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Best For Your Buck Product
Best bang for the buck
Cuisinart
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Best Of The Best Product
Best of the best
All-Clad
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How We Decided
  • 34 Models Considered
  • 38 Hours Spent
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 121 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Best Cookware Sets

    Quality results begin with quality tools. This is especially true when it comes to kitchen cookware. An inexpensive cookware set might appear to be a bargain at first, but it could soon become warped by heat or damaged through rough handling. High-end cookware sets provide more professional results, but few people can afford the initial investment. The trick is to find cookware that is both economical and durable. We examined dozens of cookware sets at various price points. Our shortlist of top contenders will satisfy serious foodies and casual gourmets alike.

    Products we Considered

    • All-Clad
      Stainless Steel Tri-Ply
    • Cuisinart
      MultiClad Stainless Steel, 12-Piece
    • Simply Calphalon
      Nonstick, 10-Piece Set
    • T-fal
      Nonstick, Dishwasher and Oven Safe
    • Cook N Home
      Nonstick, Soft Handle, 15-Piece

    Considerations

    Construction/Design

    Inexpensive cookware is often comprised of one or two layers of thin material (aluminum or steel) that heat rapidly and warp easily. High-end cookware is often comprised of a solid aluminum core with layers of stainless steel on either side of it. This design is conducive to even heating and also adds weight. In this section, we discuss the construction and design features (raw materials, non-stick coatings, etc.) of each top contender in detail.

    Performance

    Some cookware sets look sharp and professional in the box, but they fail to live up to expectations in the real world. Cookware sets with the versatility to go from stove top to oven get extra props from us. In this section, we take a look at each contender's ability to perform the typical tasks required of it. Field notes from both satisfied and dissatisfied owners will also be reviewed.

    Additional Features

    Some top cookware sets arrive with utensils such as spatulas and slotted spoons. Others include only skillets, pots, and lids. In this section, we mention everything that arrives in the original packaging, as well as popular items that could be purchased separately. If any of our contenders have a particularly useful feature that sets it apart from others, we include that information as well.

    Price

    Kitchen cookware sets make excellent housewarming or wedding gifts, but finding a complete set that is both affordable and durable can be a challenge. While investing in professional-grade cookware generally means years of dependable service, the retail price of such sets can be daunting. Likewise, buying a deeply discounted cookware set made of thin layers of aluminum may be more affordable upfront, but replacing the damaged pieces year after year is expensive and tiresome in the long run. In this section, we evaluate each of our top contenders in terms of value and price.

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    Considerations

    Construction/Design

    All-Clad Stainless Steel Tri-Ply

    In terms of versatility, it rarely gets better than the All-Clad Stainless Steel Cookware Set. The manufacturer uses a triple-layer construction method, sandwiching an aluminum core between two types of stainless steel. The outer stainless steel layer is flat-bottomed and magnetic, making it ideal for gas, electric, and magnetic induction stove tops. The inner cooking surface does not have a nonstick coating, but it does have a special "starburst" finish that discourages food from sticking. The lids are lightweight and engineered to fit securely. Potential buyers should note that the stainless steel handles are riveted to the pan, and they can get very hot during use.

    Cuisinart MCP-12N MultiClad Pro Stainless Steel 12-Piece Cookware Set

    The Cuisinart MCP-12 MultiClad Pro Stainless Steel 12-Piece Cookware Set is often compared to another top contender, the All-Clad, because they both use a three-layer combination of magnetic stainless steel, aluminum, and smooth 18/10 stainless steel. While the All-Clad uses a starburst finish to improve food release, however, the Cuisinart MCP-12 uses a mirror finish that some owners say works even better. The Cuisinart's metal handles are riveted to the pans and stay cool on the stove top. We appreciate the Cuisinart's tapered rims, which make pouring hot food into a container much easier.

