PTFE-free non-stick is one of the more fashionable trends in cookware right now. By utilizing complex ceramics, cookware manufacturers can produce items that manage to be durable, extremely non-stick, and easy to clean. But how does the NuWave Duralon line stack up to other options?
In this review, I’ll explain everything you need to know about ceramics, cookware materials, and induction cooktops before giving my opinions about top NuWave cookware sets.
First, let’s examine the makeup of the specific ceramic coat that’s used in these pans. NuWave claims that their ceramic is made with an infusion of both titanium and diamond.
Truthfully, this doesn’t mean much. Ceramics are complicated materials that are made from a blend of both metals and non-metals. In this case, titanium is a metal and diamond is a non-metal. There’s not a lot of either in the blend, however, and they don’t seem to impact the performance of these pans at all.
In other words, you can simply ignore the “special” makeup of the ceramic non-stick. It’s pretty comparable to regular Thermolon in just about every way.
What Is PTFE, Anyway?
PTFE is a fancy abbreviation that refers to Teflon, or, more accurately, the family of chemicals that contains Teflon. Modern PTFE is pretty safe. There were some legitimate safety concerns in the past, but they’ve been corrected.
The biggest issue with PTFE is that it breaks down and does something called “offgassing” when you overheat it. Offgassing releases some toxic chemicals into the air, so it’s definitely something you want to avoid.
Critics of PTFE will point out that this process starts at temperatures as low as 400 F, which isn’t too hard to achieve on a range. Proponents argue that more modern PTFE formulations don’t offgas until higher temperatures (in some cases, 500 F +) and that you shouldn’t let your pans get that hot in the first place.
NuWave Duralon cookware doesn’t have any PTFE.
Are Ceramics As Good As PTFE?
Ceramic non-stick coatings (like the one used in the Duralon line) don’t have any PTFE. They remain food safe at temperatures of upwards of 600 F, although they will lose their non-stick properties if they’re overheated. While Teflon is vulnerable to scratches and will eventually flake off, ceramic non-stick coatings don’t. Instead, they become less effective over time until they’re no longer useable as cooking surfaces for anything that might stick to the pan.
This process tends to take a few years as long as you’re careful with the way you use, clean, and store your cookware. Overall, the effective use-life of ceramic non-stick coatings is pretty comparable to the use-life of PTFE alternatives.
As far as stickiness goes, ceramic non-sticks perform very similarly to PTFE. The big caveat is that you do need to use a bit of oil or butter. If you cook in a totally dry pan, you’ll wear out your non-stick coating much more quickly than if you use a very thin layer of fat. In both cases, however, you can slide eggs, meat, and other sticky foods around with no problems.
What Materials Are Used in the Duralon Cookware Set?
Other than the ceramic non-stick, NuWave uses aluminum and stainless steel in the construction of their Duralon pots and pans.
Aluminum is used as a core because it’s very light, cheap, and strong. It also has excellent thermal conductivity, which means it helps your cookware transfer heat quickly and evenly to the cooking surface.
Stainless steel is used to help protect the outside of some pieces since it’s very strong and easy to clean. There’s also some glass used on the lids which helps you see your food as you cook.
How Does Induction Cooking Work With My Cookware?
NuWave is known for making induction cooktops in addition to their cookware lines. The Duralon cookware is all induction-compatible, so it works great with a NuWave induction cooktop. It also works great on electric ranges, gas ranges, and induction cooktops made by other manufacturers.
In other words, it works fine no matter what kind of range you have.
Making cookware induction compatible doesn’t really change much. The only difference between induction-capable cookware and non-induction capable cookware is that the non-induction capable stuff is totally non-magnetic. In order to make cookware work on induction ranges, manufacturers put a thin disk of magnetic steel at the bottom of each pot and pan.
This disk responds to magnetic fields and gets hot when you use the cookware with an induction cooktop. It doesn’t change anything at all as far as gas or electric ranges go — the cookware still gets hot when you expose it to a flame or a really hot piece of metal.
