Like many people at the height of the pandemic, I spent a lot of time doing two things: Online shopping and whipping up creative new dishes in the kitchen. One purchase that checked both boxes was a set of Caraway pots and pans, which I found lived up to the hype—so when the company offered to send me some products from their bakeware line, I jumped at the opportunity to test them.
I was especially curious about the bakeware because in general I found Caraway cookware pretty easy to use, but I did struggle to figure out one thing: pancakes. In previous stainless steel and non-stick pans, I could make a delicious pancake in just a few minutes, but when I tried out the Caraway pans, I was getting undercooked pucks, and it took a fair amount of troubleshooting and experimentation to figure out just how to nail the perfect one. And given that, I wanted to know how Caraway’s baking sheets would handle cookies, and how its loaf pan would do with my favorite pandemic-acquired hobby: making sourdough bread.
The Concise Review
Caraway’s bakeware is pricey, but it performs well and cleans like a dream. If you cook often and hate the hassle of washing dishes, it might be worth the splurge.
What is Caraway?
Caraway launched in 2019, and was directly inspired by founder Jordan Nathan’s experiences in the kitchen. “I had accidentally overheated an empty Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)-coated fry pan, which led to me getting nauseated from the toxic fumes the pan emitted,” Nathan told Fortune in 2021. “After contacting poison control, it turned out I had been exposed to Teflon poisoning. That was the breakthrough moment that pushed me toward researching this harmful chemical and discovering that over 95 percent of nonstick cookware sold in the U.S. contains Teflon. ... When developing Caraway, the most important factor for me was ensuring we could provide a safer nontoxic product.”
To that end, the company’s cookware and bakeware is made with aluminum and coated in non-stick ceramic, which is free of toxic materials like heavy metals (a.k.a. lead and cadmium), PTFE, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), and perfluorinated alkylated substances (PFAs). According to Nathan, the company uses “the same company the FDA uses” to make sure their products are “100 percent safe to use in any home.” Additionally, the company says that its coating releases 60 percent less CO2 during production than traditional coatings. The packaging is also environmentally friendly—it’s made with recycled cardboard and doesn’t include plastic.
What Caraway Bakeware I Got—And What I Tested Against
Caraway sent me three items: a large baking sheet (18-by-13, $55), a medium baking sheet (15-by-10, $45), and a 1-pound loaf pan ($50). Each came carefully packaged in a box with a cork trivet, to be used when placing the hot pans on tables or other surfaces. (As a bonus, the trivets are biodegradable.)
Right out of the box, I could see that the bakeware was both beautiful and very sturdy. The large baking sheet, which is equipped with stainless steel handles, is solid—like, “reach for this if there’s an intruder in your house you need to knock out” solid.
Caraway’s website clearly states that the loaf pan is 1-pound, but I was still surprised that it was somewhat smaller (8-by-4-inches) than what I consider a “typical” loaf pan for something like banana bread—roughly 9-by-5-inches, the size of the smallest loaf pans I had in my kitchen before this one arrived.
I didn’t want to base my conclusions on Caraway off a loaf pan that wasn’t the same size, so I ordered a 1-pounder from USA Pan to test against. (Why that brand? I usually make my sourdough in a large Pullman from USA Pan, and because I wanted to make sourdough in the Caraway, too, it felt best to compare it to something I was familiar with.) I tested the baking sheets against what I already had on hand: Nordic Ware aluminum non-stick baking sheets (which, according to the company, use a “proprietary non-stick” material that “is safe, environmentally friendly, and durable”).
Testing Caraway's Baking Sheets: The Pros and Cons
Making things on a baking sheet is easier than making a loaf of sourdough, so I started my test with the baking sheets. Often when baking or roasting, I'll pop a silicone mat on my sheets, but I opted not to that on either the Caraway or the Nordic Ware products for these tests.
First, I made turkey bacon in the oven, placing my Nordic Ware and the Caraway baking sheet on the same shelf. I found that the Caraway sheet took slightly longer to cook the bacon to desired doneness, but it was nice and crispy without being burned at all, whereas the Nordic Ware bacon was a bit more brown around the edges.
My next bake was chocolate chip cookies. I found that it was much easier to remove the baked cookies from the Caraway sheet—nothing stuck at all—than from the Nordic Ware, which did have some stuck-on cookie left behind as I baked batch after batch. The Caraway-cooked cookies were slightly gooier in the center than the ones baked on the Nordic Ware.
When cooking sweet potato fries on the sheets, I found that they stuck to the Nordic Ware—I had to forcibly pry them off. They slid right off the Caraway, but the sheet also burned more fries than the Nordic Ware did. You win some, you lose some.
Finally, one night I made Brussels sprouts on the Caraway sheet on a whim, and let me tell you: This is a gamechanger. Usually when I’m using the Nordic Ware, I pop a silicone baking mat on top, but the Caraway, sans mat, cooked shredded Brussels sprouts in 10 minutes—around half the time it takes on a silicone mat-clad Nordic Ware. The only reason I knew to pull the Brussels out that early was that I smelled them burning (but everyone knows that the crispy burned parts of roasted Brussels sprouts are the best part). I’m someone who makes Brussels sprouts a lot, so this is going to save me major time.
