Gotham Steel is a cookware brand that’s heavily advertised on TV. The product is highly affordable and the brand claims it can be used in the oven and dishwasher and is “PTFE/PFOA/PFOS FREE.”
But is Gotham Steel a safer option than traditional non-stick pans? What does PTFE-free even mean and is this traditional non-stick cookware chemical dangerous? Is Gotham Steel even made with steel? And how do real users rate and describe the experience cooking with Gotham Steel?
In this article we’ll answer all of these questions and more as we review medical studies to give our take on whether traditional non-stick cookware is a health risk and if Gotham Steel is a safer option because it’s PTFE-free.
We’ll share our thoughts on the materials used in Gotham Steel cookware and highlight real, unsponsored user reviews of the brand.
Is Traditional Non-Stick Cookware Unsafe?
Gotham Steel, like many non-stick cookware brands, makes claims that their products are free of the chemical compounds “PTFE,” “PFOA” and “PFOS.”
There’s a good reason that Gotham Steel makes these representations. These chemicals are clinically shown to be harmful to human health.
A 2017 medical review found that non-stick cookware coated with polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) “releases various gases and chemicals that present mild to severe toxicity.” The study authors also described perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) as a “well-known toxic environmental pollutant.”
So it’s a good thing that Gotham Steel products are free of these harmful compounds. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that their products are safer.
As we documented in our GreenPan review article, clinical studies have shown that non-stick alternatives to PTFE are no safer, and in some cases may be more toxic. So because Gotham Steel fails to publish the specific chemicals used to create the non-stick coating, or data on their toxicity, we have no reason to believe that it’s a safer option than traditional non-stick.
A well-researched and interesting video with over 600,000 views from YouTube cooking influencer Adam Ragusea explains in more detail some of the safety concerns regarding non-stick cookware, and includes interviews with experts:
Gotham Steel Material Analysis
Surprisingly, Gotham Steel is not primarily made of steel. Only the handle is. Gotham Steel pans are made using titanium as a base and a ceramic non-stick coating as a finish.
We consider titanium to be an excellent choice for the base. A medical review published in the Journal of Food Science and Technology found that titanium cookware had the best retention of micronutrients in the food after cooking compared with all other materials.
Ceramic is a more questionable choice in our opinion. A 2016 medical review described a significant risk of lead toxicity from glazed ceramic cookware, especially ceramics sourced from Mexico, China and some European countries. Gotham Steel does not appear to publish the source of their ceramic on their website.
Gotham Steel does not appear to publish any testing data on the potential for lead leaching due to use of their pans, but no ceramic cookware brands we’ve reviewed on Illuminate Health have done so.
As we discussed in our article on is Caraway Cookware safe, the lack of clarity on toxicity and standards in the non-stick cookware industry as a whole is concerning to us. We hope that more companies publish information on the non-stick coating chemicals used and their materials sourcing.
Overall we consider Gotham Steel’s materials to be average for a non-stick cookware brand, but we do not recommend the product due to our concerns about the glazed ceramic coating and the non-stick chemicals used.
But how does the pan actually perform? We’ll review in the next section.
Real, Unsponsored Gotham Steel User Reviews
A YouTube creator named “Reviews_and_more” published a review of Gotham Steel’s pan after one year of use, and shared their thoughts about the durability and whether it’s frustrating to clean after use:
A TikTok creator named “MamaWaffler69” found the non-stick feature of the Gotham Steel pan to be surprisingly effective:
Gotham Steel pot does not stick!!!♬ original sound - MamaWaffler69
Where to Buy Gotham Steel for the Best Price
Gotham Steel is sold at a variety of online retailers. Here’s the price breakdown for their pan at the time of publishing this article:
Home Depot: $29.66
Brand website: $26.94 (comes with a free second pan)
Amazon: $21.49 (link to official Amazon listing)
The brand’s website is the best option for those looking to buy more than one pan, because the average cost per pan is only $13.47 even including shipping costs.
Amazon is the best option for consumers looking to buy only one pan, and is 1-27% cheaper than other online retailers.
Real Customer Reviews of Gotham Steel
We consider Amazon to be a more objective resource for honest customer reviews than a brand’s website.
The brand’s most-reviewed product is their frying pan, which has been reviewed over 22,000 times with an average review rating of 4.2 out of 5 stars.
The top positive review from a verified purchaser comes from a user named “P. Kim” who finds the pan to be effective and convenient:
“As seen on TV, I can drop an egg and use a folk to scramble without a scratch, I can throw bunch of cheese and it will not stick. This is a palm sized and just enough for an egg. I just wished it was a bit bigger so a spatula can fit to flip the egg. I can flip the pan but the size of the pan makes it hard to catch. an Inch wider would make better use of the pan and stove top.”
The top negative review from a verified purchaser is written by a user named “Customer X” who claims that the non-stick capabilities failed within a year and that staining appeared:
“6 months after purchase - in spite of this occasional use - food started to stick to the pan. For example, omelettes had to be cooked as scramble eggs because, in spite of using butter (though you TV add contend that it's not necessary to use butter or oil to cook on your pans) the egg mixture started to stick to the middle of the pan Finally, a month or so ago, the stain or discoloration shown on the attached photograph appeared!”
There are a few more customer complaints about Gotham Steel on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website, and the business has not responded to the customers to try to resolve those complaints which we consider a red flag about the brand.
Our Non-Toxic Cookware Recommendation
We consider cast iron pans to be the safest and healthiest cookware option. Cast iron has been used for thousands of years and is non-toxic.
Cast iron pans are made primarily from iron and steel, and are somewhat naturally non-stick because of the effects of fat heated on the cooking surface over time.
One fascinating fact about cast iron pans is that the minimal levels of iron leaching may have a beneficial effect on human health. Iron is an essential mineral, and many people are deficient in iron (particularly women). Cooking in cast iron pots has been clinically shown to improve iron status.
We recommend Lodge Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet as our top cast iron pan because it's free of any questionable chemical coatings. The only material is cast iron.
Interested consumers can check out Lodge Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet at this link.
We recommend purchasing some Lodge Pan Scrapers along with the pan. They're only $4.90, and cast iron pans can be challenging to clean for the first few uses without scrapers, before the pan becomes seasoned.