Nonreactive Cookware 101: How To Use These Pans & Bowls

par HexClad Cookware

HexClad 14 inch wok on table

It’s dinnertime; do you know what you’re making?

We aren’t here to judge; we’re here to talk about your pans. You may not realize the difference a good set of pots and pans makes on your dinner plans, but it may change the flavors of even your best-made dishes.

There have been so many advances in cookware technology that it may be hard to know who or what to trust.

One day you hear that cast iron is the only way to cook. Come to find out, the next day everyone is fawning over the latest and greatest in stainless steel cookware. The next day, your neighbor tells you all about that aluminum cookware set they picked up on Amazon and they would never go back.

You may be confused, but the choice is easy: nonreactive cookware is the way to go.

Today, we want to give you a little lesson on why you need to make the switch to nonreactive cookware and what it will do for your meals.

You’ll notice a difference right away with even the simplest of dishes. It’ll have you wondering how you ever cooked before our HexClad Hybrid Cookware Set was on the market.

Let’s get cooking!

What Does Nonreactive Mean?

Let’s start with the basics. When we say reactive or non-reactive, we mean the way the item responds to various uses. In this case, the way a pot or pan reacts to different cooking techniques and ingredients.

What does this mean?

This means that your ingredients and favorite dishes will cause different reactions when made in different cookware. For example, a stainless steel pan will react differently than a copper pan when making your Coconut Curry Chicken and Sweet Potato recipe.

Why Does This Matter?

If you’re asking yourself why this matters, we understand. It may seem like a good thing that a pan will react to your food, right?


When ingredients (especially acidic ingredients) hit a reactive metal, the response it causes will change the flavor of the dish. Your favorite cranberry or tomato sauce will now have flavor profiles that include metal.

Nonreactivetypes of pans will sauté, sear, and heat food more evenly without leaching any flavor from the pan.

A good example is a cast iron pan. Aside from the fact that managing the cooking surface is a hassle in between uses, what happens when you’re sautéing or searing food?

Well, a cast iron pot, pan, or skillet can conduct high heat for searing or adding flavor from seasoning. However, if the cast iron pan hasn’t been properly seasoned before use, it won’t be as effective at cooking. Not to mention the fact that it takes much longer to heat up and does not feature stay-cool handles, so you will have to be careful when touching a hot cast iron pan.

When Cooking Goes Wrong

There are other problems that can arise from using reactive surfaces.

As mentioned above, acidic ingredients cause reactive pans to impart metallic flavors to your food. Why? When cooking with a reactive surface like a copper pot or aluminum pan, acidic foods create a chemical reaction with the metal.

This reaction causes particles from the pan to chip away from the surface and settle into the food, causing a metallic taste you didn’t intend on.

While using it for quick sears or sautés may not do the same, any sort of cooking technique that requires long-term use like a sauce that needs to simmer will wear out your pan.

What Is Nonreactive Cookware For?

Nonreactive cookware is designed using non-reactive materials that treat acidic foods the same as every other alkaline ingredient in your kitchen. Food will simmer without the risk of metallic flavors on your plate.

Cooking with nonreactive cookware gets you better flavors, but it also means longer-lasting pots and pans. This is especially true if you frequently use highly acidic ingredients like tomatoes, lemon juice, or vinegar in your recipes. When cooked on the wrong surfaces, these ingredients can damage your cookware quickly.

How To Use Nonreactive Cookware

While we said above you can use reactive cookware for quick jobs, anything that requires a long cooking time or acidic foods should be avoided.

Ingredients like cranberry, rhubarb, tomatoes, or berries won’t be bothered by (or bother) a nonreactive cookware surface. You can make any tart, curd, or jam of your dreams without causing metallic flavors or staining pans.

It’s true that you could make these items in your aluminum pans or copper pots, but you will find that these foods chip away at the surfaces over time.

This is why we make the products we make. Your pots and pans should last you years. Of course, the more you cook, the more wear and tear you will see on your pans — but we think this should be a badge of honor.

Trying New Things

Even if you always like to cook, we doubt you’ve tried every cuisine and recipe in the world. Sometimes when we’re trying something for the first time, food burns or sticks to our pans and we lose interest in developing a new technique.

Nonreactive cookware can offer the added benefit of non-stick cookware technology (sometimes without the downsides of non-stick pans and pots).

Our technology, for instance, uses a system of peaks and valleys that heat food and cook food evenly while leaving enough surface area to ensure that food slides from pan to plate with ease.

Nonreactive surfaces really give you a one-size-fits-all approach to your cooking. Cast iron skillets are usually the go-to when needing to go from stovetop to oven — but not anymore.

It’s true that not all pans have this ability, but our pans definitely do. You can sear, sauté and flip your veggies easier because our handles stay cool while the pan heats up.

They also have the added benefit of being able to be put into the oven, so the next time you want to sear a rib eye and then transfer it to the broiler, you can do so with our pans. A lighter and superior option to cast iron cooking.

If you’re ready to try out new dishes, we have an awesome recipe blog that’s just waiting for you to dive in!

Just Ask the Chef

We know you may think us biased when it comes to our cookware, but we know it’s the real deal — and Gordon Ramsay agrees.

He loved our product so much that he became a partner with us. Now you can watch Gordon Ramsay on your favorite shows and cook like him, too. (Curse words not included.)

Bon Appetit!

We are confident that this information about the proper cookware as well as the tips for using nonreactive cookware to replace all other pots and pans will have you trying new techniques and flavors soon.

Here at HexClad, our goal is to get you feeling confident about every dish and feeling like a Michelin-starred chef in your very own kitchen!



What's a “nonreactive saucepan” and why does it matter? | Edmonton Journal

What's the Deal with Reactive (and Nonreactive) Cookware? | TheKitchn

Acidic foods need nonreactive pans | Fine Cooking

Read more