Aluminum is one of the most common metal used in Cookware. They are light, cheap and effective. Its actually one of the best affordable heat conducting metal on the market. Much better than cast iron and stainless steel. However, the downside to pure aluminum pans is that they are reactive. When exposed to acidic food, it can leave a metallic taste. Having said that, there are many ways manufacturer get around this. The Best Aluminum Pans are those who uses a thicker gauge of metal with comfortable and easy to use handle.
Why is Aluminum Good for Cookware
The main reason why Aluminum is good is because of its thermal properties. When compared to metal like cast iron, it gets hot faster and more evenly. Another positive is that its very cost effective compared to lets say copper. This lets manufacturer mass produce cookware for the masses. This is why you see so many affordable cookware on the market.
Having said that, manufacturer do try to skimp on cost. In order to save money, a lot of them try to make it as thin as possible. While they do work, thin cookware cannot hold onto heat well. When you drop cold food in, the pan will get cold fast. Instead of frying, the food will then start steaming.
When buying aluminum cookware, look for those that are thick. The thicker it is, the better it will perform. Aluminum pans that are casted are better. Manufacturer can dictate how thick it is. With stamped pans, like a lot of the nonstick variants, all they do is stamp a sheet of aluminum. Using sheets that are too thick can damage the machine and increase overall cost.
What about Disposable Aluminum Pan
Disposable Aluminum pan are most used for baking. In this case, the heat surrounds the food. Having thick and heavy baking sheets is not a necessity. Since they are made to be disposed, warping is not another consideration either.
Downsides to Aluminum
There are a few issues with Aluminum, the main thing being its reactive nature. If you cook acidic food, it can give off a metallic taste. To combat this, manufacturer will line it with teflon to prevent this. However, these coating actually degrade the heat properties of the pan. Pure Aluminum pan actually perform better than those with a coating. The plastic teflon actually degrade the rate of heat transferred.
Another fear of Aluminum pans is aluminum leaching. A lot of this fear is unfounded. The amount of aluminum that can be leached into food is negligible. You are unlikely to consume an amount that can cause damage to your health. In fact, most commercial kitchen use pure aluminum cookware.
Cleaning Aluminum Pans
Cleaning Aluminum pans should always be done by hand. This is especially true if you have pure aluminum cookware. The shiny outer layer can easily be stripped leaving a powdery exterior. Using harsh chemical can result in the same thing. The metal will become grey and dingy.
Another thing you should be aware of is the black tar you see on some pans. This is more common in professional kitchen then the home setting. That black tar is baked on grease. Its the same type of seasoning that you see on cast iron cookware. While it might look bad, it does improve the performance of the cookware.
Aluminum Pan for Baking
Aluminum Pan is a industry standard for baking. Most baking sheet uses a simple aluminum construction for their pan. They conduct heat well and its cheap. However, a lot of them are made on the thinner side. What happens is that a lot of them will warp. Finding commercial quality Aluminum Baking Pan will help reduce this effect.
Best Aluminum Pans for Cooking and Baking
Below, you will find a list of the best Aluminum Pans for Cooking and Baking. There are a few models avaialble, choose one that best suits you.
Tramontina 80114/535DS Professional Aluminum Nonstick Restaurant Fry Pan (Best for Frying and Cooking
Tramontina is a South American Based cookware manufacturer. Their cookware is durable and performs well at an affordable price. If you can look past the brand name, they will perform just as well as the higher end cookware. This model is designed to be used in a professional kitchen, so the thickness is quite substantial. Another thing to consider is that this pan is made in the USA. So even though they are based in South America, it was made with American Labor.
Nordic Ware Natural Aluminum Commercial Baker’s Half Sheet Pan (Best Aluminum Pan for Baking)
For a Half Sheet Pan, go for Nordic Ware. Their product is made in America and it uses a thicker gauge of steel. While it not impervious to warping, its still better than others. These pans can be both used in Commercial and Home use.
Aluminum Pans 9×13 Disposable Foil Pans (30 Pack) (Best Disposable Aluminum Pan)
For serving guest or just bringing stuff to people, getting disposable pans might be the best choice. Most disposable units are made the same and one brand isnt necessarily better than the other. I found this brand is affordable and great value for your money.
Aluminum pans are used in many area of cookware. The most common one are the nonstick cookware. They are usually coated in Teflon so that it wont react with acidic food. Another area is aluminum pans for baking. The thicker heavier one works the best. They resist warping and hold heat better. I find that Nordic ware makes good version. For disposable aluminum tray, just gets one that is affordable. They all work relatively well. Once youre done, just toss it.
Looking for more cookware? Check out our article on the Best Induction Cookware Set.