We Surveyed All the Best Cookware Brands to Find the 15 Worth Buying
Shop our standouts from the overcrowded category.
Updated Jun 8, 2023 3:30 PM
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Much like home decor and paint colors, cookware can be a particular thing. Maybe there’s an affinity for stainless steel in your bones, or cast iron is your only go-to. Perhaps you only have eyes for candy apple red, or copper reigns supreme over all else.
We’ve pored over, and tested, all kinds of cookware on the market throughout the years. The pull of heritage brands doesn’t seem to be waning—and that’s because most people want stuff that lasts (i.e., items that won’t need replacing in a few years’ time). And yet the wave of direct-to-consumer options that continue to hit digital shelves bring new ideas, attention-demanding colorways, and the hope of fixing everything that’s “wrong” with standard old pots and pans; we’re talking fewer toxins, more versatility, and better storage solutions.
While we’re not about to get more hours in a day or more room in our cupboards, the best cookware brands continue to bring us back to the kitchen. Below, find our absolute favorites in the crowded space—broken out by brand and what they’re best suited for.
Best Cookware Brands for Sets
This stainless steel purveyor is a classic for a reason: The American-made brand, founded in the 1970s, introduced bonded cookware to the masses and has continued to innovate over the years without straying too much from its restaurant kitchen look. While there are several collections that span nonstick, copper core, hard anodized, and ceramic, the original material is hard to beat. Its D3 Classic set is an incredible value for the quality you get—even heat distribution, easy maintenance, good design. (I’ve cooked with this set for nearly a decade, and it’s still my go-to for everyday sautéing, sauce work, and so on.) It is one of those lasts-a-lifetime options.
A relative newcomer to the cookware world, Ensembl launched its smartly designed Stackware in 2021. As the name implies, the pieces in the collection are indeed stackable, from the wider saucepan to the braiser to the stockpot. The Full6 isn’t cheap by any means, but each of its six shapes is appropriate for almost anything you’d cook on a regular basis, and the details is where Ensembl’s quality really stands out. The solid stainless steel and aluminum construction results in even heat distribution, works on induction cooktops, and is easy to clean up. Measurement markers on the interior of the pots and pans is a nice touch, and the fact that there are no interior connections means no food bits get left behind. The design is easy on the eyes, too, and you’ll get patented removable handles (that really work; I’ve been testing ‘em for six months!) and flat-lying lids.
Jordan Nathan got the idea for Caraway Home after getting a case of Teflon poisoning, so it’s no surprise that nontoxic materials are at the heart of the brand. But if PTFE-free coatings aren’t exactly sexy, the pots’ palette of moody hues certainly is, including sage green, cream, terracotta, navy, light gray, and more. “We created the palette to feel dusty and desaturated (which is normally accompanied by a matte finish), but added a gloss finish to create a unique contrast,” explains the founder and CEO. Plus the cookware set comes with a magnetic storage system that makes putting pots and pans away extra-easy, and our style editor, Julia Stevens, appreciates their casual look and that they easily stack.
Best Cookware Brands for Dutch Ovens
If there were royalty in cookware land, Le Creuset would be it. The French brand’s enameled surfaces, vast array of colors (a collection that only keeps growing), and high-quality heat retention make each piece—and specifically the Dutch ovens—the crowning jewel in a collection. The cast-iron pieces are made by in-house artisans and are pretty much guaranteed to outlive you. While those after a deal may not be into the high prices that Le Creuset demands, it’s an investment you won’t regret.
If you prefer more fashion-forward hues and a slightly less rotund body, check out Staub. Another timeless French brand made since the 1970s, Staub products are resistant to scratching, chipping, and thermal shock thanks to three layers of glass powder and mineral pigments. Upkeep for the Dutch ovens is minimal; I’ve rarely seen anything stick to the enameled cast iron over the eight years I’ve owned one. The matte black colorway patinas particularly well over time, and jewel tones like a shiny emerald green will look right at home nestled among your tablescape.
Made In’s new 7.5-quart Dutch oven is a dreamboat. Nearly $150 less than a similarly sized Le Creuset and sporting a sleek and simple silhouette, its heat retention and distribution, as well as its naturally nonstick surface, is top-notch—we like it for braises and a boatload of red sauce. At 15 pounds, it’s not light by any means, so keep that in mind if you’re gifting it to someone. The stainless steel knob and six color options are pretty standard, but the antique white has our number. There’s something timeless and trusty about an oyster hue; you won’t get tired of seeing this one on your shelf.
The Dansk Købenstyle casserole is a mid-century design classic, and it can be a welcome departure from the heftiness of other Dutch ovens. Debuting in the late 1950s, the 4-quart enameled carbon steel pot can absolutely be tasked with cooking soup or rice and beans, but we love it as a perfect popcorn oven. Even better that the lid doubles as a trivet for stovetop-to-table snacks and meals. The white does take on stains if you don’t maintain the exterior properly, but there’s something about a little bit of browning that says, “I’ve used you lovingly.”
