Have you ever purchased that “perfect” cookware set; You know, the one advertised as “no-stick, no-burn, oil free” only to find out that those qualities only last for a very limited time?
Maybe the non-stick coating starts peeling off, even though you used only rubber spatulas and spoons. The scrambled eggs are sticking and taking forever to soak off.
The frustration is real and your time is valuable.
Cookware…you cannot live without it (unless you’re a college student, then all you need is a bowl, plastic dinnerware, and a microwave, but for the rest of us, the pursuit of the best cookware seems to be never ending).
Do we use coated or non-coated, anodized or stainless steel? Will the “pretty” set work as well and last as long as the “plain”?
Before we look at the cookware itself, let’s take a look at the three different types of metal used and their unique features.
- Anodized Aluminum – this is aluminum that is put through a chemical process to harden the aluminum, creating a non-stick, scratch-resistant coating on the surface. It is also rust and corrosion resistant.
- Stainless Steel – this is an alloy composition of different metals which contain chromium and nickel. This alloy promotes an even heating and resists leaching of harmful chemicals/metals.
- Aluminum – This material is lightweight and also conducts heat evenly. Aluminum reacts to acidic ingredients and is coated with a non-stick coating to prevent leaching of harmful chemicals.
Best Overall Cookware Sets
Although the field is crowded, when you factor in durability, performance, and price these sets stand out as the best cookware:
This is an extremely light, hard anodized aluminum cookware set. If you are a senior citizen looking for an easier to use alternative to stainless steel or iron pots and pans, this would be a great option.
The T-fal E765SC heats evenly and quickly, requiring only medium heat settings. The heat indicator in the center of the will turn red when optimum heat levels are reached. The handles are an easy-grip, riveted rubber and are actually oven safe. That’s right! You can move the pans from stovetop to oven!
This set is oven safe up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. The pans are dishwasher safe and extremely easy to clean. Even baked on ingredients will wipe right out!
There are twelve pieces in the set: 2 fry pans, 8 and 10 inches; 1-qt, 2-qt, and 3-qt saucepans with lids and a 5 quart Dutch oven with lid. The set also include a plastic solid spoon and slotted spatula.
Some buyers reported that their set was shipped in unmarked box and appeared to be returns. Also reported was the exterior surface scratching easily and even washing off in the dishwasher. There were complaints that the cookware did not sit flat on their flat-top stove tops. The red heat indicator is not always accurate so be sure and check before adding food.
this set is lightweight, easy to use, and consistently non-stick.
Cuisinart is a well-known maker of top-quality kitchen supplies and with superior customer ratings, it seems that this cookware set lives up to their high standards. They are functional and stylish with a tri-ply construction: aluminum sandwiched between layers of stainless steel. The aluminum ensures an even heat distribution while the stainless steel creates a non-stick surface. The set is all metal and can be used in the oven with temperatures up to 500 degrees and even under the broiler.
The pans have tapered lips for drip-free pouring (love this!). The lids are tight-fitting which seals in flavor and nutrients and the stainless steel surface does not react with food or alter the taste. This makes it perfect for sautéing, frying, and simmering.
The set consists of two saucepans, a 1 1/2-qt and 3-qt with lids; an 8-qt stock pan with lid, and a 10-inch skillet and comes with a limited lifetime warranty.
Stains can occur on the surface but are removable with soap, water, and a plastic scrub sponge. There are some mirror-finish areas that will appear scratched if Bon Ami or Bartender’s friend is used. The pans heat quickly and overheating can cause the food to stick or burn so the user needs to watch closely when pre-heating.
These pans aid in predictable cooking. They are quickly and evenly heated. They are versatile and can be used in the oven as well as on the stove top.
Number three on our list is Rachel Ray’s aluminum cookware set. Who doesn’t love Rachel Ray? When we think of Rachel, we think of fun, efficient, and yummy food! Her cookware embodies the fun for sure! It is PFOA-free non-stick coated aluminum with colorful ceramic exteriors to match any kitchen décor. The aluminum cooking surface will heat evenly while the non-stick coating makes for an easy cleanup.
