Imagine, a beautiful afternoon where you and your family enjoy a sunny bike ride to the farmers market, stock up on fresh, organic, locally grown produce, and head home to cook up a storm in cookware coated in toxic chemicals. Even if you buy organic produce and eat healthy, chances are you’re cooking with problematic cookware. I know I was, up until recently when I really looked at the science of cookware and why safe, green cookware matters.
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Our top pick for non-toxic cookware
Truly non-toxic, non-stick ceramic cookware!
If you want to know how to spot non-toxic, eco-friendly cookware, here are four key questions to get you thinking:
- What is the cookware made from?
- Are the materials recycled and/or recyclable?
- Is the cookware treated with chemicals known to be toxic?
- Does the manufacturing and/or use of the cookware harm humans, other animals, and/or the environment?
At LeafScore, we maintain a pros and cons list for each material known to be suitable for manufacturing eco-friendly cookware.
I’ve also looked at potential safety issues with artisanal cookware you might be tempted to buy from your farmers market or while on vacation.
Replacing all of your problematic cookware with eco-conscious, safe, non-toxic products can be a costly and time-consuming process. I know this all too well from my own experience stocking a new kitchen several times over after moving a lot in my twenties. Finding cookware that you love and that doesn’t release toxic fumes or contaminate your food with heavy metals is not an easy task. It’s certainly not something most people can do overnight, so it’s good to figure out your priorities and strategize accordingly.
See also: Why Teflon cookware is a problem
When I emigrated to Canada, I gave away almost all of my cherished cookware because it was simply too heavy to justify shipping across the ocean. Starting again from scratch, on a freelance writer’s income and with no guarantee of permanent residency and citizenship, also made it hard to justify investing in top quality cookware. Thrift store and yard sale finds got me through that first year or so, but once I felt more settled, those scratched up pans with warped bottoms started to look less like a yard sale bargain and more like a real health hazard.
How to detoxify your kitchen step by step
This is the approach I took to detoxifying my cookware collection:
- Make an inventory of your current cookware items
- Prioritize those you use most frequently
- Aim to replace one item every month or when finances allow
- Watch out for sales, yard-sale finds, or hand-me-downs from friends and family
By checking items off your list throughout the year, you’ll soon have a much healthier, happier kitchen.
And, if you can’t replace all your non-stick Teflon cookware right away, you can minimize your risk of exposure to toxic fumes by following these basic principles:
- Always cook in a well-ventilated area
- Never use non-stick Teflon cookware in the oven
- Keep pots and pans on a low to moderate heat (read manufacturers’ instructions)
- Only heat pots and pans for a short amount of time
- Never heat a non-stick PTFE pan without food or oil in it (an empty pan releases more fumes)
- Prioritize replacement of pots and pans that are scratched and no longer truly non-stick
The best non-toxic cookware: our top picks
Here are my top picks for 6 of the best eco-friendly cookware choices. Every cookware set on this list is PFOA, PFAS, and PTFE free.
Curious about how we rate products? Click here to view our methodology, which at its core, is about voting with our dollars to fight climate change.
Highlights: Xtrema® is dishwasher safe, oven safe, stove-safe, and fridge/freezer safe; it is also super easy to clean. No metal, cadmium, lead, PFOA, PTFE, glues, polymers, coatings or dyes.
Xtrema is offering LeafScore readers 10% off their purchase using coupon code LEAFSCORE at checkout!
If you’re looking for the best, most eco-friendly, non-toxic ceramic cookware range, check out Xtrema®. This American-run line of eco-friendly, non-toxic cookware is ceramic through and through.
These pots and pans contain no metal, cadmium, lead, PFOA, PTFE, glues, polymers, coatings or dyes. Every shipment is inspected and tested for heavy metals, and Xtrema® cookware is FDA-approved and meets California Prop 65 standards, meaning that it is certified free from over 800 problematic compounds. Xtrema® cookware is also environmentally-friendly as it is created using renewable raw materials and green manufacturing practices.
With Xtrema® ceramic cookware, you can cook food easily on a low heat, because pure ceramic retains heat better than other cookware and helps food to cook evenly, inside and out. Just be sure to warm pans slowly and keep temperatures low to moderate (and add you oil after the pan is warmed).
While Xtrema® cookware is not non-stick, the smooth, non-porous, ceramic glaze makes for easy cooking, once you’re used to cooking on a low to moderate heat. Xtrema® is dishwasher safe, oven safe, stove-safe, and fridge/freezer safe. It is also super easy to clean. If food does stick, it’s safe to use abrasive cleaners such as steel wool, baking soda, and even Ajax without risk of scratching the surface.
We tested Xtrema cookware in our home kitchen. In the photos below, we make our favorite chicken curry recipe in the Xtrema Wok.
