What is the Safest Cookware for 2023?
When choosing cookware for your home it is important to know the risks of each type of cookware and decide which is the safest cookware for you. This list includes the Safest Cookware for 2023, plus what to avoid.
When it comes to choosing the best cookware these days, we’re spoiled for options! There are countless options, from classic cast iron to modern silicone cookware. With so many options available, we can afford to be pickier when choosing cookware.
But, there are concerns about the safety of cookware, especially around non-stick coatings. Learn what are the safest cooking pans and best non toxic cookware sets are for both home cooks and professional chefs.
All of the items on this list fall into the category of non-toxic cookware, but there are pros and cons of each option. Some of the safest cookware materials include stainless steel, ceramic, copper, and cast iron. Nonstick and aluminum cookware is generally regarded as safe as well.
Why Cook at Home?
Cooking at home is one of the best things you can do for your health. Research shows that you will save money, have more control over the quality of your ingredients, and likely eat better when you are in charge of your own meals.
Cooking at home is a lot easier when you meal prep and plan out what you’re going to make for the week. See more in my article about how to eat clean.
But, of course, to cook at home you need to have the right equipment.
A well-stocked kitchen will have a healthy pantry, the basics like an oven, stovetop, and refrigerator, and then a variety of accessories like knives, cutting boards, and other helpful appliances such as an air fryer or an electric pressure cooker.
And, of course, you need to have a set of quality cookware to make meals at home. That’s where this article comes in! I’ll help you decide which type of cookware to get that is the least toxic and the most durable.
Types of Cookware to Avoid
There is a lot of unsubstantiated and fear-driven information being put out there about the dangers of certain types of cookware.
However, most modern cookware brands, including non-stick cookware brands, are safe and non-toxic as long as they are used properly and are not damaged.
That said, the types of cookware to avoid include:
- Damaged or scratched non-stick pots and pans
- Vintage nonstick cookware (or even cookware made prior to 2013) made with perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) due to health concerns
- Cookware surfaces used improperly, such as cooking acidic foods in aluminum pans or people with iron overload cooking with iron pots and pans
That said, it is important that you do your own research to determine which type of cooking surface is best for your needs and your budget.
Safest Cookware Options
When it comes to to actually choosing a cookware set or even just a couple of pots and pans, it’s important to consider the options.
Whether you’re a young person just starting out with your new kitchen or you’re a veteran home cook looking to replace your existing cookware, this is the only guide you need to make the best choice for your healthy kitchen.
These are the safest options of cookware available, listed in no particular order. I’ve included pros and cons of each, with links to available and affordable options.
The healthiest and least toxic cookware for your kitchen will include:
- Ceramic cookware
- Aluminum cookware
- Stainless steel cookware
- Nonstick cookware
- Cast iron cookware
- Copper cookware
1. Ceramic Cookware
Ceramic cookware is clay cookware that’s kiln-baked to high heat, rendering the quartz sand surface effectively non-stick.
It’s a popular choice but here are some pros and cons to help you decide if it’s the best choice for your kitchen.
Pros of ceramic cookware:
100% ceramic cookware (not ceramic nonstick cookware, which falls under the non-stick category) has some natural non-stick properties, and does not leach or emit potentially harmful fumes. So, ceramic cookware is among the best of the non-toxic cookware options.
Eco-friendly and Long-lasting
100% ceramic cookware is not manufactured with chemicals and is made of durable, inorganic materials. It’s an eco-friendly choice that will last for decades if maintained properly.
Cons of ceramic cookware:
Not Completely Non-stick
It’s hard to compete with synthetic non-stick coatings, especially if you’re accustomed to eggs sliding right out of your pan with no residue at all.
While 100% ceramic cookware is effectively non-stick, it’s still advisable to use a little bit of oil when cooking.
It’s important to trust the sourcing of your ceramic cookware. The labels “100% ceramic” and “non-stick ceramic” or “ceramic-coated” are not FDA regulated, so be sure you’re getting authentic 100% ceramic rather than ceramic-coated metal or nonstick ceramic pots and pans.
It’s very difficult to find 100% ceramic cookware, though, so you will probably have to make some compromises. A company like Greenpan uses a nonstick ceramic coating that is free from PFAS and PFOA.
Suggested Ceramic Cookware:
2. Aluminum Cookware
Aluminum cookware is just that–pots and pans made from aluminum. They can also be nonstick coated or anodized, meaning that the pan won’t react with acidic foods.
Here are some pros and cons of aluminum cookware.
