Alva Non-Toxic Cookware Review [Staff Tested]

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Written by Leigh Matthews, BA Hons, H.Dip. NT

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Leigh Matthews, BA Hons, H.Dip. NT

Sustainability Expert

Leigh Matthews is a sustainability expert and long time vegan. Her work on solar policy has been published in Canada's National Observer.

Updated:

Alva is a longstanding Belgian cookware new to North America. Having tested its pots and pans myself, I can heartily recommend Alva for high quality, non-toxic cookware that’s fun and easy to use.

Table of Contents
  1. What is Alva cookware?
  2. What kind of cookware does Alva produce?
  3. Alva cookware – Sustainable from the start
  4. Out of the box – Alva uses sustainable packaging
  5. Alva cookware – extensively tested for safety (and by me!)
  6. Alva’s cookware collections
  7. Testing the Maestro non-stick cookware
  8. Alva’s shipping and return policies
  9. Alva versus Made In, Caraway, and Xtrema
  10. Leaf Score verdict on Alva Cookware

What is Alva cookware?

Alva Cookware is a family-run Belgian cookware brand that has been making quality cookware since 1949. Alva is making a big push into the U.S. market, with both a direct-to-consumer website and products on sale through Amazon and Wayfair.

As with some other direct-to-consumer cookware brands (like MadeIn, Caraway, and Xtrema), Alva offers chef-quality cookware at the same price or less than you’d pay for mid-range cookware at a big box store. The big difference with Alva is that it has a longstanding reputation for sustainability.

Why the name Alva?

The name Alva comes from the company’s founder – Albert Vandaele.

What kind of cookware does Alva produce?

Alva has been in business in Europe for a long time and knows how to get it right. The company offers a wide range of cookware, with a huge number of products available in Europe. It’s U.S. collection is growing all the time but currently includes:

  • Grill Pans
  • Frying Pans
  • Skillets
  • Wok Pans
  • Mortar & Pestle
  • Tagine Pots
  • Fondue Sets
  • Stock Pots.

Alva cookware – Sustainable from the start

Alva’s origins are impressively sustainable. The first pots and pans created by the cookware company’s founder Albert Vandaele were made using recycled military materials in post-World War II Belgium.

Chances are that those pots and pans wouldn’t pass today’s safety tests for heavy metals and contaminants, but the modern versions certainly do (see below). And, even better, the company still has a strong commitment to sourcing safe and sustainable recycled materials such as aluminum!

Alva’s factory also runs on 30% solar power and the facility has in-house water filtration to keep things clean and prevent wastewater pollution. In addition, the design and manufacture of Alva cookware is more energy efficient than some other companies’ methods, with less carbon dioxide emissions associated with the curing phase of cookware production.

Out of the box – Alva uses sustainable packaging

I received my Alva cookware in one big sturdy box and was happy to see very little packaging material inside. Alva smartly protects its pots and pans with tissue paper and cardboard and only uses a tiny amount of inflated LDPE #4 recyclable plastic as cushioning.

There are no single-use plastics on the cookware as hang tags. In fact, Alva has smart cardboard packaging designs that fold and slot together, so there’s no need for glue in the first place. With the Forest Wok, Alva cleverly uses a small magnet rather than glue to keep the packaging in place.

I really like that I didn’t have to peel any stubbornly sticky labels off the pots and then scrub them to get rid of glue residues. Instead, I gave these pots and pans a very quick wash and wipe, and they were good to go!

All of the packaging is recyclable and most of it was made with FSC certified recycled materials.

Alva cookware – extensively tested for safety (and by me!)

When I first encountered Alva Cookware, I admit to being very skeptical. I almost wrote off the company as another cookware brand trying to pass off non-stick cookware as non-toxic.

Fortunately, I asked the company to get test results and after some back and forth I was given a raft of reports from Alva’s testing in the European Union.

While the U.S. reports showed that the cookware passed safety regulations, I wanted to see things like leach tests and full PFAS reports.

Alva was very open about the testing, which isn’t surprising given that everything passes with flying colors!

These pots and pans are genuinely PFAS-free and haven’t been found to contain or to leach any chemicals of concern.

The reports show that Alva cookware complies with strict EU food contact standards (EC1935:2004) as well as specific German, Italian, French, and Dutch food safety standards.

Combined, Alva cookware has undergone at least 24 different migration, content and composition tests, in addition to tests confirming the absence of PFOA and PFOS.

