10 Best Cookware Brands
Table of Contents
Finding the Best Cookware Brands
Every chef knows that a good kitchen relies on its cookware. Without a great cookware set, it’s nearly impossible to create great food.
But with such an overcrowded market and an incredibly wide variety of products available for sale, it can be intimidating to select the right gear.
Now, you can put those worries to rest. This article will function as your go-to resource for the best cookware brands available for purchase right now.
“Buying quality cookware is really important for both the recreational and professional cook, as it will both save you money in the long run,” said Beth Schubert of Own The Grill.
“It will be a lot more durable and it will cook your food better by distributing heat more evenly. It could even have an impact on your health, as cookware made out of poor quality materials could leach toxins into your food.”
Meet the Expert: Beth Schubert, Co-Founder of Own The Grill
Beth Schubert is a media specialist, the co-founder of Own The Grill, and a life-long culinary fanatic. After graduating from college Beth was a copywriter, journalist, and public relations manager in a number of different fields.
We’ll be ranking many of the top cookware sets based on product quality, reviews, materials, and functionality. After all, cookware isn’t an everyday purchase. A good set should be an investment that is bound to last.
Why You Need the Best Cookware Brands for Your Kitchen
Whether you’re a professional chef or an amateur home cook, the utensils you use can make or break a dish. A good cookware set will help do some of the work for you, and make the entire cooking experience much easier.
But with so many brands selling kitchen accessories at varying price points and of varying quality, how do you know which products to invest your money into?
Good cookware, be it pots or pans, is going to conduct heat evenly and consistently. Better heat makes a huge difference in cooking better food. It’s also important that your cookware be well-made and of decent quality, so that your pots and pans don’t release potentially harmful chemicals into your food.
After all, a cookware set is something you’ll use all the time. It should be effective, durable, and safe.
Some of the brands mentioned in this article are used regularly by professional chefs, but they are also appropriate for use by inexperienced home chefs.
In fact, many cooking professionals even encourage everyone to use restaurant-worthy equipment in their kitchens. Good cookware will meet you halfway in the kitchen, making it easier to cook and easier to get delicious results.
So, regardless of who you are, what kind of food you like to cook, or how much experience you have in the kitchen, the best cookware brands mentioned here can be used by everyone.
The 10 Best Cookware Brands
The cookware market is so saturated that it can seem a massive undertaking to even know where to start shopping. But fret not, this article will help bring your attention to 10 of the best cookware brands available.
We’ll give you a sense of what all the best cookware brands are all about, and what they offer in terms of construction, functionality, and value, so you can make the most informed purchasing decisions possible.
#1: Cook’s Essentials 10-Piece Hard Anodized Cookware Set
Cook’s Essentials makes high-quality cookware tools for the at-home chef. With a selection of thoughtful products to make cooking less stressful, the brand is known for its durable, top-tier materials like stainless steel and silicone.
Sleek, high-quality cookware? Don’t mind if we do. One of our picks for the best cookware brands, it offers an array of gorgeous sets made from hard-anodized aluminum that include everything you need to create memorable meals.
Loved for its cookware that naturally fits within everyday cooking, expect to find quality details within its sets like tempered-glass lids and food and utensil-safe, non-stick materials. No need to shy away from metal spoons here.
Since many of the sets are oven-safe up to 500F, you can start your steaks on the stovetop and finish them off in the oven — in the same pan. Cleanup time is super easy too. Most pots and pans are dishwasher-safe. Bundles like the 10-Piece Hard Anodized Cookware Set cost $165.
- Great selection of tools & pans
- Offers high-quality cooking sets
- Made with strong, durable materials
- Oven-safe up to 500F
#2: Made In Cookware
Made In cookware is one of the biggest names in the kitchenware game right now. The company claims that their products are made from “generations of expertise,” and it really does show.
