Cookware us a many and varied thing.
There’s a pot, pan, sheet, or other specialized gewgaw for anything you’d care to cook, and most come made in a wide variety of materials, styles, looks, and other varieties.
Today I’ll be breaking down the broad categories of cookware by construction, and going over some of the best cookware of each type I can find.
Without further ado, let’s get into it.
How Do I Find the Perfect Cookware Set?
The first thing you want to figure out is what you want your cookware to be made of.
Every single one of the major materials has upsides and downsides associated with it, though for the most part you can find all of the most common types of cookware (pots, pans, cauldron and skillets) in any material you like.
Let’s go over the 5 major types first:
Nonstick here is going to refer to any type of cookware with a PTFE (commonly known by the name brand Teflon) coating on the interior.
Nonstick cookware is cheap, lightweight (typically made of aluminum), easily replaceable, and stores well.
The major downsides are that the nonstick coating flakes off easily, which is extremely unhealthy if it gets into your food (and makes the pan VERY sticky), and the aluminum used usually dents easily.
Stainless steel is durable, shiny, and looks nice. You could use the same set of stainless steel cookware your whole life if you take good care of it.
Unfortunately it is also very prone to sticking, which can make them difficult to clean after cooking.
Many also have a high nickel content, which a minority of people have an allergy or sensitivity to.
Stainless steel also heats very slowly compared to aluminum or copper, though it can also as a result reach much higher temperatures, making it great for searing.
Cast iron is a versatile material with great heat retention (though like steel it takes a while to heat up) and natural nonstick properties once properly “seasoned”.
They can be used as both excellent bakeware and stovetop cookware.
The major drawbacks come from that seasoning, however; it can be difficult to maintain, and cast iron cookware is prone to rusting as well.
Usually this is a ceramic and titanium mix sandblasted onto aluminum cookware.
This is the safe nonstick option, as it doesn’t flake or ship like PTFE.
Fully ceramic bakeware also exists, and is very high performance.
Copper is naturally antimicrobial, and is an excellent conductor of heat.
This means it heats up very quickly and lets you jump right into cooking.
Unfortunately the main drawback of copper cookware is availability; it’s difficult to find any on the market and what you can find is usually only partially copper, usually on the base for added heating.
Which one is right for you is going to be a matter of personal preference, largely, but it’s worth knowing your options, especially as price varies between them.
In general the price ranges, from high to low: copper, stainless steel, ceramic, cast iron, nonstick.
So if you’re on a budget, it’s good to know up front which are the most expensive.
10 Best Cookware Sets Reviews in 2021
The Best Stainless Steel Cookware Review Customers always want the best of each product. When it comes to cookware, the rule stands strong
Best overall – Calphalon 10 pc Tri-Ply Copper Set
- Set includes: 8” omelet pan, 10” omelet pan, 3 quart sauté pan with lid, 1.5 quart saucepan with lid, 2.5 quart saucepan with lid, 6 quart stockpot with lid.
- Materials: brushed copper (exterior), aluminum (core), and stainless steel (interior and handles)
- Total weight: 18.95 lbs
This set is top notch, and is one of the strong contenders here for best overall set.
Everything is beautifully made, a brushed copper exterior with an aluminum core and stainless steel interior.
This give you the best of all worlds: aluminum and steel’s durability with copper and aluminum’s conductivity making for excellent quality cookware, each element covering for the weaknesses of the others in perfect harmony.
The only real downside is that the steel interior is very prone to sticking, but that’s something largely unavoidable with any metal cookware without a ceramic or PTFE coating.
The handles are riveted on well, and the tight fitting lids are perfect for stews and sauces, which you don’t want to boil off TOO much moisture, giving you excellent control on how much moisture escapes, at the cost of the quick view that a glass lid would provide.
All in all it’s difficult to find something better…
…..so long as you can handle the stomach churningly huge price tag on this set.
- Extremely high quality materials that cover for each of the others’ individual weaknesses.
- Very high durability.
- Great decorative appearance.
- Great lids are tight fitting; great for sauces and stews.
- Extremely high price tag when not on sale.
- Stainless steel interior is prone to sticking.
Runner up – Rachael Ray Cucina 12 piece Ceramic Cookware Set
- Set includes: 1 quart saucepan with lid, 3 quart saucepan with lid, 8.5” skillet, 10” skillet, 3 quart sauté pan with lid, 6 quart stockpot with lid, fish flipper, slotted spoon.
