We put the new class of direct-to-consumer cookware through its paces.

By Oset Babür
February 09, 2021
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
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Direct-to-Consumer Cookware
Credit: Photo by Victor Protasio / Prop Styling by Prissy Lee

Join us in the peanut gallery of new pots, pans, and chef's knives, all lobbying for attention on your Instagram feed. One claims to be incredibly lightweight and ergonomic; another promises to take up minimal space in your kitchen. And then there's one that's just so darn pretty. Welcome to the Wild West of direct-to-consumer cookware, where middlemen like department stores are pushed out of the picture by chatty, oh-so-relatable brands that peddle their products almost entirely online.

Since it's (somehow) not yet possible to get a feel for a knife handle or develop opinions about a nonstick surface through social media, our test kitchen scrambled eggs, baked bread, cooked rice, and sliced onions with contenders from eight different brands. The result? Five DTC pieces we'd proudly add to our already overflowing home kitchens, and that you should, too.

1. Great Jones Deep Cut

Great jones deep cut
Credit: Great Jones

Shockingly lightweight, this stunning pan is perfectly curved for hollandaise, stir-fries, and curries. Its rivetless design makes for easy cleaning whether you're frying up bacon or sautéeing delicate leafy greens –– one of our testers caramelized onions with a little oil and butter, and was blown away by the even heat distribution. There's a bit of sticking to deal with (after all, this isn't a non-stick pan!), but a quick deglaze with bourbon or vinegar should get the surface as smooth as glass once more. The loop handle makes it easy to display this pan prominently in the kitchen, and for a special housewarming gift, you should go for the engraving.

To buy: Great Jones Deep Cut Pan, $85 at greatjonesgoods.com

2. Material Coated Pan

material pan
Credit: Material

Unlike most skillets of its size, this emerald-green stunner is oven-safe and, as our testers confirmed, bakes a faultless frittata. You'll still need to use a bit of oil for a truly nonstick experience, but we found that the copper core makes for impeccably even heat distribution. Its thin, angled handle is exceptionally ergonomic, but still has brings confidence-inspiring heft. All in all, it's a staple for those starting out in the kitchen looking for the comfort and ease of non-stick, with a gorgeous design to match.

To buy: Material Kitchen Coated Pan, $95 at materialkitchen.com

3. Made In Saucepan

Made In saucepan
Credit: Made In Cookware

Made In's humble 4-quart option has a ton going for it. The long handle makes avoiding splatters and splashes blissfully easy, its lid nestles inside for storage, and, best of all, it's dishwasher-safe for newbie cooks (or absentminded veterans) who might dabble in some scorching and burning. It's got a nice contemporary look without demanding every other item in the cabinet match, plus, it's dishwasher safe, meaning there's one less thing to fret over after pasta night.

To buy: Made In Saucepan, $109 at madeincookware.com

4. Caraway Home Dutch Oven

Caraway dutch oven
Credit: Caraway

We're admittedly skeptical of newcomers to the Dutch oven market because let's face it: Legacy brand loyalty is big here. That said, Caraway Home's 6.5-quart offering is startlingly light, has a small footprint for storage, and comes in modern colors worthy of stove-top real estate. One of our testers was especially fond of the wide lid handle, which helped prevent it from getting too hot.

"I'm embarrassed to say I'm just not great with rice, but this pan performed admirably; no burning or sticking, clean release," wrote Food Editor Josh Miller. "The little blowhole in the top is nice, but needs to be rotated to the back during cooking to avoid steam burns!" This is a Dutch oven that's incredibly well priced for its value, relative to competitors, and honestly? It's one we wish we had when we first started cooking.

To buy: Caraway Home Dutch Oven, $125 at carawayhome.com

5. Misen Chef's Knife

misen chef knife
Credit: Misen

With knives, the less you notice how the handle feels or how much you need to shift your grip, the better. Misen's chef's knife developed a following via Kickstarter for good reason—this is an affordable go-to knife that stays sharp, has a low profile in our knife block, and cleans in a snap. Plus, the colorful handle options (we're partial to the powder blue) add a dash of personality.

To buy: Misen Chef's Knife, $65 at misen.co