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Top 9 Safe Non-Toxic Cookware Brands 2024: Tests & Reviews

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Eating healthy food is a priority for many, yet our cookware often escapes our scrutiny. Non-stick pans make cooking easier but come with a hidden health risk…

Many use PFAS chemicals, which can be harmful over time, even in newer, PFOA-free versions. More on that next.

With all the confusion about safe levels of PFAS, it’s wise to choose non-toxic cookware free from these chemicals— Cast iron and stainless steel are great options, with ceramic non-stick being the closest Teflon alternative (when bought from a reputable company).

But PFAS isn’t the only thing to watch out for, though it’s a big one.

In this article, we’ll explain which cookware to avoid and what makes a pan truly non-toxic. After much testing and expert consultation, we’ve found the nine healthiest cookware brands for you – each thoroughly reviewed below.

Let’s dive in!

Medically-reviewed by Dr. Ahmad Alsayes, MBBS

Safest Cookware Picks: At a Glance

Click to skip ahead to each brand’s in-depth review:

Cookware Types to Avoid: The Bottom Line on Non-Stick

Section Summary:

  • Be Wary of PFAS: Despite today’s non-stick pans being labeled “PFOA-free,” they may still contain other harmful PFAS chemicals, which can accumulate in the body and environment, posing serious health risks.
  • Choose Safer Alternatives: For health and safety, avoid PFAS-containing cookware. Opt for non-stick alternatives like ceramic-coated pans, which don’t carry these risks.

The Details:

Before 2013, PFOA and PFOS chemicals were used to produce Teflon coatings. But, they released toxic fumes when heated above 482℉, sometimes in under two minutes over high heat.

Due to health risks, including a heightened chance of several cancers linked to PFOA, modern Teflon pans are now PFOA-free.

However, this label can be misleading as pans may still include other PFAS, like GenX chemicals, among the thousands identified.

Current research on the safety of PFOA-free cookware is sparse. But, studies indicate that PFAS (known as “forever chemicals”) persist in the environment and accumulate in the human body. High levels of PFAS are associated with severe health issues, including kidney cancer and developmental delays in children, yet the safe consumption threshold remains unknown.

To minimize risks, it is best to use PFAS-free alternatives like ceramic-coated cookware, which provides a safer non-stick option without PFAS exposure.

Other cookware concerns (use caution):

  • Bare aluminum: Great at conducting heat but can leach metal into your food if it’s not anodized. Now, unless you have kidney failure, aluminum absorption from food is generally safe.  However, some sources claim links to Alzheimer’s and dementia.
  • Leachable lead & cadmium in glazes: Brightly colored ceramic and enameled cookware may leach harmful lead if not made properly. So, always opt for credible companies with transparent safety (like Xtrema) and avoid antique ceramics.
  • Titanium dioxide nanoparticles: Some low-quality quasi-ceramic pans use this for a non-stick effect. These particles can leach into your food, especially if the pan becomes scratched. And we’re still unsure of titanium dioxide’s human health impacts, though animal studies show concern. Choose only high-quality, well-known brands like Caraway or Greenpan.

What makes Cookware Non-Toxic? Safety Criteria & Best Materials

Section Summary:

  • Prioritize PFAS-Free Options: The primary criterion for “toxin-free” cookware is the absence of PFAS coatings. Safe non-stick alternatives, like ceramic-coated cookware, are available. Just ensure the product is labeled as “PFAS-free.” Also, steer clear of chipped or antique ceramics and use caution with bare aluminum.

Best Types of Non-Toxic Cookware:

  • Stainless steel: Durable, versatile, and non-reactive, but not naturally non-stick. Requires proper preheating and oiling to prevent sticking.
  • Cast iron: Excellent heat retention and searing ability, naturally non-stick with proper seasoning. Heavy and requires seasoning maintenance.
  • Carbon steel: Like cast iron, but lighter and heats up faster. Requires seasoning maintenance.
  • Ceramic-coated: PFAS-free alternative to traditional non-stick, but the coating can eventually break down. Requires careful use and cleaning.
    • Solid ceramic: Made from natural clay, oven-safe, and can handle high heat. It can be fragile and expensive.