Launched in 2016, Made In now creates kitchenware that is even used in Michelin-star restaurants. Drawing from their family’s century of experience in the kitchen supply business, founding brothers Chip and Jake developed a line of high-quality, stainless clad 5-ply, copper and carbon steel cookware that retails for a fraction of the price of similar professional products.
While a higher ply cookware doesn’t always guarantee a superior product, Made In constructs their products to maximize the benefits of multi-layered metals and create the most even heat distribution possible in steel clad cookware. And by keeping their business direct-to-consumer, they deliver better material for a more accessible price.
On the company’s website they write, “Everyone is capable of making restaurant-quality food at home – you just need the right tools to do it.” Made In’s mission to make those tools and make them accessible to every kitchen.
Related: To learn more check out our Made In Cookware Review.
What You Get:
Made In offers cookware in a wide range of fabrications. Made In established their business on stainless steel clad, a multi-layer cookware created by some of the US and France’s best craftspeople. It’s appropriate for all kinds of cooktops and is renowned for its ability to conduct heat.
Additionally, Made In sells cookware made from carbon steel, one of the most popular and beloved materials for skillets and pans. It’s considered an alternative to cast iron because of its lasting power and heat retention. They also have French-crafted copper cookware, renowned for its heat control.
Regardless of the material, the company promises that their products are professional-quality tools for everyone.
Made In’s cookware is easy to clean and low maintenance, making it ideal for at-home use. Plus, though the company’s pots and pans will hold and distribute heat incredibly well, the handles will not hold that heat and should not burn the user. This means this cookware can also go seamlessly from the stovetop to the oven without issue.
Some of the best cookware sets Made In sells include The Executive Chef, a 14-piece collection featuring stainless steel, carbon steel, and non-stick cookware. This set even includes a wok perfect for making restaurant-quality risotto and charred meats and veggies.
This set is especially great for home cooks who are looking to elevate their dishes and push their cooking techniques, as it includes all the cookware you could need to be your own personal chef.
Delivery & Cost:
Cookware isn’t cheap, but Made In offers affordable prices despite the undeniable and acclaimed high quality of their products.
The 14-piece Executive Chef cookware set retails for $1,131, but is currently on sale for $848. They also have other sets at similarly steep discounts. This price point makes the company a must-include in any list of the best cookware brands.
The company also has several financing plans available. Using Sezzle’s post-purchasing technology, buyers have the option to select a flexible payment plan consisting of 4 interest free-payments.
Made In ships internationally and wait times vary depending on destination. The company offers a 45-day trial period with every purchase. They will accept any returned goods (and pay the return fee for US-based returns), should you not be satisfied with their products. International returns may be subject to a $25 fee.
Misen is a brand dedicated to creating cookware with high quality, not high prices. They know consumers often struggle to choose between “premium” and low-cost brands, so Misen commits to being both of those things.
Founder Omar Rada knows just how shocking some market pricing for cookware can be. That’s why the avid home cook decided to create his own line. He started out by making a chef-quality knife at a reasonable price point, funding the project through Kickstarter. Seeing the demand – and the rave reviews of the Misen chef knife – Rada knew he could do more.
With the brand slogan, “No matter your skill level, quality kitchen tools will help you cook better,” Rada launched Misen in 2015 with a full range of knives, cookware, and prep tools.
According to Rada, he and the company have an “obsession with designing amazing tools that we can offer to you at honest prices.” By selling directly to customers and not through conventional retail channels, Misen brings affordable, functional products to passionate home chefs of any and all skill levels.
Related: View our Misen Cookware Review for a full analysis.
What You Get:
Misen knows that what makes great cookware is quality materials, thoughtful design, and accessible prices. That’s why all products from the Chef’s Knife to the Dutch Oven are developed, engineered, and tested to incredibly high standards.
All Misen products are made and tested with a focus on streamlining for cost and quality. This ensures products do exactly what they promise to do, with none of the extraneous bells and whistles that can artificially drive up the price of similar products.