    Simply Calphalon Nonstick 10 Piece Set

    While stainless steel appears to be the gold standard for cookware these days, the Simply Calphalon Nonstick 10 Piece Set uses a hard, anodized aluminum that has its own following among home cooks. Each element in the Simply Calphalon set also sports two coats of non-stick Teflon on its surface. The set's four lids are made from tempered glass, which allows users to keep an eye on the cooking process. We especially like the stay-cool handles with heat-resistant plastic grips and the heavy (but balanced) aluminum bases. The Simply Calphalon cookware set is definitely an upgrade from the Cook N Home, one of our other non-stick contenders.

    T-fal Signature Nonstick Dishwasher and Oven Safe

    The T-fal Signature Nonstick Thermo Spot Cookware Set has a few tricks up its sleeve that set it apart from other non-stick contenders. One of our favorites is a special thermal paint embedded in the cooking surface that forms a solid red circle whenever the pan or pot has reached the proper temperature. Since the use of cooking sprays (like Pam) are discouraged in non-stick pans, having such an indicator is very useful indeed. The thick aluminum base has a non-stick coating on its inside and outside surfaces, making clean-up a breeze. While other top contenders feature tempered glass lids, the T-fal goes one step further with a small vent for steam release. The plastic-covered handles remain cool to the touch, but they're only rated for up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit in the oven.

    Cook N Home 15 Piece Non stick Black Soft handle Cookware Set

    The Cook N Home Non-Stick Black Cookware Set uses conventional Teflon to create a dependable non-stick coating, but the usual warnings about high heat and abrasive cleaning methods still apply. The frying pans, sauce pans, casserole pan, and Dutch oven are all non-stick (unlike other sets which might offer one or two nonstick frying pans at most). We like the heaviness of the aluminum base and the grooved bottoms that prevent the pans from skidding on burners. All of the sauce pans and the Dutch oven have perfectly matched tempered glass lids, so users can observe the progress of their food throughout the cooking process. Soft plastic/silicone grips help keep the handles cool, but they also present a problem for those who want oven-safe cookware. Some owners say that a low-temperature transfer from stove top to oven is possible, but others (including the manufacturer) warn against it.

    Every piece of the Cook N Home set is non-stick. This includes the frying pans, sauce pans, casserole pan, and Dutch oven.
    Considerations

    Performance

    All-Clad Stainless Steel Tri-Ply

    As part of the professional-grade family of All-Clad kitchen equipment, the All-Clad Stainless Steel Cookware Set certainly lives up to its reputation. Cooking with stainless steel does require a learning curve, but we are impressed by the All-Clad's fast and extremely even heating. The pans can go from stove top to oven without problem (as long as the cooking temperature is reasonable). The lidded sauce pans and saute pan are capable of holding crucial temperatures, and the eight-quart stock pan (also lidded) is generously sized for large meals, soups, and stocks. Our only concerns are the potential damage caused by overheating and the challenges of cleaning a stainless steel surface.

    Because the Cuisinart MCP-12 MultiClad Pro Stainless Steel 12-Piece Cookware Set uses a three-layer construction method, heat control during cooking is much more manageable than standard one and two-ply aluminum pans. Cuisinart MCP-12 cookware is oven and broiler-safe up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Its magnetic, stainless steel shell makes it safe for gas, electric, ceramic, and magnetic induction heating. Tight-fitting lids help keep nutrients and flavors inside the food as it cooks. One additional piece included in the Cuisinart set is a lidded steamer attachment. This attachment fits precisely into the stock pot for the easy steaming of vegetables, seafood, and other healthy dishes.

    Between the anodized aluminum base and the double coating of Teflon on the cooking surface, the Simply Calphalon Nonstick 10 Piece Cookware Set has a strong grip on performance. The pieces are oven-safe up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit; this limit may not be quite as high as other contenders, but it will suffice for most applications. Unfortunately, the non-magnetic aluminum base renders the cookware unsuitable for magnetic induction heating, and the non-stick coating is not dishwasher or broiler safe. However, the thick aluminum base is a great conductor of heat for gas and electric sources. We have read some reports of heat-related discoloration and flaking of the non-stick coating, but these are known issues that can be largely remedied through careful handling and cleaning. We do not recommend "nesting" the individual pieces between uses because it may cause some damage to the non-stick coating.

