When choosing cookware for your home, it’s important to keep safety in mind. Today we’re taking an unbiased look at the safest, healthiest, non-toxic cookware options available.  

A pot of healthy vegetable soup with text at top that reads "how to choose non-toxic cookware"

There are so many options these days and companies coming out with “healthy, safe, green” pots and pans, that choosing the healthiest cookware can be confusing. I’ve asked registered dietitian Allison Lansman, RDN, LD to weigh in and help us all find the answer to the question, “What’s the safest non-toxic cookware?” 

Cookware might not be at the top of your mind when we think about dangerous items in your home. However, your basic skillets and pans can be a key carrier of harmful toxins, which can be transferred into the food you cook.

Why Using Non-Toxic Cookware is Important

The cookware and dishware in your home – skillets, pots, pans, utensils, etc. – can be a chief carrier of toxic chemicals.

These chemicals are typically found within the metal or material the cookware is made from. The most common toxins found in cookware today include BPA, nickel, and lead.

During the cooking process, heat promotes the seeping of these toxins into your food. Consuming these chemicals and toxic substances is something you want to avoid, as many of them have been connected to development of illness and chronic disease.

Pros and Cons of the Safest Cookware Material

In recent decades, the modernization of safe kitchen supplies and utensils, including cookware, has become a priority. There are many options available to you that are made from materials that prevent chemical leakage and supports healthy cooking.

However, these safer cookware selections come with their own sets of pros and cons. The three safest, healthiest, non-toxic cookware materials include:

An overhead photo of quinoa stuffed tomatoes in a ceramic baking dish.

Quinoa Stuffed Tomatoes Baked in a Ceramic Dish

1. Ceramic

Pros: Non-toxic, long-lasting, eco-friendly

Cons: Expensive, Not non-stick

The term ceramic is used for stoneware, earthenware, and porcelain. Ceramic pots, pans, and casserole dishes are easy to find. There’s a lovely line of them from Le Creuset

Best Ceramic Pans

While there are many ceramic cookware options available, they aren’t all created equal. Here are the top-rated pans. Just so you know, some of these are affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission if your shop through them. 

  1. GreenPan: GreenPan’s healthy ceramic nonstick coating is free of PFAS, PFOA, lead, and cadmium, so it will never release toxic fumes, even if it’s accidentally overheated. They are oven and dishwasher safe, which is another big bonus. 
  2. Our Place The Always Pan: The cult-favorite Always Pan replaces 8 pieces of traditional cookware. It’s made with a non-toxic, nonstick ceramic coating made without potentially toxic materials like PFOAs, PTFEs, other PFAs, lead, cadmium, toxic metals, and nanoparticles.
  3. Caraway Cookware : Made with ceramic coated aluminum, this cookware line is non-stick without the chemicals. 
Veggie hash in a red le Creuset cast iron skillet.

Cast Iron Skillet

2. Cast Iron

Pros: Affordable, durable, holds heat well, oven-proof

Cons: High maintenance, lacks versatility

Cast iron pans need to be seasoned and cared for properly, but will last a lifetime, only getting better, and more non-stick, with age. I use my Le Creuset Cast Iron Skillet for just about anything that will fit in it. There are more affordable cast iron pans available, like this one for around $35 on Amazon Prime. You can use it on the stove or in the oven, for everything from veggie hash to cornbread. 

A beautiful photo of Mauivel copper pots and pans in a white kitchen. This is one of the safest non toxic cookware choices.

Photo courtesy of Mauivel

3. Copper

Pros: Conducts heat well, low-stick, non-reactive

Cons: Expensive, Does not hold heat well

Copper pots and pans are absolutely beautiful. My favorite little saucepan is from Mauviel, a French company that makes the best copper pots and pans. You can see mine in action in this Chia Jam recipe. 

In addition to the safest cookware options, there are three other common materials that are considered generally safe. Although, they tend to leach more than some other materials. These include:

4. Aluminum

Pros: Conducts heat well, Affordable

Cons: Leaching, expensive, Not non-stick

5. Stainless Steel

Pros: Durable, low-stick

Cons: Leaching, expensive

6. Non-Stick

Pros: Easy cleaning and maintenance, affordable at times 

Cons: Leaching, releases fumes, does not hold heat well, expensive at times

Choosing the Best Safe Cookware for Your Home

In addition to material composition and safety, you need to also consider how these items best fit your needs and priorities. Including cost, efficiency, durability, and maintenance.

Before purchase, consider these elements of your future cookware:

  • Cheap or expensive?

If you are in a space where you can afford to spend more on cookware, ceramic, stainless-steel, or copper may be right for you. If not, you may want to stick with cast iron or non-stick.

  • How well does it cook?

When high-quality products are your priority, you will want a material that can provide these results. Like aluminum and sometimes cast iron.

  • Can you use it every day?

If long-lasting quality if for you, consider cookware made from cast iron, ceramic, or stainless steel.

  • How does it clean?

The lowest maintenance safe cookware includes copper, stainless steel, and non-stick.

Choose the Best Cookware for Your Needs and Priorities

When choosing the best cookware, there are many safe, non-toxic options for you. Consider your priorities before purchase to ensure your current cooking needs are going to be met by your new pot and pan set.

Takeaway: Stick with the Classics 

I’ll be avoiding non-stick pans in the future, and continue investing in quality ceramic, cast iron, and copper pots and pans. While they may be more expensive, many have lifetime warranties, and you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing you’re using the safest, healthiest cookware.