ceramic cookware set placed on gas stove

Safe cookware is one of the cornerstones of healthy cooking and we dive into the details of the healthiest cookware materials, what to avoid and how do the safe options compare to each other.

Dangerous Materials to Avoid 

PFOA 

PFOA is short for perfluorooctanoic acid, which is a chemical created in laboratories for the purpose of making nonstick cookware. It may also be called C8 for short.

a scratched frying pan

Manufacturers claim that this dangerous chemical burns off during the construction process, and is therefore not hazardous to one's health. However, because it can be toxic when consumed, we would recommend steering clear of any cookware that contains PFOA.

PTFE 

Buyers might recognize PTFE, or polytetrafluoroethylene, by its more common brand name, which is Teflon. It's a synthetic polymer made up of fluorine and carbon, and it has an exceptionally high melting point—around 620 degrees Fahrenheit. This quality makes it appealing to manufacturers, but it can pose a health risk if it flakes off during cooking.

Lead 

Studies have shown that there are trace amounts of lead in a surprising number of cookware brands. This is problematic, because lead is toxic to the body when consumed in large amounts. In fact, prolonged consumption of lead can even lead to death.

Lead is bioaccumulative in nature, meaning that it can build up in the system over long periods of time. Long exposure may cause kidney failure, nerve damage, anemia, and fertility issues.

Pregnant women should take extra care to avoid lead cookware, as the substance can cross the placenta and potentially harm the fetus.

Aluminum 

Aluminum is another bioaccumulative compound, and one that has been linked to neurological damage in both children and adults. Long-term exposure can lead to dementia, bone and brain issues, and anemia. Younger children who have been exposed to aluminum cookware may experience seizures and stunted growth as a result.

cooking food on gas stove

As a footnote, it's important not to get this material confused with hard-anodized aluminum (see below), which is a desirable alternative to the ones listed here.

Nickel 

When purchasing stainless steel cookware, make sure it's nickel-free. This material is often used in conjunction with stainless steel to prevent corrosion and discoloration due to heat damage. However, nickel has been linked to decreased weight in newborns—and even an uptick in infant mortality rates.

Healthiest Cookware Materials 

Ceramic Cookware 

Despite the name, ceramic cookware sets are not actually made of 100 percent clay. Instead, they consist of metal pots and pans with a ceramic coating. This combination makes them more durable, not to mention practical.

making egg in frying pan

Since Teflon and PFOA can be hazardous to one's health, consumers are turning to ceramic coatings as a nonstick alternative. The material is non-reactive, cleans up easily, and is much safer to use. It also makes for some highly attractive cookware. On the negative side, the pieces usually have to be washed by hand.

Stainless Steel Cookware 

In addition to being durable, stainless steel offers excellent heat retention and distribution. It's a highly versatile material that's compatible with all cooking ranges, and the surface is ideal for making pan sauces and gravies.

That said, the material is notoriously difficult to clean, even if it's dishwasher safe. It can also be quite expensive to invest in a stainless steel cookware set, which is why some buyers balk at the prospect.

Cast Iron Cookware 

Cast iron is another highly durable material that retains heat as well as stainless steel, if not better. Best of all, when it's seasoned properly, it's very easy to clean. No soap is required—just a good rinse of hot running water, and perhaps a hearty scrub with a nonabrasive sponge.

a woman is cooking food

On the other hand, cast iron cookware is very heavy, and the handles get hot on the stove top—things you don't have to worry about with stainless steel. It heats up slowly, and it isn't a good fit for acidic ingredients like tomatoes. Also, if the seasoning gets stripped from the pans, it can be a pain to re-season them.

Granite Cookware 

This is another instance in which names can be misleading. Granite cookware contains no actual granite. Instead, it utilizes an aluminum or carbon steel core and a porcelain coating. It earns its moniker because it resembles the coarse, speckled surface of granite.

