A good cookware set will equip your kitchen with most of the pots and pans you need to cook just about anything. It will be something that is not only extremely useful but effective, giving you the best cooking results for most cooking recipes.
Get the best cookware set for yourself or friends, and it will be one of the best things you do for yourself all year—that’s a promise.
- Best Cookware Set
- Best Stainless Steel Cookware
- Best Nonstick Cookware
- Best Cast Iron Cookware
- Best Hard Anodized Cookware
- Best Copper Cookware
- Best Ceramic Cookware
- Best Stone Cookware
Reviews of the Best Cookware Sets
Best Cookware Set – Cuisinart MCP-12N MultiClad Pro Stainless Steel 12-Piece Cookware Set
The Cuisinart MultiClad Pro brings the best value to both professional chefs and home cooks. Constructed of three bonded layers of metal, with an aluminum core lined between two layers of stainless steel, it ensures even heat distribution, key for accomplishing any cooking task. The metal stick handles of the pans have an appropriate length so that you can easily maneuver the pans, and the two side handles of the pots provide an easy grip, even while wearing oven mitts.
All the pots and pans in this set are dishwasher safe and oven safe up to 550 degrees Fahrenheit. Because of the magnetic properties of the stainless steel, they are also induction compatible. Included in this Cuisinart set are 8″ and 10″ skillets, 1 1/2 and 3 qt saucepans with lids, an 8 qt stockpot with a lid, and a 3 1/2 saute pan with a lid. Additionally, it is one of the few sets to include a steamer basket, which is perfect for containing vegetables over boiling water, allowing them to be steam cooked.
Best Stainless Steel Cookware Set – All-Clad Tri-Ply Stainless Steel 10-Piece Set
In a chefs’ poll conducted by the New York Times, a majority of the chefs mentioned this All-Clad set as either their primary or secondary choice. That’s not all that surprising since this cookware set provides unparalleled heat conduction, enabled by its aluminum core, while its brushed-metal finish gives it an attractive, shiny appearance. The handles of the pots and pans have a rounded bottom, providing a nice ergonomic feel. In addition, they have holes in them, allowing you to proudly hang the pieces on your wall.
All the pots and pans in this collection are dishwasher safe and induction compatible. If you wish to start cooking with the pans from the stovetop and finish it in the oven, this cookware set is oven safe up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Included in this All-Clad set are 8″ and 10″ skillets, 2 and 3 qt saucepans with lids, an 8 qt stockpot with a lid, and a 3 qt saucepan with a lid. It’s worth mentioning that this is the only stainless steel cookware set that discolored ever so slightly over high heat, a testament to the superior quality of the metal used.
Best Nonstick Cookware Set – Anolon Advanced Bronze Hard Anodized Nonstick 11-Piece Cookware Set
A good nonstick cookware makes cooking delicate food easy. It distributes heat evenly with its primary material and effortlessly releases food with its slick coating. This Anolon Advanced Bronze Collection set is made of hard anodized aluminum, which is aluminum treated with electricity, resulting in the construction more durable and rust resistant than pure aluminum. The handles are made of a combination of steel and silicone, which are oven safe up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Hash browns were consistently cooked in the pans, turning out evenly brown, as reported by many users. In addition, eggs were also released quickly thanks to the DuPont nonstick surface. The lids are made of glass, which allows for easy monitoring, with easy-to-grip handles. Included in this Anolon set are 1.5 and 3 qt saucepans with lids, an 8 qt stockpot with a lid, 8″ and 10″ skillets, a 3 qt saute pan with a lid, and a 12″ shallow grill pan. To prolong the life of the nonstick pots and pans, it’s advised that you don’t use metal utensils on the pieces. Also, keep them away from the dishwasher.
Best Cast Iron Cookware Set – Lodge L5HS3 5-Piece Pre-Seasoned Set
Every home chef worth his or her salt should have a trusty cast iron pan in his or her kitchen. It is every cook’s best friend. You can use it to cook just about anything. But better yet, get a cast iron cookware set, as you’ll get more than the pan alone. With this made-in-USA Lodge set, you’ll get a 10.5″ round griddle, a 8″ skillet, a 10.25″ skillet, a 5 qt dutch oven, and a 10.25″ iron cover.
The pots and pans in this set are very durable and heavy, which means it retains heat very well, making it great for both sauteing and simmering. Moreover, they are slick enough (after being seasoned) to cook crepes and eggs, hot enough to pan fry anything, and completely functional for baking, braising, and roasting. Dishes that taste awesome when they are cooked in this cast iron cookware include roast chicken, mac and cheese, burger, and of course, steak. Try it today.
