The 10 Best Cookware Sets

Updated December 11, 2017 by Christopher Thomas

10 Best Cookware Sets
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 43 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. If you want to boil water or fry an egg, first you need a pot or pan. Professional chefs and casual cooks alike will find the perfect vessels for their next culinary creation from our selection of cookware sets. We've included everything from affordable, everyday options to highly durable pieces that can handle the demands of a busy kitchen. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best cookware set on Amazon.

10. Rachael Ray Anodized II

The Rachael Ray Anodized II is made of aircraft-grade aluminum and coated with a thin nonstick layer. While this is a good starter set, it doesn't offer professional-grade durability, and it shouldn't be used in an oven above 350 degrees.
  • bright and easily-gripped handles
  • slide around the stove too easily
  • finish is prone to scratches
Brand Rachael Ray
Model 87375
Weight 17 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

9. Calphalon Classic

The Calphalon Classic includes 6 pots and pans, each with double-coated nonstick interiors. They use a one-piece aluminum construction as well as metal handles designed to stay cool during stovetop use. This set must be cleaned by hand, though, using a soft rag.
  • budget-friendly price
  • less durable than most options
  • oven-safe to 450 degrees
Brand Calphalon
Model 1943338
Weight 21.1 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

8. Cuisinart MCP-12N

The Cuisinart MCP-12N utilizes the common three-ply layout of steel and aluminum for maximum conductivity and long-lasting durability. Even though the handles are solid metal, they won't get too hot even when sautéing, and they cool off quickly out of the oven.
  • works well in hot ovens and broilers
  • includes steamer insert
  • can be very tough to scrub clean
Brand Cuisinart
Model MCP-12N
Weight 23.1 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

7. Circulon Symmetry

The Circulon Symmetry is particularly useful thanks to its glass lids, which are protected by a metal rim and fitted to the largest pots. One of the configurations offered allows you to forgo a couple of pans in favor of two stick-resistant baking sheets.
  • works with all types of ranges
  • handles made of high-temp silicone
  • dupont autograph 2 surfaces
Brand Circulon
Model 87376
Weight 24.6 pounds
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

6. Duxtop Professional

The Duxtop Professional is an extensive set comprised of two frying pans, three saucepans, and two stockpots. The largest pot is fitted with a strainer insert for cooking a family's worth of pasta, and there's a steamer basket for healthy veggie preparation.
  • fully dishwasher safe
  • ideal for induction burners
  • includes three stainless utensils
Brand Secura
Model SSIB-17
Weight 35.4 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

5. Anolon Nouvelle

The high-end Anolon Nouvelle is the perfect complement to sleek, modern kitchen appliances. The steel-clad bases are great for magnetic induction or glass-top ranges, and the nonstick compound is extremely resistant to scratches.
  • aluminum-wrapped copper bottoms
  • coating is safer than teflon
  • can't go in the dishwasher
Brand Anolon
Model 82835
Weight 27.9 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

4. Lagostina Martellata

You get what you pay for with the Lagostina Martellata, which features attractive, hammered copper on the outside for the most even heating possible. Topped off by two more layers of durable metal, this beautiful set should last a very long while.
  • scratch-resistant cooking surfaces
  • solid stainless-steel lids
  • exteriors need maintenance over time
Brand Lagostina
Model 8400001311
Weight 25.7 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

3. Copper Tri-Ply

The Copper Tri-Ply is one of many great offerings from Cuisinart. Built of the most conductive materials in cooking, it provides superior heat distribution and control. It's available in a set of seven or eleven pieces, some of which are fully-stainless lids.
  • five-qt pan is amazing for braising
  • larger set includes a steamer insert
  • safe for use in any home oven
Brand Cuisinart
Model CTP-11AM
Weight 25.2 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

2. T-fal Ultimate

The T-fal Ultimate is an excellent way to stock your kitchen at a reasonable price. Its innovative, proprietary coating keeps food from sticking and stands up to heavy use with all types of utensils. There's even one tiny pan just for frying a single egg.
  • made from solid aluminum
  • has a highly useful 10-inch griddle
  • heat indicator built into each pan
Brand T-fal
Model 2100093984
Weight 29.3 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

1. All-Clad Stainless Steel

It's common to see All-Clad Stainless Steel cookware in use at busy restaurants everywhere. It's capable of withstanding incredible abuse and high temperature, and the geometry is perfect for the classic sauté motion. This option will outlive most chefs.
  • transfers heat very efficiently
  • will not ever break or warp
  • comes in a 10 or 14-piece set
Brand All-Clad
Model 8400000962
Weight 30.1 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

How Bonded Metal Changed the Cooking World

It all started with the Rolls Royce of cookware, All-Clad. To this day, it's still an aspirational brand. It's pricey, sure, but if you take good care of it, it will last a lifetime. Generally considered America's finest cookware, and used by chefs around the world, it's also the first company to make cookware from bonded metals.

