Before you can equip your kitchen with this essential, there are a few key things to consider, including your usual cooking routine and level of expertise. Many of the top cookware styles are nonstick, stainless steel, and hard-anodized aluminum, though you’ll also find ceramic and cast iron options, which are ideal for cooking low and slow.
On the other hand, if you consider yourself a pro home chef, you may be ready to invest in something of higher quality that will not only take your cooking game even further, but also be with you for the long haul. Most cookware collections are available to shop online from familiar retailers like Amazon, SUR La Table, and Williams Sonoma.
We browsed thousands of online reviews from real shoppers and found the 10 best cookware sets to add to your kitchen this year. The all-in-one cookware set is also designed with hard-anodized aluminum which creates a hard, smooth surface and essentially makes each piece nonstick.
“This is a very sturdy and well-made set of pots and pans given the low price,” said one reviewer, adding that they’ve “been using them for a while and no scratches or wear is showing up.” It’s important to note, however, that these budget-friendly pieces are not dishwasher safe, so hand washing is a must. With 18 pieces included, this large cookware set has everything the average home cook could possibly need to whip up a good meal, from saucepans to a stockpot to slotted spoons.
Shoppers love these pots and pans for their durability, even heat distribution, and super easy cleanup (they’re all dishwasher-safe!). More than 4,200 Amazon shoppers left a positive rating for this set, with one calling it “the best cookware purchase” they’ve ever made.
This 14-piece set from Total is designed to make cooking easier for beginners: the brand’s signature Thermostat feature indicates when the surface is at the right temperature, which helps create consistent dishes each and every time. Anyone with limited storage space understands the struggle of attempting to strategically place bulky pots and pans into a kitchen cabinet and hoping they don’t come tumbling down next time you open the door.
Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. When you're equipping your kitchen with the best cookware, there are some advantages to buying a complete set.
First, a set can be much less expensive than buying each piece individually, so you’ll save money. When all your cookware is the same, you’ll know how long it takes to heat up and how sensitive it is to temperature changes.
A small frying pan may be perfect for a single person but much less useful for a family. Experienced cooks will love this high-quality set of stainless steel cookware, which includes both a 1.5- and 3-quart saucepan, 8- and 10-inch open skillets, a 3.5-quart sauté pan, an 8-quart stockpot, and a steamer insert.
But so too is its appearance and design, especially if you have a small kitchen and the pots and pans will be on display. This 7-piece cookware set from direct-to-consumer brand Caraway is the perfect blend of both so you don't have to choose between performance and design.
They are oven and dishwasher safe, although hand-washing is recommended to keep them looking their best (most foods will glide off with a little soap and warm water). The aluminum core provides fast, even heating, while the stainless steel exterior makes these pots and pans suitable for induction cook tops.
The lids are shatterproof glass so you can see inside while cooking, and the handles are covered with a non-slip material that stays cool. This set includes four essential pieces that will get used regularly, with no odd pans that will spend their lives hiding in storage.
With a 10.25-inch skillet, a 10.5-inch griddle, and a 10.25-inch grill pan, this set is functional for everyday cooking. Because cast iron is so durable, you can use these pans on the stove, in the oven, under the broiler, on the grill, and even in a campfire.
She also found the price to be “affordable considering the number of pieces, the versatility, and the fact that it can last for generations.” Made from hard-anodized aluminum, the cookware is responsive to heat changes while the stainless steel handles stay cool during cooking.
The included lids are glass, so you can check on the food without releasing the heat, and the handles are generously sized, so they’re easy to grab and hold. While the coating held up for our reviewer during her testing period, she did notice that it was less effective over time.
Final Verdict Donna Carrie is a cookbook author who reviews products and writes roundups for The Spruce Eats. The Spruce Eats commerce editors Kate Gravity and Katherine Louie both own Caraway cookware sets in their small New York apartments.