Alva’s cookware collections

Alva has five lines of cookware currently, with one new addition (the Artisan) coming soon. The current line-up is:

  • Maestro
  • Chef
  • Energy
  • Forest
  • Nori.

These collections mostly comprise robustly made 3-ply stainless steel with an aluminum (recycled) core, some with non-stick ceramic coatings. There are also cast iron and carbon steel pieces too.

I recommend all of the collections with the exception of the Energy line, which is the only collection that features any plastic parts and which has a much shorter warranty than its other collections.

Still, all of Alva’s cookware is safe, non-toxic, and beautifully made. I’ve used several Alva pots and pans for almost a year now and absolutely love them all.


Alva Cookware Maestro Collection

Highlights: Stainless steel cookware with an aluminum core and a modern, ergonomic design. Fun to use and easy to clean. Made with some recycled materials and totally non-toxic (even the non-stick PFAS-free ceramic coated pieces!).

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The Alva Maestro collection is just beautiful. And practical. And fun to use.

Pieces in the Maestro collection include:

  • Maestro Nonstick Frying Pan [Staff tested] – $89
  • Maestro Stainless Steel Frying Pan – $89
  • Maestro Saucepan with Lid [Staff tested] – $99
  • Maestro Casserole with Lid – $119
  • Maestro Stock Pot [Staff tested] – $179
  • Maestro Nonstick Skillet with Lid – $129
  • Maestro Chef’s Pan – $109

This cookware line comprises stainless steel with an aluminum core in a 3-ply or 5-ply design for fast, even heat distribution. The Maestro collection is induction-friendly and mostly dishwasher safe (just not the non-stick items).

My experience with the Maestro Saucepan

The Maestro design is smart and ergonomic, with pouring spouts on both sides of some pans. I find it annoying when a pot has a spout on one side only and you have to turn the pan awkwardly to pour. These pans also have a straight-edge design to maximize cooking surface (20% more than with sloped sides).

I was in need of a replacement small saucepan as the handle literally fell off the one I got at the thrift store nearly a decade ago. I’m so glad I chose the small (1.7 qt.) Maestro saucepan with lid. It has a sleek design that looks great and performs impressively. This pan has a 3-ply design featuring two stainless steel layers with an aluminum layer in between for rapid and even heat conductivity and distribution.

The Maestro saucepan has two pour spouts for convenience, and a vented lid

The stainless steel lid has three small holes for ventilation, which helps prevent ratting and boiling over (to some degree). I will say, though, that this design means you’ll want to add a little extra water if using the pan to cook rice, otherwise it can dry out fast and might not fully cook.

Cleaning and care

The handles are welded stainless steel and have a smart design that minimizes food residues, meaning it’s easier to clean this pan than many riveted pans.

The handle isn’t too close to the top of the pan lip, either, but it is still a good idea to use a bottle brush or similar to really get into that gap between handle and body if you’ve had a boil-over incident.

The Maestro saucepan comes with a 25-year warranty, and I can easily see it lasting that long and for years after. It is oven-safe to 392 F, suitable for all stovetops, and safe for the dishwasher too.

Testing the Maestro non-stick cookware

Several of the Maestro pieces boast non-stick PFAS-free ceramic coatings. I talk about testing for these below. Suffice it to say here that I was convinced enough by the tests to get a non-stick frying pan to try out myself.

I’ve been using a Maestro frying pan for nearly a year and it’s fantastic. Even with minimal oil, nothing sticks. Admittedly, we’re a vegan house, so we don’t have to deal with the stickiness of eggs, meat, and animal cheese.

Still, the Maestro non-stick pan has proven easy and fun for cooking and clean-up. It’s also a good-looking pan, with excellent weight distribution, so it’s easy on the wrist. The cleverly designed handle doesn’t get hot even when cooking for a while.

When my wife first used the Maestro non-stick frying pan to make Sunday pancakes, she was super happy with how it performed, and the pancakes were fluffier than ever! And, as I’m the one who usually does kitchen clean-up, I was also happy at how quick and easy it is to give this pan a wipe, with no scrubbing necessary.

Performance and durability of Alva non-stick

The Maestro non-stick ceramic coated pans aren’t dishwasher-safe and you’ll need to wash them by hand. They are, however, oven-safe to 392 F, which is great for keeping food warm for a little while or for finishing off a soccatatta or similar.