The company has a wide selection of products, from non-stick, to enamelled cast iron, to carbon and stainless steel pots and pans. They don’t overwhelm shoppers, offering a streamlined range of multi-purpose, “stick-free” cookware that can do every job in the kitchen. No matter what you love to cook, Misen is guaranteed to have just the item for you.
Products like the Misen Carbon Steel Pan are incredibly popular, and not just for its fabulous current price tag of $68.
This is a versatile product designed to last, and even has a non-stick coating and is lighter than traditional cast iron. Not to mention that this carbon steel pan works for any cooking technique, goes from stove to oven, and is compatible with all stove types.
Delivery & Cost:
Misen’s product lines are incredibly affordable for high-end cookware. Though price differs from product to product, a typical Misen cookware item will cost anywhere from $50 to $160.
Several of the company’s products also come with a lifetime guarantee, meaning if your product is damaged beyond the typical wear and tear of a standard cookware piece, the company will replace it.
Misen products are only available for purchase through their website. The company currently only ships to Canada, the US, and Europe. Misen does not offer a guaranteed shipment time, but you can track your order through FedEx or the USPS.
Should you be dissatisfied with your Misen order, the brand accepts free returns within 60 days of purchase. In Canada, customers will however have to pay for their own return shipping labels. It is also worth noting that all clearance items are final sale.
All-Clad is one of the best cookware brands that has been revolutionizing kitchenware for half a century. Based in Western Pennsylvania, the company utilizes the local steel and aluminium industry to create their industry-leading products.
Established in 1971, founder John Ulam used his knowledge of the metal industry to “reinvent the pan,” according to the company website. An ambitious home cook, Ulam wanted to take techniques he’d applied in his work with car parts and coins and bring them to the kitchen.
He bonded stainless steel with aluminum to create a multi-ply material – stainless clad – that was easier to clean, kept its shape, and most importantly, produced the best food. His invention became so significant that the All-Clad name is still synonymous with stainless clad cookware.
All-Clad is still an industry standard,a favourite of professional chefs and food media like Bon Appetit. Their talented craftspeople are incredibly experienced and continually create some of the best fully-bonded cookware available for sale.
What You Get:
All-Clad bonded cookware heats food evenly and promises not to tarnish or bend out of shape with time. Their products are manufactured and quality assured to rigorous, transparent standards.
While stainless clad cookware is the core of their business, All-Clad offers a range of cookware lines, including stainless steel, non-stick, hard anodized, and ceramic. In addition to cookware, All-Clad also has an incredibly wide range of products, from bakeware, to kitchen electronics and tools, to accessories.
All-Clad sells several cookware sets containing multiple pieces for affordable prices. Sets like the D3 Stainless 3-Ply Bonded Cookware Set contain 7 pieces:
- 10-inch fry pan
- 8-inch fry pan
- 2-quart sauce pan with lid
- 3-quart sauce pan with lid
- 8-quart stock pot with lid
- 3-quart saute pan with lid
This set is easy to use, easy to clean, and easy to store, all for $800 (on sale from the regular price of $1,400).
The company also sells individual products like the 8-inch D4 Stainless Polished 5-ply Bonded Nonstick Frying Pan and 12-inch Hard Anodized Nonstick Chef’s Pan with Lid. Though it is undeniably a better financial deal to buy an entire set, All-Clad’s individual items are also very competitively priced and high quality.
Delivery & Cost:
Though price does vary from product to product, a single All-Clad cookware item will cost around $50 to $200, while an entire set will range from $100 to $2000. Regardless, these products are competitively priced and of undeniable quality, making this company one of the best cookware brands.
It must be noted though that All-Clad only ships its products within the US. All orders will be processed and shipped between 3-7 business days, depending on delivery location.
The company also accepts returns in the original packaging within 45 days of the delivery date, and will provide a full refund if you are unsatisfied.
#5: Rachael Ray Cucina
Rachael Ray is a huge name in the culinary scene, and her cookware line Rachael Ray Cucina lives up to the hype as one of the best cookware brands. Several of the Rachael Ray products have been praised as being some of the best cookware on the market, namely her hard anodized non-stick line.
