Should You Cook With GreenPan? It’s Complicated

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Written by The LeafScore Team

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The LeafScore Team

This article was written as a collaboration by the LeafScore editorial team.

Updated:

We bumped GreenPan from our list of top rated non-toxic non-stick cookware. Now it’s back (with caveats). Here’s why.

Greenpan
We don’t use GreenPan but did examine a pan at a local Williams Sonoma to get a feel for the product in real life.

As a site dedicated to bringing readers the best eco-friendly and non-toxic products, naturally LeafScore has an in-depth article on the best non-toxic, non-stick pans. Years ago, when pickings were slim for PTFE-free non-stick pans, we included GreenPan as a good choice, thanks to its ‘toxin-free ceramic coating’ and ability to transition from the stove to the oven without issue. 

Then, we removed GreenPan entirely from our list of non-toxic cookware. There were two primary reasons:

  1. Competing brands began providing independent laboratory testing to prove their products are non-toxic
  2. We became aware of lawsuits against GreenPan that cast doubt on the company’s marketing claims. 

More recently, we’ve begun including GreenPan again.

Why?

Because while the company still isn’t transparent about its non-stick coatings, the performance and design of GreenPan’s newest range of ceramic coated pans is impressive. In comparison to cheaply built aluminum coated pans that don’t stand the test of time, GreenPan’s 3-ply and 5-ply pans, such as the GP5 range, are robustly made and have longer lasting non-stick coatings. Overall, that makes them more sustainable, though we sorely wish GreenPan offered third-party testing for toxicity.

We talk more below about the new GreenPan GP5 collection below, detailing why it’s changed our thinking on this brand.

GreenPan GP5 Stainless

GreenPan GP5 Stainless cookware collection

Highlights: 5-ply stainless steel, ceramic coated non-stick cookware with an impressively durable surface. Metal utensil resistant and dishwasher safe. PTFE-free. Questions remain over toxicity and coating composition, however.

Overall Score
Durability Score
Toxicity Score
Sustainability Score
User Experience Score
Transparency Score

Cookware transparency is on the rise

Non-toxic non-stick cookware typically translates to pans with PFAS, PTFE, and PFOA free ceramic coatings. With GreenPan in some murky waters after lawsuits alleging misrepresentation, we don’t need to list GreenPan as a top pick. Not when brands like Caraway, Alva, and Xtrema have all sent us the results of independent third party lab testing which demonstrate their products are free of heavy metals and PFAS.

Extreme transparency sets the bar in today’s non-toxic cookware market, full stop.

Is any non-stick cookware truly non-toxic? LeafScore’s Head of Research, Leigh Matthews, walks consumers through the very confusing world of non-toxic cookware.

Is GreenPan Guilty of Greenwashing? 

GreenPan is a cookware brand available for purchase online and through national retailers like Target and Bed, Bath & Beyond. The company established a reputation for selling so-called eco-friendly, non-stick cookware that it claims is better for you than competing products. 

The original GreenPan cookware uses a patented Thermolon™ ceramic non-stick coating that the company has at one time or another advertised as “completely toxin-free,” “healthy,” and “free of PFOA, PFAS, lead, and cadmium.” 

However, the company has come under scrutiny for these claims, with accusations of misrepresentation and greenwashing.

In 2012, for instance, GreenPan took heat from the National Advertising Division for making untrue claims within its advertisements. After the NAD’s critiques, GreenPan changed the wording within its ad campaigns. The new wording, while technically different, could be seen to be just as misleading as before, though.

Individual consumers have also hit back at Greenpan for its marketing tactics, as exemplified by a lawsuit brought in 2019.

greenpan alternatives

We have staff-tested and given 4- and 5-leaf ratings to these non-toxic cookware brands, all of which would be solid alternatives for consumers considering buying GreenPan:

We also compare Caraway and Greenpan head to head.

The 2019 GreenPan lawsuit

A 2019 class-action lawsuit (Saldivar vs. The Cookware Company (USA) LLC) brought many of the concerns about GreenPan into the courtroom. The lawsuit was brought by a consumer, Anna Saldivar, who claimed she was duped by GreenPan’s advertising to spend more money on a pan she was promised would be healthier and more environmentally friendly.

