How Does Waterless Cookware Work?

Written by nicole leboeuf-little
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The term "waterless cooking" refers to a method of cooking without adding extra water. Instead, you rely on the water and fats inherent in the food being cooked. Waterless cookware is specially designed to enable this method.


Waterless pots and pans consist of several layers. The heating surface is a plate made of aluminium or copper layers sandwiched ("plied") together along with layers of stainless steel. The cooking surface is surgical stainless steel. In between there's an iron core, which offers the same advantages you may already be familiar with if you use cast iron pots and pans. It conducts heat more evenly and releases heat more slowly than lighter metals.

Some waterless cookware sets are designed to stack one on top of another, forming a tower of pots heated by a single stovetop burner. For a video example of this, click on the Justsmartliving link in the Resources section.

Stacking or nonstacking, all waterless cookware includes a steam-release valve lid that seals moisture inside. This lid is the key to waterless cooking.


As food heats up, its liquid content, including any water from rinsing it prior to placing it inside the cookware, begins to evaporate. This triggers the lid's seal, trapping the steam. Eventually, enough steam builds up to sound an alarm via the steam valve. (This is similar to the whistle on a tea kettle that sounds when water boils.) That's your signal to turn the heat down to low or, depending on the model, to turn the stove off. Your food will continue to steam-cook as the iron core slowly releases its retained heat.


Waterless cooking is widely considered to result in healthier meals. Instead of leaching away an estimated 40 per cent of the vitamins and minerals as you would with conventional cooking methods, you only lose a scant 2 to 3 per cent with waterless cookware. Thus more of your food's nutritional content makes it to your plate. And because the even distribution of heat prevents food burning or sticking to the cooking surface, no high-calorie, high-cholesterol fats or oils need be added. (Less food sticking also means the cookware is easier to clean.)

Since waterless cookware never uses the high heat setting on your stove, and medium is only needed for a brief period of time, this method of cooking represents a savings in energy costs. And because you're not adding heat constantly throughout, you also effectively prevent overcooking, resulting in tastier food overall.

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