Can your trusty stainless steel pans and pots withstand the heat of the oven?
It’s a question that’s crossed the mind of every home cook at some point. And with good reason! After all, who wants to risk damaging their beloved cookware, or worse yet, their oven?
But there’s no need to worry, because we’ve got your back. We’ve done the due diligence and put together this guide to help you read up on the facts, so you can make up your mind and get back to what you love the most—cooking!
Is Stainless Steel Cookware Oven-Safe?
Generally, stainless steel cookware is safe to use in the oven at temperatures of up to 550-600°F. However, this may not apply to all types of cookware. Pans and pots with non-steel handles or glass lids may only be suitable for oven use at lower temperatures, and some may not be suitable at all.
Before placing your stainless steel pan or pot in the oven, ask yourself:
- Is the pan’s cooking surface non-stick?
- Are the pan’s or pot’s handles made entirely of metal?
- If you’re planning on using the pan or pot with the lid, is the lid made entirely of metal?
If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” it’s a good idea to refer to the use and care guide for your cookware before placing it in the oven to avoid any potential damage or hazards.
For example, non-stick cookware should never be heated to more than 450-500°F. If heated beyond this temperature, the polytetrafluoroethylene coating will overheat and outgas toxic fumes, causing polymer fume fever. The coating may also damage permanently and begin to peel off.
If your pans and pots have lids with plastic or tempered glass, or handles containing bakelite or silicone, they may still be oven-safe, but the temperature threshold may be lower than for all-metal cookware.
The threshold varies from product and product and from brand to brand, so always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for guidance.
How This Works in Practice: A Personal Example
To give you an idea of how this works in practice, let’s take a look at two frying pans and a pot in my own kitchen.
I have a 12-inch All-Clad D3 stainless steel frying pan with a stainless-steel handle. According to the user manual, this pan can withstand oven temperatures of up to 600°F. However, it says that extended exposure to temperatures above 500°F can cause the steel to change color without affecting its durability or performance.
In addition to the All-Clad pan, I have an IKEA SENSUELL frying pan that I purchased specifically for its tall sides, which make it easy to prepare sauces. This particular pan features a handle with a silicone underside, which is labeled as oven-safe. However, because of the silicone underside, I would never put it under the broiler or in a very hot oven, especially for a long period of time.
Finally, I have a cheap, store-brand pot with a tempered glass lid. The manufacturer says it can safely go in the oven at temperatures of up to 450°F, but without the lid. Since I don’t want to damage the lid’s handle or crack its glass in the oven, I am inclined to listen.
Let’s talk about another piece of cookware in my collection—a cheap, store-brand pot with a tempered glass lid. According to the manufacturer, the pot can withstand temperatures of up to 450°F in the oven, but only without the lid. As a cautious cook who doesn’t want to risk melting the plastic handle or cracking the glass lid, I’ll take their word for it.
Better safe than sorry, right?
Tips to Prevent Your Pans And Pots From Warping in the Oven
Before you use your stainless steel pans and pots in the oven, be aware that there’s always a risk of warping. This can occur when the metal in the cookware expands or contracts too quickly due to sudden temperature changes, called thermal shock.
When a stainless steel pan warps, it can cause the cooking vessel to spin on glass cooktops and heat unevenly, resulting in food that’s burned on one end and undercooked on the other. And if warping does occur, it is often permanent.
To avoid this, take care when using your cookware in the oven and avoid sudden changes in temperature.
A helpful tip to prevent your cookware from warping is to take precautions when removing it from the oven. Instead of placing it directly on a cold surface like a countertop or cutting board, try placing it on a cooling rack.
It’s also important to wait for your stainless steel cookware to cool down completely before running it under water to clean it. Rapidly exposing hot cookware to cold water is almost guaranteed to cause it to warp. Handle your pans and pots with the Tender Loving Care they need to ensure that they remain in good condition for decades to come.
Tips to Make Clean-Up After Use in the Oven Easier
Stainless steel cookware may take a bit of time to heat up. But once it gets there, it retains the heat for a really, really long time. While cooking in the oven, this can lead to oil splatters or liquids from foods baking onto the pan’s bottom and sides, and creating stubborn stains that are difficult to remove.
A useful tip to avoid the hassle of cleaning baked-on stains from stainless steel cookware is to wrap the interior of the pan or pot with aluminum foil before use. This way, any oil or liquid splatters will bake onto the foil instead of the cookware, making cleanup much easier and less time-consuming.
Give it a try and see just how much elbow grease you can save!
Absolutely yes, stainless steel pans and pots are safe to use in the oven. However, it’s important to those with non-metal handles or lids made of bakelite, silicone, or tempered glass may have lower maximum operating temperatures or may not be oven-safe at all.
To avoid damaging your beloved stainless steel cookware (or your oven), it’s always best to refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for your specific make and model.
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