If you’re still sautéing kale with the same nonstick skillet you bought when you moved into your first apartment, we have some news for you: It’s time to invest in new cookware. Did you know that your old, scratched-up pots and pans could be leeching toxic chemicals into your otherwise impeccable dinners? Yikes is right. Here, we’ll explain why you’re (inadvertently) serving up harmful chemicals and how to replace your current cookware with a few safer options, from eco-friendly enameled nonstick from brands like Le Creuset, to tried-and-true cast iron from Lodge.
The 12 Best Non-Toxic Cookware Options You Can Buy, According to a Food Editor
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What Does 'Nontoxic' Even Mean, Really?
Sure, you might buy organic, pesticide-free produce, but did you know that what you cook it in is just as important? For a long time, Teflon (also known as PTFE or polytetrafluoroethylene, if you’re fancy) was the gold standard for ultra-slick, nonstick pots and pans. But over the past quarter-century, the FDA has discovered that certain chemicals (specifically PFOA, or perfluorooctanoic acid) used in manufacturing Teflon are actually toxic to the environment and our health, and can build up in your body over time. Thankfully, Teflon made with PFOA has been phased out of production, but it’s still important to read the label on any nonstick cookware before purchasing.
It’s also important to abide by the manufacturer’s directions when cooking with nonstick, since many of these materials aren’t meant to be heated past a certain degree (usually medium heat).
What’s the best way to avoid potentially unsafe cookware?
That’s easy: Just steer clear of items labeled “nonstick” without any further indication of what they’re actually made of. The bargain pan without a tag that you found in the sale section of your favorite home goods store? You might want to skip that deal in favor of something that’s clearly labeled, even if it happens to be a little more expensive.
What is the safest cookware for your health?
Plenty of cooking materials are nonstick without being potentially harmful to your health. (They’re often of higher quality, too.) That includes:
- Ceramic, which is nonstick, scratch-resistant and very easy to clean
- Cast iron, which will last for years when treated well, is extremely versatile and retains heat like nobody’s business
- Carbon steel, which is similar to cast iron but is smoother and more lightweight
- Stainless steel, which is not technically nonstick but is durable, widely available and can function like nonstick if used properly
What cookware materials should you flat-out avoid?
When choosing cookware that’s both high quality and good for you, always check the manufacturing notes and avoid PFOA, or perfluorooctanoic acid, which is sometimes just labeled with the catch-all term “nonstick.”
Now that you’re educated on all things cookware, here are the best non-toxic cookware brands we’ve found and loved.
The Best Non-Toxic Cookware at a Glance
Scroll down for in-depth reviews of each.
- Best Carbon Steel Cookware: Lodge Carbon Steel Skillet
- Best for All Skill Levels: GreenPan Valencia Pro Skillet Set
- Best Ceramic Cookware: Caraway Cookware Set
- Best Multitasker: Our Place Always Pan
- Best Chef-Approved Brand: Scanpan CS+ Skillets
- Best Enameled Cast-Iron Cookware: Le Creuset 5.5-Quart Dutch Oven
- Best Stainless-Steel Cookware: All-Clad D3 Stainless-Steel Weeknight Pan
- Best Cast-Iron Cookware: Lodge Cast-Iron Skillet
- Best Nonstick Cookware: Made In The Nonstick Set
- Best Copper-Core Cookware: Material Kitchen The Coated Pan
- Best Hybrid Cookware: HexClad Frying Pan
- Best Updated Favorite: Our Place Cast-Iron Always Pan
Best Carbon Steel Cookware
1. Lodge Carbon Steel Skillet
- Pros: Heats evenly and quickly, lightweight-yet-durable
- Cons: Requires regular maintenance (i.e., seasoning, not dishwasher-safe
Like cast iron, carbon steel cookware is made from an alloy of iron and carbon—the difference is that it contains less carbon than cast iron. It’s just as nontoxic, but much more lightweight and a better heat conductor than its clunkier cousin. And thanks to that lower carbon content, it’s smoother and slightly more nonstick, even though it’s seasoned the same as cast iron. We like the Lodge carbon steel skillet because it’s pre-seasoned, it heats quickly and evenly, is super slick with regular seasoning, goes from the stove to the oven and works on gas, electric and induction burners. It’s also a cool $40 for a 10-inch pan, which is a steal considering it’s meant to last a lifetime.
Best for All Skill Levels
2. GreenPan Valencia Pro Skillet Set
- Pros: Dishwasher-safe, slick, heat-resistant surface is ideal for beginner cooks
- Cons: Can’t be used with metal cooking utensils
GreenPan is kind of like the OG of nontoxic, nonstick cookware. The brand uses a silicon-based coating called Thermolon, which is slippery and scratch-resistant and doesn’t run the risk of releasing harmful chemicals into your food, even if you accidentally overheat the pan. (It can withstand temperatures up to 850 degrees Fahrenheit, but for your safety, we don’t suggest trying that!) While there’s no shortage of styles to choose from—GreenPan even makes non-toxic grill pans—we’re partial to the GreenPan Valencia Pro two-piece set, which includes a 10- and 12-inch skillet with a stainless-steel outer finish. Bonus: They’re dishwasher-safe.
