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The 3 Best Pans for Healthy Cooking

Healthy cooking involves more than just the recipes or ingredients you use—here’s our favorite cookware for health-conscious meals.

By Rachel Baron
Jan 4, 2024
A person in an apron cooking with two pans on a stovetop in a kitchen.
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Think of cooking a “healthy” meal and you’re likely to imagine food made with minimal saturated fat, sodium, and with plenty of fresh produce—not so much the type of pan you’d make it in. Yet certain cookware materials can make healthy cooking easier—and downright tastier.

Here, we break down what we mean by “healthy” cookware, introducing you to some of our favorite options for healthy cooking.

What Makes a Pan “Healthy”?

egg in non stick

Healthy cooking can mean a variety of different things depending on the person, but there are a few factors we can control when it comes to our cookware choices—mostly concerning added cooking fats.

Cooking with fat like butter or oil isn’t a bad thing—most recipes call for it, in fact. But if you’re trying to cut down on saturated fats in your diet, a great place to start is with using non stick cookware. Whether that’s well-seasoned heirloom carbon steel or cast iron or the newer (and highly convenient) non stick cookware, these types of pans generally require less fat to keep your food from sticking. Since you should never feel limited to steaming or boiling your food just because you want to eat more healthfully, this is a huge plus.

Best Healthy Cookware Options

A variety of pots, pans, and cooking utensils are neatly arranged on a stove and shelf in a tidy kitchen.

Some cookware is better suited to healthy cooking than others. At the top of our list are non stick, carbon steel, and enameled cast iron—good news is that when it comes to healthy cooking, you’ve got plenty of options.

Non Stick

fish in non stick pan

High-quality non stick pans provide a completely smooth and exceptionally durable surface that’s ideal for making scrambled eggs, pancakes, and more without needing a ton of butter or oil. Since food releases easily from the surface of this oil- and water-resistant pan, your food will still turn out great even without a lot of added fat. Plus, you don’t need to worry about food sticking or laborious cleanup.

Keep in mind that the non stick coating is easier to damage compared to other types of cookware, and may not be as suited to flavorful high-heat searing.

Carbon Steel

vegetables in wok

This pan offers the lightweight construction and temperature control of a stainless steel pan, with the naturally non stick surface of cast iron. As with modern non stick, well-seasoned carbon steel allows you to use less oil to keep your food from sticking.

However, carbon steel offers one distinct advantage: Unlike popular non stick options, carbon steel can get, and stay, incredibly hot—up to 1200F. This means that you can sear to your heart’s content, easily transferring your food from grill to stove to oven. Plus, the ripping hot surface of carbon steel makes for excellent browning, which means that all of your food—vegetables included—will taste amazing, even without added oil.

Enameled Cast Iron

skillet chicken

Enameled cast iron pans offer a naturally smooth, non stick surface that can stand up to extremely high heat. It also borrows all the advantages of standard cast iron, but without the need for seasoning. Coupled with the excellent heat retention of cast iron, this makes enameled cast iron excellent for everything from searing to stir-frying. And, since they’re typically oven safe (our Enameled Cast Iron Skillet in particular is safe up to 580F), we also love to use them for braising or roasting—two of our other favorite options for healthy, flavorful cooking.

Ready to Cook?

Eating a healthy diet should never feel boring. Whether you’re looking for smoky stir fries or tender braises, crisp blanched vegetables or juicy skirt steak fajitas, preparing fresh, flavorful food that also adheres to your dietary needs is an incredibly achievable goal. And with our Carbon Steel, Non Stick, and Enameled Cast Iron pans, you can do healthy cooking in style.

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