Pros of aluminum cookware:
Conducts Heat Well
Aluminum is a great heat conductor, which means that your pan will heat up quickly and cook food evenly.
Aluminum cookware is a popular option because it’s relatively inexpensive. Anodized aluminum will set you back only about $100 for a complete set, so aluminum is still one of the more affordable options out there.
Cons of aluminum:
Uncoated and non-anodized aluminum cookware can leach metals such as aluminum and lead into food during the cooking process.
Acidic foods in particular increase leaching. The amount of leaching has been found to be minimal and well under the tolerable level, but it is still a contribution to your overall metal intake.
Aluminum cookware, especially non-anodized, isn’t as durable as options like cast-iron or ceramic. Watch for scratching and corrosion with this type of cookware.
Aluminum cookware is pretty low-stick, but not non-stick. You’ll need to coat the surface of your pan with oil to prevent sticking.
Suggested Aluminum Cookware:
3. Stainless Steel Cookware
Stainless steel pans are popular and have been in kitchens for decades. These are made from a metal alloy that also contains percentages of nickel and chromium or other metals.
Here are some pros and cons to help you decide if stainless steel should be your cookware of choice, especially as you consider what is the safest cookware.
You may also want to check out this article on choosing the best stainless steel cookware.
Pros of stainless steel:
Stainless steel is pretty resistant to scratches, dings, and corrosion. Most stainless steel pots and pans can go into the dishwasher. When properly cared for, it will last you for years!
You’ll still need to use a little bit of oil, but high-quality stainless steel generally cleans easily.
Cons of stainless steel:
High-quality stainless steel cookware is an investment that can reach almost $1k. You can choose mid-range sets for a few hundred dollars–just keep in mind that you get what you pay for, and high-quality stainless steel will likely be safer and more durable.
Similar to aluminum cookware, lower quality stainless steel cookware poses a risk of leaching.
While stainless steel isn’t treated with a chemical coating, it is comprised of an alloy containing nickel and chromium. Nickel isn’t necessary for the body, while chromium is only needed in trace amounts from food.
When you’re cooking acidic foods in such as tomato sauce in stainless steel cookware, leaching can be a concern.
Suggested Stainless Steel Cookware:
4. Nonstick Cookware
Nonstick cookware is any form of cookware coated with a non-stick surface, rendering it slippery and mess-free. Commonly, non-stick cookware is coated with PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene, often referred to as Teflon) or silicon.
PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid), which was introduced in food manufacturing in the 1940s, is no longer used in non-stick cookware due to health concerns.
Here are some pros and cons of non-stick cookware so you can make the best decision for yourself.
Pros of nonstick cookware:
Mess-free and Easy Maintenance
Non-stick cookware is coated with silicon or PTFE. The non-stick finish allows for easy clean-up and quicker cooking. All you need to do even after cooking a messier meal is rinse with water or wipe out with a damp cloth.
Non-stick cookware is a pretty affordable option. I have a set from Analon that I really like. You can find a range of brands from less expensive to more expensive, and it’s generally available at any large department or homewares store.
Cons of nonstick cookware:
Not Suitable for High Temperatures
The coating on some non stick cookware can emit toxic fumes if heated past 450-500 degrees; it may be a surprise that a frying pan can easily reach or surpass that temperature on the stovetop.
There’s also some concern that PTFE coatings emit toxic fumes even at normal temperatures. If heated to the point of degradation, PTFE can cause flu-like symptoms.
Leaching and Fumes
PFOA and PTFE are suspected of being linked to health problems (such as breast cancer.) There is no direct evidence that PFOA, PTFE, or silicon coatings are carcinogenic, however.
Even high-quality non stick cookware may start to stick eventually. The coating isn’t as durable as the surface of regular cookware, so scratches are common and the coating may become less effective over time, especially if heated to temperatures surpassing 350°F.
Even though some brands claim to be dishwasher-safe, regularly putting this cookware in the dishwasher can damage the coating.
Lastly, it is unlikely that any non-stick pot or pan will last a lifetime. This means that you will more than likely have to replace your nonstick pans at some point, meaning that they will likely be discarded and end up in a landfill.
Suggested Nonstick Cookware:
5. Cast Iron
Cast iron cookware has been around for centuries. This cookware is cast as a single piece of metal and then seasoned (through a process of oiling and heating) to protect the bare cast iron and give it a low-stick coating.
In addition, some cast iron cookware is enameled, giving it a nearly non-stick finish and more aesthetically-pleasing appearance. Here are some pros and cons of cast iron in your kitchen.