The Details:

Though not as non-stick as Teflon, ceramic pans offer a safer alternative when used with a bit of oil. They excel at cooking eggs without toxic fume risk.

To ensure safety, look for cookware labeled “PFAS-free” and “ceramic-coated.” This is vital, as some ceramic coatings may still contain PFAS chemicals, like the Ozeri Stone Earth’s “natural, stone-derived coating.”

While ceramic pans are safe, high heat and metal utensils can compromise their non-stick properties.

So, consider alternatives like stainless steel, cast iron, and carbon steel for durability and versatility. These materials are non-toxic, withstand all cooking temperatures, and can last a lifetime without coatings. Preheating these pans on medium heat before oiling can provide a non-stick surface that minimizes food sticking.

Solid ceramic and specific types of glass bakeware, such as borosilicate or pyroceram (Corningware), are safe for stove top use. Just note their fragility.

Next, let’s explore our top non-toxic cookware picks that passed the finish line after our evaluation process.

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9 Best Non-Toxic Cookware Options | Reviewed

1. Demeyere 5-Plus

Best Overall

  • Material/ Ply: 18/10 stainless steel, aluminum core; 5-ply. Zero PFAS
  • Dishwasher-safe? Yes, but handwashing preferred
  • Stove compatibility & heat tolerance: All cooktops, including induction. Oven & broiler safe to 500℉
  • Price (at time of publishing): $999.95 for 10pc set [Check latest]
  • Warranty: Lifetime
  • Where it’s made: Belgium
  • Also available: 14pc set
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Demeyere 5-Plus 10pc set
  • Superior construction that resists warping and maintains a new appearance over time.
  • Quick heat-up and even heat distribution, aided by the 5-ply construction, make it ideal for precise cooking.
  • The rivetless design and Silvinox treatment make these pans easier to clean and maintain than most stainless options.
  • Features like stay-cool, rivetless, and easy-grip handles make the cookware comfortable and safe to use.
  • Expensive.
  • Some customers experienced poor responsiveness with warranty claims, leaving them without replacements for extended periods.
  • Difficult label removal; time-consuming and tedious to fully remove.

Demeyere’s Belgium-made 5-Plus combines stainless steel’s versatility with the heating speed of hard-anodized cookware.

Its thick, 5-ply design features a triple aluminum core and stainless exterior. With a non-reactive, coating-free surface, this pan handles acidic ingredients, metal utensils, and high heat. And the 18/0 “stay-flat” base prevents permanent warping, ensuring even oil spread.

What sets Demeyere apart is its Silvinox surface treatment. This finishing removes impurities for a smoother, less sticky, easier-to-clean steel.

Demeyere outperformed other stainless sets in cooking trials, particularly in cooking eggs. With solid heat retention and Silvinox, less food debris remained on Demeyere than on All-Clad. Note: Despite being dishwasher-safe, I suggest handwashing to maintain the steel’s clarity. 

I found Demeyere to boil water faster than steel core 5-ply, thanks to its fast-heating triple aluminum core. Though slightly less heat retention, it proved sufficient to give my N.Y. strip the right texture. And Demeyere’s slower, more gradual heating (compared to triple-ply pans) is more forgiving if you go too hot. This reduces the risk of scorching.

Demeyere’s 5-ply cookware excels for daily use by balancing versatility and ease. Lighter than steel core 5-ply, the pans are comfortable to use. Their heat-diffusing handles stayed cool through searing tests. Demeyere was also easier to clean than others, with Silvinox and rivetless handles for a smooth interior. While this 10-piece set covers the basics, the fry pans lack lids.

2. Made-In 5-Ply

Best Stainless Steel Set

  • Material/ Ply: 18/10 stainless steel, aluminum core; 5-ply. Zero PFAS
  • Dishwasher-safe? Yes, but handwashing preferred
  • Stove compatibility & heat tolerance: All cooktops, including induction. Oven & broiler safe to 800
  • Price (at time of publishing): $778 for 10pc set [Check latest]
  • Warranty: Lifetime
  • Where it’s made: Italy
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Made-In 5-ply 10pc
  • Even heat distribution and quick heating capability due to the triple aluminum layer design.
  • Solid construction and durability; built to last.
  • Easy to clean.
  • Beautiful finish with practical handle and lid designs.
  • More prone to staining with certain foods like tomato than Demeyere.
  • The design feels awkwardly heavy and less balanced than other sets, making handling more cumbersome.
  • Some customers complain about slow or unhelpful customer service, particularly regarding returns and warranty claims.
  • Pricey.

