The reason to get a good stainless steel cookware is simple: It is said to last you a lifetime. Sure, the cost may be a little high, but it will more than pay for itself, especially when you consider the need to replace the cookware often when it’s made of other materials. For the best stainless steel cookware sets that have the best durability, versatility, and longevity, these selections here will quite simply match your needs.
Click on a link below to quickly know what to get, or read on to learn more about stainless steel cookware.
- Best Stainless Steel Cookware Set
- Best Value Stainless Steel Cookware Set
- Best Budget Stainless Steel Cookware Set
- Best Stainless Steel Saucepan
- Best Stainless Steel Fry Pan
What is Stainless Steel
This question may seem like something you are too embarrassed to ask, but let’s ask, together, and know the answer to it. To put it simply, stainless steel is an alloy—meaning a metal made by combining two or more metallic elements—of carbon and iron. This type of metal is very resistant to rust, staining, and corrosion. In addition, it’s also very easy to maintain which when taken everything into consideration makes it ideal for a variety of applications for a variety of industries.
Especially when there is prolonged exposure to water, air, heat, and moisture, the usage of stainless steel is particularly suitable. Also, due to its polished reflective appearance, it has become a popular design element, used in sculptures and modern furniture, for example. To create a certain desired effect on top of what’s already inherent in the stainless steel, most metallurgical engineers will also manipulate the properties by adding nickel, titanium, aluminum, or other elements.
Stainless Steel Cookware
It goes without saying due to the desired characteristics of stainless steel, it is very suitable for cookware use. Not only is it very strong, rust- and corrosion- resistant but easy to care for, which thereby makes it easy for you. After cooking with the stainless steel pots and pans, if you prefer, you can also dump everything into the dishwasher, as the durability of the steel makes it able to withstand the water pressure and washing cycles of the machine.
Accordingly, it is also in this durability that makes stainless steel cookware able to tolerate high levels of heat. Unlike nonstick cookware which you are required to use it safely, under 500 degrees Fahrenheit, you can otherwise cook over high heat with this cookware, without damaging the pieces. Cooking over high heat in particular is great for getting a good sear on meats; therefore, if you do this often along with stir-frying and pan-frying, then this material type will be perfect for you.
While nonstick cookware can indeed be healthier to cook with, as you have the option to use less or no oil when cooking with it, it is not great in creating better fond (browned bits of vegetables or meats stuck to the bottom of pots and pans) though. For this, it is said that stainless steel cookware is a better material for the task, as well as giving your food a rich color for more flavorful food. Most stainless steel cookware sets will also often be magnetic, making them induction compatible, and they will also be oven- and broiler-safe (depending on the handle material.)
Pros of Stainless Steel Cookware
- Very long lasting—it resists dings, dents, scratches, rust, and corrosion very well.
- Very versatile—can be used over high heat; can be used directly from the stovetop to the oven; can be used in the refrigerator.
- Dishwasher safe.
- Often magnetic, and can be used with induction cooktops.
- Nonreactive—won’t react to acidic foods.
Cons of Stainless Steel Cookware
- Pure stainless steel cookware does not conduct heat well and evenly, which is why it’s often fused with higher thermal conductivity metals.
- Usually more pricey than other materials.
- Tend to discolor under high heat.
How to Clean Stainless Steel Cookware
If used improperly, stainless steel cookware is said to present some tough cleaning challenges. And even the best stainless steel pots and pans are not impervious from this. Brown spots or discoloration may occur which can be very difficult to remove, especially with regular cleaning alone. This will not affect the performance of the cookware, but presumably you, like me, would like to keep your stainless steel cookware looking shiny at all times. To do this, simply follow the instructions below to learn how to clean various types of stains. Also, say hello to Bar Keepers Friend, a non-bleach, non-abrasive cleaner, that you would love to call on for every tough stain removal. You can get it here.
1: How to clean food residue or buildup from the cookware. If bits of food have stuck and crusted onto your stainless steel pots and pans, soak the pieces in warm, soapy water for several hours. After that, drain the water and then use a scouring pad to scrub off the built-up food. If possible, do no use steel wool pads, although effective, as they are very harsh on the surface of the cookware.
2. How to clean brown spots or discolored areas from the cookware. Brown spots or discolored areas are largely caused by constant high heat. In this respect, the higher the chrome content in the stainless steel, the less prone it is to occur, according to the Cookware Manufacturers Association. So whenever possible, try and get the 18/10 stainless steel, which numbers refer to the composition of the steel with 18% chromium and 10% nickel. The other numbers you will commonly see are 18/8 and 18/0.
If brown spots occur, simply sprinkle some Bar Keepers Friends along with a little water, and then use a good scrubbing pad to remove them. Optionally, you may also use a combination of baking soda and warm water, and then a dry cloth or sponge to scrub them off.
3. How to clean any water spots from the cookware. Water spots can occur if there is high mineral content in your water, also known as hard water, or if your cookware has been exposed to added compounds like fluoride. If they occur, simply douse the pots and pans with some club soda (yes you heard it right), rinse them off, and then use a clean cloth to wipe them dry. If possible, try hand drying your pieces, as this will most likely prevent the water spots from occurring in the first place.
How to Choose Stainless Steel Cookware
More often than not, when you select a stainless steel cookware, you will be spending quite a bit of money on it. Therefore, it should satisfy you in more ways than one. This means it should last for a very long time, be very versatile, and perform well—not to mention also be very easy and comfortable to use.
