The Small Cookware Brands That Made a Big Impression on Kitchn Staffers in 2021

published Dec 23, 2021
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Credit: Misen

This year, we were seriously wowed by new releases and old standards from our favorite direct-to-consumer brands. These small cookware brands provided the pots, pans, tools, gadgets, and more that we used in our kitchens almost every day. In particular, some of the items we used most (and were most bought by readers!) came from Misen, Made In, and Our Place as they put out inventive new products in addition to the ones we already love.

Ahead, we’ve rounded up our favorite picks from 2021, perfect for adding to your own kitchen to start off the new year on a great note. We’ve included tried-and-true bestsellers like Our Place’s Always Pan and Made In’s Blue Carbon Steel Frying Pan, in addition to new launches that kept selling out like Misen’s Kitchen Shears or Our Place’s Perfect Pot. To make matters even better, several of these picks are also on sale right now for the end of the year, so there’s no better time than the present to upgrade your kitchen essentials!


New York City-based cookware brand Misen has been on our radar for over two years now with their fan-favorite cookware and knives. The company first started as a Kickstarter campaign to make their now well-known Chef’s Knife — it amassed over $1 million in 30 days! Since, Misen has continued to put out high-quality cookware, knives, and kitchen tools that are thoughtfully designed and affordable, especially when compared with premium brands.

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Our senior commerce editor swears by the Misen Paring Knife for all of her weeknight meal prep because it's comfortable to grip, easy to maneuver, and simple to wash following each use. It also has a razor-sharp steel blade with twice the carbon content of most other top-tier knives, making slicing and dicing incredibly precise. It’s got a bit of heft, so those with larger hands might appreciate its feel more than others.

2 / 6
was $135.00

Tired of clunky roasting pans? Misen's sleek stainless steel sheet has you covered. It became an editor-favorite because of its lightweight design, versatility, and nonstick surface when roasting veggies, fish, and chicken and even baking cookies. After testing it out, our editor wrote, "Straight from the box upon arrival, I fell in love with the aesthetics of this sleek, stainless steel and aluminum pan." It'll quickly become an everyday favorite for you too, taking the place of your sheet pan while still having the added benefit of shallow sides to hold in liquid.

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What makes this an amazing chef’s knife for home cooks in particular is that Misen specifically designed it to replace entire knife sets. I tried it out this year and couldn't believe the results. The first time I used this knife, it slid so seamlessly into the tomato I was cutting, slicing right through without getting stuck on the skin and squishing it. Its versatility, super-sharp blade, comfortable grip, and affordable price are the main reasons why it made our list of the best chef's knives too.

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The Misen Nonstick System combines the highest quality nonstick surface with a titanium-infused plasma primer to ensure that all of your food leaves the pan intact. This pan will quickly become your daily go-to option for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, perfect for frying eggs or pan-searing salmon. There are three sizes to choose from or you can pick up the entire bundle at a low price. While we love this pan, we're also not alone — it often sells out and racks up a huge wait list!

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was $30.00

Because we love Misen's knives so much, it's only natural that we love their newly-launched cutting board too. Each board has a lightweight design so it's easy to wash and store and also features superior edge grain wood surface for longevity. We are huge fans of the stylish design, perfect for making a permanent spot for on your counter!

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Deboning chicken thighs, snipping dried fruit, cutting open hard plastic packages — Misen's Kitchen Shears are up for the job. The stainless steel blades are micro-serrated to make smooth, straight cuts and prevent blade slippage, while the roomy, ambidextrous handle loops keep hands comfortable and in control. When it's time to clean up, simply detach the blades and give them a wash. It's a kitchen essential that we think any home cook needs in 2022!

Made In

The founders of Made In come from a family that has sold and outfitted kitchens across the country for 100 years. So clearly, they know a thing or two about our favorite room in the house! This Austin, Texas-based brand focuses on providing superior culinary tools manufactured in the U.S. and Western Europe and used across the world in Michelin-starred restaurants, top-rated hotels, and your very own kitchen. They’re known for their high-performing cookware, especially their blue carbon steel pans, as well as a line of dinnerware, serveware, and more.

