So, you are looking to cook up a storm? For this you will need an equally capable cookware that can match your skills and needs. But don’t worry, this site will cover not only the best cookware sets intended for professional but home use.
Click on a link below to quickly jump to the cookware set by material type.
- Best Cookware Sets of 2017
- Best Stainless Steel Cookware
- Best Nonstick Cookware
- Best Cast Iron Cookware
- Best Hard Anodized Cookware
- Best Copper Cookware
- Best Ceramic Cookware
- Best Stone Cookware
Don’t know which cookware to select? Here are a few key pointers to consider when selecting a cookware:
Do you really need a cookware set?
Ask yourself if you really need a set instead of individual pieces. This means taking stock of not only what’s included in it but everything you own. The point is to really try and save more, and not add more clutter to your valuable space.
It’s important to note that oftentimes you will see something like 10- or 12-piece cookware in a manufacturer’s description of a set, but in actuality you will get something like 6 or 7 pots and pans. That’s because most manufacturers will even count the lid as a piece, thereby ratcheting up the numbers. Also, strangely enough, even cookbooks and utensils will be included in the count.
In most cases, some or nearly all of the pieces in a set will also run smaller than if you purchase them individually, thereby slowing you down if you’re cooking for a large number of people because of the need to cook in batches. Due to this, it’s generally advised that you get a cookware set if you are more of a casual chef, whereas get ad-hoc pieces–although more expensive–if you are more of an experienced chef, as this will give you exactly what you want.
What’s your cooking style?
Do you sauté, braise, sear, or do all them often? Not trying to make it difficult for you, but how you cook will influence the kind of cookware material you select. For example, if you sear meats often, you should look into stainless steel cookware, as it can facilitate even browning. On the other hand, if you sauté foods often, you should get a cookware with an aluminum core, as it can transmit heat more quickly. That said, you want to avoid this material or copper if you cook tomato sauces often, as it is reactive to acidic foods, thereby imparting a bitter taste.
Don’t worry if everything now sounds a little foreign to you, as it will become more apparent once you learn about the different cookware materials.
Which cooktop do you use?
Are you using a gas, smooth top, or induction range? If you are using gas stove, you have a wider range of cookware types to work with. But if you are working with a smooth top stove or an induction cooktop, your choices will narrow considerably. For example, you should use flat-bottomed pans with a smoothtop range, as they will not scratch its surface. Also, they will provide better heat distribution and conduction.
On the other hand, if you have an induction cooktop, only cookware with magnetic properties will be compatible with it. One simple trick to know this is to use a magnet on the cookware. If the magnet sticks to its bottom, it will work. So, bring a magnet along when you shop.
Cookware Types you Should Know
Now that you know what to consider when selecting a cookware set, let’s look at the different types of cookware materials and their uses. In this particular area, a cookware type with excellent heat conduction which also offers great balance and comfort for you is the best bet. Think aluminum, copper, or better yet, materials that have been fused together to form the cookware, also known as cladding.
Once again, don’t worry if you don’t exactly know what to look for yet, as we will try to assist you in every way we can. As a start, let’s learn about the common materials used for cookware, as this will also largely govern your decision making.
Considered the workhorse of the kitchen, stainless steel is prized by both pros and home cooks for its durability, longevity, and versatility. It is very resistant to dings, dents, scratches, and rust, making it very easy to care for. On its own though, it does not conduct heat well, which is why most cookware manufacturers will bond 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. If you already have your heart set on this type of cookware, you’re indeed a surgical shopper, as this is also what the experts recommend.
Usually when you shop for a stainless steel cookware, you will see numbers like 18/10, 18/8, 18/0. These numbers refer to the chromium and nickel amount respectively in the stainless steel. In other words, they also refer to the composition of the steel. 18/10 and 18/8 are the most common numbers, and the higher the nickel number, the more resistant the steel is to corrosion. So, whenever possible, try and get the 18/10 steel, as this steel is also often magnetic, making it compatible with induction ranges. More often that not, stainless steel will also be dishwasher-,oven-,and broiler-safe.
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 more expensive.
Here are some of the best stainless steel cookware to buy.
Best Stainless Steel Cookware Set – All Clad 10-Pc Set
A premium quality cookware set that is loved by all who can afford it, the All Clad cookware set sports a 3-ply construction all the way up the sides of its pots and pans for even heating. Cook anything in these pans and find out for yourself how meat brown perfectly without burning and soups boil up nicely in the pots. Chuck any pan into the oven for broiling or browning and use them on induction cook tops. Read more about this stainless steel cookware set.
