These days, the rapid pace of tech innovation is transforming every industry — cookware included! More specifically, the rise of online direct-to-consumer brands has fundamentally changed the way many people purchase essentials like pots, pans, and knives for their kitchen.
You can now find plenty of brands and manufacturers selling products directly to you, the consumer — cutting out retailers and thus offering a more palatable price. Some of these brands have their own factories, while others source from factories that are also used by long standing brands; but the point is still the same: the absence of costly brick and mortar infrastructure means more value for home cooks everywhere.
New D2C cookware startups like Abbio, Misen, and Made In stand out, offering quality pots, pans, knives, and more for a more affordable price, at least compared to household names like All-Clad and Williams Sonoma.
But even when you’ve decided to go with a D2C cookware brand — Which one should you choose? Fear not, as we’ll compare the differences between two of the leading brands — Made In and Misen — in-depth in this head-to-head review!
We’ll give you all of the data you need for these kitchen essentials when it comes to design, performance, and materials, allowing you to make an informed decision. So without further ado, let’s get cookin’!
What does Made In offer?
Made In only launched in 2016 and remains one of the greener brands in the cookware market. That’s when Chip Malt and Jake Kalick created their first line of products. But while the brand is relatively new, the founders certainly weren’t beginners with family working in the space for over a century.
Now, we should clarify something right away — the average consumer won’t look at Made In’s prices and think it’s a budget brand. But despite it not being the cheapest, there’s tremendous value because their quality still feels high for the price. And compared to more traditional brands such as Wusthof or All-Clad, Made In’s cookware is noticeably cheaper.
They offer a wide variety of pans, pots, and forged kitchen knives. They have seven different cookware sets that you can choose from, though you’re welcome to buy items a la carte as well.
Source: Made In
What makes Made In cookware unique?
As we’ve already mentioned, Made In provides a nice variety of high-quality knives and cookware at more affordable prices compared to high-end brands. They also boast a decent level of heat control, stemming from their 5-ply construction that’s utilized both in their non-stick and stainless steel cookware.
Source: Made In
Their non-stick, stainless steel, and carbon fry pans are manufactured in the United States — hence their patriotic name. They also have thousands of positive reviews from both satisfied online customers as well as Michelin-star chefs. And perhaps most crucially — they offer a wider range of products compared to Misen.
What Made In could improve…
Made In is still a relatively young brand, and thus no one can really attest to the longevity of their products, seeing as none of them are older than five years. Also, while their product range is bigger than Misen, they are yet to reach the expansive variety of other high-end competitors like Calphalon or All-Clad.
Plus, while Made In is more affordable than traditional cookware brands, they’re not cheap by any stretch of the imagination, and more costly than Misen. Some people may not appreciate the fact that you can only purchase their products from their website, but that’s a given for the D2C market.
Review of Misen: What do they offer?
Misen represents another widely acclaimed cutlery and cookware brand. They focus on providing a range of products that are affordable, quality-made, and neatly designed.
If you’re not familiar with the intricacies of cooking or the French language, the meaning of their brand name may be lost on you. The founders of the brand drew upon the French expression “mise en place” — roughly translated as “put in place” for their company’s name. This expression is used by chefs to describe the preparation of the required ingredients and tools in their respective cooking stations.
In many ways, Misen is the love child of cooking and technology — stemming from a 2015 Kickstarter campaign which raised more than a million dollars. Initially, the aim of the campaign was to fund the production of the Misen Chef’s Knife, which to be fair, is what they are known best for to this day. The company’s product line grew to other non-stick and stainless steel cookware over the next couple of years, with carbon cookware being the latest addition.
Source: Misen’s knives are truly world class. I own their chef knife and carbon steel pan, and love them both!
Much akin to Made In, Misen aims to provide a more affordable product line compared to retail high-end cookware brands. And just like any other D2C brand, they only sell their knives and cookware through their website. However, the lack of retail intermediaries is not the only thing driving down their prices: unlike Made In domestic factories, Misen’s products are manufactured in China.
What we like most about Misen…
The value that Misen brings to the table (or countertop or cutting board) aren’t much different from other major D2C cookware brands; more affordable than their retail counterparts — providing consumers with their products directly instead of going through middlemen.
Although their cookware is not made in the United States like Made In’s, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, depending on what you’re looking for. In terms of pricing, this is definitely an advantage, as overseas manufacturing means higher savings, and chances are, most of the pans you’re currently cooking with were likely made overseas too.
When it comes to Misen’s products themselves, the quality and aesthetic are similar to Made In — simple and solid, but not teeming with bells and whistles. While they offer three different cookware sets (non-stick, stainless steel, and carbon steel), it’s their array of knives that makes them stand out. I’ve personally used their chef’s knife to cut everything I’ve cooked for the last two years, haven’t sharpened it once, and it still feels like the first day I got it. I 100% recommend it to anyone in the market for a new all-purpose kitchen knife.
