You buy a brand-spanking new set of shiny white polished ceramic mixing bowls (that were probably the price of a small farm), and they stain.
It happens to every great cook. It even happens to the not-so-great cooks. Has it happened to you?
Turns out that aesthetic pearly finish didn't really protect the porous stone from the lashings of beetroot or turmeric. Now your mixing bowls look like they have a case of smoker's teeth, or like something died in them.
That's why cookware and aesthetics don't always align. It's wise to choose practicality over good looks when it comes to kitchenware. That doesn't mean you can't have both, but you may have to dig a little deeper to find it.
Glass or stainless steel mixing bowls are the two most popular choices. In this blog, we'll take a look at critical features of both types. We'll also explore the pros and cons of both, such as when not to use metal mixing bowls but why, ultimately, stainless steel is the more practical choice.
Why Your Mixing Bowl Matters
If you've spent any amount of time in the kitchen, then you likely have a collection of kitchen fundamentals. There are must-haves that no good cook can do without: a proper frying pan, a good whisk, high-quality knives (and a knife sharpener), a chopping board, and last but certainly not least––a set of good mixing bowls. They're simple items, but no kitchen functions well without them.
While mixing bowls are fairly basic, they're available in varying degrees of sophistication. If you've ever shopped online for mixing bowls, then you have a sense of just how vast the range of options are. But what you may not know is what makes a good mixing bowl, well, good. Does it really matter? After all, it's just a bowl. Is there much difference between them all?
Certain mixing bowls excel compared to others. While size does matter, it depends on the task for which the bowl is required. Ideally, a set of mixing bowls in graduating sizes is your best bet. Not just for the diverse use you get out of them, but because they stack and stow away so nicely, like a set of Russian dolls.
A small one for whipping up salad dressings. A larger one for mixing pancake batter. An extra large one for making leavened dough. In-between sizes for those Goldilocks-type situations that don't require a bowl too big or too small.
Moving beyond size, we get to the more critical and less obvious features of mixing bowls: height, weight, shape, and material. While appearance is important, it's not critical. Especially if it means compromising other aspects of quality.
Shape, height, and weight can affect handling and maneuverability. Material impacts the weight, durability, and heat conduction of a bowl, while design decisions determine the shape and height.
A shallow bowl, while it may have a pleasing aesthetic quality, isn't functional for, well, mixing, unless you don't mind raw egg or cake batter sloshing over the rim and onto your countertop.
Too deep a bowl, however, with steep walls will make the task of pouring or scraping contents more cumbersome, especially if the bowl is heavy.
More subtle aspects of design, such as a lipped rim, influence how graspable the bowl is. A decidedly heavy bowl without much rim might be useful for some tasks, such as vigorous whisking, but it will be difficult to grip, lift, and tilt.
Material: Stainless Steel or Glass?
There are far more options than just stainless steel or glass for mixing bowls. But we chose to focus on these two because they're the most popular choices as far as quality mixing bowls go.
Stainless Steel Pros
Stainless steel bowls are food safe and won't corrode. They're also lightweight, easy to handle, and dishwasher safe. Because metal is a heat conductor, you can store them in the fridge and they will cool more quickly than glass mixing bowls. They won't absorb the smell of food, and many of them are sold with snap-on lids, making them perfect for food storage. They're kid-friendly too, so if you do a lot of family baking or cooking and you have young children, opt for stainless steel.
Stainless Steel Cons
One main practical drawback with stainless steel mixing bowls is that you may not want to use them to mix acidic foods. Most metals are reactive to acid. While there's no certainty that stainless steel will interfere with the flavor and color of food, we can't say for sure that it won't. Stainless steel is also not microwave friendly.
Acidic foods include things like vinegars, tomato and tomato-based sauces, and citrus fruits. As most marinades contain an acidic ingredient, stainless steel may not be your best choice here.
Glass Mixing Bowls Pros
One thing we love most about glass mixing bowls is that when we're using them for food storage, we can see what's inside. They're non-reactive with acidic food and microwave safe, so you can mix and heat in one bowl, saving yourself extra cleaning. They insulate hot food well and they don't absorb the smell of food.
Glass Mixing Bowls Cons
One major reason we prefer stainless steel bowls to glass regards weight. Glass is heavy, making it prone to slipping out of our hands during handling and maneuvering. And if it hits the floor hard, you've got a huge mess to deal with and a potentially dangerous situation on your hands. We don't recommend using glass mixing bowls with young children. It's also difficult to find ones that come with lids.
What Else Should You Look For In A Mixing Bowl?
So, should you go glass or stainless steel in the end? Both have their benefits, and if you do a lot of food prep and cooking, it makes sense to have both. If you're an occasional cook and you have kids, opt for stainless steel. They're easier all around and safer than glass.
Well-designed stainless steel mixing bowls also have two additional features that most glass mixing bowls don't have: a lid and a rubber base. Because they're lightweight, a rubber base is essential to keep them anchored to the countertop and avoid slipping. It just makes handling all together easier.
Sets that come fitted with secure, flexible lids that snap on and off are the gold-standard. Lids make food storage a snap and cuts down on the use of plastic cling wrap too. Priority Chef offers both 3-pc. and 5-pc. stainless steel mixing bowls with lids at a competitive price. The set of three bowls is an excellent choice for the occasional cook or the small kitchen. The five-bowl set is ideal for a greater range of cooking and prep and if you have young kids.
Learn more about the ins and outs of stainless steel for kitchenware, and a short history of it too! For more great kitchen tips and awesome deals on exclusive kitchenware, join our Insider's Club.
From our kitchen to yours, happy cooking!