When it is time to upgrade your kitchen cookware, you will ordinarily be faced with two choices. You can opt to either buy the individual pots and pans each at a time or buy a whole set at once. The former seems the best option but is often time-consuming and you’ll likely end up with non-matching sets.
Therefore, the most realistic way out is to buy a cookware set that will look great in your pantry or on a rack. These sets are also available at bargain prices. The only problem with this option is that if you are not careful, you might end up cluttering your kitchen with unnecessary cookware.
In order to save you money and kitchen space, you need the skill of identifying the best cookware set. There is a smorgasbord of set styles from cast iron, non-stick enamel, stainless steel to copper. This buying guide will, therefore, help sharpen your shopping skills for the most informed cookware set purchase.
10 Best Cookware Sets 2018
The T-fal E765SC is a great choice for those looking for a hard anodized non-stick cookware set. 12 pieces are included in the set making for a wide variety of cooking pots, solid spoons, slotted spatula and frying pans to choose from. For durability, the pieces are made from a hard anodized aluminum, except for the lids, nylon spoon and slotted spatula.
On the base of the pans is a T-fal thermos-spot indicator that shows the user when the pans are already preheated to the desired cooking level. This unique feature saves you the hassle of having to rely on your instincts when preheating the pan. The non-stick interior is coated with prometal to provide a durable and scratch resistant cooking surface.
There are several heat sources that you can use with this cookware set. These include halogen, gas, ceramic and electric heat sources. Handles made from silicone are riveted in place for long lasting service and well-balanced cooking pieces. If you opt to use these in the oven, the maximum usable temperature is 3500 F.
A Techoresist Anti-Warp feature infused into the bases of the pieces maximizes heat distribution. Also, this feature prevents the base from warping which might lead to hotspots, hence uneven cooking. As you can see, this cooking set is not compatible with induction cooking stovetops. It may limit your options a little bit, but not too much.
Inside the 12-piece nonstick cooking set are: 8” and 10.25” fry pans, 1, 2, and 3-quart saucepans with glass lid covers, 5-quart Dutch oven with cover, slotted spatula, and a nylon solid spoon.
- Durable scratch resistant non-stick interior
- Convenient preheating indicator
- Wrap resistant base
- Ergonomic handles
- Usable with a good number of cooktops
- Fairly high cooking temperatures
- Dishwasher safe
- PFOA free
- Available in anodized titanium and copper options
- Getting off the sticker is a challenge
- Might not be dishwasher safe
- Poor quality control on some pieces
The Copper Chef Cookware set consists of 5 pieces: 9.5” deep square frying pan, glass lid, steamer rack, basket, and a recipe book. From the first look, it may not seem like much, but when you get to use the frying pan, then you realize how versatile it. The frying pan is actually a 6-in-1 cookware. In effect, it replaces the need for multiple pots in your kitchen.
With the pan, you would not need a deep fryer, wok, roasting pan, baking dish, steamer, stockpot or a rice cooker. This is a great feature, more so if you don’t want numerous pots and pans taking up too much space on your kitchen counter. In doing so, you are still able to prepare a wide variety of meals from pizza, chicken, fried cheese, risotto, soup etc.
This deep frying pan features a unique, durable 5-layer construction. The first double inner layer comprises of a polished ceramic coating. Secondly, a base layer made of nonstick ceramic coating follows, then an aluminum core for an excellent heat distribution and thermal conductivity. The fourth layer is a high-temperature resistant coating and lastly a stainless steel induction base.
A glass lid made from tempered glass withstands oven temperatures of up to 5000 F. Also, the skillet, together with its hollow stainless steel handles stay heat resistant to 8500 F. Cooktops ranging from electric, gas, glass, ceramic to induction can be used for cooking. Another great feature is the non-stick capabilities. Resultantly, food does not stick onto the pan surface.
For those worried about the size, it is decent too. At 4.5 quarts, the pan comes in handy for both small and slightly large families. The deep square shape adds an extra dimension to its sizing. When cleaning, there is the dishwasher option or a hand washing option for longevity.