Made-In’s 5-ply Italian-made stainless steel set includes all the brand’s top sellers. It’s (almost) as good as Demeyere but more affordable. Made-In also uses a three-layer aluminum core and 18/10 stainless steel outer layer – offering a balance of heat retention and responsiveness.

In our tests, Made-In matched Demeyere in heating speed and meat searing. The main difference? Made-In pans were a bit harder to clean, but soaking them removed any leftover bits. I found it was still easier to wash by hand than Cuisinart’s Multiclad Pro.

With stainless steel lids and an 800℉ heat tolerance (the highest I’ve seen), Made-In shines for high-heat stove-to-oven use. Just note the fry pans lack lids.

In handling, Made-In’s relatively lighter weight and stay-cool handles were comfortable during extended use. The handles do get warm in the oven but cool down fast, thanks to their hollow design. But unlike Demeyere, these handles are riveted, so expect some food debris to collect.

Overall, Made-In stands out as a top performer at its price. While similar options are available at this price, I chose Made-In for its proven track record of happy users and safety transparency. Their website’s recycling program also adds a nice touch on sustainability.

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Made-In 5-ply 10pc

3. Cuisinart Multiclad Pro

Best Budget Set

  • Material/ Ply: 18/10 stainless steel, aluminum core; 3-ply. Zero PFAS
  • Dishwasher-safe? Yes, but hand washing preferred
  • Stove compatibility & heat tolerance: All cooktops, including induction. Oven & broiler safe to 550
  • Price (at time of publishing): $277 for 12pc set [Check latest]
  • Warranty: Lifetime
  • Where it’s made: China
  • Also available: 13pc set; 15pc set
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Cuisinart Multiclad Pro 12pc
  • Excellent ability to heat evenly and retain heat with reduced hotspots.
  • Great value: Robust construction withstands regular hard use; a lengthy lifespan for the price.
  • Practical: Its versatile, lightweight design works well on the stove or in the oven. It’s easy to handle for table serving and dishwasher-safe.
  • These pans are easy to hand wash, similar to All-Clad’s food release.
  • Food sticks more easily when frying over high heat than thicker pans.
  • Handles can get hot over gas burners during prolonged cooking.
  • More prone to warping over time than 5-ply pans.

The Multiclad Pro’s design features three layers: an 18/10 stainless steel outside and an aluminum core. This combination heats faster than thicker 5-ply sets. It’s great for changing temperatures fast, like moving from browning meat to simmering a sauce.

It boiled water faster than 5-ply Demeyere, Made-In, and All-Clad in tests. But this means it’s easier to burn food than 5-ply if temperatures are too high. Also, three-layer pans cool faster, meaning less heat retention (searing ability) than 5-ply.

Still, when I compare it to All-Clad’s D3, the Multiclad Pro set stands out as the best option under $300. They’re pretty similar in how quickly they respond to heat changes.

In cooking eggs, the Multiclad Pro did have more sticking than All-Clad’s D3. That said, a brief soak lifted the residue quickly. Another difference is the Mutliclad’s steeper sides, which help prevent spillover.

Aside from that, the two are pretty much even in performance, using the same materials and design. But Cuisinart’s set costs less than half of the D3, making it a smart, high-performance budget pick.

This set has all the basics: skillets, saucepans, a sauté pan, a stockpot, and a universal steamer. The stainless steel lids are broiler-safe up to 550℉, a step up from Cuisinart’s TPS-10 (glass lids). I found the handles’ vented design to stay cool during extended testing. But, they are riveted, so expect food debris to collect on the inside.

Overall, the Multiclad Pro gives you the most bang for your buck out of all the options we’ve looked at.