Pros of cast iron:
Holds Heat Well
Cast iron is unique in its heating abilities. It’s a solid, heavy piece that requires pre-heating to best conduct heat, especially to incredibly high temperatures.
Meat sears well and pan-fried food turns out crispy. If your cast iron pan is pre-heated properly, you can even take it off the stove and it will retain enough heat to cook or warm food.
Can Be Used in the Oven
Cast iron is formed as a single piece of metal, so you can easily transfer from the stovetop into the oven. This technique is often used for cooking meats or finishing dishes.
Affordable and Durable
Bare cast iron (such as Lodge) is affordable, often costing less than $30 for a large skillet.
Enameled cast iron (such as Le Creuset) is pricier, but just as durable.
Cast iron of all types is notorious for lasting generations; cast iron skillets from the 19th century are still used in many households today.
Properly seasoned and maintained cast iron cookware is virtually non-stick and easy to clean.
Cons of cast iron:
Cast iron cookware will require more of a time investment than other options. You’ll need to make sure it’s seasoned and stored properly, and follow proper cleaning procedures if the seasoning fails to make it nonstick enough.
Not Great for All Types of Cooking
It’s generally advisable to avoid cooking acidic foods in cast iron so as to avoid harming the seasoning. In addition, you may want to avoid cooking delicate food like fish or crepes in cast iron.
Take care when choosing what to cook in cast iron–savory dishes may linger and impart a taste to sweet foods and some may notice a distinct metallic taste with foods such as fish or eggs.
May Leach Heavy Metals
Cast iron is a great choice if you wish to avoid chemically-treated cookware, but it presents its own risk of leaching iron into food.
This iron is not easily assimilated in the body and may contribute to iron overload for some individuals. You can help avoid this by not cooking acidic foods in your cast iron cookware.
Suggested Cast Iron Cookware:
Copper cookware has been around as long as, or longer than, cast iron cookware. Made from copper, this cookware is often lined with tin. It’s a beautiful option for cookware that many chefs favor. Here are some pros and cons to see if copper cookware is right for you.
Pros of copper cookware:
Conducts Heat Well
Copper is notoriously nimble with heat. It conducts heat quickly and also loses heat quickly, which is a reason many chefs prefer it. You can easily control the cooking temperature with copper.
Copper cookware is lined with tin, giving it a nearly non-stick surface.
The tin lining won’t react with acidic foods, so it’s great to have on hand for sauces and tomato dishes!
Cons of copper cookware:
Copper cookware is a serious investment, with the cost of a Copper set soaring into the thousands.
There aren’t many low- or mid-range options, but you can purchase individual pieces. Home chefs who want a piece of copper cookware can purchase just one for a few hundred dollars or less.
Doesn’t Retain Heat
Though some appreciate the easy temperature regulation, keep in mind that your copper cookware will rapidly cool down if taken off the heat. Make sure to time your cooking correctly so that food cooked in your copper cookware is plated last.
Suggested Copper Cookware:
There continue to be different and safe cookware materials introduced to the marketplace. Some others to consider include granite, glass, and clay.
Always be sure to do your research and make sure you know the pros and cons of each option before purchasing.
FAQs About Safest Cookware
There is not one type of cookware that is the safest over all the others. But, if you are looking for the least toxic cookware material, you should probably stick with ceramic or stainless steel options. Always be sure to read the manufacturer guidelines and stay within the recommended temperature maximums when cooking.
Most modern nonstick pans are made coatings that can release harmful chemicals if they are over heated or scratched with metal utensils. If you choose to use pans with non-stick coatings, then always be sure to use the non-stick pans according to the manufacturer’s guidelines.
This includes not heating them to higher temperatures than what they are tested for. You may also want to hand wash your teflon cookware to make sure it doesn’t get scratched or overheated in the dishwasher.
There are several types of cookware that are both safe and long-lasting. Some types of cookware can last a lifetime or even be handed down to the next generation. Ceramic cookware, cast iron cookware, copper cookware, and stainless steel cookware are long-lasting and are less likely to end up in a landfill as opposed to aluminum or nonstick cookware.
More Healthy Cooking Resources You Might Like
There are so many choices available for cookware now. Whether you choose a matching set or a hodgepodge of different types, consider what you cook most often and choose your cookware based on that.
All of the items on this list fall into the category of non-toxic cookware, but there are pros and cons of each option. Stainless steel is probably the most versatile and easy to maintain.
Those who cook acidic dishes such as tomato sauces most often may want to choose ceramic or copper. Those who cook at high temperatures may go for cast iron, while those who want mess-free clean up may choose nonstick options.
