The joy of baking has been known to comfort us in times of uncertainty – and there’s definitely nothing better than the smell of cinnamon rolls on a Saturday morning (... OK, maybe chocolate chip cookies on a rainy afternoon. Decisions, decisions...)
Whether it's cinnamon rolls or cookies (or both!), it's high time you considered another important ingredient: the pan. You may have already swapped out your old, scratched and chipped cookware with the help of our Non-Toxic Cookware Guide, but now it's time to rethink your bakeware.
Many baking pans are inherited from friends or family or were purchased years ago, maybe before we started spending much (read: any) time thinking about quality, toxins, or longevity. And that means that it's quite possible that many of those pans are scratched or worn, so it may be time for a new set. Wouldn’t it be nice if said bakeware weren't just beautiful and useful, but kind to the planet?
If your bakeware hasn't changed since your wedding registry, it's time to do away with old, chipped, or scratched nonstick surfaces. Luckily for us modern bakers, baking technology does change, and these days, there are several options available that are non-toxic, easy to use, and will give your cookies that perfect golden glow.
Our Top Picks for the Healthy Home Baker
Ceramic Coated Non-Stick
Cast Iron Bakeware
Stainless Steel & Aluminum
1. Safe Ceramic Coated Nonstick Bakeware
Luckily, there is a way to have your cake and eat it too.
If you’ve been daydreaming about comforting treats that easily pop from the pan to your mouth, ditch that old PTFE-coated metal cookware and go with ceramic. Ceramic coatings are stain-resistant, metal utensil-resistant, and most importantly, nonstick. And unlike PTFE-coated bakeware, ceramic has a much greener manufacturing process. (And considering the public health issues linked to the former, that's an essential change).
When it comes to ceramic coated nonstick, Caraway is one of our top picks. This nonstick bakeware is made with aluminized steel coated with ceramic. The brand tests for surface level contaminants like lead and cadmium, is California Prop 65 compliant, and happily provided their lab test results upon request.
After using the Caraway set for several months, our editor-in-chief and resident chef, Laura Klein, loves the clean design and useful storage rack that comes with a set.
“I love Caraway’s nonstick bakeware," she says. "It’s easy to use and clean. It has a nice weight to it, so I know it’s not going to warp easily and conducts heat evenly, eliminating hot spots. I love that baked goods easily release from the surface, so I don’t have to use a lot of butter or oil if I don’t want to.”
Whether you choose ceramic coated nonstick, or something else, invest in one or two essential pans or an entire set that will satisfy all your baking dreams.
2. Ceramic Bakeware
Another safer alternative to PTFE-coated cookware is cookware made entirely from ceramic. Some of our favorite brands in this category include Made In, Staub, or Xtrema® Pure Ceramic Cookware.
Made In’s Ceramic Bakeware
Made In’s ceramic bakeware is made from high-fired clay that’s oven safe up to 482F. Its thermal shock resistant enameled surface creates a naturally nonstick, smooth baking surface, resulting in a durable dish that’s microwave, freezer, and dishwasher safe. This company also boasts excellent environmental stewardship – for more deets, read on: we cover it below in the section on their French porcelain bakeware.
Staub’s stoneware, designed in France, is excellent at retaining heat and won’t absorb moisture. Finished with glass porcelain, these dishes are scratch- and thermal shock- resistant. Staub ceramics are oven and broiler safe up to 572F. They can easily be used in the microwave oven and are dishwasher safe.
Xtrema Pure Ceramic Bakeware
Made from pure ceramic, Xtrema Bakeware is truly the choice for those whose top priority is their personal health and the environment. Why? Because it’s made with just two ingredients – clay and water – making it the bakeware with the lowest carbon footprint around.
And if that weren’t enough to knock your oven mitts off, the company has also made great strides in improving the sustainability of its packaging, phasing out Styrofoam and transitioning to a blend of 70 percent cardboard and 30 percent poly foam that's 100 percent recyclable! Xtrema is also compliant with FDA and California Prop 65 guidelines for lead and cadmium.
3. Cast Iron Bakeware
Heavy and durable, cast iron creates a crunchy crust and a rustic look on anything from cornbread to skillet cookies. Skillets can turn out lovely pies, loaves of bread, and one-pot dinners. Plus, who doesn’t love picking out their favorite color?
Staub Cast Iron Bakeware
When it comes to cast iron, we're head over heels for Staub. Their Dutch oven, au gratin dish, and roaster are some of our top choices for braises, bakes, and roasts, and we especially love these dishes for baking homemade bread.
From the Organic Authority Files
Staub's gorgeous cookware boasts a unique black matte enamel coating made of quartz particles, putting the bling in bakeware. Not just pretty to look at, this surface promotes exceptional browning and also resists wear and tear from metal utensils on the rare (or, uh, not so rare...) occasion you throw caution to the wind and neglect to grab, instead, your trusty wooden spoon. Plus, their Dutch ovens are so beautiful that you can leave them on your stovetop as a homey decorative touch when not in use.
