The Best Heirloom Cookware to Buy Now and Use For Years to Come

Invest in these beautiful, functional pieces that you'll cook with on the regular.

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Copper Tri-ply Sauté Pan with Lid, 3.5 Qt
Photo: Courtesy of

When you love to cook, the pots and pans you reach for daily are an extension of your best self. That skillet brings memories of the special eggs you cooked with your daughter; the roasting pan you pull out every November recalls the first time you and your spouse hosted the family feast. The memories are baked—or roasted, sautéed, braised, or simmered—in. That's why heirloom cookware is worth the investment. It's such a meaningful thing to own and eventually pass down.

Key pieces you'll use frequently and display in your kitchen are the best heirloom cookware. To build a collection wisely, consider the material, heft, size, and color or finish.

  • Stainless steel is more durable than anodized steel or aluminum.
  • Copper is the most functional material for cooking foods that react quickly to temperature changes; invest in pieces for sautéing fish, making sauces, or melting candy or chocolate.
  • Enameled cast iron is incredibly user friendly; pick a color you love or go with a neutral.
  • Choose pieces that are not too heavy for you to pull out and use with ease. Anything larger than a 12-inch cast iron skillet can be unwieldy; the same goes for a 5.5 quart Dutch oven.

The Best Heirloom Cookware

Best Sauté Pan: Martha by Martha Stewart Copper Cookware Collection Copper Tri-ply Sauté Pan with Lid

Copper Tri-ply Sauté Pan with Lid, 3.5 Qt
Courtesy of

When you think of Martha's own kitchen, you probably picture a rack of copper pots and pans. Enter this 3.5-quart capacity straight-sided sauté pan, which features her signature touches.

The tri-ply copper construction offers excellent heat conductivity and thick 18/10 stainless steel for durability, easy cleaning, and flexible cooking. An extra-long handle with a notch for hanging and a wide, riveted helper handle make it easier to work with; the angled sides give you more cooking area; and the flat lid simplifies storage (that is, if you decide to store it in a cabinet). We recommend hanging it in full view so you can enjoy it even when you're not cooking.

Best Cast Iron Skillet: Lodge Chef's Collection Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Lodge Chef Collection Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet
Courtesy of Williams Sonoma

You can spend a lot more on a cast-iron skillet, but you don't need to. Lodge is a classic for a reason. The family-owned company has been making these staples since the 19th century and recently updated their offerings with the Chef's Collection.

These pieces have higher sloped edges to make flipping omelets easier and two side spouts for pouring off liquids or plating dishes like chili. The 12-inch version has two handles (one long, one short) to make it easier to pick up off the stove and turn to serve food or rinse it. The skillet comes preseasoned, but we still think cooking bacon in it is the best way to initiate it.

Best Dutch Oven: Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast-Iron Round Oven

Le Creuset Signature Round Dutch Oven, 5.5 Qt.
Courtesy of Sur La Table

Like a KitchenAid stand mixer, Le Creuset's Dutch oven is a wedding registry standby. Other enameled cast iron Dutch ovens compete, and some people may prefer them, but they're not as colorful or iconic. You have your pick of dozens of shades and sizes—different retailers carry hues and styles that are exclusive to them—and the company adds new colors every year.

This fall, it's neutral Nutmeg, a soft ochre paired with a steel-toned knob. (Some darker colors have a brass-toned knob.) We love it for so many reasons: It doesn't require seasoning, it's dishwasher safe, it works on all stovetops including induction, you can use it for everything from roasting chicken to baking bread, and it's pretty enough to go straight to the table. The only decision left to make is choosing a size: The 5.5 quart is a Goldilocks selection for most people.

Best Roasting Pan: Viking Culinary 3-Ply Stainless Steel Roasting Pan with Nonstick Rack

Viking Culinary 3-Ply Stainless Steel Roasting Pan with Nonstick Rack, 16" x 13"
Courtesy of Amazon

Stainless steel is our preference for a roasting pan. It will have you covered when it comes time to make Thanksgiving turkey, but also for beef roasts, chicken, and more since it's resilient and baked-on messes usually come off with a good soak.

This 16-x13-inch Viking pan has a feature you might not notice at first glance, but will be grateful for every time you have more than one thing in the oven simultaneously: The inverted handles give you that much more space to fit other cookware nearby and are actually easier to pick up. You can fit up a 25-pound bird in here—a size that'll accommodate your future feasts even if your family grows exponentially.

Best Nonstick Skillet: Our Place Always Pan

Always Pan from Our Place
Courtesy of From Our Place

If there's a kitchen essential that has redefined "modern heirloom," it's the Always Pan. The ceramic coating makes it our new favorite nonstick option—bye, Teflon—but this piece can serve many more purposes. The company says it pulls hextuple-duty (that's six times the work!) as a fry pan, sauté pan, steamer, saucier, saucepan, nonstick pan, spatula, and spoon rest. We're leaving it to you to decide how you like to use it best and which of the 11 subtle, modern colors you prefer.

Best Casserole: Emile Henry French Ceramic Rectangular Covered Baker

Emile Henry French Ceramic Rectangular Covered Baker
Courtesy of Williams Sonoma

Au gratin potatoes, macaroni and cheese, weeknight baked ziti—your fanciest sides and fastest dinners alike will look elevated in an elegant covered casserole dish. In addition to being pretty enough to serve from (oven to table is our favorite!), we look for durable, evenly heating materials and simple, no-frills design.

This Emile Henry covered baker fits the bill. Handmade in France of ceramic-coated clay, it has a lovely glaze that resists crazing and cracking. In spite of its delicate good looks, you can put it in the microwave, oven, broiler, dishwasher, and freezer without a worry.

Best Tea Kettle: Simplex Kensington No 1 by Newey & Bloomer Copper Traditional Tea Kettle

Simplex Kensington No 1 by Newey & Bloomer Copper Traditional Tea Kettle
Courtesy of Williams Sonoma

Yes, this is pricey for a kettle—and sure, most tea drinkers prefer the electric countertop kind. But this one will look so beautiful on your stovetop for decades to come.

Another plus: Simplex kettles hold onto their value so well, that you can find second-hand pieces online for close to the retail price. It's a true delight, from its Victorian curved design to its wooden handle, which ensures comfortable pouring. The sound of its whistle will become part of what makes your house feel like home.

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