This US-based company is, of course, endorsed by Ray, but it’s also loved by media like The Spruce and Good Housekeeping. With stylish, dependable, and affordable, professional-level cookware, Rachael Ray Cucina can help every home cook feel like a celebrity chef.
What You Get:
The Rachel Ray Cucina brand has several product lines, including: cookware, bakeware, tools and gadgets, plates and platters, accessories, pantry goods, and food totes. From frying pans and skillets to knives and veggie peelers, this brand has it all.
All of the company’s products are high quality, thoroughly tested, and easy to use. In particular, sets like the Hard Anodized 12-Piece Cookware Set are extremely popular.
This set, which retails for $180 consists of four pots with lids, two pans, and a slotted spoon and spatula. The set can even be customized in three fun colours: pumpkin orange, agave blue, and cranberry red.
Most Rachel Ray Cucina cookware is suitable for use up to 400 degrees fahrenheit, making them great for everyday cooks, but not necessarily the best choice for more ambitious cooks who need ultra-high heat. Like with most cookware lines, some pieces are also dishwasher safe, while others are not. It’s important to read the care and use instructions for every item.
Regardless, whether it be a set, or individual items like 14-inch Frying Pan with Helper Handle or the 8-Quart Covered Oval Stockpot, these products are very high quality, competitively priced, and safe for use at all skill levels.
The company’s products also come with lifetime limited warranties, guaranteeing that the quality and functionality of your purchase will be maintained.
Delivery & Cost:
Rachael Ray Cucina products are very affordable, especially for a celebrity-endorsed brand. Though price varies from product to product, a single cookware item will retail for about $60 to $100, while a set can sell anywhere from $150 to $320. Again, these products are guaranteed to last, so you’re investing in items sure to become beloved kitchen staples.
Rachel Ray Cucina products ship only to Canada and the US. Though delivery times vary from location to location, all shipments can be tracked through the company site.
If you do not love your products once you take them out of the packaging, the brand accepts returns within 30 days of delivery. All returned goods must be unused and in their original packaging. The company does not cover customer shipping charges.
Contemporary, sleek, and reliable, Caraway is easily one of the best cookware brands on the market right now. With a dedication to making their customer’s lives easier, the company is “on a mission to craft well-designed home goods that thoughtfully raise the standards of what you cook with.”
Specializing in ceramic cookware, Caraway’s products are non-toxic, easy to use, and designed with a home cook in mind. The brand also claims to be eco-friendly, writing on their website that the manufacturing process of their non-stick coatings releases 60% less CO2 into the environment than industry standard.
Related: Check out our Caraway Cookware Review to learn more.
What You Get:
All Caraway products are made without the use of harmful chemicals like PFAS, PTFE, and PFOA. Their ceramic-coated aluminum cookware is also non-stick and free of lead, cadmium, and other toxins.
Their ceramic provides a naturally slick cooking surface, which also means you will require minimal oil or butter when cooking — not to mention they are very easy to clean.
Perhaps most importantly, Caraway is also an ethical brand, meaning all of their workers produce their products in safe conditions, are paid fair wages, and are given benefits and regulated work hours.
The brand sells both cookware sets and individual items. Sets like the incredibly popular Cookware Set are both visually stunning and easy to use. Their unique flat lids and thoughtful shapes also make Caraway cookware incredibly easy to store.
Oven safe up to 550 degrees fahrenheit and suitable for all stove types, this 7-piece set normally retails for $495, but is currently on sale for $395. This set includes two pots, two pans, and three lids. It is also available in several stunning colours, including but not limited to cream, navy, marigold, and perracotta.
Delivery & Cost:
Items available from Caraway’s cookware line all vary in price. Most pots and pans retail for about $100, while sets begin at upward of $300. Other products like linens and oven mitts sell for $30 to $60.