This set has 12 pieces: 1 and 3 qt covered saucepans; 8 ½-inch and 10-inch skillets; 6-qt covered stockpot and a 3-qt covered sauté pan. It also has a slotted turner and spoon. It comes with a limited lifetime warranty.
There are three primary concerns that show up repeatedly in the reviews. The first is that several cooks have experienced shattering lids while in use. This could lead to serious injuries. Second, like most non-stick coating, it tends to peel and flake over time. Lastly, the ceramic coating stains easily and fades quickly. Also, dishwasher use is not recommended for this set.
This is an attractive set and if you are looking for something to match your kitchen colors and not use for heavy-duty food prep, this set might work for you. It is a great set for someone moving out on their own for the first time.
4. GreenLife CW0004970 Soft Grip Nonstick 14-Piece Cookware Set
GreenLife set offers a safe, non-toxic cookware set. The pot and pans are made of aluminum and coated with a non-stick ceramic. The handles are a heat resistant rubber. These pans can be used on any type of stovetop heating surface (gas, halogen, electric) except for inductive heating. The coating is non-stick Thermolon and is manufactured without PFAS, PFOA, lead and Cadmium. This guarantees that no toxic fumes will be released, even if the cookware is overheated.
The set consists of 7-in and 9 1/2-in open-fry skillet; 1-qt and 2-qt covered saucepan; 2 1/2-qt covered sauté pan; 5-qt covered stockpot and 4 cooking utensils. Greenlife will only cover manufacturer defects with an undisclosed warranty period.
The ceramic tends to chip easily and the non-stick coating does not work for long. Usually within the first months, the customers complain of food beginning to stick and burning. The other complaint is that the handles burned no matter how low the temperature of the heat source.
The reviews were moderate. If the product is handled gently, washed by hand, and not overheated, it will last for awhile. The best feature is the safe-health ceramic coating.
The Calphalon set is practical and attractive. The anodized aluminum transfers an even heat and the non-stick coating makes for easy cleanup. With the stainless steel handles, the cookware can be transferred from stovetop to oven. The cookware cannot be used on induction-type heat.
The set consists of 8 and 10-inch omelet pans, 1 and 2-qt covered saucepans, and a 6-qt covered stockpot. It comes with a 10-year limited warranty.
The cookware cannot be washed in the dishwasher. There were several complaints of the exterior color fading when not washed by hand. The warranty is voided if washed in a dishwasher.
This is a very satisfactory set. Reviews show that it cleans easily and cooks well. Both experienced and new cooks love this set.
Cookware Material Comparison
Here is a good YouTube video that explains more about the types of cookware available:
Best Cast Iron Cookware Sets
In the European Middle Ages, at a time when open fires whether in pits or fireplaces were the only way to cook food, homemakers and hired cooks were ecstatic about the latest cooking utensils made of cast iron.
Unlike the other options – copper and clay pots, Cast Iron cookware allowed cooks to put the pot directly over the fire. As a result, cast iron cookware was the most treasured possession for frontiersmen and pioneers hiking their way across North America.
Cooking (for the average home) continued to be done over open flames until the mass production of home products (after the end of the civil war and generally around the 1890s in the U.S.) made wood, gas and eventually electric stoves affordable for most households.
Today, induction stoves are becoming the preferred method of cooking but you cannot use just any pot or pan because not all types will transfer the heat correctly. Cast Iron cookware is one of the few that is recommended. We have listed the top five best cast iron cookware sets.
Wow! is about the only thing that can be said about this moderately priced cast iron set. It is the only set that includes the most useful sized skillet – 12” – a saucepot large enough to cook vegetables and a 20” x 9” reversible skillet – for pancakes on one side and steaks on the other – plus lids that fit all the pans.
You probably don’t recognize this manufacturer’s name but their products have been around for more than a hundred years. They started into cast iron cookware in the early part of the 20th Century after their number one best seller, the turkey lacer underwrote their financial success.
The skillet set is on the pricier side of cast iron but the raves from customer reviews suggest that the quality is so much more superior to other cookware that it is still a bargain.
Heuck is based in Indiana which means that reaching the company for any questions is especially easy.