Its inventor, John Ulam, was a brilliant metallurgist in mid-century Pennsylvania, and he had a company that made bonded metals for various applications other than cooking. The U.S. government even entrusted his company, Clad Metals, with making dimes, quarters, and half-dollars, and with their conversion from silver to the bonded layers of metals we see in today's coins.

Of his most commercially successful 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 to exploit the best properties of each of the metals.

In yet another stroke of genius from a man who had many, Ulam realized that the properties of bonded metals could revolutionize cookware: Aluminum and copper react with food in a way that can change the way foods taste, and they conduct heat very well. Stainless steel does not react with food, but it does not conduct heat nearly as efficiently. 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.

A Guide to the Right Pots and Pans for You

It's a tough decision when you're talking about plunking down a pile of dough on a set of pots and pans. It's personal. If you cook a lot, it's even an intimate decision - one that you probably will have to live with for a long time. It's vital, then, that you understand the differences between the various cookware options and how they'll affect your food.

If you've been reading carefully, you already know that stainless is a poor heat conductor on its own. It will not give consistent heat distribution. Of course, that's why the better option is bonded metal, using stainless on the inside and outside, and aluminum or copper sandwiched in between. A minimum of three layers will give you the best heat distribution with no chemical reaction with food.

The true thoroughbred of the kitchen, copper cookware is gorgeous, and part of the appeal of copper cookware is, obviously, its great beauty. But if you're cooking acidic foods - foods with grains, sugar, dairy - they might pick up a metallic taste.

Aluminum conducts heat like a champ. It's lightweight and affordable, but unfortunately, it's highly reactive. If you cook with just aluminum, you risk discolored pots and food, as well as a metallic taste. Plus, the metal is soft, so it dings pretty easily. Anodized aluminum is harder, and preferable in cookware.

Nonstick cookware tends to be very non-reactive, and food slides right out of the pan. The surface will chip and scratch over time, however, no matter how careful you are. And PTFE, the most common nonstick material, contains PFCs, which scientists say might cause liver damage, cancer, developmental problems, and possibly early menopause.

We can't ignore cast iron in the cookware materials conversation, although a whole set of the stuff would be unwieldy and ultra-heavy, at best. Nonetheless, a home chef would have one or two of these hanging around the kitchen, no matter what the "set" is made of. Cast iron is relatively cheap, incredibly durable, and, if properly seasoned, nonstick. But, like its copper and aluminum cousins, cast iron is reactive with acidic food, though some companies get around this by using an enamel coating.

How to Clean Stainless Steel Pots and Pans

Let's fess up here: We all want that stainless steel kitchen. But only if it will gleam like new forever. Magically. Effortlessly. Without scrubbing and scratches. We don't want to invest without a guarantee that the pricey pots will sparkle and shine on demand.

Here's a little secret: It's not as hard to keep stainless steel looking good as some would like you to think. You just have to be attentive.

So, the more industrial end of the cleaning spectrum uses products like Bar Keeper's Friend, which uses oxalic acid as its main ingredient. (Sounds scary, but it comes from the flowering wood sorrel). Simply make a paste of the powder with a little water, rub it in the pot, let it sit. Or you can use it like a cleanser, and, with a sponge and a little elbow grease, scrub.

Natural options include boiling water in the pot or pan for about 20 minutes, adding salt once the water starts boiling. Allow it to set for four hours. Then scrub.

Or, use baking soda and vinegar, or even lemon juice, which you can mix with water and boil if you like, and let the chemical reaction do all the work for you.

Some people say boiling tomato juice will remove particularly bad stains. But why bother, what with the other less expensive options?

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Last updated on December 11, 2017 by Christopher Thomas

A traveling chef, musician, and student of the English language, Chris can be found promoting facts and perfect copy around the globe, from dense urban centers to remote mountaintops. In his free time he revels in dispelling pseudoscience, while at night he dreams of modern technology, world peace, and the Oxford comma.

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