The 7 Best Eco-Friendly Cookware Brands of 2021

Upgrade your cookware set to a healthier model

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Our Top Picks
"A comprehensive set of ceramic cookware that won't break the bank."
"Can withstand temperatures as high as 850 degrees Fahrenheit without emitting toxic fumes."
"These pans are coated with a substance that's free of PTFE and PFOA."
"Features a Green-Tek nonstick surface and ceramic titanium coating."
"These triple-ply pans have excellent heat conduction that allows you to use less energy while cooking."
"These beautiful pans have a durable nonstick ceramic coating that works like a dream."
"A genius combination of skillet and stockpot that hinges together to also form a Dutch oven, and it's induction-compatible!"

Glass food containers, metal drinking straws, and silicone storage bags are eco-friendly, non-toxic options that have made their way into the kitchens of those who strive for a greener lifestyle. But if you have been using the same pans for years, your cookware might be next on the list of things to upgrade.

Some traditional cookware can leach unwanted metals like cadmium, lead, and nickel into your food. Many nonstick coatings are made using perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl (PFAS), and perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), all of which can let off toxic fumes at high temperatures. In addition, once the nonstick coating is damaged, it can flake off into your food while you cook, so you're directly ingesting these compounds.

If it's time to give your old cookware the old heave-ho, we've got you covered. Here, a list of our favorite eco-friendly, non-toxic cookware brands.

01
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Best Overall: T-fal Initiatives Aluminum/Ceramic Nonstick Cookware

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Great assortment of pieces in generous sizes

  • Includes pan-safe utensils

What We Don't Like
  • Not induction-friendly

If you're in need of a cookware refresh but want to keep costs low, turn to the Initiatives line by T-Fal, a long-trusted European cookware brand. This 14-piece set is made from heavy-gauge aluminum with a PTFE, PFOA, and cadmium-free ceramic coated interior that withstands high temperatures and delivers fast and uniform heat distribution. Heat-resistant handles are riveted to the sides of the pans, and the included glass lids let you keep an eye on your food while cooking.

This set includes three sizes of fry pans (8.5-inch, 10.5-inch, and 11-inch), two saucepans, and a 5-quart Dutch oven as well as four nylon cooking utensils. The pans are also oven-safe up to 350 degrees and can be used on most cooktops, except for induction.

02
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Best Splurge: GreenPan Paris Ceramic Non-Stick 10 Inch and 12 Inch Open Frypan Set

Greenpan Paris Fry Pan Set
What We Like
  • Ceramic coating withstands higher heat than most

  • Good nonstick performance

What We Don't Like
  • Hand wash only

  • Not metal utensil-safe; prone to scratches

GreenPan's cookware features Thermolon non-stick technology that can withstand temperatures as high as 850 degrees without emitting toxic fumes, blistering, or peeling. Thermolon's excellent thermal conduction also allows you to cook mostly at low to medium temperatures, reducing energy use.

The products are also free of cadmium and lead, feature upcycled stainless steel for the handles and upcycled aluminum for the cookware bodies, and the curing phase of Thermolon's production emits 60 percent less carbon dioxide than traditional non-stick coatings.

The company produces 5 lines of cookware, as well as bakeware, electrical appliances, and accessories. To keep the pans functioning well, GreenPan recommends avoiding the use of metal utensils when cooking, hand-washing the pans, and separating them when storing.

03
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Best for Beginners: Ozeri 10-Inch Green Earth Frying Pan

What We Like
  • Heavy, cast aluminum construction

  • Works with induction cooktops

What We Don't Like
  • Lids sold separately

These eco-friendly pans are coated with German-made Greblon ceramic, which is free of PTFE and PFOA. The scratch-resistant surface is textured and designed to withstand high temperatures without releasing harmful fumes or toxins.

The pans are made from heavy-gauge die-cast aluminum to distribute the heat evenly and have a magnetized bottom that allows heat to transfer rapidly on induction stoves. Ozeri's Green Earth collection includes a 12-inch wok and 3 sizes of frying pans—8-inch, 10-inch, and 12-inch—with accompanying lids sold separately.

04
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Best Professional: Scanpan Classic 2 Piece Fry Pan Set

Scanpan Frypan Set
What We Like
  • Artisan-made in Denmark

  • Oven-safe to 500 degrees

  • Dishwasher- and metal utensil-safe

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Classic series is not induction-compatible

Scanpan's cookware features a GreenTek non-stick surface and ceramic-titanium coating that's free of PFOAs and PFOs. Its Professional line includes dutch ovens, fry pans, saucepans, sauté pans, grill pans, sauce pots, woks, and steel lids.

Scanpan recommends avoiding the use of extremely high heat when cooking with this cookware. The pans are oven-proof and dishwasher-safe and can be used on electric, gas, induction, and halogen stoves. In addition to its professional line, Scanpan makes two other cookware lines that feature the Green Tek coating.

