If you’re just discovering T-Fal’s Initiatives ceramic cookware collection then you may be wondering how this product compares to the company’s iconic teflon-based models.
In many ways the collections are similar, but there are some material differences you should understand before making the switch. In this article I’ll walk you through,
- Advantages you’ll get with the T-Fal’s ceramic cookware
- Drawbacks worth considering.
- How this set compares with dozens of others in our Test Kitchen
What we like
- Incredibly affordable.
- Good food release, and easy cleanup.
- Practical dish size and selection, with even heat distribution.
What We don’t
- Not compatible with induction cooktops, or suitable for oven use.
- The handles can become loose.
- Durability issues similar to other ceramic cookware.
In This Article
T-fal Initiatives uses a pressed aluminum base for all of their cookware.
Aluminum has several benefits. First of all, it’s cheap and easy to press into the right shapes. These material and manufacturing savings are passed along to you in the affordable price of the pans.
Aluminum is also an exceptional heat conductor. In this area, it’s second only to copper cookware and you can get it at a fraction of the price. This means that Red Copper heats up quickly, and is responsive to changes in temperature.
The primary downside of an aluminum base is that it doesn’t retain heat very effectively.
If the temperature on your stovetop fluctates greatly, then so will the cooking surface of your pan. And, when adding cold ingredients to a hot pan, the temperature will probably dip momentarily before it heats again.
Another downside of aluminum is that it’s not compatible for induction cooking, which means that T-Fal’s Initiatives collection is not going to be a great fit if you plan on using an induction hob. While you can find options at a similar price point, most of our favorite nonstick induction pans cost slightly more.
The PTFE-Free nonstick coating used for these pans is a big differentiator between this set and T-Fal’s other cookware collections.
You may have already guessed that the brand name “T-Fal” is derived from “Teflon.” If this is your first time hearing that phrase, Teflon is a popular brand name that became eponymous with PTFE-based nonstick cookware.
Teflon, as a material, hasn’t gone without controversy. This is why there’s been a surge in interest in nonstick cookware without teflon over the past 20 years. The Initiatives collection is T-Fal’s response.
In many ways, ceramic nonstick cookware is built (and performs) similarly to classic nonstick products. A nonstick enamel is sprayed atop a (usually) aluminum base.
The drawback is that ceramic pans rarely last as long, and tend to have slightly worse food release than their PTFE counterparts.
The added benefits are that ceramic models are usually more affordable, and you get to sidestep the health and environmental concerns associated with PTFE.
If you’re buying nonstick, the single most effective piece of cookware you can get is a frying pan. Nothing is quite as easy to use and clean, especially if you’re working with a delicate meal like fish or eggs. With that said, the Initiatives set can be a good fit if you need to quickly outfit a full kitchen. It even comes with nylon utensils.
We haven’t had an opportunity to bring this set into the Test Kitchen yet, but we did collect feedback from owners.
We received mixed reviews on the performance of the ceramic cook surface. Owners were generally happy within the first few months of owning the pan, but many reported that the surface wore off after 6-months of regular use.
Low durability is a common attribute of pans in the ceramic cookware category. Learn how to properly care for your pan with our tips below to extend its lifespan. Even with great care, most ceramic coatings will need to be replaced eventually.
Before you start using this, or any ceramic set, it’s a good idea to get familiar with the ways most people ruin their nonstick pan. They’re not all obvious, and it will probably save you a few headaches to know up front.
Compared with other ceramic pan makers, T-Fal makes a similar performing product. But you can definitely find alternatives that are either more professional looking or more fun. The design decisions on this set don’t look sturdy or especially stylish. I’d recommend Greenlife as another bargain brand that offers a better color selection.
T-fal Initiatives ceramic cookware is a great entry-level cookware set for the money.
If you’re just getting started in the kitchen and up-front affordability is a major priority, this set is a good buy. The pots and pans included are practical for most common uses, and especially group cooking.
Ceramic cookware isn’t known for durability, and the T-fal Initiatives collection is no exception. Even so, it will get you down the road and help you learn the practicalities of what you do and don’t like in ceramic nonstick coating without breaking the bank.