Nordic Ware 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.
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.
Our tester found the price to be “affordable considering the quality and number of useful pieces you get.” 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. Everyone knows that nonstick frying pans are great for cooking eggs, but this set goes way beyond breakfast.
Our tester noted, “The thick bottoms and sides of these pans distribute the heat evenly, preventing any hot or cold spots as you cook.” 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.
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.
Hand washing is recommended for these beautiful pieces, and some additional upkeep will be required if you prefer a shiny look versus the patina finish that will develop 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.
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.