Non-toxic bakeware and cookware can be a frustrating topic. There’s a lot of greenwashing that happens with these products, making things confusing for consumers.
There are also just general pros and cons to even the safest bakeware materials, so it comes down to personal preference, too!
This guide is meant to give you the rundown of which materials are safest for your baked goods, as well as which non-toxic bakeware brands are best. That way you can make the most informed decision for yourself!
Table of Contents
- What’s the Problem With Non-Stick Bakeware?
- Other Bakeware Materials to Avoid
- What is the Safest Bakeware for Your Health?
- Glass Bakeware
- Cast Iron
- Stainless Steel
- (Unglazed) Stoneware
- Is Silicone Bakeware Non-Toxic?
- What About Aluminum?
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Featured Image Credit: Xtrema
What’s the Problem With Non-Stick Bakeware?
Most of the baking sheets, cake pans, and other bakeware you’ll find in stores is made out of some kind of metal (like steel or aluminum) with a non-stick coating on top.
This non-stick layer is almost always made with toxic PFAS chemicals. Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are linked with a host of negative health concerns, including cancer, infertility, and more. Teflon is perhaps the most well-known brand that uses PFAS.
These toxic chemicals leach into our food where we then ingest them. PFAS are “persistent” chemicals, which means they don’t really break down in our bodies or larger ecosystems. Instead, they just stay in our bodies and build up year after year. This is why they earned the nickname “forever chemicals.”
Although many manufacturers have phased out certain types of PFAS (mainly PFOA and PFOS), other types of PFAS are still widely used in bakeware and lots of other products. There are over 9,000 different kinds of PFAS and it’s easy for companies to swap PFOA out for a different (but very similar) chemical and then slap a “PFOA-Free” label on their product.
This is why you should be very wary of non-stick bakeware that makes claims like “PFOA-Free” but otherwise appears to look and act like traditional Teflon. You’ll want to look for bakeware that is free from ALL PFAS—not just one or two of them.
Other Bakeware Materials to Avoid
Silicone is better for use at room temperature and in the fridge or freezer, as there’s some indication it can leach chemicals at high temperatures. So in general, I don’t recommend it for the oven. If you do use it though, make sure it’s food-safe, platinum grade, and/or medical-grade. You want to use 100% silicone that’s free from plastic fillers.
Aluminum is a neurotoxin that’s associated with Alzheimer’s, so if you use aluminum bakeware, you’ll want to make sure it’s coated with something else, such as stainless steel or PFAS-free ceramic.
What is the Safest Bakeware for Your Health?
So, now that you know what to avoid, let’s look at safer non-toxic bakeware materials.
The safest materials to look for in non-toxic bakeware are cast iron, 100% ceramic, stainless steel (without a non-stick coating), and glass.
Ceramic-coated bakeware can be a relatively safe option, but safety varies by brand. Not all ceramic-coated baking pans are 100% PFAS-free. Additionally, some people choose to take the precautionary approach to ceramic-coated bakeware because there’s not much evidence yet on the safety of the sol-gel material that’s used to coat it.
Stoneware and enameled bakeware are pretty good options, too, but they have the potential to leach trace amounts of heavy metals like lead. If you use these kinds of ovenware, you’ll want to avoid vintage enamelware and go for white over bright colors like red.
Each of these materials have their pros and cons, and what you choose will ultimately come down to personal preference. So let’s break down the factors to consider with each of these materials and check out our favorite non-toxic bakeware brands:
For things like brownies, cakes, lasagnas, and casseroles, glass is a great option. Not only is it safe, but it also tends to be one of the more affordable options! Plus, it’s easy to find in big box stores and it’s dishwasher safe, stain-resistant, and scratch-resistant.
Some people may have questions about heavy metals like lead in glassware. Although lead is not usually added to glass, it’s possible for glass to naturally contain small amounts of lead, as they are both naturally-occurring in the earth. (They do make leaded crystal in which they add lead on purpose, but it’s labeled as such so it’s easy to avoid.)
However, the main reason why glass is a safe option is because those small amounts of metals don’t leach out of the glass the same way they do with other types of materials.
If you want to take extra precautions about lead in glassware, try to avoid products made out of recycled glass, colored glass, and/or glassware with decorations on it (like painted rims and things like that). These products are more likely to contain higher amounts of lead that may (or may not) leach.
Our Pick for Glass Bakeware: Pyrex
Price Range: $6 (pie plate) – $60 (19-piece bake and store set)
Carries: Pie pans and general baking dishes of various sizes and depths
Pyrex of course is the classic glass bakeware and food storage brand. They have a wide variety of products, from casserole dishes to pie pans and more. Many of them come with lids that are usually either plastic, silicone, or glass. (You’ll want to let your food cool before putting on the plastic lid if possible.)
Anchor Hocking is another good brand for glass bakeware as well.
This is one of the best options for non-toxic bakeware. A cast iron pan is super versatile—you can use it on the stovetop and in the oven. The only people who should be careful about cast iron are those that already have high levels of iron, since cast iron can leach small amounts of iron into your food. But for those who run on the more anemic side of things, baking or cooking with cast iron can actually be one way to get a little more iron in your diet.
There is a slight learning curve when it comes to caring for cast iron. Unless you buy it pre-seasoned, you’ll have to season it yourself to give it a non-stick surface. It’s also pretty heavy so it may not be suitable for some individuals.
However, if you take care of it properly, cast iron will last generations, and it honestly only gets better with time!
Our Pick for Cast Iron Bakeware: Lodge
Price Range: $30 (mini cake pan) – $120 (4-piece set)
Carries: Pie pan, pizza pan, baker’s skillet, cookie sheets, baking pan, cornstick pan, wedge pan, muffin pans, fluted cake pan, casserole dish
Lodge is one of the most affordable cast iron brands. Many of their products now come pre-seasoned, so you don’t have to worry about learning how to season it and make it non-stick yourself. All of their products are made in the USA, too.
Some products are both stove safe and oven safe, while some are just one or the other (so make sure you check the details on the product page). Lodge also says their baking pans are dishwasher safe, but personally, I always hand-wash my cast iron.
Field Company is also a great cast iron brand.
We took a deep dive into ceramic cookware in this article, so I’d encourage you to check that out to find out more about the pros and cons of ceramic for cooking and baking.
But to summarize it quickly for you here:
- There are two different kinds of ceramic bakeware: 100% ceramic and ceramic-coated.
- 100% pure ceramic is one of the safest kinds of bakeware you can buy. It lasts a really long time, it doesn’t leach harmful chemicals, and you can even cook acidic foods in it. But it does have it’s downsides, too: it’s heavy and requires some extra maintenance (like seasoning it the way you do for cast iron).
- Ceramic-coated bakeware actually consists of a metal core (usually aluminum) that’s then wrapped in a ceramic-like material called sol-gel. One of the main concerns about ceramic-coated bakeware is that not all sol-gel coatings are created equal. Some of them are PFAS-free and some aren’t—it varies from brand to brand. There is also very little evidence about the other chemicals used in sol-gel and whether or not they’re truly safe.
- A lot of people like ceramic-coated bakeware because it’s the most similar to conventional non-stick and requires basically zero learning curve. It’s lightweight, inherently non-stick, easy to wash, and won’t break if you drop it. However, ceramic-coated bakeware doesn’t last very long and you’ll likely have to replace it after a couple of years.
- Many people may want to avoid ceramic-coated baking pans and other products because of the precautionary principle. Until there is more research about the safety of this sol-gel coating, they’ll play it safe and avoid it. But if you do decide to use ceramic-coated cookware, you’ll want to make sure you choose a brand that is 100% PFAS-free.
Our Pick for 100% Ceramic Bakeware: Xtrema
Price Range: $40 (round roasting tray) – $210 (3-piece baker’s bundle)
Carries: Roasting/baking racks, pie pan, muffin pan, loaf pan, casserole dish
You’ll notice Xtrema in most of our guides to non-toxic cookware and bakeware because pure ceramic one of the safest materials for cooking and baking.
Xtrema is made out of clay, water, natural minerals, and oxides, and fired at very high temperatures in order to ensure proper stabilization and prevent any leaching. Each piece is made by hand, too.
The team at Xtrema tests every shipment for extractable lead and cadmium in accordance with California Prop 65. They have passed Prop 65 standards for lead and cadmium for the past 15 years, and they make these results available on their website for consumers to check out.
