Cookware sets are essential for every kitchen. Rather than buy one pot here and another pan there, cookware sets offer everything you might need for your cooking needs. But where do you start?
Do you buy non-stick or not? Those that can be washed in the dishwasher? And does the material matter? We’ve pulled together a list of some of the best cookware brands and their phenomenal cookware sets to ensure that you have every option you might need. The cookware set you buy today could last you for years or even decades, assist you in creating memories over meals, or further your interest in the culinary arts.
Once you’ve chosen the best cookware set, be sure to check out the best knife sharpeners to keep your prep game razors sharp.
The best cookware sets of 2021
T-fal is a big name in the cookware game for a reason: they make impeccable products for frying, sauteing, browning, and cooking. The Ultimate Hard Anodized Nonstick 12-piece cookware set is made of hard-anodized aluminum with titanium making it corrosion and scratch-resistant. This is good if you’re looking for pans that ingredients won’t stick to and will last you for years.
With this set, you’ll get two frying pans, three saucepans, a Dutch oven, spoon, and spatula that can be used on all stovetops except induction stoves. You can even place them in ovens up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Take note that each piece has a Thermo spot indicator or a ring in the center of the pan that turns a solid red indicating that the pan has properly preheated and is ready to begin cooking.
Rachel Ray’s Cucina Nonstick Cookware set is as durable as it is stylish. Made from aluminum and a hard enamel porcelain exterior, these pots and pans will hold up quite well as you bang around the kitchen. They're coated in PFOA-free nonstick coating so you don’t have to worry about fried eggs sticking to the pan.
Though you can’t use these pots on induction stoves, you can use them on all other stovetops and in the oven up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Choose from a colorful selection of orange, lavender, or agave blue and match your pots to your kitchen colors.
Farberware has made their stainless steel cookware for over a century so you know they’re doing something right. The stainless steel and aluminum pots and pans are quick to heat and can be placed in ovens up to 350 degrees. While many cookware sets aren’t compatible with induction stovetops – this one is! If all that wasn’t enough, you’ll be cooking in style with the bell-shaped lid with attractive knobs and rolled rims.
Le Creuset is perhaps the most attractive cookware set of the bunch. The enameled cast iron cookware can stand up to major amounts of heat whether on the stovetop or in the oven. With so many color options -- it looks good while doing so!
The saucepan, Dutch oven, skillet, pot, and dish are covered in an exterior enamel that resists chipping and cracking, so if you take care of these pots and pans, they can last you for decades. Unlike some cast iron pieces, this cookware set requires no seasoning, making for one less step in your cooking endeavors.
There is something elegant about the Calphalon 10-piece cookware set, and yet, it goes well beyond style and offers high-quality performance too. Calphalon has outfitted each product with two nonstick layers ensuring an easier clean-up process and more durability for long-term use.
Like many of the others on this list, these pots and pans are made with hard-anodized aluminum construction, but the handles are covered in silicone which keeps them cool to the touch. The tempered glass covers can handle up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit in an oven.
This cookware set is for those who are obsessed with cooking shows, love to make meals for family and friends, and have Pinterest boards full of recipes. The set includes a range of pots and pans made of stainless steel and aluminum in three alternating layers to ensure that heat is distributed evenly. This set will hold up for many years, and you'll be happy to hear that they can be placed in the dishwasher. Don’t be afraid to stick this set in the oven or broiler – they can handle a whopping 600 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cuisinart is a solid brand so we know you’ll love their G12 GreenCourmet cookware set. This 12-piece set is the most green-friendly of the selections with handles made of 70% recycled steel and the packaging made of recycled materials. Even the ceramic-based nonstick interior is petroleum-free.
The real question is – how does the cookware do with heat? These hard-anodized aluminum pots and pans spread heat evenly making for a superior cooking experience. Plus, it can stand up to 400 degrees in the oven and you don’t have to worry about the handles getting hot on the stovetop thanks to a riveted stainless steel technology.
Like all things home-related, the cookware industry has been flooded with new direct-to-consumer brands over the last few years. These new additions all claim to be upgraded versions of the offerings that have been on the market for years -- think All-Clad and Cusinart, but without the quite-so-hefty pricetag. Plus the branding is way more hip.
We've tried a few of these brands firsthand, and Abbio lived up to the hype. We especially loved the nonstick skillet, which evenly browned taco meat and made flipping an omelet a cinch The surface is scratch and chip resistant, so it's safe, too. And bonus: all of it can go in the dishwasher (even the nonstick!).
What is the best cookware set?
The T-fal Ultimate Hard Anodized Nonstick 12 Piece Cookware Set (opens in new tab) is our pick for cooks of all skill levels. Those who have a passion for cooking may want to consider the All-Clad D3 Stainless Cookware Set (opens in new tab) for its high-end stainless steel material which is most often used by professional chefs.
What's the best cookware material?
Stainless steel is overall the best material for cookware sets as it heats quickly and retains temperatures well. They’re also incredibly easy to clean and most are dishwasher safe. That said, you might experience some food sticking to this product since it’s not coated in any non-stick chemicals.
Hard anodized aluminum:
A number of cookware sets on this list are made of hard-anodized aluminum because it’s less expensive, heats very well, and is quite durable. While it does offer non-stick properties, this isn’t going to be the same as non-stick cookware. Expect some slight sticking to occur.
People love non-stick cookware, such as the best non-stick frying pans, and it makes sense – no one likes when eggs or fish stick to their cookware or the nightmare of cleaning it up. It also allows you to cook without oil or butter which is very beneficial to some diets. That said, some products are made better than others and if you don't invest in a high-quality set, the non-stick coating may break down, get scratched, or flake off into your food.
If you want something durable, you’ll find it in cast iron cookware. This type of cookware can last your entire life. Over time they tend to develop a non-stick surface which makes them very easy to clean. If you’re looking for something that can retain high heat for long periods of time, this is the cookware to use. Just remember that cast iron takes a long time to heat up and won’t cool down as quickly as some recipes call for. They also take special care when cleaning.
Enameled cast iron:
Enameled cast iron isn’t the same as cast iron but it does have some similar properties. You’ll notice they’re more colorful and easier to wash than cast iron, but they have the same long-lasting lifespan. They also hold in heat and take longer to cool down like cast iron cookware. Unlike cast iron, enameled cast iron can chip and break if dropped so be careful when handling.
We didn’t include copper cookware set on this list, but it is an option to consider. Like stainless steel, it heats up and cools down quickly so you can cook every item properly. It does, unfortunately, make for expensive cookware and does require special care so that it doesn’t patina over time. If you'd like to try out copper cookware, check out the Lagostina Martallata Hammered Copper Cookware Set. (opens in new tab)