- Induction cooking compatible
- Easy to clean
- Great nonstick ceramic coating
- Versatile single pan
- Withstands high cooking temperatures
- Excellent heat distribution
- Hollow handles stay cool
- Dishwasher safe
- No hotspots
- Appetizing recipes provided
- Loses nonstick feature after a while
- Slow boiling on induction stovetops
Here is an inexpensive cookware option for your kitchen addition. This 12-piece Cook N Home provides you with extra pieces while still fitting nicely into a tight budget. All of the pieces in the set are ones that I believe you will actually use and not let lie idle. An 18/10 stainless steel construction gives the items a great looking polished finish that’s easy to clean.
While the rest of the parts of the pieces are made from stainless steel, the bottom part has a capsulated aluminum disc. By having the aluminum core sandwiched between two stainless steel layers, heat distribution is refined. Aluminum is excellent at heat transfer, retention, and distribution, while the inner and outer steel provides strength.
Looped, hollow stainless steel handles stay cool during cooking. These handles are also comfortable to hold. Riveting them onto the body of the pieces adds to the overall durability. If you love checking the progress of your food as you cook, then you would love the tempered glass lids. While the pieces withstand temperatures of up to 5000 F, the lids are safe to 3500 F.
Since the outer layer of the capsulated bottom disc is made from magnetic stainless steel, this cookware can be used on an induction stovetop. As a result, you can basically use it on all the other cooktops be it glass, halogen, ceramic, electric or gas. This set is dishwasher safe, which reduces your scrubbing work. However, hand washing may be the best care routine.
For the amount of money you spend on this set, you get the following pieces: 1.5-quart saucepan and its lid, 1.5, 2, and 3-quart casserole pans and lids, 5.5-quart stockpot and the lid, and a 10” sauté fry pan and lid. All the lids have looped handles on them for easy handling. The pans are heat resistant, but higher heat tends to discolor them.
- Even heat distribution
- Useful pieces in the set
- High-temperature resistance
- Great stay-cool handles
- See-through glass lids
- Long-lasting riveted handles
- Works on any cooktop (convection)
- High material quality
- Easy to clean
- Excellent distribution
- Discolors on high heat
- Pans make an annoying popping sound when heated
- Glass lids are restrictive in terms of usage temperature
For homeowners looking to add some color to their kitchen, the Vremi 15-piece nonstick cookware set is an option you may want to check out. Alternatively, if you are looking for a low-cost yet comprehensive cookware set, then this set would be ideal. Each of the pieces features a different bright color to give your kitchen an appealing look.
As a kitchen starter cookware, you get 4 nonstick cooking pots with their tempered glass lids, 2 nonstick pans, and 5 nonstick utensils. The 5 nonstick utensils include a spaghetti server, slotted spoon, slotted spatula, a potato masher, and a soup ladle. It is a culinary collection that is great for preparing most of the recipes you intend to let your family enjoy.
The nonstick coating on the interior of the cookware lies on top of an aluminum construction and an enamel exterior. All these materials are food grade and non-toxic. Glass lids have vents on them for decompressing the cooking food to prevent burns. Along the edges on the lids in contact with the pots are stainless steel rims for durability. Silicone knobs and handles make handling very easy.
With glass lids, there is no need of lifting the lids of the pots when checking the cooking progress. What’s more, you can even pop these pieces into an oven heated up to 3000 F. You only need to make sure you don’t have the glass lids on in the oven to prevent them from shattering. All the pieces have a silicone ergonomic handle which doubles up as storage/display handles.
I must admit, the quality is a little questionable at times with numerous complaints of the handles coming loose after a while. Then the pots and pans are also relatively small in size. However, for the price and number of items in the set, it is still a good deal for someone setting up their kitchen cookware for the first up.
- Excellent heat conductivity
- Easy to clean
- Great nonstick interior
- Cheerful color
- Bargain pricing
- BPA-free nylon accessories
- Travel sized for backpacking
- Great fitting, vented lids
- Complaints of loose handles
- Discolors after a period of usage
- Pans and pots small in size
The Paula Deen Signature Collection cookware set is a perfect blend of quality, craftsmanship, and styling. Performances of the pieces are matched to their good looking, distinct speckled finish. The porcelain enamel exterior features different colors, depending on your preference. There is an aqua, blueberry, butter, coral, lavender, and red exterior speckles.