Best Ceramic Cookware Set – WearEver C943SA Pure Living Nonstick Ceramic Coating 10-Piece Cookware Set
Ceramic-coated cookware is the safe alternative to Teflon-coated cookware. PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene), PFOA, (perfluorooctanoic acid), cadmium, and lead free, it is a popular choice among health-conscious individuals. With a hard anodized aluminum exterior and ceramic interior, this WearEver set offers excellent heat conduction and a slick coating. The silicone handles of the pans are secured with rivets, and they can safely withstand oven temperatures up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Delicate foods like eggs were effortlessly released without browning in the pans, as reported by many users. Additionally, tilapia fillets didn’t turn out too dark, indicating the evenness of cooking. The sloped sides of the pieces make flipping foods such as crepes easy, while the bent lip allows for clean pouring. Included in this WearEver set are a 5 qt dutch oven with lid, a 3.5 qt skillet with a lid, a 3 qt sauce pan with a lid, 8″ and 10.5″ saute pans, a slotted turner, and a nylon spoon.
Why Get a Cookware Set?
The reason to get a cookware set compared to the pieces individually is that it’s cheaper. How much cheaper, you may well ask? To answer this, let’s see the table below, which I use my top pick, the Cuisinart MCP-12N MultiClad Pro Stainless Steel Cookware Set, to get a cost comparison between the set and the pieces.
|Cuisinart MCP-12N MultiClad Pro Stainless Steel Cookware Set|
|Item||Price||Set Price ($179.99)|
|1 1/2 Qt Saucepan with Lid||$19.95||n/a|
|3 Qt Saucepan with Lid||$56.07||n/a|
|8 Qt Stockpot with Lid||$72.30||n/a|
|3 1/2 Qt Saute Pan with Lid||$57.87||n/a|
|Total Savings||$307.55 – $179.99 = $127.56|
Besides being cheaper, cookware sets also make buying easier than the pieces separately. Because you will get many pots and pans in one purchase, you will thus save a lot of time and hassle buying a set as opposed to hunting the pieces one at a time.
What’s Included In a Cookware Set?
Different cookware brands will vary their pot and pan offerings in their cookware sets. The key thing for you to get all you’ll need to accomplish most cooking tasks is to get the most essential pieces in the cookware set.
Here is a list of the pots and pans you ought to have in your main cookware set:
|Pots and Pans You Should Have in Your Cookware Set|
|1.5 to 2 Qt Saucepan with Lid||Cooking sauces
|4 Qt Saucepan with Lid||Making larger sauces
Cooking grains, larger stews
|10” and 12” Skillets||Sauteing chicken pieces
|3 to 4 Qt Skillet with Lid||Making roux
|8 Qt Stockpot With lid||Boiling pasta
Making large batches of soups or stocks
Note: Lids, utensils, cookbooks, and everything else will be included in the cookware count (e.g. 10-piece cookware set). Therefore, you will get fewer pots and pans than the number listed in the cookware set.
How to Select the “Right” Cookware Set?
To select the best pots and pans for yourself or friends, it’s imperative that you understand the nuances of different cooking materials, be they stainless steel, copper, or cast iron.
This is by far the most important knowledge you could arm yourself with when it comes to selecting the best cookware, so pay close attention to the different cookware materials.
Click on a link to quickly learn about them.
- Stainless Steel Cookware
- Nonstick Cookware
- Ceramic Cookware
- Aluminum Cookware
- Copper Cookware
- Cast Iron Cookware
Guide to Cookware Types
Stainless Steel Cookware
Considered the workhorse of the kitchen, stainless steel cookware is prized by both pros and home cooks for its durability, versatility, and longevity. It is very resistant to dings, dents, scratches, and rust, making the pieces very easy to care for. On its own though, it does not conduct heat well, which is why most cookware manufacturers will line it with metals with higher thermal conductivity such as aluminum and copper. This is what we refer to as cladding in cookware lingo, and this type of cookware is usually the most versatile and efficient.
Not all stainless steels are created equal. There are different grades of stainless steel as well as composition of the steel, as indicated by different numbers. For stainless steel used in cookware, the grade number of the steel will fall under either the 200, 300, or 400 series, whereas the composition number of the steel will either be 18/0, 18/8/, or 18/10. These composition numbers refer to how much chromium and nickel respectively the stainless steel contains. The higher the nickel number, the more corrosion resistant the stainless steel is.
