These DTC Companies Want to Change How You Buy Cookware. Are They Worth Your Money?

updated Dec 18, 2023
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There’s a quiet revolution happening in cookware. Instead of you going to the store and picking between brands, the brands want to come directly to you. Where you once would have bought your pots, pans, and Dutch ovens from Bed, Bath & Beyond or Macy’s, now suddenly there is a small but serious wave of direct-to-consumer options. What does that mean? Direct-to-consumer (DTC) is manufacturers and brands selling directly to you, cutting out the distributor and retailer middlemen, and therefore (supposedly, anyway!) saving you money. (Think: Casper, Away, and Warby Parker — only for pots, pans, and knives.)

How do Direct-to-Consumer brands work?

We seem to hear about a new cookware DTC company at least once a month, as they rise quickly fueled by the ease of building a brand through turnkey online advertising and social media. These DTC companies often source their goods from the same factories that more longstanding name brands use, and sell them right to customers — mostly online, skipping the distributor network and retail stores like Williams-Sonoma and Crate & Barrel entirely. Many of these brands have venture capital funding and, to steal wording from Silicon Valley, nearly all of them want to “disrupt” the cookware space.

We Tested the Top Direct-to-Consumer Cookware

Curious how these new pieces would stack up against tried-and-true items from legacy brands like All-Clad and Le Creuset, we put Kitchn editors to work. We spent months testing dozens of pots and pans from dozens of brands and these are the pieces/sets we liked the best.

Have you tried any of these brands (or any other direct-to-consumer cookware companies)? Tell us what you think about DTC cookware brands in the comments below!

Caraway Home

About the brand: Perhaps the newest cookware company to launch, Caraway makes gorgeous nonstick ceramic cookware without polytetrafluoroethylene (Teflon). The brand really stresses that it’s made without harmful chemicals, ethically, and as eco-friendly as possible. Even the packaging its shipped in is responsibly considered. They have a set (which you can try for 30 days) that comes in 13 different colors and with a smart magnetic holder for the pots and pans and a canvas holder for the lids.

Credit: Kitchn

We Tried: Cookware & Cabinet Organizer Set from Caraway

What our testers thought: “When Caraway’s cookware showed up on my doorstep I was immediately taken with the glossy cream finish, and the unique way the handles looked. The skillet and pot had a classy, elegant feel that is often lacking from hardcore cookware. I would have no problem bringing either the skillet or the pot straight to the table. (I also love how the heavy, handsome lid fits both pieces!)

But how do they perform? Really beautifully. They are heavy and heat evenly, and the nonstick performance is somewhere between a true nonstick skillet and a regular pan. Not completely stick-free (the eggs stuck a tiny bit) but still high performance and very pretty to look at.” Faith Durand, Editor-in-Chief

Who this is for: The home cook who prefers nonstick — and good design.

Our Place

About the brand: Our Place came up with the Always Pan, which was “designed for rising rents and shrinking cabinet space.” (It’s got a nonstick ceramic coating, a nesting spatula, and a steamer basket — so, ideally, you can make anything you want in this single pot.) The brand also makes some gorgeous drinking glasses, side bowls, and plates. All of which are ethically sourced and designed to save space.

Credit: Patty Catalano

We Tried: Always Pan from Our Place

What our testers thought: “I’m generally skeptical of products that claim to do more than one thing well, but the Always Pan from Our Place is quickly proving me wrong. This gorgeous pan comes complete with a lid, wooden spatula, and steamer basket. It’s slick enough to cook eggs (it has a light gray nonstick coating) and deep enough to handle one-pot pasta dinners. The removable steamer basket is wider than the awkward (and frustrating!) steamer basket I usually use, and I found that foods steamed more quickly and evenly because they weren’t piled atop one another. My only complaint: Even though it would be the perfect frittata pan, the pan isn’t oven-safe. Bonus: It’s mighty lighter than it appears. Its textured coating tricked my brain into thinking it would be heavy like cast iron, but it’s way easier to pick up.” Patty Catalano, Contributor

Who this is for: Anyone who’s just starting out, has a tiny kitchen, or is looking to jump on board with that whole #vanlife trend.