    The T-fal Signature Nonstick Thermo Spot Cookware Set features all the standard pieces – two skillets, two lidded sauce pans, a lidded stock pot – as well as a "flowering" vegetable steamer insert. All of these pieces perform well during most cooking jobs, but the relatively low oven limit of 350 degrees Fahrenheit does hamper the set's overall versatility. Some users have expressed dismay about the smaller size of the skillets and sauce pans, especially the seven-inch skillet which the manufacturer calls a "One Egg Wonder." We have no problem recommending the T-fal cookware set for home cooks whose equipment needs are modest, but budding chefs with greater food prep needs might be disappointed by certain aspects of this set. Nevertheless, T-fal is a quality brand, and this collection would work well as a starter kit for a young couple or single adult who plans to cook modest meals at home.

    Cook N Home 15 Piece Non stick Black Soft handle Cookware Set

    Many home cooks seek out non-stick cookware because it's easy to maintain and resists burning and sticking. The Cook N Home Non-Stick Black Cookware Set definitely meets these criteria. While non-stick frying and saute pans are fairly common, the Cook N Home set also includes a non-stick Dutch oven, a three-quart casserole pan, one- and two-quart sauce pans, and two frying pans. Heavy-gauge aluminum makes these pans ideal for gas, electric, and glass top stoves. Unfortunately, however, the pans are not suitable for magnetic induction cooking. The non-stick coating makes cleaning by hand easy, so we recommend against machine washing (although some users say it's possible). Our biggest concern about the Cook N Home Non-Stick Black Cookware Set is the long-term durability of its handles. The handles are screwed to the pans (not riveted) and have a tendency to become loose over time. Some minor warping of the lids and pans can also be expected after months of continuous use.

    The All-Clad is a professional-grade set of stainless steel cookware with amazing warranty coverage.
    Nina
    Expert Consultant

    Nina is a longtime gourmet chef, interior designer/decorator, and events planner. She has accomplished all of this in addition to maintaining a stellar career as a healthcare executive, where she helps alter the course of people’s lives via preventive care and healthy living. Nina’s hobbies include learning new recipes, planning and executing amazing dinners to impress local chefs, and hiking around the world.


    Nina  |  Gourmet Chef, Health Care Executive
    Considerations

    Additional Features

    All-Clad Stainless Steel Tri-Ply

    The All-Clad Stainless Steel Cookware Set arrives with 8- and 10-inch frying pans, a 1.5-quart sauce pan with lid, a 3.5-quart sauce pan with lid, a 3-quart saute pan with lid, and an 8-quart stock pot with lid. This is a standard cookware set configuration that should meet the needs of most people. The original package also contains a user's manual, but no additional kitchen tools are provided. A set of All-Clad stainless steel kitchen tools could certainly be purchased separately, as well as lidded frying pans, a smaller stock pot, and special cleaning tools for stainless steel cookware.

    Cuisinart MCP-12N MultiClad Pro Stainless Steel 12-Piece Cookware Set

    The Cuisinart MCP-12 MultiClad Pro Stainless Steel 12-Piece Cookware Set arrives with two covered saucepans, two open skillets, a covered saute pan, an eight-quart covered stockpot, and a steamer insert. We especially like the inclusion of a lidded vegetable steamer – an item not always found in cookware sets. Unlike some of our other top contenders, the Cuisinart cooking set does not include additional kitchen tools, but these items could be purchased separately from the manufacturer.

