Nobody likes having to throw a perfectly good pan “away” (i.e., into a landfill) after just a year or two of use. Typically, cast iron and good quality stainless steel cookware can last for decades, while most non-stick pots and pans wear out every few years.
Do you only cook occasionally, and just need to invest in a couple of higher quality pieces as opposed to an entire set? Additionally, buying multi-purpose pots and pans will minimize waste and save space in your kitchen.
In the long run, you’re better off with a durable pan that will weather heat, cold, bumps, and heavy use without degrading. There are plenty of reasonably priced middle-of-the-road options that can be relatively safe and last a long time.
Here are the pros and cons of some of the most popular, starting with ones you may want to avoid, which ones are moderately safe, and which ones appear to be the safest. iStock.com/LYagovy Although these can save you the trouble of having to oil your pan before cooking and are easy to use and clean, non-stick doesn’t mean non-toxic.
Toxicity is such a problem that the manufacturer labels on non-stick pans often warn consumers not to use high heat with these products. However, tests funded by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) show that in just a few minutes on a typical stove, non-stick cookware could exceed temperatures at which the coating breaks apart and emits toxins.
Have you ever heard of the “canary in the coal mine?” Birds can be more sensitive to dangerous gases than humans. But if something is lethal to birds, then it doesn’t take a coal miner to guess that it probably isn’t good for you, either.
If you must cook with Teflon or other typical non-stick pans, make sure to use low or medium heat and stir with a wooden spoon to minimize chemical exposure. If too much aluminum enters your body, it can settle into your internal organs, including your brain, liver, heart, and bones, and eventually cause disease.
Aluminum exposure has been studied for its potential link to Alzheimer’s disease for many years. In this case, there’s a protective layer over the aluminum to increase durability, but it may still break down over time.
Because it’s a soft metal, copper conducts heat well, but it has to be polished to maintain its shiny appearance. Pans also require seasoning with a coating of oil to prevent rusting and sticking.
As a result, they have special cleaning instructions (it shouldn’t go in the dishwasher or be washed with detergent). One of our recommended cast iron cookware brands is Lodge, which has been around for a long time with an excellent reputation for quality.
On the cons side, you should never place hot glass cookware on a cold surface as it can crack or even shatter. Additionally, glass is heavier and more fragile than many other types of cookware, doesn’t work on induction stoves, and is not non-stick.
Some of our favorite glass cookware options include the Pyrex Baking Pan here and the Visions 5L Round Dutch Oven here. Carbon steel also develops what’s called a patina, a brownish film caused by oxidation over time, which some people say makes food taste a little funny.
iStock.com/maria_esau Stainless steel is a healthy cookware choice that can last a long time. It works well for pressure cookers and big pots of soup, steamed vegetables, and cooking legumes and grains.
Good brands are durable, but the enamel coating can degrade over time. Unlike regular cast iron, enamel-coated cookware comes in a variety of colors besides black.
One healthy cookware product made from enamel-coated cast iron is this skillet by Essen so. Other perks of ceramic are its scratch resistance and slow and even cooking.
Titanium is often used to make sterile surgical instruments because it’s considered a biocompatible metal, meaning it won’t react adversely with the human body. Cookware made with titanium is lighter weight, durable, doesn’t leach into your food, and is typically more affordable than many other options.
One of the biggest downsides to titanium cookware, however, is that it takes a while to warm up and doesn’t always conduct heat evenly. Some manufacturers recognize this and have made improvements, such as making pans that are titanium-coated over an aluminum core.
Or, in some instances, covering them with a ceramic-titanium blend to improve durability and give a non-stick quality. Additionally, certain titanium cookware can be used on induction stoves, while others may not be, so look for this clarification on the package or manufacturer website.
And, some cookware recently introduced provides us with improvements to non-stick interiors, colored surfaces, dishwasher compatibility, amongst many other features. However, several concerns have been raised about the safety of several components introduced into these pots and pans during manufacture.
Understandably, while older models have their advantages, not all are rust and corrosion resistant. And, some contain harmful chemicals like lead that compromises your food quality and health.
