In our educational materials, we advise that one:
Cook only in cast iron, stainless steel, glass or good quality enamel … and I would now add ceramic cookware to the list.
Please note that I’ll discuss exactly what kind of stainless steel is recommend later in this article! Meanwhile, heavy, old-fashioned cast-iron frying pan such as those made my Lodge are great for all sautéing and stir-frys. These pans should not be washed with soap but merely rinsed in hot water and dried with towels.
Note: Lodge Manufacturing, the oldest U.S. maker of cast-iron cookware still in business today, only sells theirs pre-seasoned with soy oil now, however some would argue that it is irrelevant. On a paleo based site I read one commenter asserts that “The type of oil used to season is irrelevant. A season is made up mostly of burnt oil turned to carbon, and there’s no paleo/non-paleo carbon. The oil burns off, leaving carbon in the uneven parts of the surface making it smooth. Adding to the season that comes from the factory will only get “more paleo” (and much better) as you cook on it with healthy fats.” Dr. Kaayla Daniels, author of The Whole Soy Story, reflects about cast iron pre-seasoned with soy: “It’s certainly no problem for most of us. For severely allergic people, it’s a risk they can’t afford to take.”
Others recommend that you scrub your pre-seasoned Lodge in the sink with hot soapy water a couple of times and re-season anew. “Once the seasoning is off, use flax oil to re-season it, unless you have a known sensitivity which may be an issue. This is not for any Paleo reason (being a seed oil and all, I’m not advocating eating it in quantity), but because it creates a nigh-indestructible base coat. From there, build up your normal polymerized layers of clarified butter, tallow, and coconut oil.” Read another article in favor of using flax oil to season a cast iron pan. Seasoning with flax oil is not without controversy however, as is mentioned in this article in the last paragraph.
Others advocate that you season cast iron with lard, tallow or coconut oil. Olive oil and butter is not advised by some because of the low smoke point.
Dr. Kaayla Daniels advises us not to use tomato sauce in cast iron so as not to pull the iron from the pan.
Stainless Steel Magnet Test
How do we know what kind of stainless steel is safe? Please read this article I wrote on the subject to get an overview. Meanwhile, there are two main types of stainless steel, magnetic and nonmagnetic. The nonmagnetic form has a very high nickel content, and nickel is described as allergenic and carcinogenic. It is much more toxic than iron or aluminum. This study revealed that nickel as well as chromium in stainless steel leaches into food. You can use a little “refrigerator magnet” to test your pans. The magnet will stick firmly to the safer type of pan.
It is wise to use the magnet all over the pan – inside and outside since some have found that the pan contains mixed ingredients and sticks firmly in some places and not in others.
Sources: Magnet and Stainless Steel Cookware, Magnetically Attractive Stainless Steel Cookware
A community member asked about titanium. Dr. Kaayla Daniel answers, in short, “I think titanium is fine.” Update September 28, 2017: I called Saladmaster today and spoke to a representative. She confirmed Saladmaster does contain 16% to 18% chromium and 10% to 14% nickel, and is more stainless steel than titanium. Titanium content is typically only around 0.5%, as you’ll see in this document she emailed me.
Not recommended due to copper toxicity concerns.
Via our Amazon affiliation:
Lodge 5-Piece Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Cookware Set
Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven, 6-Quart
Lodge Cast Iron Cookware
Visions 5-pc Glass Cookware Set
Pyrex 2 quart Glass Casserole with cover
Pyrex glassware for storage and cooking
Le Creuset, Staub and Split Enameled Cookware
Xtrema ceramic cookware
Hamilton Beach Set ‘n Forget Programmable Slow Cooker, 6-Quart
VitaClay Slow Cookers
Jarhill, Homichef and Faberware are all nickel free stainless steel options. Gunter Wilhelm cookware is made from type 430 stainless steel. This kind of stainless steel material contains a minute amount of nickel (0.50 percent or less).
How do you season your cast iron?!
See our public discussion about this topic on Facebook.