These coated pans come with a 10-year warranty, rather than Alva’s standard 25-year warranty for its all stainless steel pans. This is because ceramic is inherently less durable than simple metal pans without coatings. Still, a 10-year warranty is much more reassuring than the measly 1-year warranty from Caraway.

I’ve taken pains to baby my Maestro non-stick pan a little, given how I’m used to just banging around much more robust cast iron without care. Even with a few knocks and almost daily use for a year, though, it shows no signs of wear and tear and still looks almost brand new.

It’s definitely best to avoid using any metal utensils or scouring pads, or abrasive cleaning tools or chemicals with these non-stick pans. Stick to wood or silicone spatulas, for example, and you’ll be just fine.

When storing the pans, consider using cork trivets or even a tea towel between the pans to prevent bumps and scrapes that could chip the ceramic. I use a thicker tea towel wrapped around the pan to protect both top and bottom while it’s in storage.


Alva Cookware Chef Collection

alva chef cookware collection

Highlights: Stainless steel cookware with a smart and stylish design. Modern aesthetic, easy to use and clean, and compatible with all cooktops.

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The Alva Chef collection is an all-stainless steel line including:

  • Chef Frying Pan – $89
  • Chef Stock Pot – $199
  • Chef Saucepan – $99
  • Chef Skillet With Lid – $199

These pots and pans have a 3-ply design featuring stainless steel and aluminum for fast heat conduction and even distribution. They have smartly positioned handles that are riveted to the body of the pans and air vent holes in the lids to minimize rattling and overboiling.

Rounded rims mean less mess when pouring from these pans, and the straight and high sides give the Chef collection a sleek, modern look. The high sides also mean these pans offer lots of capacity without crowding your cooktop.

Alva’s Chef collection also includes measurements on the inside of the pots for convenience. These are really easy to see, unlike with some pots where the markings are so faint as to be pretty much useless.

My experience with the Alva Chef Stockpot

I was in sore need of a large stockpot because my 6 qt. stainless steel pot just doesn’t offer enough capacity for how I cook these days. It’s great for some soups and stews but just wasn’t cutting it for batch-cooking, making vegetable scrap stock, or for cooking fresh local corn (with which my toddler is currently besotted).

My wife and I are really enjoying the 10.6 qt. large stockpot. It’s perfect for cooking three or four ears of corn at once and can hold huge amounts of soup, stock, chili and so on. Thanks to the 3-ply design, it heats up fast but shows no signs of warping even at higher temperatures.

I also really like how the Chef Stockpot manages to feel robust without being overly heavy. A pot this size could easily be awkward to move around, but the handles are so ergonomic and sturdy that it’s a breeze to use and to clean.

The Chef collection is oven-safe to 392 F, dishwasher-safe, and works with all kinds of cooktops. I haven’t tried to put my tall stockpot in the oven yet, but it sure is nice to know it’s a possibility if I ever need to keep a chili warm while using the rest of my stove for other pots and pans.


Alva Cookware Forest Collection

Highlights: Robust but light and beautiful blue carbon steel wok and frying pan with acacia wood handle. Easy and fun to use!

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The Forest line comprises just two pieces so far, both made with blue carbon steel and acacia wood handles. These pans come pre-seasoned, so they just need a quick wipe and you’re good to start cooking!

The Forest collection includes:

  • Forest Frying Pan – $69
  • Forest Wok Pan – $99.

My experience with the Forest Wok from Alva

I absolutely love my new Alva Forest Wok Pan, which is so much lighter than cast iron and ceramic woks and super fun to cook with. The 12.6 inch size is great for most stoves and I like that it doesn’t crowd out my other pots and pans.

This wok also looks beautiful, although I’d happily trade the acacia wood handle for a metal handle suitable for the oven. However, the handle stays very cool, even when cooking at high temperatures.

This wok conducts heat well, letting me quickly cook up a stir-fry while my toddler is (briefly) entertained by a block or buckle. It’s also really easy to clean, especially because it’s so light. And the acacia wood handle should last a long time as it’s naturally resistant to water and bacteria (which is why lots of patio furniture and shower benches are made with acacia).

I’m also happy that the Forest wok is induction compatible, should I ever manage to upgrade to an induction stovetop. The Forest Wok isn’t oven-safe and shouldn’t be used in the microwave or cleaned in the dishwasher.