Caraway only offers domestic shipping within the US. Most orders ship between 2-4 business days, though the company also offers an expedited service on some products for an extra fee.
If you want to return or exchange your products, the company has a 30-day hassle free policy where they will offer a full refund. It is worth noting there may be a restocking fee applied to your return.
HexClad is all about “being ready when inspiration strikes,” according to their website. This company wants to be “The first and only pan or pot you grab, because you inherently know it’s going to get you to the plate, and it’s going to be delicious.”
HexClad continually tries to innovate and improve the current offerings in the cookware market, most notably through their hybrid stainless steel, non-stick products, which are created by using a proprietary laser etching technique on their tri-ply stainless clad material.
They promise the versatility of a stainless steel, non-stick, and cast iron pan all in one.
This American-based brand is high quality and even claims to be ethically produced. They promise their products are closely monitored throughout production and that all of their employees work in safe conditions.
Related: Want to learn more? Check out our Hexclad Cookware Review.
What You Get:
HexClad is best known for their “Hybrid Technology,” meaning they create cookware with the durability of stainless steel with the easy cleaning of non-stick.
Every piece of HexClad cookware is guaranteed to be non-stick, have excellent temperature control, be metal utensil-safe (which non-stick and stainless steel cookware fans will know is important), and be durable and easy to maintain.
Though sometimes pricier than other cookware brands, this company offers unmatched reliability and unique construction, and good deals on their sets. The 13-piece Hybrid Cookware Set with Lids is extremely popular among HexClad fans.
This set contains:
- 12-inch pan and lid
- 10-inch pan and lid
- 8-inch pan and lid
- 12-inch wok
- 2-quart pot and lid
- 3-quart pot and lid
- 8-quart pot and lid
This entire set normally sells for $999, but is on sale right now for $599.99.
Other items like the individual 12-inch Stainless Steel Pan are also incredibly popular among the company’s fans. This product is ideal when cooking for a group of people, and is easy to clean and dishwasher-safe. Like many HexClad products, it is also suitable for use up to 500 degrees fahrenheit.
Delivery & Cost:
The price of HexClad products varies. Individual items like pots and pans normally retail for $100 to $250. The brand’s sets also retail for anywhere from $150 to $1,000.
The company’s shipping policy is very standard, though they only ship within the US. Arrival dates for shipments also vary based on location, but you can track your purchases through the website.
Should you want to return your HexClad items, the brand offers a 30-day money back guarantee. They will also exchange any damaged or defective orders. The company even offers a lifetime guarantee on their products, should they become damaged beyond typical wear and tear.
#8: Great Jones
Since 2018, Great Jones has “been on a mission to empower home cooks and help you feel prepared and proud in your kitchens,” according to their website. The company’s name is also a nod to Judith Jones, who published the work of several influential chefs, including Julia Child.
Great Jones sells ultra-stylish cookware in a variety of types, from stainless steel pots, to non-stick ceramic frying pans, to cast iron Dutch ovens (lovingly nicknamed The Dutchess). No matter what kind of cookware you are searching for, this company is guaranteed to have a sleek, long-lasting item for your culinary needs.
Related: For a full breakdown view our Great Jones Cookware Review.
What You Get:
Great Jones has a few different product lines including sets, cookware, bakeware, and sides (which feature items like lids and party towels). All of their products are designed to be fully functional and aesthetically appealing, and sure to be a great visual addition to your kitchen.
The company’s most popular offerings, like the Family Style cookware set, are designed to not only make you want to cook, but to make it easy to declutter your kitchen by being easily storable. The Family Style set features: three lids, two pots, two pans, and The Dutchess Dutch oven in your choice of trendy, kitchen-inspired colors including broccoli, taffy, blueberry, and mustard.
Great Jones designs their cookware to be easily storable, so sets like this are perfect for individuals with especially tight living quarters. And like most other Great Jones products, the Family Style set is multifunctional, PTFE and PFOA-free, scratch-resistant, and dishwasher-friendly. This set normally retails for $475, but is on sale right now for $395.