They find the size of the pans perfect for larger recipes, like a week's worth of pasta sauce or a pot of chili to feed a crowd. Be careful when it comes to stainless steel as it can be made with a variety of materials that may block the magnetic field.
An anodized exterior, which is sometimes found on aluminum cookware, hardens the metal, creates a colored surface, and protects the pans from stains and corrosion. While the effects of FOA at low doses in humans are disputed, there are links to some health concerns.
However, if used properly (including not overheating, not using metal utensils, and not using abrasive cleaners), there shouldn’t be any concern about your old nonstick pans. Or if you're a seasoned cook, you might be looking for higher-quality cookware to replace older pieces that have seen better days, or to upsize pots and pans to fit a growing family.
The most common pieces of cookware are frying or sauté pans for foods like burgers, steaks, and eggs, and saucepans for cooking pasta, steaming vegetables, making mac and cheese, and cooking soups and sauces. Dutch ovens are great for making chili or cooking large quantities of foods that won’t fit in the sauce pot.
Stockpots are used for even larger quantities of food, as well as for making soup stock. Cookware can come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials, and they can come with or without nonstick or decorative coatings.
Whether you’re looking for a pan to sear steaks or a pot to cook jam, there’s a piece of cookware that’s just right for that purpose and a set that will be the perfect fit for your kitchen and your lifestyle. The Spruce / Donna Carrie Material is the first thing to consider when buying cookware since it affects both the price and the performance.
Most cookware is made from some type of metal, with stainless steel, aluminum, and copper being the most common. The Spruce / Donna Carrie Responsive metals gain and lose heat rapidly as you adjust the stove temperature.
It’s also useful for making jam or candy when it’s important to stop the cooking process at a specific temperature. Cast iron retains heat well, which means that it stays hot for a long time, even after the stove is turned off, and it also heats evenly, so you won’t get hot spots above the burners.
Stainless steel and aluminum fall between copper and cast iron in terms of heat retention and responsiveness. Nonstick interior coatings prevent your eggs from sticking and make cleaning easier, while uncoated cookware tends to be better for searing meats and for handling high heat on the stove and in the oven.
While anodizing isn’t technically a coating, it creates a hard outer surface on aluminum cookware that looks attractive and resists stains and corrosion. Coated cast iron is resistant to corrosion and can handle acidic foods with ease.
The Spruce / Donna Carrie When it comes to cookware, size always makes a big difference. In general, wide, shallow pans are best for cooking foods where evaporation is desired.
Tall, narrow pots are best when the goal is to limit the evaporation of liquid, like when you’re cooking pasta. And while large stockpots, woks, and oversized frying pans can be useful, those pieces might not fit in a cabinet.
The Spruce / Donna Carrie Stainless steel cookware is one of the most common types you’ll find, and for good reason. While stainless steel is typically dishwasher safe, you should refer to the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions to be sure.
The Spruce / Donna Carrie Cast iron retains heat well, making it ideal for searing, frying, baking, and braising, and it will keep food warm after cooking is done. Uncoated cast iron cookware needs some special care and cleaning, but it often arrives pre-season, so it can be used right away.
Uncoated cast iron cookware is nearly indestructible, and can usually be used on a stove top, in the oven, on a grill, and perhaps even over a campfire, but it should be washed by hand and may need occasional reseasoning. Some cast-iron cookware has a shiny colored enameled exterior with a rough matte interior that resembles uncoated cast iron but is impervious to acidic foods.
Unfortunately, it’s also reactive to acidic foods and will discolor with use and time, so it requires maintenance to keep it looking shiny. Enameled steel cookware is not as common today as it was in years past, but speckled enamelware can still be found occasionally, particularly in large pots used for water bath canning.
Because ceramic is non-conductive, meaning it reacts slowly to heat and retains it well, it's ideal for slow, steady cooking. Thus, fully ceramic cookware typically comprises roasting pans and casserole dishes that are intended only for oven use.