One final reason we love Staub? Their commitment to environmental stewardship and workers' rights are naturally built into the company philosophy and core values. When you purchase bakeware from Staub, you’re not just ensuring healthy, safe, and delicious food, but you’re also supporting a company that cares for its workers and the environment. It’s truly the perfect recipe.
As much as we love ceramic, we might have an even softer spot for porcelain, at least when it comes to bakeware. French porcelain is oven-safe up to 650F, as compared to just 482F for ceramic clay. It just might be more durable than ceramic, porcelain also heats evenly and gently, and it's naturally nonstick to boot.
Made In’s French Porcelain
Let’s be honest: when it comes to food, the French kind of own the landscape in a major way. They have a reputation for being a bit snide about it, but can you blame them? From a real pain au chocolat to real porcelain, they've got craftsmanship on lock.
One of our favorite brands for French porcelain is Made In. Made from a 200-year-old porcelain recipe, this bakeware boasts natural nonstick properties, plus high heat conduction and performance. It's pretty much guaranteed turn your baking game up a few notches.
And we're not the only ones who think so! Nancy Silverton, the James Beard Award-winning chef, baker, and founder of the famous La Brea Bakery in Los Angeles, even helped develop a special edition three-piece bakeware set in collaboration with Made In.
Aside from the food celebrity street cred, Made In is also 100 percent lead and cadmium-free, and is California Prop 65 compliant. In fact, their environmental initiatives are another reason to love them. Here’s just a short list of the highlights:
- They keep and re-use their water and materials whenever possible.
- Seventy-five percent of the heat in their factory comes from the kiln.
- The improved insulation of their kilns decrease energy loss by 50 percent.
- A partnership has led to their using defective products or broken pieces in the surface of the roads and pavement, lending those surfaces a shinier look and a better reflection of light at night, which, in turrn, helps to lower the consumption of electricity.
If you're the type of baker that likes to see what’s going on inside that pie pan as it bubbles away, you might like glass bakeware.
Pyrex Glass Bakeware
Brands like Pyrex are classics, and you can add some vintage flair to your collection (without hours spent combing through thrift stores) with the company's designed-in-Paris glass pie dish.
This dish is a stalwart for a reason. It can go from freezer to oven no prob (yes, you can assemble and freeze your whole pie ahead of time), and the clear glass affords the perfect opportunity to watch the exterior brown to golden perfection when you just can't stare at your screen a moment longer. Easy to clean, naturally nonstick, and free of toxic chemicals, it’s pretty charmant if we do say so ourselves.
6. Stainless Steel Bakeware
A favorite among professional chefs and bakers, stainless steel is a workhorse on the pastry line, too. Stainless steel heats evenly, promoting uniform browning, and it won’t rust. Large sheet trays can roast a week’s worth of veggies or deliver a perfect batch of your grandma’s chocolate chip cookies.
All-Clad Stainless Steel Baking Sheets
All-Clad is known for its heavy-duty construction and durability. The 4-Piece Essential Bakeware set will last you forever and includes one piece of bakeware many at-home bakers hardly think twice about: the easy-release cooling rack. Give your cookies a soft place to land when they come off the All-Clad baking sheet provides the ultimate oven-to-mouth experience.
Made In’s Baking Sheets + Cooling Racks
Speaking of baking sheets (and cookies...), we’re loving Made In’s baking sheets and cooling racks. The latter are made from coated stainless steel, while the baking sheets are made from commercial grade 3004 aluminum.
Aluminum is a favorite among chefs thanks to its durability and quick, even heating. That said, there has been some worry about aluminum as it pertains to leaching when it comes into contact with acidic foods. And using aluminum may also be a point of concern for those with heavy metal sensitivities and/or who are immunocompromised. That’s why we recommend using 3004 aluminum, the highest level of food-grade aluminum, for baking cookies, roasting vegetables, and more.
Here’s the bottom line: Whatever you fancy baking up next, from copycat Girl Scout cookies to vegan cherry pie, this clean bakeware guide is your go-to to stock your kitchen with quality gear that is good for the planet and your health. And if you're curious which safe and healthy brands we like for your stovetop, be sure to check out our Non-Toxic Cookware Guide and see how the rest of your pots and pans measure up.
*Affiliate disclosure: Our team researched far and wide to find safe and clean bakeware options you’ll love using for all kinds of sweets and treats. If you make a purchase after clicking our links, Organic Authority may earn a commission, which goes a long way to support the good work our team does and reduces the number of ads we serve (as well as our Valrhona Chocolate habit.)
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