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Cuisinart Multiclad Pro 12pc

4. Caraway

Best Non-Stick Set

  • Material/ Ply: Aluminum base with non-stick ceramic coating. Zero PFAS
  • Dishwasher-safe? No
  • Stove compatibility & heat tolerance: All cooktops, including induction. Oven-safe to 550.
  • Price (at time of publishing): $355.50 for 12pc set [Check latest]
  • Warranty: 1-year
  • Where it’s made: BSCI/ SMETA-approved factories in China
  • Also available: 2pc set; 3pc set; Steamer pot duo
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Caraway 12pc
  • Exceptional non-stick and heating abilities; food cooks evenly, browns nicely, and releases easily from the surface.
  • Most food residues glide off with water, making cleaning almost effortless.
  • Attractive design and stylish color options to enhance kitchen decor.
  • Easy storage: The magnetic pan racks and hanging lid organizers save space in tighter kitchens.
  • Free from harmful chemicals like PFAS, providing peace of mind.
  • Pricey.
  • Pans are heavier than expected, making handling and storage challenging for those with limited strength or arthritis.
  • The lack of transparent lids prevents you from monitoring your food without removing them, releasing heat and steam.
  • Maintaining a like-new condition requires meticulous care (avoiding high heat, specific cleaning protocols, etc.), which can be burdensome.

Caraway’s PFAS-free ceramic coating is a true Teflon alternative, offering easy cooking and cleaning. While not as non-stick as Teflon, the peace of mind is worth the sacrifice. Even if the pan gets too hot, Caraway doesn’t emit PFAS fumes.

In egg tests, a little oil over medium heat prevented sticking entirely. Cleanup took seconds. But high heat, not using oil, and not letting the pan preheat caused some sticking. Yet, it’s nothing a sponge can’t handle. Sticking with low-medium heat, hand washing, and non-metal utensils is best here.

This thickness helps distribute heat evenly and retains it better than thinner pans, reducing the chance of food sticking. While it might not be the best for searing steaks, it excels with foods that tend to stick.

Each piece but the frying pan includes a ceramic-coated aluminum lid. The steel handles, with heat-diffusing designs, stayed comfortable throughout most of my testing. They did get warm during high heat tests, but it’s best to stay below medium heat with ceramic anyway.

Lastly, Caraway stands out for its variety, offering cookware in eight stylish colors. They also sell pots and pans individually, with bakeware and food storage available as well. Beyond safe materials, Caraway’s ethical manufacturing and plastic-free packaging make them a conscious choice.

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Caraway pan racks & lid holder

5. Greenpan GP5 Black

Best-Performing Non-Stick

  • Material/ Ply: Hard-anodized aluminum base with non-stick ceramic coating
  • Dishwasher-safe? Yes, but handwashing preferred
  • Stove compatibility & heat tolerance: All cooktops, including induction. Oven-safe to 600.
  • Price (at time of publishing): $859.99 for the 11pc set [Check latest]
  • Warranty: Limited lifetime
  • Where it’s made: Italy and China
  • Also available: 2pc set; GP5 Colors collection
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Greenpan GP5 11pc
  • Exceptional non-stick performance makes cooking and cleaning easy and efficient.
  • The extra-thick design heats quickly and evenly, ensuring consistent cooking without hot spots.
  • Durable and extremely easy to clean, often requiring only a quick wipe or rinse after use.
  • Its simple, attractive appearance pairs well with most kitchen decor.
  • Expensive.
  • Non-stick coating can scratch or chip without proper care. It demands soft utensils, gentle cleaning, and lower heat.
  • Some customer service issues regarding defects and durability inquiries (often dismissed as normal wear and tear).
  • Do not work well with induction cooktops; inefficient heating.

GreenPan’s GP5 is their top ceramic-coated pan, packed with 16 years of innovation. I immediately noticed the heft of its 5mm-thick hard-anodized base, the thickest I’ve tested. 

Combined with its Balance Pro base—an induction-ready, anti-warp plate—the GP5 held heat better than other brands like Caraway and Blue Diamond. This means your food cooks more evenly, with less chance of sticking or burning. But you do sacrifice some heating speed for retention, boiling water a little slower than Caraway.

In searing tests, the GP5 browned food better than Caraway but didn’t quite match up to cladded steel. Its INFINITE8 ceramic coating matched Caraway in food release during egg tests. But the GP5’s diamond-reinforced coating claims to last longer, helping to justify its higher cost.