They even went a step further and tested their unglazed pans to make sure that even if the glaze on your cookware gets damaged over time, you’re still safe.
Xtrema also offers some other perks like a 40-day trial and a 10-year limited warranty. For instructions on how to care for your Xtrema to get the non-stick feature, check out their Use & Care Guide.
It’s worth nothing that there is a slight learning curve to using 100% pure ceramic cookware if you’re not used to it. You’ll have to add a seasoned layer to make it non-stick (the same way you do with cast iron). It’s also heavier than traditional non-stick options and it can break if you drop it. But, if you take good care of it, it can last generations!
Our Pick for Ceramic-Coated Cookware: Caraway
Price Range: $40 (pan) – $545 (11-piece set)
Carries: Baking sheets and pans of various shapes and sizes, muffin pan, loaf pan, cooling rack
As mentioned above, there are definitely some pros and cons to ceramic-coated bakeware. Some people choose to skip it because of the lack of research on the safety of the sol-gel coating, along with the fact that it’s not very durable.
But it’s also non-stick, lightweight, and very easy to use. So if you do want to choose bakeware with a ceramic coating, it’s important you choose a brand that’s truly PFAS-free. A lot of the ceramic brands advertise themselves as being free from one or two specific PFAS (“PFOA-Free!” or “PFOS-Free!”), but the reality is that they contain other chemicals in the PFAS family, such as PTFE.
You will want to be careful if and when the ceramic coating on your bakeware starts to wear off, though. You don’t want any exposed aluminum to leach into your foods.
Caraway’s bakeware is also available in several different pretty colors, so it looks nice in your kitchen.
(And check out our full review on Caraway’s bakeware here.)
GreenPan and GreenLife are also pretty good options for ceramic-coated cookware. These two brands are owned by the same company, but GreenPan is made with more durable materials, while GreenLife is more affordable.
Stainless steel is another kind of cookware that’s lightweight and durable. The only people who should NOT use stainless steel bakeware are those who have nickel sensitivities, since stainless steel can leach small amounts of nickel. (This is not a problem for most people.)
One really important thing here is to make sure your stainless steel baking sheets are uncoated. Many stainless steel brands wrap their roasting sheets and muffin pans in a non-stick layer that contains harmful PFAS, so you want to avoid that.
Of course, the fact that they’re uncoated means they’re not inherently non-stick, so you’ll want to use a grease of some kind when cooking or baking.
You may also find other kinds of steel bakeware that’s combined with other materials. For example, you might find enameled stainless steel, aluminized steel, or even ceramic-coated steel. Whether or not these options are safe will vary.
Our Pick for Stainless Steel Baking Sheets & Bakeware: 360 Cookware
Price Range: $89 (pizza pan) – $669 (5-piece baking set)
Carries: Pizza pans, baking sheets, roasting pans, cake pans, loaf pan
360 Cookware’s non-toxic baking sheets and pans are handmade in the USA out of 5-Ply surgical-grade stainless steel, combined with an inner layer of aluminum for even heat distribution.
Not only is this bakeware completely free from all PFAS chemicals, but they use a special “dry sanding” process on their products which makes gives them more non-stick than other stainless steel bakeware.
There’s glazed stoneware (like from Le Creuset) and unglazed stoneware (like from Pampered Chef). Let’s talk about unglazed stoneware first.
This stone bakeware is made out of natural clay and fired at extremely hot temperatures in order to make a product that’s unaffected by liquids.
Unglazed stoneware is generally safe, but it’s important to know that it may naturally contain trace amounts of lead and/or other heavy metals since it’s mined from the earth. Therefore, you’ll want to go with a brand that tests their clay for heavy metals.
Stone bakeware will last a really long time if you take care of it properly. It’s also thermal shock resistant, which means it can handle drastic changes in temperature. It’s somewhat non-stick naturally, but it’s not as slippery as Teflon or ceramic-coated cookware. It’s also kind of heavy and can break if you drop it.
Our Pick for Stone Bakeware: Miriam‘s Earthen Cookware
Price Range: $76 (small pot with lid) – $343 (3-pot combo)
Carries: Round pans, pots of various sizes (with lids)
There are very few brands that offer unglazed stone bakeware, with Pampered Chef of course being the most well-known one. But Miriam’s Earthen Cookware actually makes their testing available on their site, indicating that it’s been verified to be free of heavy metals like lead and arsenic.
