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We are big believers that sustainability starts by using what we already have, repairing it when it can be repaired, and using it until it’s totally worn out, broken, or no longer serving our needs. When it’s time to replace something, we try to make the most conscious effort possible to find a long-lasting and eco-friendly upgrade.
So if you’re anything like us, you might be noticing the wear and tear on some of your most-used cookware. No big deal right? Well, if it’s that nonstick coating that’s starting to peel off from the inside of the pan, it actually might be worth replacing now. Most conventional nonstick coating is made from forever chemicals, more commonly known as PFAS (pronounced PEE-fas).
PFOA and PFOS are the most common members of the per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) family. These chemicals are used in everything from pizza boxes to period underwear to moisture-wicking activewear. But you might know them by one of their most popular brand names: Teflon. According to the American Cancer Society, the PFOA used in the process of making Teflon has some concerns about its carcinogenicity. Studies indicate that PFOA exposure may affect immune system functions and even fertility in humans, as well.
Luckily, there are lots of brands out there making cookware without harmful chemicals. The investment to upgrade your pots and pans is worth it — after all, you’re putting the food prepared in these chemical-coatings directly into your body! So we’ve rounded up some of our favorite nontoxic and eco-friendly cookware and tested out some of their best selling products to find out how they compare with their conventional counterparts. (Spoiler alert: we are obsessed with these goods!)
If you’re looking to streamline your mealtimes even more, head over to our guide to organic meal kit delivery services. And don’t forget to dress up your table with the perfect set of sustainable silverware and ceramic plates.
Best Overall | Best Aesthetic
1. Great Jones
Nontoxic Materials | Nonstick ceramic coating (no Teflon!)
Product Range | Pots & pans, sets, bakeware, sides & accessories
Price Range | $40–$200
Great Jones was started by two best friends who wanted to offer modern, heirloom-quality cookware that nodded to female chefs and food writers alike. With all the buzz about the brand, we couldn’t wait to get our hands on this colorful collection! If you’re notorious for burning the casserole (us too!), the Dutch oven cooks evenly and makes feeding our friends and family a breeze. Better yet, all the cookware is crafted with nontoxic materials like stainless steel, ceramic, and cast iron. The company’s interactive website, helpful resources, and bold aesthetic help shopping for cookware feel less intimidating.
My Review | The Dutchess is the big, beautiful workhorse I’ve been looking for: a 6.75 quart enameled cast iron Dutch oven that I know will last me decades. Everything about this pot is a dream, from the color (a matte, royal blue called “Blueberry”) to the oblong shape that will definitely fit a large roasting bird. I feel like it’s weirdly challenging to find an oval Dutch oven of this size without it weighing an absolute ton and costing a small fortune, but this pot manages to be both substantial and easy to maneuver, and retails for just $160. It’s the perfect pot for my family’s favorite chicken and olives with saffron rice, making the weeknight meal feel festive and elevated when served from this gorgeous pot. I can’t wait to try the Thanksgiving turkey in it this year!
Also available at: Nordstrom
2. Our Place
Nontoxic Materials | Ceramic nonstick coating, recycled glass, natural sand, natural dyes
Product Range | Cups, plates, bowls, multifunctional pans & pots
Price Range | $60–$175
Our Place‘s minimalist cookware does it all. The Always Pan, for example, comes in ten soothing earth tones and includes a spatula and a steaming basket for all-in-one cooking. We love how the pan looks on our stovetop but beware of cooking at too high temperatures or the nonstick coating will begin to peel. Best of all, this cookware is ethically made with responsible materials, and it’s Teflon-, PFOA-, and PTFE-free. Based in Los Angeles, the brand also partners with organizations combatting food insecurity.