This type of cookware is affordable and lightweight, making it a good option for a vacation home or camping expeditions. It doesn't rust, so there's no need to dry the pieces after every washing. There's no need to season the surfaces, and the coating won't react to acidic foods the way cast iron will.

Be aware, however, that the coating also precludes the use of metal utensils, and it might start to chip away after awhile. The pieces can also be quite thin and flimsy unless they're purchased from a reputable manufacturer.

Hard Anodized Aluminum Cookware 

Unlike regular aluminum, hard anodized aluminum has been electrochemically treated to make it food-safe. To make it, the manufacturers submerge the aluminum in acid and charge it with an electrical current to create a coating of aluminum oxide. This creates a strong base that can hold up to long years of use.

making pancake by frying pan

Hard anodized aluminum cookware heats quickly and remains effective at very high temperatures, making it a good choice for stir-frying. However, its durability results in high price tags. The material is also notoriously difficult to care for and usually needs to be washed by hand.

Safest & Healthiest Cookware Sets Reviewed 

*We select and review all products independently, based on our opinion and customer feedback. Some links on this page are affiliate links and if you make a purchase we may receive a commission at no extra cost to you. You can read more info on our disclaimer page.

#1

1. Cuisinart Stainless Steel Set

- Base material: stainless steel
- Interior: stainless steel
- Cooktops: gas, ceramic, electric, induction

Our Rating

9.3

#2

2. HOMI CHEF Stainless Steel Set

- Base material: stainless steel
- Interior: non-stick
- Cooktops: gas, ceramic, electric, induction

Our Rating

9.3

#3

3. GreenPan Valencia Ceramic Set

- Base material: hard-anodized aluminum
- Interior: ceramic nonstick
- Cooktops: gas, ceramic, electric, induction

Our Rating

9.3

#4

4. Green Life Ceramic Set

- Base material: recycled aluminum
- Interior: ceramic nonstick
- Cooktops: gas, electric 

Our Rating

9.3

#5

5. Ozeri Frying Pan

- Base material: stoneware
- Interior: nonstick
- Cooktops: gas, ceramic, electric, induction

Our Rating

9.3

#6

6. Granite Stone Set

- Base material: stoneware
- Interior: a diamond-reinforced nonstick
- Cooktops: gas, ceramic, electric 

Our Rating

9.3

#7

7. LeCreuset Cast Iron Dutch Oven

- Base material: cast iron
- Interior: enamel
- Cooktops: gas, ceramic, electric, induction

Our Rating

9.3

#8

8. Cuisinel Cast Iron Set

- Base material: cast iron
- Interior: nonstick
- Cooktops: gas, ceramic, electric, induction

Our Rating

9.3

#9

9. Ninja Foodi Hard Anodized Set

- Base material: hard-anodized aluminum
- Interior: nonstick
- Cooktops: ceramic, glass, induction

Our Rating

9.3

#10

10. GreenPan SmartShape Pan Set

- Base material: hard-anodized aluminum
- Interior: ceramic nonstick
- Cooktops: gas, ceramic, electric, induction

Our Rating

9.3

#1

1. Cuisinart Stainless Steel Set

- Base material: stainless steel
- Interior: stainless steel
- Cooktops: gas, ceramic, electric, induction

Our Rating

9.3

#2

2. HOMI CHEF Stainless Steel Set

- Base material: stainless steel
- Interior: non-stick
- Cooktops: gas, ceramic, electric, induction

Our Rating

9.3

#3

3. GreenPan Valencia Ceramic Set

- Base material: hard-anodized aluminum
- Interior: ceramic nonstick
- Cooktops: gas, ceramic, electric, induction

Our Rating

9.3

#4

4. Green Life Ceramic Set

- Base material: recycled aluminum
- Interior: ceramic nonstick
- Cooktops: gas, electric 

Our Rating

9.3

#5

5. Ozeri Frying Pan

- Base material: stoneware
- Interior: nonstick
- Cooktops: gas, ceramic, electric, induction

