Sometimes ovens can be a disaster especially when you know nothing about the cookware to use or how to control the heat. After a couple of burnt cakes and pans, one becomes the master of the appliance.
Oven safe cookware refers to cookware that can withstand oven heat (usually up to 500˚) for extended periods without melting or getting damaged. Most oven safe cookware can also be used on the stove making them ideal for costs cutting. Cookware with plastic handles is a no! no! in the oven. Plastic is known to melt under high heat and it releases toxic fumes which could get into your food.
How to know which cookware is oven safe
Placing pans or pots that are not oven safe in an oven may cause damage not only to the cookware but also to the oven.
It may also be a fire hazard since the oven works on extremely high temperatures. For these reasons, it is essential that you get the right cookware for use in an oven.
- Oven safe mark. When you choose a pan make sure to look at the bottom of the pan for a mark noting that the pan is safe. Most brands make sure to state this in their own way.
- Check the cookware for any plastic that may be damaged if used in the oven.
- Identify the material the pan/pot is made of since every material reacts differently to heat as you shall soon find out below.
- Check for a non-stick surface like Teflon coating, and be sure to check with the manufacturer about the ideal temperature that the non-stick cookware can withstand.
Cookware material that is oven safe
Not all metals are oven safe since some chemically react under high temperatures and others do not conduct heat well.
The best metals for the oven are stainless steel and cast iron which do not alter the flavor of the food.
Aluminum is also a good metal since it is light and has good thermal conductivity. It is also resistant to corrosion compared to other metals.
Most of the times it is combined with other metals to increase its strength.
Ceramics can be used in the oven only if they do not have the adhesive designs and are not glazed. All in all, make sure the manufacturer states that they are oven safe.
Oven safe glass
This may come as a shocker since it is known that glass should not even be near an oven but not to worry.
There is specific glass made to be used in the oven but needs special care in the sense that it should not be placed in straight in a very hot oven or put in cold water immediately after getting it out of the oven. This may damage the glass.
Silicone pans are safe to use in high temperatures not only in the oven but also in the microwave. They withstand temperatures up to 450 ˚F.
Interestingly some can come in shapes of animals and different sizes making your baking process more exciting.
Cookware material that should not be used in the oven
It is very easy for wooden cookware to warp.
Warping is when the wooden pan gets bent and out of shape.
No kitchen enthusiast would want to see any of their polished wooden cookware bent! If it is glued you may find splits on the glue lines. In short avoid using wooden pans or pots in the oven whether only their handles are wooden.
Despite there being plastics that are oven safe it may be very tricky identifying them since they are very scarce in the market.
Check with the manufacturer first before using them in the oven or get other oven safe cookware to avoid taking risks.
Pot handles and oven safe cookware
Due to the nature of the cookware’s purpose, pot handles should be long lasting, comfortable and safe. They should suit the type of cooking the pot will be used for.
The following are the type of handles one will find when purchasing cookware:
Silicone handles – As stated above, silicone is a good conductor of heat hence handles made from silicone are suitable for oven cookware but one may need to use oven mitts if the temperatures go higher than 450˚F.
The only tiny little problem is that they have an inferior look and may not be people’s first choice.
Metal handles are the best as cookware handles since they have low thermal conductivity (most of them) meaning they take long to get hot making them suitable as pot handles.
Other advantages are that they have a superior look and have longevity.
Wooden handles are also not safe for the oven since they may split making the pot unsafe to handle.
Phenolic handles are made of plastic to a certain degree and may be used in the oven but to a certain degree. High temperatures of about 500˚ may still damage them but with care they may survive.
Stoneware handles can also be used though to a certain temperature (350˚F) before they get damaged and experience breakage.
Also, avoid pre-heating the pot with stoneware handles since it may also cause breakage even before your food is ready.
How to make oven cookware safe
Cutting costs is something that makes most of us happy especially when we can use what we have in multiple ways. Good cookware is not cheap especially for the oven.
If you can afford to get an oven safe set, that is great! But there are also hacks to make your current cookware oven-useable, as you shall see below:
First of all, understand the pan or pot’s temperature limits which the manufacturer may state at the bottom of the pan by stating the limit temperature or a symbol to state that it is oven safe.
Sometimes, your pan may be made out of an oven safe material but the handles are not oven proof or cannot exceed certain temperatures.
For e.g. skillet handles can only withstand heat up to 350˚F so wouldn’t be as much help for cooking that requires more than 350˚F but not to worry. According to Cook’s Illustrated, you can make your skillet handles oven proof by wrapping them in a double layer of wet paper towels then cover them with a double layer of aluminum foil.
So as long as the paper towels are wet, the temperatures of the handle wouldn’t exceed 212˚.
They tried it on an actual skillet handle and found that it stayed between 350 for a solid 30 minutes in a 450-degree oven and almost an hour in a 425-degree oven.
Another way would be to use temporary silicone hand covers that are safer. Silicone takes time to heat and if used in the oven, may withstand high temperatures of only up to 450˚.
The silicone hand covers would work better on pots with a bare metal handle in transferring the pot/pan in the oven, removing the cover and then using it to transfer the hot food out of the oven especially if the food is being put under high temperatures.
When the pot is out of the oven, the hand cover should not be left on the pot for long since it absorbs the heat soon enough and one may have to use oven mitts to handle it.
For wooden handles, the wrapping method wouldn’t work because at some point the heat will still get to the wood and scorch it drying it out.
The best way would not to use it at all or unscrew the handles where possible.
It may also not be safe to use a Dutch oven with plastic handles despite some plastic being able to withstand heat up to a point. The best way would be to replace the handles with metal that is oven safe.
Due to the high temperatures in the oven, it is very important to understand what cookware to use in the oven and what not to, to avoid damaging your cookware, and the chemical and fire hazards that could occur.
It’s always a good idea when purchasing cookware especially for the first time, to enquire whether the pots or pans can also be used in the oven to make your purchase worth it. You just never know when you’ll want to try out a new oven recipe.