Stainless steel is an iron alloy to which chromium is added. Nickel is also added to give ductility to steel, that is to say, flexibility and therefore resistance.
All of these component parts do not react in any way to foods, even at high heat levels. While stainless steel remains one of the best materials used in the manufacture of cookware for its durability and aesthetic appeal, unlike nonstick pans, it can be difficult to clean if it is not taken care of properly.
It is therefore important to establish a cleaning routine for your stainless steel cooking utensils. And learn how to effectively clean stubborn stains as soon as you find them.
It is possible to oil the stainless steel pans to make them non-stick, which will prevent the food from sticking and facilitate easy cleaning. But, if you ever encounter stuck foods, simply soaking the pot/pan for a while is enough to release them.
Today, natural cast iron is one of the healthiest material for kitchen utensils. It is an alloy of iron and carbon that poses no risk to health.
b) Non-stick coatings are fragile and can be damaged extremely quickly, rendering your utensils unusable. Teflon contains a compound called FOA, which has been recognized as a health risk.
Ceramic pots and pans give your kitchen a classic look. Certified without PTFE or FOA, ceramic coated cookware is sold as “green utensils” for our kitchen.
The manufacturing process of this cookware type is also environmentally friendly. Ceramic cookware requires little or no fat and allows effective cooking at low temperatures.
This is totally true, as they are mainly made of water and silica, both of which pose no health risk to man. They are designed to resist wear, scuffing, and corrosion so does not deteriorate to cause any negative health impact over time.
Remember that ceramic is just a coat and while safe, exposing the utensil core compromises the quality of your cookware, and possibly your food. Always leave the pan to cool before immersing in water for cleaning.
Remember also that with this type of coating not to use the abrasive side of your sponge. However, you should note that several newer ceramic cookware models are metal utensil safe.
The glass lids sit tightly to allow for faster cooking and better flavor absorption. The ceramic non-stick coating used in this healthiest cookware set is metal utensil safe.
This guarantees base stability and makes these utensils warp and scratch resistant. Compatible with all stove top types, as well as broilers, you get it all with this item.
Super durable, metal utensil safe ceramic non-stick coating. Tight-fitting lids allow for faster cooking and better flavor absorption.
This material type makes this product very durable and also allows for even heat distribution. This feature also makes all the pieces in this set dishwasher safe.
All the included covers are high heat-resistant and are very durable. Also, oven safe, as well as the covers, you can comfortably relax with this set in your kitchen.
Tight-fitting lids allow for faster cooking and better flavor absorption. Super stylish, this Rachael Ray cookware set is packed with a lot of features.
Coming in a 10-piece, 12-piece and 14-piece variant, as well as in four different colors, you get to enjoy this set in a choice you like best. This material, however, is also responsible for the quick and even heat distribution feature you get with these pots and pans.
These handles also provide you with a non-slip surface and remain ever cool to allow for safe use. Also, tight sealing, you get a faster cooking time and better flavor absorption into your foods.
Oven safe (up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit), you get versatility of use with this item. Also, dishwasher safe, cleaning up afterward is made easy.
Rachael Ray offers you a limited lifetime warranty on this product. The hard-anodized aluminum build gives this item superior durability.
The Le Crest Signature cookware set is manufactured with enameled cast iron. And, this 5-piece set is sold in 10 colors, giving you a wide range to choose from to perfectly match your kitchen.
As if that is not enough, you also get ergonomic handles that provide a sure firm grip, even with mitts on. The best part, however, is the limited lifetime warranty that accompanies the purchase of this item.
The Over Stone Earth frying pan comes in three sizes; 8, 10 and 12 inches. It also comes in three colors; coconut brown, granite gray, and lava black.
All look fancy and will make a fine addition to your kitchen collection. All stove top compatible, they are fitted with a specially magnetized base to allow for rapid heat transfer when used with an induction cooker.
The stone derived non-stick coating is hardy and offers superior non-stick function. While the Wherever 2100087606 might not be the proverbial pots of gold, it really is a golden colored healthiest cookware set.
The fine finish and design of this product are bound to leave you in awe. It is sold in a set of 10 and 15 pieces respectively to meet different users needs.