The package is made up of a 1, 2-quart covered saucepans, 6-quart covered stockpot, 2.75-quart sauté pan with cover, 8”, 10” skillet, and 5-piece set of measuring spoons. That brings the total pieces to 15. I think that is not bad if you factor in the quality as well as the price. Cooking pots and pans have a heavy duty construction for quick, even heating.
Nonstick interiors guarantee that food does not bind to the inner surfaces of the cooking sets. They retain this property even at the maximum oven temperature of 3500 F. The coloration of the exterior extends to the soft grip, silicone handles. At the tip of the handles is a ring plated with copper. This addition increases your storage option, apart from stacking them.
A shatterproof lid for every item creates a tight seal that keeps in moisture and retains flavors. The tight seals also fasten the cooking time. Aluminum construction is responsible for the impressive heat distribution and retention properties of these cooking sets. Inconveniencing hot spots that are every cooks’ nightmare are eliminated in the process.
A DuPont Teflon Select nonstick pot interior adds to the ease of cleaning, alongside the stain resistant porcelain enamel exterior. This cookware set is made of aluminum, meaning induction cooking is not possible. I have also noticed that the pieces have a tendency of discoloring after being used for sometimes.
- Superior heat distribution
- Great looking color finishes
- Heats up quickly
- Strain resistant exterior
- Reliable performance
- Lasts for long
- Flat sitting on stovetops
- Soft grip rubber handles and lid knobs
- Not dishwasher safe
- Small sizes
- Discolors often
The Racheal Ray Cucina Hard Porcelain Enamel cookware set feature a rustic, functional, and modern looking styling. In this way, you can enhance your mealtime experience while still having aesthetically designed sets of pots and pans in your kitchen. Its inherent features make it one of the best cookware currently available.
This cookware has a double construction from aluminum and hard enamel porcelain exteriors. While the aluminum layer enhances heat transfer and retention, the exterior porcelain layer yields the contemporary look that this set has been synonymous with. A PFOA-free nonstick interior effortlessly releases food, while easing your cleaning worries.
The set boasts of rubberized stainless steel handles which are double riveted in place. It is a great feature as the handles are kept in place for almost the whole lifespan of the cookware. Glass lids, which are shatter-resistant, have their overhead loop handles rubberized too for a sure grip. A see-through nature of the lids only requires a glance to check cooking progress.
If there is any cooking that you need to do in an oven, then rest easy knowing that this set is somehow heated tolerant. It stays safe in the oven for temperatures of up to 4000 F. In terms of cooktops, it is only induction stovetops that you cannot use these pieces on. Otherwise, the rest should be good to go.
Overall, I believe this Racheal Ray cookware set is an impressive buy for you. For the price, you have a set with a 1, 3-quart saucepans with covers, 6-quart covered stockpot, 8”, 10” skillets, and 3-quart sauté pan with the cover. Also included is a slotted turner as well as a spoon. However, the durability of the nonstick coating, lustrous interior, and glass lids is questionable.
- Nothing sticks
- Easy to clean
- Lovely color
- Available in a range of colors
- Excellent heat distribution and retention
- Teflon coating lasts for long with care
- Rarely fades/discolors
- Handles securely riveted in place
- Sure-grip rubber handles
- Issues of glass lid exploding
- Requires a lot of care
- Pans susceptible to warping
The ability to sear a perfectly brown meat, the ability to transition between stovetop and oven, and an unrivaled practicability are some of the reasons you’ll love a cast iron cookware. Often, there is an aura of mystique about preparing meals with cast iron cookware, apart from the pain of cleaning and seasoning them.
However, this Lodge Logic 5-Piece is already pre-seasoned to take care of one of those pains for you. Despite their heavy nature, which might be a challenge for those with arthritis, nothing beats an old-fashioned cast iron skillet at searing meat, scrambling an egg, or baking cornbread. While you will not find a stockpot and saucepan in this set, those available are as capable.
The set includes a 10.25” griddle, 8”, 10.25” skillets (with cover), and 10.25” (5-quart) Dutch oven with cover. These pieces are enough to cover your base requirements for your kitchen cookware. Cast iron construction offers an unrivaled heat retention capability, making them perfect for searing, simmering, baking, roasting, frying, grilling, broiling, and braising.