In all instances, whatever I was making on the Caraway baking sheet slid right off, and I barely even needed to break out a sponge for clean-up—soapy water and a robust spray removed almost every crusty bit. And so far, the baking sheets haven’t become discolored as much as my Nordic Ware sheets have (though that might be because I haven’t been using them as long).
Testing the Caraway Loaf Pan: The Pros and Cons
Having baked a bunch on the baking sheets, I decided it was time to get to know the loaf pan. I started with that reliable go-to: Banana bread. While the instructions said to grease the pan, I opted against it—the better to really test those Caraway non-stick properties. (And, full disclosure, I only made banana bread in the Caraway pan—I didn't have enough bananas for two loaves.)
The first loaf I made was middling (the recipe left a lot to be desired, and I also maybe could have used another banana) but a second loaf (this time, I went for a recipe that allowed me to use some sourdough discard, and I incorporated an additional banana) turned out much better. In both instances, the loaf slid out without an issue, despite the fact that I had purposefully neglected to grease the pan.
Next up: Sourdough. I usually make one huge sandwich loaf (recipe here, if you’re interested!) but this time, to test the Caraway alongside the USA Pan, I split my dough in two.
I will admit that, for the initial bake, I wasn’t weighing out the dough very carefully. When I pulled the loaves out, I had a slightly greater rise in the traditional pan than the Caraway—which I thought could have been because there was slightly more dough in that pan.
So I baked two more loaves, this time weighing everything carefully and splitting the dough so that there was only a gram or so of difference. Same result, though: There was a greater rise in the traditional pan, but not by much. This time, I did notice a slightly crispier crust on the loaf baked in the Caraway. In both tests, each loaf slid out of each pan (Caraway or USA Pan) easily; all had a good, consistent crumb, and all tasted delicious (this recipe never fails!).
Storing Caraway Bakeware: The Pros and Cons
I do have one bone to pick with Caraway, and it has to do with their storage solutions.
When you order a set of cookware or bakeware, it comes with magnetized storage organizers to keep everything in its proper place. I love this in theory, but apartment dwellers with smaller cabinets (like me!) might find them impractical.
My lower cabinet is too narrow to accommodate all the pans in the pans in a row, and my upper cabinet isn’t deep enough to store the pans themselves. The lid holder doesn’t fit in my lower cabinet, either. So instead of using all of the storage solutions provided with the cookware set I bought, I've had to Frankenstein together the pieces that work for me and find places to store the parts that don't.
Caraway offered to send me the full bakeware set ($395), which I might have gone for if not for the fact that I knew I wouldn’t have space to use or store the organizers, and I didn’t want to be wasteful and throw them out. I wish the company provided more flexible storage organizer options (storing vertically, for example), or an option to get the full sets of their products without storage organizers at all at a lower price—buying all of the cookware separately, for example, will run you $490, while buying the set with the organizers is $395.
Caring for Caraway Products: What To Know
When it comes to using Caraway products, there is a bit of a learning curve, as the care instructions that come with your purchase demonstrate: You can’t just fire up your stove on full heat; you need to start low and then ramp up to medium, and wait for around a minute-and-a-half before throwing in any food. High heat at all is a no-no, because it causes the coating to wear away. You also need to let the everything cool for a bit before washing, lest the products crack from thermal shock. But once you get used to it, the pots and pans cook reliably and they’re ridiculously easy to clean—and if you’re struggling to get stuff off, following Caraway’s instructions to heat up soapy water typically does the trick.
Like Caraway’s cookware, its bakeware should be treated carefully: Don’t put it in the hot oven with nothing on it; don’t use it with open flames or a broiler; give it time to cool down; and don’t use an abrasive cloth or sponge on the ceramic coating—it will damage it. If anything is stuck, Caraway’s website recommends spreading two tablespoons of baking soda and a cup of vinegar on the pan, and letting that sit for half an hour, after which you can wipe away the food and wash with soap as usual. The bakeware can be used at temperatures up to 550°F.
Caraway Bakeware: Is It Worth It?
When it comes to choosing Caraway, I think for most people it’s going to come down to price: There’s no question that this bakeware is more expensive than your typical non-stick option, and generally, they perform about the same.
But in my opinion, the edge for Caraway comes in just how easy it is to get food out and off of their products, and how easy they are to clean. Honestly, it feels almost miraculous. I often used silicone mats on my Nordic Ware because I didn’t want to clean them, and those mats often lingered in my sink because I also didn’t feel like cleaning them. (If you couldn’t tell, I really hate doing the dishes.) But none of that is necessary with Caraway’s products. So if you bake often and hate cleaning up messes, the bakeware is probably worth the price.
In fact, after all of this testing, I’ll probably end up purchasing the rest of the Caraway bakeware line (maybe on Black Friday this year!) and donating my other non-stick stuff—though I plan to hang on to some of my previously purchased bakeware, if only so I can broil when necessary.