What Misen can improve…
Much like Made In, Misen is also a newish brand with a little over five years under its belt, so we can’t really say if their cookware will hold up forever, but necessarily have any reason to doubt either.
When we compare the variety of sets and individual products offered by Made In vs Misen, it’s clear that Misen optimizes for simplicity over depth of their product line. They only have three different sets to choose from, for instance, which for some may feel sparse, but personally I find refreshing.
In addition, although the fact that their products are being made in China (or rather just outside of the USA more broadly) doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re of a lower quality, many may prefer to support local labor instead.
There’s also the same D2C issue that you’ve got with Made In and other similar companies; while the nature of the brands means that you can get them at a cheaper price compared to the retailer ones, you don’t have the ability to try them out or at least touch them before ordering. If you’re unsatisfied for any reason, you can return them for free within the first 60 days.
D2C Cookware bake off: Made in vs Misen
Now that you’ve got a rough overview of what both companies offer, we’ll compare their products more in-depth across three crucial categories:
Cookware Design: Misen vs Made In
Both Misen and Made In pots and pans are made with stainless steel or carbon steel. Misen’s pans are somewhat thicker than those offered by Made In, but this is something you’re not likely to notice unless you’re actually measuring; we’re talking about millimeters. Though the small added thickness is difficult to notice with your eyes, it’s definitely enough to make the Misen cookware heavier.
To give you an idea of the difference — a 10-inch pan manufactured by Misen weighs around 3 pounds, while a similar model from Made In weighs less than 2.5 pounds. Also, the cookware from Made In features brushed stainless steel handles, compared to Misen’s polished steel that provides an extra shine.
As you can see, we’re really getting into the details here — which is pretty much the only way to spot any clear design differences between these two brands. So, with the designs being so similar — how do both of the D2C cookware brands actually perform in the kitchen?
Durability: Misen vs Made In
When judging the performance of any piece of cookware, there are three important aspects to consider:
- Heat retention
- Heat distribution
While heat retention is pretty self-explanatory, heat distribution describes the evenness of the distribution of heat across a cookware’s entire surface, and responsiveness shows how much time is needed to heat it up or cool it down, depending on temperature changes.
All of this may sound a bit complicated at first, but it’s actually quite simple — you can test all of the above mentioned features by just boiling some water in the cookware.
Both of these brands perform admirably — with Made In being a slim winner. Their pans provide visibly better heat retention and a slightly higher responsiveness; though we do need to point out that the difference in responsiveness is quite minimal.
In practice, this does not necessarily indicate a noticeably different cooking experience with either of the brands. It is highly unlikely that the average home cook will notice any kind of disparity between Made In and Misen.
Both offer a similarly high level of performance thanks to their 5-ply thick construction. You may notice some design differences (like we’ve mentioned above), along with a slightly steeper wall slope on the Made In products.
Pricing: How do Misen and Made In compare?
Seeing as Misen and Made In provide such a similar cooking experience, the price factor may turn out to be the deciding one. And while the Made In products perform slightly better, we have to point out that the Misen ones are much more affordable. In fact, the Misen cookware is more than 30% cheaper than its Made In counterparts.
So, why is this the case? The main factor is likely the fact that Misen’s cookware is manufactured in China. Meanwhile Made In’s cookware comes from Italy and the United States, and some of its knives are made in France as well. Your budget and willingness to pay for locally sourced goods will ultimately determine where you want to invest.
The Verdict: Which is better, Made In or Misen?
Considering everything that we’ve noted above — what’s the bottom line when choosing between these two brands?
If you’re not scared to pay more, going with Made In is a great decision. While its performance advantages aren’t as high as you may expect given the 30% premium, it may very well turn out that Made In’s cookware will last you a longer time — though it’s impossible to say that for certain now, seeing as both brands are relatively new.
Although neither has existed for very long, Made In has a better “pedigree” (or perhaps just a better influencer marketing strategy?) having garnered so much praise from renowned chefs and famous restaurateurs. And of course if you love the brand’s made-in-America status, that’s another good reason to pick it.
On the other hand, the fact that Misen’s products are manufactured in China shouldn’t necessarily dissuade you — some of the finest cookware in the world is manufactured there, and so are a ton of other quality products in general. Misen’s kitchen ware is just too affordable and high-quality to ignore — not only compared to traditional retail competitors, but to Made In as well. If my own individual opinion is worth anything, know that I’ve personally really enjoyed having Misen’s carbon steel pans in my kitchen and use their chef’s knife every day.
If you’re still stuck with which brand to try, give Misen a shot. You probably won’t want to return anything, but you’ll have slightly longer (60 days) to do so just in case. And if you’ve used either Misen or Made In cookware in the past, let us know your opinion in the comments below!
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