Completely ceramic cookware are made of either porcelain, earthenware, or stoneware, and they're typically dishwasher-safe. Their aluminum core allows for quick, even heat distribution, while their nonstick exterior also resists scratches and is compatible with all kinds of stove tops (including induction).
Ceramic nonstick pots and pans are generally safe in the dishwasher, but for them to last longer, hand washing is recommended, as well as only using wooden or silicone utensils when cooking with them. All-Clad is one of the high-end cookware brands that consistently manufactures quality cookware, usually featuring clad materials where copper and/or aluminum are sandwiched between layers of stainless steel for the optimum cooking experience.
While All-Clad is known for its high-end cookware, they have several product lines at different price points, so they can be affordable for serious home cooks looking for quality. Among their products, you’ll find nonstick cookware that is metal-utensil safe, so you can keep using your favorite tools.
The Spruce / Donna Carrie The Freeware company has been in existence for well over 100 years, so there’s a good chance that someone in your family has owned at least a few of their pieces. Today, they’re known for their budget-friendly but high-quality cookware, including some very durable nonstick product lines that are dishwasher safe for easy cleaning.
They also sell stainless steel cookware as well as companion items like bakeware, knives, and cooking gadgets. Known for its made-in-France enameled cast iron Dutch ovens in a variety of colors, the brand has expanded to other types of cookware and other products.
Besides Dutch ovens, they sell raisers, grill pans, and skillets in enameled cast iron, as well as stainless steel cookware, ceramic casseroles, and specialty cookware, some of which are made in countries other than France. Le Crest Dutch ovens are often treasured family pieces that are passed down through generations since the coatings are well-made and unlikely to chip or crack with normal use.
Like other companies, Lodge has expanded their product lines, and they now also sell enameled cast iron cookware. While a lifetime warranty sounds like a great deal, most have caveats, like excluding commercial use or cookware abuse.
When you’re buying a set, it’s wise to count the pans rather than the lids and extra pieces. Also, you can find plenty of accessories online, including universal lids, silicone handle covers for cast iron pans, roasting racks, and a multitude of options for steaming, frying, and draining.
This has caused me to be reluctant in spending a higher amount on better quality cookware sets. In the professional kitchen, longevity and durability are the requirements for cookware.
They are abused, exposed to high heat and direct flame, and washed with harsh cleaning chemicals. Quick Navigation For your home use, standing up to this type of abuse is not nearly as important.
For instance, I never buy a frying pan or pot that cannot be moved from stove top to oven because that is an important feature to have that many advanced dishes call for such as duck or reverse searing a steak. Proper cookware is the difference between simple recipes and disaster.
On the other hand, over the top expensive models can lose their versatility because of perceived fragility. Choosing the proper cookware set doesn’t have to be hard.
As with most things, it is best to find the right price point for the best value and that is our goal with this comprehensive cookware set guide. Be mindful when making your purchasing decision that you do not opt for a cheaper set that will cause grief down the line.
It has a reasonable price, clocking in at $214.99 USD for the 12-piece set. Its triple-ply design offers good heat conduction and uniform cooking.
Triple-Ply Design Aluminum Core 12-Piece Set Quality Consumer Brand It is always the dream of the chef to have these types of high-quality products in the kitchen but due to price, it is usually left for consumer buyers.
It is layered alternately with aluminum and stainless steel, providing an unmatched conductive and even heating product. Much of what you end up paying for in high-end cookware is the layering and quality of the material.
Upon receiving the set, you are greeted with a brilliantly laid out packaging that slowly introduces you to each new piece, like unraveling layers of surprises. It comes with a very practical cloth hanger that solves the problem of finding a place to store your lids.
Another addition is the vertical storage option available to store your pots and pans upright on a counter. The set is heavy, with a very solid core and heats evenly.
The long handles provide important leverage for heavier cooking. 7-Piece Set Comes with ability to hang lids on wall/fridge Storage issues are solved A must-have for those with small kitchen space.