Shiza Shahid, Our Place’s founder, doesn’t believe in clutter. That’s why the kitchen equipment she creates serves more than one purpose. In the case of the Perfect Pot, you get eight uses out of one piece. This one’s ideal for stovetop devotees (think: lots of pasta or one-pot meals). It’s very lightweight at 4.5 pounds, nonstick, and comes with a nesting spoon and hybrid roasting rack–steamer. To note: The Perfect Pot is only oven-safe up to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. If you aren’t worried about an extra nine pounds and want yours to handle oven temps up to 500 degrees, spring for the Cast-Iron Perfect Pot.
Best Cookware Brands for Nonstick Fry Pans
If you prefer high-performance, low-maintenance cookware, Hexclad is for you. Unlike other options out there that tout a nonstick coating, there are no crazy rules to live and die by here: You can cook with spray, oil, or butter. The proprietary hybrid technology combines an aluminum core, stainless steel, and a steel hexagonal pattern, which means that these fry pans conduct heat well, and any stubborn crusties wipe away without elbow grease. Plus you can actually toss these in the dishwasher. Our associate shopping editor, Morgan Bulman, reports that even after a year, she’s seen no staining or discoloration.
If you’re looking for an extremely durable, nontoxic option that still gets points for looks, GreenPan’s various lines will serve you well. The brand, known for its diamond-infused ceramic coating, offers up color, stainless steel, and thoughtful design elements that can often go unconsidered where nonstick is concerned. The GP5 and Reserve lines are the best-looking of the bunch, but the Venice pans have classic appeal as well. All are oven-safe up to 600 degrees Fahrenheit, and some are even induction-friendly. (Psst: The company has collaborated with Food52 on a line, too, like these beauties with wood handles. Just don’t put those in the oven.) It also makes an adorable rice cooker that we love.
Best Budget Cookware Brands
Do you prefer to cook on cast iron and only cast iron? Tennessee-based brand Lodge is likely a contender. Pick up an affordable enameled Dutch oven for a fraction of what you’ll pay for a Le Creuset, or a combo cooker that basically gives you a two-in-one piece. The classic skillets range from just 3.5 inches in diameter to 15 inches, but not even the largest size exceeds $60. They come preseasoned and have that cozy cabin vibe that’ll fit right in with a farmhouse-y interior, but anyone who likes roasted chicken, braised greens, or sunny-side-up eggs would benefit from them. Not all of Lodge’s products are made in the U.S., so if that’s paramount to your purchasing decisions, check the fine print.
Martha Stewart launched an Amazon storefront this past winter, and it includes thousands of the multi-hyphenate’s products, including cookware. You can purchase singles of several styles from the Castelle collection, but the 10-piece stainless steel set is just $150 (and $10 more for nonstick). In addition to a pasta-perfect sauté pan, you get two frying pans, two saucepans with lids, and one 5-quart Dutch oven with a lid. They all have interior fill lines for easy measuring and are oven- and broiler-safe to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. The 18/8 stainless steel is highly durable, and an aluminum core guarantees even heat distribution. Plus you can use them on all stovetop types, including induction.
Tramontina is an enduring budget pick and makes an ideal entry-level 12-piece set for under $350. While not the least expensive of the brand’s offerings, it’s the balanced middle ground that you can expect to use for years. It comes with two skillets, three saucepans and lids, a sauté pan and lid, and a stockpot with lid; there’s very little else you’d need to have a fully stocked kitchen. We love the clean and sophisticated design, 18/10 steel construction, and lifetime warranty. Note: Stainless steel is safe to use on all types of stovetops, including induction.
Best Luxury Cookware Brands
It’s hard to go awry with Mauviel. Founded nearly 200 years ago in France, the brand boasts several styles of copper cookware, and they’re all lookers. The straight rims, polished exterior, and stainless steel rivets contribute to an elegant package; choose between bronze, stainless steel, and cast-iron handles to finish things off. Various sets are available, some with different thicknesses, but a big winner for us is the M6S line—it’s induction compatible.
If you’re in the market for a serious upgrade from your first-apartment set or just want to add a new fancy piece to your collection, Hestan will make the splurge worth it. Whether bonded with titanium or made with a copper core or diamond-reinforced nonstick finish, it’s all made in Italy. The Thomas Keller Insignia line sports particularly lovely silhouettes, and the universal lid from that collection would make a great gift for an amateur chef. The quality doesn’t come cheap, so to help you out, the brand offers a quiz that’ll guide you to the right fit.
How We Chose These Products
Our editors have tested products from different cookware brands for months and years. All persuasions of material—stainless steel, copper, aluminum, nonstick, cast iron, enamel, you name it—have graced our gas, electric, and induction stovetops. We all have a preference for something, whether that’s style (class versus contemporary), sets (one to two pans or a whole suite), or versatility. There are regular entertainers among our ranks, and those who prefer to cook just for themselves and their immediate family, and we’re always on the lookout for new players, colors, and technology. Each brand on this list has either been personally tested (most of them) or recommended based on heat retention and distribution, care and maintenance, and aesthetics.
If you have a favorite cookware brand to throw into contention, share it in the comments.