- Materials: enamel (exterior), aluminum (core), nonstick ceramic (interior), silicone (handles and utensils).
- Total weight: 17.2 lbs
This is a great nonstick alternative to the above, with a lightweight and fast heating aluminum construction that is sturdier than it might seem.
Nice enamel for appearance that comes in a variety of great colors (the Agave Blue pictured above is my favorite, but most of the others are quite good as well; the only one I’d avoid is the brown) that can be matched to any kitchen aesthetic.
The silicone handles are comfortable, well angled, and oven safe, increasing the versatility of this set immensely.
The tempered glass lids are impact resistant and durable, while allowing a great view of the interior of each pot and pan when in use.
Plus, as mentioned, unlike our winner this entire cookware set is a durable, safe nonstick kind of cookware that makes cleanup a breeze.
While the Calphalon set certainly takes the cake in terms of raw quality and performance.
Rachael Ray Cucina set comes in as a much more budget friendly option that is nonetheless extremely well made and will be a great start to any kitchen.
- Well made and sturdy.
- Safe nonstick ceramic is easy to cook on and clean up.
- Good price for what you get.
- Great versatility.
- Oven safe and heat resistant silicone handles are comfortable and easy to maneuver.
- Included utensils are almost completely worthless.
Best nonstick – Rachael Ray Cucina Hard Anodized Nonstick Cookware Set
- Set includes: 1 quart saucepan with lid, 2 quart saucepan with lid, 6 quart stockpot with lid, 8.5” frying pan, 10” frying pan, 3 quart sauté pan with lid, slotted spoon, fish flipper.
- Materials: hard anodized aluminum, PTFE (interior nonstick coating), oven safe silicone (handles and utensils).
- Total weight: 16.55 lbs.
When it comes to artificial nonstick surfaces, this is the best cookware set around.
Not to be confused with out similarly named runner-up cookware set, this is a PTFE nonstick coating (more commonly known by the brand name, Teflon) rather than ceramic coating, that nevertheless performs admirably for what it is.
The overall construction is top notch, with a hard anodized aluminum shell and well riveted handles with a good silicone coating for comfort and support.
Hard anodized aluminum is, as the name implies, a very hard material; about twice as durable as the standard steel used for cookware.
The aluminum construction makes them quick to heat: both on the stovetop and in the oven (they are oven safe), so you can get to cooking faster.
The set’s variety is limited, but it provides all the basics you need to make the majority of foods you’d ever care to make, so that’s just fine.
The only real issues with it are the utensils (which are pretty much trash), and the designation of “dishwasher safe” being a bit of a misnomer; using a dishwasher on these tends to result in a stripped PTFE coating.
- Oven safe.
- Lightweight and easy to maneuver.
- Comfortable silicone handles provide a great grip.
- Extremely durable hard anodized aluminum construction and well riveted handles.
- Nonstick for easy cleanup.
- Washing these in the dishwasher tends to remove the nonstick PTFE coating.
- Included utensils are flimsy and poorly made.
Best budget cookware set – Amazon Basics 8 piece Nonstick Cookware Set
- Set includes: 8” frying pan, 10“ frying pan, 1.5 quart saucepan with lid, 2 quart saucepan with lid, 3 quart casserole pan with lid
- Materials: aluminum (body and core), nonstick PTFE coating (interior), plastic (handles).
- Total weight: 8.23 lbs.
You’ve probably seen this set, or a set just like this, a thousand times. It’s the cookware set I like to call “the bachelor’s friend”
. It’s cheap, serviceable, doesn’t take up too much space, is nonstick so you can clean it easy, and is very forgiving to mishaps; largely because if you end up destroying these in some horrible cooking accident, they can be easily replaced for basically no cost.
There’s no real frills here, no selling point other than they’re cheap, but that’s a selling point in its own. Everything about them is serviceable, which is what you look for in a set like this.
The aluminum construction is lightweight and reasonably sturdy.
They tend to warp after a while, but any dents can usually be pushed back into place by hand with minimal effort.
The PTFE coating is nonstick and performs well, but will eventually scratch off (especially if you put these in the dishwasher too many times), so it’s best quickly hand washed as soon as you’re done cooking.
The handles are a pretty comfortable plastic, and will need only the occasional re-screwing to keep them in place.
These are the epitome of the budget cookware set, and they’re perfect for this slot.
- Incredibly cheap.
- Nonstick and easy to clean.
- Lightweight, but sturdy.
- Very forgiving to mistakes.