Lodge, the only American manufacturer of cast iron cookware left and it offers a complete cooking sets of cast iron cookware. This set includes the most popular items for camping and kitchens with two skillets, a Dutch oven and a griddle.
Lodge has the best reputation among all cast iron utensil makers in the world and the best customer service as well. The company provides simple, easy to follow instructions for how to care and maintenance.
Whether you are an outdoorsman or a home cook, a really deep skillet is hard to find. Stansport’s set includes what they call a “Chicken Fryer” and any Southern cook knows exactly what that is!
Even though the finish of this cookware is not as meticulous as the Lodge products, they do cook just as well.
Before there were deep fryers for home use, making deep fried fish or chicken was done on the stove top. The advantage of using a cast iron skillet for deep frying is that you can use real lard or vegetable shortenings instead of oils if you choose. The second advantage is being able to use this cookware on a grill or open fire in case of an emergency.
In spite of the fact that the company does pre-season the pans, those who have purchased this set do recommend seasoning it well before using it.
5. Outdoor Gourmet 5-Piece Cast Iron Cookware Set
Ranking right up there with Lodge and Stansport, Outdoor Gourmet’s set is on the lower end of cast iron pricing. The Dutch Oven that is included in this set has feet on the bottom which could make it difficult to set on an outdoor grill but works fine if you set it down over ashes or coal.
The pour spouts on the skillets are not as nice as they are on the Stansport so they are really more decorative than functional.
What to Consider When Buying Cast Iron Cookware
The color of the cast iron should be a dull black. If you find some cookware that are shiny black or light black, the quality of the iron is diminished by an alloy and often means that it will require constant seasoning with each use, more susceptible to rust and will heat less evenly.
Some manufacturers out of China paint their products with a lead-based black paint that could affect the food.
Reasons To Cook With Cast Iron Cookware
This video talks about some reasons why it is good to cook with cast iron:
The Best Induction Cookware Sets
At least twice a month, ads for portable induction hotplates show up on late night television and when the holidays start creeping closer, these ads will turn into infomercials only to show you the magic of induction cooking: you can place your hand directly on the burner and not get burned.
Oh! Yes, those are the least costly method of testing out induction stoves.
The reason that your hand will not get burned is the same reason that your aluminum, glass and copper pans are useless on this type of heating element: none of these are magnetic.
Induction cooking depends on the magnetic field in order to transfer heat from the burner to the pot. Therefore, you must use cookware that is magnetic.
Here are the best induction cookware sets on the market:
For those who love the bling of shiny stainless steel and are not into weight lifting required of cast iron no matter how attractive, Duxtop offers this heavy duty set for the home chef.
The largest stock pot holds 8 quarts and the largest sauce pan is 2.5 quarts. Manufactured in 3-layers with an outer and inner layer of stainless steel and the middle one in aluminum, this one is light and retains the magnetism of steel. This is also a more moderately priced set for those on a tighter budget.
Circulon is recognized by professional chefs worldwide for its quality products for the home. You may see this type of cookware on the television shopping channels and in top-line retail outlets, such as Macy’s.
This is the cookware set for those replacing their current pots and pans but who have a fully outfitted kitchen. This set is also a great starter set for brides and grooms and college graduates going out on their own.
T-Fal came of age in the cookware industry with the advent of Teflon coating. Teflon coating is significantly better quality and thickness in better quality cookware than the “non-stick” cookware available in the big box stores for discount prices.
T-Fal’s cookware is unique because of the heat indicator that becomes bright red when the pan has reached the ideal cooking temperature.
For induction cooking, this indicator also lets you know that the heat is evenly distributed across the pan.
4. Gourmet Chef 7-Piece Induction Ready Cookware Set
Gourmet Chef’s offering for induction cookware sets is the lowest priced of the best for 2019. Is it the same quality as Circulon or Le Creuset? Of course not. Will it last as long? Probably not.
But, if you only have an induction hotplate (and not a range) and need pans that you can take with you to parties, school meetings and cover dish suppers, that won’t break your heart if they disappear, this is the set for you.
The glass lids and silicon handles are a nice touch, especially while you’re learning to cook with induction heating.
