Kitchen appliances aren’t the only stars when it comes to cooking. Kitchenware is also vital when it comes to creating delectable meals. If you’re looking to outfit your kitchen with new cookware, you may naturally think about big-name consumer brands such as All-Clad, Anolon, Le Creuset and Cuisinart, but you could be saving money by checking out a different sector of the cookware scene for your cooking needs: high quality direct-to-consumer brands with names that you may not know yet.
Direct-to-consumer cookware brands are more popular than ever. There’s a wide range that can fit into any kitchen design, and most brands offer all of the cooking essentials — from a chef’s knife and other kitchen tools to a stock pot, saucepan and nonstick cookware such as a nonstick skillet or nonstick pan. You’ll also find a selection of stainless steel pots, copper cookware and kitchen utensils, perfect for the home cook. These new companies are giving well-established kitchen brands a run for their money, thanks to their high-quality products at low prices — the only difference is you have to shop online.
How is direct-to-consumer different?
It’s natural to think that less expensive cookware is inherently lower quality, but that’s not the case with direct-to-consumer cookware.
Much of the cost of traditional cookware is added throughout the distribution process. Products pass through the hands of resellers, distributors and retailers, all of whom add a markup to the base price in order to make money. By the time any cookware lands in a store, the price has increased dramatically, and you end up paying a lot more than what the manufacturing costs were. That’s where direct-to-consumer companies come in.
These cookware brands skip the typical distribution chain, bypassing the middlemen and selling straight to customers instead. This typically means you have to buy their products online, but the upside is you’re getting the same high-quality goods for your cooking without the added costs, a difference which you can use to actually buy food to cook. What’s not to love about that?
So are you ready to shop? Take a look through your pantry for inspiration and get ready for some amazing kitchenware. Here are the 10 best direct-to-consumer cookware brands you might want to welcome into your kitchen.
Made In is a popular cookware startup based in Austin, Texas, and it offers some of the best deals on professional-grade pots, pans and knives. The company prides itself on using premium materials and top-notch manufacturers, yet it still prices its products low by avoiding resale, distributor and retail markups.
What does it offer in terms of cookware? Made In has a line of stainless steel cookware including stainless steel cookware set options, as well as a smaller collection of carbon steel products. Just a few of its offerings include both nonstick and regular frying pans in a wide range of sizes, stock pots, saute pans, sauciers, woks and universal lids. Made In also offers a variety of high-end kitchen knives, including chef’s knives, paring knives and more. Further, many of its products (including the pots and pans in their The Starter Kit) have a lifetime warranty. You can purchase items individually or in sets, but some of the more popular items are sold out, so you’ll want to get on the waitlist.
One of our favorite up-and-coming cookware brands is Potluck, which launched in 2018 and is dedicated to bringing professional-quality kitchen tools to home cooks at affordable prices. Its high quality cookware products are made in the same factories as other high-end cookware brands, but they’re priced significantly lower, thanks to the direct-to-consumer business model.
Potluck sells a variety of product sets, including a cookware set, knife set and utensil set. You can also buy the full line — a 22-piece stainless steel cookware set of kitchen essentials — for under $300. The cookware pieces — which include 1.5- and 3-quart saucepans, a 10-inch skillet, an 8-quart stockpot and three lids — are made from stainless steel, and the knives are stamped from high-carbon steel. Whether you’re furnishing your first kitchen or rounding out your cookware collection, we think you’ll be happy with the cookware that Potluck brings to the table.
The argument for ceramic cookware is that it’s both nonstick and non-toxic and with Caraway’s modern design and playful color palettes it’s pretty darn attractive too. We’re also digging the smart storage options that come with each seven-piece cookware set as the pots and pans drawer often devolves into serious clutter.
Caraway cookware can only be purchased as a complete set, which includes a 10.5-inch fry pan, 3-quart saucepan with lid, 6.5-quart Dutch oven, 4.5-quart sauté pan and four magnetic pan racks and canvas lid holder with hooks.
Cast iron cookware is a favorite among home cooks, and the Field Company has given classic cast iron pieces a modern update. The American-made cast iron skillets are lighter and smoother than the ones your parents used to cook in, but the pans are every bit as long-lasting and versatile.
Related reading: What Is the difference between a Dutch oven and cast iron?
Currently, the Field Company offers five different cast iron skillet sizes, ranging from 6.75 inches all the way up to a 13-inch frying pan. You can buy them individually or in sets, and there are a number of accessories available, as well. All the skillets have hundreds of glowing reviews from people who say the products are well-made, perform beautifully and are worth the investment.
If you’re partial to stainless steel cookware, you’ll love the stainless pots and pans from Brigade Kitchen. It offers four core cookware products, called “The Hardware,” that are made from premium materials and are ideal for home cooks in smaller households. (If you frequently cook for five or more people, this stainless steel pan set might not be big enough for you, sadly.)
The lineup from Brigade Kitchen includes a stainless steel skillet, saucepan and saute pan, all of which are naturally nonstick and designed for fast and even heating. The cookware brand offers a 60-day trial period with free returns, but based on the stellar reviews, we don’t think you’ll need to take the company up on that offer. People swear these perfectly sized stainless steel pans perform flawlessly and are easy to clean.
Founded by three brothers, this stainless steel cookware has drawn the praise of big-name chefs like Bobby Flay. It has a simple, streamlined design similar to All-Clad’s and uses five-ply construction like other high-end stainless steel cookware but at a slightly more approachable price.
All the Sardel cookware is made in Italy and the direct-to-consumer brand offers a range of fry pans, saucepans and stockpots starting at $80. Or you can own the entire eight-piece set for $495, which includes a nonstick fry pan in addition to the stainless steel.
No kitchen is complete without a Dutch oven, and if you don’t want to shell out big bucks for storied French brands, one of the best alternatives is Milo. This consumer cookware brand offers high-end enameled cast iron cookware, including two Dutch oven sizes, but the prices are less than half of what you’d pay for other popular brands. And if you’re still balking at the price, remember that a good dutch oven can also double as bakeware and make delicious baked goods.
Milo sells a 5.5-quart Dutch oven, as well as a smaller 3.5-quart model. Both sizes come in either white or black enamel, and they’re dishwasher- and oven-safe up to 500 degrees. Plus, Milo products come with a lifetime guarantee, and reviewers say the quality is unbeatable given the affordable price.
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This article was originally written for Chowhound by Camryn Rabideau.