Titanium cookware is taking the market by storm and truly revolutionizing the non-stick and stainless steel cookware game. It seems that absolutely everyone is making titanium cookware these days, and for good reason. It’s stronger, lighter and more resilient.
As with any new kitchen cookware trend, there will be questions about best practices, advantages and disadvantages, and of course, safety concerns. On the whole, I’m a very big fan of titanium cookware, and think it's definitely worth getting to know.
Here is titanium cookware, a complete guide.
What is titanium cookware?
“Titanium cookware” refers to both titanium reinforced non-stick pans and stainless steel cookware strengthened with titanium. In both cases, titanium imparts the cookware with added strength and protection against corrosion.
Titanium is known for its lustrous silver color, relative low density and high strength. It’s also incredibly resistant to corrosion, even in the presence of salt, which makes it an ideal material for kitchen applications.
But titanium is perhaps best known for its incredibly high strength-to-density ratio, the highest of any metal. The great thing about a high strength-to-density ratio is that you get incredible strength and rigidity at a relatively low weight - this is the true value of titanium.
Titanium can be used alone, but in kitchen cookware it is most often alloyed to other metals like iron, aluminum and stainless steel. Of course, this stronger, lightweight alloy is found in a myriad of other applications beyond cookware, like fighter jets, surgical instruments, and high priced golf clubs.
Given its lightness and durability, it should come as no surprise that titanium is beginning to be utilized to maximum effect in the cookware industry. But remember, titanium isn’t the principal ingredient in a lot of cookware - that remains aluminum and stainless steel.
Rather, titanium should be thought of as the “icing on the cake” material that gets incorporated into stainless steel and aluminum cookware, increasing strength and durability.
Is titanium cookware good?
Titanium is a fantastic material that adds strength and resiliency to cookware products. That said, the cookware will only be as good as the underlying materials to which titanium has been added, usually aluminum or stainless steel.
What I mean to say here is that in order to evaluate titanium cookware, we need to first think of titanium as an additive component. Titanium can be incorporated into cookware such that it will improve the performance of a pan, but won’t alter its underlying quality.
Titanium is great, but it can do so much if the quality of the pan itself is below average. That’s why in evaluating titanium cookware, it’s important to take a close look at the company making the pans, their history and track record, and of course, customer reviews. I would strongly caution you against buying a pan just because it is advertised as containing titanium.Of course, there are some truly excellent titanium-reinforced cookware sets out there. For examples of high quality titanium cookware, here is a list of the absolute best titanium cookware on the market.
Is titanium cookware nonstick?
In short, some titanium cookware is non-stick, while some is not. This will depend primarily on whether the titanium is used to reinforce an existing non-stick coating, or as an additive to strengthen stainless steel.
In the case of the former - titanium added to a surface layer - the cookware may be considered fully non-stick in the traditional sense. In the latter case - titanium included as an admixture of stainless steel - it is not.
Of course, stainless steel pans that lack a non-stick layer can still perform very well and be manipulated to have non-stick qualities. For tips on the best way to use a titanium-reinforced pan, see below.
Is titanium cookware safe?
Titanium cookware is typically very safe, especially when compared to other non-stick cookware sets that contain Teflon, PTFE and other kinds of fluoropolymers. When it comes to cookware, titanium is most often used as an additive to strengthen non-stick coatings, or as a supplemental material to stainless steel.
Titanium in itself is safe - that’s why it’s used in surgical equipment and internal medicine - but you should always take a close look at what the titanium may be mixed with before making a final evaluation. For example, titanium-strengthened non-stick coatings that contain PTFE may be dangerous.
Though to be fair, that chemical is found less and less in modern cookware. All of the titanium cookware sets that I recommend are 100% Teflon, PTFE and fluoropolymer free, and thus perfectly safe for everyday use.
Does titanium cookware work on induction?
Since the titanium in titanium cookware is typically found in the non-stick coating or as an admixture of stainless steel, it has little bearing on whether or not your cookware will work on an induction range.
Instead, the question you need to ask is: what underlying material is my pan - and specifically, its base - composed of?
Induction ranges conduct heat via electromagnetic pulses and require cookware that can absorb these pulses. Unfortunately, pans made exclusively from aluminum are not conductive, and as a result, they simply won’t heat up - ever.
The easiest way to verify that your pan will work on an induction range is to do the magnet test. Get a magnet and touch it to the bottom of your pan. If it sticks, your pan is good to go for induction.