Best Value Stainless Steel Cookware Set – Cuisinart Multiclad Pro 12-Pc Set
A more affordable choice is the Multiclad Pro cookware set which also has clad cooking surfaces all up the sides. This cookware set comes with all the standard pots and pans you’ll need and a steamer insert which is nice and deep. Like the All Clad set, this cookware set also comes with a lifetime warranty. Read more about the Cuisinart Multiclad Pro set.
Who likes scraping off food particles stuck to the bottom of pots and pans, and handwashing them after that? Yes no one. And that’s where nonstick coatings come in handy. Not only nonstick cookware makes it very easy to clean up but it’s also healthier to cook with. Because less, or no, oil is required, as you would otherwise use with other cookware to create the nonstick surface, this in effect reduces some fat intake from your diet. In most cases, even cooking delicate foods such as eggs or fish won’t require oil for food release with this coating—although a small amount of oil is recommended to prolong the life of it.
While nonstick surface is extremely functional, it’s not a panacea for most of our cooking woes though. Much of this is largely attributed to the health risks associated with its coating Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), 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 nonstick coating safe to use?
Yes, you can still use nonstick coating safely, as long as you do not exceed the recommended maximum temperature for cooking with it, which is 500ºF. This means only use the cookware on low or medium heat, and never on high heat. Should you accidentally ingest a piece of the coating due to it flaking off though, experts at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said that this would most likely pass through the body without making you sick.
Generally speaking, nonstick coating usually has a shorter lifespan with which it can deteriorate overtime with repeated use. Therefore to preserve it, we suggest avoid using metal utensils, and clean it with a nonabrasive cleaner and a soft plastic brush.
Pros: Very easy to clean. 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.
Get the best non stick cookware here.
Best Budget Non Stick Cookware Set – T-Fal C111SC Signature Set
A budget friendly set of non stick cookware from the well known nonstick cookware manufacturer, the T-Fal Signature set comes with their signature red spot in the center of the pan to indicate heating. This is a nice and cheap set of cookware that beginners in cooking will love. Easily cook all kinds of food without worrying that they’ll stick and burn on the pans. Read more about this non stick cookware.
Best Non Stick Cookware Set – Anolon Advanced Bronze Collection Set
If you want the best there is, get this Anolon cookware set instead. This set of 11-piece including the lids are built with much higher quality and will definitely last longer than any teflon coated pan. The hard anodized non stick surface is more durable, cooks evenly and is very easy to clean up. This cookware set is oven safe and the handles are made of sturdy stainless steel and a silicone grip. Read more about this nonstick cookware set.
Best Value Non Stick Cookware Set – Rachael Ray Porcelain Enamel Non Stick Set
Get this beautiful set of nonstick cookware for less than $100 that includes 2 skillets, 2 saucepans, a dutch oven and a saute pan. I like the glass lids and the handles on the lids that come with a soft grip of matching color. While the pots and pans are sturdy in themselves, the nonstick lining could be thicker so do take care to use non-metal utensils while cooking and serving. In all, this is a really nice looking set to buy for new homeowners and couples. Read more about this non stick cookware set.
To better understand ceramic cookware, it is essential that we understand the two different types of ceramic cookware: (1) pure ceramic cookware; (2) ceramic coated cookware.
1) Generally made from quartz sand, clay, and minerals, pure ceramic 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 its decorative, waterproof surface made by undergoing a glazing process, it offers a natural nonstick surface, which makes it very easy to clean and care for. In this regard, it’s said that you can even use mild abrasives without marring its glossy surface, of which it also lends itself to being an attractive serving dish.
Pros: Can withstand very high temperatures without melting. Oven- and broiler-safe. Very easy to care for. Nonreactive to acidic foods.
Cons: Can break and chip easily. May contain lead, especially older ceramic and stone cookware. May discolor glass cooktops at higher heat.
2) For those who want the nonstick surface without the health risks associated with PTFE, ceramic coating is the answer. Not only is ceramic surface free of PTFE and PFOA but it’s also said to be more eco-friendly than other nonstick coatings due to it being made with natural materials as opposed to synthetic chemicals. Oftentimes, ceramic coating will also come in a variety of colors, adding more vibrancy to your kitchen space. But similar to PTFE-based coatings, it will also deteriorate overtime, rendering it replaceable once it’s worn out. To preserve it, we recommend not using it on high heat, and don’t use metal utensils on it.