So, which stainless steel cookware is best for you? The best stainless steel cookware will be in the 300 series with the number 18/10. This cookware will also be dishwasher safe, induction compatible, and oven safe. (If you wish to learn more about the different grades of stainless steel, click here.)
Pros: Very long lasting, nonreactive with acidic foods, and easy to care for. Great choice for browning, stir-frying, and pan-frying. Induction compatible and dishwasher, oven-, and broiler- safe.
Cons: Poor heat conductor. Tend to discolor under high heat. Tough to clean if used improperly. Usually quite pricey.
Nonstick cookware can be made of anodized aluminum, enameled cast iron, or other materials. What constitute as nonstick cookware is that the cookware uses a slick coating for food release. This nonstick coating can be made of either PTFE (polytetrafluoroetheylene) or ceramic, which both have different characteristics but share the same function which is to release food. Cooking delicate foods, such as eggs, crepes, and hash browns, will be easier with nonstick cookware than with not nonstick cookware. In addition, cleanup will be easy too. Because you have the option to use less, or no, oil when cooking with nonstick pots and pans, they can be healthier too, as you may reduce some fat intake from your diet.
While nonstick cookware offers many benefits to the user, it unfortunately has garnered a bad reputation. This is because of the health risks associated with the PTFE coating, better known by its trade name as Teflon, and the man-made chemical Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) used in the process of making PTFE. When exposed to very high temperatures, it is said that PTFE will start to deteriorate and release fumes that are harmful to birds and human health. On the other hand, PFOA, which has been phased out by 2015, has also been found to have adverse health effects on animals and humans—with it even being linked to cancer.
So is Teflon safe to cook with?
Yes, you can still use Teflon safely, as long as you do not exceed the recommended maximum temperature for cooking with it, which is 500ºF. This means cook over low or medium heat but never over high heat with nonstick pots and pans. Should you accidentally ingest a piece of the coating due to it flaking off though, experts at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said this will not cause harm to you. The flakes will just pass through your digestive tract.
Typically, the nonstick surface, either coated with Teflon or ceramic, has a short lifespan with which it can deteriorate over time with repeated use. Therefore to preserve it, it’s advised that you avoid using metal utensils on it, and clean it with a nonabrasive cleaner and a soft plastic brush.
Pros: Very easy to clean. Can be healthier: Less, or no, oil is required for cooking. Usually induction compatible, depending on the primary material, and oven-safe to 500°F, depending on the handle material.
Cons: Can’t withstand high heat. Short lifespan. Not desirable for browning. Not metal utensil- safe, as it can scratch or gouge the nonstick surface. Also, usually not dishwasher-safe.
Check out the best non stick cookware to buy.
There are two different types of ceramic cookware you can find on the market today. Let’s learn them both so that you may know which is the best to get for yourself.
Pure ceramic: Generally made from quartz sand, clay, and minerals, pure ceramic cookware is very versatile. It can be used directly from the oven to the broiler due to its ability to withstand temperatures up to 2000 ° F, and it can also be used in the microwave, unlike metal. With a decorative, glossy surface created by undergoing a glossy process, pure ceramic is dishwasher safe and non-reactive to acidic ingredients. Moreover, it is also naturally nonstick, making it very easy to maintain. Because pure ceramic cookware retains heat very well, you can therefore keep your meals warm in it long after you have taken it off the burner.
Pros: Can withstand very high temperatures without melting. Oven- and broiler-safe. Very easy to care for. Nonreactive to acidic foods. Retain heat very well.
Cons: Can break and chip easily. May contain lead, especially older ceramic and stone cookware. May discolor glass cooktops at higher heat. Not compatible with induction ranges.
Ceramic coated: For those who want a nonstick cookware without the health risks associated with PTFE, ceramic-coated cookware is the answer. Not only is ceramic coating free of PTFE and PFOA but it’s also said to be more eco-friendly than other nonstick coatings. That said, like PTFE coating, it’s advised that you treat this coating with a little more care. That’s because, it too can degrade very easily; in fact, more easily than PTFE. This also means don’t cook over high heat with the ceramic-coated pots and pans, and don’t use metal utensils on them.
Pros: Safe to use. Free of PTFE and PFOA. More eco friendly.
Cons: Has a short lifespan. Can’t be used in the microwave. Not metal utensil- and dishwasher-safe, as it can scratch the coating and cause it to wear out faster.
