Made of hard anodized aluminum that's built to last. Delivers even heat over PFOA-free, nonstick surfaces. Contains 17 pieces that will likely be the last cookware set you will ever need to buy.
More costly than other sets we reviewed, and use in the oven and dishwasher is not recommended.
Provides similar features as costlier models at a budget price – safe, PFOA-free nonstick surfaces, tempered glass lids, and solid aluminum design.
Consumers found that the surfaces scratch easily, but this is mostly avoidable by using nylon utensils when cooking.
A sleek, attractive stainless steel set with 12 pieces. Handles are riveted for lasting use.
Though they have raised interior surfaces for improved food release, they aren't non-stick.
A large 18-piece set that is available in red and black exteriors. Comes with an square griddle pan.
The handles feel flimsy, and the non-stick surfaces are not PFOA free. Cooking with high heat is not recommended.
For serious cooks, a high-quality sauté or sauce pan is a prized possession. Even better — a complete set of them. A matching set of cookware will appeal to both the new cook wanting to delve into cooking show or online video inspirations and the seasoned chef seeking to replace their ragged pots and pans with a collection that is visually appealing and able to meet their culinary demands. With the wide variety of cookware sets on the market, cooks can pick and choose which pieces they want in their collection and how much they want to spend.
T-fal is one of the leaders in cookware. The company got its start in France in 1956 as Tefal, a mashup of Teflon and aluminum, and it continues to be a popular source of high-quality cookware the world over.
This guide examines some of the standout cookware collections offered by T-fal. Along the way, we address some of the features and other considerations — including price — you will need to confront when shopping for a T-fal cookware set.
Cookware can be constructed from a number of different kinds of metal, each with its own unique characteristics and pluses/minuses. Some types of cookware include:
Stainless steel: This is the most common material used in cookware. It’s not highly expensive, it doesn’t react with foods like other metals do, and it’s an effective all-around cookware material. It is not a particularly effective heat conductor, which is why it’s often paired with other metals.
Aluminum: An efficient heat conductor, aluminum is also inexpensive. It is a soft metal, however, so it can be easily scratched or dented. It can also react with foods. Hard-anodized aluminum is a type of aluminum that largely fixes these negatives, but at a higher cost.
Copper: The choice of professional chefs due to its superior heat induction, copper has a number of downsides, including its high cost, upkeep (you will need to work at it to maintain its appearance), and the fact that it reacts with certain foods.
Clad: Clad cookware features multiple layers of different metals, so you end up with all the advantages of several with few of the negatives. The majority of these will feature a “sandwich” of aluminum or copper encased in stainless steel. The result is cookware that heats up quickly and doesn’t react poorly with foods, all at a moderate cost.
The actual pieces you receive with your T-fal cookware set (usually between 10 to 20 pieces) will vary depending on what you buy, but the majority of sets will contain the following.
Fry pans/sauté pans: These will usually be nonstick, and you will receive two to three different pan sizes.
Sauce pans: These may be nonstick, and you should again receive two to three different sizes. All should have lids.
Dutch oven: This is a larger pot that you can use to cook everything from a chicken to pasta. It should include a lid and may be nonstick.
Griddle: Generally included in a set, this flat pan is typically nonstick and is designed to cook items like pancakes.
Other pieces can vary greatly and include everything from steamer inserts to egg pans. Also included may be accessories such as spatulas, spoons, or forks. Some sets include a recipe collection along with a user manual.
How heavy are the various pieces?
Weight can be an issue with some cookware sets. A heavy pot on its own usually won’t be too cumbersome, but add the weight of the food being cooked, and a few pounds one way or another can make a big difference. Be sure you’re comfortable with the weight and balance of all the pieces. If you are shopping online, the product specs should provide some information on this.
How easy is cleanup?
Are all elements of the cookware set dishwasher safe, or do some or all need to be washed by hand? Pans with a nonstick surface can be easier to clean than those without.
Does the set have nonstick options?
A pan with a nonstick surface can certainly be easier to cook with, but there are a number of different surfaces we’re talking about when we bring up nonstick, so be sure you know what you’re spending money on.
A nonstick coated surface like Teflon should be free from PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) and other potentially harmful chemicals. Ceramic coatings are another durable way to affix a nonstick surface to a pan. Features like starburst surfaces are designed to resist sticking without the use of a coating, although some find them to be less effective.
Handles can help you to safely move around pots as you’re cooking, but some perform better than others. The handle should be securely fastened to the side of the pan or pot using either rivets (more common) or welds. It should stay cool to the touch when on the stove — a rubberized coating will help in this regard and provide a more comfortable grip. It should include holes or loops so the pan or pot can be hung for storage, and it will ideally be oven-safe.
All saucepans and Dutch ovens should have their own durable lids, and the cookware set receives extra points if the lids also fit the fry and sauté pans. Lids should fit tightly to keep steam and food inside the pan, and a tempered glass construction will allow you to monitor the cooking process without interrupting it by constantly having to lift the lid.
Cookware sets in general can be pricey, but T-fal sets are actually pretty moderate compared to other brands. The majority are in the $60 to $75 range, with others running $100 to $200. More expensive options are usually a result of one of two factors: you receive more pieces at a higher price, or the construction materials are more expensive.
We wanted to include a few other T-fal cookware sets that really stood out for us. The Titanium Advanced Nonstick Cookware Set features 12 pieces that include the T-fal Thermo-Spot heat indicator, which lets you know when the pan is preheated. The inexpensive Excite Nonstick Cookware Set features 14 pieces that are available in a variety of attractive colors including gold, purple, and red. Finally, you will pay up for the Stainless Steel Heavy Gauge Cookware Set, but this 10-piece set is built like a tank. Its heavy-duty design is oven-safe up to 500°F.
High heat is actually harmful to nonstick surfaces. Turning down the heat will not only help prolong the life of your nonstick pans, but it will actually improve the way the pan cooks.
If you have an induction stove, check that any cookware set you are considering will work with it.
Let all cookware cool completely after cooking before trying to clean it. Placing a hot pan in a sink filled with water could warp the metal and permanently damage it.
Check your documentation carefully before using any metal utensils with your cookware set. While some nonstick surfaces claim to be “metal utensil safe,” the majority are not.
Pots with measuring marks on the sides are handy if you adhere closely to recipes while cooking.
Sets can range from 10 to 20 pieces or more, but you should know exactly what you’re buying in terms of these pieces. If you are buying a 20-piece set, be sure that the spatulas and lids aren’t pieces 14 through 20.
When your set first arrives, admire it for several minutes and then wash it thoroughly with a cloth and warm, soapy water.
To keep foods from sticking to stainless steel, heat the pan first, then add the oil and food when it is hot. Take the opposite approach when cooking on a nonstick surface: add oil and food to the pan, then turn on the heat.
Hard-anodized aluminum cookware is constructed from aluminum that has been electrochemically transformed. This leaves the cookware harder than stainless steel, resistant to reacting with foods, and largely nonstick.
If you would like more choices than “polished stainless steel” for your cookware, search for sets that offer finishes in a variety of colors. This is a great way to match your cookware to your kitchen décor.
Q. What potential health risks should I worry about when using cookware sets?
A. Some nonstick coatings contain chemicals such as PFOA, which should be avoided. Metals like aluminum and copper can react with certain ingredients like tomatoes and leach into foods. Ceramic-surfaced pots may also contain trace elements of lead or cadmium. Cooking with stainless steel (or hard-anodized aluminum) and knowing the composition and origin of any pan coatings can cut down on the majority of potential cookware-related health risks.
Q. I’m new to cooking. What should I concentrate on when buying a cookware set?
A. First, take stock of what you like to eat. Try to purchase a set that is going to contain the pans you need (without the ones you don’t). Aim for a low-price stainless steel set that includes utensils to start yourself off right. Bon appétit!
Q. Will my cookware work in the oven?
A. It depends on the cookware set. Some sets are as much at home in the oven or under the broiler as they are on the stove, while others could be damaged or destroyed in the oven. Check your documentation carefully. If your cookware is oven-safe, note the maximum recommended temperature and stay within that range.