A Review: 2 Top NuWave Pot and Pan Sets
NuWave makes two primary styles of Duralon cookware. One style features a burnished stainless steel exterior, while the other style (this one) has a hard-anodized exterior instead. There’s not much of a difference in terms of care or functionality between the two styles. If you’d prefer a shiny exterior, however, you might want to choose the second set instead of this one. Again, both sets are identical in terms of functionality.
This cookware is made with an aluminum core, a hard-anodized exterior, and a ceramic non-stick interior. It comes with well-fitting glass lids for the pots, which have steam vents and steel handles. The steam vents, notably, are a nice inclusion that’s strangely absent from several competing ceramic non-stick lines. In this regard, NuWave Duralon has a pretty big advantage.
The handles on the pots and pans are made from stainless steel. They’re constructed in a way that tries to minimize the amount of heat that travels from the pan to the handle, but you’ll definitely need to use a potholder if you plan to simmer things for a while or perform other cooking jobs that require you to leave your cookware on the stove for a lengthy period. On the plus side, however, these pots and pans are oven safe to a ridiculously high temperature of 900 degrees Fahrenheit. You probably still want to keep the lids out of the oven if it’s over 450 or so.
The ceramic non-stick is pretty nice. It’s very comparable to Thermolon and other high-end ceramic non-stick coatings. You’ll definitely want to use a bit of oil, avoid excessive heat, and make sure to avoid abrasive cleaning chemicals for regular washing. You can “resurface” the non-stick with baking soda or Bar Keeper’s Friend if it stops being non-sticky enough for you, but that’s an extreme solution that you definitely don’t want to perform every day.
It’s worth noting that the instructions that come with these pans don’t seem to specify that you should use a small amount of oil. If Duralon is anything like Thermolon, however (and it is), you’ll dramatically decrease the useful life of your cooking surface each time you neglect to add a small layer of cooking fat. This can result in your cookware lasting for months instead of years.
While these pots and pans heat up quickly and evenly on a gas range, they’ll also spring to life on an induction cooktop. This means that they’re compatible with every kitchen setup you can find. If you plan on moving soon or you just want a cookware line that works on both your gas range and your induction hot-plate, this cookware set is a great choice.
This set itself is fairly new, so it’s unclear exactly how these pots and pans will stand up to the rigors of household use. We can extrapolate based on similar products, however, and estimate that the non-stick interior will give way well before the rugged aluminum and stainless exterior shows very much visible wear.
Comparable ceramic non-stick cooking sets tend to remain non-stick for between six months (with improper care, usually) and three years. They’ll sometimes last for another year or two but it’s best to plan on replacing your non-stick cookware on roughly this timescale and be pleasantly surprised if it happens to live longer in your kitchen.
The 12-piece cookware set is available in four formats: as a 12-piece set, with a griddle, with a grill pan, and with a utensil set.
Each format includes the following 12 basic pieces:
1.5-quart saucepan and lid
2-quart saucepan and lid
3-quart saucepan and lid
4-quart deep frying pan and lid
4-quart dutch oven and lid
8″ frying pan
9″ frying pan
Overall, this set is very comparable to other high-quality ceramic non-stick sets and absolutely worth buying. Don’t let the “as seen on TV” graphics throw you off. You’ll get a robust, effective cookware set that will put in plenty of work in your kitchen. It’s pretty affordable, too.
There are two primary differences between this cookware set and the one above. First, this cookware set has shiny stainless steel exteriors. This is a pretty big aesthetic difference that might make it more desirable in your kitchen. Second, this set doesn’t come with any frying pans. I’m not sure what the official reason for this is, but it seems like NuWave only makes the frying pans with hard-anodized exteriors.
In other words, even if this set came with frying pans, they wouldn’t match the rest of the set anyway.
This means you’re better off simply purchasing your favorite non-stick frying pan separately.