Here are the best ceramic cookware sets to buy.
Aluminum is an excellent conductor of heat. It is inexpensive and lightweight. In its pure form though, it is reactive to acidic foods like vinegar or tomatoes, which can impart a metallic taste or bitterness. Which is why it’s often anodized, meaning coated with a protective oxide layer by an electrolytic process in which the metal then becomes nonreactive. As a result, the now anodized aluminum becomes darker, very hard, durable, and corrosion resistant. Though this material or coating is usually more expensive than pure aluminum, I highly recommend it, as it notably addresses the shortcomings of aluminum.
Pros: Excellent heat conductor. Affordable, scratch-resistant. Lightweight yet strong.
Cons: Reactive to acidic foods. Not induction compatible. Prone to warping and scratching. Can discolor certain foods.
Get the best hard anodized pots and pans here.
Best Hard Anodized Cookware Set – Calphalon Commercial 13-Pc Set
If you’re looking for something that is as easy to use and care for like nonstick cookware, you’ve got to try this set of hard anodized cookware. Calphalon is not famous for hard anodized cookware for nothing. This cookware set has a lot to offer: sturdy handles, hardened cooking surface that is non stick without a layer of Teflon coating and completely scratch-proof (use your metal utensils, at last!) and beautiful, dome shaped glass lids. Read more about this hard anodized cookware set.
Best Budget Hard Anodized Cookware Set – Rachael Ray 10-Pc Set
While not being the most durable cookware you can buy, this 10-piece set is not too bad when it comes to cooking and washing up. If you like bright colors, you’ll like the brightly colored handles against the black pots and pans. It may also have gained points from me for having glass, see through lids. I do wish the bases of the pots and pans were thicker for more even heating though. Read more about this budget hard anodized set.
Best Value Hard Anodized Cookware Set – Cuisinart Chef’s Classic 66-14 Set
At a lower price point, the Cuisinart Chef’s Classic set is almost as good as the Calphalon, with good quality handles, glass lids and hardened nonstick surface for cooking. Although you can use metal utensils for these pots and pans, mind that the surface is not as solid as the Calphalon and may still be scratched if you treat it like a $400 set. If you don’t mind babying your cookware a bit, this is a real steal at less than $200 and will certainly last for years to come. Read more about this value set.
Copper has the highest thermal conductivity. It is a material that can heat up very quickly and evenly, and cool off very quickly too. This makes copper cookware perfect for cooking food that requires precise temperature control. Whether you want to sear meats on high heat or gently simmer sauces on low heat, copper cookware is a great choice for tackling any cooking job. Furthermore, copper cookware will also give your food a rich color with nice fond development (browned bits that form on the bottom of the pan after roasting or sauteing) which is key for great flavor. For copper cookware that has the longest life spans, I suggest that you get the heavy gauge copper which is from 1/16″ to 1/8″ thick, although a tad bit expensive.
The disadvantage of copper cookware is it, like aluminum too, is reactive to acidic foods. Therefore, most manufacturers will line copper with other nonreactive metals in order to counter this. In addition, it’s also not magnetic, thereby not induction compatible.
To preserve the copper cookware, it’s advised against loading the pots and pans in the dishwasher, as they can dent easily. Instead, handwash and polish the pieces from time to time, as failure to do so may result in a darker patina. This will not affect the performance of the copper cookware, but why risk ruining its looks? After all, this is one of most attractive things about it.
Pros: The best heat conductor. Very responsive: It adjusts to temperature changes very quickly. Cooks food evenly, making it perfect for simmering sauces as well as browning and braising.
Cons: Pricey. Reactive to acidic ingredients. More difficult to care for, as frequent polishing is required to maintain its luster. Not induction compatible and dishwasher-safe. Can warp easily.
Find the best copper cookware here.
Best Clad Bonded Copper Cookware Set – All Clad 5-Ply Copper Core Set
Copper is very expensive due to the metal’s high demand and short supply, so do not be alarmed when you see the price of this gorgeous cookware set made from five layers of metal with one full layer of copper in the middle. This induction friendly set is one of the highest quality cookware you can get, and will be appreciated by professional cooks and home cooks alike. Lifetime lasting and lifetime warrantied. Read more about this copper cookware set.
Best Budget Copper Cookware Set – T-Fal C836SC Ultimate 12-Pc Set
If it’s the first time you’re buying or using copper cookware, a stainless steel set with copper lined bottom may be a more budget-friendly testing set. At around $150, this set is less than half the price of any fully lined, 3-ply copper cookware set. Although the copper base lining is very thin for this set, it still helps with the heat transmission for cooking. Read more about this budget friendly set.
