In this post, we’ll uncover which types of cookware you want to steer clear of and why, as well as unpack the pros and cons of the best cookware options out there. But some contain chemicals or elemental metals that can contaminate food and cause health problems.
(And what’s more frustrating when your beautiful culinary creation is ruined due to sticking!?) Some say that the Mycenaean Greeks might have been the first to use non-stick pans to make bread more than 3,000 years ago.
The holes seemed to be an ancient non-sticking technology, ensuring that oil spread evenly over the griddle.” The modern day non-stick pans were discovered accidentally by Roy Puckett while working with the DuPont company.
Later coined as “Teflon”, this polytetrafluoroethylene or PTFE material, was first used in World War II to make seals “resistant to the uranium hexafluoride gas used in development of the atomic bomb”. During this time, they also discovered its powerful, non-stick properties and started using commercially in cookware in the mid-1940’s.
The problem with non-stick cookware is that it’s made with a chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid (FOA). This is so toxic that the FDA is pressuring manufacturers to phase this chemical out due its health and environmental concerns.
It’s been classified as a health-jeopardizing toxin by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. While exposure to small amounts of aluminum is unavoidable and probably not harmful, we’re exposed to much more of this element than our grandparents ever were (from food additives, to cookware, contaminated water, and more), so to play it safe, it’s best to avoid any additional exposure.
Now that we got the bad news out of the way, and we know which cookware to avoid, here are some safe, non-toxic alternatives. Bonus: If a cast iron pan is seasoned properly, and then it’s virtually non-stick.
Cast iron pans are also super easy to clean as you don’t want to use soap because it can break down you're seasoning. “A study published in the July 1986 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association showed that cooking in cast iron skillets added significant amounts of iron to 20 foods tested.
)Raw iron contention after cooking in cast iron Applesauce0.35 mg.7.38 mg. Spaghetti sauce0.615.77Chili (meat/beans)0.966.27Medium white sauce0.223.30Scrambled egg1.494.76Meat spaghetti sauce0.713.58Beef vegetable stew0.663.4Fried egg1.923.48Spanish rice0.872.25Rice, white0.671.97Pan broiled bacon0.771.92Poached egg1.872.32Fried chicken0.881.89Pancakes0.631.31Pan fried green beans0.641.18Pan broiled hamburger1.492.29Fried potatoes0.420.8Fried corn tortillas0.861.23Beef liver with onions3.13.87Baked cornbread0.670.86Iron is a pro-oxidant (the opposite of an antioxidant), meaning it promotes oxidative stress, and isn’t eliminated easily from the body. Avoid cooking wet sauces, especially tomato, citrus or acid-based ones.
Stick to drier, less-acidic foods, like pancakes, hash browns, chicken, and burgers. The enamel coating is non-stick and non-reactive, so you can cook anything without problems (hello tomato sauce!).
It’s safe, heats evenly, and lasts a long time. Ceramic cookware is also ideal for going from stove top to dinner table (it retains heat well) to refrigerator.
It is also more fragile and can break when compared with cast iron or stainless steel. Pros: Stoneware is a great choice for anyone worried about chemicals leaching into food.
Cons: It can be heavy and may chip, but when cared for, stoneware can really be your best cookware and it last a long time. In fact, glass is the most inert material on the planet if you get from a good source (and therefore the best cookware !).
Cons: Again, be careful of foreign products that may be manufactured with heavy metals. Pros: The metals, which usually includes aluminum, used in stainless steel are particularly stable, so leaching is a low concern.
Stainless steel tends to be inexpensive, and retains heat, which is great for evenly cooked food. Cons: Don’t use stainless steel for things like broth, which is cooked over many days and could cause leaching of metals.
Foods cooked in stainless steel pans are also more prone to sticking However, reader Emily suggested heating the stainless steel pan first, then adding your oil of choice. Skillets are perfect for everyday meals like frying bacon, eggs, sausage, pancakes, chicken and veggie stir fries, and reheating leftovers.
If you’d rather avoid iron or tend to cook a lot of acidic or moisture-rich foods, pick an enameled cast-iron option here. If you love making large vats of bone broth, I like the 16 quart size.
For most people, these are great ways to support your gut health, as well as make use of the whole animal. Stockpots are also wonderful for vegetable soups, steaming veggies like broccoli, and cooking pasta.
I tend to go with stoneware like this for baking sheets because they stand up to long cooking times and high heat. Even if you aren’t a big stir-fry fiend, woks are excellent for deep-frying and steaming too.
You can cook risotto, meat dishes, apple butter, bread, or a whole chicken. For Dutch ovens, I prefer enameled cast iron, since they are heated for long periods of time, and food sits in them for even longer.