Made In

About the brand: The founders of Made In, Chip and Jake, come from a 100-year-old family business of selling and outfitting kitchens across the country. And they’ve partnered with a third-generation family-owned factory in Austin, Texas to make their cookware. The inner layer comes from Kentucky, the stainless steel comes from Pennsylvania and even the nonstick materials come from America. Beyond stainless steel cookware, the brand also makes knives, nonstick pans, carbon steel pans, and more. Bonus: Tom Colicchio is a fan!

Credit: Meghan Splawn

We Tried: Sous Chef Full Cookware Set from Made In

What our testers thought: “To say I’m obsessed with Made In might be the biggest understatement of the year. These made-in-America stainless steel pots look, feel, and cook with the same quality as the All-Clad pots and pans I’ve been using for years. The Sous Chef set is robust but perfectly thought-out with the right-sized pans for your most common cooking tasks. There’s a nonstick pan perfect for scrambling eggs, a 2-quart pot ideal for rice and grains, and possibly my most-used pan of the set, an 8-quart soup pot that is as good for stock as it is for braising a pork shoulder. All of these pieces are stovetop-to-oven safe. I also really appreciate that the whole set was sent with minimal packaging and everything but a few tiny strings could be recycled. The tags for each pot can actually be planted to grow herbs!” Meghan Splawn, Associate Food Editor

Who this is for: A newly serious home chef who wants the flexibility of lots of pieces to play with.

Note: The Sous Chef set is no longer available, but we have linked a similar set above!

Credit: Meghan Splawn

We Tried: Blue Carbon Steel Roasting Pan from Made In

What our testers thought: “I wasn’t joking when I called this The New $99 Pan That Everyone Should Own. You need this even if you have no plans to host a Thanksgiving dinner any time soon. Although you can use other roasting pans for things beyond roasting, this pan is especially versatile because it’s got super-high walls, features stainless steel handles (that are angled for holding and tenting tinfoil), and is oven safe up to 1,200 degrees (!!!). So beyond poultry, this pan is really great for roasting vegetables, braising, baking, making deep casseroles, and so much more.” — Meghan

Who this is for: Anyone who hosts even one major holiday meal or makes roasted vegetables and/or casseroles on the regular.


About the brand: A riff off the idea of mise en place, Misen was founded to help people cook better with better tools. The brand started with a Kickstarter for its $85 chef’s knife, which raised more than $1 million in 30 days. Since then, things have expanded to include more knives and stainless steel and nonstick cookware. The company says it puts LOTS of thought into the design and materials of each piece, considering every last millimeter of a handle and taking months to come pick a stainless steel.

Credit: Y

We Tried: Essential Cookware Set from Misen

What our testers thought: “This nine-piece set comes with five of the most useful skillets and pots (and the lids to fit each!) you’ll need to stock your kitchen. It includes 10- and 12-inch skillets, a 3-quart saucier, a 3-quart high-sided sauté pan, and an 8-quart stockpot. In general, a 12-inch skillet is my most-used pan and Misen’s version has steep sloping sides that easily contained sizzling grains of fried rice. The handles are sleek, comfortable, and don’t overheat. The handles on the lids also stayed much cooler (even atop boiling water). In some other tests, a pair of oversized pork chops seared golden-brown on the stovetop and finished in the oven in the 3-quart sauté pan, and the 3-quart saucier (which is taller than the All-Clad one I usually use) was the right size for cooking a small batch of rice or a box of mac and cheese.

While Misen boasts dishwasher-safe cookware, I opt to wash all of my cookware by hand. I noticed some discoloration on the shiny steel surface even after drying the pans immediately, but that’s not a deal-breaker for me (nothing a little Barkeeper’s Friend can’t fix!). Overall, I was impressed with the quality of the pans and the comfort of the handles. Even though I’ve been cooking with a set of All-Clad pans for over a decade, I found myself reaching for Misen’s saucier and stockpot instead. If you’re looking for a stainless cookware set that has more than the bare basics, Misen’s Essentials Cookware Set deserves your consideration.” — Patty

Who this is for: Anyone who wants to nerd out over their cookware.


Credit: Lauren Kodiak

We Tried: The Coated Pan and The Classic Pan from Material

What our testers thought: “As soon as I heard about Material’s new 29 line (a nod to copper, the periodic table’s 29th element), I couldn’t wait to try out the two pans, which both feature a copper core for even heat distribution and retention.