33 Responses to Cookware Recommendations
If you want good cast iron, you do NOT want new cast iron. If you compare a Lodge (or other new) cast iron piece with an antique one, you will find that the finish on the antique one is nice and smooth, while the modern piece is rough. Lodge deliberately decided to quit grinding their cast iron properly smooth, even though they know quite well that the smooth surface makes for a MUCH easier to use pan. Buy your cast iron at auctions, flea markets, thrift stores, antiques stores, rummage sales, etc. You will save money AND end up with better equipment and no soy oil. Cast iron lasts practically forever. Almost all of mine is at least half a century old, mostly acquired at auctions. I have one modern Lodge piece, a butter melter, and I am glad that it’s just a butter melter, which doesn’t get as hard use as my skillets do. It’s definitely inferior in quality.
Thanks, Heather, another suggestion is to buy them on ebay. http://www.ebay.com/sch/Cast-Iron-/976/i.html What brand(s) of vintage cast iron do you have?
Oh – never mind! I see in your subsequent comment that you mention the brands you have! I see those brands on ebay! I have personally only used Lodge and perhaps I don’t know what I am missing but, found them to serve be very well.
If you have an old piece of cast iron, the finish, especially on the inside, will be as smooth as a stainless steel pot, not about the same as 80 grit sandpaper, like Lodge. This makes the whole idea of non-stick cast iron MUCH easier to achieve.
I have some Griswold pieces, some Wagner pieces, and a lot more no-name pieces (Hubs kind of collects cast iron. He bought a big old sausage press/lard press a couple of weeks ago at an auction. Makes for a nice kitchen, but certainly adds weight when we move! 🙂 ) Some are from auctions, some from flea markets (including the ones in San Jose!), some are family heirlooms, some from antique stores, and, yes, some from ebay. My enameled cast iron pots are mostly old Descoware. I ran across one pot at a rummage sale, then bought more on ebay. If you are shopping at an auction or antique store (or ebay) Wagner and Griswold pieces will often bring premium prices, and most of the no-name antique cast iron is just as nice, quality-wise.
A tip: I have found that making popcorn with coconut oil does WONDERFUL things to the seasoning in a cast iron dutch oven–all the little bumpy things on the inside of the lid even get seasoned nicely.
I’m so fortunate to have some lovely thrift store cast iron and glass, a couple magnetic stainless pots from one grandmother, and several pieces of amazing Le Creuset from the other grandmother! I do have a question, however. Among my Le Creuset are 2 skillets with a black (rather than white/cream) interior, and I wonder if this is some kind of 1960’s/70’s era non-stick finish — and if it is safe. I don’t think it’s just ordinary, exposed, cast iron – it doesn’t rust or anything when soaked with soap. These are perfect for making eggs and sausages, and they are fairly easy to clean (though not as easy as modern non-stick). Does anybody know what this is, and if we can safely keep using it?
Lodge Manufacturing is not the oldest U.S. maker of cast-iron cookware. It may be the oldest manufacturer still in business today, but it is in no way the oldest as your post suggests. Joseph Lodge didn’t open his foundry until 1896, Selden & Griswold went into production in 1865, and one of my favorite foundry-made cast iron skillets was produced around the time of the Civil War.
Hal, Lodge is the oldest manufacturer of cast iron in the US still in business. She’s trying to let people know what to look for, especially as a lot of “off-brand” cast iron is Chinese stuff of even lower quality than Lodge. I have several Griswold and Wagner pieces, and you couldn’t pay me to trade them for what Lodge sells!
I will clarify “still in business today”!
I changed it to “Lodge Manufacturing, the oldest U.S. maker of cast-iron cookware still in business today, only sells theirs pre-seasoned with soy oil now, however some would argue that it is irrelevant.”
Thanks for the recommendation to make popcorn in the Dutch oven to help even out the seasoning. Great idea!
I have been fortunate enough to find a cast iron skillet and pot for only a couple dollars each. One at a garage sale and one at a thrift store. They are unmarked, but so smooth on the inside. I don’t have any desire for Lodge products, even though their factory outlet store is a short drive away.
I also found a glass frying pan at the thrift store for $.39! I don’t really know how to use it effectively and I prefer my stainless to it, so it sits in the back of the cabinet most of the time.
Re stainless, salt can corrode non magnetic stainless, which is y even All Clad incl instructions with their products to heat the pan before adding salt. However what if the food ur cooking is salty in nature and u don’t kno to heat the pan first? If it can corrode it can leach. Pls c this article regarding the chromium in all stainless and the nickel in most:
Thoughts? Thank u!
We use stainless and cast iron, and enameled cast iron. We love them all! In the last 5 years or so, we acquired about 5 older cast iron pans from my parents, who don’t cook much at all anymore. We were thrilled to get them!
Yes, I have used magnets on all my stainless pans. We have one cheaper stainless pan that the magnet is attracted to strongly, but our entire All-Clad set which we love and use daily, and have had for nearly 20 years only shows attraction on the bottoms of the pans/pots.
stoneware not good? i use it.
We took our recommendations directly from the Weston A. Price Foundation. Which stoneware do you use? I can make an inquiry with them!
Hey there, Sandrine,
Thanks so much for this informative post. and timely for me, too, b/c i’ve been wondering lately about my corning ware. i’ve been using it to avoid my bad aluminum pots, but somebody mentioned recently that corning ware may contain lead. is that true? . . . if not, any other reason i shouldn’t continue on with my corning ware? . . .
Would appreciate your thoughts. thanks!!
Oh & I have almost all French white & one vintage corn flower one. Like these here.
oh man, i really apologize for the obnoxious mammoth pictures. gracious, it’s like attack of the corning ware dishes. sorry about that.
I edited the links so the photo previews wouldn’t show!
I don’t believe that Corning Ware has lead in it. I would check directly with the manufacturer but, I have used it in the past myself.
Do you have another brand suggestion for quality Enameled Cookware besides Le Creuset?
This one linked to above: http://amzn.to/1u4idMr
[…] 5. Heat the coconut oil in a large cast iron or enamelware skillet. [Read our post about cookware.] Heat the oil until you can spoon some of the latkes batter into the oil and the it […]
We used ‘Saladmaster’, it’s titanium in the inside, energy efficient, environmentally friendly etc. it’s a great investment that you can passed on to your next generation. It’s recommended by some doctors to patients with complicated cases.
Thank you! I’ll take a look!
[…] To make her broth, Kitt used a whole chicken caracas, as well as the chicken feet. Someone wondered if it is necessary to click the nail and I don’t, and clearly, neither does Kitt. She explained that while she doesn’t measure example, these are the spices she includes and their approximate quantities: “You can see the green cardamom pods in the picture so about an eight to a fourth of a cup. About a tablespoon of whole cloves, 2 tablespoons of black peppercorns, 1 tablespoon fenugreek and whole coriander, 2 star anise pods, a 1/4 cup vinegar and about an inch long piece of turmeric.” Once she puts the carcass in, she tipsier crock pot off with water. See our cookware recommendations. […]
I cook two whole chickens at a time and use a large Oster roaster. The one I have is old and rusting out so I’ll be getting a new one. What electric roaster is the best and safest for my family?
I don’t have any experience with electric roasters myself. If it was me, I would just use 2 pieces of cookware in the oven. I like this glass roaster for chickens: https://amzn.to/2S4xnS2
I also like this: https://amzn.to/2BkIxLn
What about granitium? See it in European cookware. safe or not?
I have not researched it extensively, however would not use it. I err on the side of caution, and avoid any “non-stick” cookware in favor of old fashioned cast iron and traditional fats.
Regarding Stainless Steel and magnetic properties it’s not necessarily the case that some stainless is magnetic and others not just based on how it was alloyed. There are types of stainless that will not be magnetic but if they are bent they will become magnetic in that bent area. I can have a flat sheet of steel not be magnetic, give it a 45 degree bend and the area around the bend be attracted by a magnet. The rest of the sheet will be nonmagnetic. Given how much a sheet is bent (stamped by a press) to become a saucepan I wouldn’t give a whole lot of weight to the magnet test. I could stand to be corrected. Cheers.
Hi! I love how informative and great your articles are. Can you recommend any other blogs that share recipes of Paleo Bars or any other healthy snack recipes? Thanks a lot!