As I had earlier mentioned, this set comes pre-seasoned with vegetable oil. No chemicals or synthetic coatings are used in the process. Instead of deteriorating with time, the seasoning actually gets better with increased usage. After every cooking session, hand wash the sets, then dry immediately. Afterward, rub the interiors with a thin coat of vegetable oil to restore sheen.
While the manufacturer recommends that you don’t use any soap for cleaning, using a mild soap is permissible. Make sure you dry the pieces immediately and oil thereafter. Metallic scouring pads, dishwashers, and strong detergents are disallowed as they scratch the seasoning. These stringent care routines are probably the only drawbacks of using this cast iron cookware.
- High durability
- Non-stick when carefully used
- Excellent heat retention
- Comes pre-seasoned
- Versatile for lots of meals
- Easy to clean
- Great price
- Only useful items included
- Also available in a number of options
- Contains no synthetic coating
- Stringent care routines
The 10-piece Rachel Ray Hard Anodized Nonstick cookware set features a distinct gray construction with classy looking orange handles and lid loops. Alternatively, you can opt for the red, marine blue, and mixed color set choices. Moreover, the beautiful hues compliment your kitchen décor while at the same time resulting in rich flavored meals.
If your desire is to own 1 and 2-quart covered saucepans, 6-quart covered stockpot, 8.5” skillet, 3-quart covered sauté pan, and a 10” skillet, then this choice would be the best for you. These items should be enough to cover most of your requirement as far as cookware is concerned. Better still, they are all non-stick, making food slide off the interior with ease.
The Teflon coating is dishwasher safe, further making the cleaning process a breeze for you. For holding, the bright colored handles on pots, pans, and lids are rubberized. This material ensures an assured comfortable grip. The handles are oven safe up to 3500 F. Double riveting of the handles onto the body prevents loosening after a while.
A shatter-resistant glass lid on each piece gives an excellent view of the cooking food without having to take the lid off. Hard anodized aluminum construction makes for an exceptional durability, heat distribution, and heat transfer. Instances of hotspots are reduced in the process. Watch out for moisture loss and grease stains on the sides as you cook.
- Lighter than previous models
- Cleans up easy
- Cooks evenly
- Heats up quickly
- Beautiful set
- Comfortable handles
- Nothing sticks when cooking
- Easy to stack
- Handles get a little hot
- Susceptible to grease staining
- Lids may not create a tight seal
For buyers not looking for a nonstick cookware set, then the Cuisinart MCP-12N stainless steel cookware set would be an ideal alternative. A fusion of 18/10 stainless steel and a highly conductive aluminum results in a 3-ply construction for an excellent performance. The 3-ply construction extends from the bottom up to the side walls.
A premium 18/10 stainless steel is a material known to be inactive. Therefore, it does not react with food, neither does it alter the natural flavoring. All the 12 of them with the exception of lids have this multi-clad construction. Two layers of stainless steel sandwich an aluminum core for better durability, heat retention, and even heat distribution.
The composition is as follows: 1.5, 3-quart covered saucepans, 8” and 10” open skillets, 3.5-quart covered sauté pan, 8-quart covered stockpot, and steamer insert with lid. Lids are made from stainless steel for increased heat resistance, albeit with a reduced ability to view the cooking food. Another great feature to look forward to is the drip-free pouting property of the rims.
Pans and pots, together with their lids have an oven temperature specification of 5500 F. With this spec, making the transition from stovetop cooking to the oven is made possible. For those with induction stovetops, you can use this set for induction cooking. Since this set is nonstick, an additional cooking skill is required to prevent food from sticking onto the interior.
- Lasts a lifetime with appropriate care
- Heats quickly and evenly
- Tapered rims ease pouring
- Possible to cook without food sticking
- Faster cooking
- High oven heat resistance
- Increased cooking predictability
- Stain-resistant polished finish
- Requires a lot of skill to preheat but not overheat
- Stains on occasions
- Sensitive to temperature shock
The best cookware set needs to be compatible with almost all cooktops (if not all). Fortunately, the 10-piece Cooks Standard is one of such. It works on gas, induction, ceramic, halogen, electric etc. It is also oven safe to temperatures of 5000 F. When you combine these with the triple-ply aluminum and 18/10 stainless steel construction, then you get a decent cooking set.