Highlights: Non-toxic, non-stick, LeafScore tried and tested cookware. Works with induction, gas, and electric stovetops, is oven-safe, easy to clean, and very easy on the eyes – available in nearly a dozen color options!
Caraway makes beautiful ceramic-coated cookware that is third-party tested for PFAS, lead, cadmium, and other chemicals of concern. The company is really transparent and sent me copies of its test results instantly. Everything passed, meaning this is truly non-toxic non-stick cookware you can feel good about.
The pots and pans comprise smooth ceramic-coated aluminum with a steel bottom. This means that the cookware is lighter than cast iron or carbon steel but still works on induction cooktops. It’s also oven-safe and easy to clean, requiring minimal oil for cooking.
ure ceramic cookware doesn’t work on induction.
The Caraway Cookware Set includes:
Unique Caraway Storage Sytem
10.5 inch Fry Pan (see review here)
3 qt Sauce Pan
4.5 qt Sauté Pan
6.5 qt Dutch Oven
Caraway made the smart decision to go Dutch on the lid for the Dutch Oven and Sauce Pan (i.e., these share a lid, minimizing material use and cupboard space). Caraway also includes its unique storage system with every cookware set (Note: you can’t buy this separately, so if you want it, you’ll want to buy the complete set).
We also like that Caraway ships its products without any single-use plastics. Instead, it uses recycled and recyclable cardboard and reusable cork trivets.
These pots and pans are stunning and are available in a variety of colors, meaning there’s one that’s bound to suit your kitchen aesthetic. The company also offers top-quality non-toxic bakeware!
Readers who read our new Caraway cookware review will know we have tested this brand extensively, and as I alluded to above, we have reviewed third party testing that confirms the products are PFOA, PFAS, and PTFE free.
De Buyer Carbon Steel Cookware
Highlights: De Buyer carbon steel cookware offers excellent heat distribution for easy grilling, searing, and browning of foods on the stovetop (including induction), camping stove, barbecue, or in the oven.
Hands down, De Buyer are the go-to for high quality non-toxic cookware. They make beautiful, robust, hard-wearing carbon steel frying pans and a range of other quality kitchen items that are inexpensive, long-lasting, and easy to use (once you get the hang of basic cleaning and seasoning principles). The sturdy rivets help make sure that handle is going nowhere, but in case something does happen, the manufacturer offers a two-year warranty.
De Buyer cookware is lighter than cast iron but heavier than stainless steel or ceramic. It tends to lose its seasoning more easily than cast iron, but also puts on seasoning faster. De Buyer are the go-to company for carbon steel, having been in the business for almost two centuries. Their products are still made in France using traditional techniques, but are surprisingly affordable, especially once you consider that a pan will last a lifetime if cared for properly.
For anyone wanting the benefits of cast iron without the weight, carbon steel is an excellent choice for non-toxic, eco-friendly cookware. Carbon steel skillets are also a great option for cooks who like to flip and toss foods as they have sloped sides, unlike cast iron pans.
Lodge Cast Iron Cookware
Highlights: From small and large skillets to double Dutch ovens and griddles, Lodge cast iron is versatile, robust and a great investment.
Lodge offer quality cast iron cookware from a trusted American brand, earning them a 5/5 rating from us. This company has been making cast iron cookware since 1896 and have you covered for pretty much every culinary need. Want to grill some asparagus or halloumi? Check out the 10.25-inch square Grill Pan. Lodge also offer an 8-inch pre-seasoned cast iron skillet with two lips for easy pouring and a handle loop so the pan can be hung for storage or decoration.
From small and large skillets to double Dutch ovens and griddles, Lodge cast iron is versatile, robust and a great investment. These products also have a lifetime warranty and can be used on the stove, campfire, barbecue, and in the oven. Cast iron is virtually indestructible, retains heat and seasoning well, and has a naturally non-stick surface if you treat it right.
Lodge uses cast iron from two foundries on the banks of the Tennessee River in the small town of South Pittsburg, Tennessee. This makes it an attractive choice for U.S. customers wanting to support local business and avoid the environmental toll of importing heavier cookware from farther afield. Lodge cast iron is also California Prop 65 certified and US FDA certified for 188.8.131.52a Leachability of Lead and Cadmium for Glazed Ceramic Surfaces. Their silicone products (like pan handle covers) are certified by suppliers to be both BPA(Bisphenol A) and phthalate free.
Highlights: Emile Henry’s new range of HR cookware is resistant to thermal shock, so can be put in the oven directly from the freezer.
Move over Le Creuset, Emile Henry has arrived.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the aesthetic of Le Creuset. Sadly, though, they sometimes use glazes that contain cadmium and other heavy metals. Not so with Emile Henry. This French company makes very attractive, high-quality ceramic cookware that earns a ⅘ at Leaf Score (because they’re not quite as resistant to thermal shock as CorningWare).
