I like my non-stick cookware how I like my significant others — non-toxic, not clingy, good-looking, and put together. And, although I have had absolutely no luck finding a partner that reaches those expectations IRL, I can proudly announce that I have discovered the pots and pans of my dreams. Caraway, the digitially-native, Teflon-free cookware company that’s garnering heavy online buzz, is where it all began. The internet might be a hopeless place, but Caraway's stylish dot-com — filled with ethically-manufactured cookware, bakeware, and linens — was the site (!) of the ultimate crockery meet-cute. As soon as that glorious cardboard box containing my cookware set arrived at my doorstep and I scooped a glob of sticky oatmeal out of the saucepan with one scrape, I knew this set was the one.
Despite this love at first simmer, in order to truly vet the Fry Pan, Sauté Pan, Sauce Pan, and Dutch Oven, I put this $395 set to work for 60+ days. Scrambled eggs, stubborn sushi rice, sizzled chicken breast, greasy bacon, and more ingredients flooded these pans for two whole months — the question is, did my heat-conducting soulmate make it out unscathed? Read on below for the highs, lows, and the passionate tale of firsts that is my Caraway Cookware Set love story.
What is the Caraway Cookware Set?
Before committing, it’s important to get the full low down on any potential suitor; so here’s everything you could possibly want to know about these high-design, high-functioning pots and pans. This $395 set (actually a $495 value) is available in seven colorways, and comes with four pieces of non-toxic, non-stick, and oven-safe ceramic cookware — a 10.5" Fry Pan, 4.5-quart Sauté Pan, 3-quart Sauce Pan, 6.5-quart Dutch Oven, and four lids to match. (Let’s not forget the icing on the aesthetic cake: A small-space-friendly magnetic rack that keeps your pans lined up when not in use, and the streamlined canvas lid holder that’s easily mounted from the inside of a cabinet door.)
In case you were wondering, the eye-catching pots have substance in addition to style. To address the surplus of “nons” — non-toxic, non-stick, and so on — let's just say Caraway keeps it clean. According to its site, the secret to the brand's slippery-but-safe surface is the mineral-based ceramic coating that's completely free of “forever chemicals” (like perfluorooctanoic acid and polytetrafluoroethylene) that were commonly baked into the coating of traditional non-stick cookware. (According to Scientific American, it’s rare to find these chemicals in any modern-day cookware, but Caraway claims on its website that polytetrafluoroethylene — sometimes known as Teflon — is still found in 95% of non-stick pans.) The impact-minded cooks out there will be happy to know that the mineral coating requires 60% less carbon dioxide to manufacture that the the aforementioned traditional non-stick, and that Caraway partners with Business Social Compliance Initiative-certified factories to ensure their employees fair wages and safe working conditions.
If you have two eyes and an internet-enabled mobile device, you’ve probably noticed that Caraway is part of a growing phalanx of design-y, direct to consumer cookware brands that marry countertop-worthy style with a toxin-free composition. (As Most Wanted’s lifestyle writer, I’ve crossed paths with more than a few of them — my sage green, eight-in-one Our Place Always Pan excels at saving space in my Brooklyn apartment and my Great Jones Sweetie Pie dish looks as cute as a button when sat atop my coffee table.) It seems, however, that Caraway may be pulling ahead of the pack — right now, the Cookware Set boasts over 22,000 reviews and an impressive 4.8 on-site rating, and happy customers applaud the pans for being “beautifully designed,” "functional," “high-performing,” and “perfection.” (The few not-so-happy buyers expressed their disappointment with "early peeling," "damaged coating," and the high price point.)
Let's see what happened when I put my boo to the test.
Our First Meeting: September 29, 2021
I received my set, compliments of Caraway, in the last few days of September and immediately cracked it open. Like other reviewers mentioned, the packaging truly does what it needs to do. Each piece was securely tucked away in cardboard pockets and some informative pamphlets were provided. Bonus: nothing was hidden or hard to find. The magnetic pan rack and canvas lid holder were sensibly tucked under the pans. (I've thrown out important items on occasion because of sneaky packaging.)
I didn't notice a "new pot" chemical smell or any aroma of the sort. Contrary to the negative reviews, none of my pans were scratched, damaged, or even dusty — but, I still gave them a good wash before placing them in the aforementioned storage provided.
Our First Breakfast: October 2, 2021
Although it makes people sick, I like my oatmeal overcooked and one step away from an actual oatmeal cookie. So my pans, bowls, and spoons are nightmares if I don't immediately soak them after eating. To my pleasant surprise, I scooped my sticky, well-done oatmeal out of this pan with grace — and, as you can see, only a few residual oats were left hanging on the sides.
The best part? No. Soak. Required. This is when my eyes really lit up and my heart skipped a beat. I ran the water into the pan, gently scrubbed as instructed, and was left with a sparkly so-fresh-and-so-clean non-stick pot.
Our First Dinner: October 4, 2021
This story is about the cookware and I, not the food, so the four chicken breast cutlets I sizzled in olive oil, balsamic vinaigrette, and cherry tomatoes won't receive any screentime. Instead, let's focus on the gloriously spot-free sheen left on the Sauté Pan after a single rinse. The greasy residue sat atop my stove for about an hour while I ate my meal. So, I wouldn't say it was given enough time to solidify and cling to the pan. Another disclaimer: my sink faucet's water pressure is nothing to brag about, but the piping hot water temperature definitely helped the cause. Nonetheless, this dinner truly defined our relationship — I was in love.
Our Umpteenth Meal: October 18, 2021
At this point, my Caraway pots and I were going strong. In this instance, I cooked one cup of sushi rice in the pot, let it rest for about an hour, and then scooped the rest into a storage container. The rice always comes out in one clump that conformed to the edges of the pan, which leaves only a few stragglers left behind. The only complaint I can think of is the stainless steel handle gets extremely hot, but that's just me grasping at straws.
Our Two Month Anniversary: November 29, 2021
For our two-month anniversary, I documented one of my more simple, yet essential, meals: turkey bacon and eggs. I always like to cook the bacon first, wipe off any crusties remaining in the pan, and then scramble two eggs on the same surface. With the Caraway fry pans, I rarely have to wipe away any burnt bacon bits or overheated grease. For one, I do not find myself using as much oil since the non-stick does most of the work for me. I also don't notice the pan overheating, but that could just be my cooking skills strengthening by the day.
The eggs got scrambled and I was still as impressed as ever at how they effortlessly fell out of the pan and onto my plate. Little to no flaky egg remnants or bacon grease to be found, like always.
The Final Proposal: December 17, 2021
It's been just a little over two months, and my honeymoon phase with these pans has yet to end. Perhaps it's my simple recipes, inexperience with expensive crockery, or obsession with appearance, but these are some truly do-it-all pans. They look exactly the same as when I first opened them — no scratches, heat damage, or peeling to be found. The holders continue to do their job well and are a lovely home for my cookware set. (It’s important to note the general best practices for ensuring a successful union with any non-stick pan; including let your cookware cool down before hitting the sink, giving it a gentle hand wash with a non-abrasive sponge, and storing it away from other hard-edged utensils that might scratch the pan’s chemically composed surface.) If my Caraway pans and I were to ever break up, it would be because they do take up quite a bit of space and the handles get extra-hot when cooking, but who would destroy a happy marriage over something so trivial? I suggest heading over to Caraway's site now so you can make a connection in your very own kitchen. My cookware set and I will go on living happily ever after, taking each day one home-cooked meal at a time.
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