Another tip - because induction ranges depend on contact with your pan to conduct electricity, it’s also very important that the bottom of your pan be flat. For best results, always avoid warped cookware.
For more on induction and induction compatible pans, see my article on induction ranges, here.
Does titanium cookware leach?
Titanium cookware is exceptionally strong and very unlikely to leach into food, even when heated to high temperatures. In fact, most titanium cookware is up to 10 times less likely to leach as compared to traditional pots and pans.
While titanium leach is quite uncommon, it’s even less likely when cooking on titanium-reinforced stainless steel. For example, Heritage Steel and Hestan both have stainless steel collections that make use of titanium, and these are by far the safest options on the market.
And an added bonus - Heritage Steel is made in the United States and backed by a lifetime warranty. No need to worry about poorly regulated foreign manufacturing or unwanted chemicals here!
How to use titanium cookware
How you use titanium cookware is going to depend on whether you’re working with titanium-reinforced non-stick, or titanium strengthened stainless steel. The former can be used like a standard non-stick pan, the latter like stainless steel.
Let’s start with the first option, titanium-reinforced non-stick cookware. Cooking with titanium-reinforced pans is really a matter of following the same rules you already abide by when cooking on regular non-stick, namely:
- Always let the pan heat up before adding anything to it.
- Once your pan is hot, add your oil - less is more here, and it’s best to use either a neutral cooking oil or butter, or a combination.
- Allow your oil to get hot before adding any food.
- Avoid crowding your pan.
- Food crowding can lower the pan temperature, lead to unwanted moisture retention, and wilted, mushy food.
Now, if you’re working with titanium strengthened stainless steel (i.e., your pans are silver, like normal stainless steel, and lack a non-stick coating), things will be a little different. Stainless steel can be tricky, but once you get the hang of it, they’re kind of addicting and extremely satisfying to cook on.
When cooking on titanium strengthened stainless steel, try to abide by the following rules for best results:
- Let the pan get very hot up before adding anything to it.
- Once your pan is hot, add your oil - as with non-stick, you’ll want to use a neutral oil or butter, or a combination. Use slightly more oil than you would on non-stick, enough to just coat the surface of the pan.
- Let the oil heat - do not add anything to the pan until you can see the oil shimmer.
- Don’t fidget with the food too much. Let your food rest in the pan, giving it a good sear on both sides.
- If the food sticks to your pan, let it cook longer. Once you get an appropriate sear the food will release from the pan naturally.
- Deglaze your pans! Regardless of how slick your pan is, it’s most likely going to accumulate some food bits on the cooking surface. These food bits are technically called “fond,” and the truth is, they’re packed with flavor! You want that in your food, not the garbage.
The best way to make sure that that flavor ends up in your food is by deglazing with a liquid - stock, wine or even water - as you are coming to the end of your dish. If you’re using wine though be careful, you’ll want to give it enough time for the alcohol to burn off before serving
How to care for titanium cookware
Proper care for titanium cookware looks a lot like care for normal non-stick and stainless steel pans. The only difference is that titanium-reinforced non-stick is far less likely to scratch than your average non-stick pan.
Even still, I would advise against beating these things around. Titanium is super strong, but everything has limits (for example, I wouldn’t recommend using titanium cookware over a campfire, as this beast is doing). And the better you care for your titanium cookware, the longer the non-stick surface will remain truly non-stick.
If you want your titanium cookware to have a long life, I would recommend abiding by the following best practices:
How to clean titanium cookware
The best way to clean titanium cookware is when it’s still warm but not hot. Simply rinse the pan under hot water with dish soap, wiping away grease and food debris with a gentle sponge.
Basically, washing your pan when it’s still warm gives you an opportunity to hit those little bits of food debris before they cool down and harden. Tackling your pan when it’s still warm is preferable both because it is easier to clean and less likely to damage any protective, non-stick finish.
One thing to keep in mind - make sure to let your pan cool ever so slightly before rinsing it under water. Never try to wash a pan that’s still too hot to touch with your bare hand. Exposing a piping hot pan to water, and especially cool water, can lead to rapid temperature changes and lead the pan to warp, or even crack.
Although many titanium-strengthened non-stick pans are advertised as dishwasher safe, I would still advise against it. Even titanium non-stick is vulnerable to degradation, and dishwashers tend to accelerate that process.
Finally, when you’ve finished hand washing your titanium cookware, make sure to dry it immediately with a clean towel. This is the absolute best way to preserve the luster of your pans and the integrity of the non-stick coating.
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