Best Nonstick Ceramic Cookware - What to Buy and Not Buy
Finding the Best Nonstick Ceramic Cookware
So you are looking to replace your toxic Teflon cookware with healthy “green” nonstick cookware. You have heard about the PTFE and PFOA-free cookware and you want to know what the best option is for you. Let me be the first to congratulate you for thinking healthy! But let me warn you that the market is filled with many poor quality products that will only serve to disappoint you. Be smart and learn which cookware set is right for you.
Look no further. The Healthy Legend Weilburger 11-piece set is your best choice. At $230.00, many of you will look at this as too expensive. (I did too!) However, after building an extensive spreadsheet of features, pros and cons, reviews and prices, it was an easy choice. The manufacturing quality of Healthy Legend cookware is superior to many higher priced products and customers consistently rate this cookware as 5-stars. A nice 8-piece cookware set is also available for $170.00.
Price Tag: $230.00 (11-piece set)
Budget Set: T-Fal WearEver
Say money is tight and your budget cannot afford the Healthy Legend set. Where do we go from there? Great news! T-Fal makes a PTFE- and PFOA-free cookware set that is only $100.00. Unlike most of the budget nonstick cookware, the WearEver Pure Living ceramic cookware receives excellent customer reviews and in my opinion has a very stylish design. However, remember the Golden Rule with most consumer products: You get what you pay for! The WearEver cookware will probably not satisfy serious cooks, but is an excellent choice for the everyday kitchen.
Price Tag: $100.00 (10-piece set)
Mid-Range: Emeril All-Clad
As the Goldilocks fairy tale goes, the girl finds the baby bear bed is “just right.” The Emeril All-Clad Nonstick ceramic cookware set ($175.00) may be your “just right” solution. The cookware is well manufactured, professionally styled and carries the Emeril name. Many reviewers absolutely love the cookware but mention the handle tends to get hot when cooking. I appreciate the steamer insert that comes with 12-piece set. As a bonus, it comes with a lifetime warranty.
Price Tag: $175.00 (12-piece set)
High-End: JA Henckel Spirit Thermolon
Several years ago, the legendary German knife producer J.A. Henckels entered the cookware market. Their Spirit Thermolon Ceramic cookware is one of the highest-quality sets on the market. Henckels attention to the manufacturing process shines through on these pans. The look and feel is pure professional. This is the only stainless steel set reviewed here, and is designed to be the last cookware set you will ever buy.
Price Tag: $400.00 (10-piece set)
What Is "Green" Cookware?
So-called “green” cookware is fairly straightforward. Teflon, the traditional nonstick coating, has been declared toxic. DuPont agreed to eliminate the use of Teflon in cookware by 2015. Cookware manufacturers began replacing Teflon with a PTFE- and PFOA-free ceramic-based coating in 2006 but here is where the “green” picture becomes unclear. Many of the manufacturers use cheap and low quality methods of applying the ceramic coatings. Some people argue that poorly made pans are more unhealthy than Teflon. In addition, the ceramic coating breaks down at a lower heat than Teflon, meaning cooks must use lower temperatures to prepare their food. What all of this means to the everyday cook is that green cookware is healthier but also requires more care than traditional Teflon pans.
Healthiest: Xtrema by Ceramcor
Xtrema Video Demonstration
According to some health experts, any metal-based cookware is unhealthy. Aluminum, stainless steel and cast iron pans all have health risks. Ceramcor makes 100% natural ceramic cookware with no metal. The Xtrema products are rather expensive (a skillet with a cover is $130) and does not have the wide variety of pan options that other cookware sets offer. However, for those wishing to achieve the ultimate in healthy cookware, then choose Xtrema.
Price Tag: $400.00 (24-piece set pictured above)
Brands to Avoid
If nothing else, the infomercials featuring Orgreenic products introduced most of us to the “green cookware" revolution. We have seen the flying egg and the burnt cheese demonstrations. And with such a low price, millions of these pans were sold. Only one problem: They do not last. Review after review claims the same issue: "After 3 months the pan is worthless". Also, many consumers had serious issues with Orgreenic customer support.
Faberware Earth Pan II
At $135.00 and with a quality name behind them, one might expect the Earth Pan II from Faberware to be better. Unfortunately, these pans have not fared well in customer reviews on Amazon, Epinions or Buy.com. Sites like Good Housekeeping and America’s Test Kitchen grade this line as below average. With so many choices at nearly the same price, why bother?
The Aeternum was the first set to be widely marketed through the retail distribution chain. You can find their products at Bed Bath and Beyond, Macy’s, and Kohl's as well as at megastores like Walmart and Meijers. In fact, many grocery stores now sell the Aeternum line. The distinctive white interior is appealing. Unfortunately, these pans suffer the same flaw as the Orgreenic product: They do not last. With a $130.00 price tag, we recommend avoiding the Bialetti.
This is a classic example of corporate “Product Name” tomfoolery. Cuisinart has two lines of “green” cookware: The GreenGourmet set ($200.00) and the Greenware set ($140.00). We really liked the GreenGourmet product. However, the Greenware product is poorly constructed and belongs with the Orgreenic, Earth Pan and Bialetti. I would suggest avoiding the Cuisinart brand altogether because of the naming issue. The risk is too high that you may not receive the right product.
Off-Brand Cookware Worth Trying
As I researched this article I ran across a few off-brand products worth mentioning for the adventurous consumer.
- Tramontina Gourmet Porcelain. Headquartered in Brazil, the Tramontina group operates a manufacturing plant in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. If you want Made in the USA products, try Tramontina.
- Beka Chef Eco-logic - Headquartered in Belgium, Beka offers high-end cookware that has appeared in several serious "foodie" blogs.
- Denmark Tools for Cooks - Low cost Ceramic Cookware only available from Bed Bath and Beyond. Reviews have been very positive.
With so many brands and small nuances, the nonstick-ceramic-cookware market is difficult to navigate. Every manufacturer claims to be the healthiest, to be sturdiest, to be the most durable...in short to be the best. Hopefully, I have provided you with valuable insight.
© 2013 Robert Loescher