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My Favorite Cookware: The Best Pots and Pans

The best cookware worth the investment is durable, non-toxic and lasts a lifetime. My favorite brands of cookware check all these boxes, and are made from materials including stainless steel, cast iron, glass and ceramic. 

The best cookware types all on a counter with girl holding stainless steel pan.

Investing in cookware is like investing in the best Vitamix or other kitchen appliance. It may cost more money upfront, but it more than pays for itself over the long-haul.

So today, I wanted to deep dive into my cookware and chat about the different pieces I use the most, why I love them and why they’re worth investing in (or not investing in). This post isn’t sponsored by any of the brands you see highlighted, I’m just sharing what I truly love and use in the kitchen. Let’s jump right in!

Watch My Best Cookware Video

In this video I’ll walk you through the various pots and pans in my collection and explain what I love (or don’t love) about them.

After you’ve watched the video, scroll down for more information and links to all of the individual pieces I mentioned in the video.

Set of stainless steel cookware.

STAINLESS STEEL

My All Clad stainless steel pans are most definitely the workhouse cookware in my kitchen and what I use on a daily basis, for everything from frying eggs, to sautéing chicken and vegetables.

The set you see me use in virtually every video I bought right out of college over 20 years ago, and it’s still as good today as it was back then. Even if it’s not quite as shiny or clean. But that’s okay, because it just means that it’s been lovingly used in thousands of healthy recipes over the years.

The great thing about All Clad is that it’s long-lasting, durable, provides uniform heating across the pan, and it doesn’t react with any foods or ingredients. And while it’s not cheap, these pots and pans truly will last a lifetime so they’re worth the investment.

I originally bought an All Clad set, which included various sized pots and pans, but you can also buy individual pieces, depending on how many people you cook for or what type of cooking you do, and create your own set. Either way, just know that investing in high-quality stainless steel cookware is definitely a smart choice.

Different enameled cast iron cookware.

ENAMELED CAST IRON

When it comes to enameled cast iron, I always have a hard time choosing between Staub and Le Creuset. I just love them both and have several pieces from both brands, so don’t ask me to choose a favorite.

Enameled cast Cast iron is durable and incredibly easy to clean, in fact, most of the time I just use a sponge to clean it. And unlike regular cast iron, enameled cast iron doesn’t have to be seasoned.

I use my enameled cast iron most often in the fall and winter when I make soups and stews or braise meat. And it can easily transfer from the stovetop to the oven, just as stainless steel can. If you take good care of these pieces, they can certainly last a lifetime so they’re worth the investment.

Different cast iron cookware.

CAST IRON

Simple, non-enameled cast iron cookware takes us back to an older time, and that’s because it truly has been around for over a thousand years.

Cast iron is sustainable, probably the most durable cookware in my kitchen, inexpensive, and healthy to cook with. It may take a bit longer to heat up, but when it does come to temperature, it can maintain that heat perfectly. And when it comes to searing a steak or getting crispy chicken skin, it’s really hard to beat.

But the best part about cast iron is that it’s the original non-stick cookware. A properly seasoned cast iron pan will easily release eggs, meat and pretty much anything you toss in it.

You do have to be a little careful with acidic foods, so I recommend enameled cast iron or stainless steel for recipes like shakshuka. But with how cheap cast iron pans are, it definitely makes sense to have a couple of these in your kitchen.

Different glass and ceramic cookware.

GLASS & CERAMIC

When it comes to baking or roasting, you’ve seen me use both glass and ceramic pans. Brands like Pyrex and Corning Ware are budget-friendly, while higher-end brands include Le Creuset, Staub and Emile Henry.

Glass and ceramic won’t release any chemicals or toxic metals into your food and they’re extremely durable, as long as you don’t cause any rapid change in temperature.

I use these all the time for casseroles and baking chicken breasts and they can easily go from the oven straight to your dinner table. So I do recommend you have a couple of these pieces in your cookware lineup.

Different non-stick cookware.

NON-STICK

Alright, I’ve left this one to last because many of you know that I’m not a huge fan of non-stick cookware, due to health and safety reasons

Non-stick pans fall into two categories – those coated with polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and those coated with ceramic. PTFE is the classic non-stick surface you might know better as Teflon, and ceramic pans might be called “green” pans.

Historically, PTFE pans also contained another chemical called PFOA, but this was deemed to be cancer causing and affect growth, development and reproduction, among other things. So, for several years now, PTFE pans no longer contain PFOA, which is good, but that chemical was just swapped for another called GenX and we don’t yet know the long-term ramifications of it.

The problem with PTFE cookware is that at high temperatures, the nonstick coating can break down and release toxic fumes and chemicals into the air and food. And if the surface coating starts to scratch and wear, it can also release toxic chemicals into your food.

So you might be thinking, well ceramic non-stick must be better, right? Well, not so fast. Ceramic pans are marketed with buzzwords like “green” and “healthy” but the surface of ceramic pans actually don’t last as long as PTFE pans. And the ceramic coating on non-stick pans is not the same ceramic that you’d find in 100% ceramic bakeware. It’s a bit misleading. 

The big grey area with ceramic non-stick pans is that they contain nanoparticles which can enter our cells, and there’s not enough research or long-term scientific studies yet to understand the potential adverse effects they may have.

So for all those reasons, I’m not a proponent of non-stick, but I also like to keep things real. And I’ll be honest, I still have a couple of non-stick pans in my kitchen that I use pretty infrequently.

If you’re going to use non-stick here are my 3 big tips:

  1. Always cook on low or medium and never use a high temperature.
  2. Always use wood or silicone spatulas so that you don’t damage the surface of the pan.
  3. And replace your non-stick pans every couple of years or as soon as you see the surface start to wear.