Our Rating

9.3

#6

6. Granite Stone Set

- Base material: stoneware
- Interior: a diamond-reinforced nonstick
- Cooktops: gas, ceramic, electric 

Our Rating

9.3

#7

7. LeCreuset Cast Iron Dutch Oven

- Base material: cast iron
- Interior: enamel
- Cooktops: gas, ceramic, electric, induction

Our Rating

9.3

#8

8. Cuisinel Cast Iron Set

- Base material: cast iron
- Interior: nonstick
- Cooktops: gas, ceramic, electric, induction

Our Rating

9.3

#9

9. Ninja Foodi Hard Anodized Set

- Base material: hard-anodized aluminum
- Interior: nonstick
- Cooktops: ceramic, glass, induction

Our Rating

9.3

#10

10. GreenPan SmartShape Pan Set

- Base material: hard-anodized aluminum
- Interior: ceramic nonstick
- Cooktops: gas, ceramic, electric, induction

Our Rating

9.3

Cuisinart Stainless Steel Set

Design:

The pieces in this set are all bright silver in color, with high looped handles on the lids. All have relatively high sides in comparison to their size. The frying pans in particular are fairly deep, with edges that slope gradually.

Materials:

All of the pots, pans, and lids in this Cuisinart set are constructed out of stainless steel. Even the handles are secured to the pans with stainless steel rivets. The company utilizes a triple-ply construction with an aluminum core for improved heat retention and distribution.

Usability:

The tapered rims on this set are equipped for drip-free pouring, which makes them a great fit for saucy dishes. We also appreciate the tight-fitting lids that lock in flavor and moisture.

Because the set includes 12 pieces, including a steamer insert, it's versatile enough to serve as your kitchen's go-to cookware collection. It's also compatible with every type of cooking range, including induction.

All of the pieces are dishwasher safe, but we recommend drying each piece by hand to help them retain that silver shine. They can also handle oven temperatures up to 550 degrees Fahrenheit. The handles remain nice and cool during cooking and are sturdy enough to hold up to repeated use.

Pros

  • Oven safe up to 550 degrees
  • Tight-fitting lids
  • Pieces are built to last
  • Sturdy handles
  • Great heat distribution

Cons

  • Some shipping issues may occur
  • Discoloration may occur if the set isn't properly cared for

HOMI CHEF Stainless Steel Set

Design:

HOMI CHEF's Stainless Steel Set features silver pieces with transparent glass lids. The stock pot and sauce pan have high and straight sides, while the frying pan resembles a medium-sized bowl. The saute pan is generously sized and equipped with its own tight-fitting lid.

The saucepans, saute pan, and frying pan all come with long, straight handles. Meanwhile, the lids on the handles are tall and knob-shaped. As for the stock pot, it offers two thick looped handles for easy gripping.

Materials:

These pieces are crafted from nickel-free stainless steel with a triple-ply construction. The lids are made of tempered glass, which allows chefs to view their progress. Each handle is designed to stay cool to the touch when the pans are on the stove top.

Usability:

Because of their stainless steel exteriors, these pots and pans are well-suited to gravies and pan sauces. The high sides are also beneficial when it comes to boiling water for rice or pasta. Also, the stock pot has an 8-quart capacity, which makes it ideal for soups and stews.

Although stainless steel is usually a good choice for pan-searing, the frying pan has a relatively small surface. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it's a better fit for singles or couples than for large families. On the other hand, the saute pan is big enough to prepare a stovetop-to-oven casserole that will feed a crowd.

On that note, the set is oven- and dishwasher-safe. Additionally, HOMI CHEF offers a 6-year warranty with every purchase, which is especially generous considering the low price point.

Pros

  • Affordable price point
  • 6-year warranty
  • Induction-ready
  • Oven- and dishwasher-safe

Cons

  • Frying pan is fairly small
  • Metal is on the flimsy side

GreenPan Valencia Ceramic Set

Design:

Greenpan's Valencia pieces are black on the outside and silver on the inside, with a stout and elegant appearance. Each frying pan has gently sloping sides, but the saute pan, saucepans, and stock pot all feature straight edges. The Y-shaped handles offer nice balance and an easy grip, and the curved handles on the lids and stock pot are designed to remain cool during cooking.