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 to buy.
Best Budget Ceramic Cookware Set – Cook N Home NC 00358
Other than being one of the most best selling cookware sets, this ceramic cookware set is also an eye candy. The ceramic finish is a smooth surface that is naturally non stick without teflon coating. I love how you can sear meat and fry eggs as daringly as you please in these pans and everything cleans off without a trace afterwards. Read more about this budget ceramic set.
Best Ceramic Cookware Set – WearEver Pure Living C943SF
If you’re looking for a bigger and more complete set of ceramic cookware, this WearEver set gives much value with 15-pieces. I love that it comes with a steamer insert and a lid for the frying pan. And thankfully it didn’t include some cheap plastic utensils. If I wanted utensils I could buy my own. Read more about this best ceramic set.
Aluminum is highly regarded for its heat conductivity. It’s only second behind copper in this one area, enabling it to deliver optimum results for various cooking methods. 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 also becomes darker, very hard, durable, and corrosion resistant. Though this material or coating is usually more expensive than pure aluminum, we highly recommend it, as it notably addresses the shortcomings of aluminum.
But even better than anodized aluminum, as mentioned in the beginning, is stainless steel clad cookware. This type of cookware has layers of stainless steel sandwiched between an aluminum core, thereby giving you the best of both worlds. You get the durability, versatility, and rust-resistant of steel yet the excellent heat conductivity of aluminum. Moreover, this type of cookware will also usually be induction compatible and dishwasher safe whereas pure aluminum will not be.
When referring to the clad cookware, usually you will see it being described as either tri-ply, 5-ply, 7-ply, or fully-clad or not. Essentially ply refers to the layers of metals used in the construction of the cookware; therefore, tri-ply indicates that it has three layers, usually two stainless steel sides and an aluminum base, for example. On the other hand, fully-clad means the cookware has an aluminum core extended all the way up to its sides, which helps prevent scorching or hot spots.
While you may be tempted to get the more layered, thicker cookware, bear in mind that it’s usually more expensive. Also, experts have chimed in on this, saying tri-ply sets heated more evenly than 5-ply or 7-ply sets, thereby making the additional layers, and thus costs, redundant.
All things considered, we also recommend that it’s sufficient to get the tri-ply cookware, and fully-clad whenever possible.
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 cookware here.
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 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 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 non stick surface for cooking. Although you can use metal utensils for these pots and pans, mind that the surface is not as hardy 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.
Coming in after aluminum in thermal heat conductivity is copper, which in effect makes it the best heat conductor material today. It is a material that can heat up very quickly and evenly, and cool off very quickly too, thereby giving you, the chef, more precise temperature control. Whether you want to sear meats on high heat or gently simmer sauces on low heat, this high degree of precision is ideal in allowing you to cook better. Furthermore, copper will also give your food a rich color and create better fond (browned bits that form on the bottom of the pan after roasting or sauteing) which adds a deeper flavor to your cooking. For copper that can last the longest, we suggest that you get the heavy gauge copper which is from 1/16 to 1/8 inch thick, although a tad bit expensive.
Of course using copper as a cookware has its fair share of disadvantages as well. Like aluminum, it too is reactive to acidic foods; therefore, most manufacturers will line it with other nonreactive metals in order to counter this. In addition, it’s also not magnetic, thereby not induction compatible.
To preserve the copper set, we advise against loading it into the dishwasher, as it can dent easily. Instead, handwash and polish it from time to time, as failure to do so may result in a darker patina. This will not affect the performance of the copper, 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 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 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 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 copper cookware set.
Unlike aluminum or copper, cast iron is slow to heat and cool down, which don’t make it great for simmering delicate sauces but great for searing or browning meats. It 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 for longer, too.
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 use it on high heat, way 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. Very simply, 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 are very heavy and durable, with the latter favoring uncoated, as it has no paint to 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.
Regardless of which type of cast iron cookware you select, one thing is for sure, it is very affordable, versatile, and can last for generations to come.
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 more expensive. Less durable than uncoated cast iron, as enamel may chip off. Food may stick. Heavy.
Get the best cast iron cookware here.
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.
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 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.