Although labeled dishwasher and metal utensil-safe, I’d suggest against both to extend the coating’s lifespan. Just cooking on medium heat with some oil makes cleaning by hand easy. And the reverse-riveted steel handles ensure a snag-free cleanup.

Unlike Caraway, the GP5 uses rugged stainless steel lids with a low dome design, easily sliding into tight ovens. Its heat-vented handles stayed cool through regular use but did get warm during longer sessions.

Despite its high cost, the GP5 (and any non-stick) lacks the versatility of stainless steel. So I recommend grabbing 1-2 GP5 pans for sticky foods and steel or cast iron for everything else. Caraway makes for a better set overall due to its affordability, but the GP5 is the top performer.

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Greenpan GP5 9.5" frypan

6. Our Place Always Pan 2.0

Most Versatile Pan

  • Material/ Ply: 100% recycled aluminum base with non-stick ceramic coating. Zero PFAS
  • Dishwasher-safe? No
  • Stove compatibility & heat tolerance: All cooktops, including induction. Oven-safe to 450.
  • Price (at time of publishing): $105 for 10.5” model [Check latest]
  • Warranty: 1-year
  • Where it’s made: China
  • Also available: Mini 8.5″; Large 12.5″
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Our Place Always Pan 10.5"
  • Multi-Functionality: Handles various cooking tasks, like sautéing, frying, boiling, and steaming, all in one pan.
  • Features like a built-in spoon rest, steamer insert, and domed lid (great for baking bread) boost convenience and versatility.
  • The ceramic coating is easy to clean, often requiring a simple wipe.
  • Modern, sleek design with various colors available; great for serving.
  • The pan heats quickly and evenly, providing a reliable cooking surface without hot spots.
  • The non-stick coating can lose effect from high heat and abrasive scrubbers within months. Use low-medium heat and soft cloths/ sponges.
  • The smaller assist handle can get hot, posing a risk of burns.
  • We found the pan does not heat effectively on induction stoves, with slow, uneven cooking.

I’ve owned the original Always Pan for roughly two years. It claims to replace ten pieces of cookware. While I think that’s a stretch, it’s the most versatile pan I’ve used due to its unique shape. The sides are roughly 1.5″ deeper than average fry pans – suitable to use as a wok for stir-frying. Yet, its wide, flat surface is perfect for flipping pancakes or scrambling eggs.

Cleaning this pan is super easy, thanks to its PFAS-free ceramic coating. However, after 1.5 years, I noticed food sticking a bit more. Our Place addressed this in their 2.0 model with Thermakind – a 50% longer-lasting coating. With hand washing and non-metal utensil use, the 2.0 should last longer.

The thick aluminum body offers a more balanced heating speed and retention. It boils water quicker than the GP5 but not as fast as Caraway. I’m a big fan of the lid that comes with it; it’s domed, ceramic-coated, and has a vent you can adjust to let steam out. I use this feature to prevent salmon burgers from drying out after searing.

This pan also has clever features that boost its usefulness, like a nesting steamer basket/ backup pasta strainer. Pouring spouts make water removal simple. I’ve found the pan’s main handle does stay cool, though the helper handle gets warm. A unique addition is the beechwood spatula that fits right onto the pan’s handle, eliminating the need for a spoon rest!

Overall, the Always Pan is a genius multifunctional ecosystem worth its price. Extra accessories, such as spruce wood steamer inserts, are available. And Our Place’s use of recycled aluminum and biodegradable packaging adds an ethical touch to the brand.