Choosing the Right Induction Cookware Set
We’ve presented you with cookware sets for every pocketbook size. If you are only going to use a set for parties where you need to make a fresh dish or cover dish events where you want to keep your hot dish hot without fear of children getting burned by touching the hotplate, choose the set that is most able to cover the jobs you want to do.
If you need a new set for everyday use, go get the best set you can afford. Not everything in life has to wait, right?
Pros And Cons Of Induction Cookware
Here is a video that talks about the pros and cons of using induction cookware:
Best Ceramic Cookware Sets
Don’t be led astray by the term, “ceramic cookware”. In many health magazines, you’ll read that cooking with ceramic pots and pans is healthier since the fabrication doesn’t leak processing chemicals into your food.
Then, you go online and find articles warning against using ceramic cookware because the thin ceramic coating may chip away and food is subjected to dangerous metals beneath.
Just to make life interesting, both statements are correct.
Ceramic Cookware is made in one of two ways:
- Aluminum, Stainless Steel, Cast Iron or Nickel based metal coated with a thin layer of ceramic glaze
- Porcelain enameled cookware fuses the base metal with ceramic porcelain, making it part of the base structure throughout the product
The Nano-layering method is known to chip and peel and may include lead-based paint in the glaze. The enameling method does not peel and even if it chips, the porcelain is still there because it is part of the metal.
Le Creuset has long been known in the chef world for its quality products and durability in professional environments. It’s no denying that used ceramic with cast iron accounts for much of the durability of this product.
The 16-pieces includes skillet, saucepan, individual soup ramekins, and Dutch Oven for baking, braising or deep frying on the stove top. While the set may seem to be expensive, if you were to buy the individual pieces, it would cost a lot more.
Equal to the Le Creuset brand, this set made to the quality specifications of the famous chef is almost a bargain price. This is a Stainless Steel set which is very durable yet not too heavy.
The addition of silicone grip handles – the same material chef’s use to pick up hot pans – and the glass lids that allow you to see the cooking process are both nice features.
Silicone handles on all cookware pieces as well as the lids makes this set one of the easiest for cooks who leave their potholders in the living room. The handles can be used in a moderate oven (350 degrees max) only but they are oven rated and dishwasher safe. These are aluminum based pans with a thin ceramic coating.
One small note: you should be aware that aluminum is flimsier than stainless steel, anodized bases or cast iron and will melt if left on burners that are set on high and forgotten.
4. SilverStone 12-Piece, Ceramic Cookware Set
SilverStone is a noted manufacturer for stainless steel and aluminum cookware that has made inroads in the competitive field of cooking utensils over the past 20 years.
Starting as a mom-and-pop operation, this company now sits at the table with the big boys and customers do not hesitate to tell you about their experience with their ceramic coated aluminum cookware.
The glass lids are shatter-resistant which is another nice feature. However, even though it can be put into the dishwasher on occasion, the company recommends that you take the time to hand-wash instead.
If you have ever used the Italian maker’s cookware, you may be drawn to this particular set. Even though the overall rating is very high among verified buyers, there are some negative reports that you may wish to consider.
Generally, Bialetti produces high-quality cookware and distributes some products in many venues – including grocery stores. This particular set uses a fused aluminum with another non-specified material to create the base and thus, the company recommends cooking on low or medium heat only.
Ceramic Cookware Pros And Cons
If you can afford a porcelain enamel set, by all means choose one that can be used on any cooking surface, including induction, so that you get the most use out of it even if you get a new stove. The only one in the list above that would fit that criteria is the first one.
Choosing cookware is a very personal decision. Evaluate your needs. Do you cook a lot? Do you cook for a one or two people or a large family? You may need to choose based on your budget. There are options in each category with prices on the high end, low end, and somewhere in the middle.
Read the reviews. You can tell a lot by what previous purchasers have to say. Look at the composition, the materials used in the set. All products evaluated to promise non-toxic coatings/materials. How will they hold up to the amount and type of use? Do you have time to hand wash or do you need to be able to place your cookware in the dishwasher? Warranties are important as well. You want to purchase products from companies who support the quality of their products.