Knowing the landscape of the best cookware brands can be helpful because, let’s face it, the time has come to toss those pots, pans, knives, and skillets you’ve been using since your college days (it’s okay, we won’t tell anyone). Sure, they can get the job done, but are they really doing it that well? Lucky for us, cookware has come a long way in the past few years. In addition to big name brands ceaselessly creating reliable products, there are also a variety of dynamic start-ups making cookware cool and covetable again.
Using the best cookware you can afford makes all the difference when it comes to getting a crispier sear, a more even high heat, and food that isn’t burned. Good sets of tools are the kinds of things we tend to take for granted when we have them, but one use of a meh skillet or knife, and you’ll notice. Although there are a plethora of options, colors, and materials at your disposal, upgrading your game in the kitchen doesn’t need to—and shouldn’t!—be an over-complicated or overwhelming endeavor. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that these pieces are easy on the eyes, especially when storage space is limited, and your pots and pans take center stage in the kitchen. Here, some of the best cookware sets and brands to know.
If you’re on the hunt for ceramic cookware that is free of toxic materials and full of color, Caraway is one brand to consider. The line is free of PTFEs and PFOAs—the chemicals found in traditional nonstick pans that have been linked to serious illnesses—and Caraway keeps things easy by simply offering one set. The pieces are ceramic-coated (free of Teflon) and come in fun hues like perracotta (pink terra-cotta) and sage. The materials are also eco-friendly, releasing up to 60% less CO2 when produced compared to traditional nonstick coatings. Another bonus? Each piece of the nonstick cookware set has smart design elements. Our favorite features: The handle does double duty as a spoon rest and the lids have a slim design for easy storage. The Cookware Set includes a fry pan, sauce pan, Dutch oven, and sauté pan, and it’s available for $395.
There’s a high chance that you’ve already seen the colorful Our Place cookware across your social feeds. The company—from Malala Fund cofounder Shiza Shahid—creates unique cookware rooted in the modern and multiethnic American kitchen. Among the dinnerware Our Place offers, you can find plates ($50 for a set of four), side bowls ($45 for a set of four), cups ($50 for a set of four), and the Always Pan ($145), which is a skillet, steamer, deep fryer, saucier, pot, and pan all in one. The nonstick cookware is nontoxic, and it has an aluminum body that makes for consistent heat distribution and efficient conductivity. Plus, the cookware comes in a variety of eye-catching colors—including blue salt, sage, and lavender—that transforms any item into a versatile piece of functional decor. Our Place invests in ethical factories that provide supportive environments and compensation to their teams so that the people who make the products have time, energy, and resources to connect with the people they love.
Material has a less-is-more philosophy when it comes to the kitchen, and doubles down on the essentials. The brand has identified and perfected the can’t-live-without-them tools that every home cook needs in their kitchen, and has focused all its efforts on getting them right. We especially love their cutting boards, made of recycled plastic. It might be time to take a good, hard look at what’s hanging out next to your stove and give yourself a well-deserved upgrade. The copper cookware set consists of a sauce pot, sauté pan, and the coated pan—each made with a copper core as the name implies—for a discounted price. Even though the sauté pan and sauce pot just come in sleek silver, buyers can pick between a tan and deep green color for the coated pan.
Made In, another direct-to-consumer company, crafts pieces to last a lifetime, and they won’t set you back a pretty penny. The company focuses on sourcing materials from the best of the best: Their stainless steel pans are made in the U.S. and Italy, and their knives are forged at a factory run by a fifth generation family in France. Available either in kits or à la carte, Made In offers sauciers, stock pots, and pans. Plus, they launched tableware just last summer. This set includes a frying pan with a nonstick surface, a stainless clad frying pan, a saucepan, and a stockpot. And although it’s called “The Starter Set,” one reviewer stated that using the pan made them feel like a “real chef.”
Misen was born when cofounder Omar Rada set out to replace the one quality skillet he had in his arsenal after a friend lost it. The skillet had been a gift, and Omar was shocked by the sticker price, but he also had gotten accustomed to the benefits of cooking with it and was unwilling to downgrade. So he created Misen, applying the direct-to-consumer model and launching a line of high-quality skillets and pans that are obsessively engineered and designed with care. The release was an instant hit, so it followed up with a competitively priced chef’s knife (just $65!) that set Kickstarter ablaze with orders. Like Made In, Misen also has a five-ply steel Starter Cookware Set, which comes with a 10-inch pan, a sauté pan, and a saucier.