  • Always Pan 2.0 – 10.5” (2.6-qt capacity)
  • Modular steam-release lid
  • Nesting beechwood spatula
  • Stainless steel steamer basket/ strainer
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Our Place Always Pan

7. Xtrema Pure Ceramic

Overall Safest Cookware

  • Material/ Ply: All natural, 100% pure ceramic. Zero PFAS
  • Dishwasher-safe? Yes
  • Stove compatibility & heat tolerance: All cooktops except induction. Microwave & oven-safe at max settings (handles over 2000℉)
  • Price (at time of publishing): $152.99 for 10” Versa [Check latest]
  • Warranty: 10-year
  • Where it’s made: Handmade in China
  • Also available: 8” Versa; 12” Versa. Also, 5pc sets up to complete 12pc collections
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Xtrema Versa 10"
  • 100% pure ceramic build ensures no harmful chemicals or metals leach into food. It stays safe forever.
  • Suitable for use from fridge to stovetop to oven (or the microwave), making it ideal for various cooking methods and one-pot meals.
  • Easy to clean despite no coatings, with most food residues wiping off quickly.
  • Ceramic superior heat retention helps in cooking food evenly and efficiently.
  • Must preheat slowly on low to medium heat, extending cook times. Not doing so makes eggs and pancakes stick easily.
  • Uneven heating over gas burners, where the center may heat faster than the edges. Use low heat to counter this.
  • Somewhat heavy (though lighter than cast iron) and fragile, demanding careful handling and cleaning.
  • Expensive.

While ceramic-coated pans are great for eggs, their heat retention and lifespan are subpar. The coating eventually wears down. Xtrema’s pure ceramic, made entirely from kiln-baked clay, overcomes these challenges.

Like cast iron, it handles high heat, oven use, and metal utensils without damage. Its ability to sear food is impressive, comparable to cast iron. But it’s lighter, easier to handle, and demands no seasoning upkeep. It’s also microwave-safe, the only one on this page. One tradeoff, however, is that Xtrema can crack if dropped from a countertop.

I’ve owned Xtrema’s 10″ Versa Pan (pictured) for almost two years. It excels in braised dishes and recipes that contain acidic ingredients, as it’s non-reactive. The heat spreads evenly, like cast iron, ensuring a consistent cooking surface. I get more predictable searing with it than my Lodge skillet, which is more sluggish and finicky.

I like the Versa’s heat-retaining ceramic lid, which bathes food in 360-degree heat, cooking it faster. Paired with its 2.5” depth, the Versa shines for efficient one-pot meals.

After egg tests, Xtrema had slightly more stuck-on food than my cast iron pan, as there’s no seasoning layer. Proper preheating and oiling are even more critical here. That said, a 15-minute soak always lifts food debris.

Lastly, choosing ceramic cookware from reputable brands is crucial to avoid the risk of lead leaching. Xtrema does not use lead or cadmium and has a 15-year history of passing California Prop 65 standards. They openly share their testing results on their website, ensuring transparency.

  • 10″ Versa pan
  • Solid ceramic lid
  • Silicone handle sleeves
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Xtrema Versa 10"

8. Lodge

Best Overall Cast Iron & Carbon Steel

  • Material/ Ply: 100% cast iron; 100% carbon steel
  • Dishwasher-safe? No, hand wash and towel dry
  • Pre-seasoned? Yes
  • Stove compatibility & heat tolerance: All cooktops, including induction. Oven & broiler-safe to 650.
  • Cast iron price (at time of publishing): $29.90 for 12” skillet [Check latest]
  • Carbon steel price (at time of publishing): $44.90 for 12” skillet [Check latest]
  • Warranty: Lifetime
  • Where it’s made: Tennessee, USA
  • Also available: 3.5” – 15” skillets (cast iron); 8” – 15” (carbon steel)
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Lodge cast iron skillet 12"
  • Very affordable.
  • Excellent heat retention for consistent cooking results, perfect for searing steaks and frying.
  • Incredibly durable, often lasting for generations with proper maintenance.
  • It becomes more non-stick over time (without coatings), enhancing its cooking capabilities and cleaning ease.
  • Versatile: Suitable for oven, stove, grill, or campfire cooking. It works for all cooking methods, from frying and sautéing to baking and grilling.
  • Heavy, making handling and storage challenging, especially for those with physical limitations.
  • Preheating requires a learning curve. It’s best to heat slowly at lower heat to prevent uneven cooking and burnt food.
  • Labor-intensive: Requires regular seasoning upkeep, hand washing/ drying, and limiting dish soap to maintain a non-stick surface.
  • Rougher surface than the smooth finishes of higher-end cast iron, which can make non-stick cooking more challenging at first.

