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Glass food containers, metal drinking straws, and silicone storage bags are eco-friendly, non-toxic options that have made their way into 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 non-stick coatings are made using perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOAs), polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl (PFAs), and perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) which can let off toxic fumes at high temperatures. In addition, once the non-stick 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 are eight of our favorite eco-friendly, non-toxic cookware brands.
This cookware uses ceramic-based non-stick technology instead of a traditional petroleum-based non-stick surface, helping to preserve oil supplies. The Ceramica coating is applied at a lower temperature than conventional non-stick and is free of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), commonly known as Teflon, and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which is used in the manufacture of Teflon and other non-stick surfaces.
This hard anodized cookware is designed to achieve better heat conductivity, requiring less energy when you cook. Plus, it features riveted stainless steel handles made from 70% recycled materials. Its packaging is also made from 100% recycled materials and is printed with soy ink.
In addition to its eco-friendly features, this cookware is backed by a lifetime warranty and is safe for use with electric, gas, glass ceramic and halogen cooktops. The line includes an 8" skillet, 10" deep fry pan with cover, 1.5 qt. saucepan with cover, 2.5 qt. saucepan with cover, 3 qt. "everyday" pan with cover, 6 qt. dutch oven with cover and a steamer insert that fits the 2.5 qt. saucepan.
This cookware is not dishwasher-safe, so Cuisinart recommends washing it in warm, soapy water with a sponge or soft dishcloth. You can use plastic, wood and nylon kitchen tools while cooking with it, and it is oven-safe up to temperatures of 500°F.
Cuisinart also makes a Green Gourmet Tri-Ply Stainless Steel cookware line that uses the same non-stick coating and can be used on induction cooktops.
GreenPan's cookware features Thermolon non-stick technology that can withstand temperatures as high as 850°F 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% 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.
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.
These eco-friendly pans are coated with German-made Greblon ceramic, which is free of PTFEs and PFOAs. 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” wok and 3 sizes of frying pans—8-inch, 10-inch, and 12-inch—with accompanying lids sold separately.
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.
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.
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.
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 thousands of positive reviews. Proclamation also backs their cookware with a lifetime warranty and a 30-day trial so you can buy with confidence.
Our top pick is Cuisinart GG-12 GreenGourmet Hard-Anodized Nonstick 12-Piece Cookware Set because of its great heat conductivity, nonstick performance, solid construction, and 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 because of its versatility and exceptional durability.
Metal utensil-safe While silicone cooking utensils are becoming more popular, there might be times when you want to use a metal whisk, your favorite metal ladle, or a potato masher. If so, make sure to purchase cookware that's metal-safe. However, if you’ve disposed of all your metal utensils in favor of silicone and wood, this might not be as important when you make your choice.
Dishwasher-safe Pots and pans are often too large to fit into the dishwasher along with all your plates and bowls, but if you want to avoid hand-washing, consider cookware that can withstand dishwasher heat and detergents. If you prefer to hand-wash, your choices are unlimited.
Maximum heat Today’s nonstick cookware can withstand much more heat than earlier versions, but there are still limits. If you want to try browning meats in your new cookware, look for sets that can handle higher temperatures. If you want to use your cookware in both your stove and your oven, make sure it's oven-safe at the temperatures you normally cook at.