My Review | The Always Pan is an all-in-one piece that is perfect for my particular brand of kitchen laziness: it’s a nonstick frying pan that I can also use to boil a toddler-sized serving of pasta in the blink of an eye, using the included steam basket as a colander. It also comes with a lid and a wooden spoon that has its own designated resting spot on the pot’s handle, so I find myself reaching for it again and again, whether I’m making eggs, sauce, or yet another batch of macaroni. The Perfect Pot is aptly named, and an easy go-to when I need to accommodate more volume. With an aluminum body, this pot is light enough that I can lift it with one hand! Both pots have pour spouts, making it super easy to transfer liquid without dirtying more dishes. Perfect for the minimalist or starter kitchen, there’s also no compromising on aesthetics with these pieces — the Blue Salt color we chose is timeless and soothing and looks as great on the counter as it does in the dishrack.
Nontoxic Materials | Ethically made & recyclable ceramic cookware
Product Range | Pans, Dutch ovens, sets, bakeware, accessories, & linens
Price Range | $45–$235
The hype is, in fact, real when it comes to Caraway! This affordable cookware and bakeware brand uses only ceramic and a mineral coating for its goods. Not only that but pieces are ethically made and sent in eco-friendly packaging — and they’re recyclable, too. If you can, we recommend grabbing a set for a generous discount!
My Review | I am obsessed with my 10.5″ ceramic fry pan and 6.5 quart Dutch oven. Not only are these timeless, classic designs (I got them in navy), but cooking with them is easy. The nonstick ceramic coating only requires the tiniest bit of oil or butter to let food easily slide across the surface (but the brand warns against cooking sprays, which can age the surface of the pan faster). And cleaning is a total breeze, since pretty much nothing stuck to the surface of the ceramic. One of the best parts of their design is the lids: completely flat, both the lids and the bodies of the pans slip neatly into storage slots on their sides. Plus the lids have an ingenious tiny steam hole to prevent bubbling annoying messes from unwatched pots bubbling over (just me??) without being so substantially sized as to risk giving the cook a steam burn.
Also Available at: Crate & Barrel | Target
4. Made In
Nontoxic Materials | Cast iron, carbon steel, stainless steel, copper
Product Range | Cookware, dinnerware, knives, bakeware
Price Range | $79–$499
For the highest professional-grade cookware that’s made to last a lifetime, Made In delivers. Founded on a fourth-generation kitchen supply business, the Austin-based brand knows its stuff: they use only the highest quality materials and work with multigenerational craftsmen and makers to produce the best designed products. With over 100,000 5-star reviews, dozens of professional chef endorsements, and a lifetime warranty on almost everything, you can’t go wrong. (Check out our review for more info!)
My Review | If your favorite version of sustainable is synonymous with “heirloom,” the Made In Dutch Oven is the pot for you (and generations to come!). This gorgeous gal is made from the world’s finest enameled cast iron in Northern France, which has made a name for itself in the professional kitchen world since the 1920s. With the perfect ratio of cast iron to enamel, this pot holds heat evenly and is an absolute cinch to clean just with soap and water. The lid is designed with tiny dimples that help to collect steam and return the moisture to the food as it cooks (and the knobs are customizable!). I am obsessed with the Antique White color I chose, which looks elegant and timeless while letting the food inside it take the spotlight.
5. Milo by Kana
Nontoxic Materials | Partially recycled cast iron
Product Range | Dutch ovens, skillets, sets, accessories
Price Range | $105–$145
Milo by Kana’s heritage-inspired cookware is made from enameled cast iron, which is naturally non-stick. The brand’s kitchen products are created to last with a lifetime warranty and are fully free from toxic chemicals. We especially love the mini Dutch oven, for slow cooking and all kinds of comfort foods.
My Review | Enameled cast iron lovers rejoice: this is the ultimate pairing for all of your favorite things about cast iron without any of the fussy care of re-seasoning. In fact, you can pop these babies in the dishwasher! If that makes you skeptical as it did my husband, you can rest assured that the brand is so confident in their product, they’ve backed it with a lifetime warranty. The lid fits both the Dutch oven and the skillet, and we enjoyed making everything from eggs to bread to pork chops perfectly, absolutely loving the easy cleanup.
Also available at: Food52 | Crate & Barrel
Featured image is from Our Place
Stephanie H. Fallon is a writer originally from Houston, Texas. She has an MFA from the Jackson Center of Creative Writing at Hollins University. She lives with her family in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, where she writes about motherhood, artmaking, and work culture.