Use Science To Buy Better Cookware

The folks at CHOW and Modernist Cuisine tested and developed software to test heat conduction through different types of saucepans so you don't have to, and the results are actually surprising. Before reaching for that expensive copper saucepan, think twice: a more affordable but thicker steel saucepan is a better buy.

Modernist Cuisine's Scott Heimendinger explains why above, but the lowdown is this: copper saucepans transmit heat from the burner to your food faster. But when it comes to even cooking and maintaining regular heating without hot spots around your saucepan, it's the thickness of your saucepan — not its material — that matters most. A thicker steel or aluminium saucepan will do a much better job than a copper one, which are usually thinner.

Scott goes on to explain the delicate dance between conduction (heat transfer from the burner to the saucepan) and convection (heat loss to the air) in the video above. He even offers up a bonus tip to keep your saucepan extra hot and even: visit a metal shop and get an aluminium block to put over your burner. If that's too much for you, just reach for a thicker stainless steel or non-stick saucepan. Your food will thank you.

The Science-y Way to Shop for Pans [CHOW]


    We don't need science all pans jut need a red dot in the middle that tells you when it's hot. Thanks Jamie Oliver and tefal.

    Or preferably a heavy copper base pan...
    That'll give you better temperature control and as per the post, the thickness will spread the heat.

    You buy a Scanpan once, then you're done.

      What this guy says. Like with knives and other kitchen stuff just one or two really good ones will do. Find the biggest pan that will fit on your cook top that you can use for almost all of your cooking, thereby pooling your funds, and then make it a scanpan. Then buy a nice little one for egg omelets and smaller things, done.

        Agreed - two Global knives (or equivalent) and a big scanpan.

      I've had a couple of ScanPans. They're great at first, but they don't seem to last more than about 3-4 years (I know others with the same experience). I switched to using either heavy based stainless steel or cast iron pans. Not as fancy, but great pans and without the marketing tax applied to them.

    Even heating is only one aspect of performance. The ability of a copper pan/pot to heat up or cool down quickly is very important. Most critical to the quality of the final product is the need to have the pan cool quickly when the food has finished cooking and the pan/pot is taken off the stove. Thicker heavy based pans can result in food cooking for considerably longer periods after being taken off the heat.

    I have always preferred cooking with a nice thick stainless steel pan, but the other day I found a good workaround to needing a more even heat... i popped a pizza tray under the pot. Worked very well to spread the heat out and allow me a slower simmer without burning.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now