Materials:

This set is composed of hard anodized aluminum for strength and longevity. It's also equipped with a ceramic nonstick coating that's free of lead, cadmium, and PFOAs. Unlike some ceramic coatings, it's safe to use with metal utensils. The lids are made of transparent glass with strong steel bands around the base to help seal in moisture.

Usability:

It's always nice to have larger and smaller frying pans on hand. The Valencia set offers a choice between an 8-inch, a 9.5-inch, and an 11-inch pan, making it possible to prepare three different types of eggs at once. This is a must for households with picky eaters.

The diamond-infused coating heats evenly, is simple to clean, and won't flake off in the dishwasher. For browning and searing, it's a great asset. Because it's scratch-resistant, it can hold up to many years of use.

All of the pots and pans are oven and broiler safe to 600 degrees Fahrenheit. The lids are only oven safe to 425 degrees, which is still generous, but something to be aware of when making casseroles and similar dishes.

Pros

  • Very effective at high heat
  • Durable coating
  • Offers 3 different sized frying pans
  • Dishwasher safe

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Food can become stuck to the surface

Green Life Ceramic Set

Design:

This eye-catching set is available in seven colors, including bright turquoise. The designer colors are on display for the handles and the exteriors, but the interior of each pan is white while the business ends of the utensils are black. The easy-to-grip "Bakelite" handles give the pieces a soft, toy-like appearance.

Materials:

These pieces are made from recycled aluminum with a PFOA-free ceramic nonstick coating. The Bakelite handles are designed to remain cool on the stove top, in addition to providing the user with a firm grip. The bases of the pots and pans have been reinforced to keep them from wobbling while they're in use, which is another nice perk.

Usability:

This set includes a number of pieces that are sure to be useful, including a 4-inch mini frying pan and a stainless steel steamer insert. There are also four utensils provided: a slotted spoon and spatula, another offset spatula, and a ladle.

This gives the set a versatility that sets it apart from many of the others listed here. That said, the 5-quart stock pot is on the smaller side, which limits its usefulness.

The nonstick coating is dishwasher safe, but it also makes it easy to wash the pans by hand. Most residue will simply wipe away with a nonabrasive sponge. Although the miniature frying pan has a riveted handle, the other pieces are rivet-free, which reduces the risk of food buildup.

Pros

  • Choice of colors
  • Soft, easy-grip handles
  • Versatile set that includes a lot of useful pieces
  • Easy cleanup

Cons

  • Pieces aren't as durable as some of the competition
  • Cheap glass lids

Ozeri Frying Pan

Design:

This is an attractive and functional 10-inch frying pan with a curved design and a long handle that's attached to the business end by three strong rivets. The handle has a silicone coating that matches the black exterior and rises slightly to allow for good balance. The pan's interior, meanwhile, features a white coating with black specks that resembles the surface of an egg.

Materials:

The Ozeri Frying Pan offers a base made of heavy-gauge aluminum with a magnetized base. This means that it can be safely used on induction stove tops. The stone-derived scratch-resistant coating is free of all harmful chemicals, including PFOA. A silicone-coated handle helps to prevent burns during cooking.

Usability:

This is a beautiful pan with good balance and a generous cooking surface. The rounded edges make it a good choice for scrambled eggs, although we wouldn't recommend it for pan sauces on account of the stoneware coating. The material is scratch-resistant, so it's fine to use metal utensils while cooking with the Ozeri.

Because the coating is chemical-free, it can be heated to high temperatures with no issues. Cleanup is fairly simple, but the three rivets can lead to messy buildup, which requires a bit of elbow grease.

We wouldn't recommend putting the Ozeri pan in the dishwasher, particularly given the high price tag.

