Are you looking for lightweight cookware that’s durable and high performing?
Most top-rated cookware is heavy because pans with thicker walls retain heat better and heat more evenly.
But some brands deliver high-quality cookware without the heft.
In this guide, I provide an in-depth review of the five best lightweight cookware options.
If you want pots and pans that are easier to maneuver without sacrificing quality, keep reading.
Use the links below to navigate the comparison:
- Cookware Weight by Brand
- Best Lightweight Stainless Steel Cookware: All-Clad G5 Graphite Core
- Best Lightweight Non-Stick Cookware: Tramontina Professional
- Best Lightweight Carbon Steel Cookware: Made In
- Best Lightweight Dutch Oven: Le Creuset
- Best Affordable Lightweight Cookware: T-Fal Simply Cook
- What to Look for in Lightweight Cookware
- Bottom Line: What Is the Best Lightweight Cookware?
The chart below shows the weight of several popular cookware brands. I listed both heavy and lightweight options to give you an understanding of the broader market (I review the best lightweight pans in the following sections).
|T-Fal Simply Cook||12-inch aluminum non-stick pan||1.8 lb|
|All-Clad G5 Graphite Core||10.5-inch stainless steel pan||2.2 lb|
|GreenLife Soft Grip||12-inch aluminum non-stick pan||2.3 lb|
|T-Fal Professional||12.5-inch aluminum non-stick pan||2.3 lb|
|Tramontina Professional||12-inch aluminum non-stick pan||3.0 lb|
|Caraway Ceramic Non-Stick||10.5-inch aluminum non-stick pan||2.8 lb|
|Calphalon Contemporary||12-inch hard-anodized non-stick pan||2.9 lb|
|Made In Stainless Steel||12-inch stainless steel pan||3.0 lb|
|All-Clad D5||12-inch stainless steel pan||3.0 lb|
|Cuisinart Contour||12-inch stainless steel pan||3.2 lb|
|Zwilling Spirit||12-inch aluminum non-stick pan||3.5 lb|
|HexClad Hybrid||12-inch stainless steel/non-stick pan||4.0 lb|
|Hestan CopperBond||12.5-inch copper/stainless steel pan||4.04 lb|
|Demeyere Industry||11-inch stainless steel pan||4.1 lb|
|Made In Carbon Steel||12-inch carbon steel pan||4.3 lb|
|Circulon Hard Anodized||5-quart hard-anodized saute pan||6.6 lb|
|Anolon Advanced||5-quart hard-anodized saute pan||7.5 lb|
|Le Creuset Signature round Dutch oven||5.5-quart cast iron Dutch oven||11.5 lb|
The All-Clad G5 Graphite Core collection is the best lightweight stainless steel cookware because it offers a durable, non-reactive surface and completely even heat distribution.
This cookware features 5-ply construction, which means it’s made of five bonded layers. At its core is a graphite disc, which is 80% lighter than copper and offers a higher level of heat conduction.
Two layers of aluminum sandwich the graphite, and the top and bottom layers are stainless steel.
All-Clad holds patents for cookware with a graphite core; you won’t find this construction on any other pans.
The 10.5-inch skillet weighs 2.2 pounds. It is much lighter than other pans of similar size and construction.
- All-Clad D5 10.5-inch stainless skillet weighs 2.63 pounds
- All-Clad Copper Core 10-inch stainless steel skillet weighs 4 pounds
- Misen 10-inch stainless steel skillet weighs 2.9 pounds
The G5 collection is the best choice for lightweight stainless steel because it provides superior conductivity for fast and even heating without the extra weight.
The cookware won a Kitchen Gear award from Good Housekeeping and was named one of the 100 greatest innovations in 2021 by Popular Science. Both awards speak to the collection’s ingenuity, performance, and construction.
Plus, it’s made in the United States with strict quality control.
The main downside of this collection is that only a few sizes and shapes are available. Currently, you can buy a skillet, saucepan, or saute pan (no sets).
Learn more by watching me unbox this cookware.
The Tramontina Professional collection is the best lightweight non-stick cookware I’ve ever tested. The aluminum body is sturdy and well-built without being heavy. And the cooking surface is coated in a non-stick PTFE coating.
The Tramontina Professional 12-inch fry pan weighs 3 pounds.