Ultimately, my recommendation is to choose which works best for your budget, but know the pros and cons of each option and then decide what works best for you. This post has the most up-to-date information for the current year, and I will update it with any changes or new research that comes out in the future.
If you like this post, consider following me on social media so we can stay connected. I’m on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube!
Note: this post is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations related to your individual situation.
About the Author: Carrie Forrest has a master’s degree in public health with a specialty in nutrition. She is a top wellness and food blogger with more than 7 million annual visitors to her site. Carrie has an incredible story of recovery from chronic illness and is passionate about helping other women transform their health. Send Carrie a message through her contact form.
Missing glass cookware?
Had a set 25 years ago and loved it..only drawback was it can break.. have 2 pans left.
So perfect for tomato dishes shame that it is
so hard to find another good set.
They are much thinner these days.
They are easy to clean and dont leak any nasties!
Think it was Pyrex that made them.
Please revise your comments regarding PFOA. See Teflon vs. West Virginia, a court case which lasted 11 years, until 2015. An entire town and all their livestock became ill with multiple types of cancer and severe birth defects. Teflon ran its own studies on rats, found the same conclusions, and did not tell its own employees or the public, even as babies were continually born with facial birth defects. 99% of all humans today have PFOA (C-08) in their bodies because it can’t be broken down; it’s stored forever in our cells (Think Scotchguard, rain boots, and anything made with this plastic coating. It was originally made for military tanks.) This was a large class action suit and a lot of people lost their lives and suffered for decades while Teflon bought the town and dumped its PFOA toxic waste into the rivers, and buried it in the ground. Scientists ran the largest epidemiologic study of over 69,000 people, and finally proved a causation of severe disease and birth defects. The Teflon case is one of the largest of corporate corruption in history.
“PFOA and PTFE are suspected of being linked to health problems (such as breast cancer.) There is no direct evidence that PFOA, PTFE, or silicon coatings are carcinogenic, however.” (That statement is completely inaccurate.)
I use PubMed and validated health studies for this type of post, not court cases. So feel free to link to any new studies that I have missed, but court cases are not used by health professionals to cite articles.
Thank you for writing this! I noticed the GreenPan link has a line through it to cross it out. Is GreenPan a brand you would recommend? Just wanted to make sure that it is indeed, free from the chemicals you stated. Thank you!
Hi Greta, thanks for pointing that out. I fixed the problem, it was just an error on the tech side of my site. GreenPan is great! 🙂
The safest cookware is Salad Master because it is made of Titanium which is compatible with the body , it retains 93% of nutrients, saves time, energy, cleaning time, and saves money. They are a lifetime guarantee.
this was very in formative, I am con sidering getting the ceramic pots,my sister was a pot seller in Jamaica,am not sure what type of pots she sold but am sure she said it was health beneficial pots, i need to get me a relly good pot set that is beneficial to my family’s health, one that will capture the flavours of the foods my family will be cooking. these foods do not seem to taste well these days , the flavours are not comming through .
What brand is the pot at the top of this site, with the square handles?
I’m sorry that is a stock image! The most similar pot would be one of the stainless steel stock pots.
Hi – Thanks for this article. In reading the post I wondered why you hadn’t mention glass cookware. I would think it would be a completely healthy option and cost effective. Are there any cons with glass cookware (other than it probably isn’t a non-stick option)? And, are there any companies that make glass cookware sets (I think I’ve only seen Corningware). Thanks!
That’s a great question! The options listed are mostly for stovetop cooking. I am not familiar with glass skillets, but I would consider glass excellent bakeware.
Just a confusing typo to edit – in your ceramic section you posted:
A company like Greenpan uses a nonstick coating that is “from of” PFAS and PFOA.
I am assuming you mean “free from”?
Fixed it, thanks Lindsay!
I’m concerned about the downplaying of the risks of non-stick cookware and the link between PFAS and cancer. I see earlier comments allude to the same. I have two questions:
1. Given the outcome of the DuPont case, is it prudent to downplay these risks even if the original substances are not in use?
2. Are you able to confirm that this blog (or you) does not have any conflict of interest when it comes to companies which manufacture cookware or related material?
Your responses to these questions will go a long way in establishing trust at a time when vested interests seem ubiquitous.
Hi Maddy, I’m not sure what else you want me to write about non-stick cookware. I felt I outlined the risks fairly clearly. Also, this was not a paid post. Any sponsored post I have done has a clear disclaimer at the top. As far as conflicts of interest, there are none.
Do you have a link recommending the healthiest brands of cook ware?
There are links linking to suggested products in each section.