Review of the new Smeg cookware range: 50s-style cookware for the 21st-century cook
Perhaps most synonymous with fridges, Italian brand Smeg is much loved for its retro design with bright colours and soft contours, evocative of kitchenware from the 1950s. In recent years, the company has branched out into small domestic appliances.
We’ve previously tested the Smeg FAB5L freestanding mini fridge, the Smeg KLF04 kettle, Smeg TSF03 four-slot steel toaster and Smeg ECF01 espresso machine, as well as the Smeg BLF01 blender and Smeg 50s-style hand blender. For keen bakers, there’s even the Smeg Retro stand mixer. If you want, you can now equip your whole kitchen with Smeg appliances, big and small. With so many gadgets on offer, it was only a matter of time before Smeg moved into cookware.
What is in the Smeg cookware range?
Smeg kicks off the collection with three different pans in a variety of sizes:
Frying pan available in 24cm, 26cm, and 28cm
Casserole dish, with lid, available in 24cm/4.6L, 26cm/7.7L, 28cm/3.8L
Wok only available in 30cm
All pans are dishwasher-safe and compatible with all hob types, including induction.
Smeg also plans to extend the range to include a sauté pan.
How much does the Smeg cookware range cost?
Smeg cookware range design, features and use
Each item in the Smeg cookware range is available in three colours. Black, for those who like classic and understated kitchenware; red, ideal if you like to use your pots and pans to add pops of colour to the kitchen; and cream, if you prefer a softer, minimalist aesthetic.
Rather than the usual ceramic coating you’d find on Le Creuset or Staub cookware, or simple exposed metal, Smeg has chosen a matte aluminium finish on its pans. Inside, each has a PTFE non-stick coating that truly is second to none.
Even the handles get special attention. The eagle-eyed among you will spot the same ridged design Smeg employs on the handle of its famous fridges. This isn’t just for style, allowing water to drain freely after washing. Each pan has a steel base, too, that is reminiscent of a sunburst. Smeg claims this helps to distribute heat evenly across the pan.
Which hob types is the Smeg cookware range compatible with?
This cookware range is compatible with gas, ceramic, electric and even induction hobs.
Can all items in the Smeg cookware range go in the oven?
All of the cookware, including the lids, are oven-safe up to 250C, so ideal for hob-to-oven recipes, or for finishing dishes under the grill.
How easy is Smeg cookware to clean?
The range is totally dishwasher-safe. While this is handy, we found the non-stick so effective that dishwashing seemed excessive. A wash with good old soap and water did the job every time.
How did the Smeg casserole dish, frying pan and wok perform?
How does the Smeg casserole dish compare to cast iron casserole dishes from brands like Le Creuset and Staub?
One of the key differences between Smeg’s casserole dish compared to other cast iron dishes from well-known brands is weight. Coming in at 2.6kg for the 24cm dish and 3.5kg for the 26cm, these casseroles are almost half the weight of the smallest Le Creuset and Staub equivalents. Lighter cookware means it’s easier to carry from stove to table, plus there’s less risk of oven racks straining under the weight.
- Read our full list of the best casserole dishes
That being said, some people find a weighty pan reassuring. It implies that it’s hard-wearing, durable and of high-quality. There’s a trustworthiness in weight that Le Creuset and Staub have built reputations on.
Another difference we noticed was the handles. On most casserole dishes, the handles sit only a couple of centimetres away from the sides of the dish, whereas there’s a safer distance between them on the Smeg. As these pots can get up to high temperatures, you often find you have to use bulkier tea towels or oven mitts to remove them from the oven – the added space makes that easier.
The glass lid is a fantastic addition, mostly because of how clear it remains. Traditional cast iron pots come with solid lids, so you have to keep peeking underneath to see how your dish is doing. The Smeg lids have a steam vent and while this fits securely, it may not lock in as much moisture as a cast iron lid. In fact, Staub make a virtue of that with lids that have small nodules on the underside to collect that moisture and evenly drip it back into the food.
Le Creuset and Staub also boast a wider variety of colours for their casserole dishes. While this has no bearing on cooking performance, it is a big selling point.
Should you buy the Smeg cookware range?
Functionality meets design with all Smeg appliances; not only do they look great, but they perform brilliantly, too. This cookware range follows in that vein.