- Anolon X aluminum 12-inch non-stick skillet weighs 5 pounds
- Calphalon Contemporary 12-inch non-stick skillet weighs nearly 4 pounds
There are some lighter options, such as the T-Fal Simply Cook 12-inch fry pan, which weighs 2.75 pounds. However, based on my testing of both (Tramontina results and T-Fal results), Tramontina Professional is much more durable and heats more evenly.
This cookware features a secure, triple-riveted handle with a silicone grip. It keeps the handle cool but also makes it comfortable to hold. You can easily maneuver this lightweight pan.
At 9.75 inches long, the handle is longer than most comparable pans. In general, most 12-inch fry pans have 9-inch handles. The longer handle offers more leverage for tilting, shaking, and flipping foods and keeps your hand farther from the heat of your cooktop.
With Tramontina Professional, you’ll also enjoy a wider cooking area. While most 12-inch skillets have a 9-inch flat cooking surface, Tramontina’s is 10 inches. That extra room allows you to cook more food without overcrowding your pan.
I’m not the only fan of this cookware; The New York Times Wirecutter named the Tramontina Professional fry pan the best non-stick pan. Wirecutter staff members tested the pan for four years, cooking eggs, frying potatoes, and making delicate crepes. The non-stick surface held up beautifully.
The main downside of this cookware is that the three rivets collect oil and food bits and can be difficult to keep clean. Plus, the silicone-wrapped handle decreases its oven-safe temperature. It can only handle up to 400°F with the wrapper (500°F without it).
Made In makes the best lightweight carbon steel cookware. These pans offer the durability and heat retention of cast iron without the heft.
At 4.31 pounds, Made In’s 12-inch carbon steel pan is one of the lightest you can buy.
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- Tramontina’s carbon steel pan of the same size weighs in at 7 pounds — almost 3 pounds heavier
- de Buyer Mineral B 12.5-inch carbon steel pan weighs nearly six pounds
Made In carbon steel pans are safe in the oven up to 1200°F, which gives you more flexibility in how you cook, from open-fire cooking to using it on a grill or even in an outdoor pizza oven.
It conducts heat quickly and provides excellent heat retention for searing and keeping meals hotter for longer.
Made In doesn’t own its manufacturing facilities. Instead, they work with professional chefs to design their pans and partner with factories across the United States and Europe to manufacture them. Their carbon steel pans are made in France.
The main downside of this cookware is the handle design. It’s almost completely flat, which can be uncomfortable to hold. Also, the handle’s steep upward curve makes it difficult to fit between oven racks.
That said, this durable yet lightweight pan can handle extremely high temperatures and last a lifetime. So, if you’re looking for a carbon steel pan that’s easy to lift, this is it.
Le Creuset enameled cast iron Dutch ovens feature tight-fitting lids, wide handles, and striking colors.
The cast iron base is made from a proprietary mix of pig iron, recycled steel and iron, and other minerals (they don’t disclose the exact formula).
Cookware artisans sand, polish, and blast the Dutch oven with fine particles. Then, they spray the base three times with a high-quality glass enamel coating.
These pots aren’t light, but they weigh significantly less than other brands.
The Le Creuset round 5.5-qt. Dutch oven weighs 11.03 pounds.
Le Creuset Dutch ovens weigh less because they have thinner walls. Although the lack of mass results in lower heat retention, it also makes these pots easier to maneuver and heat up faster.
Also, the extra wide handles make it easier to lift and carry, even with bulky oven mitts or gloves.
There’s a lot to love about Le Creuset Dutch ovens, but the one undeniable downside is its high price. In some cases, the cost of these pots is double the competition.
Is it worth the high cost? I answer that question in detail in my in-depth Le Creuset review. But the short answer is yes (for most people).
T-Fal Simply Cook is my top pick for the most affordable lightweight cookware. It has a thin aluminum base with a PTFE non-stick cooking interior.
At 1.8 pounds, the T-Fal 12-inch fry pan is one of the lightest non-stick options.
T-Fal is the best option for lightweight non-stick because it is super affordable and won’t stress your wrist when lifting the pan or manipulating food.
It heats up quickly, which is handy when you’re in a rush. It also features Thermo-Spot technology, a circle on the center of the cooking surface that turns red to show you when the pan is hot and ready for cooking. This takes the guesswork out of heating your pan.
The downsides of thinner pans like these are:
- Less durable and more likely to warp.
- Heats too fast. You can quickly burn or overcook food if you don’t pay close attention.
