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The 8 Best Nontoxic Cookware

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Concerns about cookware and toxicity primarily stem from the use of certain nonstick coatings, but the best nontoxic cookware can be durable, nonstick, as well as free from excessive chemicals. One of the biggest callouts in cookware is perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, a chemical formerly used in the production of nonstick pans like Teflon, which has raised concerns in the past few decades. However, as the American Cancer Society has written, PFOA is "not present in significant amounts in the final products." Despite low risks to the consumers, DuPont, the maker of Teflon, stopped using PFOA during production in 2013.

The worst known side effect from using Teflon is flu-like symptoms if the pan is overheated. Scratching and overheating can cause the nonstick coating to flake into food, and while there are no scientifically confirmed risks for consuming polytetrafluoroethylene, or PTFE, Teflon’s generic name, many people still choose to avoid it.

That brings up the real issue with PTFE: It isn’t particularly long-lasting, and many experts recommend replacing PTFE-treated cookware every three to five years. That's where ceramic, enameled, or cast iron pans come in as great nonstick alternatives when used with hot fats.

Generally, most PTFE-free cookware is nontoxic. That includes cast iron and stainless steel, which have also occasionally raised eyebrows for the presence of nickel and iron. However, the government of Canada has found them safe and concluded that any levels of nickel or iron that may be consumed after cooking food are far below daily recommended amounts of the metals. That includes when the cast iron is being used to cook acidic foods like tomato sauce, according to America’s Test Kitchen.

With that said, there are also enough nontoxic cookware options to avoid iron and steel if you so choose. Here are the best options in each category:

1

The Best Nonstick Nontoxic Cookware

Ceramic nonstick is a great alternative to PTFE as long as you use it with hot fats and oils. These metal pans use a silicon coating, basically made from sand, that prevents sticking. Unlike PTFE-coated pans, they are safer at much higher temperatures. This budget-friendly set of 16 pieces from GreenLife is highly rated and in addition to three sizes of frying pans, a stockpot, a sauté pan, and two sauce pans also includes an insert for steaming and pasta as well as nylon utensils. However, if you don’t want a set, pieces can be purchased individually or in a 14-piece set. It's also available in eight colors including black and blue. The only downside to this nonstick ceramic pick is that the slick surface won’t sear food as well. So while nonstick ceramic is great for daily use, you may want another pan to get a good sear on things like meat, or tasty browning on vegetables.

One reviewer wrote: "Overjoyed with these. I love the color and love they are ceramic. Very good brand and economy friendly. These don’t have the toxins that most nonstick pots & pans have especially when used at high heat. This company only uses green products, such as nontoxic natural nonstick ceramic. Not only are they stylish and pretty they are safe and healthy to use! We got 16 piece set and it came with steamer basket and cooking utensils. Have already highly recommended on my social media and follow the company!"

2

The Most Durable Nontoxic Cookware

Cast iron can last for a decades if well-cared for. And while traditionally, cast iron had to be "seasoned" through use to make it nonstick, Lodge was the first company to pre-season cookware, making it nonstick from the beginning. Lodge’s cast iron cookware, like this set of four, is well-priced and heavy-duty. Simply wipe clean and dry off thoroughly, then coat with cooking oil to maintain the seasoning for best results. Iron won’t leach into food in significant amounts, unless your pan starts to rust. However, even rusted cast iron can be rescued and re-seasoned.

One reviewer wrote: “I've been trying to find a set of non stick pans that don't have that pesky Teflon...I dont know why I never got cast iron before!These are fantastic! I love that the cover fits perfectly on the skillet and they are super easy to clean... assuming you keep them well seasoned. I picked lodge cause we use a skillet when camping and now I plan to use these for all my cooking!One tip...plan to season these yourself, it says preseasoned but I used the small one right out of the box and my eggs stuck to it! After I seasoned the skillet, it was perfect!"

3

The Most Versatile Nontoxic Cookware

Dutch ovens can be used for cooking, slow-cooking, baking, frying, and deep-frying, and they can go from oven to stove, making them a great all-around pick. Enameled cookware is also easy to clean and care for. The heavy-duty cast iron inside layer is great at holding heat, and the enamel makes the surface easier to clean and adds an extra layer to prevent the iron from interacting with the food. Many high-end Dutch ovens cost several hundred dollars. However, AmazonBasics is built like similar brands (cast iron coated with enamel) at a fraction of the cost. Enamel is nontoxic and safe to use as long as it doesn’t chip.

One reviewer wrote: "So happy with my amazon basics Dutch oven. Only a fraction of the price of other popular brands and so comparable in quality. Will be purchasing different sizes!”

4

The Best Nontoxic Cookware For Searing Food

Stainless steel is safe to cook with and won't leach a significant amount of nickel or iron, according to the Canadian government. This set is tri-ply, meaning there are three layers of steel, to ensure more even heating. It also helps keep the pan from warping over time. Stainless steel is oven-safe, which can be helpful for finishing dishes or one-pot meals. While enamel and ceramic are more nonstick, stainless steel can be scrubbed down or soaked for hard-to-remove residue. You will likely need to cook with plenty of oils or liquids to prevent sticking, though. Because stainless steel has a “rougher” surface than most nonstick options, this will give food a better sear. Seared or browned food tastes good because of the Maillard reaction, the process that both browns food and gives it more flavor.