The lawsuit breaks down GreenPan’s claims to show how the brand overstates the health and environmental advantages of its pans.

In December, 2020, that lawsuit was dismissed. Specifically, the claims Saldivar made against GreenPan were dismissed with prejudice, meaning she can’t file the same lawsuit again. However, the case was also dismissed “without prejudice” in terms of the class action overall. This means any similar consumer could bring those claims and others against GreenPan again.

What it all means

We’ll likely never know why Saldivar and GreenPan settled the original lawsuit. Chances are that GreenPan paid Saldivar some kind of compensation. It is possible, though, that GreenPan somehow convinced Saldivar that her case lacked merit, though this seems unlikely.

What we know for sure is that the judge in this case didn’t get a chance to decide if the claims against GreenPan had merit.

Because of the settlement, GreenPan’s alleged misrepresentations and the plaintiff’s claims have not been adjudicated in a public forum. As such, the GreenPan situation is too murky for us to strongly recommend this cookware brand.

Further, the claims against GreenPan tell us a lot. Let’s break down those claims to see whether GreenPan is guilty of greenwashing. 

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Known Toxins in the “Non-Toxic” Coating

GreenPan advertises that its non-stick pans contain “0% toxins” and are “good for the environment.” But, according to the 2019 lawsuit, GreenPan’s Thermolon™ coating contains several toxins, including:

  • Silane – a colorless, flammable gas that is toxic to breathe in and known for irritating the skin, eyes, and mucous membranes
  • Aluminum oxide – exposure can lead to lung damage
  • Tetraethoxysilane– respiratory and skin irritation
  • Methyltrimethoxysilane – serious eye, skin, and respiratory irritation
  • Potassium titanate – harmful if inhaled; potential carcinogen.

Again, we don’t know for sure that GreenPan cookware contains or contained these chemicals, given that the lawsuit was dismissed.

What we do know is that GreenPan’s other claims that its pans are superior for not containing PFOA are suspect. All non-stick cookware produced in the United States has been free of PFOA since 2013, when Teflon stopped using them in its coating. Their exclusion is now the norm, not a distinguishing factor. 

So, while GreenPan claimed that its cookware is free of PFOA, “unlike traditional non-stick cookware,” this statement is factually untrue. In reality, you’ll struggle to buy a pan today that contains PFOA.

GreenPan has also claimed in the past that its pans are free of PFAS, lead, or cadmium. Unfortunately, the company stopped releasing any test reports in 2020. As such, we have no current test results to show if these heavy metals or others are present in the cookware, nor if there are traces of PFAS in GreenPan products.

Not So “Good for the Environment”

GreenPan also claims its products are eco-friendly, primarily due to production practices. The company states that up to 60% less carbon dioxide is emitted during the curing phase of the Thermolon coating than its competitors. 

However, the company does little to substantiate this statement or share which brands it is specifically competing with. This statement goes against the Federal Trade Commission’s Green Guidelines about avoiding broad, unqualified claims about environmental benefits.  

GreenPan also states that its Thermolon coating is made in a process that doesn’t require PFOA or PFAS during production. Again, the PFOA claim is true for every cookware brand sold in the U.S. today – regardless of whether the brand claims to be eco-friendly. 

Reader question: Ecology Center report on GreenPan

A reader wrote in to ask us to fact check this piece on GreenPan, following the Ecology Center’s What’s Cooking report. This report notes that the GreenPan pan its team tested did not have a PTFE coating or any detectable PFOA. Instead, the coating comprised silicon dioxide.

While this looks good at first glance, it’s important to note that the Ecology Center testing wasn’t comprehensive. It only intended to identify pans that misrepresented their non-stick coating, i.e., to expose pans marketed as PTFE-free when they weren’t.

We tested only the type of coating present on each pan. We did not test for PFOA, GenX, or other PFAS chemicals used in manufacturing and potentially remaining in finished products.”