Pros

  • Attractive and functional
  • Size makes it a good all-purpose frying pan
  • Thoughtful design
  • Stoneware coating contains no toxic chemicals

Cons

  • Slightly pricey for a single pan
  • Should be washed by hand

Granite Stone Set

Design:

This set includes 20 pieces, most with a black mottled finish. The material is heavy enough to offer durability, but the pots and pans are easy to lift in one hand. Riveted handles are long and silver with a Y-shape, while the loop handles on the glass lids are thin and squarish.

Materials:

Granite Stone uses a diamond-reinforced nonstick coating for this set, which is free of PFOA, PFOS, cadmium, and lead. The enameling is durable enough to be used in conjunction with metal utensils, and all the pieces are dishwasher safe. Note that the pots and pans are not induction-ready.

Usability:

The first thing we noticed about the Granite Stone pans was the superior food release. There's no need to add any oil when cooking with these pans, which can contribute to healthier dining choices. 

It also makes the pans easier to clean by hand, although it's also fine to use the dishwasher in a pinch.

This is a highly versatile collection that includes 20 useful pieces, including a handy deep-fryer basket, a loaf pan, and a muffin tin. Buyers who are looking to outfit an entire new kitchen should be pleased with the overall versatility and low price of the Granite Stone set.

Pros

  • Affordable price
  • Contains 20 pieces
  • Pots and pans are large enough to feed a crowd
  • Surfaces heat evenly and clean up well afterward

Cons

  • Material is on the thinner side
  • Prone to shipping issues

LeCreuset Cast Iron Dutch Oven

Design:

This is a heavy and well-balanced Dutch oven with a low-slung design and gently flaring loop handles. Available in 9 colors, it offers plenty of eye appeal. The lid nestles in snugly and features a faint pyramid design with a sturdy knob-style handle.

Materials:

Lecreuset makes their Dutch oven out of quality cast iron that's designed to last a lifetime. Because of the enamel coating, it doesn't need to be seasoned before the first use. This material can be used on any type of stove top, including induction. It's also oven safe to 500 degrees, making it ideal for braised dishes.

Usability:

In our opinion, every kitchen can benefit from an enameled cast iron Dutch oven. LeCrueset is one of the most recognizable names in the industry, and with good reason. The pan is heavy and solid, with a coating that makes cleanup a snap. Although the material may take a while to achieve the desired temperature, it holds its heat well and allows for even cooking once it does.

The loop handles are another nifty feature. LeCrueset has designed them to be nearly 50 percent larger than the competition, so they allow for a firm grip. The handle on the lid, meanwhile, remains cool to the touch as the ingredients simmer on the stove top.

This pot has a 5.5-quart capacity, which is a generous size for a Dutch oven. While we think it's ideal for stovetop-to-oven dishes like braised beef, it's also suitable for stew and chili. Be forewarned that the enameling may become discolored after a while, particularly on the interior.

Pros

  • Classic design
  • Exceptionally versatile
  • Easy to clean
  • Durable enough to withstand a lifetime of frequent use

Cons

  • Very expensive
  • Not suitable for campfire cooking

Cuisinel Cast Iron Set

Design:

This is one of the most thoughtful and unusual cast iron cookware sets we've encountered.

While the pieces themselves have a traditional charcoal - black appearance, they come equipped with a set of red silicone handles for the pots and pans. These help to offset one of the main drawbacks of cast iron cookware. There's also a silicone pan scraper and pan rack organizer included. A pair of tempered glass lids accompany this collection.

Materials:

All of the main pieces are composed of high-quality cast iron, with a smooth finish for superb heat distribution. The lids are made of tempered glass with steel bands to help hold in the heat and moisture, with silicone knob handles. The additional handle grips and pan scraper are made of silicone as well.

Usability:

Because cast iron can be easily transferred from the stove top to the oven, we think this set offers great value for the price. The pieces can even be used outdoors on the grill or campfire, so they make for excellent travel companions. Unfortunately, they can be a bit heavy to transport, but on the bright side, they won't be damaged in transit.

