Sometimes the easiest way to get better results in the kitchen isn’t a new recipe or a cooking class—it’s new cookware. There are thousands of recipes out there, and if you don’t use the right cookware to prepare them, you can end up with food that is subpar and lacks the full breadth of flavor it could have. Everything in your closet serves a specific need and shouldn’t be forced to do more than it should. Getting the right cookware for the job is key to good cooking.
Direct-to-consumer products, including cookware, have boomed in the past few years. While big retail brands used to hold the kitchen category, these bold new DTC cookware companies are offering new styles, finishes and custom cookware sets, giving you more options than ever.
There is a wide range of cookware online to suit any kitchen design, and most brands offer all the cooking essentials – from a chef’s knife and other kitchen tools to pots, pans and non-stick cookware such as a non-stick pan. or a non-stick pan. You’ll also find an extensive selection of stainless steel pots, copper cookware and practical kitchen utensils, perfect for home cooks like you. Best of all, many manage to keep cookware high quality but prices low, two equally good reasons to give direct-to-consumer cookware a serious look.
How is direct-to-consumer cookware different?
It’s natural to think that cheaper cookware is inherently lower quality, but that’s not necessarily the case with direct-to-consumer cookware.
Much of the cost of traditional cookware is added during the distribution process. Products pass through the hands of dealers, distributors, and retailers, all of whom add a markup to the base price to make money. By the time any cookware reaches the store, the price has risen dramatically, and you end up paying far more than what the production cost was. That’s where direct-to-consumer companies come in.
These cookware brands skip the typical distribution chain, bypassing middlemen and instead selling directly to customers. This usually means you have to buy their products online, but the benefit is that you get the same high quality cooking goods at no extra cost, a difference you can use to buy food to cook with. What’s not to love about that?
So are you ready to shop? Check out your pantry for inspiration and get ready for some amazing cookware. Here are eight of the best direct-to-consumer cookware brands you might want to welcome into your kitchen, updated regularly.
Made In is a popular startup based in Austin, Texas, and one of our all-time favorite kitchen and cookware brands—not just in the DTC category. The company has taken notes from some of the best brands like All-Clad and uses only premium materials and a selection of top cookware manufacturers from around the world – which you can absolutely feel when you pick up their products. Unlike some other brands, Made In keeps the prices of its luxury cookware relatively low by avoiding resale, distributors and retail markups.
What does it offer? Made In has a range of cookware including stainless steel sets as well as a smaller collection of blue carbon steel cookware which is ideal for high temperature cooking (e.g. meat). Made In also has great non-stick and regular pans in a wide range of sizes, pots, pans, saucers, woks and universal lids.
In addition to pots and pans, Made In also offers a range of high-end kitchen knives, including chef’s knives, paring knives and more. Many products (including the pots and pans in The Starter Kit) come with a lifetime warranty. You can purchase items individually or in sets, but some of the most popular items sell out, so you’ll want to get on the waiting list.
The brand is constantly adding new and interesting pieces to the collection, such as this carbon steel paella pan and camping-inspired grill pan, both launched this year.
Caraway cookware has a ceramic surface that is non-stick and non-toxic. With a modern cumin design and playful color palettes, it’s also pretty darn attractive. I have personally used these pans and they are significantly hotter and retain heat better than other traditional non-stick surfaces. If you cook a lot of steaks, chicken, pork chops and hamburgers, but don’t like clunky cast iron or hard-to-clean stainless steel, this ceramic cookware is the perfect choice. We also dig the clever storage shelves that come with every seven-piece cookware set, as our pots and pan drawers often turn into serious chaos and clutter.
Cumin dishes can only can be purchased as a complete set that includes a 10.5-inch frying pan, a 3-quart saucepan with lid, a 6.5-quart Dutch oven, a 4.5-quart saute pan, and four magnetic pan stands and a canvas lid holder with hooks.