Ecology Center, 2020

The reader who contacted us thought that this report vindicated GreenPan, showing “Thermolon to not emit any detectable compounds, and the resulting non-stick layer is made solely of silicon dioxide (aka silica / sand / glass).”

Unfortunately, the Ecology Center testing isn’t wide-ranging enough to confirm that GreenPan products are truly non-toxic. Sure, they may be PTFE-free and have a ceramic coating of some kind, but we still don’t know what else is in that coating.

To complicate things further, though, the newest GreenPan GP5 collection and a few earlier ranges do seem to be more sustainable than most other non-stick pans out there.

Why?

Because these 3-ply and 5-ply pans have an aluminum core surrounded by stainless steel. This makes for a pan that:

  • Heats fast and even
  • Is more resistant to warping
  • Doesn’t expose you to aluminum even when the non-stick is scratched
  • Is usually oven safe to higher temperatures
  • Is more robust and lasts longer.

Little Evidence of “Healthier Food”

Finally, GreenPan strongly implies that using its cookware is a healthy choice. However, the absence of “toxins” in the pan itself won’t translate to more nutritious food for the consumer. Cooking with GreenPan won’t make your meals magically healthier.

And, as stated above, the brand might be overstating its claims to be 100% toxin-free. 

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A note about PFAS

Many cookware companies erroneously claim today to be free of PFAS,. Toxicology reports from the Ecology Center found that undisclosed PFAS coatings are common in cookware, even in brands that use “PFOA-free” or even “PFAS-free” as part of their branding. According to the study, close to 80% of the tested pans were coated with PTFE, a fluoropolymer made from PFAS.

In this way, cookware brands often mislead customers by using the fact that they are free of one (illegal) toxin to imply that others also are not present. However, there is no evidence that GreenPan is also guilty of this practice, so the claims that its pans are PFAS-free are believable.

Our Takeaway: Is GreenPan Off Our List?

Initially, we stripped GreenPan of all its leaves and removed it from all our recommendations.

Even with the lawsuit settled, there’s good evidence that GreenPan is guilty of greenwashing. 

GreenPan’s advertising targets health-conscious and eco-conscious customers, many of whom are willing to pay a premium for products that deliver what GreenPan claims.

Then, GreenPan released several new ranges of cookware that gave us pause. While these collections also lack toxicity certifications, they are significantly better built than most ceramic coated non-stick pans.

Durable products are almost always more sustainable than those that wear out fast.

It’s hard to overlook a non-stick pan that can last several years versus one that is useless within six months.

We wish that GreenPan would seriously improve its transparency. If it did – and third-party tests showed no cause for concern – its pans would quickly move up our list of recommendations for PTFE-free non-stick cookware.

In the meantime, we have begun including GreenPan’s newest GP5 collection in our recommendations, given its robust design and longevity. That way, you have more information to go on when choosing your next non-stick pan.

GreenPan GP5 Stainless

GreenPan GP5 Stainless cookware collection

Highlights: 5-ply stainless steel, ceramic coated non-stick cookware with an impressively durable surface. Metal utensil resistant and dishwasher safe. PTFE-free. Questions remain over toxicity and coating composition, however.

Overall Score
Durability Score
Toxicity Score
Sustainability Score
User Experience Score
Transparency Score

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37 Comments

Join the conversation

  1. Can you suggest a healthy alternative to the GreenPan products? I am looking to replace my aged pots and pans. I live in Canada.
    Thank you.

  2. This is wonderful to know! Thank you! Which non stick coating pan do you recommend, as my husband won’t use any stainless steel pans we have?

    • Hi Anne,

      We recommend non-toxic non-stick pans here, including some options that aren’t made with stainless steel.

      Leigh

  3. Thanks a lot for the useful article. knowing these information should make us doubt all other brands that claim they are healthy and mentioned in your article “The Best Eco-Friendly & Non-Toxic Cookware for 2022” We cannot depend on what the manufacturing company claims or advertise, we need scientific labs to test these products, not just waiting for some leaked information or a lawsuit. Do you think you can team up with a trustworthy lab?