The resultant permanent bond enhances heat flow from the bottom of the pans and pots through to the top. This engineering maximizes the cooking performance unlike in the case of a bottom capsulated disk. A stay cool handle design utilizes air-flow in the open V-shape between handle and pan. As a result, the handles stay cool, preventing burns in the process.
Handles and side loops are generous in length for easy lifting even when the pots are full. Matching stainless steel lids are availed for the enhanced cooking experience. A scratch-resistant, brightly polished exterior looks great after cleaning and then having it hanged in your kitchen. The package includes 1.5, 3-quart saucepans with covers, 8-quart stockpot with cover, steamer insert and lid, and 8”, 10” fry pans.
The steamer insert can be used to make healthy steamed broccoli, fresh vegetable, and pea pods among others. Even though it looks great, some users still complain of a couple of issues. First, some find the functional aluminum core very thin, making it a poor conductor of heat. Secondly, users also note that the bottoms have a tendency to warp.
- Heats up quickly
- Effective dome-shaped lids
- Professional-grade performance
- Handles stay cool
- Weighty, and indication of being well-made
- Great heat retention
- High-temperature resistance
- Nonstick if preheated right
- Great value for the price
- Lids are not see-through
- Sensitive to sudden temperature changes
- Thin aluminum core
Choosing the Best Cookware Set – Things to Consider
1. Material of Construction
The functional part of any cookware is the material from which it is made from. Materials have the most impact on how the cookware functions. Based on the cooking styles, temperature resistance, and durability, cookware sets can be subdivided into the following categories.
Of all the materials, aluminum is the best in terms of heat conduction. These cookware sets are also reasonably priced and are lightweight in nature. However, they have glaring drawbacks as they are prone to staining, discoloring foods and sauces, and may result in a bitter tasting food.
To counter for these drawbacks, most of the cookware is coated with anodized aluminum. This measure does not effectively solve the negatives.
Genuine cookware made from copper is preferred for their quick, even heat transfer that results in even cooking. After cooking, the sets quickly cool for maximum control of the cooking item.
For the best product, insist on sets made from 1/16 to 1/8-inch gauge copper materials. These are heavy duty and highly resistant to wear. You can then use the sets for every cooking need from high temperature searing to low temperature simmering.
Because of their effectiveness, they are pricey. In addition, they are not compatible with induction cooking, get dents easily and are reactive with some foods.
- Cast Iron
Cast iron is an extremely durable material for a cookware. It is an ideal alternative for nonstick cooking surfaces as it provides a natural nonstick property. Since they are heavy, temperature resistance and retention properties increase, making them great for searing brown meat.
The classic appearance is a great addition just as they are durable. However, some of them tend to unevenly distribute cooking heat. These sets are also not practical for daily cooking, they are not dishwasher safe and require frequent rubbing with thin coats of oil after washing.
An ideal choice for braising and browning, stainless steel offers a classic, uncoated, and long-lasting cookware. When well taken care of, this cookware promises to be a kitchen workhorse, tackling your every cooking desire.
In terms of pros, they are easy to care for, are unreactive, heat rapidly, are compatible with induction cooktops, dishwasher, oven, and broiler-safe. The temperature resistance depends on the material used for the handle.
A modern construction is to either use a 3-ply design or a capsulated disk at the bottom of the pots and pans. This construction sandwiches aluminum core between two stainless steel layers.
For an effortless releasing of delicate foods, a durable nonstick coating comes in handy. Requiring little or no oil makes them ideal choices for making pancakes and eggs. Cleaning them is exceptionally easy, are ideal for all cooktops, and withstand oven temperatures of up to 5000 F.
Keep in mind that not all the utensils are safe to be used with metal utensils, some are not dishwasher safe, and do not use them for browning.
- Enameled-Cast Iron
These are great for searing, browning, frying, and sautéing. Another good feature about these pieces is the ability to transfer them from the oven or stovetops to the dining table. Their durable coating remains unreactive with acidic ingredients.
