What Is the Best Cookware for High Heat

Specific dishes require temperatures between 400 and 600 degrees F, usually at the beginning or end of the cooking process. High heat is typically used for browning meat, sautéing vegetables, deep frying, and evaporating liquids to create a thick texture.

High-temperature cooking shouldn’t be the primary cooking technique because too much heat can harm one’s health. High temperatures produce trans fats, which increase the risk of heart disease. However, using a high temperature for a reasonable amount of time will make some foods crispier and more delicious.

If you are cooking a dish that requires high temperatures for a certain period, it is essential to use cookware that can handle high heat. Some types of cookware coatings may contain substances that emit toxic fumes when exposed to high temperatures. Using the wrong cookware also can make the food less tasty and damage the pan over time.

Cookware Materials that Can Handle High Heat

Cast Iron

Since cast iron cookware can withstand high temperatures (up to 650˚ F) without problems regardless of which heat source you use. You can use a cast iron pan for browning, searing, roasting, frying, and baking. It also can be safely used on open fires. Cast iron pans are excellent for cooking at the stove and then finishing meals in the oven. Make sure to use quality oven gloves when handling since cast iron gets very hot and holds heat longer than other cookware. Also, use one of the high-heat oils for seasoning, so you will be able to cook at high temperatures without breaking the layer of seasoning.

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Stainless Steel

When it comes to stainless steel cookware, tolerance to high temperatures depends on the quality of the material and ranges between 400°F and 800°F but most stainless-steel cookware is rated for temperatures up to 500°F. High-quality steel can withstand higher temperatures. When shopping for high-heat stainless-steel pans, look for cookware made from 304, 316, or 430 stainless steel. Also, look for the oven-safe symbol. Avoid stainless steel cookware with plastic or wooden handles, as those parts can’t endure high oven temperatures.

To make a stainless steel pan more non-stick, always pre-heat the pan before putting oil in.

Carbon Steel

Carbon steel is made of 99% iron and 1% carbon. Like cast iron, carbon steel can be used with a variety of heat sources, including open flame or under the broiler. Carbon steel frying pans heat up and cool down quicker than cast iron. This makes them perfect for dishes that require cookware highly responsive to temperature changes. Being lighter than cast iron carbon steel pans are also easier to maneuver on the stove.

Carbon steel can handle temperatures up to 750 degrees Fahrenheit making it ideal for high-heat cooking techniques like browning.

Make sure to preheat your pan before adding food and never put cold food into a carbon steel pan to avoid thermal shock.

Enameled Cast Iron

Enameled Cast Iron has a porcelain coating bonded to a cast iron base. Unlike cast iron which is prone to corrosion and highly reactive to acidic ingredients, enameled cast iron is rust-proof and doesn’t require seasoning. Like bare cast iron, enameled cast iron takes and holds the heat well. These beautiful colorful cookware pieces can be used to serve food from the stove to the table.

Most enameled cast iron cookware pieces are oven safe up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Some manufacturers advertise their enameled cookware to handle temperatures over 900 Degrees Fahrenheit, but 500°F is more real and probably enough for most users’ needs. Before placing cookware in the oven, be aware that some Dutch ovens, pans, and pots may have handles, lids, or knobs that can’t withstand so high heat.

Can Ceramic Cookware Take High Heat?

100% Pure Ceramic Cookware such as Xtrema pans can withstand very high temperatures that you would never need for cooking. But pure ceramic cookware is not a great heat conductor and can be prone to thermal shock. This cookware became popular due to the lack of a metal base which is associated with leaching issues.

Ceramic-coated cookware is constructed with some sort of metal (anodized aluminum or stainless steel) coated with a layer of ceramic. Ceramic non-stick coatings are typically made of material derived from sand. Most ceramic coatings can withstand heat up to 400 – 450 degrees F and are typically suitable for frying, sautéing, and braising.

The heat resistance of a nonstick ceramic pan depends on the technology used in the manufacturing process. Older ceramic pans have a thin, short-lasting coating. Exposure to temperatures over 500 F doesn’t release harmful fumes but may decompose the coating and reduce its non-stick properties.

old ceramic-coated pan

The newer and more expensive non-stick cookware has more layers of finish for greater durability and can withstand up to 600 ˚F.

Some exemplars include

  1. The Thermolon™ ceramic non-stick coating is made using Sol-Gel technology. The mineral-based gel is sprayed onto the metal base and then fired at a high temperature to form a wear-resistant and heat-resistant finish.
  2. Blue Diamond cookware has a forged aluminum body and diamond-infused Thermolon non-stick coating. These components promise excellent heat conductivity and a durable non-stick finish. Blue Diamond Cookware Diamond Infused Ceramic Nonstick Frying Pan is advertised to be oven and broiler safe up to 600°F.

Can Non-Stick Pans Handle High Heat?

Cooking over high heat in non-stick cookware should be avoided for two reasons. First, the higher temperatures can speed up the degrading of the nonstick coating over time. Another reason is that some components used in the traditional non-stick coating can release potentially toxic vapors when exposed to very high temperatures.

The non-stick coating is meant for low and medium-heat cooking, and this is also a good way to prolong the life of your non-stick cookware.

What Cookware to Avoid for High Heat Cooking?

Some cookware is not suited for high cooking, including traditional non-stick pans. Teflon coating may contain a chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) that was used to manufacture Teflon until 2013. Older Teflon coatings break down at 500 degrees f releasing toxic fumes. Health risks associated with overheating Teflon include breathing difficulty, fever, and sore throat. Today, all Teflon products are PFOA-free but some other substances in Teflon coating (PFAs) are not considered completely safe.

The Takeaway

If seasoning is your cup of tea, cast iron and carbon steel cookware will be very reliable options for high-temperature cooking. If you prefer more attractive cookware or want to skip a seasoning step, enameled cast iron or quality ceramic-coated cookware are also acceptable choices for high-heat cooking methods.


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