Switching to eco-friendly pots and pans is a great way to keep both the environment and your health in check. Investing in sustainable cookware means you’re keeping less non-biodegradable junk out of landfills and getting quality kitchen tools that will stand the test of time. It’s seriously a no-brainer—so why is it so hard to make the switch? One word: greenwashing.
Eco-friendly products are hard to identify and easy to mislead. So to save you from scouring the internet for transparent labels, I’ve rounded up the best sets for whipping together delicious meals without compromising your values.
|1.||BEST OVERALL: GreenPan Rio Healthy Ceramic Nonstick 16-Piece Set|
|2.||BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Innerwell 8 Piece Pots and Pans Set|
|3.||BEST CERAMIC: Caraway Nonstick Ceramic Cookware Set (12 Piece)|
|4.||BEST ALUMINUM: Carote Granite Nonstick 10 Pcs Pots and Pans Set|
|5.||BEST CAST IRON: Lodge Seasoned Cast Iron 5 Piece Bundle|
My top picks
Avoiding exposure to harmful chemicals can feel like a full-time job. But you can effortlessly lessen your carbon footprint with these five nontoxic cookware sets that are eco-friendly, durable, and safe to use.
1. BEST OVERALL: GreenPan Rio Healthy Ceramic Nonstick 16-Piece Set
Free of PFAS, PFOA, and other nasty little particles you don’t want seeping into your food, this top-notch set offers one of the safest cooking experiences around.
- Material: This set is made out of ceramic.
- Pieces Included: This set includes 16 pieces.
- Heat Capacity: This set is oven safe up to 350 degrees.
The last thing you want to think about when you’re frying eggs or boiling fettuccini is whether or not you’re slowly poisoning yourself. This 16-piece set from GreenPan will alleviate all of your fears thanks to its diamond-reinforced ceramic nonstick coating that’s free of PFAS, PFOA, lead, and cadmium. And unlike some ceramic models, these pots and pans won’t release toxic fumes no matter how high you turn up the heat.
Beyond the incredible level of safety, this set also offers a lot in terms of piece variety. You get 5″, 8″, and 10″ frypans; 1.2 quart- and 2.2-quart saucepans with lids; a 2.8-quart sauté pan with lid; a 5-quart casserole with lid; a stainless steel steamer; and four bamboo tools. But you don’t have to put away your metal tongs forever. The hard-anodized bodies of these tools are scratch-resistant and safe to use with metal utensils.
- Secure and cool-touch handles
- Both dishwasher- and oven-safe
- Great value for the price
- Ideal for medium heat max
- Some colors cost more
2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Innerwell 8 Piece Pots and Pans Set
Don’t sleep on eco-friendly cookware just because your budget is tight—this set from Innerwell brings quality performance at a fraction of the cost.
- Material: This set is made out of aluminum.
- Pieces Included: This set includes eight pieces.
- Heat Capacity: This set is oven-safe up to 350 degrees.
Cooking can be expensive, and eco-friendly pots and pans? Even pricier. But this 8-piece set from Innerwell delivers superior cooking performance without breaking the bank. Made with a thickened aluminum base that’s covered with a blush-pink, high-performance nonstick coating free of PFOA and PFOS, this set is designed for even heat distribution and fast cooking. And the eco-friendly ceramic coating not only ensures a super easy cleaning experience but also offers excellent scratch resistance—meaning you won’t have to replace it anytime soon.
Sure, it doesn’t come with as many pieces as the other sets, but for under $100, your new eco-friendly kitchen will feature a 2-quart saucepan with a lid, a 5-quart stockpot with a lid, 8″ and 11″ frying pans, a silicone shovel spoon and a silicone spatula. All of these essentials are compatible with all stove types, oven-safe up to 350°F, and best of all—dishwasher-safe.
- Great value for the price
- Compatible with all stovetops
- Comes with essential pieces
- Only comes in pink
- Must use medium-low heat
3. BEST CERAMIC: Caraway Nonstick Ceramic Cookware Set (12 Piece)
A popular pick for a reason, this high-end set from Caraway is free of toxic chemicals and eco-friendly to boot.
- Material: This set is made of ceramic.
- Pieces Included: This set includes 12 pieces.
- Heat Capacity: This set is oven-safe up to 550 degrees.
Ceramic cookware is typically eco-friendly and free of nasty toxins, but it’s hard to find a set that is really rid of it all—until now. Caraway’s ceramic cookware has a naturally nonstick coating that’s super-slick and free of PFOA, PFAS, PTFE, lead, cadmium, and other harmful chemicals. So you can say bye-bye to those icky fumes and enjoy your time in the kitchen without worry.
The 12-piece set itself includes all of the essentials you need for cooking up a storm and then some. It comes with all of your favorite pots and pans—including a 10.5″ frying pan, 3-quart saucepan with lid, 6.5-quart dutch oven with lid, and a 4.5-quart sauté pan with lid—and some ingenious ways to store them. The magnetic pan rack comes with four perfectly-sized slots for each piece, and the canvas lid holder is designed to fit discreetly behind cabinet doors for prime accessibility.