On the negative side, they are heavy especially when filled with food. Their small handles also make transporting them a nightmare. Enamel has an annoying tendency to chip.
- Carbon Steel
This material is a hybrid between the stainless steel and cast iron. As a result, it is more expensive than either of the two. It is lighter, heats faster, and conducts faster than cast iron. On the flipside, it rusts with ease, reacts with certain foods, and needs frequent seasoning, just like cast iron.
2. Your Available Stock
Before you go shopping, you need to take stock on the available pieces, what’s missing, and the pieces that need to be replaced. A cookware set is a big investment, so you need to make sure that the pieces you are buying are what you need or intend to use. Having some lying idle is a waste of resources.
Thereafter, look at the available sets with the items you need. Alternatively, if you are buying for the first time, consider your cooking style so that you do not end up with redundant cookware pieces. Make a list of all you need, then look for a set that meets your requirements.
For someone starting out, the most basic requirements for a set should be a skillet (frying pan), sauté pan, a saucepan, and a stockpot.
3. Cookware Set Sizes
Depending on your family size, size matters a lot. While having a variety of sizes is a good thing, sometimes you need to match the size with the number of people in your family. Otherwise, you may end up heating water in a giant stockpot when a pound of water for pasta would have been enough.
4. Stovetop Type
Stovetops require certain materials to work. Check the manufacturer’s specification on the materials with which it is compatible with. Otherwise, the stove may damage your cookware or not work at all.
Of the stovetop types, it is the inductions types that are the most finicky. They require a magnetic material with a flat bottom. Aluminum, copper and cast iron may not work, unlike stainless steel which mostly works on these cooktops.
Glass stovetops require a heavy set with no ridges and with a flat bottom. The other types should work seamlessly with any stovetops.
Frequently Asked Questions about Cookware Sets (FAQs)
Q: What’s the difference between coating and cladding?
A: Coating refers to the application of a thin layer of material on top of the base material in order to achieve a specific purpose. Nonstick coating, for example, makes food slide off the surface of the cookware, while an anodized coating makes the surface of aluminum more inert than pure aluminum.
On the other hand, cladding refers to the bonding of two or more materials to bring the best out of both. A common practice is the 3-ply cladding of stainless steel cookware.
Q: Single pieces or Cookware set?
A: The choice depends on an individual’s preference, cooking skills level, and the need for convenience. Both options have their own drawbacks and benefits. Buying individual pieces makes you end up with what you need, but takes time.
Buying a set avails all you need at once, but you run the risk of having pieces you may never use.
Q: What sizes of pots and pans do I need?
A: Sizes vary with the number of people you will be cooking for. Ideally, if you are cooking for a large number of people, then sizing goes up and vice versa. The sizes are provided either in inches or quarts and indicate the diameter and capacity respectively.
Some manufacturers avail a sizing chart so that you know exactly what to buy. If not, then a simple Google search is appropriate.
Q: More or fewer pieces?
A: There is a notion that you should buy a set with as many pieces as your budget allows. While it is good for getting value for your money, it is a double-edged strategy. You would want to buy let’s say 15 pieces, but you may end up using only 5.
Well, if you can use all the 15 then you are just fine. The rule of thumbs is to consider what you need and buy the set with the items.
Q: Glass lid or a Stainless steel lid?
A: Most people prefer glass lids with vents as they allow for easy checking of the cooking progress. Their main flaw is the ease of breakage especially if you have kids and low-temperature resistance.
The best cookware set is a great compliment to your impressive culinary skills. The abundantly available options also make for a market with free choice. There are options for beginners who wish to buy a low cost set for their trial and error cooking techniques.
No matter the skill level, always insist on the best quality with the most useful pieces and utensils. For this, I think the T-fal E765SC Nonstick 12-Piece Cookware Set is the best cookware set.
The bottom of the pieces has a temperature indicator, letting you know when it has preheated to the desired temperature. This feature is absent on most of the sets. Also, it is made from anodized titanium for a non-stick, scratch resistant, and anti-warping cookware. For these reasons, I believe it is the best cookware set currently out there.