The removable silicone handles are a nice touch, helping to prevent burns without interfering with the integrity of the material. We also appreciate the addition of a pizza pan to the lineup. The functional pan rack, meanwhile, is icing on the cake.

If the set has a drawback, it's the mystifying inclusion of glass lids. While they might come in handy for certain dishes, they're not as durable as the pots and pans themselves. What's more, they're designed to be used with the frying pans, which feature pouring spouts that allow moisture to escape even when the lids are in place. We understand the principle involved, but the execution could be improved upon.

Pros

  • Durable, versatile set
  • Removable silicone handles
  • Superb heat retention and distribution
  • Suitable for outdoor use
  • Material puts a nice sear on grilled meats

Cons

  • Seasoning process may take a while
  • Material is lighter than some high-end brands

Ninja Foodi Hard Anodized Set

Design:

These pieces have a matte gray exterior and a black interior, giving them a sleek, modern appearance. They offer straight, high edges, with the exception of the frying pan, which is shallow with sloping sides. The Y-shaped handles have an offset design that looks slightly awkward, but it allows them to remain cool during cooking. The glass lids are outfitted with low profiles and square-shaped loop handles.

Materials:

For this set, Ninja Foodi has opted for a heavy-gauge 4.5-millimeter aluminum base and stainless steel handles. The nonstick coating is created using much higher temperatures than traditional materials, which contributes to its strength and durability. The material also retains heat well and is oven-safe to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

Usability:

Unlike most nonstick cookware, these pieces put a nice strong sear on grilled meats. They also release the food well, so there's no need to use oil or other fat when sauteing. 

The core allows for even heating and won't release dangerous chemicals into the food, even when used at inferno-like temperatures. Be forewarned, though, that the pieces in this collection can be slow to heat up.

The thick stainless steel rims on the tempered glass lids help to prevent splattering, making for an easier cleanup afterward. Stainless steel handles on the pots and pans are another nice touch, as they'll remain cool when used on the stove top. This set is compatible with all cooking ranges, including ceramic, glass, and induction. It's also dishwasher safe.

Pros

  • Made from quality materials
  • Induction-ready
  • Conveniently sized pieces offer versatility
  • Surfaces cook food evenly

Cons

  • Can be slow to heat up
  • Stock pot is a bit too high and narrow

GreenPan SmartShape Pan Set

Design:

Both of the frying pans in this set are black in color, including the rivetless handles. They have rounded edges and shallow sides, and the handles are short and Y-shaped. We think the handles could be a trifle longer, but they do allow for a firm grip.

Materials:

These pans are constructed using an aluminum core, then finished with a ceramic nonstick coating. The enameling is free of PFOAs, PFAs, lead, and cadmium, so it's perfectly safe to use.

While the pieces are technically oven safe, they can't withstand temperatures higher than 320 degrees Fahrenheit. However, they are induction ready.

Usability:

The rivet-free surfaces make these pans ideal for omelets and frittatas. Because of the nonstick coating, the ingredients will slide right out of the pans and onto the plates without making a mess.

The pans can be used on any type of cooking range, and they're dishwasher safe. We especially appreciate the stackable design, which helps to free up cabinet space.

If we have one minor quibble, it's the fact that the pans are so close in size. We would have preferred an 8-inch and 11-inch pan to make the collection more versatile. This isn't a deal-breaker, especially since the pans are so functional, but it's something to keep in mind before making a final purchase.

Also, note that the all-black design makes it difficult to tell where the pan ends and the handle begins. This can increase the risk of burns.

Pros

  • Convenient design
  • Superior food release
  • Coating is free of harmful chemicals
  • Easy to clean
  • The go-to pan when making fancy egg dishes

Cons

  • Some care needs to be taken with the nonstick coating to avoid chipping
  • Similar-sized pans
  • Can be difficult to distinguish between the pan and the handle
Tammy Kennedy
Latest posts by Tammy Kennedy (see all)