Can Stainless Steel Go in the Oven? Everything You Should Know

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The other day, I made a fateful kitchen error: I jumped right into a recipe before I read the whole thing from start to finish.

Specifically, I was making Julia Child’s Carbonnades a la Flamande (Yes, I may or may not have been binging a certain HBO show lately).

It was going pretty well at first. And then I got to this one line in the recipe: “Cover the casserole and place in lower third of the preheated oven.”

Cue the panic bubbling up like the aromatic stock simmering in my casserole, which, incidentally, wasn’t oven-safe. Sigh. 

To save you from going through what I went through, today we’re going to be talking about using pots and pans in the oven. Specifically, we’ll answer one of the most burning (pun definitely intended) oven safety questions: Can stainless steel go in the oven?

Aside from reading a recipe all the way through before getting started (full shade to me), there’s a lot of info that’ll make any stovetop-to-oven transition painless and free of doubt. Read on, and get the full scoop.

Can Stainless Steel Pans Go in the Oven?

For the most part, yes. Stainless steel is generally considered an oven-safe material.

But if you thought it was as simple as “yes or no”, think again! 

Stainless steel itself is a metal alloy with a melting point of over 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. But when it’s forged into cookware, said cookware has safe temperature ranges just like everything else. Typically, these hover somewhere around 500 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Manufacturers determine stainless steel cookware’s maximum oven-safe temperature based on a few factors: the material the handles are made of, the grade of the stainless steel, and whether or not it has a nonstick coating. 

You definitely want to make sure you don’t go over a manufacturer’s suggested maximum temperature- they’re there for a reason, trust me. 

Can Nonstick Stainless Steel Go in the Oven?

Nonstick stainless steel can go in the oven, but in practice, it kind of reminds me of that famous quote from Jurassic Park: “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, that they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

Sure, provided a stainless steel pan with a nonstick coating doesn’t have plastic or wooden handles, it’s oven-safe….mostly. However, I suggest you read that with an extra emphasis on the “mostly”. 

Nonstick coatings are persnickety when it comes to their temperature resistance. A nonstick coating can lower the maximum oven-safe temperature of a pan by over 300 degrees Fahrenheit. After that critical mass is reached, the coating starts to burn off and release toxic fumes into the air. 

If you have no other cookware options and heaps of trust in your oven thermostat, you could give it a shot. If neither of those two things are true, though, I’d advise you to avoid using nonstick cookware in your oven. 

How To Tell if Your Stainless Steel Cookware is Oven Safe

If you bought your cookware recently, you’re in luck: check your owner’s manual or the packaging for its specs.

If you threw those away, check the manufacturer’s website. Don’t check the specs on a third-party seller’s website, because the information could be inaccurate.

I would just give you a general rule of thumb, but like I said, the manufacturer’s recommendations are there for a reason. Those are much better than any guess I could make.

If you no longer have access to that information, then here are a few things to look at that can help you determine your stainless cookware’s oven safety. 

And of course, don’t use a stainless steel pot or pan in the oven if you can’t verify its oven safety with certainty! When in doubt, always air on the side of caution and don’t put it in the oven. 

1. Handles

Does your pan have a wood handle? A couple of plastic handles? Maybe a silicone handle or two?

Then don’t risk it- keep it out of the oven! Plastic and wood definitely don’t mix well with high heat. And even though silicone is heat resistant to an extent, it won’t be able to withstand higher oven temperatures.

2.  The Bottom of the Pot/Pan

A lot of cookware companies stamp the bottom of every piece with information, oven-friendliness included. Sometimes, this even includes a maximum safe temperature.

3. Quality

Don’t use a low-quality stainless steel pan in the oven. 

You might be thinking, “But how do I know what’s high and low quality?” 

I’m using a Heritage Steel x Eater 10.5 Inch Frying Pan (because I big-puffy-heart-eyes-love-it!). Ideally, you’d be using a pan from a trusted brand, but hey – we all have to scoop up those Prime Day deals sometimes. I get it. 

Fortunately, there are a few ways you can tell if your stainless steel is high quality or not.

You can perform a magnet test: hold a magnet to both the outside and the inside of your cookware. The outside should have a magnetic pull, indicating the absence of nickel, but the inside should not. Non-magnetized grades of stainless steel are less corrosive, which, for the inside of the pan, is a good thing. 

You can also tell just by looking. High-quality stainless steel has a glassy, clear finish, sometimes with a slightly green tinge. 

A stainless steel pan being put into an open oven.

Can Stainless Steel Lids Go in the Oven?

Stainless steel cookware can be tricky, but lids are even trickier. 

Some lids are made of different materials, like tempered glass, or have handles made out of the “no-no” materials: wood, silicone, or plastic. These greatly reduce, or even negate, their suitability for oven use. 

Even if a stainless steel pot/pan’s corresponding lid is also made entirely from stainless steel, it’s often much thinner than the cookware itself. This also reduces its heat resistance, so proceed with caution. 

I probably sound like a broken record, but double-check the manufacturer’s guidelines to make sure you aren’t exceeding the maximum temperature recommendations. 

If you have no way of finding them, then play it safe and don’t use that lid in the oven– and make a mental note to hang onto your owner’s manual next time you buy cookware!

How Long Can Stainless Steel Go in the Oven?

You know your oven better than anyone else, so as long as your pan is definitely oven-safe, this is your call to make. 

For example, my mom’s oven is prone to weird fluctuations in temperature. There have been more pies and cakes burnt in that oven than the one on Worst Cooks in America, through absolutely no fault of her own. If I were her, I probably wouldn’t leave a stainless steel pan in there for hours on end. 

But if it were my oven at home, I wouldn’t have any qualms about leaving a stainless steel pan in there for extended periods of time. I know it’s going to be the temperature I set and stay that way. 

Really, though, most recipes won’t ask you to leave a pan/pot in the oven for hours on end. Barring extreme circumstances, you don’t need to worry about how long you can leave stainless steel in the oven. 

Using Stainless Steel Pans in the Oven: My Best Practices

So, with a few notable exceptions, stainless steel pans are, in fact, oven safe. But that doesn’t mean they’re bulletproof! 

To keep you and yours safe and keep your cookware as good as new, here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re using stainless steel in an oven. 

1. When in doubt, keep it out (of the oven, that is)

I can’t stress enough how important it is not to use any cookware in the oven that you haven’t verified as oven-safe.

Looks can be deceiving; those might look like stainless steel handles, but they could be a heavy plastic.

And with lower-quality stainless steel, heat tolerances can vary wildly. 

2. Always keep an oven mitt on you

Don’t ruin your date night in with a trip to the E.R.- always, ALWAYS use an oven mitt when you take your pot/pan out of the oven.

Also keep in mind that the handles will retain heat for a while after you take the pan out of the oven, probably longer than you’re expecting them to. Before you know for sure they’re cool enough to touch, be overly cautious. 

3. Have a steady hand…and handle

Most recipes that involve moving a stainless steel pot/pan into the oven involve stock or liquid of some sort, so take extra care not to spill when you’re transferring. 

And if your skillet has a wobbly or otherwise compromised handle, don’t use it in the oven. A heavy pan to the toes is bad enough on its own….so imagine adding scalding heat into the mix. No, thank you. 

4. Prepare with care

As you might already know, stainless steel has a predisposition for food stickage. There’s a trick for that when you’re cooking on the stovetop, but in the oven, you need to take proactive steps to prevent it.

Use semi-generous amounts of oil– not gobs of it, but don’t skimp. Nonstick cooking spray doesn’t count!

Keeping your ingredients far apart also helps. More empty room in the pan means more space for the items to expel moisture.

A stainless steel pan sitting inside an open oven.

Can I Broil a Stainless Steel Pan?

There’s two types of people: those who know their broiler is a broiler, and those who think it’s a drawer to keep baking sheets in. For the record, I’ve been both.

If you’re one of the brilliant among us who know where your broiler is and use it often, then you’ll want to hear this: any pan that’s safe for an oven is generally also safe for a broiler. 

All the same rules apply here: handle it with care, make absolutely sure it’s oven-safe, and stay within the manufacturer-determined heat guidelines. 

Is Stainless Steel Good to Bake With?

Stainless steel is great to bake with!

I wouldn’t recommend trying to bake a cake in a stainless steel skillet or anything, but the bakeware made of stainless steel is legit. In fact, I prefer it to aluminum bakeware.

It’s pretty comparable to aluminum in terms of heat retention, albeit a bit heavier and more expensive. However, it’s also much easier to clean- aluminum bakeware isn’t usually dishwasher safe. 

But the main reason I prefer stainless steel bakeware? Safety and health. 

Like pans with nonstick coatings or silicone bakeware, aluminum bakeware is safe on paper….but there’s also evidence that it can leach into food at certain temperatures. I’m not a risk taker when it comes to my loved one’s health, so stainless steel wins for me every time.

Can Stainless Steel Go in the Microwave?

Unlike everything else you’ve read so far, this one is a hard “absolutely NOT”!

If you’ve ever left a spoon in a bowl of oatmeal or a fork in a bowl of leftovers and absentmindedly microwaved it, then you had a little preview of what would happen if you were to microwave stainless steel.

Sparks will fly…and not in the cute, romantic way. 

Metal alloys of all kinds absorb microwave heat, warming them to unsafe temperatures faster than you can snap your fingers. 

Fortunately, you won’t run into many situations where you need to use stainless steel in the microwave. Pretty much every other kind of dish is microwave-safe these days. 

Can You Put Stainless Steel in the Dishwasher?

Stainless steel cookware is totally fine to go in the dishwasher.

The bigger risk to the integrity of stainless steel cookware is what comes before the dishwasher: rinsing

If you want your stainless steel pieces to live a long and happy life, let them cool down before you give them a rinse.

This is key to long-lasting stainless steel no matter how you’re cooking with it, but it’s especially important when you’ve been using it in the oven. The drastic change from oven temperatures to cold water can warp your pan and damage its ability to retain and distribute heat. 

Can Stainless Steel Bowls Go in the Oven?

Let’s say you want to reheat something and all you have on hand is a stainless steel mixing bowl.  We already determined stainless steel can’t go in the microwave under any circumstance- but what about the oven?

Well, that depends more on the mixing bowl itself than whether or not it’s stainless steel.

Thinner stainless steel mixing bowls shouldn’t go in the oven; if they do, cue warping and discoloration. 

Mixing bowls with plastic/silicone handles or bases should also be kept out of the oven. 

Usually, if a stainless steel bowl is oven-safe, it’ll say so on the bottom of the bowl or the packaging. Once again, if you aren’t 100% certain it’s oven-safe, just don’t take the risk.

A stainless steel pan being put into an open oven.

Can Stainless Steel Go in the Oven? Wrapping it all Up

Most stainless steel can, indeed, go in the oven.

However, that doesn’t mean you should throw all caution to the wind. It’s imperative to make sure your specific pieces are oven-safe at the temperature you’ll be using to cook. 

The consequences of not double-checking include damaged cookware, a messy melted plastic cleanup job, ruined dinners, and more. 

So be safe, not sorry: follow the cookware manufacturer’s recommendations whenever possible. And if it’s not possible? Just don’t use the stainless steel piece in the oven at all. 

About Author

Tia Goodnight

Hey! I'm Tia, and I started this site to bring you the best information on all things kitchen so you can enjoy and elevate your everyday life.

I love trying new techniques and tools, living for the thrill of pulling off a new skill. On weekends you'll find me at the local farmer's markets or hosting friends and family for an evening of yard or card games and delicious food.

If you're looking for honest, real-world advice on all things kitchen and cooking, you're in the right place!