05
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Best Stainless: All-Clad D3 Stainless 10-Piece Cookware Set

All-Clad 10-Piece Cookware Set
What We Like
  • Super high-quality construction

  • Oven-safe to 600 degrees

  • Excellent heat conduction means less energy usage

What We Don't Like
  • Very expensive

This classic triple-ply set by All-Clad is a professional-grade cookware collection made with an aluminum core and a brushed stainless steel exterior, so there's no risk of off-gassing or leaching of toxic chemicals as you cook. Because of its excellent heat conductivity along the bottom and sidewalls, it requires less energy than other types of cookware. Each piece is oven safe up to 600 degrees (without lids) and is also safe to put in the dishwasher.

Included in this set are a 2-quart saucepan with lid, 3-quart soup pot with lid, 3-quart saute pan with lid, 8-quart stockpot with lid, and two skillets (8-inch and 10-inch). All-Clad offers a limited lifetime warranty on this collection because these are meant to last, aligning with the idea of "buying less, but buying better quality" that supports eco-friendly shopping habits.

06
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Best Ceramic: Caraway Cookware Set

Caraway pots and pans set
What We Like
  • Aesthetically pleasing design and color palette

  • Retains heat well

  • Nonstick coating works wonderfully

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Hand wash only

  • Stainless steel handles get hot

There are plenty of ceramic cookware options out there, but none as attractive as this set from newly-launched Caraway Home. Its trendy color palette and clean lines are perfect for a modern minimalist kitchen. The brand's tagline is "Cookware Without Chemicals", and they live up to that by offering a complete cookware set constructed of ceramic-coated aluminum with stainless steel handles. The pans are oven-safe up to 550 degrees and will work on every cooktop (including induction). Once you're finished cooking, you can opt to place the pans in the dishwasher, or go with gentle handwashing (recommended).

The complete set is a great deal, considering how many pieces are included: a 10.5-inch frying pan, 3-quart saucepan, 4.5-quart saucepan, and a 6.5-quart Dutch oven, plus a handy lid storage organizer. But if you only need select pieces, Caraway recently started offering their cookware a la carte too—perfect for trying out a pan or two before committing to the entire set.

07
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Best Made In USA: Proclamation Duo Anti-Set

Proclamation Duo Anti-Set
What We Like
  • Induction-compatible

  • Easy to store

  • Very well made

What We Don't Like
  • May not be enough cookware if you tend to cook multiple dishes at once

This three-piece collection from Proclamation was designed guided by the company's ethos: "Cook More, With Less." A 12-inch skillet and a 7-quart hybrid pot make up the minimalist Duo Anti-Set, but what makes it unique is that the skillet hinges together with the stockpot to make a Dutch oven. You can sear, saute, braise, stir-fry, boil, bake and more with this durable set of cookware (and it's induction compatible). The skillet is available in a carbon steel or stainless steel option while the hybrid pot is constructed of multi-ply stainless steel. The set also includes a 12-inch stainless steel lid designed to fit both pans, and nests between them for storage.

Designed in San Francisco and manufactured in Wisconsin, the Duo Anti-Set is a little on the pricier end but has so far proven to be a hit with incredible feedback. Proclamation also backs their cookware with a lifetime warranty and a 30-day trial so you can buy with confidence.

Final Verdict

Our top pick is the budget-friendly T-fal Initiatives Aluminum/Ceramic Nonstick Cookware: it can withstand high temperatures and has fast and even heat conductivity, as well as a comprehensive assortment. If you have the budget to splurge on a professional-grade set, we also recommend the All-Clad D3 Stainless Steel 10-Piece Cookware Set (found here) because of its versatility and exceptional durability.

What To Look For When Buying Eco-Friendly Cookware

By Bernadette Machard de Gramont

Eco-Friendly Materials

Many people own at least one piece of nonstick cookware, traditionally coated with polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), commonly known as Teflon: a chemical that breaks down at high heat and releases toxic fumes. Other problematic pans include those made of uncoated aluminum and low-quality stainless steel, for reasons we’ll get into later. The good news is, many manufacturers have decided to address the demand for non-toxic options. Some eco-friendly alternatives include ceramic-coated, hard-anodized aluminum, and stainless steel, all of which we'll discuss in-depth below.

Heating Capacity

The material of your cookware will determine its heating capacity. Generally speaking, ceramic-coated cookware should be treated like traditional nonstick—it works best at low and medium temperatures; extremely high heat tends to cause “crazing” (micro-cracks that can eventually chip). Stainless steel and hard-anodized aluminum typically have higher heat thresholds and can often withstand the oven. Always be sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions to confirm the maximum heat-safe temperatures of your cookware. 

Caraway Cookware Set
The Spruce Eats / Lindsay Boyers 

Included Pieces

When selecting a cookware set, you’ll want to consider which pieces you want. A skillet is great to have for cooking eggs, sauteing mushrooms, and making pancakes. A saucepan is wonderful for boiling a few eggs and simmering sauces, and a stockpot is a must for boiling pasta or cooking soups and stews. Beyond those essential pieces, the remainder depends on how many people you regularly cook for and if you have enough storage space for the set you want. Don’t forget that the piece count of a cookware set includes lids!