I particularly like the Emile Henry Flame range of stovetop-suitable ceramics. These offer a fantastic alternative to hard-to-track-down classic Corning Ware. Emile Henry dishes are designed to resist oven heat up to 480 F (250 C) but are not intended for use over direct flame or hot plates. Emile Henry’s new range of HR cookware is resistant to thermal shock, so can be put in the oven directly from the freezer. These pots are also dishwasher safe and microwave safe.
The classic Emile Henry dish is their ruffled pie dish, the unique design of which makes it easy to turn out an excellent pie without needing to grease the dish before baking. Some of my other favorites from the company include:
- Large Baking Dish
- Roasting and Lasagna Dish
- Pizza Stone
The attractive glazed pots are available in a variety of colors and designs, including the Potato Pot, which can be used to cook potatoes, chestnuts, and various other delights right on the stovetop. It is suitable for induction hobs, if used with an induction disk, and can also be used in the oven.
The glaze is highly resistant to scratching, so it’s fine to use metal utensils with these pots. Some cracks may form in the glaze with use, but this isn’t a design flaw and doesn’t affect performance. As the inside coating is ceramic and non-reactive, these pots are ideal for more acidic foods, including sauces and vinegar reductions that would discolor stainless steel or leach metal from cast iron and carbon steel and affect the flavor of food.
With knowledge, care, and a little luck, Emile Henry cookware could last a lifetime, but do be careful about thermal shock with some items. Classic CorningWare is a better option in terms of durability and strength, but the Emile Henry range, while traditionally made, has a more modern design, similar in some ways to Le Creuset.
Cuisinart Multiclad Pro 12-Piece Stainless Steel Cookware Set
Highlights: Cuisinart’s Multiclad offers triple-ply stainless steel construction with magnetized stainless steel, aluminum core, and 18/10 stainless steel.
Deluxe cookware for home chefs in the know, Cuisinart’s 12-piece 18/10 stainless steel set has your covered for almost all your cooking needs. Earning 4/5 leaves, Cuisinart’s Multiclad offers triple-ply stainless steel construction with magnetized stainless steel, aluminum core, and 18/10 stainless steel.
So, if you’re kitting out a new kitchen, or looking for a comprehensive replacement cookware set, Cuisinart Multiclad Pro 12-Piece Stainless Steel Cookware Set is ideal.
The triple-ply construction grants excellent heat conductivity while using less energy, and Multiclad comes with a lifetime warranty against defects. Oven-safe up to 550 F and dishwasher-safe, these pieces are compatible with induction stoves and are an excellent choice for novice and professional cooks alike.
The handles are riveted to the body of the pans, making for sturdy, reliable construction, and the lids are tightfitting, so you can keep steam, flavor, and aroma where you want it. Tapered rims and cool-grip handles make for easier pouring.
If you’re looking for high-quality stainless-steel cookware, Cuisinart’s Multiclad is just the ticket. It’s a lot lighter and easier to handle than cast iron or carbon steel, won’t chip of break like some ceramics, and poses no risk of off-gassing or leaching toxic chemicals into food, unlike PTFE-coated and other non-stick cookware.
Though hard to find, we still love CorningWare!
Highlights: CorningWare is easy to clean, non-reactive to acidic foods, and can be used for cooking, serving, and storing food.
Traditional, non-toxic, thermal shock-resistant ceramic cookware with 5/5 leaves, pure ceramic CorningWare is made in the USA and remains a great choice for eco-friendly, non-toxic cooking. While not exactly the same as the original CorningWare Pyroceram, the new CorningWare® (which is actually stoneware) shares many of the benefits: easy to clean, non-reactive to acidic foods, can be used for cooking, serving, and storing food.
Most CorningWare® can’t be used on a stovetop, though, and has a much lower tolerance for thermal shock (don’t put a frozen dish directly in the oven!). There is, however, a stovetop-safe line manufactured in France by Keraglass/Eurokera for Corelle Brands. So, if you are looking for pure ceramic cookware to use on a stovetop, go for CorningWare (made prior to 2000), or CorningWare®’s stovetop range made after 2008, such as this limited edition CorningWare Pyroceram Blue Cornflower 4-piece Glass Ceramic Cookware Set. Alternatively, check out the Emile Henry range of ceramic cookware.
Non-Toxic Cookware FAQ
Caraway and Xtrema are both excellent options for non-toxic cookware, so it is hard to make a call as to which brand is better. Both have documented that their products are free of forever chemicals with independent testing. Some of the decision between Caraway and Xtrema comes down to personal preference, and which aesthetic you like better.