By following this best cookware guide, you can feel great about the food you're preparing for your family. Don’t feel overwhelmed or discouraged if you need to buy lots of new pieces.
Pots and pans make great Christmas and birthday gifts (or maybe it’s just me!) Each week you’ll get a box with great recipes and remeasured ingredient packs that will save you time.
Some services even offer organic meal delivery, bringing non-GMO produce, sustainably-sourced seafood, and hormone-free meats to your door for about $10 a serving. While there’s nothing wrong with collecting pots and pans one at a time, a cookware set offers something that singular pieces don’t: cohesion.
Many of the top cookware styles are nonstick, stainless steel, and hard-anodized aluminum, though you’ll also find ceramic and cast iron options, which are ideal for cooking low and slow. If you’re a beginner in the kitchen, it’s probably a good idea to start small and opt for a basic, easy-to-use set that’s equipped with only the essentials.
On the other hand, if you consider yourself a pro home chef, you may be ready to invest in something of higher quality that will not only take your cooking game even further, but also be with you for the long haul. Most cookware collections are available to shop online from familiar retailers like Amazon, SUR La Table, and Williams Sonoma.
We browsed thousands of online reviews from real shoppers and found the 10 best cookware sets to add to your kitchen this year. The all-in-one cookware set is also designed with hard-anodized aluminum which creates a hard, smooth surface and essentially makes each piece nonstick.
“This is a very sturdy and well-made set of pots and pans given the low price,” said one reviewer, adding that they’ve “been using them for a while and no scratches or wear is showing up.” It’s important to note, however, that these budget-friendly pieces are not dishwasher safe, so hand washing is a must. With 18 pieces included, this large cookware set has everything the average home cook could possibly need to whip up a good meal, from saucepans to a stockpot to slotted spoons.
Shoppers praise this multi-use set for its durable and comfortable designs, nonstick surfaces, and approachable price tag. With a price tag over $1,000, this set is certainly an investment, but the impeccable quality will make it worth every penny in the long run.
Shoppers love these pots and pans for their durability, even heat distribution, and super easy cleanup (they’re all dishwasher-safe!). The classic stainless steel pots and pans each have an aluminum base that quickly and evenly distributes heat, and they’re dishwasher-safe for easy cleanup.
While a set from Le Crest may be on the pricier side, it’s built to stand up to years of use and will prove to be well worth the initial investment. This cookware set from Rachael Ray’s collection not only comes in fun pops of color, but it’s also designed with a Scot-free nonstick surface that’s safe to cook on and virtually eliminates the chance of any pesky food scraps sticking, tearing, or leaving behind a mess.
One shopper claimed these are “the best non-stick pans” they’ve ever used, and a whopping 300 reviewers specifically touted this set as being “easy to clean.” This 14-piece set from Total is designed to make cooking easier for beginners: the brand’s signature Thermostat feature indicates when the surface is at the right temperature, which helps create consistent dishes each and every time.
Anyone with limited storage space understands the struggle of attempting to strategically place bulky pots and pans into a kitchen cabinet and hoping they don’t come tumbling down next time you open the door. With retailers squeezing profits and labor costs on the rise, most cookware companies are moving production overseas.
Whether you’re shopping for stainless steel, non-stick, or cast iron, you’ll find the American- made cookware that’s best for you. Since 1967, during the midst of the United States Steel age, All-Clad has been the front most brand of bonded, layered cookware.
Founded by metallurgist John Slam, All-Clad has been making fully-clad cookware since 1971 in Canonsburg, just outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. You can find their cookware in kitchen supplies stores like Williams Sonoma and Macy’s, or online on Amazon.
Founded 1967 Where It’s Made Canonsburg, PA Number of Stainless Collections 10 Construction Fully-clad Exterior Material Stainless steel, copper, or hard-anodized aluminum Interior Material Stainless steel Core Material(s) Heavy-gauge aluminum or copper Oven-Safe Temperature (degrees F) 600 Broiler-Safe Yes Compatible With Induction Yes (except C4 Copper and LTD collections) Warranty Limited Lifetime Price $$$$$ You can’t talk about the bestcookwaremade in the USA without mentioning All-Clad. Not only has its stood the test of time for nearly five decades, but, over the years, they’ve continued to innovate and produce cookware to meet the needs of modern chefs.
It’s a well-rounded brand, but the stainless steel collections steal the spotlight due to their unparalleled construction, variety, design, cooking performance, and durability. The pots and pans have some weight, especially those with four or more layers, but the stay-cool ergonomic handle design makes it easy to maneuver while being sturdy and comfortable.