  4. Thanks for the great article..
    regarding the part “Known Toxins in the “Non-Toxic” Coating”, you have mentioned several toxins that exists in Greenpad products according to the lawsuit, so did the company confess that these toxins really exists in their products for sure? or these are unconfirmed claims? not everything mentioned in a lawsuit is necessary is true , specially the lawsuit is eventually settled and no one has won, right? I have Greenpan pans, should I stopped using them?

  5. Great article. Thanks for getting the info out there. These kind of pan bandits figured they’d rip off a bunch of mindless green-wanna be’s or cheaters who didn’t read the fine print. Looks like they got theirs. Good work.

  6. Thank you for this highly informative article! Do you know anything about the titanium dioxide nanoparticles, which I always thought were the main reason to avoid GreenPan (and all ceramic nonstick)?

  7. I purchased two Greenspan products – use mostly 10 inch fry pan – worst I have ever used. Everything sticks sometimes even when using olive oil. Never again but not sure what to purchase as I am on Social Security so money is an issue

  8. They are also rubbish as a non-stick pan. Thrown 2 away after a couple of months use. Stay away!

  9. I have a gas stove and everyone of my Green pan handles has turned black and melted. What cookware is safe for gas stoves? Who do I complain this issue to?

  10. Green Pan doesn’t stand behind their products. I bought a set of nonstick cook ware and not even a year later the nonstick is gone. I can’t even make a grilled cheese sandwich, it will stick. I paid a lot of money for a set. Called Williams Sonoma and the woman at corporate said they were getting a lot of complaints. I tried restoring the nonstick but I didn’t work. I emailed green pan numerous times and they just ignored me. I even called them. I took very good care of my pans. I only wanted them replaced, wasn’t even asking for my money back. Don’t waste your money. I had cheap Ollie’s bargain outlet pans that lasted longer than these.

    • Molly, thanks for the comment. We are waiting on a response from Greenpan, which we hope to publish this fall.

  11. We bought the GreenPan Valencia Pro 11-piece set and within weeks, the bottoms of the pans began to rust. This set was more expensive than the others because it was supposedly dishwasher safe, but that’s obviously not the case. The non-stick coating also chipped and scratched, even though we’ve only ever used plastic or wood utensils, and now those areas where the metal is exposed are rusting too. GreenPan gave us a dismissive response when we contacted them to ask for replacements, saying that the rusting and chipping is actually “staining” and a “cosmetic issue,” therefore not covered under warranty. And now if we run them through the dishwasher, the rust transfers to any white porcelain dishes and stains them. We’re beyond fed up with this company. More people need to know about how shady they are.

  12. 1) I’m not sure why Mollie had issues with the warranty but GreenPan definitely stood behind their pan with me. I bought two Valencia Pro pans in April 2021 from Crate & Barrel (heavily discounted btw). The 8″ pan has lost all non stick. I have babied it but I used olive oil which I found out is not recommended. Cold pressed canola or avocado are best for these pans. GreenPan asked me to go through the “re-seasoning” process of boiling water in pan then using Magic Eraser to thoroughly scrub. I did this and even oiled surface. Eggs still sticking. I contacted them again and they said “Your new pan is on the way.” That was it. Very impressive.

    2) For healthy non stick cooking you can either use carbon steel (Matfer is best) or ceramic. The evidence may not be conclusive on ceramic but we know its better than teflon so it’s either healthy or the lesser of two evils. Either way, after carbon steel, it’s the best way to cook on stove top.

  13. I’m glad GreenPan was taken off the recommended list. Many of us saw the movie, “Dark Water,” about the cancer causing toxicity of Dupont’s Teflon. It’s devastating. Teflon is made from polytetrafluoroethylene (called PTFE) which leaches off the chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid (also shortened and called PFOA). What many people don’t know is that there are thousands of PTFE and PFOA compounds used in non-stick cookware. None of them have been scientifically proven to be safe. GreenPan could say their pans are made from “ceramic” and PFOA “free” but what does this really mean? Ceramic is essentially made from dirt and water so what gives GreenPan’s cookware it’s non-stick qualities and longevity? How does their “ceramic” surface interact with food and oil at high temperatures.? There is too much not to trust and asking GreenPan for scientific proof that their cookware is safe is like asking a fox to guard the henhouse. It’s my uneducated opinion that cooking with carbon steel, stainless steel, and cast iron are the safest materials for cookware.

