminum that goes through an electrochemical process to make it harder and non-stick.

Although anodized aluminum cookware is scratch-resistant as well, it might leach toxins when cooking in high temperatures.

Therefore, foods like vinegar, citruses, tomato sauce, and certain sausages are not suitable for aluminum – anodized or not.

That’s also why you should not wash aluminum cookware in a dishwasher. Dish detergent can damage the non-stick coating, so you’re better off washing it by hand.

Aluminum is more malleable than stainless steel, so extreme heat and chemical reactions can warp it into bad shape. Too much exposure to those things can render the cookware useless.

Stainless Steel Cookware

On the other hand, stainless steel has a few advantages.

Stainless steel has a non-porous surface and has chromium in it. Both these things allow it to resist corrosion better and last longer.

With that tough surface, you can cook a larger variety of foods on it. That includes all the highly salty and acidic foods that aluminum cannot handle.

That said, you still don’t want those kinds of foods to stay on that cookware too long. Any undissolved salt might pit the cookware’s surface.

Lots of salt, high heat, or hard water can leave a chalky white residue or white spots in the pan. This residue creates discoloration in an otherwise quality pot.

Stainless steel is also suitable for searing, browning, or cooking items with a high-fat content or that require higher temperatures.

However, you should probably avoid cooking eggs or lean meats on stainless steel. Without a non-stick surface, the residue from those foods will be hard to clean off.

That said, you can create a temporary non-stick surface using butter, oil, or a cooking spray.

When buying stainless steel, make sure that the top and bottom of the cookware are equally thick. Thin-gauge pans can scorch and wear out much more quickly. 

On top of that, make sure that you’re buying cookware made from food-grade stainless steel and that it doesn’t contain any toxic materials.

Keep in mind that stainless steel cookware is not non-stick since there is no Teflon coating on the cooking surface. 

However, you can make your stainless steel cookware non-stick the same way you season a cast-iron skillet.

Remember that your stainless steel cookware will need a lot more regular cleaning and seasoning if you want to keep it non-stick for a while.

Unlike aluminum, you don’t have to wash stainless steel cookware by hand. Put it in the dishwasher as many times as you need to clean it. 

WINNER: Stainless steel

Conducting Electricity

You couldn’t find two more different conductors of electricity than aluminum and stainless steel.

Aluminum Cookware

For many people, how fast cookware can heat up is a huge deciding factor in purchasing it. 

Aluminum is suitable for cooks who need to cook something fast. Such cooks must use caution, though, since aluminum can heat fast enough to heat the handles too. 

You must also use caution when cooking aluminum at extreme temperatures. It can take the heat okay. But if you leave it too long at high temperatures, aluminum could soften and warp.

That’s why it’s a good idea not to use aluminum cookware on induction stovetops.

Aluminum conducts electricity and heat extremely fast since it’s so thin. That said, you’ll want to use aluminum cookware for low to medium-heat cooking.

Stainless Steel Cookware

Stainless steel does not conduct electricity well.

That’s why you’ll often find stainless steel cookware with copper or aluminum on the bottom to conduct electricity much faster. 

Similar to aluminum, stainless steel needs a little assistance with induction heat.

Some stainless steel cookware has a magnetic base to help distribute heat better and protect from overheating.

Even with all that help, stainless steel can withstand greater temperatures than aluminum. It’s probably the safer alternative if you ever need to broil something. 

Although stainless steel does not conduct heat fast, it will hold it for a long time. If your food has a long cooking time, stainless steel can keep the optimal temperature as long as you need it.

WINNER: Aluminum


Naturally, two materials that weigh differently will have differing costs.

Aluminum Cookware

You might have guessed by now, but aluminum appliances are usually cheaper than stainless steel. 

Aluminum and stainless steel appliances are sometimes similar in price. But because aluminum is lighter in weight, it’s more cost-effective than stainless steel.

Aluminum is suitable for cooks on a budget, though. If you’re just starting out or need to get cookware for one big event, they should work just fine for that too.

Remember that too much heat and too many chemical reactions can eventually warp aluminum cookware. That tends to be the most significant reason aluminum cookware is cheaper.

Stainless Steel Cookware

As previously mentioned, stainless steel cookware resists corrosion and lasts longer than aluminum. These advantages come at a price.

While the higher price could be a deterrent, it may be worth it in the long run.

If you don’t want to regularly replace cookware, you may prefer to pay the higher price for stainless steel.

However, when looking at the flat rate alone, we have a clear winner on price. 

WINNER: Aluminum

Also read: Hard Anodized vs. Stainless Steel Cookware

A Quick Look at Aluminum Cookware (Pros/Cons)

Here’s a quick lowdown of the pros and cons of using aluminum cookware


  • Heats and cools quite fast
  • Great for cooks on a budget
  • Lightweight for moving different cookware around
  • Non-stick coating surface makes it easy to handle
  • Available in various designs


  • Can heat so fast that the handle gets hot too
  • Can warp under extreme temperatures and induction cooking
  • Not safe for dishwashing

A Quick Look at Stainless Steel Cookware (Pros/Cons)

Now, for the pros and cons of stainless steel cookware.


  • Better balanced with heavier handles
  • Can hold heat longer
  • Can cook more kinds of food than aluminum
  • Safer with more extreme temperatures
  • Usually doesn’t affect food flavor or quality


  • Thin-gauge cookware can wear out quicker
  • It doesn’t distribute heat as well as aluminum
  • Requires seasoning to become non-stick

Aluminum Cookware vs. Stainless Steel Cookware – Which is Better?

Aluminum and stainless steel cookware are both popular materials for cookware for different reasons. So, what’s the verdict?

On the one hand, aluminum is already non-stick in the store. However, stainless steel is much more versatile in what you can cook on it.

Aluminum makes for excellent bakeware, but stainless steel can resist heat better than aluminum.

Stainless steel does not conduct electricity the best, while aluminum can do the job with no problem.

Do you see the problem? They’re both ideal for different things, so it’s hard to definitively say which one is truly superior.

However, if we were to pick a winner, we would go with stainless steel.

Stainless steel may not conduct electricity the best. Still, it will last longer than aluminum and cook more food without affecting the flavor or quality.

It might also take more work to clean and keep the cookware seasoned. At least you won’t have to worry about replacing it every so often or about the cookware softening in high heat.

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Hey there! I'm Sasha, just your regular mom-turned-kitchen-appliances enthusiast. When I gave my kitchen a makeover, I took a shine to new kitchen appliances like Induction Cooktops, Air Fryer, Instant Pot, Microwave, and Oven. I'm always up to some fun experiment, whipping up a storm, and writing about common questions people have about the efficient use of these kitchen gadgets