The all ceramic Xtrema products feel higher quality than Caraway, which uses a non-toxic ceramic coating backed by aluminum. However, Caraway heats more evenly, is lighter to use, has more eco-friendly packaging than Xtrema, and is more functional as it can be used on induction ranges.
If you want an organic, earthy feel to your cookware, we would recommend Xtrema, and believe it is overall better quality than Caraway. However, Caraway has a brighter, more modern look, and comes in a ton of colors, so again, much of this decision is personal preference.
Newer non-stick coatings are often made with naturally occurring elements such as silicon and oxygen, rather than PTFE and PFOA. It is important to check labels, though, instead of going with marketing hype.
The precise nature of the coatings is typically proprietary and writing to manufacturers often reveals some dirty little secrets of non-stick cookware.
For example, there are some product marketed as PFOA-free but which aren’t PTFE-free; the coating is still PTFE, just applied with a water-based solvent instead of PFOA.
Ecolution, for instance, have a bakeware range that uses their proprietary Free + Clear™ surface coating made without BPA, PFOA, and PTFE.
But they also have a cookware range that uses PFOA-free Hydrolon™ non-stick coating, although this coating appears to still be based on PTFE. For anyone with a pet bird in the house, getting these confused could be deadly.
One of the newer green non-stick cookware ranges comes from GreenPan. They released a product line in the U.S. in 2007 featuring Thermolon, a ceramic non-stick coating marketed as safe and non-toxic. It is mostly comprised of silicon and oxygen, with some pigments and other food-safe ingredients and was one of my top picks for this type of cookware, until recently.
Well, a class action lawsuit alleged that Greenpan engaged in misleading marketing practices by claiming that Thermolon is non-toxic. To back up that allegation, the plaintiff cites a number of chemicals listed in the patent for Thermolon, including silane, aluminum oxide, tetraethoxysilane, methyltrimethoxysilane, and potassium titanate.
These chemicals, as used in the coatings for Greenpan products have not been assessed for safety but are known for adverse health effects when used in other applications. As such, Greenpan might be one to avoid for now. See more about our take on GreenPan here. We have been in touch with Greenpan and have been promised a statement, but as of yet, we haven’t received anything to publish.
Some newer coatings appear to make use of nanotechnology to create a smooth, non-porous, non-stick coating. Preliminary studies suggest that nanoparticles from these coatings can leach into food, especially when cookware is used at high temperatures and with repeated use as the surface is scratched or otherwise degrades (R).
It may well be that these newer non-stick coatings are indeed as eco-friendly, safe, and non-toxic as their manufacturers claim. The reality is, though, that we just don’t have any good, independent, scientific research to back up these claims. As such, it seems smart to stick to tried and tested cookware where any non-stick coating comes from natural seasoning or is ceramic in nature.
Aside from your own personal health, and the health of human and non-human family members, there are other reasons to choose green or eco-conscious cookware as well.
By not buying Teflon-coated cookware and cookware involving the use of other unpleasant chemicals, you also help protect workers who would otherwise be producing those goods. Further, and very unfortunately, the chemicals that are used to make Teflon and other toxic non-stick coatings have made their way into our drinking water.
Voting with your dollars, and choosing not to buy these products, will make the planet a healthier place for future generations.
Quote from your review:
” Emile Henry dishes are designed to resist oven heat up to 480 F (250 C) but are not intended for use over direct flame or hot plates.”
The picture shows it on a gas stove, flame on!
Very informative but the Lodge cart iron skillets have California proposition 65. Whereas this article says it dosen’t.
I had a good root around online, including looking at Lodge’s website and specification sheets, but I don’t see a Prop 65 warning. Can you point me to where you saw this attached to the skillet, please? Thanks!
Thanks for the great information. Have you researched the Blue Diamond pots and pans? Wondering you thought about safety.
I took a quick look at Blue Diamond and can’t see any helpful information on the actual material composition of these pans. They also misuse the word ‘toxin’, which makes me suspicious that this is just greenwashing and not a credible non-toxic cookware option. Personally, I would avoid this kind of product and this kind of (forgive me) flash-in-the-pan company with no track record or clear information.
Thanks for asking!
Can you tell me how Pampered Chef pans rate?
Really appreciate your thorough research! Thank you sooo much!
Just bought an expensive Cuisinart multiclad stainless steel pan to replace my 40 year old Farberware stainless steel frying pan. Have already burned myself on the metal handle! (Doesn’t anyone realize metal conducts heat?!)
Although under two percent of people have induction stoves, it seems every stainless steel company has jumped on induction bandwagon and is putting on those thick induction bottoms! This new bottom holds too much heat and I’m burning my food now. Tried to add more butter and oil however, so much crispy food is stuck to the pan, it is taking forever to wads the pan! Going to by an old used Farberware pan without an induction bottom. Boo induction bottoms 👎🏼