The Best Non-Toxic Cookware, Tested by Food Network Kitchen
These health-conscious cookware picks don't skimp on performance.
Our Top Non-Toxic Cookware Picks:
Tested by Lauren Seib for Food Network Kitchen
You've sworn to only buy organic, non-GMO food, put the kibosh on all things plastic and even swapped chemical-laden cleaners for safer alternatives — so what’s the story with your cookware? Depending on the age and wear-and-tear on your pots and pans, those go-to non-stick options could be undoing all your health-concious habits.
Since the 1940s, companies have been using chemicals known as perfluoroalky and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to create cookware that can repel oil and water — what we now call non-stick cookware. The material we're most familiar with in terms of non-stick pans is polytertrafluoroethylene (PTFE) — better known as Teflon. Since 2006, certain known toxins found in Teflon including two types of PFAS have been phased out of the Teflon manufacturing process: PFOA and PFOS. Most non-stick cookware sold in the United States today is PFOA- and PFOS-free. If you own non-stick cookware that pre-dates 2006, you may want to seriously consider replacing it.
In addition to concerns around these chemicals creeping into your scrambled eggs, cranking up the temperature on your stove can cause older cookware to release toxic gases into the air including PFOA. What’s even more concerning: These "forever chemicals" do not break down easily (for hundreds, potentially thousands of years!) and have been linked to a lengthy list of conditions including cancer, liver damage, thyroid disease and developmental issues to fetuses/breastfed babies of exposed women.
It's also worth noting that any non-stick cookware sporting scratches from years of use should be replaced immediately. For one thing, it's not safe for your health as it could potentially release toxic chemicals. And, it just won't live up to its non-stick promise when damaged.
Enough said? It’s time to toss your old trusty, inherited from who-knows-where cookware and start thinking about safer, healthier alternatives for your kitchen. We tested fan favorite brands made of ceramic and stainless steel (free from PFOA, PFOS, PTFE, heavy metals, and more) to serve up our six stovetop winners.
This new direct-to-consumer ceramic line is a triple threat in design, durability and efficacy. No wonder the set (and its gorgeous muted hues) frequent your Instagram feed! The 10.5-inch frying pan, 4.5-quart saute pan, 3-quart saucepan and 6.5-quart Dutch oven (with three mix-and-match low-profile lids) cover your cooking needs, while the bonus canvas lid holder and magnetic holding rack keep your cabinets organized. Even heat distribution, quick boil and breezy clean-up make Caraway your dinner-in-a-pinch partner-in-crime. We recommend their star-studded collection for newlyweds, first-time homeowners and anyone looking to reset their stovetop needs.
Limited on space? The 10-inch Always Pan is the ultimate sous chef, replacing eight traditional pieces of cookware (fry pan, sauté pan, steamer, skillet, saucer, saucepan, non-stick pan, spatula and spoon rest). The Jack of all trades was designed to fit the needs of the "modern, multiethnic American kitchen" and comes with a slippery two-spout pan, modular lid, metal steamer basket/colander and nesting beechwood spatula, which stays put on the stay-cool handle. The on-trend pallet of terracotta, blue salt, sage, (with new colors added frequently) adds a purposeful splash of color to your kitchen that you won’t want to put away.
For those looking to truly overhaul their cookware cabinet, look no further. This GreenPan set includes 8-, 9.5- and 11-inch frypans, 2- and 3-quart saucepans with lids, a 3-quart sauté pan with lid, a 5-quart stockpot with lid and three pan protectors. Transitioning from stovetop to oven is a breeze with even heating pots and pans being oven/broiler safe up to 600F. While hand wash is recommended, they are dishwasher (and metal utensil!) safe for speedy clean-up.
"Healthy" doesn’t have to break the bank. For less than $100 (ideal for college kids moving into their first off-campus apartment!), you can cook everything with this 16-piece set from pancakes to perfectly seared seafood without a single frustrated scrape. Lightweight — thanks to being crafted from recycled aluminum — these punchy-colored, ceramic-coated nonstick pots and pans are made from sand and claim to emit 60 percent fewer CO2 emissions versus traditional nonstick competitors. Also noteworthy: The four clear lids, which help you keep tabs on meal prep progress. Mhm, no need to let your fire alarm alert you that dinner is ready!
Pure ceramic to the core, Xtrema’s pots and pans are handmade with durability at the forefront of their design. "Versatility" is seemingly the company’s middle name, as you can take everything from cooktop to oven, BBQ (yes, everything can withstand 2500 degrees F!) to microwave, fridge/freeze to dishwasher without a sweat. Xtrema’s Versa Skillet took first prize for the best frittata out of all the tested non-toxic cookware and was a favorite when it came to fork-tender meat on the grill. Looking to wow your mother-in-law when she’s in town? Try our guaranteed crowd pleaser, Skillet Rosemary Chicken.
There’s a reason why most brides have this cookware trio (plus two lids!) on their registry: It’s a reliable classic made in the USA with a lifetime warranty. All-Clad’s timeless D3 set is for the home cook and pro alike, compatible with all cooktops and oven/broiler-safe up to 600 degrees F. The stainless steel 10-inch fry pan, 3-quart sauce pan and 3-quart sauté pan are tri-ply bonded with an aluminum core for even heating when it comes to whipping up your favorite dishes. We found that a quick coat of oil before tossing ingredients in best supported whatever was on the menu.
How We Tested
After researching reputable consumer buying guides, we put our top cookware picks to the test by cooking eggs, a frittata (for those oven-safe models) and timing how long it took to boil two cups of water. Those that flipped and slipped easily with a speedy bubble received a gold star. Cleaning was another big part of the evaluation with difficulty of hand washing and whether or not it was dishwasher safe being considered. The good news: Every single item tested was a breeze to wipe down with a dime-sized dollop of soap needed (at most) for even the sauciest of messes. The manual/instructions, measurements/weight and overall use and care were driving forces with the decision in each category’s winner. We also considered pricing, performance and design (lots of pretty colors!) when ranking.