From the Copper Core line to the simple elegance of the original All-Clad Master Chef design, you can choose from high-gloss and brushed stainless cookware sets to suit your culinary style. Most stainless steel lines are induction-compatible, oven and broiler safe, and beautiful enough to use as a serving platter, offering a seamless flow from cook top to the table.
All-Clad stainless steel is oven safe up to 600 degrees Fahrenheit, broiler-safe, and suitable for all cook tops, including induction (C4 Copper and LTD are not induction-compatible). The bonding process fortifies the pan’s layers and provides lasting, sturdy cookware.
One of the most expensive brands you can buy Lids are not oven-safe Requires special cleaning care and knowledge of stainless steel cooking to prevent sticking and discoloration Founders Chip Malt and Jake Kali ck are lifelong friends who continue to grow their direct-to-consumer brand, one piece at a time.
Yet, you’ll find that each piece is thoughtfully created with the home chef in mind. Made In manufactures its stainless steel and non-stick cookware in the USA and sells it exclusively on MadeInCookware.com ; you won’t find it at any retail store.
By selling directly to the customer, Made In cuts out the middlemen, allowing them to offer a premium product for a much lower price. In this section, I’ll explore the benefits and features of Made In non-stick cookware, its recent accolades, and list its pros and cons to help guide your purchase decision.
It’s worth mentioning because full-clad cookware offers exceptional heat conduction, retention, and durability. Besides superior heat distribution, the steel base makes these pans compatible with induction cook tops.
Most of the competitors’ non-stick pans have a non-magnetic aluminum exterior that doesn’t work with induction cook tops. The stay-cool, ergonomically-designed handle is riveted on the side for a sure grip while cooking or transferring the pan from cook top to oven.
Food slides around with ease, and the fully-clad construction offers superior heat control. By the way, stay away from aerosol cooking spray if you want your pan to look good and retain its non-stick qualities.
While it’s true that non-stick pans eventually need replacing (unlike quality stainless steel), Made In claims its cookware is proven to last ten times longer than other high-end non-stick brands and 30 times longer than non-stick ceramic cookware. In the few years since launching, Made In has received thousands of 5-star reviews from verified purchasers.
Although Made In’s non-stick collection is limited, they’ve slowly increased their offerings since the founding, so look for even more options in the future. They conduct heat fast and evenly, release food for easy clean-up, last much longer than the competition, and it’s made in America.
Since its founding in 1896, Lodge has been making cast iron cookware and accessories in South Pittsburgh, Tennessee. Founded 1896 Where It’s Made South Pittsburgh, Tennessee Types of Cast Iron Cookware Skillets, woks, Dutch ovens, griddles, grill pans, bakeware, and camping/outdoor cookware Skillet Sizes Multiple, from 3 inches in diameter up to 17 inches Oven-Safe Temperature (degrees F) 600+ Broiler-Safe Yes Compatible With Induction Yes Warranty Lodge Promise Price $$ Cast iron offers superior versatility and durability.
Lodge offers the best American- made cast iron skillet because of its quality materials and construction, consistent cooking performance, durability, and price. Its uses are virtually endless, from stove top cooking and outdoor grilling to baking and broiling, and it’s one of the lowest-priced cast iron items.
Check out the current price of Lodge cast iron skillets on Amazon. Like All-Clad and Made In, Lodge earns a top spot on most best cookware lists.
Good Housekeeping named Lodge the Best Overall Cast Iron Skillet, praising its comfortable handles, cooking performance, and overall value. Although I firmly believe that Lodge is the best American- made cast iron cookware, it has both pros and cons.
They’ve been making high-quality, ultra-durable cast iron cookware in South Pittsburgh Tennessee for over 100 years. If you need more reassurance, read the thousands of positive reviews of Lodge’s most popular cast iron skillet on Amazon.
Viking is a Greenwood, Mississippi-based company best known for its high-end kitchen appliances (ovens, cook tops, refrigerators, etc. Like Viking, some Clifton cookware collections are made in America while others are not, so you have to read the fine print before you buy.
I recently caught up with a representative at Clifton, and they confirmed that only the Elite (exclusive to Williams Sonoma) and Unison collections are 100% made in the US. Heritage is a family-owned company that’s been producing premium multi-clad stainless steel cookware in their Clarksville, Tennessee factory for over 40 years.
As you can see, even though many brands are moving manufacturing overseas, you can still find quality American- made cookware. The company introduced bonded cookware to the global marketplace over 50 years ago and remains the category leader.
With fully-clad 5ply construction and a triple-layer Scot-free coating, it offers the heat conduction and durability of premium stainless steel cookware and the convenience of non-stick. Lodge cookware comes in a multitude of sizes and shapes with the choice of seasoned or enameled cast iron, depending on your preference.
You can find Lodge cookware on Amazon or in stores like Crate and Barrel and SUR La Table. We may earn a fee if you buy via links in this post (at no extra cost to you).
There are so many types of cookware and, unless you’re a professional chef, it’s a challenge to make sense of it all. In this comprehensive guide of the best cookware materials, I’ll clear the confusion.
Fully-clad stainless steel cookware is made by bonding (or cladding) layers of metals together. While the interior and exterior are always stainless steel, the core materials vary.
The number of layers and the type of core materials impact the performance. Versatile: Since stainless steel is non-reactive and ultra-durable, it’s great for searing, browning, frying, sautéing, and much more.
It should last a lifetime and won’t rust, flake, chip, or warp (as long as you don’t subject it to drastic temperature changes). Distributes heat quickly and evenly: A major advantage of fully-clad stainless steel is that it distributes heat quickly and evenly throughout the whole pan, including the sides, which is great when cooking sauces: no cold spots or uneven sears.
It’s also usually tolerant of high heats, making it safe for the oven and broiler. Stubborn bits of food, especially if left for a long time, can be tricky to remove.
Cooking with stainless steel takes some culinary knowledge and technique. The combination of its highly conductive core and non-reactive surface makes fully-clad stainless steel cookware perfect for steak, chicken, and other meats.
If fully-clad stainless steel seems like a match with your culinary know-how, take some time to explore some of these brands. In other words, the cooking surface and exterior are stainless steel, and aluminum or copper is bonded to the base.
The disadvantage is that it doesn’t conduct heat evenly because the cookware ’s sides don’t contain an aluminum or copper layer. This cookware is suitable for sautéing and frying, rather than simmering sauces or boiling liquids.
Lightweight: Since the conductive layers don’t extend up the sides of the pots and pans, this type of cookware tends to be lighter and easier to handle than fully-clad. If there are stubborn bits of food, it takes time and effort to remove.
So you may find a bit of uneven heating if you are making a sauce, glaze, or soup. Cast iron cookware is heavy-duty, made from one single piece of metal, including the handle.
Most people don’t know this since cast iron cookware is so rugged, but the carbon content makes it less malleable and quite brittle. Therefore, to make it more durable, cast iron cookware is made with thick, heavy walls.
Durable: When properly cared for, cast iron cookware can last a lifetime. Its thick walls absorb and retain heat well, so when you slap a cold piece of meat on it, the cooking surface stays hot, allowing you to create a crust and lock in the juices.
On the other hand, enameled cast iron is quite expensive (I’ll cover that in the next section). So if you want the benefits of non-stick cooking but trying to avoid synthetic chemicals in the kitchen, this is a good choice.
Heavy: If you want something lightweight and easy to maneuver, I don’t recommend cast iron. On average, cast iron skillets weigh eight pounds, and that’s without food in them.
Seasoning involves rubbing it with fat or oil and baking it in the oven for a couple of hours. Prolonged exposure to acidic foods can break down the seasoning layer, destroying its non-stick properties.
You need to clean it properly (no soap), season it regularly, and store it correctly to avoid rust. Unlike stainless steel, it’s natural non-stick layer allows you to cook eggs and bake with ease.
Since it retains heat well, the meat doesn’t impact the cookware ’s temperature, so you get a perfect crust every time. While you can cook acidic foods with caution, it’s best to avoid prolonged exposure.
Want cast iron but don’t want to deal with the seasoning process and maintenance? This type of cookware is similar to cast iron, but it has an enameled coating to prevent rusting, eliminate the need for seasoning, and make it easier to clean.
Non-reactive: The enameled coating prevents the metal from reacting with acidic foods, so go ahead and cook any ingredient you’d like in this cookware. You can soak it in water to help loosen stubborn bits of food, and it won’t cause damage.
So, if you’re cooking a one-pot meal and need to adjust the heat often, you might want to pick another cookware type. Food can stick: Although the enamel improves its non-stick properties, it’s not nearly as slick as a Teflon-coated pan.
Enameled cast iron has many uses, but it’s especially popular as a Dutch oven, which is ideal for slow-cooking. You can use an enameled cast iron Dutch oven for braising, stews, chilies, and much more.
Other types of enameled cast iron cookware are suitable for braising, baking and frying. You’ll find skillets, woks, pots, roasters, and pans made from carbon steel.
While it’s beloved by professionals due to its high heat tolerance, it’s gaining popularity among home cooks as well. That makes it easier to maneuver, especially when pouring sauce or transferring to the oven.
Versatile: With carbon steel, you can make eggs, grill steaks, fry vegetables, roast chicken, and much more. Durable: Carbon steel is strong, so if you drop it on the floor or smack it against another pan, it’s unlikely to break or scratch.
Affordable: If you want a quality pan at a fraction of the cost compared to enameled cast iron, carbon steel is an excellent option. Responsive: When switching from high to low heat, it doesn’t take the surface long to respond since the walls are thinner than cast iron.
Difficult to clean: Carbon steel isn’t dishwasher safe, so cleanup requires some effort. It’s excellent for searing, browning, and broiling since it can handle extremely high temperatures.
Not only is it the most expensive cookware, but it also heats up incredibly fast, requiring you to pay close attention while cooking. While some brands use copper as the exterior, others use it as the core material for fully-clad stainless steel cookware.
Copper is rarely used for the cooking surface because it reacts with acidic foods. Simply wash with warm water and a soft cloth, and the food will slide right off.
Not only is the raw material more expensive than aluminum and steel, but much leading copper cookware brands manufacture their products in France. It also tarnishes when exposed to moisture and needs to be polished regularly to maintain its beauty.
This isn’t a problem in most cases since most brands utilize stainless steel for the surface. You’ll find it’s especially useful for meals that benefit from precise temperature control, such as fish, sauces, caramels, and fruit flambé.
Non-stick cookware with PTFE (or Teflon) coating is made with synthetic materials to prevent food from sticking and make cleanup easy. It’s most suitable for vegetables, eggs, fish, sauces, pancakes and crêpes, curries, stir-fry, and much more.
I don’t recommend it for searing or frying meat, broiling, or grilling as the high temperatures can ruin the non-stick coating. Ceramic non-stick cookware has a cooking surface made of natural sand-derived silicon using a process called sol-gel.
So it’s not technically made from ceramic, but it’s labeled as such because of its smooth glossy texture. The coating is derived from natural sand and doesn’t contain lead, cadmium, or other potentially dangerous chemicals or elements.
Non-stick: Ceramic coated cookware is naturally non-stick, so it boasts excellent food release, and it’s easy to clean. There’s not much scientific evidence to back these claims, but this is a pro if you trust the brands.
Color options: Ceramic-coating cookware allows you to match your pots and pans to your kitchen decor. Although it’s affordable, you should only expect your ceramic cookware to last around one year before it loses its non-stick ability, cracks, chips, or before the paint discolors.
The surface is made of tiny particles, and, at a microscopic level, food isn’t always in direct contact with the heat. Like PTFE coated non-stick cookware, ceramic cookware is best for delicate foods that tend to stick such as eggs, pancakes, stir-fry, vegetables, and other delicate, flakes foods.
It doesn’t react to acidic foods; you can use it for tomato, lemon, and wine sauces. It’s not the best cookware for searing and browning meat, since it’s more effective at low and medium temperatures.
Plus, searing requires adhesion between the meat and the cookware, and, with non-stick, the food tends to slide around too much. While most aluminum cookware is treated with a non-stick or stainless steel interior, be cautious if yours isn’t.
Since most aluminum cookware has a non-stick coating, it’s best for vegetables, stir-fry, curries, eggs, pancakes, and more. It’s not recommended for searing or browning meat or other recipes that require high heat.
Scratch-resistant: This is an excellent choice if you’re low on storage space and need to stack your cookware. Quality varies across brands: There are many hard-anodized aluminum options on the market, and no two products are the same.
Most hard-anodized aluminum cookware is coated with a PTFE non-stick surface, making it a top choice for cooking eggs, pancakes, grilled cheese, and other recipes that tend to stick. It’s thick, durable, and can handle higher heat than standard aluminum.
Go ahead and test out most recipes in this cookware, but be careful with acidic foods if the surface isn’t coated with non-stick materials or stainless steel. I recommend something with a hard-anodized aluminum base and PTFE non-stick coating for ultimate durability.
An excellent option is the Clifton Contemporary collection, which you can learn about in my in-depth review or check out on Amazon. One stainless steel pan or skillet for searing, browning, and simmering sauces.
And one stainless steel saucepan or stockpot for boiling and making sauces. Either a cast iron or carbon steel skillet for roasting, sautéing, braising, and frying.
Keep in mind that carbon steel is lighter, whereas cast iron is heavier but retains heat well. For cast iron, go with Lodge (available on Amazon), one of the best brands that still makes its cookware in the USA.