Otherwise, the sets are very similar. They’ve got identical non-stick interiors that work great with just a little bit of cooking fat or even none at all. They come with well-fitting glass lids that are complete with holes that vent steam, which are suspiciously absent from many competing ceramic cookware lines.
They’ve also got identical stainless steel handles that do a pretty good job of staying cool during short cooking jobs. Again, you’ll still need to use a potholder or towel if you leave the pots on the heat for a while.
Like the other set, this set probably has a useful life of a couple of years (2-4) if you care for it well. The non-stick ceramic will most likely stop being non-stick at around this time. You can still use the cookware, of course, but you’ll have trouble cooking eggs and meat on it. With proper care, you might be able to extend this a bit, whereas excessive heat, not using any oil at all, and using harsh cleaning chemicals will lower the useful life of your cookware. Everything other than the non-stick coat can last for decades. In fact, NuWave has helpfully included a 10-year warranty that covers everything but the non-stick.
This set is simple, powerful, and effective.
It’s got great aesthetics, great heat distribution, and it works on all types of cooktops, including induction. It’s oven safe to a pretty high temperature as long as you don’t throw the glass lids in the oven. If you want a set of pots that’s nonstick, Teflon and PTFE free, and easy to clean, you won’t go wrong with this NuWave Duralon set.
Each 10-piece set includes the following pieces:
1.5-quart saucepan and lid
2-quart saucepan and lid
3-quart saucepan and lid
5.5-quart stockpot and lid
9-quart stockpot and lid
Overall, this set is a great contender for your kitchen. The extra-safe ceramic nonstick and shiny stainless exteriors make a pretty unique pair. Performance-wise, this set is comparable to other high-end ceramic non-stick cookware. It’s pretty affordable, too, so you can spend a little bit more money on ingredients for all kinds of new dishes that you can make in your new pots!
Individual Piece Reviews
Some of you might not want a full line of NuWave pans. If you think you’re more in the market for single pieces, here are two top picks.
This 12″ pan can hold up to 5-quarts of liquid, but it’s shaped just right for frying eggs and doing other shallow pan tasks. It’s got all of the same basic features of the full cookware sets, including a stainless steel exterior and a Duralon ceramic non-stick interior. What sets this pan apart is the lid. Unlike the full cookware sets, this lid has a silicone rim that helps it form an extra tight seal with the pan. It’s also got vent holes, and it even lines up with a pouring spout.
This makes it very easy to drain the water from your pasta or the fat from your savory dishes. Like the rest of the NuWave line, this pan features a stainless steel handle that might require a potholder while you cook.
It’s oven safe to 475 F, or 350 F if you want to use the lid. It’s a great choice if you want to be able to cook as many dishes as possible with a single piece of induction-capable cookware.
If you’re more after something to quickly boil reasonable amounts of water, this small saucepan might be the best choice. While it’s also available in a 3-quart size, the 1.5-quart version is perfect for making a small pot of pasta, soup, or even tea on a portable induction cooktop. Again, this pot is very similar to the version you’d find in the full set.
It’s got a well-fitting glass lid with vent holes, a stainless steel exterior, and a Duralon non-stick cooking surface. The handle is stainless steel as well, meaning you should keep a potholder or towel handy when you cook with it. This pot gets really hot really fast on an induction cooktop. It performs fine on a gas or electric range as well, of course. It’s a great choice if you’re looking for something smaller, non-stick, and totally PTFE free.
Should I Buy NuWave Duralon Cookware?
I’m a fan of ceramic non-stick cookware, and NuWave Duralon products have all of the features I look for in my kitchen. While they’re not really any better than GreenLife or GreenPan or T-Fal products, they’re definitely not any worse, either.
This makes them a great alternative.
Whether you prefer the NuWave Duralon aesthetic, you can find the products on sale, or you just want glass lids with vents (which very few competitors have!), these Duralon cookware sets are great choices. If you want a full set of ceramic non-stick cookware, it’s tough to go wrong with NuWave Duralon.