Best Ceramic Cookware
- Pros: Heats evenly and is oven-safe, comes in many colors, easy to clean
- Cons: Can’t be used with metal cooking utensils, lid handles get hot
For the home cook who wants her kitchen to look as good as the food she’s making in it, there’s Caraway. It comes in a slew of muted, cheerful colorways like perracotta (a creamy brownish rose) and sage (a calming green), but it’s not just Instagram-friendly: It’s made with a ceramic nonstick coating that can handle temperatures up to 550°F, it can go from stove top to oven and it won’t add unwanted chemicals to your meals. Every piece in the set is stove-top agnostic, a fancy way of saying it works with induction, gas and electric ranges, plus they ship in recyclable, environmentally conscious packaging. (Psst: We rated the set 90 out of 100 in our PureWow100 review.)
4. Our Place Always Pan
- Pros: Comes in many colors, easy to clean and store
- Cons: Can’t be used with metal cooking utensils, not dishwasher-safe or oven-safe
If you’re short on storage space and don’t want to invest in a gigantic 12-piece set (yet), the Always Pan by Our Place can do the same heavy lifting as eight different cookware pieces. The 10-inch skillet—which is made from ceramic-coated aluminum—comes with a nesting steamer basket, a spatula with its own built-in spoon rest, and a lid that allows you to choose whether to keep steam in or let it out. It gets an A-plus from us for versatility and convenience (not to mention cuteness), but be aware that the outer surface can discolor over time and since it’s not heat resistant, it can’t be used in the oven.
Best Chef-Approved Brand
- Pros: Surface is both nonstick and ideal for searing, dishwasher-safe, various styles
- Cons: Can’t be used with metal cooking utensils
Scanpan is highly recommended by plenty of chefs working in professional kitchens. “I love and use Scanpan all the time,” says Barbara Rich, culinary arts lead chef at the Institute of Culinary Education. The Danish cookware is nonstick, heats evenly, is lightweight enough to flip pancakes and omelettes, and is oven-safe up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, if you’re more of a frittata person. The CS+ line has the look of brushed stainless steel, but its interior actually has a food-safe, micro-textured ceramic-titanium finish for a slick surface that’s ideal for searing and browning. We suggest picking and choosing from the brand’s robust lineup (start with the 11-inch skillet) if you don’t want to commit to an entire set.
Best Enameled Cast-Iron Cookware
6. Le Creuset 5.5-Quart Dutch Oven
- Pros: Comes in many colors, durable
- Cons: Heavy and not dishwasher-safe, cost-prohibitive
Yep, the fancy French brand that you lust after on Pinterest also happens to be nontoxic. And while it’s certainly not cheap, the price can be justified when you consider how the cookware is famous for being so durable. Aside from the aesthetic appeal, Le Creuset’s ceramic-coated cast iron conducts and holds heat like a dream, goes from stove to oven to table, is scratch- and chip- resistant and is incredibly easy to clean (say goodbye to the infamous overnight soak). The brand makes skillets and pots of all sizes, but we’re partial to the 5.5-quart Dutch oven for its versatility. The only hard part? Choosing a color.
Best Stainless-Steel Cookware
7. All-Clad D3 Stainless-Steel Weeknight Pan
- Pros: Heats evenly and is oven- and dishwasher-safe, safe for use with metal cooking utensils
- Cons: Surface is not coated with nonstick material
There’s a reason everyone puts All-Clad on their wedding registry: It’s as timeless and good-looking as it is functional. The stainless- steel cookware is not coated with nonstick material, but it can actually behave like nonstick if you preheat it sufficiently. (Hot tip: If you add a drop of water to the pan, it will bead up and skate across the surface when the pan is ready.) It’s oven- and dishwasher-safe, won’t scratch if you accidental take a metal utensil to it, heats up quickly with no hotspots and comes with a lifetime warranty. We like the so-called Weeknight Pan, which is like a hybrid sauté pan and saucier, because its high sides and ample surface area can handle braising, sautéing, searing and simmering with ease. (And with a little cooking oil, it can handle anything a nonstick pan can.)
