Heat Distribution - Stainless Steel vs Non-Stick
A friend of mine told me that she is going to buy a new set of stainless steel pans because they distribute heat better than non-stick pans. This didn't really make sense to me. I thought that it was the construction of the pan that would determine heat distribution regardless of if it had a non-stick coating.
But then I got to thinking, "Aren't most non-stick pans made of aluminum?" Is this right? Does steel conduct and distribute heat better than aluminum?
Can someone help me out?
Some issue of Cook's Illustrated had an article about various metals and their heat distribution/retention capabilities. From what I can recall, copper was the best (most even heat dist and quickest to react in changes to temperature), followed by heavy gauge aluminum, then stainless steel cladded with aluminum or copper. Cast iron heats evenly but is very slow in reaction time. Plain stainless steel heats unevenly. Thin gauge anything tends to develop hot spots. Non-stick coatings have nothing to do with heat distribution or retention.