The first — The Coated Pan — is a nonstick pan, which boasts a teflon-free, fume-free coating and comes in the most gorgeous shade of emerald green. Because I eat eggs on an almost-daily basis, I christened my new pan with two crispy olive oil fried eggs. I barely needed any olive oil, as the eggs crisped up perfectly and slid right out onto my plate. I’ve also since made a perfect, fluffy frittata — with no stuck-on bits of egg left behind — that I started on the stovetop and finished in the oven. Pancakes in this pan came out golden-brown and again slipped effortlessly onto the awaiting platter.

The second pan — called The Classic Pan — is sold out, but it’s a sleek, stunning five-ply stainless steel number that comes in two sizes (12 inches and 10.5 inches). I love that it has high, sloped sides — perfect for making my “famous” (according to my husband) marinara. I started by sautéing some onions in olive oil until they were nice and golden, then added my garlic, crushed tomatoes, and fresh herbs, and let everything simmer for a bit. Pouring the finished sauce out onto my pasta was a breeze, too. When I made a pan-seared salmon, the pan went effortlessly from stovetop to oven (it’s safe up to 500 degrees F).

The best part of both of these pans? They can BOTH go in the dishwasher, which is very important to me!.” Lauren Kodiak, Managing Editor

Who this is for: Anyone looking to outfit their entire kitchen with quality gear without breaking the bank.

Kana Lifestyle

About the brand: Here to give Le Creuset and Staub a run for their money, Kana launched with an affordable Dutch oven and has since expanded to include a cast iron skillet, a mini Dutch oven, and more. Kana also says they work with the finest factories.

Credit: Danielle Centoni

We Tried: Classic Dutch Oven from Kana

What our testers thought: “After putting the Kana through its paces — making stews, braises, pasta sauce, and soup — I am into this Dutch oven. It feels sturdy, cooks evenly, cleans up easily, and hasn’t stained, scratched, or chipped. It performed as well as my Le Creuset and Staub, with minor differences in browning and evaporation that, in the end, didn’t affect the deliciousness of my meals. Its clean, elegant design goes with any kitchen, and although it might not come in as many colors as the big guys, I really like the simple look of this one. And getting white instead of, say, a bright yellow seems like a small sacrifice for such a well-made and well-priced pot.”Danielle Centoni, Contributor

Who this is for: Anyone who wants a Dutch oven but can’t seem to get over those giant price tags on the classic French brands.

Great Jones

About the brand: The resumes for the Great Jones founders (who are childhood friends) are impressive: Sierra Tishgart worked as a food editor at New York Magazine and won a James Beard Award for her writing; Maddy Moelis managed consumer insights for Warby Parker and was a product manager at Zola. So they knew what they were doing when they set out to compete with the likes of Staub and All-Clad. Designed to be jewelry for the kitchen, their Dutch oven and cookware is meant to be displayed — and used, of course.

Credit: Danielle Centoni

We Tried: The Dutchess from Great Jones

What our testers thought: “If you want something even prettier than the Milo and still less expensive than the big names, go with Great Jones. The shiny gray enamel interior splits the difference between Le Creuset’s white enamel and Staub’s black matte enamel. The light enamel makes it easier to make sure foods aren’t burning. Like its two main competitors, The Dutchess is oven-safe to 500 degrees; works on gas, electric, and induction burners; and is dishwasher-safe. It even comes with a similar limited lifetime warranty. With its glam look, solid performance, and palatable price tag, The Dutchess definitely lives up to its name.” — Danielle

Who this is for: Anyone who wants a Dutch oven but can’t seem to get over those giant price tags on the classic French brand — and ALSO cares deeply about design.


About the brand: You won’t find any extra fat on the Goldilocks website. The company has curated sets which feature, what they claim to be, the most essential items. Meaning: You won’t find anything you don’t need. Choose from a cookware set, a knife set, a utensil set, or a 22-piece bundle of tippy top essentials. And the quality is promised to be legit: “We work with factory partners who also manufacture kitchenware for other top brands, but ours is priced at about half,” the website says.