One reviewer wrote: "Looking for something reliable over the long haul without the risk of toxic non-stick coatings melting into the food. These are great, predictable heat pattern. Clean up is also easy, just some boiled water and everything loosens off of it. Would recommend to anyone cooking at home regularly for a family."

5

The Editor's Pick

Another great stainless steel option, this seven-piece set comes with a 3-quart sauce pan with a lid, a 3-quart sauté pan with a lid, a 10-inch frying pan, and an 8-quart stockpot with a lid. Each piece has a tri-ply construction with an aluminum alloy core that heats quickly, and two layers of stainless steel that heat evenly to give you a perfect cook. Like all stainless steel cookware, these pots and pans do not have a teflon nonstick coating, so to prevent your food from sticking, you should always preheat your pan and cook with enough oil. These pans are not only easy to use, but can also be used almost anywhere, including on induction cooktops and in ovens up to 600 degrees Fahrenheit.

Editor’s Note: “I have an an All-Clad stainless steel cookware set, and it’s really hard to use anything else because I love these pots and pans so much. I love that they go from stove to oven, and they’re super easy to clean. Yes, the set is a bit pricey, but I know it will last forever.” — Carina Finn

6

The Best For Setting Up A New Kitchen

Whether you’re looking to replace all your old Teflon cookware or you’re moving into your first apartment, this 20-piece nonstick set is a great way to stock your whole kitchen. It comes with four pans, three stew pots with matching glass lids, six baking pans, and much more, so you have everything you need to take on any recipe. The whole set is PTFE-, PFOA-, and PFOS-free, but it’s still nonstick thanks to the mineral-based coating on the pots and pans, which makes cooking and cleaning a breeze. This cookware is versatile too, as it is induction and dishwasher-safe, and some of the pieces can be used in ovens up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

One reviewer wrote: "I have waited a month before posting my review regarding this product. I LOVE THEM!!!!! I don't need to scrub the cookware after using and soak it over night. My husband was in shock when he made blueberry muffins 3 different ways and on a few muffins didn't use paper cups. The muffins just fell out with ease. Love The color as well. Highly recommend.”

7

The Best 2-in-1 Enameled Cast Iron Piece

This versatile 2-piece cookware set comes with a 10.2-inch skillet and a shallower 9.6-inch skillet, which doubles as a lid for the larger skillet. This two-in-one design helps you save space in your kitchen, and makes this set a great budget-friendly choice as it costs just $60 for two enameled cast iron pans. Because these pans have an enamel coating over their cast iron base, they don’t need any additional seasoning, can be washed with soap, and they aren’t at risk of rusting, making them very easy to care for. Like all cast iron cookware, these pans heat evenly, and are oven-safe up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

One reviewer wrote: “I love this pan! It cooks so well and it's pretty easy to clean. I also love the way it looks!”

8

The Best Set With A Copper Band

This ten-piece cookware set is made from stainless steel, but it’s also accented with a band of copper around the base to give the pans an elevated look and helps these pots and pans heat more quickly. The set includes a 1-quart saucepan, a 2.5-quart saucepan, a 7-quart stockpot, two fry pans, a sauté pan, and four tempered glass lids. These nickel-free pots and pans have 3-ply construction with an aluminum core, and aren’t coated. Another benefit of this cookware set is that every piece has a riveted handle that won’t heat quickly like the rest of the pan. Like any stainless steel cookware, it’s best to preheat these pieces and use them with ample oil to prevent sticking, and the brand also recommends that you season them the first time you use them.

One reviewer wrote: “There is not a single thing that I don't like about this new cookware! Heat conduction is great, the handles are cool to the touch, ALL the lids are vented, and, again, customer service is beyond comparison!Be sure to follow the instructions on "curing" the cookware and you will not have to worry about food sticking.I am looking forward to a LONG relationship with my new HomiChef collection. Best quality cookware I've purchased (and I've been through several!)”

Still looking for answers? We've got you covered.

What is the best cookware that is nontoxic?

In general, the best cookware that is nontoxic will be free from PFOAs and safe to use at high temperatures while still providing a reliably nonstick surface. The best nontoxic cookware for you will depend on what you like to cook most often. If you love getting a good sear on meat or veggies, stainless steel is your best bet, but it doesn't have the same inherently nonstick qualities as cast iron or ceramic. Between those two? It's all about personal preference.

What is the safest cookware for your health?

Cast iron is one of the safest cookware options on the market, because the only thing that goes into a standard cast iron pan is, well, iron. As long as your cookware does not contain harmful chemicals, though, nontoxic cookware options are all pretty safe for your health. If you're concerned about cutting fat as part of your diet, you might want to choose a ceramic option, as they tend to have the most reliably nonstick surfaces, which means you won't need to cook with as much oil or butter.

Is stainless steel the healthiest cookware?

Especially if you love high-heat cooking methods, stainless steel is an excellent choice. It's free of toxic materials, relatively inexpensive, and there's not much you can't cook in stainless steel. That being said, since it is less nonstick than other finishes, you'll need to use more fats when using this type of cookware.