Delivery & Cost:
Whether it be a Great Jones cookware set or individual items like The Dutchess or hybrid skillet and saute pan Deep Cut, every product varies in price. Most of the company’s sets retail for about $80 to $400, while individual items range from $35 to $95.
Great Jones ships both domestically and internationally. Domestic orders should arrive between 3-7 business days, while international orders should reach their destination within 5 days of receiving your confirmation order. A full list of shipping fees and times can be found here.
If you want to return your Great Jones products, the company has a 30-day, no questions asked return policy. All orders will be refunded in their full amounts, though engraved products cannot be returned.
#9: Le Creuset
Any food lover looking for high quality cookware should consider purchasing from Le Creuset. Manufactured in France, this company is especially known for their colorfully enamelled cast iron cookware, ranging from cocottes (Dutch ovens) to fondue sets.
The company has grown their product range over the years, and has been a leading creator of cookware since 1925. That said, their enamelled cast iron cookers are iconic for a reason. They’ve been a staple in professional and home kitchens because of their unparalleled versatility, their exceptional heat management, and the hint of chic style they bring to any kitchen.
What You Get:
Le Creuset’s cast iron cookware is created using sand casting methods, meaning they are modelled from sand moulds in licensed foundries. They are sprayed with two coats of enamel to ensure their non-stick properties and protect their sleek image, making them far easier to use and maintain than standard cast iron.
All of the company’s products are also made exclusively in France, and have been manufactured with the same traditions and stringent quality standards for nearly 100 years.
The company has a wide range of product lines including: Cookware sets, French ovens (a.k.a. Dutch ovens), fry and saute pans, grills and griddles, stockpots, accessories, and more.
However, always-popular sets, like the well-known Set of 2 Round French Ovens, have remained the company’s bread and 82% butter. These products are best used for stews, crusty breads, and dishes that require long, consistent heating, or need to go from stove to oven.
Like all cast iron, they’re quite heavy and not as user-friendly as a standard sauce or frying pan, though they are pretty enough to want to be displayed regularly on your stove top. This set retails for $965, but is currently on sale for $699.
Though Le Creuset’s products may be more expensive than other cookware options on the market, it is easily one of the best cookware brands of the last century. With this company, you are paying for both the guaranteed quality and iconic look of their products. All of their items are available in unique colors you can coordinate with your kitchen, including cerise, flame, blueberry, and meringue.
Delivery & Cost:
Le Creuset products are guaranteed to be life-long pieces and well-loved tools in your kitchen’s arsenal, and they’re priced accordingly. Their cookware sets are valued anywhere from $275 to $10,215. Individual items like fry and saute pans retail for $170 to $645.
The company ships internationally and delivery times vary by country. If you aren’t satisfied with your product or wish to make a return or exchange, the company deals with this on a case by case basis. You can submit your request for a return or exchange here.
#10: Equal Parts
Equal Parts cookware is a part of the Pattern company, a trendy home goods brand based in the US. With a mission to “help you find more enjoyment in the everyday, starting at home,” this company knows how important a functional but welcoming home can be.
Started in 2019, this brand is focused on home organization, elevated kitchen tools, and non-toxic cookware for home cooks. They sell playful, colorful, eco-conscious equipment at very accessible prices, to bring personality into your kitchen while helping you cook with high-quality tools.
Related: Check out our Equal Parts Review for more information.
What You Get:
Equal Parts was the first line launched by the Pattern company. Knowing how important functionality and aesthetics can be, especially in the cooking world, this product line is designed with the intention of inspiring creativity in the kitchen.
Though not a massive product line by any means, Equal Parts features knives, cutting boards, utensils, baking tools, pots, and pans. The Cookware Set in particular is especially popular. This non-stick set includes a fry pan, an essential pan, a sauce pan, a stock pot, and two universal lids.
