Cast Iron is all the craze now. They are the original nonstick. However, no matter how you, it can never rival nonstick cookware. Traditional nonstick pans has the teflon painted on. But Hard Anodized Nonstick Cookware uses a electrochemical process to bond teflon. As a result, the nonstick coating is more durable than traditional teflon. Not only that, hard anodized cookware tend to be made of a higher standard than your typical nonstick.
Hard-Anodized vs Non-Stick
The main difference between these two is how the nonstick is applied. As stated before, Nonstick cookware has the teflon painted on. Higher Quality version has three layers painted on. They are more durable but generally loses to hard anodized in terms of durability.
What is Hard Anodized Cookware?
Hard Anodized is made by inducing a rust via a electrochemical process. As the rust forms, pores open up allowing it to be painted. This process is known as anodizing. Its during this step that manufacturer apply the teflon coating to it. They then apply a sealent to close the pore and lock in the coating. The video below explains it better.
In terms of nonstick performance, there isnt much of a difference. Both will perform just about the same.
Hard Anodized cookware also tend to weight more. This means that it can store more heat, giving you better searing performance. The downside to hard anodized cookware is the additional cost that it commands. But if you can afford it, the price is worth it.
Hard Anodized vs Ceramic
Ceramic is another form of nonstick. Instead of using teflon, they use a ceramic base nonstick. Ceramic Cookware can withstand higher temperature often being advertised as temperature safe of 600 degree Fahrenheit plus. The problem with ceramic is its ductility and as a result durability. As the pans expands and contract, tiny fissures or crack with start forming on the surface. These cracks are not noticeable to the naked eye, but it is evident through its performance. You will notice this degradation in performance at the 6 month to a year mark. Where as your typical hard anodized nonstick will last 2-3 year if not more.
Hard Anodized Cookware Disadvantage
Compare to a regular nonstick pan, there is not much disadvantage other than cost. They are heavier, more durable and generally perform better. If I have a choice between the two, I will pick the anodize version each time.
Hard Anodized vs Stainless Steel Cookware
Some might question how hard anodize cookware perform compare to stainless steel. Stainless Steel Cookware are better for searing. Not because the metal is better, but rather how it reacts with food. With a nonstick cookware, nothing sticks, this means it doesnt latch onto the food as well. You can usually overcome this by using a cast iron press.
Another reason why it sears better is the metal itself. Since the contact area of hard anodize nonstick is teflon (Plastic), the thermal conductivity is not as effective. Sometimes manufacturer will add quartz crystal to try and improve it. But its still not as good as pure metal.
I would say for things like stir frys, noodles or any application where sticking is an issue, hard anodized cookware is better. But for searing, your best bet is with stainless steel. They are usually heavier as well.
The main thing you have to worry about is overheating the pan. If the pan reaches temperature of over 500 degree Fahrenheit, not only will the pan deteriorate, it will also start releasing fumes. For humans, you might experience coughing system but for small animals such as bird, they can die. This phenomenon is known as Teflon Flu.
You can temper the pan by always adding oil before heating the pan. The oil will act as a heat regulator for the pan. If you see smoke start coming from the oil, that means that its over heated. Food also acts as a good heat regulator. Its never a good idea to heat an empty pan.
Nonstick Coating Flaking
Overtime, the nonstick will start to deteriorate. When that happens, flakes of nonstick will start to come off. In these situation, its best to replace it. However, if you want, you can still use it. Teflon coating is chemically inert. They will past through your stomach without any ill effect.
Cleaning and Care
The best way to extend the life of your Hard Anodized Cookware is take care of it. Do not use metal utensils and when you wash it, use a sponge. Remember to avoid over heating the pan. That is the main cause of deterioration. With proper care, it should last around 2 or 3 years.
Best Hard Anodized Nonstick Cookware List
Below, you will find a list of some of the Best Hard Anodized Nonstick Cookware. There are a few options available, they all have their own quirks. Choose one that best suits you.
Calphalon Premier Space Saving Hard Anodized Nonstick Cookware Set (Best Overall)
Calphalon is a American manufacturer of nonstick cookware. Their space saving set is made in USA and is one of the most durable. Whats best about this set is that you can save space by stacking it on top of the another. How it works is via lids and notches. This is best for homes with limited space. This model is oven safe up to 450 degree Fahrenheit. One of the highest for nonstick cookware.
T-fal Ultimate Hard Anodized Nonstick 12 Piece (Best Buy)
While Calphalon is great, its also expensive. Thankfully T-Fal is a good alternative. They are one of the oldest nonstick cookware around so you can be assure of their quality. While it might not have the fit and finish of the better brand, it will cook just as well. Since its so affordable, you dont have to worry about it when it breaks. Its cheap to replace.
Rachael Ray Cucina Hard Anodized Nonstick Cookware Pots and Pans
If you’re a fan or Rachel Ray and just want a set by her, this is the way to go. Its durable and work just as well. The handle is also comfortable and wont get hot on the stove. Its not necessarily better than T-Fal, its just a good alternative. The extra utensil are just extra, they’re not that great.
Hard Anodized Nonstick Cookware are more durable and perform better than traditional nonstick. There are many options on the market, the best is the one by Calphalon. You can save space and its made in the USA. However, its also expensive. Thankfully, T-Fal makes a good affordable alternative. They perform just as well and you can expect a lifespan of 2-3 years. Rachel Ray anodized nonstick is also available if you want another option.
Looking for more American Made Cookware? Check out our article on the Best USA Made Cookware.