- Highest oven-safe temperatures
- Useful pieces and storage tools
- Compatible with all stovetops
- Pricetag is on the expensive side
- Medium-low heat is recommended
- All items must be hand-washed
4. BEST ALUMINUM: Carote Granite Nonstick 10 Pcs Pots and Pans Set
Premium materials and third-party-approved construction make this set from Carote a top pick for eco-conscious cooks.
- Material: This set is made of aluminum.
- Pieces Included: This set comes with 10 pieces.
- Heat Capacity: This set isn’t oven-safe.
Aluminum is often the material of choice for eco-friendly cookware, but not all aluminum sets are created equal. This 10-piece combo from Carote takes eco-cooking to new heights thanks to its sustainable construction: an aluminum exterior with a five-layer bonded base for rapid heat conduction and a natural granite stone interior for superior nonstick cooking. Plus, the coating used is free of PFOA, PFOS, and other harmful chemicals—so dinner is served with a side of peace of mind.
The set itself is composed of all the basics you need (plus a few extras): 9.5- and 11-inch frying pans, a 3.7-quart lidded sautè pan, a 1.5-quart lidded saucepan, and 2.3- and 4.3-quart lidded casserole pots. The lids themselves are just as handy as the pots and pans thanks to their food-grade silicone seal that retains nutrients and flavors while cooking, so your food is as healthy as it is delicious.
- Great value for the price
- Certified by multiple third-parties
- Fast and effective heat distribution
- Not oven-safe
- Not dishwasher-safe
5. BEST CAST IRON: Lodge Seasoned Cast Iron 5 Piece Bundle
For home chefs who want the classic heft—and insanely long lifespan—of cast iron cookware, this bundle from Lodge is an unbeatable steal.
- Material: This set is made of cast iron.
- Pieces Included: This set includes five pieces.
- Heat Capacity: This set is oven-safe up to 500 degrees.
Cast iron cookware has been around for centuries, and for good reason. Not only does it retain heat for longer periods of time, but its sound construction also ensures it will outlive you—literally. Which is why this eco-friendly bundle from Lodge is a great investment for eco-conscious homemakers.
Every piece of this durable bundle comes pre-seasoned with oil for a 100% natural nonstick surface that will only get better with time. Plus, it includes all the essentials for cooking your favorite meals without fear—a 10.5-inch griddle, an 8-inch skillet, a 10.25-inch skillet, a 10.25-inch dutch oven, and a 10.25-inch lid that fits snugly onto both skillets and the dutch oven. So long as you keep these bad boys seasoned, they’ll be in your kitchen for years and years to come.
- Incredibly durable and long-lasting
- Great value for the price
- Retains hit for longer periods
- Requires more upkeep than most
- Fewer pieces and accessories
Choosing any of the above cookware sets will inevitably level up your sustainable cooking game—but the sets from GreenPan and Caraway come out on top. Both options offer the most options for pieces as well as additional construction features like cool-touch handles and storage solutions.
How I chose the best eco friendly cookware
When choosing eco-friendly cookware, I wanted to find solutions that checked multiple boxes: eco-conscious construction, a wide selection of pieces, user-friendly features, and sustainable materials. While the primary goal of switching pots and pans is to limit your exposure to toxic harmful chemicals, eco-friendly cookware still has to do its job—which is why I also took into account heating output, longevity, nonstick performance, and the various sizes of pots and pans available.
By combining planet-friendliness with performance features, I narrowed my sets down to those that will satisfy your eco-friendly and culinary ambitions.
Who this “green cookware” is for
We all want to prioritize our health and the health of our planet. Eco-friendly cookware is a great way to do just that. But buying a bunch of pots and pans might not be ideal for everyone—for example, people who are on a tight budget or those with limited kitchen space. In these cases, switching out single pieces of non-eco-friendly cookware for eco-friendly alternatives might be a better option.
What to know before you buy sustainable cookware
The word “eco-friendly” is just the right amount of vague to confuse consumers. So pay no mind to that greenwashing tagline, and look for pots and pans clearly labeled with what’s lurking in their coating—and what isn’t.
Planet-friendly materials that make for a long-lasting cookware set should be priority no. 1. After that standard is met, opt for brands with must-have features like strong heat retention, stovetop compatibility, and a range of sizes and styles.
Types of eco friendly cookware
Determining whether or not a cookware set is eco-friendly comes down to one thing: its material. No matter how you swing it, traditional nonstick pots and pans are not the best for Mother Earth—or you. Most carry per- or polyfluoroalkyl ( PFAS), a group of chemicals that don’t break down in the environment, contaminate our drinking water, and have been linked to everything from weight gain to weakened immune systems to cancer.
Focus on more sustainable materials like the following to avoid these immortal nasties entering your body or the environment.
One of the best alternatives to those yucky PFAS-invested coatings is ceramic. Cookware of this kind is often made with an aluminum base that is then dipped into a silica coating (derived from sand) to create a lovely, nonstick pan free of lead, PFAS, and other not-so-great materials. The downside is that these sets tend to be brittle. So if you love a heavy flame, you might find their heat limitations to be a bit of a downer.
