The Best Cookware Sets – A Buyers Guide

In Around the Home by Aaron GreenLeave a Comment

best pots and pans

Whether you are looking to replace your done and dusted old cookware set, or whether you are gently treading into the exciting world of quality pots and pans, an informed purchase and choosing the best cookware will make sure that all your delicious recipes get the wonderful cooking they deserve.

With the amount of variety out there and brands battling it out like the Jones’ every season, things can get a little confusing. A good cookware set will deliver years and years of use without little problems like tops coming off, coatings scraping out, and knobs and handles going rickety.

In our quest for the latest best cookware set, we did our own intensive research and while some of the top brands are always there, we also have some exciting new cookware to show you too.

best cookware sets

 

OUR TOP PICKS – THE BEST COOKWARE SETS

Need that cookware in a rush and don’t want to read through all the text just to find a recommendation? That’s fine (I do the same).

Below we have narrowed the whole list down to just a few choices broken up into simple categories.

Choose one, buy it, get cooking 😉

Best Quality Cookware Set

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All-Clad 14 Piece Stainless Steel Cookware Set

Perfect for: anyone who spends a lot of time in the kitchen. If you want the best, then this is it.

Summary: Ok this set is not cheap, but it is easily the best and you won’t regret the money you spend on it.

This is truly a set that will last you a life time, and you will surely be handing these pots and pans down to your grandkids many years from now still looking like the day you bought them.

Best Value Cookware Set

Made In Cookware Kitchen Sink Set

Perfect for: home cooks looking for a top quality set that won’t cost you an arm and a leg.

Summary: A 10 piece stainless steel cookware set that is made in the good old USA sounds expensive right? Wrong!

This set is seriously good value and its quality sits right up there with the likes of the $1,000 + sets (p.s. this set costs nowhere near that!)

Our Favorite Cookware Reviews

All-Clad 60090 Stainless Steel Set Review

All clad cookware review

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Perfect for: Chefs and home cooks that want the absolute best cookware available.

All-Clad cookware can be expensive, but their features make it worth the money spent. The 14-piece set has a 4-ply bonded construction featuring stainless steel, aluminum, and copper cores.

This results in even heating and no warping even after years and years of use.

All clad cookware

Non-stick resistant to some degree (super home chefs don’t care about non-stickiness) with riveted handles for a comfortable grip, the pots and pans have their capacities etched on the bases for you to follow recipe book instructions precisely.

This cookware is very well built and it really does feel like it will last you a (and your children, and their children) a life time. It heats up very evenly with no detectable hot spots and its responsiveness to heat changes is quick.

The items included are oven safe up to 500 degrees F and feature a limited lifetime warranty for your piece of mind.

We actually couldn’t find anything we didnt like about the All-clad cookware – but we did do some research online and it seems some people have problems with the inner layer of metal flaking off? But this seems to be a very small percentage, and the warranty should cover any problems should they arise.

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Made In Cookware Stainless Steel Cookware Set

made in cookware reviewPrice: Buy Direct From Manufacturer – Check Price
Perfect for: Home cooks who want professional quality cookware that is manufactured in the USA – for a fraction of the price.

It was only recently that I heard about Made In cookware, and that is probably because they only sprung into existence in 2016. But despite their relative newness in a market dominated by brands that have been around for what seems like forever, Made In’s products are top notch and should be at the top of your list of sets to check out.

Made In Cookware is set to make a splash in the industry and the big players should be scared!

When I was first approached by Made In Cookware to give their pots and pans a try, I must say I was skeptical. Its price point was good (under $700), almost too good to be true for the features they were advertising. Made in the USA, made from top quality materials and stainless steel clad – I would expect a 10 piece set of cookware such as this to go for around the $1,000 mark.

But boy, my skepticism was certainly unfounded. I unpacked the environmentally friendly packaging and lifted the pans out – wow! These pots and pans felt solid and well made, while still being comfortable and well balanced.

The heat-resistant handles feel rock solid, with no movement detectable in the join with the pan base at all.

These pans looks like you have just gone out and spent well over $1k. Hang these pans in your kitchen, show them off and your friends and family and watch the envious look they get in their eyes!

After admiring the looks and feel of the set, I ran the cookware through all the usual tests – looked for hotspots, checked the doming on the bottom of the pans (it was normal, the same or better as other cookware I have tested) and the pans responded quickly to heat changes.

So far so good – but I just had one problem…..

