The 10 Best Cookware Sets

Updated June 03, 2017 by Brett Dvoretz

10 Best Cookware Sets
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 41 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Professional chefs and casual cooks alike will find the perfect pots and pans for their next culinary creation from our selection of cookware sets. We've included everything from affordable, everyday options to highly durable sets that could 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. Simply Calphalon

The Simply Calphalon includes 10 pieces, each with double-coated nonstick interiors and aluminum construction for producing even heat across their bottoms and up their sides. However, cleaning this set can take a while, as they aren't dishwasher safe.
  • budget-friendly price point
  • looks more expensive than it is
  • only oven safe to 400 degrees
Brand Calphalon
Model SA10H
Weight 20.5 pounds
Rating 3.5 / 5.0

9. Rachael Ray Nonstick

The Rachael Ray Nonstick set offers hard-anodized construction that provides even heat and reduces hot spots that would otherwise cook your food unevenly or even burn it. While this is a good starter set, it doesn't offer professional-grade durability.
  • lightweight and modern design
  • attractive bright orange accents
  • the rubber handles feel cheap
Brand Rachael Ray
Model 87375
Weight 17 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

8. Cuisinart MCP-12N

The Cuisinart MCP-12N is a pretty good option for the casual chef, as each piece boasts a brushed stainless steel exterior and steel interior. They also feature tapered rims for drip-free pouring, helping you to keep a clean kitchen when cooking.
  • high heat conductivity
  • available as a 7 or 12-piece set
  • pots tend to discolor over time
Brand Cuisinart
Model MCP-12N
Weight 23.1 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

7. Duxtop Professional

The Duxtop Professional is constructed from 18/10 commercial-grade stainless steel, with ergonomically-designed riveted handles and an anti-slip satin finish for comfort and ease of use. It is also backed by a lifetime warranty to provide you peace of mind.
  • freezer safe for food storage
  • comes with cooking utensils
  • lid handles can get hot
Brand Secura
Model SSIB-17
Weight 35.4 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

6. Lagostina Q554SA64 Martellata

It's hard to decide whether the Lagostina Q554SA64 Martellata looks better or cooks better with its hammered copper exteriors and thick heat-radiating aluminum cores. They produce even heat distribution and retain their heat well to help you maintain temperatures.
  • high grade steel cooking surfaces
  • lids produce a tight seal
  • flared edges reduce dripping
Brand Lagostina
Model 8400001311
Weight 25.7 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

5. Anolon Nouvelle

The Anolon Nouvelle set is oven safe for baking or broiling. Each piece has a full layer of copper sandwiched between 2 layers of aluminum and protected by an induction-capable stainless steel encapsulator for added durability and efficiency.
  • restaurant quality cookware
  • safe for use with metal utensils
  • handles feel very sturdy
Brand Anolon
Model 82835
Weight 27.9 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

4. Calphalon Contemporary

The Calphalon Contemporary set delivers heavy-gauge aluminum construction, with its 11 hard-anodized pieces that are both durable and dishwasher safe. Their nonstick surfaces allow for healthier cooking and efficient performance time after time.
  • handles are brushed stainless steel
  • easy to clean after use
  • ideal for everyday cooking
Brand Calphalon
Model 1876787
Weight 31.8 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

3. Cuisinart CTP-11AM

All of the pieces of the Cuisinart CTP-11AM have a fast heating copper exterior with a durable stainless steel interior that is ideal for hard searing food. It features triple ply construction that ensures even heat distribution, so you get a proper cook every time.
  • offers precise temperature control
  • handles stay cool on the stove
  • oven safe to 500 degrees
Brand Cuisinart
Model CTP-11AM
Weight 25.2 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

2. Circulon Symmetry

The Circulon Symmetrycomes with several different sized saucepans, an 8-quart stockpot, and French skillets, all with stainless steel bases that function on most stovetops. They all feature silicone and cast stainless steel handles that are oven safe and nonslip.
  • compatible with induction cooktops
  • tempered glass rims fit well
  • great value for the price
Brand Circulon
Model 87376
Weight 24.6 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

1. All-Clad 401488R

Made by one of the trusted names in cookware, the All-Clad 401488R 10-piece set features a premium 3-ply construction that is durable, stick resistant, and designed to distribute heat evenly on almost any type of cooking surface.
  • aluminum cores for rapid heating
  • riveted stay-cool steel handles
  • cookware is oven safe
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.

Non-stick 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 non-stick 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 June 03, 2017 by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as behind the computer screen, Brett can either be found hacking furiously away at the keyboard or perhaps enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He hopes to one day become a modern day renaissance man.

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