  14. Chemical salesperson with a background in chemical engineering here, specializing in civil & commercial coatings but not food chemistry. I don’t think Greenpan necessarily greenwashed this, but they have certainly shot themselves in the foot for deliberately hiding their formulation (to avoid having to explain chemistry to the average consumer, I assume).

    The silanes are used as raw materials in the pan, and are toxic. However, it is “cured” into a polymer, linking the short silane monomers into a polymeric form, which is likely non-toxic. If they haven’t already, Greenpan should send freshly cured pans to a third party institution (such as SGS or one of the TUVs) for verification of monomeric residues and publish the results.

    I’m not sure about potassium titanate though. Apparently it’s used in baked goods as a leavening agent (so should probably be safe?), but I don’t know about its laws & regulations.

    To other commenters:
    1. David: Seasoned cookware like cast iron are non-stick due to the user curing their own coating of oils into polymers on the pan. Unlike ceramic coatings, this type is more prone to degradation under heat, and there are no studies saying that they’re non-toxic. I suspect them to be toxic, purely from a theoretical standpoint though.
    Non-stick qualities in terms of cooking are mostly dependent on surface tension & oleophobicity of the coating. Ceramic coatings are generally safe at high temperatures, but we have to assume Greenpan’s coating is indeed ceramic for it to be safe.
    2. I personally use Tefal (T-fal in the US?) but am about to ditch them because I’m tired of not being able to turn my flame up without worrying. Greenpan seems to be a decent choice (high flame & oven-safe), but many complain about its non-stick lifetime.
    3. Any recommendation for other CERAMIC non-stick pans are welcome! I’d like a pan that can last at least a few years…

  15. This is extremely worrying. I bought a whole pack of Green Pan cookware from John Lewis here in the UK when I saw that it was the healthiest option on a blog like this. Every pan I’ve used, despite my taking great care of them, has started to show aluminium, which is what I wanted to avoid! I also notice when cooking with them that it seems as though I am breathing in some kind of fumes. Now I know why. Thank you so much for this informative blog.

  16. Hi, I’m looking for a non-toxic non-stick fry pan, a big one. After reading all your recommendations, it looks like I buy a Caraway that will break down in a year with scratches, or I buy an Alva with toxic plastic handles (since the pan will heat up the handles and off-gas every time I use it). Made-In is toxic for non-stick and Extrema is sticky, so neither are options.

    So am I stuck paying $100 for only one year’s worth of pan if I want a non-toxic non-stick pan? Am I reading rightly? And there are no other options that you are aware of? Thanks.

  17. ChemGuy, thank you for your informative post! Just a caution here though as I spoke today to a Greenpan rep and she as well as their website says to use the ceramic pans only on low to medium heat! (That translates to a 5 mark on your electric stovetop for the highest temp to use!). She also said to high-smoke point oils (peanut, olive, ghee, coconut, grapeseed) and NOT avocado oil. She said avocado oil should only be used at low temps (stovetop mark 2 or lower) even though it’s a high temp oil because it leaves a sticky coating. The website also says not to use spray oils which many pans nowadays say not to do that. I asked her why the material that comes with the pan says it is oven safe to 600 degrees Fahrenheit and she explained that oven heat, which is heated circulating air, allows higher temps than direct heat on the bottom of the pan.