I like our reviews to be honest and I don’t hesitate to list any negatives I find. But, I actually had trouble finding any negatives for Made In Cookware!

If I wanted to be really picky, then I would mention that it did develop rainbow stain quite easily (which is only an aesthetic problem anyway). But this was easily cleaned off using Barkeepers Friend. If you don’t have any bar keepers friend on hand, vinegar does almost as good a job.

All in all, it is actually hard to separate this inexpensive yet high-quality cookware from the more expensive brands.

Did I mention this set also comes with a lifetime warranty?

Still not sure? Well Made In also offer a 100 day, no questions asked return policy on your first order…so if it turns out you aren’t happy with it – just send it back! But I can tell you now – you won’t need to 😉

Buy Direct From Manufacturer

T-Fal Ultimate 12 Piece Cookware Set Review

t-fal cookware review

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Perfect for:Home cooks who want a good cookware set without spending a fortune

An all-around versatile set, the T-fal pieces are made of hard anodized aluminum with a titanium non-stick interior coating. The silicon handles provide safety while the Thermo-Spot heat indicating feature allows proper pre-cook heating.

There is a pattern in the center which turns red when thoroughly heated, and the lids are made of tempered glass to seal in moisture while cooking.

This cookware set is PFOA, lead, and cadmium free so you can cook for your family knowing that you are not exposing them to toxic substances.

The T-fal 12 piece cookware set comprises of 2 fry pans, 8 and 10.25-inch respectively, a 5.6-quart covered Dutch oven, and 3 covered saucepans of 1.1, 2.3, and 3.2-quarts. It also includes a nylon spoon and slotted spatula for stirring or serving. Safe for all cooktops, the pots and pans can withstand oven temperatures up to 400 degree F and are dishwasher safe.

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Cuisinart 11 Piece Stainless Steel Cookware Set Review

cuisineart cookware review

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Perfect for:Anyone who wants affordable cookware that still looks and performs great

Cuisinart dominates in the steel segment as usual, and this set made of stainless steel encapsulating pure aluminum is excellent for all your cooking needs.

The aluminum core ensures fast and even heating, while the riveted handles stay cool while cooking.

The covers are tight-fitting, to help flavors to seal in while you cook, and the set includes 3 saucepans with covers of 1, 2, and 3-quarts each, a 3-quart sauté pan with a helper handle and cover, an 8-quart stock pot with cover, an 8-inch non-stick skillet, and an 18-cm steamer insert.

The rims are tapered to ensure easy pouring, while the whole set is dishwasher safe. Oven safe up to 500 degrees, Cuisinart items comes with a lifetime warranty.

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WearEver Ceramic 15 Piece Cookware Set Review

wearever cookware review

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Perfect for: Cooks looking for something different than stainless steel

This WearEver set featuring non-stick ceramic reinforced with heavy-gage aluminum is free of all harmful chemicals. One of the top contenders in our 2017 cookware sets, the large set is stain and scratch resistant.

This is another cookware set that comes with a lifetime warranty, so you won’t have to worry about defects showing up just as the guarantee period is over.

Riveted silicone handles ensure these pots and pans feel comfortable in your hand, while still feeling sturdy and well built.

I will say that you need to make sure you clean this set properly every time you use it. Otherwise tiny amounts of stuck on food built up and it can be almost impossible to clean after the build-up becomes visible.

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Calphalon Contemporary Nonstick 11 Piece Set Review

calphalon cookware review

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Perfect for: Anyone looking for high quality cookware with a durable non-stick coating

On the premium side, the Calphalon cookware set is made of hard-anodized aluminum that includes 3 layers of non-stick coating! In fact, Calphalon were the first to invent anodized aluminum cookware. The first two coatings ensure durability while the third results in easy release during cooking.

Stainless steel is not for everyone, it can be a pain to clean. Which is why some of you might be after a high-quality set that has a hard-anodized non-stick coating. If this sounds like you then the Calphalon contemporary non-stick cookware is what you want.

It heats up quickly and evenly, cooks food to perfection and even burnt on food just wipes straight off. As with any non-stick cookware though – do make sure you give it a proper clean after each use as it will slowly build up tiny particles which can become stuck over time.

If you are a fan of non/low fat cooking, then this set is worth checking out. Backed by a lifetime warranty, and very affordable – make sure you consider this awesome product.