We were big fans of Great Jones from the beginning when the modern cookware and bakeware brand launched in 2018. The Great Jones is as Instagrammable as it is practical. It’s best-known for its colorful Dutch oven, which comes in shades like broccoli green and mustard yellow, and retails for $155. In enameled cast iron, the Dutch oven is super easy to clean, too, which makes the piece the hero product of the collection. Also check out the stainless steel sauce pans and frying pans, with prices ranging from $55 to $85.
Milo is another cool cookware start-up known for its affordable Dutch ovens ($110 for a smaller version and $135 for a larger version) and skillet ($95). All of Milo’s products come in glossy enameled cast iron, which promises long-lasting heat (hello, brilliant braising) and easy-to-clean surfaces (it’s dishwasher safe!), and they all have a lifetime warranty. Plus, their productions can be used on gas or induction cooktops. There’s a range of colors you can choose from as well, like eucalyptus green and dijon yellow, which helps up the sophisticated look of each item. If you want to keep things simple, Milo is definitely one of the best cookware brands to consider—here for professional chefs and newcomers alike.
Cast-iron purists will be pleased to know that direct-to-consumer brand Field Company has taken on the traditional skillet, claiming to make a lighter and smoother-surfaced cast-iron pan. Though they sell a few accessories like a seasoning oil and a leather handle cover, the brand recently expanded to include cookware sets, griddles, and a Dutch oven. Field Company’s goal is to develop high-performance products that can be passed on for generations.
San Francisco–based Proclamation Goods markets its cookware offering as the anti-set. The set includes a 12-inch coating-free skillet, offered in stainless steel or carbon, as well as a seven-quart stainless steel pot. The innovation lies in the hinge that locks the two pans together to form a Dutch oven, making it perfect for a cook working with limited space. The products come with a lifetime warranty, are dishwasher- and oven-safe, and the brand is part of the 1% for the Planet initiative.
Started in Pennsylvania more than 50 years ago, All-Clad cookware is a titan in the industry. Their stainless steel cookware sets and individual products are popular for a reason, and that reason is how much of a reliable workhorse in the kitchen they are. This three-ply, 10-piece cookware set does come at a hefty price, but everything in it—including two different sized skillets, two different sized sauce pans, a sauté pan, and a stockpot—will help you level up from your sad cookware set from college, and keep you covered on the kitchen front for quite some time.
Le Creuset is another high end and recognizable brand name among connoisseurs in the kitchen, known for its dependable products that always come in a variety of stunningly deep hues. The French brand has been in the market since 1925, and was one of the first companies to pioneer colorfully enameled cast iron (which can be bought in shades of blue and orange) that look just as good in the oven or on top of the stove as it does your table. But don’t let the pretty looks fool you—Le Creuset is still incredibly versatile and quality cookware, like this multipurpose saucepan with a lid that also functions as a skillet.
Having been in the business for over 120 years, Lodge is a staple in the cast-iron manufacturing game. With two different production foundries, Lodge is constantly manufacturing quality cookware items. One of the Tennessee-based company’s most popular and well-known products is, of course, its seasoned cast-iron skillet—which can be used for searing, sautéing, and any other cooking needs as soon as it comes out of the box—but Lodge boasts other items such as quality carbon steel cookware, a few enameled cast-iron items, and grilling tools. Their products can be purchased directly from the site or via other retailers like Williams Sonoma.
Like All-Clad, Cuisinart is a cookware brand name you’ve likely seen in most kitchens. They make everything from carbon steel fry pans to cast-iron woks and high speed blenders—they even make racks just for you to hang all your new cookware on. Available at countless retailers, they’re simple and sleek on the stovetop, but efficient when put to the test on any cooking surface. Select any of their skillets or fry pans, and you’re sure to be investing in a kitchen tool you’ll rely on for any manner of dishes.
Another testament to the fact the French really know what they’re doing when it comes to cookware, Staub produces durable, hardy, and colorful enamel cast iron, much like Le Creuset. A tried-and-true brand that’s been around for 40 years, their items are oven- and dishwasher-safe (although hand washing is recommended), incredibly sturdy, and some have unique features to help improve your cooking. This cherry cocotte is small but mighty when it comes to the kitchen and totally worth every dime. “Take care of it, and it will take care of you and all those short ribs you braise,” one reviewer promises.