Each Smeg pan is versatile, oven-safe up to 250C and attractive enough to double as a serving dish. The non-stick surface is fantastic, too. On some pans it can begin to peel or wear away, but here it feels built to last.
The frying pan is a must-buy. While it’s not the cheapest, it’s robust, comfortable to use and the non-stick is exceptional. The casserole dish is ideal for hob-top cooking, plus the sizes are cheaper than Le Creuset and Staub’s offerings. If you like to bake bread in your casserole, you may need to stick to cast iron, as the Smeg casserole dish won’t reach the high temperatures needed, or form a tight enough seal. While the wok performed fantastically, purists may find it too thick and prefer to use a traditional style wok that is thinner where you can build up a patina. Couples or singletons may find the capacity too large as well, but it’s ideal for families.
How did we test the Smeg cookware range?
What better recipe to test out a casserole dish than BBC Good Food’s beef & vegetable casserole. This requires cooking both on the hob and in the oven so allowed us to see how the dish performed in both cases. We also scored against the following criteria:
Versatility: whether suitable for all hob types, oven-safe, dishwasher-safe, microwave-safe, and suitable as as a serving dish
Depth: for the flexibility to cook a wide range of food; we needed to submerge chunky ingredients and even cook a whole chicken
Surface area: to brown batches of ingredients evenly and quickly
Good heat distribution: the key to fuss-free cooking
Looks: extra marks were given for cookware that you’d be proud to bring to the dining table
Well-sealed: the lid should slot into place with ease and form a good seal, keeping in flavours and moisture
Heat: handling high temperatures is important for versatility
We focussed on stir-frying when testing woks and used BBC Good Food’s stir-fried beef with cashews & broccoli recipe. Ingredients were tossed, stirred, tilted and shimmied to see if the design allowed food to escape from the pan. We tested the durability by using a variety of utensils on the surface. We looked for:
Balance and weight: we preferred woks that could be easily lifted without dropping down at the front. Some larger woks feature a lug handle for extra support
Handles: handles that were comfortable, safe to hold and remained cool in use scored highly. Long handles are better suited to stir-frying, plus they keep your hands away from the heat. Short handles, whilst more convenient for storage, have a tendency to get hot
Shape: we looked for deep curved sides that helped us toss ingredients smoothly and kept food in the pan
Temperature: time taken to heat up was taken into consideration as well as how well the wok seared food. We didn’t want to see stewing or uneven hotspots
Sticking: whatever the coating inside, we looked for food that moved easily within the wok
We cooked two classic recipes in the frying pan to put it to the test. The first, a basic omelette. This allowed us to see how well we were able to control the heat of the pan, the effectiveness of the non-stick and to see whether any chemical flavour from the non-stick coating transferred. We also made American pancakes. We checked each pancake for even browning and cooking, and made sure the non-stick coating had some grip. We also tested against the following criteria:
Suitable for all hob types: namely, induction
Versatile: we wanted pans that could be used in the oven or under the grill
Easy to clean: if a pan has an effective non-stick coating, hand-washing should do the job, but being dishwasher-safe scored extra marks
Stable on the hob: pans that felt unbalanced or wobbled on the hob were marked down
Responsive: whether searing or slow-cooking, we wanted a frying pan that was responsive to changes in temperature for precision cooking
Good shape: we looked for slightly curved sides that allow for easy tossing of ingredients
Comfortable to use: everything from the weight to the length and design of the handle, we didn’t want to strain or struggle when moving or cooking with the frying pan
Recipes for a casserole dish
Chicken arrabiata stew & parmesan dumplings
Bean & halloumi stew
Creamy chicken stew
Spiced lamb meatball stew
One-pot sausage casserole with garlic breadcrumbs
Chipotle sweet potato & black bean stew with cheddar dumplings
Recipes for a wok
Wok-fried long-stem broccoli
Stir-fried beef with cashews & broccoli
Beef with mangetout & cashews
Wok-fried duck & oyster sauce
Vietnamese-style caramel pork
Korean sesame pork stir-fry
Spicy prawn soup
Recipes for a frying pan
Frying pan filo tart
Pan-fried rib-eye steak
Pan-fried sprouts & crunchy chorizo crumbs
Pan-fried potato gnocchi
Paneer & chickpea fry
Pan-fried sea bass with ratatouille & basil
One-pan egg & veg brunch
This review was last updated in June 2021. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability, please get in touch at email@example.com.