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Cookware Buyers Guide

No matter what cookware set you choose, there are some factors you need to always keep in mind. To summarize everything, here’s your checklist below:

  • The material: Make sure you can handle the weight for day-to-day cooking functions.
  • The range: It needs to perform 99% of your everyday cooking, and it needs to serve your family well.
  • The toxicity: You do not want to buy anything that can harm your health in the long term, even if the price tag on it is very appealing.
  • The versatility: It needs to work on the kind of cook top you have. It needs to be easy to clean, and it needs to be compatible to your style of cooking.
  • The warranty: You do not want to invest in a set that leaves you dry and hanging after a few months of use. This is especially essential when you invest in a high-end cookware set.
  • The variety: Before you buy, compare it all with what you already own. It is always nice to purchase newer, novel items.

Choose The Right Cookware Material

The most important bit! The material plays a big role for factors such as handling, type of food cooked, toxicity, weight, and shelf life.

Although a lot of shoppers tend not to pay much attention to the material—opting instead for standard every day metals—new designs and technologies these days have created cookware that indeed are works of art.

Choose wisely from the materials below.

Cast Iron Cookware

Rustic, and reminiscent of old southern hospitality, cast iron cookware remains a classic as ever. Try and talk a connoisseur into parting with her 150-year old, family handed down cast iron skillet and chances are, you would leave with a sore bump on your head. Cast iron pots and pans are sort of heirlooms, that have again become the battle tools of modern chefs, food influencers on social media, amateur cuisine enthusiasts and even the person next door. Many heritage cast iron brands remain in the market, but cookware from now defunct brands from 18th century foundries fetch quite a buck on online auctions. That, is the appeal of cast iron cookware.

cast iron cookware set pros and consPeople get a little perturbed when it comes to maintaining these cookware sets but it is quite simple really. Old school cast iron goodies came uncoated, meaning, a material to protect the iron from rusting. So these sets developed a “seasoning” over time with the cooking oil, giving way to a much-prized shiny black patina over the years. The coating forms due to thin layers of fat heating on the pan. Diehard fans make sure that their cast iron casseroles, pans, skillets, and such never see soap and water, instead maintaining them by hand cleaning and baking them with a barely-there coating of oil.

If this is too much for you, modern day sets usually come pre-seasoned or coated with enamel which cuts down on the maintenance time.

Even though it takes a while to heat it, iron retains heat for a long time resulting in thorough cooking, and saving you those bills in the long run since you do not need to cook constantly on high heat.

Cast Iron Cookware Pros:

  • Envious Instagram pictures
  • Fire-top, stove-top, oven, gas to oven cooking
  • Great for outdoor cooking

Cast Iron Cookware Cons:

  • Cooking acidic foods although enameled cast iron cookware eliminates this problem
  • Very heavy
  • Can be difficult to clean
  • Heating time

Stainless Steel Cookware

Quintessential steel is a fail-safe approach to your new cookware set. Steel is usually combined with other metals such as nickel, carbon, and chromium to produce enduring alloys that are corrosion free and tough.

stainless steel cookware set pros and consPretty much since its invention, steel has been used to make cookery items that are no-nonsense, durable, and economical. Humble steel has evolved too, available in fascinating varieties coated with scientific-sounding epic non-stick surfaces. They come with cores of copper or aluminum to improve its heat conductivity, clad within multiple reinforced layers to enable cooking in extreme high heat, and even in not-so-boring colors now.

Scratch away all you want at your steel stock-pot because unlike so many other materials, this metal is resilient to the T. Even handling burnt food like a champ, steel ensures extreme longevity to your cookware set.

Steel Cookware Pros:

  • Good for everyday cooking
  • Easy cleaning
  • Compatible with all kinds of cooktops
  • Short cooking times.

Cons:

  • More expensive than other types
  • No Non-stick cooking (unless coated).

Carbon Steel Cookware

Carbon steel has similar qualities to cast iron minus the heavy weight. Carbon steel is nothing but iron combined with carbon that makes it less brittle. Those dark thin pans you see in restaurant kitchens? Yep, carbon steel. In fact, seasoning carbon steel over time gives a better non-stick patina than cast iron. But very thin pans and such, made of this material will bend with time.

carbon steel cookware pros and consAlso, your cast iron pot may recover from an occasional lime splash or red wine reduction but carbon steel won’t. Great for making foods that don’t have a long cooking time such as eggs, stir fries, sauté dishes and pancakes, carbon steel cookware can be quite a handy addition to your kitchen.

Pros:

  • Non-stickiness without added chemicals
  • Heat retention
  • Crispy foods.