One of our favorite up-and-coming cookware brands is Goldilocks (formerly “Potluck”), which launched in 2018 and is focused on providing home cooks with professional kitchen tools at affordable prices. Its high-quality cookware is made in the same factories as other high-end brands, but with a direct-to-consumer business model, it’s priced significantly lower.
Goldilocks sells a variety of complete kitchen sets, including a seven-piece basic cookware set ($175), a three-piece knife set ($80), and a striking kitchen tool set with all the things you forgot to get for $80. You can also buy the entire line—a 22-piece stainless steel cookware set—for less than $300. The cookware pieces – which include 1.5- and 3-quart pans, a 10-inch skillet, an 8-quart pot and three lids – are made of stainless steel, and the knives are stamped from high-carbon steel.
Lighter cast iron cookware? I’m listening. Cast iron cookware is a favorite among home cooks, and the Field Company has given classic cast iron a modern update. American-made cast iron pans are lighter and smoother than the ones your parents used to cook on, but the pans are just as durable and versatile. If you’re new to cast iron, know that few other cooking materials get this hot, so if you want to get steaks and burgers well seared or a crispy crust on your breakfast potatoes, you need to get some cast iron, and fast.
Read more: What is the difference between a dutch oven and a cast iron oven?
The Field Company offers five different sizes of cast iron skillets, from 6.75 inches to a whopping 13 inches (you probably don’t need that big FYI). You can buy them individually or in sets, and a range of accessories are also available. These cast iron pans have hundreds of great reviews that state how Field Company cookware is well made and worth the investment.
The cookware brand is an offshoot of food website Food52 and gets most of its design and product innovation from real chefs. That said, it’s user-friendly with lots of clever details, but it all looks pretty cool too. Five Two sells complete cookware sets as well as individual pieces, including stainless steel and non-stick. There’s also plenty of gadgets, accessories and cookware to choose from, like this pretty baking pan or these nifty silicone spoons, so it’s a great place to turn if you need a piece here or there or want to add some extras to your collection.
If you love stainless steel cookware, you’ll love the stainless steel pots and pans from Brigade Kitchen. It offers four essential cookware products called The Hardware, which are made from premium materials and are ideal for home cooks in smaller households. (Unfortunately, if you often cook for five or more people, this stainless steel pan set may not be big enough for you.)
The range from Brigade Kitchen includes a stainless steel pan, saucepan and sauté pan, all of which are naturally non-stick and designed for quick and even heating. Knife options include paring knife and Santoku knife. The cookware brand offers a 60-day trial period with free returns, but based on the stellar reviews, we don’t think you need to take advantage of the offer. People swear by these perfectly sized stainless steel pans that perform flawlessly and are easy to clean.
Founded by three brothers, this stainless steel cookware has drawn praise from celebrity chefs such as Bobby Flay. It has a simple, streamlined design similar to All-Clad’s and uses a five-layer construction like other high-end stainless steel cookware, but at a more affordable price.
All Sardel cookware is made in Italy, and the direct-to-consumer brand sells a range of pans, saucepans and pots starting at $80. Or you can get the entire eight-piece set for $495, which includes a nonstick pan in addition to the stainless steel goods.
No kitchen is complete without a Dutch oven, and if you don’t want to shell out big bucks for famous French brands, Milo is one of the best. This consumer cookware brand offers premium enameled cast iron cookware, including two dutch oven sizes, but prices are less than half of what you’d pay for other popular brands. And if you’re still hesitating about the price, remember that a good Dutch oven can also double as a baking dish and make delicious baked goods.
The cookware company sells a 5.5-quart Dutch oven as well as a smaller 3.5-quart model. Both sizes come in white or black enamel and are dishwasher and oven safe up to 500 degrees. Plus, Milo products come with a lifetime warranty, and reviewers say the quality is unbeatable for the affordable price.
Other recommendations for the kitchen
This article was originally written for Chowhound by Camryn Rabideau and updated by David Watsky.