What Is Hard Anodized Cookware Anyway? We Talked to an Expert to Find Out

More and more pots and pans are being sold with the hard anodized label, so we talked to an expert to find out what they’re made of—literally.

All-Clad Essentials Hard Anodized Nonstick Cookware
Serious Eats / Kevin Liang

I’m a professional chef who has worked in many high-profile kitchens worldwide. I’ve used stainless steel, carbon steel, and aluminum pots and pans throughout my career, but when I’m cooking at home, I reach for my hard anodized cookware set. I bought my first anodized pan in India three years ago: It's a tawa, a type of griddle pan that's mostly used to make dosas. Since then, I’ve fallen in love with this style of cookware since it’s durable, nonstick, and easy to clean. But what exactly is it? To find out, I spoke with Pamela DeGore, a product manager at All-Clad. 

What Is Hard Anodized Cookware? 

Closeup of duck legs with crispy skin in a skillet.
Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Anodizing is a chemical process that creates a thick, oxidized coating that's resistant to corrosion. “It's a highly controlled form of oxidation, which is the enhancement of a naturally occurring process," DeGore says. "It oxidizes the metal’s surface, creating a hard, smooth, and scratch-resistant coating that is easy to maintain." Most are anodized to at least 0.3 millimeters deep and are non-porous, meaning acidic foods won't damage the pan.

DeGore adds that "while food-grade metals like aluminum are great conductors of heat, which is ideal for cooking, it is naturally a soft metal.  The anodizing process hardens the metal’s surface, so it can withstand the rigorous wear and tear in the kitchen while utilizing its great heat conductivity.” Unlike nonstick skillets, which aren't recommended for use over high heat, anodized pots and pans are hardy and won't off-gas chemicals or flake off bits of their coating. You can also use metal utensils, like a fish spatula or offset turner, with anodized cookware without fear of marring the surface. (It's best to avoid sharp-edged utensils, though, which can leave scratches.)

Is Hard Anodized Cookware the Same as Nonstick?

pouring eggs into a skillet
Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

While all anodized cookware is nonstick, not all nonstick cookware is anodized. Most pots and pans labeled as “nonstick” haven't been anodized; instead, many use a layer of chemical compounds such as PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) to maintain a slick surface.

While some anodized cookware features a layer of PTFE or ceramic for additional nonstick properties, the anodizing process itself creates a nonstick and corrosion-resistant oxidized layer. In other words, it’s still easy to scramble eggs or lift crepes out. That said, it's still advisable to add a pat of butter or a squirt of oil to the pan.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Hard Anodized Cookware?

Anodized cookware is often made of aluminum and conducts heat very well. It’s also corrosion-resistant because of the anodizing process, so you don’t have to worry about rust. Another major advantage is the nonstick surface, which is achieved through anodization rather than a chemical coating. As such, you don’t have to worry about the surface degrading as you do with a nonstick skillet; indeed, a well-kept anodized pan can last for around 10 years—not too shabby.

Cons include the cost: These pans do tend to be pricier than nonstick skillets, though they aren’t usually as expensive as stainless steel pans. They're also often heavier than nonstick or ceramic skillets, and while nonstick, adding fat to the pan is helpful.


Is hard anodized cookware safe? 

Yes, hard anodized cookware is perfectly safe. There is no PTFE coating, rather, the composition of the metal itself has been changed. Anodized pans tend to last up to 10 years, depending on the quality of the metal and the presence or absence of a synthetic coating. If a PTFE coating concerns you, there are plenty of brands that sell cookware that are plain hard anodized.

What is the best way to clean hard anodized cookware? 

“I always recommend hand-washing your anodized cookware with warm, soapy water and a soft sponge,” says DeGore. “To keep your pots and pans from warping, I also recommend waiting until they’re cool to the touch before hand-washing.” As with most cookware, you should probably avoid cleaning an anodized pot or pan in the dishwasher, as the high heat can degrade things more quickly.

Why We’re The Experts

  • Namrata Hegde is a freelance writer, chef, food stylist, and recipe developer who has 10 years of experience cooking in restaurants and test kitchens, and for television. 
  • She’s an avid home cook and regularly reaches for her anodized pan to whip up a quick meal.
  • For this article, she interviewed Pamela DeGore, a product manager at All-Clad