Price

Eco-friendly cookware does not have to be expensive—ceramic-coated cookware tends to be quite affordable, though new, trendier ceramic brands will be on the more expensive end of the spectrum. Hard-anodized aluminum and stainless steel tend to be a little more costly than ceramic, but tend to last long enough to justify their price. 

Warranty

Ceramic coatings do wear down over time, so it is to be expected that the warranty for this type of cookware is limited—most manufacturers will only guarantee the coating for one to two years. Hard-anodized and stainless steel cookware will tend to have longer warranty periods, sometimes carrying up to a full lifetime warranty to cover defects in workmanship and materials. Be sure to always check the manufacturer’s warranty to see if it fits your needs before purchasing. 

Types of Eco-Friendly Cookware

Ceramic-Coated

Pans made with a ceramic coating are often crafted from a base material, typically aluminum, that is lightweight and conducts heat very well. These pans are then sprayed or dip-coated with a special coating made from silica, a component that is derived from sand. The resulting glass-like finish is nonstick and non-toxic, and it won’t release dangerous fumes when the pan is overheated. It is an overall excellent alternative to traditional PTFE (Teflon) coatings, but since it is more brittle than PTFE, it is more susceptible to cracking. Like other nonstick coatings, it is recommended for use on low to medium heat settings for best results—always double-check the manufacturer’s instructions for specific heat limitations. 

Cuisinart GreenGourmet Hard-Anodized 12-Piece Cookware Set
 The Spruce Eats / Katie Begley

Hard-Anodized Aluminum

This durable material was created by the Calphalon company from a technique adapted from the aerospace industry. It uses an electrochemical reaction to turn soft aluminum into a metal that is 30 percent harder than stainless steel, with an oxidized top layer that is resistant to scratches and will not react with acidic foods. Hard-anodized aluminum is a great heat conductor and not as heavy as multi-clad cookware, making it easy to handle in the kitchen. Some higher-quality hard-anodized pieces are also safe for use in the oven and under the broiler. 

Stainless Steel

Not all stainless steel cookware is created equal. If this is your material of choice, you will want to pick high-quality pieces made from 18/10, 18/8, or 18/0 stainless steel. The first number indicates the percentage of chromium in the steel alloy, and the second number denotes the percentage of nickel. While there is some concern over leaching of chromium and nickel, this typically only happens with lesser-quality pieces while cooking for extended periods of time, using with acidic foods (think tomato-based sauces), and using very high heat.

Ozeri 10-Inch Green Earth Frying Pan
 The Spruce Eats / Katie Begley

Brands

GreenPan

Created by two friends in Belgium, GreenPan was born from a need to find an alternative to traditional nonstick coatings made from PTFE (Teflon). It then developed a ceramic coating called Thermolon that paved the way for the brand to be a worldwide leader in green, non-toxic cookware. GreenPan’s portfolio ranges from lightweight aluminum to heavier stainless and hard-anodized aluminum cookware, all featuring its signature ceramic coating. 

Cuisinart

This popular kitchenware manufacturer is known best for popularizing food processors in 1973, but today Cuisinart also carries a full line of small kitchen appliances, cooks' tools, and cookware. Its GreenGourmet series is available in two versions: the first is made from hard-anodized aluminum, and the second is made from tri-ply stainless steel. Its nonstick pieces use a water-based, petroleum-free ceramic coating known as Ceramica.

T-Fal 

This well-known French cookware brand—sometimes marketed as Tefal—takes its name from the combination of the words “Teflon” and “aluminum.” Though many of T-Fal’s beloved products are made with traditional nonstick coatings, its Initiatives lineup features a PTFE-free ceramic coating that handles higher-heat cooking and performs as well as its regular nonstick finishes.

Caraway Home

Launched in November 2019, this new cookware manufacturer has built its brand on products that are free of PTFE (Teflon) and other toxic chemicals. While its assortment is not as extensive as other brands, it carries a fantastic selection of essential pieces in on-trend colors and aesthetically pleasing designs. 

Caraway Cookware Set
The Spruce Eats / Lindsay Boyers

Care and Maintenance

Like any other type of cookware, maintenance for these eco-friendly selections depends on the pan’s material. For non-coated pieces like stainless steel and hard-anodized aluminum, which are naturally resistant to scratches, you’ll be able to be a little rougher with them (though some manufacturers will specify if the pans should be hand-washed only). For ceramic-coated pots and pans, you’ll want to take the same care as you would with traditional nonstick—avoid using sharp and metal tools on the interior, use a nylon scrubber to gently remove any food residue, and pick mild dishwashing detergents to help preserve the lifespan of the coating. Bear in mind that ceramic coating, like PTFE, erodes with time and should be replaced once the nonstick properties are significantly diminished. Additionally, if there is any cracking or flaking in the ceramic finish, it’s a sign that it’s time to buy a new pan.

Why Trust The Spruce Eats?

Jolinda Hackett is the author of multiple vegetarian cookbooks and an advocate for plant-based eating. She is passionate about nutrition and holistic health, is an expert in green living, and has been profiled by the American Vegan and Food & Home magazines.

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