Immediately, the first thing that comes to mind with which fulfills these criteria is the fully clad tri-ply stainless steel. Fully clad means the cookware has an aluminum core that extends all the way up the cookware’s sides, ensuring even heat distribution, whereas tri-ply means three layers have been bonded together to form the cookware. Usually, for a tri-ply cookware, the three layers fused together will be stainless steel-aluminum-stainless steel, indicating two layers of stainless steel surrounding an aluminum core. As a result, you will benefit from the advantages conferred by both materials instead of only one.
If combining three layers is better than one, why not combine more, you may ask. Yes, in the world of ply cookware, you also have the option to choose 5-ply and 7-ply, even. These options do in fact have more materials bonded together; however, the pros have tested them and said tri-ply actually heated more evenly. In other words, what they are really saying is that there is no point getting beyond the tri-ply. Moreover, as more layers fuse into the cookware, they will also be more expensive.
Of course, while the fully clad tri-ply cookware is very much recommended, its high price may not be for everyone. For something a little more down to earth, and can also tackle any cooking job, you can get the stainless steel cookware with tri-ply disks, also known as encapsulated bottoms. This type of cookware is a notch below fully clad, but it can distribute heat more evenly as compared to pure stainless steel alone.
Stainless Steel Cookware Reviews 2017
Best Stainless Steel Cookware Set – All-Clad 10-Pc Set
Almost every owner of the All-Clad set swears by it. It has become a household name within professional circles. Manufactured in Canonsburg, Pa. this cookware set offers unparalleled heat conduction, enabled by its aluminum core, which extends up to the sides of the pots and pans. The shiny 18/10 stainless-steel exterior is pleasing to the eye, while the full-clad interior delivers fine culinary performance. The handles of the pans are big with a comfortable angle, making them easy to grab onto, even with pot holders.
All the pots and pans in this set are dishwasher safe and induction compatible. After cooking from the stovetop, you can also move the pieces to the oven, as they are oven safe up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Included in this All-Clad collection 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 should be worth noting that this is the only stainless steel cookware set that discolored ever so slightly over high heat, a testament to the superior, high chrome content used in the steel.
Best Value Stainless Steel Cookware Set – Cuisinart MultiClad Pro 12-Pc Set
The Cusinart MultiClad Pro is also my top pick in my best cookware reviews. Constructed of three bonded layers of metal, this cookware ensures even heat distribution, perfect for searing steaks while getting an even, deep crust. The brushed-metal finish gives the cookware a nice, attractive appearance while making the pieces good at resisting rust at the same time. The stick handles of the pans provide an easy grip with an appropriate length, which offers good leverage.
All the pots and pans in this collection are dishwasher safe and oven safe up to 550 degrees Fahrenheit. Because of the magnetic properties of the stainless steel, they can also can be used on induction burners. 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. It should be worth noting that this set includes a steamer basket, which is perfect for containing vegetables over boiling water, allowing them to be steam cooked.
Best Budget Stainless Steel Cookware Set – Cuisinart 77-7 Chef’s Classic Stainless 7-Piece Cookware Set
If you want a top rated stainless steel cookware set that will outfit your kitchen with all the essential pieces and won’t break the bank, the Cuisinart Chef’s Classic will make a great option. Forged with an aluminum disk in the base, this set offers superior heat conduction, perfect for browning properly. That said, making sauces in this pan will require more swirling compared to my top pick, as its aluminum core does not go up to the sides. Also, this set is not induction compatible.
Almost every cooking task though, including sauteing chicken pieces or simmering soups, can be accomplished with ease with the pots and pans. The handles of the pieces are stainless steel, which are also sturdy and stay cool on the stovetop. The lids fit tightly but with enough breathable room, allowing steam to escape.
All the pots and pans in this set are dishwasher safe and oven safe up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Included in this Cuisinart Chef’s Classic set are 1½ and 3 qt saucepans with lids, a 10″ skillet, and an 8 qt stockpot with a lid.
Best Stainless Steel Saucepan – Cuisinart MultiClad Pro Stainless Steel 2-Quart Saucepan
From making caramel sauce to reheating soups to boiling eggs, a saucepan is a kitchen tool that you will frequently use for most tasks. As such, it pays to invest in a good saucepan. The Cuisinart MultiClad Pro saucepan not only offers excellent heat distribution but is very durable and comfortable to use. The wide body of the saucepan gives you plenty of room to maneuver a whisk, perfect for incorporating roux in bechamel, for example.
The brushed stainless steel interior is shiny and bright, which not only looks good but makes it easy for you to see the development of whatever you’re cooking. The bent lip makes it easy for you to pour liquid from it with minimal dripping. Because this saucepan also offers a long handle that is secured to the body of the piece with large, strong rivets, it is very easy to grasp, even with a folded towel. Costing only $30, last I checked on Amazon, this saucepan offers the best value that every home cook ought to consider.
Best Stainless Steel Fry Pan – All-Clad Stainless Steel Tri-Ply Bonded Fry Pan
A well-made fry pan is a must have in any kitchen. It is great for searing steaks, sautéing chicken pieces, and creating pan sauces. Such an important kitchen item should not be overlooked if you are serious about cooking.
When it comes to the fry pan, or any other kitchen utensils, the All-Clad don’t mess around, and this All-Clad Stainless Steel Tri-Ply Bonded Fry Pan is the best stainless steel fry pan there is. With an excellent heat conduction, sturdy construction, and comfortable handle, this fry pan is a workhorse, sure to handle most of your cooking tasks with ease.
The weight of this 12-inch All-Clad fry pan is heavy yet well balanced for great heat retention and balanced heat distribution. The stick handle of the fry pan offers a nice firm grip, allowing you more control over tossing food. Moreover, this fry pan is one of the few pieces that didn’t acquire a dark gray hue over high heat, making it very easy to clean.