Offering you stain and scratch resistance on both interior and exterior surfaces, this cookware set retains its fine finish for a very long time. The base if infused with heavy-duty aluminum to give you fast and even heating.
Dishwasher and oven safe (up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit), you’ve got an all-around product. And with its limited lifetime warranty, you are sure of superior durability and function that does not falter.
Super durable, metal utensil safe ceramic non-stick coating. Tight-fitting lids allow for faster cooking and better flavor absorption.
Manufactured with hard anodized aluminum, it is both very durable and functional. It features a limited lifetime warranty to assure you of its quality.
Sold in a black, bronze or a gray color, you are given the flexibility of choice to perfectly match your kitchen. To further reduce your cooking time, the tempered glass lids fit tightly.
The see-through lids likewise eliminate the need to open your utensil while in use, hence losing heat in the process. Its stainless steel and silicone combination makes it comfortable to use.
The Anglo cookware set is tagged “advanced” for good reason. The interior non-stick surface requires no grease or special maintenance, so it is both easier to use, and a safe choice.
The hard anodized aluminum build of this product makes it very durable. Tight-fitting lids allow for faster cooking and better flavor absorption.
While we might not be able to regulate a lot of things, we can at least eat right by cooking with safe cookware. If you have made the mistake of buying a less healthy option already, it is a great idea to upgrade to safe cooking.
Anodized aluminum has been linked to brain and bone damage, according to Wayne Faster, DO, clinical assistant professor at the Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine. About seven decades ago, the non-stick surface known as Teflon made its debut, but since then similar coatings such as Anglo, Cap halon, Circular, Silverstone, and Teal, among others, came to market.
Non-stick surfaces coated with polytetrafluoroetheylene (PTFE, which is made from perfluorooctanoic acid, FOA) release toxic fumes at high temperatures that can kill pet birds and cause flu-like symptoms in people. FOA has been associated with high cholesterol, thyroid problems, male infertility, and pregnancy difficulties.
If you find yourself in need of some healthy cooking and baking needs, it’s time to add any of the following to your holiday wish list. Stainless steel cookware often has an inner core of copper or aluminum, which are excellent conductors of heat.
Vigorous scouring using steel wool pads or brushes may damage the cooking surface, allowing nickel (an alloy) to leak into food and possibly expose the core metals. Cast iron can be relatively non-stick if you season it; that is, treat the pans with oil (I use olive or coconut) and then bake them.
If you have difficulty lifting heavy cookware and/or if you have arthritis in your hands, you may want to stick with small cast iron pans and use stainless steel for larger needs. Acquiring glass cookware and bakeware need not be costly, as you can find them in vintage or thrift stores at reasonable prices.
Ceramic cookware and bakeware have been used since ancient times, and they can provide even heating and easy cleanup. Always check the manufacturer to be sure any ceramic or enamel cookware or bakeware is free of metals, lead, or cadmium, including ceramic-coated pans.
Several reliable manufacturers provide healthy ceramic and/or enamel cookware and bakeware, including Extreme and Mercia. Stoneware made in the United States and Canada is lead-free; low-quality items from China and other countries may contain lead.
You will want to familiarize yourself with some dos and don'ts about clay cookware, such as seasoning them, before you throw that casserole into the oven! One such patented technology (Thermal; Green Pan) is heat-resistant up to 850 degrees F and does not emit toxic fumes or peel at that high temperature, unlike the other non-stick cookware.
Another is Organic, also ceramic-coated, but these products need to be seasoned with oil every few months and are heat-resistant up to 500 degrees F. Yet another is the Earth Pan II line from Freeware. The healthiest cookware and bakeware seem to be stainless steel, cast iron, stoneware, clay, and glass, with a smaller number of ceramic and enamel.
If this review has caused you to take stock of your pots and pans and you realize you need to make some changes, don’t panic! Check vintage and thrift stores for healthy products that are still in good shape to help keep costs down.
Andrea has combined her background and expertise as both a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and an entrepreneur (“She Boss!”) To educate the public on living a healthy lifestyle through the creation of her businesses, books, articles, podcasts, videos, talks, and TV and radio media appearances.