My wife has used the wok for a variety of dishes, including deep frying breaded tofu. So far, so good. The wok is naturally non-stick thanks to the seasoning and clean-up has been easy. We take care not to use harsh soaps to clean the carbon steel wok, and the seasoning has lasted for more than a month without need to re-season.


Alva Cookware Nori Collection

Highlights: Cast iron with durable enamel coating. Heavy duty, scratch resistant, and beautiful! Lots of versatile pieces in this collection.

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Alva’s Nori cookware collection comprises black enameled cast iron with bronze knobs. This is a modern take on traditional cast iron cookware, offering all the great features of cast iron (heat distribution, retention, and conductivity) but with a serious style upgrade.

The enamel is thick (three layers) and scratch-resistant (to a point), meaning that these pieces will last a long time. That said, traditional uncoated cast iron will always last longer (i.e., forever) and is absolutely scratch resistant.

Pieces in the Nori collection include:

  • Nori Round Dutch Oven – $289
  • Nori Oval Dutch Oven – $299
  • Nori Tagine Pot – $259
  • Nori Grill Pan – $149
  • Nori Fondue Set -$199
  • Nori Mortar and Pestle – $79.

Nori cookware is oven safe to 392 F and works with all cooktops, including induction. It need handwashing though and is not dishwasher safe or microwave safe.


Alva Cookware Energy Collection

Highlights: Non-toxic ceramic non-stick aluminum cookware. Affordable and more sustainably made than most but with plastic Bakelite handles, so not oven-safe.

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The Energy collection is made with cast aluminum and non-stick PFAS-free ceramic coatings. It also features Bakelite handles, which are basically heat-resistant plastic. As such, this is the one Alva collection I don’t recommend.

Sure, they’re non-toxic to cook with, but the plastic elements aren’t sustainable and are less durable overall than metal parts that can be fairly endless repaired and recycled. You also can’t put these pans in the oven, even at a low temperature, and they’re not dishwasher-safe either.

The Energy collection comprises:

  • Energy Nonstick Frying Pan – $69
  • Energy Nonstick Wok Pan – $99
  • Energy Nonstick Grill Pan – $89
  • Energy Nonstick Pancake Pan – $79
  • Energy Nonstick Fish Pan – $109

The Energy collection is more affordable than Alva’s other collections, but I’d suggest saving a little longer and investing in cookware that will be with you for decades to come.

Note that the Energy collection only has a 5-year warranty. To me, this suggests that Alva knows the cookware isn’t as robust as its other lines.


Alva’s shipping and return policies

Alva offers flat rates for shipping, based on the total order amount. Orders over $200 ship free. The most you’ll ever pay for shipping is $14.99.

Alva has a 45-day window in which you can return your items for store credit or exchange. If you decide to just return the product, Alva keeps $9.99 as a restocking fee.

Alva versus Made In, Caraway, and Xtrema

As with Made In, we recommend most but not all of the Alva Cookware range. Unlike with Made In, this isn’t because of toxic chemicals in the cookware. Instead, it’s just that the Energy collection features plastic and is less durable and sustainable overall.

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of Alva with Made In, Caraway Home, and Xtrema.

AlvaMade InCaraway HomeXtrema
MaterialsStainless steel and aluminum; Carbon steel; Ceramic-coated cast iron, aluminum, stainless steel; some plastic handles  Stainless steel, Carbon steel, Enameled cast iron, Copper, PTFE non-stick  Ceramic non-stick aluminumPure ceramic
Price for a 7-8-inch saucepan with lid$99$129-$269$115-$165$221
Third-party tested for chemicals of concernYesOnly for PTFE rangeYesYes
Eco-friendly packagingYesYesYesNo
Weight of Dutch Oven17.2 lbs. for 5.8-Qt.14.88 lb. for 7.5-Qt.6.2 lb. for 6.5-Qt12.4 lb. for 10-Qt.
Oven safe temperatures392 F for most / 482 F for cast iron / some items not oven-safe580 F for Enameled Cast Iron / 800 F for Stainless Clad stock pot / 1200 F for Carbon Steel  550 F2500 F (and 1200 F for stovetop)
Warranty25, 10, and 5 year warranties, dependent on materialLifetime (1-year for PTFE)1-yearLifetime
Return period45 days45 days30 days40 days
Cookware recyclingNo, but made with recycled materials!YesSort ofNo

Some points of note:

  • Alva is more affordable than Made In, Caraway, and Xtrema and arguably more durable
  • Alva is a more sustainable choice than Made In and others for carbon steel, stainless steel, and enameled cast iron cookware, as well as for non-stick ceramic cookware
  • Alva’s cast iron is much heavier, which means better quality, than competitors’ cast iron
  • Alva’s warranties are much more generous for non-stick items than Caraway and MadeIn, but less generous overall than Xtrema and Made In (for other types of cookware)
  • Alva has some of the most robust third-party testing for its cookware (including for its PFAS-free non-stick range).