It’s also good to note that while ceramics are usually PFAS-free, they use another “forever chemical” called polytetrafluoroethylene or PTFE. More research is still needed on the long-term impact these substances have on environmental and human health—and scratching easily scratchable ceramic pans can expose you to heavy metals and other nanoparticles. So keep your stovetop within the recommended heat range and your eye out for new developments on the science front.
Hate the wrist strain that comes from lifting a heavy-duty pot? Then you’ll love the lightweight feel of aluminum. There is some concern that this material can leach toxic metals into the meal it’s cooking, but that’s more so for highly acidic foods like tomatoes.
As sustainability goes, aluminum is far easier to recycle (yay!) but also far less durable (boo!) than other eco-friendly materials. But it is a more affordable upgrade from the traditional nonstick pans you’re ready to toss.
If you want your next cookware set to be your last, allow me to introduce you to cast iron. There’s a reason all of our grandmothers cooked using these insanely durable pots and pans—they last forever. Like passed-down-from-generation-to-generation kind of forever.
These bad boys are on the heavy side and require a little more maintenance (like regular seasoning). But if you’re up for the upkeep, a cast iron cookware set will provide you with an even cooking surface, great heat retention, and an environmentally-friendly nonstick finish that only gets better with age.
If your cookware can’t stand the heat, it doesn’t belong in the kitchen. All materials have their own heat capacity, which measures the amount of energy they can absorb before reaching meltdown mode. Generally, materials with higher heat capacities are ideal for even cooking and have more consistent results.
Aluminum and cast iron are particularly good at holding heat, making them favorites for searing and sautéing. Ceramics tend to have lower heat capacities, so they’re better suited for low-and-slow methods like braising or simmering. But as long as you keep your temps in the low-to-medium range, ceramic pans can still be great for all-around cooking.
No two cooks are the same, so it’s important to pick a cookware set that fits your needs. General sets usually have five or six pieces of basic pans and pots, but you’ll find sets with up to 20 pieces if you want more variety (stir fryer, anyone?).
No matter what extra accessories come with it, make sure your set has the basics: a skillet, a saucepan, and stockpot. These three should give you enough versatility to whip up a variety of recipes and techniques.
No matter the material, your cookware will eventually become worn down and need replacing. But if you pick a quality set, it should last years (in some cases decades and even lifetimes).
Aluminum pans are usually the least durable since they can warp or dent easily. Ceramics might chip or scratch under extreme use and heat, while cast iron can gradually lose its non-stick properties over time. But with proper care, all of these materials can last you quite a while before needing a replacement—saving you money and preventing more pots and pans from a landfill fate.
The scientific advantages of owning eco friendly pans
Eco-friendly cookware is a great way to reduce your environmental footprint while still enjoying delicious food. Not only are these pots and pans better for the planet, but they also provide benefits that you can’t get from traditional nonstick cookware, like being better for your health.
Because these kitchen tools are made without the use of toxic chemicals (like PFAS), they’re safer to use and don’t release harmful toxins into the environment. Additionally, they are often made of aluminum, cast iron, or ceramics, which provide superior heat conductivity compared to nonstick pans.
Beyond improving the quality of your home-cooked meals, eco-friendly cookware also lessens the impact you have on the environment. The most commonly used materials are more recyclable and tend to have longer lifespans, reducing the amount of waste in landfills.
- They’re made with non-toxic materials that don’t contain harmful chemicals.
- They offer superior heat conductivity and even cooking.
- They have increased durability, often lasting for years or decades.
Tips for using eco friendly pans
You’re already making a positive impact by switching to sustainable pots and pans. However, you can follow some additional tips to ensure that your eco-friendly cookware lasts and continues to perform at its best.
Start by familiarizing yourself with the material it’s made of. Knowing how to properly clean and care for these tools will help them last longer, so follow the manufacturer’s guidelines on things like temperature settings, cleaning methods, and storage. To prevent scratches and chips, you should also avoid using metal utensils with your eco-friendly cookware. It’s best to use wooden or silicone spatulas since they’re gentler on the surface of your pans and won’t damage the non-stick properties.
And finally, be conservative with your heat. Many eco-friendly pots and pans are made out of ceramic, which doesn’t require high temperatures for cooking. This will not only help your food cook evenly and quickly, but it’ll also lower the wear and tear on your cookware over time.
- Familiarize yourself with caring for your set’s specific materials.
- Avoid metal utensils as they can cause scratches.
- Be conservative with heat and use low-to-medium temperatures while cooking.
Shopping sustainably—particularly when it comes to cookware—can be an overwhelming experience, to say the least. There’s a lot to consider when it comes to material, heat capacity, size, and care. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about eco-friendly pots and pans to make your search a bit easier.
What is the best cookware to avoid microplastics?
If you want to reduce your exposure to microplastics, opt for cast iron or 100% nontoxic ceramic cookware sets.
What are the least toxic pans to cook with?
Ridding yourself of toxic cookware? Then throw out the Teflon coating and opt for cast iron, aluminum, and ceramic pans instead.
Do ceramic pans have toxins?
Generally, 100% nontoxic ceramic cookware is free of heavy metals and harmful toxins. Always opt for brands with clear labels and third-party certifications to be safe.