Let’s face it—the time has come to toss those pots, pans, knives, and skillets you’ve been using since your college days (shh, it’s okay, we won’t tell anyone). Sure, they can get the job done, but are they really doing it that well? Lucky for us, cookware has come a long way in the past few years. In addition to companies moving away from toxic materials like Teflon, there are also a variety of dynamic start-ups making cookware cool and covetable again.

Using the best cookware you can afford makes all the difference when it comes to getting a crispier sear, a more evenly distributed heat, and food that isn’t burned. Good sets of tools are the kinds of things we tend to take for granted when we’ve got ’em, but one use of a meh skillet or knife, and oh—you’ll notice. Upgrading your game in the kitchen needn’t be—and shouldn’t be!—super expensive, and the new crop of direct-to-consumer cookware brands make the shopping process quick and easy. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that these pieces are easy on the eyes, especially when storage space is limited and your pots and pans take center stage in the kitchen. Here, some of the best direct-to-consumer cookware brands to know.

Our Place

Our Place is the latest venture from Malala Fund cofounder Shiza Shahid. The company’s goal is creating unique cookware rooted in the modern, multiethnic American kitchen. Our Place offers dinnerware, like plates ($50 for a set of four), side bowls ($45 for a set of four), cups ($50 for a set of four), and the Always Pan ($145), which is a skillet, steamer, deep fryer, saucier, pot, and pan–all in one. Our Place invests in ethical factories that provide supportive environments and compensation to their teams so that the people who make the products have time, energy, and resources to connect with the people they love. The brand also creates special collections, which include pieces like a tortilla warmer, to spotlight different cultural celebrations around food.

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Made In

Made In, another direct-to-consumer company, crafts pieces to last a lifetime, and they won’t set you back a pretty penny. The company focuses on sourcing materials from the best of the best: Their stainless steel products are made in the U.S. and Italy and their knives are forged at a factory run by a fifth generation family in France. Available either in kits or à la cart, Made In offers sauciers, stock pots, and pans. Plus, they launched tableware just this summer.

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If you’re on the hunt for cookware that is free of toxic materials and full of color, Caraway is one brand to consider. The line is free of PTFEs and PFOAs, the chemicals found in traditional nonstick pans that have been linked to serious illnesses, and Caraway keeps things easy by simply offering one set. The pieces are ceramic-coated (free of Teflon) and come in fun hues like perracotta (pink + terra-cotta) and sage. The materials are also eco-friendly, releasing up to 60 percent less CO2 when produced compared to traditional nonstick coatings. Another bonus? All the pieces from Caraway have smart design elements. Our favorite features: The handle does double duty as a spoon rest and the lids have a slim design for easy storage. The Cookware Set includes a fry pan, sauce pan, Dutch oven, and sauté pan, and retails for $395.

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Material has a less-is-more philosophy when it comes to the kitchen and doubles down on the essentials. The brand has identified and perfected the can’t-live-without-’em tools that every home cook needs in their kitchen, and has focused all its efforts on getting them right. We love their cutting boards, made of recycled plastic. It might be time to take a good, hard look at what’s hanging out next to your stove and give yourself a well-deserved upgrade. The 29, Your Way bundle allows you to purchase a sauce Pot, sauté pan, and the classic or coated pan for a discounted price. 

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Great Jones

We were big fans of Great Jones from the start. Founded in 2018 by Sierra Tishgart and Maddy Moelis, the NYC-based modern cookware brand is as Instagrammable as it is practical. Great Jones may be best-known for its colorful Dutch oven, which comes in shades like broccoli green and mustard yellow, and retails for $155. In enameled cast iron, it’s super easy to clean, too, which makes the piece the hero product of the collection. Also check out the stainless-steel sauce pans and frying pans, with prices ranging from $55 to $85.

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Misen was born when cofounder Omar Rada set out to replace the one quality skillet he had in his arsenal after a friend misplaced it. The skillet had been a gift, and Rada was shocked by the sticker price—but also had gotten accustomed to the benefits of cooking with it and was unwilling to downgrade. So he created Misen, applying the direct-to-consumer model to the kitchen and launching with a line of high-quality skillets and pans that are obsessively engineered and designed with care. The release was an instant hit, so it followed up with a competitively priced chef’s knife (just $65!) that set Kickstarter ablaze with orders.

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Milo is another cool cookware start-up known for its affordable Dutch ovens ($95 for a smaller version and $120 for a larger version) and skillet ($85). All of Milo’s products come in enameled cast iron, which promises long-lasting heat and easy-to-clean surfaces, and a lifetime warranty. For keeping things simple, Milo definitely one of the best cookware brands to consider—here for the pros and newcomers alike.

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Field Company

Cast iron purists will be pleased to know that direct-to-consumer brand Field Company has taken on the traditional skillet, claiming to make a lighter and smoother-surfaced cast iron pan. While they sell a few accessories like a seasoning oil and a leather handle cover, the skillet is the only cookware item Field Company makes, and its goal is to develop products that can be passed on for generations.

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Proclamation Goods

San Francisco–based Proclamation Goods markets its cookware offering as what it calls the anti-set. The set includes a 12-inch coating-free skillet, offered in stainless steel or carbon, as well as a seven-quart stainless-steel pot. The innovation lies in the hinge that locks the two pans together to form a Dutch oven. The products come with a lifetime warranty and the brand is part of the 1% for the Planet initiative.

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