If you’re in the market for new cookware you may be overwhelmed by the myriad of different options available to you. Between cast iron, ceramic, nonstick, and hybrid cookware, it felt like I was navigating a maze trying to figure out what the right option was for me.

While I was researching I didn’t find many head-to-head articles comparing the different types of cookware that were able to explain to me in simple English why I should prefer one over the other. So I decided to put together a simple guide on which type of pan to go with depending on your use case.

First, what are all these different types of cookware anyway?

Cast Iron: this is likely what your grandma cooks with – and for good reason! Cast iron cookware is known to be durable, high quality, and great for searing. The main downfalls are that they require a lot of work to keep properly seasoned, tend to be heavy and difficult to handle, and aren’t a great substitute for nonstick pans.

Nonstick: these prioritize ease of use. If you want to be able to clean your pan in 10 seconds and don’t particularly care for a great sear this can be a great option. Besides the inability to properly sear, the biggest issues with nonstick are that they’re very easy to scrape with metal utensils, they’re not dishwasher safe, and they cannot be used at high temperatures.

Ceramic: you’ve probably seen these very colorful pans all over your Instagram feeds. Ceramic cookware is also nonstick and has many of the same qualities of ease of use while also being very aesthetically pleasing. Along with the cons of a nonstick, ceramic pans are also known to be “landfill cookware” due to their lack of durability and how easily they stain.

Hybrid: this is a new category of cookware that mixes the best of nonstick with the best of cast iron. With hybrid cookware you get an easy cleanup, a great sear, and don’t have to worry about putting it in the dishwasher or using metal utensils. There’s really only one player in this space, HexClad, who established this category 5 years ago.

With all of that out of the way - here’s the TLDR version of what type of cookware to go with depending on your use case.

If you’re looking for highest quality, go with HexClad

This was a challenging one to choose because both HexClad and cast iron cookware can be really high quality. What pushed me over the line was HexClad’s lifetime guarantee and their reputation of lasting forever.

While durability isn’t the only judge of quality, a lack of durability definitely detracts. I stumbled upon too many reviews and videos where ceramic cookware stains quickly and loses its nonstick coating after a year to recommend them as the highest-quality of the bunch.

Finally – everybody raves about HexClad’s customer service. Very rarely when going through individual brands reviews did I find a company that stands out like HexClad does in terms of people loving their customer service. Even the few negative reviews on there praised HexClad’s customer service.

Even Gordon Ramsay and several cooks who starred in Hell’s Kitchen have been raving about the quality of HexClad’s cookware.

If you’re looking for one pan to do everything with, go with HexClad

There’s a reason why HexClad is the fastest growing cookware on the market and has sold millions of different pieces of cookware over the last 5 years – people love HexClad’s versatility.

Unlike traditional nonstick pans, HexClad has a patented hybrid cooking technology that gives you all the benefits of a stainless steel plan with the ease of nonstick pans.

With the HexClad pan, you can use it as both a nonstick and a great alternative to cast irons in order to give you a fantastic sear.

Many brands make great nonstick and cast iron pans, but they haven’t created a hybrid pan that does it all. Why buy two pans when you can just buy one?

If you’re looking for the easiest pan to use, go with HexClad

What has won me over about my HexClad is just how easy it is to use – it’s metal utensil safe, dishwasher safe, and I can cook anything I want in it.

One thing I’m not great at is remembering all the different rules for specific types of cookware products. I don’t want to have to remember a laundry list of rules every time I cook, I just want to be able to follow a recipe, make a great meal, and then wash my dishes without making sure I’m not ruining anything.

Both nonstick and cast iron cookware isn’t dishwasher safe, and you would need to get multiple pans if you want both nonstick and searing ability.

The easiest pan is overwhelmingly in favor of HexClad.

If you’re looking for the cheapest option, go with none of these

Not everyone wants to spend $100+ on a frying pan, and trust me I get that (I’m a recent convert to premium cookware myself).

If you’re just looking for the cheapest option I suggest going to your nearest Target or Walmart and getting their standard nonstick option. While you won’t get the benefits of durability, quality, and overall aesthetic, you definitely won’t break the bank.

That being said, if you have the cash to spare, high quality cookware tends to more than pay for itself because you get a product for life instead of having to rebuy something every year.

Overall, HexClad is the winner

From my research and personal usage, it’s clear to me that HexClad is the premium cookware brand. While other types of cookware also have great qualities, the HexClad is truly unique in its ability to sear as a nonstick, how easy it is to use, and their high quality combined with lifetime guarantee.