Cons:

  • Cleaning can be a pain
  • Can overheat
  • Can be damaged by acidic foods

Aluminum Cookware

A versatile material, aluminum cookware is extremely economical. Like steel alloys, aluminum is corrosion resistant although certain kinds of foods will stain or discolor it.

aluminium cookware pros and consIt also leaches into your food if you cook with acidic ingredients on high heat for longer durations. However, this problem is easily appended by investing in anodized aluminum cookware. Anodization uses electrical charges to increase the thickness of the outer layers of your pot and pan, in turn increasing its durability to an extreme degree. Aluminum is an excellent heat conductor—one of the top ones actually—which ensures that you don’t stand around waiting when you begin your culinary experiment.

Pros:

  • Durability when combined with other materials
  • Heat conductivity
  • Very affordable

Cons:

  • Discoloration over time
  • leaching into food

Ceramic Cookware

Ceramic items have always dominated the baking market, but newer renditions of cookware now feature it in all kinds of forms such as non-stick coatings and reinforcements.

Ceramic is naturally non-stick and can withstand temperatures of up to 2,000 degrees. Like steel, ceramic surfaces are tough and you can use metal spatulas or hard scourers on it without scratches.

ceramic cookware pros and consCeramics are also widely considered to be the most non-reactive so that you have no harmful substances leaching into your food while cooking certain kinds of dishes.

Most ceramic sets also look pretty good; you can skip the server-ware and put it on the table straight.

Good for:

  • Extreme heat
  • Non-stick
  • Attractive
  • Cooktop versatility

Cons:

  • Breakable

Copper Cookware

Shiny copper has also been used for cooking through the ages. Pretty much one of the best conductors of heat that results in even cooking, copper is great for foods that you leave in the pot undisturbed for longer periods of time.

copper cookware pros and consCopper is also now mostly integrated with other materials, unlike the past where it was used in standalone pieces. Copper cookware sets can get very expensive, and just like iron and carbon steel, you cannot cook reactive foods in it.

Pros:

  • Excellent heat conductivity
  • Ideal weight
  • Visually appealing

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Highly reactive
  • High maintenance

Other Cookware Types

These days besides the above, cookware can also be found made of titanium, silicon, porcelain, diamonds, nano-tech, and other compositions. These kinds of sets also tend to be on the pricier side, considering the many qualities they offer.

Number And Type Of Components

Are you looking to cook for a family of 5 or is it just the two of you? The number of items in cookware set is important so that you make the most out of it.

Along with the number of items, a good collection should include different kinds of cookware so that you can perform all essential functions through that one set.

A good cookware set should definitely include:

  • a frying pan
  • sauce pan
  • and a stock pot.

Want to go fancier? Add on sauté pans, woks, deep-fry pans, and splatter covers.

Adaptability

Is your new set dishwasher safe? Is it oven and microwave safe? Can it be used on gas stoves, halogen tops, and induction tops?

These are some of the questions you must thoroughly research before making an informed purchase.

You buy one on a whim, and strangely, it doesn’t work on your type of hob. Avoid this scenario by going in to the boring specifications part of the cookware details.

Toxicity

non toxic cookwareThroughout the years, inventions and updates have introduced consumers to newer varieties of pots and pans, but every once in a while, some of these materials have been shown to do more harm than good. If you are conscious (and you should be) about what exactly are you eating, and you don’t want to be unsuspectingly poisoned by toxins, look for the following before buying anything:

  • PFOA: Short for perfluorooctanoic acid, this chemical is found in non-stick coatings. When cooking on high heat, they tend to leech into your food causing concern. PFOA stays in the human body for a long time, and researchers say that it has the potential to cause cancer if the exposure is in high doses. It can also apparently affect your thyroid and heart. An overheated pan made of these materials is none to cause flu-like symptoms.
  • Cadmium: Cadmium is an element that is used for the purpose of coloring cookware. All those bright reds you may see on low quality pots on pans can possibly contain cadmium. Cadmium is in fact considered to be one of the most toxic substances in nature. Affecting not just your kidney and metabolism, it can cause genotoxicity. Never ever opt for cheaply manufactured cookware that comes from a country with no compliances. Cadmium is also used in many modern batteries.
  • Lead: Low quality manufactures can sneak in lead into their cookware which gives it shock resistance and color uniformity. Although a substance highly regulated by most countries, lead may still find its way into your food. Lead might also commonly be found in aluminum alloys.

Pricing last updated on 2018-07-16 at 02:24 / affiliate links - Details

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