Granite cookware is an attractive option for the kitchen. It will look great almost anywhere, from a rustic country house to a modern high-tech home. Aside from its appearance, it also has some great advantages as a material that make it a great value-for-money option if you’re in the market for a new set of cookware.
Of course, when buying new cookware it’s important to know that something you’ll be using to prepare your food each day for several years is healthy and not toxic. We’ll take a look at granite cookware, its advantages and disadvantages and whether you can be confident that it is safe to use.
What is Granite Cookware?
First up, you may be surprised to learn that granite cookware doesn’t contain any granite. Rather than describing the material that it’s made from, the name comes from the fact that its speckled appearance resembles granite.
So what is graniteware actually made from? ‘Granite’ pots and pans are actually a type of enamelware made from a stainless-steel, carbon steel or aluminum inner core which is coated with glass. The glass creates a glossy and non-porous porcelain surface.
Granite is a lightweight cookware material that provides a non stick surface without the need for harmful chemicals. As a result, you’ll find these pans in kitchens the world over.
We’ll now take a look at all of the benefits and disadvantages of this material to help you decide if it is the right choice for your next frying pan.
Benefits of Granite Cookware
Non reactive. The porcelain surface of graniteware is inert. Unlike other cookware materials such as cast iron, it doesn’t react with acidic foods during cooking. This means that the taste of your meals will not be affected and you don’t have to worry about damaging your pan’s coating.
Non stick. Perhaps one of the main reasons to invest in granite cookware is that they offer a naturally non stick cooking surface.
PFOA Free. Because the porcelain finish gives graniteware natural non stick qualities, there is no need for manufacturers to use chemicals to achieve the same affect. As a result, granite pots and pans are free from PFOA and usually also free from PTFE. However, you should always check the manufacturer’s information as some granite cookware is still made with PTFE.
Easy to clean. Because they’re non stick, cleaning granite pots and pans after cooking is simple.
No seasoning required. The natural non stick properties of the enamel surface mean that you don’t need to season your pans before using and you can get started right away!
Resistant to rust. The porcelain coating of the pan prevents the metal inner core from rusting. This means that, when well cared for, these pans can last for many years.
Good value. Individual pans and full sets of granite cookware can be bought for very reasonable prices.
Disadvantages of Granite Cookware
Poor heat retention. Because the inner core of granite pots and pans is quite thin, they don’t retain heat as well as cookware made from other materials such as cast iron. This means that they are less economical to use as you need to keep them on a higher heat to maintain cooking temperature. This is less of an issue with high quality pans which use a thicker inner core – however these are likely to be more expensive.
Delicate surface. The enamel surface can be chipped quite easily, exposing the inner core. Whilst you can give cast iron cookware a beating in the kitchen and it will last just fine, damaging granite cookware can very quickly render it unusable.
Not the best for very high temperatures. Unlike stainless steel cookware, granite pots and pans (even when they have a stainless steel core) are not suited for cooking over a very high heat.
Not completely non stick. Whilst the surface of granite cookware provides some non stick qualities, some help is still needed when cooking to prevent food from sticking to the pan. In practice this means that you’ll need to use at least some oil when cooking with granite pots and pans, meaning that it isn’t the healthiest cookware to use.
Is Granite Cookware Safe?
One of the main aspects to consider regarding cookware safety is whether there are any harmful chemicals or other toxic materials such as heavy metals that could leach into your food.
Though granite cookware should always be PFOA free as well as being free of other harmful chemicals, there are some brands that may still use PTFE to enhance the non stick properties of the pan. Whilst PTFE hasn’t been proven to be as harmful as PFOA, there are still various health concerns linked to it – especially when cooking at higher temperatures. If you are concerned about the safety of your cookware, we recommend steering away from any that feature PTFE and instead buy granite pots and pans that is specifically marked as being free from PFOA and PTFE.
Another factor to keep in mind regarding the safety of graniteware is the enamel coating. Whilst the coating is inert and completely safe for cooking when intact, damaging this surface can cause problems. First and foremost, when the enamel is chipped there is a possibility that fragments of it – essentially tiny pieces of broken glass, will end up in your food. This is obviously something you should avoid!
There is unfortunately no way to fix a granite pan with a damaged surface. If your pan is visibly chipped, you should throw it out and replace it with a new one.
Is Granite Cookware Oven Safe?
Versatility is something that we’re all after when considering a new cookware purchase. Because of this, it’s often an important consideration that our pans are safe to pop in the oven as well as use over the stove.
As a material, granite can be used in the oven for baking or roasting your food. However, you should still take care with the level of heat and avoid cooking at temperatures of 450°F or above.
It’s also important to consider the material of the handle. Some pans are sold with plastic handle covers which will melt in the oven above certain temperatures.
Always handle your pan with care after cooking in the oven and be sure to use oven mitts, even if the handle is protected!
Is Granite Cookware Induction Compatible?
There is a wide range of granite cookware that is compatible with induction cooktops. As long as the pan has a magnetic base made from a material such as cast iron or magnetic stainless steel, it will work on an induction stove.
Because granite cookware isn’t induction compatible by standard you should always check the information provided on the label or manufacturer’s website.
How to Look After Granite Cookware
We’ve established that as long as you buy with care, pots and pans made from granite are a safe cookware option for your kitchen. However as we’ve seen it is not indestructible and can easily become damaged, even unsafe, if not properly cared for. Below are some essential tips for looking after you granite cookware to ensure that it serves you and your family well for years to come:
Use soft utensils. Steer clear of metal kitchen utensils as these can easily scratch or chip the enamel surface of granite cookware. Instead go for silicone, rubber or wooden utensils to prolong the life of your pots and pans.
Don’t stack. Stacking other pots and pans on top of granite cookware is a surefire way to scratch the porcelain surface. If space is at a premium and you need to store pans on top of each other, make sure to use a pan protector to keep your pans scratch-free. You can also opt-for a paper towel on the inside of the pan to keep the porcelain enamel surface intact when storing.
Handle with care. This isn’t the most durable cookware! Take care not to drop or bang your granite pans against hard surfaces. If you accidentally chip the enamel, dispose of your pan immediately as it will no longer be safe to cook with.
Avoid high temperatures. To preserve your granite cookware and their non stick properties, we recommend that you only ever use them over a low to medium temperature. If you are cooking a recipe that needs high levels of heat we recommend you reach for a carbon or stainless steel pan.
Use oil. Whilst granite cookware has non stick qualities, it isn’t perfect. To prevent food from sticking to the surface of the pan use a small amount of oil when cooking.
Is Granite Cookware Dishwasher Safe?
You may see granite cookware advertised as being dishwasher safe. Whilst there’s no seasoning or non stick coating to damage, we still strongly advise that you was your granite cookware by hand. Though it’s not common, it is possible for the high temperature and abrasive action of the dishwasher to damage the enamel coating of granite pots and pans, effectively ruining them for safe use.
How Should You Clean Granite Cookware?
If you can’t use the dishwasher, how should you clean your granite cookware whilst avoiding damage?
The good news is that you can usually thoroughly clean your pans with warm water and dish soap. The non stick properties of granite means that most stains should come off quite quickly. If there is a build up of grime or burnt on food, leaving the pan to soak in water for a few minutes before rinsing should do the trick.
If you’re struggling with some seriously tough burned on food, check out our list of methods for cleaning stains from pans.