Alva Cookware gets a thumbs up for its use of recycled materials and for not using PFAS or other toxic chemicals in its products. Although it took a little bit of time and effort to get the reports for more rigorous European Union testing of the cookware, Alva did provide this willingly and all the cookware passes.

Leaf Score verdict on Alva Cookware

Alva cookware is a fantastic choice for non-toxic, sustainable cookware. Having used pieces from the Maestro, Chef, and Forest collections, I heartily recommend these. The Nori collection also looks like a great choice, but I’d say to skip the Energy collection due to the plastic handles, shorter warranty, and limited functionality.

We’re hopeful that Alva will extend its cookware collections in the U.S., given that the company offers a wider range of products in Europe. And, because the company has a solid history of sustainability and using non-toxic materials, chances are we’ll love whatever it produces.

In fact, there’s a new product coming soon that I’m already smitten with. The Artist promises to be a rugged (and beautiful) cast iron frying pan that will be suitable for use on the BBQ and in the oven. I’d love to get my hands on this when it launches!

alva chef cookware collection

Alva Chef cookware

Leaf Score

Highlight: Stainless steel cookware with a smart and stylish design. Modern aesthetic, easy to use and clean, and compatible with all cooktops.

Alva Forest cookware

Leaf Score

Highlights: Robust but light and beautiful blue carbon steel wok and frying pan with acacia wood handle. Easy and fun to use!

Alva Nori cookware

Leaf Score

Highlight: Cast iron with durable enamel coating. Heavy duty, scratch resistant, and beautiful! Lots of versatile pieces in this collection.

Alva Energy cookware

Leaf Score

Highlight: Non-toxic ceramic non-stick aluminum cookware. Affordable and more sustainably made than most but with plastic Bakelite handles, so not oven-safe.

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    • Hi Ellie,

      Great question! So far, I’ve avoided my pup getting anywhere near to my Alva non-stick pan. She would absolutely destroy the ceramic coating, as she would any ceramic coating, given her tenacity, talons, and teeth.

      I’ll have to rely on John deliberately giving his pup some Alva cookware to get the inside scoop on how it fares!

      Leigh

  1. Hey Leigh! Wondering if you have a recommendation for Australian readers? Alva cookware isn’t available here and they don’t ship to AUS either. Caraway will ship to Australia, but comes in at over AUD$500 🙁

  2. Hi, I was wondering if the Maestro 9.5″ non stick skillet/lid is similar in height size to the Maestro 11″ fry pan. I was looking for a pan to cook a pan full of sautéed veggies / beef , and also use it for fish, eggs etc. I cannot decide between the 2 pans. thank you

    • Hey Marcia, They’re similar in depth but the 11″ is a better all around option for fish in particular because its wider and bigger. The Alva nonstick pan is a great product, but quite compact in size.

  3. Hi Leigh,
    Really appreciate your website and reviews, especially clarifying the GreenPan issue.
    We’ve used GreenPan (stopped after reading your detailed review a couple years ago) then went to Caraway, but they just don’t last long. (also tried the full ceramic one, but too heavy and uneven cooking.)

    So we are now about to try Alva’s Maestro line.

    Questions:
    1) Is the Ceramic coating on top of aluminum or steel?
    I recall reading on your review and read on their website that there’s aluminum sandwiched between two layers of steel, but is that just for the bottom of the pan for heat distribution purposes?

    2) How do we know when the ceramic coating has worn off and we’re not being exposed to the aluminum or steel? My wife is very concerned that the ceramic coating might be on top of aluminum and not steel.

    3) If it is a ceramic coating on aluminum and not steel… I don’t want to go to GreenPan b/c of the listed and not listed chemicals. Maybe we just have to go to steel or copper pans?

    Thanks for your help!

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