  18. John: Great article on the Alva! It’s unfortunate I can’t get them or Caraway in my country. I’m about to get a Greenpan to play with as it’s on sale here ($55 for a 28cm SS handle wok + lid). (—-LINE BREAK—-)
    Dee: What sort of temperatures were you cooking at? Cured silanes are glass-like ceramics and should not form fumes at house hold cooking temperatures. If fuming occurs, it may be due to undisclosed organic materials added to the coating, which would be bad news if true, because some thermally degrade into toxic stuff. Are you getting any symptoms? (—-LINE BREAK—-)
    bluebonnet: Thank you for the information! I’ve heard about the heating recommendations before but never thought about why until I sat down for a bit to digest your comment. My guess is that there is that the thermal expansion rates (CTE) of the ceramic coating and aluminum substrates are quite different (extrapolating from wiki, a size expansion of ~0.48% for aluminum vs ~0.18% for glass when heated from 20oC to 160oC, i.e. a 28cm aluminum pan will expand to 28.13cm when heated to 160oC while the coating will only expand to 28.05cm), and also due to ceramic’s poor elasticity & flexibility, the coating is at risk of thermal delamination. We cook with gas flames in Asia, so heating also occurs around pan edges, which contrasts with induction & electric heating (pan bottom only) and oven heating (all sides). By this logic, thermal delamination should be more prominent with induction & electric heating. (—-LINE BREAK—-)
    I can’t comment on the oils because I know nothing about food science, but I will keep the advice in mind! Wouldn’t want to ruin my new pan by using the wrong oil. (—-LINE BREAK—-)
    John: I have another question. My silicone rubber cooking spatula recently developed sticky droplets on its surface and I don’t know if it’s due to oils that I haven’t cleaned properly or plasticizers leaching. Do you know if plasticizers are used in silicone utensils?

  19. After some challenges with GreenPan as a company, specifically while working with their US Customer Services Director, I have decided to find alternatives, too.

    And I thought Green Pan was supposed to leave a /good/ taste in your mouth.

  20. Can you please recommend the safest crock pot/slow cooker? I’ve gone down the rabbit hole of trying to find the least toxic option, and I’m overwhelmed

  21. In the spirit of fairness, these other companies like Chatham, Alva, etc, should release statements saying that they don’t use any silanes or aluminum oxide in their cookware. It’s not really fair to criticize Greenpan over this, for 2 reasons:
    1. We don’t know it Greenpan is actually using these chemicals, or if they ever did. We only know that they were accused of using them.
    2. We don’t know if other companies (that you recommend) are also using these same chemicals.

    This article also criticizes Greenpan for production practices. But, we don’t know anything about Chatham or Alva’s production processes – are they better or worse? Who knows?!

    So, I think we really need to see more research & data before we can make any conclusions.

  22. I have a number of GreenPans (2-10” and 2-8”) that I purchased over the last three years after loving the first one I bought. However, over time these non-stick GreenPans become an “everything sticks to them” pan. Agree with you pulling these off your ‘recommended’ list. I will never buy another one.

  23. I believe that my GreenPan killed my pet parrot. Sadly, I fell for the PTFE-free hype. Wish I hadn’t. Had a necropsy done on him. GreenPan executive dismissively blew sunshine up my skirt trying to blame the steak I had cooked rather than the GreenPan that it was cooked in. Shame on him. Hopefully, what goes around, comes around.

  24. Hmmm, I have a GreenPan I’ve used at least 5 times a week for nearly two years now and it’s still in pristine condition. I found this article when searching for another to buy!

    FWIW I use it on low heat (setting 2 on my electric stovetop – hot enough to drizzle and burn onions although admittedly not hot enough to do that quickly). I cook chicken and fish but not steak in it, and I cook most of the time with avocado oil. I wash the pan by hand with Mrs. Meyers soap, hot water and a teflon-safe sponge. It’s been so easy! I am wary of “secret” toxins in the finish but am hoping that the low (and effective) heat and gentle treatment won’t disturb any that might lurk there….

  25. My husband gifted me with a Greenland set….the worst pans I have ever had. Everything sticks to the pan. Paid a bomb for it and it is sitting in my cupboard unused. Real heartpain

  26. Wow this has put me off purchasing the slow cooker. Im from Australia. Are there any ratings of the current slow cookers from greenpan? Would be interested if they are safe? Are there any other alternatives of safe non toxic slow cookers? Companies in Australia or sells to Australia? That would be awesome. Kinda felt something was off hence researching before making any purchases.

    Thanks in advance.

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