Best Cast-Iron Cookware
8. Lodge Cast-Iron Skillet
- Pros: Versatile and durable, holds heat evenly and consistently
- Cons: Not dishwasher-safe, requires regular maintenance (i.e., seasoning)
For a do-it-all pan that’s easy on your budget and will last you and your grandkids a lifetime (if you take care of it), look no further than a cast-iron skillet. Why? Because after just a few uses it becomes seasoned (i.e., coated with layers of built-up cooking oil), which is food safe and surprisingly nonstick. Lodge’s pans have been a favorite among home cooks for years—probably because they’re inexpensive and durable and they hold heat like no other. (It doesn’t hurt that they look rustic-chic, too.) A 10-inch skillet is a good all-purpose size for daily cooking, but for feeding crowds and tackling bigger tasks like roasting whole chickens, we also like the larger 12-inch version. Not sure how to wield cast iron the right way? We have a few tips.
Best Nonstick Cookware
9. Made In The Nonstick Set
- Pros: The look of stainless steel with a nonstick finish, oven-safe
- Cons: Not dishwasher safe, can’t be used with metal cooking utensils
Some people prefer pretty colors, while others want their cookware to look über-profesh. For the latter camp, there’s this nonstick set from Made In. It comes with everything you need to outfit your kitchen: an 8-quart stock pot with lid, a 4-quart sauté pan with lid, a 4-quart saucepan with lid and a 10-inch frying pan. The pieces feature a 5-ply stainless clad outer and a PFOA-free nonstick inner coating for easy cooking and cleanup. (Psst: It’s currently on backorder, but you can add yourself to a waitlist to get notified when it’s back in stock.)
Best Copper-Core Cookware
10. Material Kitchen The Coated Pan
- Pros: Heats evenly while stainless outer prevents warping and scorching, nonstick inner surface
- Cons: Not safe for use with metal cooking utensils
Most copper cookware will try to bankrupt you and run, but Material’s nonstick pan plays nice. It’s made with a copper core and stainless-steel outer, so it has all the even-heat benefits of traditional copper cookware without the hefty price tag, plus, it won’t warp or scorch). The nonstick surface is made of a nontoxic stainless-steel alloy, the pan works on all types of stovetops and it’s available in two elegant colors.
Best Hybrid Cookware
- Pros: Scratch-resistant, metal utensil-safe, dishwasher-safe
- Cons: Pan requires some maintenance (seasoning)
Unique among nonstick cookware brands, HexClad is a hybrid material made from tri-ply stainless steel and nonstick. It features a laser-etched surface that allows the ingredients to come into contact with both the stainless steel and nonstick surfaces, so you get better browning and less sticking. It’s PFOA-free, oven-safe up to 500 degrees, stovetop and induction cookware compatible and according to Senior Editor Rachel Bowie's review, strong enough to withstand the force of metal utensils.
Best Updated Favorite
12. Our Place Cast-Iron Always Pan
- Pros: Fully heat-resistant, oven-safe
- Cons: Heavy, not dishwasher-safe
For as culty as the original Always Pan has been, we have to be honest: It’s not *perfect.* We love the functionality and design, but we’ve had mishaps in our own kitchen due to the outer coating not being flame-resistant. (It can discolor and scorch if exposed to heat, and it’s definitely not oven safe.) Our Place’s new cast-iron Always Pan, however, eliminates this issue with its enameled cast -iron construction, while retaining all the thoughtful touches of the O.G. skillet. It’s still free of PFOAs and PFTE, plus it’s compatible with the brand’s accessories (like the steamer and fry deck), and now, it’s also oven-safe up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. One PureWow employee who tested the pan said she especially loves the protective holders that are included for safe handling while the pan’s hot.
How to Take Care of Non-Toxic Cookware
Each type of cookware has different care instructions. (For instance, you’ll never catch us putting our cast-iron skillet in the dishwasher!) But there are also a few universal best practices when it comes to extending the life of any non-toxic pot or pan. That includes:
Avoiding metal utensils: Even if a brand says it’s scratch-resistant, we like to play it safe and opt for wooden spoons and silicone spatulas when frying and flipping. This ensures your cookware will last for years. The exception? Stainless steel is pretty impervious to abuse.
Washing by hand whenever possible: Again, many brands are dishwasher safe, which is a major plus. But we still prefer to hand-wash our pots and pans to really keep them in tip-top shape.
Cleaning with a gentle sponge: Please, we beg you, do not take your steel-wool scrubber to your coated pans (unless they’re stainless steel). We’re not saying it will scratch them, but why would you risk it? A drop of dish soap, a generous soak and a gentle scrubby sponge should do the job just fine (unless it’s cast iron or carbon steel, both of which will rust when soaked).
Avoiding extreme temperatures: Before you slap that skillet over a giant flame, make sure you know what temperatures it can safely handle (the box, website or instruction manual will tell you). And when you’re done in the kitchen, allow the pan to cool before running it under cold water—otherwise, you risk warping your cookware, and no one wants a wonky pan.
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Katherine Gillen is PureWow's Senior Food Editor. With professional training in cooking and baking and four-plus years writing about all things food, she can tell you which cutting boards are worth your money, which knives will last you a lifetime and exactly what you're doing wrong with your slow cooker (plus how to fix it).