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Made In
was $89.00

Love to cook but struggle when it comes to plating? Look no further than this sleek serving platter that’s crafted from vitrified china and then glazed for a strong, chip-resistant finish. Our senior commerce editor swears by it, touting its ability to make anything she cooks look amazing. Its simple design means it’ll be fitting for any occasion, whether a casual gathering or a formal holiday dinner.

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Made In

We've been in love with this iconic frying pan for over a year now, which kickstarted our obsession with the brand. It's a favorite with so many Kitchn editors as well as Made In customers, which probably explains why it's perpetually flying off the shelves. The blue carbon steel is a material often used by professional chefs because it performs like a total dream, holds heat well (up to 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit!), and can be used on the stovetop, in the oven, or on the grill. If you're looking for a skillet to start off your 2022 culinary aspirations in the best way, this is the pan to buy.

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Made In
was $109.00

Unsurprisingly, Made In is able to tackle dinnerware just as brilliantly as they do cookware and bakeware. These more under-the-radar entrée bowls are crafted from top-quality china, then fully glazed to protect them from scratches or chips when stacked in your cabinet. Our editor loves their size because they're versatile enough for pasta, soups, stews, or even salads. They’ll quickly become your most-used dinnerware.

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Made In

For anyone on the hunt for an everyday frying pan, this nonstick one is a must-have item. It’s beloved by editors here at Kitchn who can’t get over how durable its toxic-free nonstick surface is. And unlike most nonstick pans, it’s even oven safe! You can sear a steak on the range and finish it in the oven, or even use it to bake a cobbler, all with easy cleanup afterward. While we love their blue carbon steel pan, you might get even more everyday use out of this nonstick one!

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Made In
was $159.00

Besides being a total looker, Made In's Santoku Knife has a gorgeous olive wood handle and a blade forged from a single metal rod (without stamping, welding, or laser cutting) in a family-owned factory in France. Translation: It's a beauty with a sharp edge that will sail through every task at hand. Our team has been using it for over a year now, with our executive lifestyle director saying she still finds herself constantly reaching for it instead of her beloved chef’s knife. Our senior commerce editor is also a huge fan, using it for chopping hard root veggies without a problem.

Our Place

You might’ve already been familiar with Our Place thanks to its Instagram-famous Always Pan, specifically “designed for rising rents and shrinking cabinet space.” Each item from their collection is ethically-sourced, and you can rest-assured knowing that their cookware features a non-toxic ceramic nonstick coating. In addition to their impressive all-in-one bestselling pot and pan, they also offer stylish kitchen essentials like a Chef’s Knife, Walnut Cutting Board, Steamer, and an array of tabletop pieces.

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Our Place
was $150.00

When we first tested the internet-famous Always Pan last year, we were impressed by its design and nonstick qualities. This game-changing stylish piece of cookware functions as a fry pan, sauté pan, steamer, skillet, saucier, saucepan, and a nonstick pan, plus a spatula in its spoon-rest handle. It comes in gorgeous colorways like the always selling out Lavender or Spice, among many others. If your goal is to do more cooking in the new year, this all-in-one pan could be your solution!

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Our Place
was $165.00

But what’s the perfect complement to Our Place's do-it-all pan (with a 30,000-person waitlist)? A do-it-all pot, of course! This 8-in-1 workhorse came out this year and combines a Dutch oven, sauce pot, stockpot, roasting pan/rack, steamer, bread pot, braiser, and spoon rest. Our tools editor gave this multipurpose pot a whirl earlier this year who loved its lightweight design, large 5.5 quart size, and multitude of built-in functions like the steamer, strainer, vented lid, and more.

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Our Place
was $50.00

This set of hand-blown drinking glasses is just the right amount of classy for a dinner party but not so fussy you couldn’t use it for wine on a random Tuesday night. Made with recycled glass and dyed with elements from the earth, these glasses will look stunning on any dinnertable. This year, they announced two new dreamy shades, Twilight and Sunrise, that will add so much charm to anyone's weeknight dinner.

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Our Place

If you're looking for a more budget-friendly alternative to pottery dinnerware, look no further than these beautiful hand-painted porcelain dishes from Our Place. Subtle, classy, and with a slight lip, these plates come in pretty, neutral colors like Spice, Steam, and Char. These 9.75-inch beauties are scratch- and chip-resistant, plus dishwasher- and microwave-safe. They also sell porcelain side bowls and side plates if you're looking for a complete set.