Because non-stick pans are not pans you will have long-term, I don’t recommend investing in more expensive ones with stainless steel bottoms. The bottom will outlast the top. So it’s just not worth the money.

The ones I have, which are Ballarini pans, have remained perfectly non-stick for a couple of years now and so far there’s no sign of destruction to the surface, but again, I’m super careful with them.

The big take-away is that non-stick pans should not be your daily, workhorse pans in the kitchen. There are far too many better, healthier and more cost-effective options that will last a lifetime.

I should also mention that there’s a 100% ceramic pan, called Xtrema on the market that has been getting praise, but I tried this pan for several weeks and was personally not a fan of it. My complaints with the pan:

  • The lowest temperature setting must be used at all times.
  • I found it didn’t heat evenly (there were hot spots).
  • Even when using oil I found that it was not non-stick as it claimed.
  • It’s not durable. It’s prone to cracking and can more easily break.

Different utensils and spatulas to use with the best cookware options.

UTENSILS

Lastly, when it comes to utensils I do have a couple favorites, including stainless steel, wood and silicone. The stainless steel utensils from Crate and Barrel are strong and durable. They never bend or warp, no matter how much pressure you put on them. I use these with all my All Clad pots and pans.

So if you’re going to invest in cookware this holiday season, I highly recommend you invest in All Clad, Staub, Le Creuset and Lodge Cast Iron. They’re truly the best cookware brands with pieces that will last a lifetime, and worth the money!

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22 comments on “My Favorite Cookware: The Best Pots and Pans”

  1. Hi Lisa;

    Thank you so much for this! This came just in time as I needed to replace my non-stick cookware that I purchased 10 yrs ago. I just bought a 10-piece set of All-Clad copper-core pots/pans plus a 12 inch skillet. Can’t wait to start using them. I love all your videos and recommendations. Keep doing what you’re doing because you have made a significant difference in my life! Happy holidays!

    • Hi Shattoura – Isn’t All-Clad the best! It’s definitely a set that I swear by. I’m glad you’re enjoying all my tips and recommendations as well :)

  2. Do you use aluminum or stainless steel sheet pans? What brand? 

  3. Like you, I abhor non-stick cookware. Don’t trust it, and always concerned about damage and health. I still own a couple of them, but with very rare use.  My cookware consists almost entirely of Stainless Steel, Carbon Steel, and Cast Iron…the latter two which require regular care and seasoning, but fantastic nonetheless. 
    What I DON’T do is buy sets.  In the distant past, I have purchased sets of pots and pans and found that only a couple of items in the sets garnered regular use, and some were NEVER used.  I much prefer to research and buy the best individual pots and pans that I require for my style of cooking.
    For example, I needed three different sizes of Sauciers primarily for making rouxs and clarified butter. I sought out what I considered to be the best options for the three sizes. I ended up with Demeyere (3.5qt), Analon (2.5qt), and All Clad (1qt) sauciers.  My other SS pots and pans are a mix of Mepro (Italian), Demeyere (Belgian), Duxtop, Analon, KitchenAid (Fantastic SS large roasting pan), All-Clad, and even a multi-ply large Cuisinart fry pan.  I love Demeyere pans because the company strong-welds the handles rather than riveting, so there are no rivet covers inside the pans that catch bits of food.  (Like the black ribbons around the rivet covers in your pans on your video)
    I also use carbon steel skillets and carbon steel woks regularly.
    My cast iron is from Lodge, Cuisinel, and enameled Dutch Ovens from Amazon Basics that perform extremely well and are on par with Le Creuset but a LOT cheaper. I also use large SS stockpots, but don’t really care about the quality too much because they are primarily used for Sous Vide and the food does not come in contact with the pots with that method.

    I enjoy your vids and your creations!  Well done!  Bon Appetit!

  4. Hello Lisa! I cant find the casserole dish with the handles with the “holes” that is pictured using the links??

  5. This was so helpful! Thank you! I have wanted a Le Creuset pan for a while. Now, you have me convinced. PS: Your kitchen is beautiful. :)

  6. Hi!
    Great article. Like your ideas and will try soon.
    Thanks.

  7. Agree with all your cookware recommendations! I use a DeBuyer pan that is my replacement for non-stick. We have a parrot and too many risks with that. Look them up..fabulous pan! And 100% steel! Eggs do not stick..at.all.

    • I haven’t tried a DeBuyer pan but I’ll definitely look into it. And yes, if you have birds you have to be super careful with non-stick. Though if it harms them you know what it’s doing to us as well. ;)

  8. Loved your recommendations!
    Thank you Lisa!
    God bless you

  9. Loved your recommendations!
    Was doing everything wrong!
    Truly enjoy viewing your videos,
    learning how to eat healthy…
    Thank you Lisa!
    Happy Thanksgiving to you!
    God bless you

  10. Hi Lisa,

    Could you post what brand the utensils you use are? I can’t get the links to work.

    :)

  11. I though stainless steel can also be toxic especially if it contains nickel. I have a metal allergy and can’t use it.

    And Le Creuset also makes a coated aluminum that’s supposed to be safe. Any comments on that?

    • Stainless steel does usually contain nickel, but the amount leached depends on the grade of the stainless steel, the cooking time and the cookware usage. The optimal ratio for stainless steel cookware is 18/10, or 304. This means there is 18% chromium and 10% nickel. The correct balance of the metals gives you the benefits while minimizing the risk, and All Clad is generally considered to be one of highest quality options. Of course, if you have a nickel sensitivity, then you should stay away from stainless steel either way. For the Le Creuset, if you’re referring to their stainless steel pans, they’re very similar to All Clad with two layers of stainless around an aluminum core.