Like most other Equal Parts cookware, the Cookware Set is oven-safe up to 450 degrees fahrenheit and created using a natural non-stick ceramic coating. The Cookware Set retails for $363, but is on sale right now for a discounted $325. It can be purchased in black and cream, as well as navy, light blue, and red.
Delivery & Cost:
All Equal Parts cookware is incredibly affordable for boutique cookware. While sets like the Cookware Set normally retail for $363, other items like the Fry Pan sell for $69, and the 8-QT Stock Pan for $110. Smaller items like the Utensils Set retail for $59.
Equal Parts only ships to the US (not including Alaska or Hawaii). Orders should arrive between 1-4 business days, and can be tracked online on the company website.
Should you wish to return or exchange your products, Pattern brand deals with this on a case by case basis. All complaints can be submitted here.
Styles of the Best Cookware Brands
There are several common styles of cookware available on the market right now. The most popular however, are:
- Stainless clad (or stainless steel clad)
- Cast iron
Stainless clad cookware is made of bonded layers of aluminum and copper, encased in stainless steel. A great conductor of even heat, it is a favourite of professional and home chefs. It can be expensive and is prone to scratches if it isn’t made well, but it’s durable and long-lasting. It can be used on the stovetop or in the oven.
Cast iron cookware is affordable, durable, and retains heat well. While it’s heavy, requires seasoning, and has limitations for how it can be used and cleaned, it’s irreplaceable for many dishes and cooking techniques.
Meanwhile, non-stick cookware is specially coated to ensure food doesn’t stick, making cooking easier. It may lose this ability over time if not cared for properly, and there are concerns about chemicals (like PFAS) used to make non-stick materials entering our food and environment. Thankfully, there are many non-toxic options now on the market.
Though there are surely benefits and drawbacks to using all the aforementioned types, most cookware made from these materials is bound to be high-quality and effective.
Top Materials That the Best Cookware Brands Use
In addition to the stainless steel discussed above, which is the most common material used in contemporary kitchen gear, there are several other materials currently being used in the creation of the most reliable, top-performing cookware.
They include, but are not limited to:
- Cast iron
- Lead-free ceramic
Cast iron cookware lasts forever and requires minimal cleaning, but needs to be taken care of carefully and is the heaviest type of cookware on our list.
Bare cast iron requires a protective “seasoning” – a process of creating a coating by applying a layer of oil. However, many options on the market now like pre-seasoned cast iron or enameled cast iron have taken care of that step.
Cast iron is known for its ability to go from cooktop to oven, and to take heat. It’s invaluable for things like searing and browning, for certain kinds of baking, and for dishes that would benefit from intense heat and rich flavour.
“I am of the belief that cast iron cookware is nearly always the best option to go for when seeking out quality cookware. In particular, cast iron that has been coated in vitreous enamel for the amateur chef, meaning it is non-stick without ‘seasoning’, and can be put in the dishwasher,” said Schubert.
Like cast iron, copper has also been used to make cookware for thousands of years. Copper cookware is visually stunning (Martha Stewart is a notorious collector), notorious for its great performance, and is exceptionally good with heat.
A powerful conductor, nothing heats faster than copper. Copper cookware also heats evenly and cools quickly. It’s known for producing wonderful sear and crispness, and for maintaining the texture and colour of many foods.
Copper can be tricky. Highly acidic food items like vinegar may wear away at the varnish, and even result in copper entering our food. And, its ability to get super hot, super fast can take some getting used to if you’re unfamiliar.
Lead-free ceramic cookware comes in two variations: Non-stick ceramic coated cookware, or all-ceramic cookware.
Ceramic-coated cookware is a great, chemical-free alternative to Teflon and other non-stick materials cookware. They are easy to clean and fairly durable, and you get the heat-conducting benefits of having a metal base with the non-stick properties of a ceramic cooking surface.
Pure ceramic cookware is great for low-heat or slow cooking, but is less heat efficient compared to other materials and to non-stick ceramic coated pots and pans. Both kinds of ceramic cookware are non-toxic and totally food safe.