- Poor heat retention. The pan will cool down as you put cold ingredients in it, which makes it difficult to sear meat and leads to uneven cooking.
Check out my T-Fal cookware review to learn more.
All lightweight cookware is not created equally. Here’s what to look for when buying quality lightweight cookware and tips to get the best cooking results.
Check the weight directly with the manufacturer. Call customer service if you’re shopping online and it’s not listed on the website. You’ll want to make sure you verify how heavy it is so that it meets your expectations.
Weights on retail sites are not always accurate, and some include the weight of the box.
Look for options that offer a sturdy connection with the cookware, such as rivets or welding.
Avoid handles that screw on because those are notorious for loosening with frequent use.
Comfort is also important, so check for ergonomic design or silicone or soft grips.
Helper handles are a plus for larger pans (12 inches or more) because they distribute the pan’s weight evenly and allow you to carry the pan safely with two hands.
Since lightweight cookware is often thin, it’s not ideal for high-heat cooking. Using high heat may cause food to burn more easily or cook unevenly.
Ideal lightweight cookware options should still fit your cooking needs and be compatible with your cooktop.
For example, if you have an induction cooktop, you need pans with a steel bottom (aluminum won’t work on an induction cooktop).
If you have an electric glass top stove, look for cookware with a smooth bottom to avoid scratching the glass.
If you plan to cook in the oven, ensure the cookware is oven-safe and its maximum temperature is sufficient.
Think about upkeep. PTFE non-stick cookware provides the best food release and cleanability, carbon steel requires periodic seasoning, and stainless steel needs a lot of hands-on care to remove stuck-on food and keep the exterior clean.
If you want stainless steel cookware, you’ll need to choose between fully-cladded pots and pans or cookware with impact-bonded bases.
Stainless steel is durable but not a great heat conductor. Aluminum is an excellent heat conductor but is reactive and much less durable.
Because of that, stainless steel cookware is made with steel on the outside and aluminum (or sometimes copper) in the middle.
Fully-Clad means the aluminum core extends throughout the cookware. Impact-bonded cookware is made with an aluminum disc bonded to the bottom but only steel up the sides.
Generally, fully-clad cookware provides superior durability and heat distribution but is heavier.
There are exceptions. For example, All-Clad G5 is fully-clad but still lightweight, and Demeyere Atlantis is impact-bonded but relatively heavy.
Aluminum non-stick cookware is generally the cheapest, while quality fully-clad stainless steel and enameled cast iron command a higher price. Think about your budget to help guide your choice.
Bottom Line: What Is the Best Lightweight Cookware?
So which lightweight cookware should you buy? Before providing my recommendation, let’s recap each option’s main pros and cons.
All-Clad G5 Graphite Core: It’s an award-winning collection that is easy to maneuver without sacrificing heat conduction and even cooking. You get the distinguished look of stainless steel without the heft, even though it is fully clad. The only downside is only a few pieces are available.
Tramontina Professional: Named the best non-stick pan by Wirecutter, this is my top pick for non-stick because of its easy food release and lightweight construction. Plus, it holds up over time. The main downside is the three rivets are difficult to clean.
Made In: Its carbon steel pans are made in France in an area rich with a history of producing carbon steel. The easy-to-lift pans are heat responsive and can withstand extreme heat up to 1200°F. The one downside is that the flat handle can be uncomfortable, and its upward angle makes it difficult to fit between oven racks.
Le Creuset: You’ll get the most color options and sizes when you pick Le Creuset, but you’ll also pay the most. However, considering they can last a lifetime with proper care, they offer excellent value for the money.
T-Fal Simply Cook: This cookware is hard to beat if you want a non-stick budget brand. The thin walls make the pans easy to lift and move around while cooking. However, the thin walls are prone to warping, so you must avoid drastic temperature changes.
Bottom line — if you’re looking for lightweight cookware that’s great for browning and searing, try All-Clad G5. If you want versatility, look at Le Creuset enameled cast iron or Made In carbon steel. On a budget? Check out T-Fal Simply Cook. And if you want non-stick cookware that’s durable yet lighter than most, go with Tramontina Professional.
These brands prove you can have lightweight cookware that still performs at a high level.
Read more reviews and check the current prices of each brand at the links below:
- All-Clad G5 (Williams-Sonoma.com)
- Tramontina Professional (Amazon)
- Made In (Amazon, MadeInCookware.com)
- Le Creuset (Amazon)
- T-Fal (Amazon)
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