    Simply Calphalon Nonstick 10 Piece Set

    The Simply Calphalon Nonstick 10 Piece Cookware Set does not arrive with additional kitchen tools, but those items could be ordered separately from the company or another supplier. We strongly recommend the use of non-abrasive kitchen tools that are designed specifically for non-stick cookware. Some owners order an additional stock pot for smaller recipes and at least one stainless steel or cast iron skillet for dishes that require heating above 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

    T-fal Signature Nonstick Dishwasher and Oven Safe

    Many people purchase a basic cookware set and immediately wish they had a better way to prepare vegetables, seafood, and other steam-friendly dishes. For this reason, we consider T-fal's inclusion of a "flowering" vegetable steamer insert to be one of its best additional features. The original package does not contain a set of kitchen tools, but a number of non-abrasive rubber, silicone, and wood kits are available for separate purchase. One additional item users may want to consider is a larger non-stick skillet to augment the two smaller frying pans included in the set. We consider the T-fal's heat-sensing red circle of thermal paint to be another outstanding feature. Non-stick cookware can become damaged very easily if overheated, so having a built-in thermostat is a useful bit of cooking technology!

    Cook N Home 15 Piece Non stick Black Soft handle Cookware Set

    The Cook N Home Non-Stick Black Cookware Set arrives with a five-piece kitchen tool set made from heat-resistant (but not heatproof) nylon plastic. These tools are ideal for use with non-stick cookware because they are not as abrasive as metal kitchen tools. A spaghetti server, soup ladle, solid spoon, slotted spoon, and slotted spatula are included. While we appreciate the inclusion of these tools, potential buyers should note that nylon plastic does not hold up very well under heat. We suggest purchasing a separate set of sturdier plastic or silicone-covered tools that will not scratch the non-stick coating or melt after contact with hot surfaces.

    Owners are impressed by the All-Clad Stainless Steel Cookware Set's fast and even heating.
    Considerations

    Price

    All-Clad Stainless Steel Tri-Ply

    The All-Clad Stainless Steel Cookware Set's retail price of $479 may induce sticker shock for some, but this is professional-grade kitchen equipment with amazing warranty coverage. Unlike the inexpensive cookware sets many people receive as housewarming or wedding gifts, a person's first All-Clad Stainless Steel cookware set will most likely be his or her last cookware set. It's just that good. Individual pieces of All-Clad cookware can be purchased separately as budgets allow, but we believe that acquiring an entire set of versatile frying pans, sauce pans, and stock pot makes the most economic sense.

    Cuisinart MCP-12N MultiClad Pro Stainless Steel 12-Piece Cookware Set

    The Cuisinart MCP-12 MultiClad Pro Cookware Set's retail price of $222 puts it in the same class of professional kitchen equipment as the All-Clad set on our shortlist, although some critics say the Cuisinart's interior stainless steel is of a lesser grade than the All-Clad's 18/10 interior. We feel that the difference between the two sets is negligible in this respect. The inclusion of a lidded vegetable steamer makes the Cuisinart MCP-12 MultiClad Pro 12-Piece Cookware Set a tempting and affordable alternative to the high-end All-Clad – as does its lower price.

    Simply Calphalon Nonstick 10 Piece Set

    With a retail price of $217, the Simply Calphalon Nonstick 10 Piece Cookware Set falls squarely between the entry-level aluminum cookware represented by Cook N Home and the expensive, commercial-grade stainless steel/aluminum cookware exemplified by All-Clad. The Simply Calphalon set provides better overall heat retention and non-stick performance than bargain-priced, one-ply aluminum sets, but it may not have the versatility of high-end cookware like the All-Clad and Cuisinart. Calphalon's ideal customer is looking for the convenience of non-stick cookware and the precision/control of stainless steel/aluminum pots and pans. The set's mid-range price reflects such a compromise between the two worlds.