Credit: Grace Elkus

We Tried: Cookware Set from Goldilocks

What our testers thought: “I’ve been wanting a stainless steel pan for a while now, for caramelizing onions or getting a nice sear on veggies. That being said, I don’t cook meat, so I knew I wouldn’t be turning to it daily, and therefore probably wasn’t the right candidate for a super-expensive pan (like All-Clad). This set has proven to be perfect for my needs. The skillet can easily go from stovetop to oven (and is so much lighter than my cast iron), and I love that I can pop all the pieces right into the dishwasher. I’ve been heating up soup in my 1.5-quart saucepan, making rice in the 3-quart one, and I can’t wait to make stock in the 8-quart one. These pieces actually remind me of the pans we used in culinary school, which makes me feel like a restaurant chef every night at home.” Grace Elkus, Deputy Food Director

Who this is for: Home cooks who need the essentials but aren’t interested in spending time building any sort of collection from scratch.


About the brand: Founded by three brothers, Sardel cookware is made, not in the United States, but rather, ITALY! In a family-owned factory that has been manufacturing cookware for more than 100 years. The brand offers skillets (stainless steel and nonstick), a 4-quart sauté pan, a 2-quart sauce pan, an 8-quart stock pot, and two different sets.

We Tried: 10-inch Nonstick Skillet from Sardel

What our testers thought: “This is one of the most nonsticky nonstick skillets I’ve ever used. We make a lot of eggs in my house, so it’s had plenty of use these last few months and eggs still glide out as smoothly as they did on Day One. I like that you can get it with or without the lid (if you make over-easy eggs, pay the extra $10 to get the lid and then you won’t have to flip the egg!). And even though it’s got 5-ply construction, it’s not too heavy for my weak little wrists. For what it’s worth, I’m also a fan of this 4-quart sauté pan. All the pieces are made in Italy, too.” Lisa Freedman, former Lifestyle Director

Who this is for: Minimalists who care about deep-rooted traditions — and have a penchant for Italy.


About the brand: Brandless launched in 2017 with all sorts of (organic, non-GMO, gluten-free, Fair Trade) grocery items, kitchen tools, and home goods. Nearly everything was $3 (or extremely reasonably priced!). Since then, the company has expanded to include cookware, a blender, and even luggage.

Credit: Lauren Masur

We Tried: Stainless Steel Cookware from Brandless

What our testers thought: “I’ve never cooked on the stovetop with anything other than the random assortment of nonstick pans that I’ve picked up over the years, so this Brandless Stainless Steel Cookware set was a complete departure for me. After adjusting to the learning curve of cooking with stainless, I fell in love. You can tell immediately that the 5-ply cookware is high-quality because it’s so sturdy. I love that I can sear my food on the stove and finish it off in the oven, which is something I can’t do with my nonstick pans. Because of their sloped design, these handles are super comfortable to hold (just be careful when the pan is hot!). If you need me, you can find me making soups in the giant stockpot, braising chicken thighs in the lidded sauté pan, or just, you know, staring at my new pots.” Lauren Masur, Staff Writer

Who this is for: Home cooks who like a bargain and value quality more than brand names.

Note: The Stainless Steel Cookware Set is no longer available but you can shop individual pots and pans at the links above.

Marquette Castings

About the brand: The Steckling brothers sought out to improve on traditional cast iron when they started Marquette Castings. Originally, the cast iron pieces were made in China, but they’ve since been moved to Michigan. Here in the states, they’re made through a labor-intensive process (called investment casting!), which the company says is the best way to make a high-quality casting with thinner walls and smoother surfaces. Now, they make two sizes of cast iron skillets, enameled cast iron pieces, a carbon steel skillet, and a cute leather handle sleeve.

Credit: Sheela Prakash

We Tried: No. 13 Skillet from Marquette Castings

What our testers thought: “This is not a small skillet! I found myself wishing I had more mouths to feed when I took it out of the box. The 13-inch diameter did have a little trouble fitting on my regular-sized electric burners, but it was manageable. Interestingly, despite its size, it only weighs a little more than my regular 10-inch cast iron skillet and really felt pretty lightweight to handle. The cast iron is thinner, which explains the weight, so it holds heat a little differently than a thicker cast iron skillet. While I didn’t love this for steaks (it didn’t give the crusty sear I was looking for), it was amazing for pancakes (there’s plenty of space to cook three or four at a time) and I’m excited to make paella in it this weekend!” Sheela Prakash, Senior Contributing Food Editor

Who this is for: Anyone who wants to upgrade their cast iron.

Note: The No.13 Skillet is currently out of stock, but you can shop other pieces, including the best-selling Carbon Steel Skillet, today.