The clay they use is sourced from from secluded and non-industrialized lands from across the USA, which means it’s less likely to be contaminated with toxic chemicals of all kinds. Then each piece is handcrafted in the U.S. as well—each pot takes 24 to 30 days to make from start to finish!
Enameled bakeware comes in several different types: you can find enameled stoneware, enameled cast iron, enameled stainless steel, etc. The most important thing to consider here is what the outer material is made of, since that’s the part that will actually be touching your food and potentially leaching stuff into your food. (Although, the inner part is important to consider too as it can become exposed if the bakeware gets chipped or scratched.)
Le Creuset is probably the most well-known brand that makes both enameled cast iron and stoneware. Like with unglazed stone, is some concern about these products containing trace amounts of lead and other heavy metals, so that’s an important consideration to keep in mind.
Vintage and bright-colored enamelware is more likely to contain lead, so choosing newer and lighter colored enameled bakeware can decrease the risk of heavy metal exposure.
Enameled bakeware is semi non-stick. It doesn’t require the extra seasoning and maintenance that cast iron and 100% ceramic products do, but it’s not as slippery as Teflon or ceramic-coated bakeware.
If you take care of it, enameled cast iron and stone will last decades. Enameled stainless steel is more prone to chipping. (Although, unless you have a nickel sensitivity, you should be okay if the stainless steel becomes exposed.) But enameled stainless steel is lighter weight and more affordable compared to cast iron or stone.
Is Silicone Bakeware Non-Toxic?
Although it’s great at room temperature and in the freezer, silicone is not the safest option for bakeware since there is some indication that it can start leaching chemicals at high temperatures. There’s also just not a lot of research in general when it comes to the safety of silicone bakeware.
On the other hand, silicone is light-weight and won’t break if it’s dropped, making it a pretty good option for some people. It’s also more naturally non-stick than some of the other options, so it requires less maintenance than something like cast iron.
And when it comes to things like muffin cups, I would argue that silicone is probably a safer bet than the paper cups because the paper ones are very likely to be lined with toxic PFAS.
They also now have silicone baking mats to replace parchment paper and aluminum foil (which also commonly contain PFAS). Again: I don’t strongly recommend these mats, but if you must choose between the silicone mats and the parchment paper/foil, I would say the silicone mats are generally safer.
(If You Care is a brand that makes parchment paper, foil, and baking cups that are PFAS-free and lined with a silicone mist instead. This would also be a better option than conventional brands that use PFAS to create a non-stick surface.)
In general, I would recommend sticking with silicone at room temperature or in the freezer/fridge. If you do decide to use silicone bakeware, use 100% food-grade, platinum-grade, and/or medical-grade silicone. You want to avoid silicone that’s made with chemical or plastic fillers because those are much more likely to leach toxic chemicals.
What About Aluminum?
What about those classic aluminum baking sheets—are those safe?
Aluminum is a neurotoxin that’s associated with Alzheimer’s as well as other health concerns such as cancer. This is somewhat controversial, in large part because there hasn’t been nearly as much research on aluminum compared to other metals like lead.
If you do use aluminum bakeware, you’re better off going with an coated or clad option. This is where an aluminum core is used for even heat distribution, and then it’s covered with a different material to prevent aluminum leaching.
Caraway, for example, offers bakeware made with aluminized steel and then wrapped in a PFAS-free non-stick coating. A lot of brands offer baking sheets made with aluminum that’s clad with stainless steel. You’ll just want to make sure that whatever coating comes on your aluminum baking sheets is actually 100% PFAS-free!
Whenever you use aluminum (whether it’s a pan, aluminum foil, a disposable pie pan, etc.), you’ll want to avoid scratching it with utensils. Scratching can cause the metal to leach into your food.
You should also avoid using aluminum when baking acidic foods.
Is Wilton Bakeware Non-Toxic?
Unfortunately, no. Even though Wilton’s bakeware is free from certain PFAS like PFOA and C-8, it’s not completely PFAS-free and therefore cannot be considered safe.
Are there any other brands you’re wondering about? Let us know in the comments below and we’ll do some research!