Lodge’s cast iron skillet is my all-time favorite because it offers excellent value. It’s more affordable than brands like Finex or Field Company. Even though those might be smoother and stick less at first, Lodge’s reasonable price and open manufacturing practices win me over.

Lodge’s skillet has a rougher texture, but this helps it develop a stronger seasoning layer over time, which means less upkeep. Lodge also comes pre-seasoned, so you can cook eggs without sticking right away with proper preheating and oiling.

While slow to heat, once cast iron gets hot, it stays hot, making it perfect for searing and browning. A cast-iron-seared steak is something of a wonder.

Pure ceramic shares these benefits, but cast iron will not break if dropped. Plus, it’s compatible with any stovetop, whereas pure ceramic is not induction-friendly. That said, cast iron is heavy and takes practice to get preheating right.

Lodge also makes carbon steel pans, which heat up quicker and weigh less than cast iron. In tests, I’ve found they heat slower than aluminum and 3-ply (more forgiving) yet faster than cast iron. This makes carbon steel more user-friendly for those new to non-stick alternatives. I use mine for camping trips since it’s easier to lug along.

Whichever you choose, hand washing, drying, and avoiding dish soap are crucial for maintenance. And those with hemochromatosis should opt for non-reactive options like Staub.

Visit our non-stick alternatives guide for more on washing, seasoning, and maintaining cast iron and carbon steel.

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Lodge carbon steel pans

9. Staub

Best Enameled Cast Iron

  • Material/ Ply: 100% cast iron with matte enamel finish
  • Dishwasher-safe? Yes, but hand washing preferred
  • Stove compatibility & heat tolerance: All cooktops, including induction. Oven-safe up to 900 without lids (500 with lids).
  • Price (at time of publishing): $316.17 for pictured 7-qt model.  Dutch ovens range from $134.95 – $599.95 [Check Latest]
  • Warranty: Lifetime
  • Where it’s made: France
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Staub 7-qt Dutch oven
  • Excellent durability and craftsmanship, withstanding rough handling, and can last for decades.
  • Superior heat retention, making it ideal for various cooking tasks, from searing to slow cooking.
  • High aesthetic appeal, with beautiful colors and designs great for serving.
  • Relatively easy to clean and lower maintenance than bare cast iron.
  • Great for cooking acidic foods without metal leaching or affecting flavors.
  • Expensive.
  • Inconsistent QC: Some users note flaws in the enamel and inconsistencies in the finish. Others claimed they received the wrong product size.
  • Heavy, and some may find the handles uncomfortable to grip, especially when the pot is full.

Enameled cast iron combines the best of both worlds. You get cast iron’s excellent heating abilities with a non-reactive, dishwasher-safe surface like stainless steel. This is achieved through a glass-like enamel coating, sealing the iron. The result is a less-stick, rust-proof surface that demands no seasoning.

Enameled cookware isn’t as non-stick as well-seasoned cast iron, so proper heat and oiling are vital for sticky foods. But, it’s easier to maintain out of the box, as it’s dish soap and dishwasher-friendly. The smooth enameled bottoms won’t scratch glass top stoves, either.

Between Staub and Le Creuset, my top picks for enameled cookware, I lean towards Staub. Both are made in France with high-quality iron and lead-free enamels. Having used both, their performance in heating up, cooking evenly, and retaining heat was the same. Slow, yet steady, even heating.

That’s why I love Staub’s Dutch oven for bone-in cuts and whole chickens. Paired with its enameled iron lid, it bathes food with 360-degree heat. Staub’s lids also feature unique moisture spikes, creating a self-basting “rainforest effect.” As a result, I’ve found it to cook chicken soup faster than my 5-ply stainless steel pot.

With equal performance, I prefer Staub for its more reasonable prices and higher average ratings. I also like Staub’s slimmer design, which preserves space on crowded stovetops. And their skillets’ steeper, deeper sides shine for baking and containing overspill.

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Staub 7-qt Dutch oven

How we Chose our Cookware Picks

Before testing, we focused on finding cookware made from the safest materials and designed the best. I used my experience with kitchenware design alongside expert buying guides and reviews. We consulted with organizations like the EPA, EWG, ACS, and the NIH for material safety.

We then prioritized brands that are open about safety practices and have a strong ethical stance.

