If you're in the market for new cookware, you're probably considering well-known brands such as All-Clad, Anolon or Cuisinart. However, there are some newcomers to the cookware scene and they're shaking things up with a unique business model.
Direct-to-consumer brands are more popular than ever. 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.
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Here are the 10 best direct-to-consumer cookware brands you might want to welcome into your kitchen:
- Our favorite overall: Made In
- Our favorite budget brand: Brandless
- Our favorite for cookware sets: Potluck
- Our favorite for cast iron cookware: Field Company
- Our favorite for stainless Steel cookware: Brigade Kitchen
- Our favorite Dutch oven: Milo
- Our favorite for knives: Misen
- OUr favorite for cooking utensils: Material
- Our favorite for stylish cookware: Great Jones
- Our favorite newcomer: Equal Parts
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 products.
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 a pot or pan 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 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 without the added costs. What's not to love about that?
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, 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. 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.
Don't want to shell out major cash for cookware? Then check out Brandless, where pretty much everything costs around $5 -- no, that's not a typo. The company sells a wide range of products, including everything from multivitamins to gift wrap, and everything is made with "quality materials and clean ingredients." New items are constantly introduced -- recent additions include a completely sustainable, recycled PET plastic travel collection (including carry-on luggage), a stainless steel cookware set and a Pro Blender.
Brandless offers a comprehensive selection of kitchen tools, including knives, cooking utensils, bakeware and more. You can get an 8-inch stainless steel chef's knife for as little as $6 or a silicone spatula for $4. Given these prices, you might think the quality would be sub-par, but most of the items have great reviews from people who say the products are an unbeatable value. Basically, if you don't want to spend $20 on a new set of tongs, check out Brandless first.
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 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 choose to purchase the full line -- a 22-piece set of kitchen essentials, all 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 what Potluck brings to the table.
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 13 inches. 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 pots and pans from Brigade Kitchen. It offers four core 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, these pans 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 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.
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 direct-to-consumer company 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.
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.
When Misen first launched on Kickstarter, its fundraising goal was $25,000. However, it quickly joined the elite ranks of viral crowdfunding projects, raking in more than $1 million in pledges. The brand is best known for its superior kitchen knives, but today, it also sells a collection of premium stainless steel cookware.
Whether you need a chef's knife, paring knife, bread knife, utility knife or something else, Misen has you covered. Its blades are made from Japanese steel and feature 60% more carbon content than other "premium" knives. The brand also offers a 60-day home trial and lifetime guarantee with no questions asked.
Cookware and kitchen utensils go hand-in-hand, which is why Material offers a wide variety of essential cooking tools. The company prides itself on delivering "tasteful" cookware, designed with the modern home chef in mind, and its prices are up to 50% less than high-end brands. While Material does offer a few knives and, more recently, pans, its bread and butter is kitchen utensils.
Material offers well-made, impeccably balanced kitchen utensils and they come in a variety of sets so you can get just the pieces you need. Among its offerings are wooden and metal spoons, a whisk, a slotted spatula, tongs and a variety of knives, as well as a beautiful knife-block-slash-utensil-holder. All these products are designed to be functional and aesthetically pleasing, and the quality is reflected in the glowing reviews.
If you consider yourself a more stylish chef, you'll love the look of the modern cookware from Great Jones, a collection of essential pieces created by two childhood friends. This brand sells five key cookware pieces -- a Dutch oven, stock pot, saucepan and two frying pans -- all of which are designed to look beautiful hanging in your kitchen.
The Dutch oven, named the Dutchess, comes in seven pretty colors, and the other pieces have a stainless steel finish and sleek modern handles. The cookware is oven- and dishwasher safe, and it resists scratches, as well. You can even choose to have the lids engraved with a custom message for a personal touch.
Barely a month old, Equal Parts is a welcome addition to the direct-to-consumer scene, offering sleek cookware essentials made from sustainable materials. There are currently five options available including sets that cover everyday cooking essentials, pots and pans and the whole shebang 15-piece Your Complete Kitchen collection.
But what sets this upstart apart from its competition is that included with each purchase are eight weeks of free access to a cooking coach who will, according to Equal Parts, "provide recipes and inspiration, and offer guidance on techniques no matter your experience level."
This article was originally written for Chowhound by Camryn Rabideau.