Clifton Cookware Set 1876788 Contemporary Hard-Anodized Aluminum Nonstick Their cookware is prevalent in professional kitchens, and they are thought of as a low-cost option.
Fleischer & Wolf Seville Hammered Copper 10-Piece Cookware Set There are only a few reasons why one would choose the best copper cookware set and that is for show.
The reason being is that the level of abuse pots and pans tend to go through can be large. Many of the companies that we choose to have built their reputations through commercial cookware sets and products.
Cookware needs to be useful for many applications such as stove-to-oven use, high heat, and cleaning resistant. Although material plays a big role in these things, quality and durability impact a much larger scale.
If you are a restaurateur who is cooking with sugars or desserts, copper cookware may be a good investment. Copper is a beautiful material that has significant weight, but unmatched heat transfer.
Because copper reacts with some foods, it typically has a tin lining which is soft and can easily be scratched. Because of these deficiencies in copper cookware, you will find products layered.
Aluminum is a soft metal and it is important that it handled properly to avoid dents. Many essential kitchen tools guides include stainless steel pots and pans.
The enamel can chip or crack easily, providing areas for bacteria to grow. Also, chemicals used to bond the enamel to the cookware can cause food poisoning if ingested.
Non-stick Coatings Without affecting a metal’s ability to conduct heat, a plastic known as Teflon and Silverstone may be applied to many types of cookware. It provides a slippery, nonreactive finish that prevents food from sticking and allows the use of less fat in cooking.
While we’ve been obsessing over some of the most popular DTC brands like Away for modernized suitcases, Wary Parker for convenient prescription eyewear, Casper for mattresses in a box and Ever lane for chic wardrobe basics, there were also several new cookware companies popping up under our noses the whole time, and here, we’re highlighting our favorites. If you’re one who is easily swayed by beautiful product branding and those pesky Instagram ads (yes, I’m guilty too), you might want to hold off on upgrading your cookware sets until you scour through these cookware startups, including Great Jones, Equal Parts, Material Kitchen and Caraway, just to name a few.
No matter your expertise, Caraway specializes in offering cookware that is made with non-toxic surfaces and can easily be organized in your cabinets. While Material Kitchen is known for its cookware like its coated pan, which uses a one-of-a-kind stainless steel alloy built around a core of copper, the brand also has a variety of utensils and knives that you can buy as bundles.
With the goal of helping you take back your time and attention in the kitchen, Equal Parts designs cookware made for beginners and experienced chefs alike, basically anyone who loves to enjoy the simplicity of cooking. Not only are we obsessed with its minimalist-inspired matte black hue, but if you start with one thing from Equal Parts, let it be the best -selling ceramic-coated Big Pan.
There’s nothing better than sharing a meal with friends, and one of Our Place’s main mission is to create products “that connect people over home-cooking.” Not only will you find Our Place’s best -selling Always Pan that does the work of eight pieces of traditional cookware, the company also focuses on offering kitchen items that help bring people closer together. Stackable dishes and cups that’ll instantly make your dinner parties seem fancier while also keeping your cabinet more organized.
What makes this cookware special though is that the brand prides itself on sourcing and using materials from family-owned manufacturers in the U.S., France and Italy to craft quality items you can use over and over. For example, blue carbon steel pans have always been a French staple, but when Made In decided to put them on the radar in the U.S., the company found a carbon steel factory that’s been making the pans for almost 300 years, and now it’s one of the company’s best -selling items.
When you’ve decided to invest in cast iron skillets, Field Company is our no. Started by two brothers who inherited 1930s cast iron pans from their grandmother’s family (who the brand is named after), Field Company was born after the two began obsessing with learning how to restore and refurbish vintage cast iron pans.
Now the company specializes in perfecting the cast iron skillet by making it a smoother, lighter and easier-to-use version of this classic American kitchen tool. It has a natural non-stick surface, is superior when it comes to heat retention and since it has a long lifespan, it just might become that family heirloom you pass down to your grandkids, too.