If This Matters to You, Read On!
Here in the States, we hear it all the time: Buy American! Buy Local! So as patriotic citizens, we start reading the labels, and good grief! It doesn’t seem like ANYTHING is made in America anymore! Still, there is one category of consumer products that continue to be manufactured here in the US: cookware made in America.
It’s Still a Global Market
I say manufactured, because let’s face it, in today’s global economy, where a product is assembled is one thing, but where some of the materials come from is another. Rivets, handles, and even some metals may well be imported from oceans away. I’m not going to get tangled up in those details. Instead, I’m focusing on companies that put American workers to work, and keep our economy rolling.
Here’s a list of the best pots and pans that American companies are proud to offer!
Easily the most popular brand of American-made cookware, All Clad Metlacrafters, LLC is headquartered in Canonsburg, PA. The mill there uses American steel, and the company holds a patent on the bonding process that gives the cookware its superior reputation. The cladding extends across the bottom and all the way up the sides for better heat conductivity all the way around.
Their product line is extensive. You can find everything from sets to open stock items, aluminum or copper cores, stainless steel or anodized aluminum exteriors, and non-stick pots and pans.
Viking Professional Cookware
The history of this line is a bit murky for me. It seems to have started in Belgium, was abandoned for awhile, and ended up being licensed for sale by a supply company in California. But more to the point, today the cookware is made by Viking Range, which is part of the Middleby Corporation, and it’s manufactured in Greenwood, MS.
Viking Range is best known for their commercial kitchen appliances, but happily they didn’t stop at the cook top. Their line of pots and pans are engineered for professional chefs, but why should that stop you in your every day kitchen? The company makes 3-ply, 5-ply, even 7-ply, non-stick, open stock, and sets.
You can get a 10-piece (6 pans, 4 lids), 3-ply, stainless steel set for around $400.
I was aware of USA Pan’s reputation for making really good bakeware, but I confess I didn’t know they made cookware for the top of the stove, too. In fact, they offer a pretty good-looking, 5-ply stainless steel set with an aluminum core, as well as several open stock items.
The company has been in business for over 50 years, and is located in Crescent, PA, just north of Pittsburgh. Their bakeware still enjoys an excellent reputation today, and their cookware has been equally well-reviewed. You might feel differently, but I like the fact that you don’t have quite as many choices about your core construction or the number of different pieces available. Simplicity rules in Suzi’s Kitchen!
You can get an 8-piece (5 pans, 3 lids) 5-ply stainless steel set for around $600.
OK, Vollrath made LOTS of their products in China up until 2013. Shall we forgive them now, and give them credit for moving some of their cookware manufacturing operations back to Sheboygan, WI? While they offer a number of different brands, and many of the pieces are made in Wisconsin, the only full line of cookware made in America is WearEver.
WearEver has been in business since 1888. It started in Oberlin, OH, and made its way through a number of corporate acquisitions until finally ending with Vollrath.
WearEver has always specialized in aluminum, which is an excellent heat conductor, lightweight, and relatively inexpensive. Today you can find pots and pans from Wear-Ever made of aluminum with a ceramic, non-stick finish, anodized aluminum, or stainless steel.
You can get a 10-piece (5 pans, 3 lids, 2 utensils), aluminum, non-stick set for under $100.
Lodge Cast Iron
A family-run business founded over 100 years ago, the Lodge Manufacturing Company is located in South Pittsburgh, TN. In addition to producing some of most highly rated cast iron skillets ever, they’ve expanded their product line to include enameled cast iron, carbon steel, and stoneware.
Lodge pans come pre-seasoned, so you can use them immediately, and they’re made to last a lifetime.
I own two, one of which I inherited. I’ve given new ones to each of my kids. There are those who say that if they could only have one pan, the Lodge 12” skillet would be it. Not me, though. I’d choose the 3-quart deep skillet with a lid!
You can get a 5-piece (2 skillets, a griddle, and a dutch oven with a lid) for under $150.
Nordic Ware’s big claim to fame is that it invented the bundt pan. Yes. Bundt. I own one. It’s the cake with the hole in it. In fact, I have a whole set of their bakeware, and I’ve been using it for years. So I was surprised to learn that Nordic Ware also makes some very cool-looking, aluminum cookware in their Minneapolis, MN factory as well .
In addition to open stock pieces, the company offers sets made of formed or cast aluminum. (Cast aluminum is heated and poured into a mold. It’s lighter than cast iron, but heavier than formed aluminum, and it isn’t the same thing as anodized, so it’s still reactive. The result is beautiful, though). It’s well-reviewed, and professional, restaurant quality. You can get a 7-piece (4 pans, 3 lids), non-stick, formed aluminum set with stainless steel lids for under $300.
The youngest of the brands I’m including on my list here, Brooklyn Copper was born less than 10 years ago, the result of a dream, a trip, and some really old coppersmithing tools. I almost didn’t include it because it is sooooo expensive, but it’s also ridiculously gorgeous, and handcrafted in the heart of Brooklyn, NY. Reviewers love it like it’s the Ferrari of pots and pans.
The cookware is made with 99.9% pure copper, and it’s lined with 99.9% pure tin. That makes your pans as non-stick as you can get without synthetic, chemical coatings; and even though tin is reactive, it works in perfect harmony with the copper to conduct heat. This brand of copper cookware doesn’t appear to be distributed in your every day mall stores or even specialty shops, which means you either have to go to Brooklyn and handle it like I told you, or order it online.
Honestly, this stuff starts out too much like jewelry to use the gauche term “open stock” in describing the available products. You don’t buy sets, you choose pieces. You can get a 9.5 inch saute pan for around $400.
Calphalon was one of the first really good cookware lines I became aware of many years ago. The company makes a number of different types of cookware, but not all of it is made in the USA. In fact, the Calphalon Unison Nonstick is currently the only line that is still manufactured in their Toledo, Ohio plant.
You can get a Calphalon Unison 12-pc set for around $250.
I hope I’ve given you some ideas about what cookware to look at if you really want to buy American. Leave me a comment if I’ve missed something!