Hi, my name is Ronny and I am a cookware junkie. I own more pots and pans than I care to admit, have given away or sold just as many, and am still always on the lookout for something new.
For as long as I can remember I’ve been as fascinated by the vessels we use to cook food as much as the food itself. After 20 years of home cooking, I’ve come to realize that picking the right tool for the job and knowing how to properly use it are essential parts of learning how to cook.
Alongside non-stick pans, stainless-steel is probably the most commonly used material in the North American home. It’s versatile, a great conductor of heat and easy to maintain. It can also be very affordable depending on the brand and construction. But just like everything else, you get what you pay for and if you’re looking for something that can stand the test of time you will likely need to fork over a pretty penny.
Or do you? Until recently, buying cookware was an in-store, brick-and-mortar experience. However, thanks to the powers of the internet and a growing trend in direct-to-consumer shopping, you can now purchase cookware online and top-quality stuff has become more affordable than ever before.
Made In Cookware is a relatively new company based out of Austin, Texas. Their mission is simple: to produce high-quality cookware and disrupt the archaic business model. By selling direct-to-consumer cookware through their online shop, they’re able to skip the retail middleman markup and save their customers money.
When the company launched in 2017, their focus was on producing 100% American-made, 5-ply stainless-steel cookware. Since then, they’ve expanded to include a non-stick skillet, a French-made chef’s knife and a blue carbon steel fry pan.
I don’t think they’ve ever said it out loud but it’s clear they’re gunning to compete with the juggernaut, All-Clad, who continues to dominate the high-end stainless-steel cookware category. To be honest, it’s a well-earned position. All-Clad is the gold standard in stainless-steel but it does come at a price that not everyone can afford.
Made In, on the other hand, is far more approachable, even for entry-level home cooks.
There are three things that I think Made In has done exceptionally well while reducing overall costs:
- They haven’t cut corners in terms of quality or design. These are beautiful pans that perform very well and are easy to maintain.
- They focused their energy almost exclusively on producing versatile pans. You won’t find any pumpkin-shaped, gimmicky, or redundant pieces here.
- They have curated sets that include the essentials. In other words, you’re not paying for things you won’t use.
Quality and Design
These might seem like two separate considerations but they have to work symbiotically. The shape of a pan is as important as its construction. For example, Made In’s fry pans have nicely sloped edges that allow the cook to toss food with ease. The same can be said about their handle construction, which is both comfortable and heat-resistant.
Similarly, the materials used to construct the 5-ply cladding allow for durability and relatively rapid heat conduction.
There’s nothing I hate more than cookware that serves a singular function. Storage space is precious, especially when you live in a small space and have children, and the last thing I want to do is to waste room on a $50 crepe pan I use once a year.
Made In is making cookware you actually need in your kitchen. Each of their pans can be used for a variety of recipes, which means you don’t need to spend extra money to round out your collection.
They’ve even introduced their blue carbon-steel pan, which is well-loved in Europe but is a relatively new material for North American cooks. It is, in my humble opinion, superior to cast-iron but that’s a discussion for another time and place.
If you read my article on what to consider when buying cookware, you should now be familiar with the sales tactics behind things like 20-piece sets. The devil is always in the details!
Something I particularly appreciate are Made In’s sets, which seem to be part and parcel of their commitment to making versatile pieces. Not only are the sets well-suited for every range of home cook, but they are affordable.
Their Starter Kit, as an example, includes a 2qt sauce pan, 10” fry pan and 5qt stock pot, each of which ticks off what I consider to be part of the essential cookware pieces for every home cook.
Not to mention the fact that the set comes in at a very reasonable $260.00 USD. A comparable set in All-Clad’s d5 technology would run you around $640.00 USD MSRP from a retailer such as Williams-Sonoma. Although, you could probably purchase the All-Clad pans on sale.
The Made In Sous Chef set, on the other hand, is an 11-piece collection that costs $711 USD (on sale for $569 at the time of writing this review). Not too shabby compared to a 10-piece All-Clad set that retails for $1329.00 USD.
But How Does Made In’s Stainless-Steel Perform?
After about 3 months of using and abusing my set, I can say with a fair amount of confidence that Made In is worth your hard-earned coin.
- The pans perform exceptionally well and are versatile, easy to use, and maintain.
- They conduct heat quickly and efficiently with a fairly even distribution, even on my tiny, glass, electric stovetop.
- They showed no signs of scorching, which signals a good thickness at the base.
- The outer layer is fully clad and seamless, as opposed to disc-bottomed pans that use a cheaper and less effective means of layering metals.
- The rivets are solid and sturdy.
- They offer a limited lifetime warranty should anything go wrong.
- I did notice some slight scratching inside the pans from when I used my metal tongs, but this is to be expected.
The biggest issue I see people encountering when cooking with stainless-steel, and this is regardless of the brand, is the learning curve that comes along with it. It’s not always the pan that is at fault, sometimes it’s user error!
North Americans tend to rate pans on their ability to be ‘non-stick’. If true non-stick is what you’re after it’s probably best to get a dedicated pan. Made In’s non-stick skillet is quite good. It is PFOA-free and durable but is made from PTFE, which I’m not crazy about.
It is, nevertheless, possible to prevent certain foods from sticking to stainless-steel by gradually preheating the pan for a few minutes before adding your cooking fat/oil.
But here’s something that might come as a shock to most beginner home cooks: non-stick isn’t always what you want! The beauty of stainless-steel is its ability to develop a fond (those brown bits that appear on the bottom of the pot when searing a piece of protein or caramelizing onions). These become crucial for building flavour is soups, stews, and sauces.
So if you’re in the market for cookware but are still having a hard time trying to decide which direction to go, I recommend doing the following:
- Read my article on Essential Pots and Pans for the Home Cook
- Read my article on What to Consider When Buying Cookware
- Look over the Made In website to see if they have what you need/are missing
Disclaimer: Made In generously provided cookware for the purpose of this review. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone.