Features 3-layer construction with a polished cooking surface. Has tight-fitting lids. Twelve-piece set provides options for any cooking situation. All-metal construction works on induction cooktops and is oven-safe to 550 degrees F.
Food can stick to stainless steel if the cookware is not heated correctly.
Features enhanced PFOA-free nonstick cooking surfaces and aluminum and hard-enamel porcelain exteriors. Also has rubberized stainless steel handles and shatter-resistant glass lids.
Can be difficult to clean food from the rivets on the inside of the pans.
Complete 17-piece hard anodized aluminum set. Interior made from hard titanium-reinforced material that is nonstick and scratch-resistant. Inner thermo indicator circle that turns red when fully heated. Lids equipped with heat-resistant handles and vents.
Unsuitable for induction stovetops. Some pans warp after consistent use.
Pieces are ideal for all stovetop types. Riveted, tri-ply all-metal construction is truly top-of-the-line. Made of stainless steel and induction-compatible. Oven-safe and broiler-safe to over 600 degrees F.
Expensive. Food sticks if improperly heated. Handles can get hot.
Nonstick surface is made of a nontoxic ceramic coating. An aesthetically appealing cookware set. Affordable price point. Handles are silicone and heat-resistant. Safe for cooking up to 500 degrees F.
Special care is required to get the most out of the nonstick surface.
After going through an intensive research process to narrow down our short list of top products in this space, we tested Cuisinart Multiclad Pro Stainless Steel 12-piece set to be sure that it’s worthy of our recommendation. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter and test to verify manufacturer claims.
A quality set of pots and pans can improve the quality of your cooking and give you an easier time in the kitchen.
Often, purchasing a cookware set is cheaper than buying the pieces individually. But there are several factors to take into account when looking for the best cookware set for your kitchen.
Common cookware set materials include copper, aluminum, cast iron, and stainless steel. Each material offers different advantages and impacts the price of the set.
When you shop, you should have an idea of which pieces you will need, as there is no default when it comes to cookware sets.
If you purchase a well-constructed set and treat your tools well, a cookware set should last you for several years, so it’s important to find one that meets your cooking needs.
Four common metals are used to make cookware: copper, aluminum, cast iron, and stainless steel.
Each type of metal has its pros and cons.
Copper provides excellent heat conductivity for quick, even heating. It’s sensitive to changes in the flame temperature, too. This makes it the preferred cooking material of many professional chefs. Copper also cools quickly when you're done cooking.
Copper is also beautiful. It looks attractive in the kitchen. The downside of copper cookware is its high price, need for polishing, and tendency to react to acidic foods.
Furthermore, copper also is prone to scratching and discoloration. For best results, hand washing may be required.
Aluminum is an excellent conductor of heat. That said, it’s soft and easily scratches or dents.
Aluminum also reacts with acidic foods, potentially leaching into your food. To prevent these problems, aluminum cookware is usually anodized. This creates a scratch-resistant surface that resists leaching.
Commonly, aluminum cookware has a nonstick coating, making cleanup a breeze. Some pieces have aluminum cores for even heat distribution.
Anodized aluminum pots and pans are easy to find at bargain prices. Generally, however, a super-low price corresponds with low quality.
Although cast iron is a poor conductor of heat, once it does heat up, it stays hot for a long time due to its mass. It is very durable, can withstand extremely high heat, and is relatively inexpensive.
However, cast iron is heavy. It rust or pit, and it reacts with acidic foods. Periodically applying a thin coating of oil (called seasoning) to cast iron helps prevent those problems and creates a somewhat nonstick surface on the cookware.
You’ll sometimes find cast iron cookware with an enameled surface. This eliminates the need for seasoning with oil. Nevertheless, these are still very heavy pots and pans. The good news is that the best cast iron cookware sets can last a lifetime and beyond.
Some of the top cookware sets are made of thick stainless steel, which looks beautiful and is a staple of many restaurant kitchens.
Advantages of stainless steel include resistance to scratching, denting, and discoloration. And stainless steel pots and pans are dishwasher safe.
Furthermore, stainless steel does not react with foods. However, it is a poor conductor of heat. This necessitates a core of aluminum or copper in the cookware, though aluminum only has 60% of copper's conductive power.
High-quality stainless steel pans and pots have a core extending over the entire pan. Low-quality stainless cookware just has an aluminum or copper bottom.
The best stainless steel cookware sets generally cost more than anodized aluminum pots and pans, but they are very versatile and suitable for just about any type of cooking the average home chef wants to try.
Once you have determined which metal you want, it’s time to determine how large a set of cookware you need.
While you could buy pots and pans separately, it usually makes more sense to buy a set. It’s also easier and faster to select an entire set.
But don’t hurry into your decision, and don’t make the mistake of assuming that a bigger set is always better. Most people don’t relish the idea of filling their cupboards with cookware they never use.
If you’re an infrequent or casual cook, a set containing just the basics would probably cover your needs. If you enjoy cooking and spend lots of time in the kitchen, however, a larger set with a few specialty items would likely serve you well. And if there are specific pieces of cookware you need beyond that, you could purchase those pieces individually.
A basic cookware set that covers most cooking needs includes the following.
Some additional pieces that are useful but not essential include the following.
Regardless of how often you cook or your culinary skill level, there’s a cookware set to fit your needs and budget.
Although you can find sets for $100 or less, durability and longevity are hit-or-miss. Spend a little more, say $130 to $300, and you are likely to find a basic set that meets your needs.
Mid-level sets fall into the $300 to $600 range.
At price points of $600 and above, comprehensive sets made of superior materials are available. Keep in mind that you’ll find different materials at all price points, but premium sets with outstanding workmanship and long warranties tend to fall in the higher price range.
A. Even if you aren’t an avid home cook, you’ll want to make sure you choose a pots and pans set that includes the components you’ll need to whip up your favorite recipes. Additionally, before you invest in a set with just a few pieces, you should take into consideration that your cooking needs may change in the near future. Typically, a 10-piece cookware set with standard pots, pans, and a few lids is a sound option.
A. Yes, but don’t let this stop you from choosing a nonstick set that you suspect has Teflon cook surfaces. PFOA, the potentially toxic chemical that was once a key chemical in the manufacturing of Teflon, has not been used since 2013.
A. When a set is described as ceramic nonstick cookware, the term is referring to the coating which is applied over a base metal such as aluminum. Ceramic coatings are durable, very stick-resistant, and free of metals and harmful chemicals. The best ceramic cookware sets will hold up to years of use with little to no peeling or chipping of the coating.
A. The best nonstick cookware sets hold up well to use when cared for properly. To keep your stick-resistant coatings on pots and pans from developing scratches, do not use metal utensils when cooking. Avoid abrasive cleanses and harsh scrubbers during cleanup.