- Perfect for making eggs.
- Nonstick coating scrapes off easily.
- Set dents easily.
- Bad for searing.
Best budget ceramic cookware set- CorningWare 12 piece Ceramic Bakeware Set
- Set includes: 1.5 quart oval baking pan, 2.5 quart oval baking pan with plastic lid, 16 ounce round baking pan with glass lid and plastic lid, 24 ounce round baking pan with glass lid and plastic lid, two 4 ounce ramekins.
- Materials: full non-porous ceramic construction (bakeware), plastic (lids), glass (lids).
- Total weight: 11.64 lbs.
I’ve had a set just like this for years, and it forms the backbone of most of my baking time in the kitchen. This set is built to handle pretty much everything but cookies and other things cooked on a flat sheet.
The ceramic body is naturally nonstick and easy to clean, as well as non-porous for safety. You should still butter them a little so whatever you’re cooking slides straight out, but it’s not a strict necessity.
The items included are extremely versatile to bake whatever you want to cook. The oval pan makes a great cornbread or stuffing dish for the holidays, the round pans are great for pot pies and other dishes, and I wouldn’t use anything else but these ramekins or similar for making custards and mini-pies; they’re absolutely perfect for the job.
Well made, sturdy, with two different kinds of lids (though admittedly the glass lids are usually less useful unless you plan to serve straight from dish to plate and want to keep something warm), and a very reasonable price make this the best ceramic cookware you can find.
- Well made and sturdy; impact resistant ceramic.
- Naturally nonstick.
- Versatile assortment for cooking a variety of dishes.
- Stack well for easy storage.
- Can be used to serve straight from the dish.
- Quality control seems to be hit or miss recently, according to several purchasers.
Best stainless steel cookware set – T-fal Ultimate 13 piece Stainless Steel Cookware Set
- saucepan with lid, 3 quart saucepan with lid, 5 quart Dutch oven with lid, steamer insert.
- Materials: 18/10 stainless steel (interior and exterior, plus handles), copper (bottom), glass (lids)
- Total weight: 23.8 lbs.
This 13 piece set includes every piece of stainless steel cookware you could reasonably expect to find in a cookware set, with pots and pans of all sorts of sized to perform basically any task you’d want in the kitchen.
They’re all quite well made, with sturdy stainless steel construction all over, and tight but small rivets (making cleanup easier). The handles are nicely curved and ergonomic.
They’re easy to hold and maneuver most of these pots around, though I find the one on the middle sized saucepan (the 2 quart one) to be a bit steeper than the rest as compared to its size, making it a bit more cumbersome, but nothing too onerous.
The stainless steel construction is offset by a copper bottom, giving it vastly increased heat conductivity, heating it up much faster than a fully stainless steel equivalent would be, or even one with an aluminum core (which is the most common construction).
This set is top notch, only marred by the poor steamer insert (I really don’t like the flimsy foldout ones) and that one minor issue I mentioned with one of the handles. Otherwise, this set is close to perfect as stainless steel cookware sets go.
- Sturdy overall stainless steel construction is very durable.
- Long lasting.
- Lifetime limited warranty gives some peace of mind.
- Copper bottom increases speed that the cookware heats up, allowing for faster cooking.
- Stainless steel interior is very prone to sticking.
- Bad steamer insert.
All-Clad 10-Piece Stainless Steel
Calphalon Hard-Anodized Nonstick
Analon Nouvelle Copper Nonstick
Circulon Symmetry Nonstick
Swiss Inox 18-Piece Stainless Steel
What You Need To Know Before You Buy
How to Make Your Stainless Steel Completely Non-Stick
Worried you might make the wrong choice if you splurge on the All-Clad? I mean, you’re not all about scrubbing pans after a hard day, maybe working, or changing a bunch of diapers, maybe with a horrible commute that required a wine-sodden recovery or even a martini, maybe with some housecleaning involved. You want good food, made in pots and pans to last a lifetime, but how do you keep the food from sticking, ruining both your meal and your night?
Here we have the answer for you. How to make your stainless steel pan “a naturally occurring nonstick skillet.”
Okay, so you should know, this Halle Cottis is no Gordon Ramsay. But her delivery is not without passion nonetheless. She gets right into the must-dos. The first step starts at 0:40. Five seconds later, you’ll see the note appear in the upper left corner with a little tidbit on how to add the oil to the pan.