Ceramic is where you’ll want to opt for the investment brands. Ceramic in general lacks the durability of some other materials. That means many of the cheaper options can be prone to damage, and you’ll find yourself spending more to keep replacing your less expensive pots and pans.
Finally, glass cookware, which isn’t as commonly used today, is non-toxic and easy to use, but more delicate and breakable. It’s not the best option for high heat cooking, or for cooks looking for universality in their cookware.
However, glass cookware is a favourite among bakers. They value glass’s ability to create great crusts, distribute heat evenly without scorching, and to let you see what’s happening to your bake below the surface.
How Often Should You Replace Cookware?
“The typical rule of thumb is that you should replace stainless steel every five years, and a cast iron can last far longer. However, I think this can be a little reductive, and it should be measured by degree of wear rather than length of time you have had it,” Schubert said.
“There is no point throwing out a perfectly good five-year-old pan that you use once a week, in the same way that there is no reason to keep a damaged pan you use every day, just because it is only a few years old.”
No matter, be sure to keep an eye out for warping, damaged non-stick coating, or discoloration. These are all signs your cookware should be thrown out.
How to Choose the Best Cookware Brands
Cookware isn’t cheap. At least, great cookware isn’t. While there are many more affordable options on our list, and you can get wonderful cookware on a budget, the good stuff does cost more than the bargain brands found in many stores.
With cookware, it’s often true that you get what you pay for. Some bargain cookware isn’t built to last and isn’t built to bring out the best in your kitchen. The best cookware is an investment, not just in the longevity of your kitchen tools, but in the quality of your food.
Value is also relative. Good cookware can make better dishes, avoid toxic chemicals, and give you more use out of your cookware. It may be more cost-effective to spend a bit more upfront, instead of replacing your cookware more often, or ending up with sub-par pots and pans you won’t want to use.
That’s why it’s especially important to consider several factors before purchasing new cooking equipment, to make sure you’re really making the best choice for your kitchen.
Consider what it is you like to cook (or eat!) and opt for equipment that will compliment your skills and interests in the kitchen.
Are you the kind of person who loves pies, beautifully caramelized vegetables, and building layers of flavour in one-pan dinners? Then look into Great Jones or All-Clad cookware that can handle high heat, can be transferred from stovetop to oven, and can be used for baking.
Need a fast saute, a perfect omelette, and a quick cleanup? Non-stick cookware from brands like Caraway and Equal Parts is perfect. Want to bake both bread and seasonal soups in the same vessel? Try cast iron from a brand like Le Creuset. If you need all-purpose gear that can do it all on the stovetop, HexClad, Made In and Cuisinart have you covered.
Once you’ve considered what you want to make, consider how – and where – you cook.
Size and weight are important considerations, especially for people living in small apartments and other tight quarters. You’ll want to buy cookware you can lift, clean and store. You’ll also want to invest in what you’ll actually use. Some cookware sets get elaborate, which may not deliver the best value for a more pared-down cooking style the way a brand like Misen can.
Quality is also extremely important. While the brands on our list deliver consistent, high quality, you still want to know what to look for when assessing a potential purchase.
Generally, look for kitchenware that feels evenly weighted, has a level bottom, and has well-fitting lids. With pots and pans, you should assess the handle of the tool, ensuring it is firmly secured.
If you want to take your cookware from stovetop to oven or BBQ, check that your handles are heat-resistant and oven-safe. No one wants to be surprised by melted plastic!
You may also want to read up on the cookware’s warranty before purchasing to ensure, should something go wrong, you will be compensated.
Finally, you should also consider the materials used in creating that cookware product. Lower-end cookware may be made using toxic materials which can seep into your food.
You should always verify that your kitchenware is PFAS and PTFE-free, and check if there are any foods that could react negatively with your equipment.
Looking for other top brands? Check out these curated lists below: