Utensils of various materials on a granite countertop: nylon, wood, metal, and silicone.

The Best Utensils to Use With Stainless Steel Cookware

*This post likely contains affiliate links; I may earn a small commission at no cost to you. More info: HCK disclaimer.

I remember my early days of (attempting to) cook with cheap, mismatched pans of mostly non-stick cookware (yikes!) plus my single handed-down old cast iron beauty. Everything changed when I was helping a friend prep for a party. 

It was a baby shower or bridal shower – I’m not sure, this was my mid-20s so it’s safe to say it was some kind of shower. Anyway, we were making the hor d’oeuvres and she had a full set of matching, quality stainless steel pans.

Once I experienced the difference of cooking on quality stainless steel cookware, I never looked back. Investing in a quality set of stainless steel pans is something you won’t regret, but it is an investment. The last thing you want to do is damage your new set with the wrong spatula. The best utensils to use with stainless steel cookware will depend on your personal priorities – and your willingness to pamper your tools.

What Are the Different Types of Utensil Materials?

When it comes to choosing utensils for your stainless steel cookware, the options can be overwhelming, each with its own set of pros and cons. 

If you’re anything like me in my early cooking days, standing in the kitchen aisle undecided, I’m here to help you navigate through these choices. The last thing you want is to pick something that could damage your prized pots and pans.

Understanding the unique qualities of each material is key to making a choice that not only preserves the condition of your cookware but also enhances your cooking experience. 

To help you out, I’ll share some personal advice and point out a few of the best utensil sets that are perfectly suited for stainless steel cookware. This way, you can make a choice that’s both informed and ideal for your culinary needs.

SiliconeNon-abrasive and soft.
Heat-resistant up to 600F
Available in various colors
Less rigid than metal
Can retain strong odors
(Bamboo, Olive, or Teak)
Gentle on cooking surfaces
Sustainable, especially bamboo
Naturally antibacterial
Not dishwasher safe
Must oil occasionally
Requires regular oiling
Can harbor bacteria
Can warp or crack over time
Metal (stainless steel)Extremely durable 
Resistant to rust and corrosion
Heat-resistant Sleek and modern appearance
Dishwasher safe 
Can scratch or damage cookware
Conducts heat, can make handles hot
Typically heavier than other materials
Nylon / PlasticHeat-resistant up to 400F
Inexpensive and lightweight
Dishwasher safe 
Can melt at higher temperatures
Not as durable
Thermoplastic Rubber (TPR)Enhanced flexibility and durability
Typically heat-resistant 
Provides a comfortable grip 
Gentle on cookware surfaces
Can melt at higher temperatures
May not be as widely available
Can degrade over time

Can You Use Silicone Utensils On Stainless Steel?

The silicone utensil set I have in my kitchen and use every day (minus the random plastic egg separator) has been one of the best small things to change my life. I actually bought two sets, decluttered and donated all my old mismatched utensils, and kept only my absolute favorites.

Silicone kitchen utensils offer a fantastic blend of style and practicality. They are celebrated for their incredible flexibility. This allows them to scoop up every bit of food without scratching the pan’s surface. This feature is particularly beneficial for maintaining the pristine condition of your cookware and for even cooking of food.

Available in a vibrant array of colors, silicone utensils can brighten any kitchen decor – or match your neutral aesthetic. The non-stick nature of silicone also means easier cleaning and less food waste.

Despite their many advantages, silicone utensils do have their vulnerabilities. They can suffer from cuts and wear when exposed to sharp objects. So handling them with care is your best bet. Once you’ve cut or ‘chipped’ a silicone utensil, throw it out to avoid bacteria setting up and thriving in a crack, and in your dinner. 

When choosing silicone utensils you can test their quality by bending them slightly. The presence of white streaks could indicate the use of fillers. This could mean that the utensil might not hold up well over time or under high temperatures.

Utensils of various materials on a granite countertop: nylon, wood, metal, and silicone.

Can You Use Wood Utensils On Stainless Steel?

Wooden utensils are a timeless choice in many kitchens, offering both aesthetic value and functionality. The cost of wooden utensils can vary significantly. Luxurious options like walnut or olive wood tend to be pricier, while more common woods like beech are quite affordable. 

Wooden utensils, including spoons, are known for their natural resistance to germs and bacteria. They are also more environmentally sustainable compared to many other materials. 

However, wood’s porous nature means they are a bit high maintenance (same). These utensils can stain easily, are not suitable for dishwashers, and require regular oiling to maintain their condition.

Wooden utensils are a favorite for anyone making environmentally friendly choices, with bamboo especially noted for its sustainable credentials. These utensils can serve you well for years when properly looked after. 

They’re also poor conductors of heat, which means the handles stay cool, making them comfortable to use during cooking. Plus, their soft edges are gentle on your pots and pans, avoiding scratches.

However, it’s important to be mindful of wooden utensils’ limitations. Since they are made from wood, they can burn if exposed to direct heat for too long.

Caring for wooden utensils requires a bit more effort. They shouldn’t be put in the dishwasher, are susceptible to stains and absorbing strong flavors. Both meaning it’s a bit of a challenge to clean thoroughly. 

Bamboo Utensils 

Bamboo is a super sustainable renewable resource. It grows incredibly fast and is harvested like some herbs or even grass where it’s cut from the top and continues to grow from the roots. Bamboo utensils are strong and won’t cost more than other options.

The only downside is that they do need to be oiled to prevent them from drying out. Also they really shouldn’t be put in the dishwasher. If you’ve got the time (and willpower) to hand wash and oil your kitchen utensils, bamboo is a great choice.

I have personally never used bamboo utensils but KitchenAid makes highly-rated pieces.

Can You Use Metal Utensils On Stainless Steel?

Metal utensils, specifically stainless steel, are a solid choice if you need sturdy, long-lasting kitchen tools. While they’re generally a bit pricey when compared to utensils made from other materials. Their durability and ease of maintenance make them a worthwhile investment. 

Stainless steel metal utensils can handle delicate tasks like lifting warm cookies off a baking sheet without causing damage. They’re simple to clean, dishwasher-safe, and only require minimal upkeep, (just keep an eye out for rust). 

Stainless steel metal utensils are non-reactive, meaning they don’t interact with any type of food, unlike aluminum, which can react with acidic foods and affect your dish.

However, if you pride yourself on keeping your stainless steel cookware looking brand new, you might want to think twice about using metal utensils. Although they won’t compromise the functionality of your cookware, they will leave superficial scratches on the surfaces. Which is a deal breaker for me.

Utensils of various materials on a granite countertop: nylon, wood, metal, and silicone.

Will a stainless steel spatula scratch a stainless steel pan?

Yes. A stainless steel spatula can scratch a stainless steel pan, especially if used roughly. Stainless steel is durable, but it is also capable of scratching surfaces of the same material. 

To minimize the risk of scratching, it’s wise to use the spatula gently, particularly when scraping or stirring food. If maintaining a scratch-free surface is a priority, you might consider using utensils made of softer materials like silicone or wood, which are less likely to cause damage to your cookware.

Nylon / Plastic / Thermoplastic Utensils 

Nylon and other plastic options will likely be the cheapest option in any store you’re browsing but they are also the lowest quality option. They melt easily if left on a hot pan, I’ve had a spatula tip melt while making scrambled eggs so it doesn’t take long. I do use a gas stove, which can cook hot but, food can also stick to your plastic based utensils and I have had the suspicion that using plastic utensils can also make food more likely to stick to your pans too.

While not as flexible as silicone, these utensils offer more flexibility than metal or wood, which can be ideal for certain cooking needs. They will be gentle on your pots and pans, avoiding scratches. However, it is important to note that nylon is less durable than some other materials.

If you take into account that they simply will not last as long as other options they really aren’t the best deal. I’d advise those on a budget to buy a few pieces as you can of a higher quality material that will last you years, not weeks.

Beware Multi-Material Utensils

I personally shy away from any utensils that have differing materials for handles. Many wood and silicone utensils have wood or metal handles. While they look super cute, I personally stay away from them for one reason: I don’t think they can be 100% cleaned. 

I’m very pro-dishwasher and I know in my heart that anything that has a connection isn’t going to be perfectly sealed. This is totally my preference, but I just don’t believe that they will get fully clean. 

The last thing I want is dirty dishwater dripping into the skillet of food I’m preparing. It has 100% happened to me and it ruined both my dinner that night and my taste for any kitchen utensils that aren’t one solid material.

Utensils Should You Use With Stainless Steel Cookware: wood, metal, silicon

So, What Utensils Should You Use With Stainless Steel Cookware?

When shopping for utensils for stainless steel cookware, consider your cooking habits and the level of care you’re willing to invest in maintaining your utensils. Silicone and wood are generally safer choices to avoid scratches, while stainless steel utensils are great for those who prioritize durability and are careful not to use them too roughly.

  • Choose silicone if you prefer a low-maintenance option that handles high heat well and offers versatility across various cooking and baking tasks.
  • Opt for wood if you appreciate natural materials, are willing to put in the maintenance work, and value a sturdy tool for heavy cooking tasks.
  • Go with stainless steel metal if you want decades of durability and low maintenance if you can remember to use it gently or don’t mind scratches in your cookware.

In the end, the choice between silicone, wood, and metal utensils may come down to personal preference and specific cooking needs. You might even find that having a mix of materials in your kitchen offers the best range of utensils for your cooking needs.

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!