    T-fal Signature Nonstick Dishwasher and Oven Safe

    The T-fal Signature Nonstick Thermo Spot 10-Piece Cookware Set is priced at $56, which places it in the same vicinity as the entry-level Cook N Home and the mid-range Simply Calphalon. However, the T-fal does have some unique features of its own. One satisfied customer referred to the T-fal Signature cookware set as a "single man's dream." We agree with that assessment. The individual skillets, pans, and stock pot are slightly smaller than those found in other cookware sets, but if storage space is an issue, smaller can actually be better. Purchasing non-stick cookware separately can be expensive; investing in a complete set of reliable cookware makes economical sense for those who aim to equip their first kitchen or replace aging pots and pans with quality non-stick products.

    Cook N Home 15 Piece Non stick Black Soft handle Cookware Set

    At a retail price of $47, the Cook N Home Non-Stick Black Cookware Set is a remarkable bargain, especially for young couples and casual cooks who don't require gourmet kitchen equipment. Non-stick cookware in general is very forgiving, and every pot/pan element of the Cook N Home set is non-stick. Although the heavy-gauge aluminum is not suitable for magnetic induction cooking, many people still use traditional gas or electric stove tops, so this should not pose a problem for a large percentage of consumers. We applaud the clear tempered glass lids and the fact that a five-piece kitchen tool set (designed for non-stick cookware) is included. This affordable cookware set would make an ideal housewarming gift, wedding present, or birthday gift for a budding home chef.

    The Cook N Home Non-Stick Black Cookware Set is easy to maintain and resists burning and sticking.

    Best of the Best

    Many people buy cheap cookware sets early in their adult lives only to find themselves replacing each piece over and over again. Why not get it right the first time? All of our top cookware contenders will get the job done, but only one carries the well-respected name of All-Clad. The All-Clad Stainless Steel Cookware Set performs equally well on gas, electric, glass top, and magnetic induction stove tops. It is safe for the oven, broiler, and dishwasher, too. When it comes to professional-grade kitchen cookware available for the consumer market, our Best of the Best selection – the All-Clad Stainless Steel Tri-Ply Bonded Cookware Set – simply cannot be beat!

    Other cookware sets may feature heavy layers of aluminum or stainless steel, but the All-Clad takes the process all the way with its "Tri-Bonding" technology. Essentially, an aluminum core is sandwiched between two layers stainless steel, adding up to three layers and making this cookware ideal for all stove top types. (Aluminum by itself is great for creating steady heat in a short time, but it is not always the best cooking surface for foods under high heat. Stainless steel by itself is a great heat conductor that requires little maintenance, but it can be expensive and prone to heat damage. All-Clad's three-fold approach is the best!)

    The All-Clad Stainless Steel Cookware Set looks gorgeous and performs like a dream. If you're in a position to consider an investment in upscale kitchen cookware, look no further than the All-Clad Stainless Steel Cookware Set!

    Best of the Best
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    The All-Clad 401488R Stainless Steel Cookware Set performs equally well on gas, electric, glass top, and magnetic induction stove tops.

    Best Bang for your Buck

    Among our top five contenders, one cookware set stands out for its tri-ply construction, cool grip covers, and affordable price point. That contender is the Cuisinart Multiclad Pro Stainless Steel 12-Piece Cookware Set. At a price of just $222, it's definitely the Best Bang for Your Buck!

    The Cuisinart Cookware Set is composed of an aluminum core, which is one of the best metals for fast and even heating. Tapered rims prevent dripping that can make other cookware sets a challenge to use. We like the grooved design on the bottom of each pot and pan; flat-bottomed cookware tends to slip and slide on burners and glass-covered surfaces. Instead of purchasing each of these cooking vessels separately, buyers should consider making one modest investment: the Cuisinart Multiclad Pro Stainless Steel 12-Piece Cookware Set. It's ready to go right out of the box, and it's an incredible bargain!

    Best Bang for your Buck
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    For a modest investment, Cuisinart cookware owners get a 12-piece, stainless steel set of pots and pans that rival many professional-grade appliances.
    • Michael
      Michael
      Creative Lead
    • Melissa
      Melissa
      Editor
    • Jasmin
      Jasmin
      Operations
    • Jimi
      Jimi
      Product Analyst
    • Ben
      Ben
      COO