This is a video in real-time, so when Halle says you have to let it sit on the heat for two minutes, that means you will be watching her heat the oil for two minutes. A bit like watching paint dry, except that Halle is talking the whole time, with chipper little pieces of information that keep you interested.
At 1:23, she uses her first, “All we’re gonna do.” It’s super charming. You almost feel like you’re watching a video put together by Kirsten Dunst’s character Peggy Bloomquist in season 2 of Fargo. A provincial hairdresser, but a dreamer, and so more worldly than the other ladies in town. She’s earnest, yet unkillable, and that’s what you like about her.
By 1:42 and for the next 20 seconds, Halle is explaining the chemistry behind making your stainless steel pan nonstick (another guy talks of micro-pores; she doesn’t go that far). She sounds like she’s reading through this, but that’s ok because she seems to get the material right.
At 2:00, the trick to keeping the pan nonstick on an ongoing basis. Then at 2:20, “alls you’re gonna do is you’re gonna pour off your oil.” (So Geffen cute!)
Halle calls it “seasoning” the pan, something usually associated with an iron skillet. She gives credit where credit is due at 2:48; then she launches into a demonstration of how nonstick her pan is. And it’s completely nonstick.
The video only disappoints in that we never get to see Halle Cottis’ face. This is a real trend on YouTube: instruction by a pair of hands and voice. I, for one, would like to see a speaker once or twice. At least Halle has nice hands.
Let’s Get Technical: Explore In-Depth
How Bonded Metal Changed the Cooking World
There’s some pretty cool science stuff going on with this 3-ply, 5-ply, heck! I’ve seen 9-ply pans. Lucky for you, I’m not the science-type, but I’m smart enough to research the difficult material and then regurgitate it in plain, hopefully conversational, language.
If you’re reading this, and you have science smarts, please forgive me my lack of technical aptitude. Or get over yourself. Whichever is most applicable.
It all started with the Rolls Royce of cookware, All-Clad. To this day, it’s still THE aspirational brand. It’s pricey, sure, but if you take good care of it, it will last a lifetime. Considered America’s finest cookware, and used by chefs around the world, it’s also the first company to make cookware from bonded metals. Or, more apropos to this conversation, sandwich metals.
Its inventor, John Ulam was a brilliant metallurgist in mid-century Pennsylvania, and he had a company that made sandwich metals for various applications, not cooking. He had an impressive 50 patents under his belt. The U.S. government even entrusted his company, Clad Metals, with making dimes, quarters and a half dollars, and with their conversion from silver to the bonded layers of metals we see in today’s coins. A real bigwig in the world of metals.
Of his ultimately most commercial invention, Ulam writes in his patent: “We have discovered a method of cladding metals which overcomes the difficulties of prior art practices and makes it possible to provide close control over the physical properties of the metals in the ultimate composite clad metal and at the same time to control and provide a strong bond between the dissimilar metals forming the clad body.” In other words, he discovered a way to clad stainless steel and aluminum together in such a way that it exploits the best properties of each of the metals. WHOA! Human innovation at its very best. But he didn’t stop there.
In yet another stroke of genius from a man who had had many, Ulam realized the properties of sandwich metals could revolutionize cookware: Aluminum and copper react with food and can change the taste, and they conduct heat very well. Stainless steel does not react with food and does not conduct heat so great. But sandwiching them together!… It’s like breeding a mutt and getting the best traits from each dog. With aluminum or copper sandwiched between two layers of stainless, you got a pan that conducts heat without a chemical reaction to the food.
So, Ulam started a new company in 1967, All-Clad, making professional quality gourmet cookware with the sandwich metals. Originally, Ulam slogged it out at trade shows, hawking his cookware to professional chefs and restaurants. Then one fateful day in 1973, a Bloomingdale’s buyer was at one of these trade shows and picked the brand up for the store’s high-end housewares department. (Turns out, his invention was so awesome, despite its scientific aspect, that a news program once spent more than nine minutes of airtime interviewing Ulam about the cookware). And the rest, as they say, is history.
What Is The Best Stainless Steel Cookware?
The Best Stainless Steel Cookware Review Customers always want the best of each product. When it comes to cookware, the rule stands strong – the best! Here is the best stainless steel cookware that you will ever come across. It is the Cuisinart classic stainless steel 10 piece cookware set. It has a whopping 444 positive reviews from its customers. The satisfaction of the customers was never clearer from the ratings. It has 4.5 stars out of 5 on average Click this link to get a whopping 72% discount and also FREE shipping. The reason why it is the best stainless steel cookware …
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