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.
Pots and pans are available in a wide array of materials, with and without nonstick finishes, and there are distinct differences between the various offerings when it comes to how they cook and their ease of use. While sets are sold at a huge range of prices, you don’t have to spend top dollar to get a dependable one that you’ll find a pleasure to cook with.
Copper cookware heats the most evenly and is the most responsive (meaning, take your pan of hollandaise off the burner and it stops cooking immediately so there’s no danger it will curdle). But copper is super pricey and requires a lot of upkeep if you want to maintain its bright, shiny finish.
The vast majority of aluminum cookware has some kind of finish, either enamel or nonstick, to prevent this from happening and also make it easier to clean. Some aluminum pans are hard-anodized, which means they’ve undergone an electrochemical process that strengthens and darkens the metal, protecting if from denting and stopping it from interacting with whatever you’re cooking.
That might not bother you if you bought an inexpensive omelet pan but can be upsetting if you’ve invested in an expensive set. Keep in mind that some items are lids and sometimes the manufacturer throws in a few plastic utensils and adds them to the piece count.
We give points to sets that include a 12-incher as it’s such a versatile pan for frying, stir-frying and one-pot dishes like paella or chicken with dumplings. Every set will also include one or two saucepans and again, larger ones are more useful as you can warm a cup of soup in a 3-quart pot but might not be able to make enough rice for the whole family in a 1-quart.
To select our best cookware sets, we relied on our years of rustling pots and pan both in our test kitchens and on our own home stoves. Before becoming a cooking tools expert, she spent seven years working as a professional chef in New York City restaurants.
In her free time, she's busy baking sourdough bread and rustling pots and pans on her own stove. If the bottom of a pan is warped (which can create hot spots that burn food), or if handles are loose or broken, it’s time to shop.
We buy and test cookware sets ranging from less than $100 to $600 or more, from well-known brands such as All-Clad, Anglo, Clifton, Cuisinart, and Willing J.A. Heckles, as well as sets sold under the names of celebrity cooks like Ayesha Curry, Rachel Ray, and the Pioneer Woman.
CR’s take: The 12-piece Cuisinart Green Gourmet nonstick set aces all our key cooking tests. We were able to easily maintain sauce at a low simmer, and the 6-quart Dutch oven quickly brings water to a near-boil.
With Excellent ratings on both our cooking evenness and speed of heating tests, the Greenspan stands up to the competition. The coating appears pebbly, but that doesn’t affect its nonstick properties, and we effortlessly cooked pancakes and eggs.
Cooking evenness is superb, and this 8-piece set aces our speed of heating test by quickly bringing 4 quarts of water to a near-boil in the 5-quart stockpot. The surface stands up to our durability test, in which we rub steel wool over the coating 2,000 times, earning a Very Good rating.
Simmering a sauce produces impressive results, and this set earns a Very Good rating for cooking evenness. Heckles Motion Grey is made of anodized aluminum and works with any type of range.
Simmering in the saucepan, however, is only so-so, and the eggs needed nudging out of the pan in our food release test. Clifton designed this set so that it stacks and nests, which frees up precious cabinet space.
The Clifton Premier Space Saving 8-piece stainless set earns a Very Good rating in our evenness tests, like our other top performers in this category. The stainless handles are long and sturdy, and you can use these dishwasher-safe pots and pans on any type of range, including induction.
It earns an Excellent rating on our cooking evenness test, and when we brought 4 quarts of water to a near-boil in the 6-quart stockpot, speed of heating was also impressive. Its performance in our food release test, however, was subpar, so if you like to fry eggs, you may want to stick to a nonstick skillet.
Knowing that I wanted to be a journalist from a young age, I decided to spiff up my byline by adding the middle initials “H.J.” A good set of cookware is an essential component of any Southern kitchen.
They’ll be the pots, pans, and skillets you used to cook dinner for your family on busy weeknights and the trusty cookware that you'll use to try your hand at Mother’s famous recipes during the holiday season. Whether you're looking to replace a well-loved set that you received as a wedding gift or are ready to once and for all replace your mismatched collection with one of the coordinating variety, we're here to help you find the best cookware set for the job.
When the time comes to purchase a new cookware set, the amount of options can be overwhelming. And to ensure that you get the most life out of your new pots and pans, be sure to read the care instructions before using them for the first time.
From stainless steel to ceramic to cast iron, here are the top-rated cookware sets in each category, starting at just $59. It's a great option to outfit kitchens for dorms, apartments, and first homes.
Cuisinart’s Heat Surround technology helps the temperature spread evenly through each piece of cookware to eliminate hot spots while cooking. Now just one, but two nonstick layers prevents food from sticking to this Clifton cookware set.
Made from hard-anodized aluminum, the durable pieces resist corrosion, warping, and are also oven safe up to 400 degrees. It comes in five shades: terracotta (pictured), cream, gray, sage, and navy.
Writes one reviewer, while another says, “We bought the entire set and haven’t looked back.” Cast iron offers unmatched heat retention when compared to other cookware materials.
This cookware set includes four basic pieces to fit all of your cast-iron cooking needs: 10.25-inch skillet, 10.5-inch round griddle, 5-quart Dutch oven, and a lid that fits both the skillet and the Dutch oven.