Finally, we tested and compared about a dozen options to find our top nine picks. Some I already owned through my cooking hobby; others I bought or borrowed from friends and family. We covered:

  • Performance testing: Checked how evenly and quickly the pans heated through boiling. Also, checking how well the pan retained heat through searing and cooling tests. Slower cooling = better heat retention.
  • Durability testing: Checked how durable the pans were against rapid temperature changes. We paid attention to base flexibility (the base should flex, not permanently warp)
  • Ease: Assessed hand washing ease after cooking.
  • Value-per-dollar: Evaluated based on fair pricing relative to performance. If one cookware set was double the price of another for slight performance gains, we chose the lower-cost option. Examples include choosing Lodge over Finex and Field Company.
  • Warranty: A warranty is a major quality indicator, so we prioritized those with solid coverage.
  • History: We checked customer reviews and brand interactions for positive or negative trends over time. With all else equal (performance, value, etc.), we chose brands with a longer history of positive feedback.

Frequently Asked Questions

What toxins should you avoid in cookware?

Avoid PFAS coatings like Teflon because of their health and environmental risks. Pans made before 2013 might have PFOA and should be thrown out. Be careful with ceramics that have lead glazes, and watch out for lead and cadmium in products from unknown brands.

What is the safest cookware for your health?

The safest materials are stainless steel, carbon steel, lead-free ceramic, and cast iron, including versions with lead-free enamel. These materials don’t have PFAS or other chemical coatings.

Is ceramic cookware non-toxic?

Yes. Good quality ceramic pans have a natural coating free from PFOA, PTFE, and PFAS, making them a safe alternative to Teflon. Replace when the non-stick coating becomes deeply scratched to prevent aluminum leaching from the core. Excess aluminum isn’t a health concern for most, though it can alter food flavor. Avoid cheaply-made ceramic pans.

Which is better: stainless steel or ceramic cookware?

Stainless steel wins for its versatility. It’s tough against high heat, safe with metal utensils, and dishwasher-safe for easy cleaning. It doesn’t risk leaching aluminum, has no coatings, and avoids the lead issues that some pure ceramic cookware might have.

How do I reduce PFAS exposure when cooking with traditional Teflon pans?

  • Use no higher than medium heat.
  • Avoid preheating for longer than 20 seconds.
  • Hand-wash your pan with a soft sponge; avoid the dishwasher, even if the brand says dishwasher-safe.
  • Use an exhaust fan while cooking.
  • Avoid metal utensils to prevent scratching the coating. Opt for softer, non-toxic wood & silicone utensils.
  • Dispose of your Teflon pan once it’s scratched, chipped, or discolored.

Key Takeaways & Recommendation

To sum up, avoid any non-stick pans not labeled as “ceramic-coated” or “PFAS-free.”

Be cautious with bare aluminum and avoid generic ceramics or enamels that might contain lead. Stick to reputable brands like Xtrema, Staub, or Le Creuset for safety.

While PFAS-free ceramic coatings offer a non-toxic, non-stick pan like Teflon, they usually don’t last as long. Stainless steel, cast iron, and carbon steel are my preferred cookware materials due to their versatility, safety, and longevity. You can cook sticky foods on all three with proper preheating and oiling.

Looking for a non-stick set? Caraway offers a good mix of price and performance. Or, mix and match a few pieces from Greenpan’s GP5 for exceptional non-stick qualities.

If you’re unsure which non-toxic cookware material to choose, start with a ceramic-coated pan for sticky foods only. This will ensure the coating lasts.

Then, add a few durable pieces of stainless steel or cast iron – use them for everything else. Try them out and see what works best for you. Then, build out the rest of your collection with your favorites.

Happy (safe) cookin’

P.S. Visit our non-toxic dinnerware guide to assess whether or not your plates are safe and how to avoid lead in dishes.

Picture of Adam Heck
Adam Heck

Hi there! I'm Adam, author and founder of TGL. Since 2016, I've produced and sold non-toxic kitchenware throughout the US. Today, I'm using my passion and experience in sustainable product manufacturing to help families avoid unsafe reusable foodware. When I'm not writing, you'll find me hiking or camping throughout Appalachia!

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