Best Tri-Ply Copper Cookware Set – Calphalon Tri-Ply 10-Pc Set
At the mid range, the Calphalon 10-piece set is a good deal and looks just like conventional copper cookware with its copper exterior. Don’t be afraid to put these pots and pans to good use, even if the copper will discolor again and again. The whole point is to make good food with a great set of cookware, rather than have a beautiful set of cookware hanging on the rack. If you have time and patience, you can still polish the exterior of this cookware set to its original sheen. Read more about this here
Cast Iron Cookware
Unlike aluminum or copper, cast iron cookware is slow to heat and cool down, which don’t make it great for simmering delicate sauces but great for searing or browning meats. Cast iron cookware may take some time to heat up, but once the temperature is up, it stays hot longer, making it possible to cook thoroughly with its residual heat. Also, if you use a cast iron pan as a serving dish, your meal can thus stay warm in it for a long time.
But besides high heat retention, cast iron is also much valued for its natural nonstick properties. This makes it a great alternative for those who want to avoid PTFE-based coatings, and you can also cook over high heat with it, above the recommended 500°F unlike PTFE. Because cast iron is also the very same material used to build engine blocks, it’s very durable. In fact, so durable that a New York Times writer said that his cast iron skillet bought since the 70s is still going strong.
Usually when referring to cast iron cookware, you will see it in either “uncoated,” meaning its natural state, or “enameled.” They both have similar features, but there are a few key differences to consider when deciding which to select. Simply put, uncoated cast iron requires extra care, as it can rust and stick if it’s not well “seasoned,” whereas enameled is more easy to care for but more expensive. (If you would like to know more about seasoning, click here.)
Both types of copper cookware are very heavy and durable, with the latter favoring uncoated, as it won’t chip off unlike enameled. However, if you are cooking acidic foods, uncoated is less desirable, as the acidity can dissolve the seasoning and result in metallic-tasting food and discoloration, whereas this won’t be an issue with enameled.
Uncoated Cast Iron
Pros: High heat retention: Once hot, it stays hot for a long time. Very long lasting and inexpensive. Naturally nonstick when seasoned well. Versatile: Can be used in most stovetops–even fire pit.
Cons: Heavy. Slow to heat up and cool down. Does not heat evenly. Prone to rusting and reactive to acidic ingredients if not seasoned. Requires effort to clean and maintain. Can’t use soap to clean it lest it may destroy the finish.
Enameled Cast Iron
Pros: Will not rust. Nonreactive to acidic ingredients, which makes it perfect for cooking chili or tomato sauce. Retains heat very well. Dishwasher-safe and oven-safe up to 500°F.
Cons: Usually quite pricey. Less durable than uncoated cast iron, as enamel may chip off. Food may stick. Heavy.
Get the best cast iron cookware here.
Best Budget Cast Iron Cookware Set – Outdoor Gourmet 5 Piece Set
A cheaper set with similar pieces is this Outdoor Gourmet set. Although the workmanship is rougher and quality is less than that of the Lodge cookware, this is still good value for money. You’ll definitely need to season this set yourself before use because it doesn’t come pre-seasoned. Also, it’s better to buy from Amazon or a retailer with a good return policy, as the feet of the dutch oven are prone to breakage during delivery. Read more about this budget cast iron cookware.
Best Cast Iron Cookware Set – Lodge L5HS3 5-Piece Pre-Seasoned Set
Hardly anyone I know buy their cast iron cookware in a whole set, but if you’re an avid camper I can understand your need for a cast iron cookware set. So far I haven’t found any cast iron cookware that beats the quality of a Lodge. So yes, get this 5-piece set that includes a covered dutch oven, two skillets and a griddle. Read more about this cast iron cookware set.
Best Cast Iron Skillet – Lodge L8SK3 Pre-Seasoned Skillet
If you’re getting just one piece of cast iron cookware, you’ve got to get this skillet. With this single frying pan you can sear, fry, grill, bake, braise and broil, whether on the stove or at a camp fire. This pre-seasoned skillet may not be non stick enough at first, but go ahead and cook greasy meats in it to break it in, or if you are particular about your cast iron, season it for a few more times and it’ll become as non stick as a non stick pan. Read more about this cast iron pan.
You may also want to check out these top cookware brands below: