Best cookware set: 6 full sets to inspire the chef in you

Buy the best cookware for all your heating, sautéeing, browning, or braising needs

Cuisinart GG-12 GreenGourmet Hard-Anodized Nonstick 12-Piece Cookware Set
(Image credit: Amazon)

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 Ultimate Hard Anodized Nonstick 12 Piece Cookware Set

(Image credit: Amazon)

1. T-fal Ultimate Hard Anodized Nonstick 12 Piece Cookware Set

Best cookware set, overall: know when the pan is ready to use with T-fal's Thermo spot indicator

Specifications
Pans included: 10-in fry pan, 8-in fry pan, 5-qt Dutch oven, 3-qt saucepan, 2-qt saucepan, 1-qt saucepan, two utensils
Dishwasher safe: Yes
Non-stick: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Thermo spot indicator indicates the pan has properly pre-heated+Nonstick and dishwasher safe makes for easy clean up +12 pieces at an affordable price
Reasons to avoid
-Can't be used on induction stoves

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.

Rachael Ray Cucina Nonstick Cookware Pots and Pans Set

(Image credit: Amazon)

2. Rachael Ray Cucina Nonstick Cookware Pots and Pans Set

Best non-stick cookware set: easy-to-use pots and pans for the cooking newbie who likes an easy clean-up

Specifications
Pans included: 1-qt and 3-qt saucepans with lids, 6-qt stockpot with lid, 8.5-in and 10-in frying pans, 3-qt sauté pan with lid, slotted turner and spoon
Dishwasher safe: No
Non-stick: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Wide range of colors+12 pieces  at an affordable cost+Aluminum and a hard enamel porcelain exterior makes them durable
Reasons to avoid
-Not dishwasher safe 

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 Classic Stainless Steel Cookware Pots and Pans Set

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3. Farberware Classic Stainless Steel Cookware Pots and Pans Set

Best stainless steel cookware set: this stainless steel set will react quickly to even the most minute changes in temperature

Specifications
Pans included: 1-qt, 2-qt, and 3-qt Saucepans with Lids, 4-qt Saucepot with Lid, 8-qt Stockpot with Lid, 8-in and 10-in Nonstick Frying Pans, 3 Nylon Kitchen Utensils
Dishwasher: Yes
Non-stick: Two aluminum nonstick skillets
Reasons to buy
+Stylish bell-shaped lid+Includes two aluminum non-stick skillets+Stainless steel material heats up and cools down quickly
Reasons to avoid
-Not all pieces have non-stick surfaces-Can be tricky to clean

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 16-piece Cookware Set

(Image credit: Amazon)

4. Le Creuset 16-piece Cookware Set

Best enameled cast iron cookware set: enjoy a great cookware set that you can match with your kitchen colors

Specifications
Pans included: 1.75-qt Cast Iron Saucepan, 5.5-qt Cast Iron Round Dutch Oven, 10.25" Cast Iron Skillet, 8-qt Enameled Steel Stock Pot, 4-qt Stoneware Covered Rectangular Dish, Cookbook: A Collection of Recipes from Our French Table, 5 Piece Silicone Utensil Set & Wooden Spoon
Dishwasher safe: Yes
Non-stick: No
Reasons to buy
+Various color options+Retains high amounts of heat+Included cookbook offers French cooking inspiration
Reasons to avoid
-Heavy for some -Takes time to heat up and cool down

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. 

Calphalon Simply Pots and Pans Set, 10 Piece Cookware Set

(Image credit: Amazon)

5. Calphalon Simply Pots and Pans Set

Best budget cookware set: A good brand name at an affordable price

Specifications
Pans included: 8-in fry pan, 10-in fry pan, 1-qt sauce pan with cover, 2-qt sauce pan with cover, 3-qt saute pan with cover, 6-qt stock pot with cover
Dishwasher safe : No
Non-stick: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Tempered glass can handle up to 450 degrees in an oven+Two non-stick layers for more durability+10-year warranty
Reasons to avoid
-Not dishwasher safe

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.

All-Clad D3 Stainless Cookware Set

(Image credit: Amazon)

6. All-Clad D3 Stainless Cookware Set

Best cookware set for novice chefs: cook like your favorite chefs with the most luxurious pots and pans

Specifications
Pans included: 8-in and 10-in fry pans, 2-qt and 3-qt sauce pans with lids, a 3-qt sauté pan with a lid, and an 8-qt stockpot with a lid
Dishwasher safe: Yes
Non-stick: No
Reasons to buy
+Stainless steel heats up and cools down quickly +The handle remains cool while on the stove+Can be placed in a 600-degree oven 
Reasons to avoid
-Learning curve to using stainless steel-Harder to clean

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 GG-12 GreenGourmet Hard-Anodized Nonstick 12-Piece Cookware Set

(Image credit: Amazon)

7. Cuisinart GG-12 GreenGourmet Hard-Anodized Nonstick 12-Piece Cookware Set

Best green cookware set: be won over by recycled materials and a non-stick surface that's PTFE and PFOA-free

Specifications
Pans included: 8-in skillet; 10-in lidded deep fry; 1.5 and 2.5-qt lidded saucepans; 3-qt lidded everyday pan; 6-qt lidded Dutch Oven; steamer insert
Dishwasher safe: No
Non-stick: Yes
Reasons to buy
+PTFE and PFOA-free non-stick surface+Can handle up to 400 degrees in an oven+Handles are made of 70% recycled steel
Reasons to avoid
-Can't be used in the dishwasher

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. 

abbio cookware set

(Image credit: Abbio)

8. Abbio Cookware: The Set

Best D2C cookware set: This new-kid-on-the-block rivals the cookware bigwigs

Specifications
Pans included: Large nonstick skillet, small nonstick skillet, stock pot with lid, sautee pot with lid, sauce pan with lid
Dishwasher safe:
Nonstick: Pans, yes
Reasons to buy
+Quality construction+Combo of stainless-steel and nonstick+Comes with an included hotpad+Good value+Toxin-free+Dishwasher safe
Reasons to avoid
-Nonstick safe to 450 F

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 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 for its high-end stainless steel material which is most often used by professional chefs. 

What's the best cookware material?

Stainless Steel
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.

Non-Stick:
People love non-stick cookware 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.

Cast iron:
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.

Copper cookware:
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. 

Alex Temblador
Alex Temblador

Alex Temblador is a Mixed Latinx award-winning author and freelance writer based in Dallas, Texas. Her work in the home space has appeared in outlets like Real Homes, Dwell, Architectural Digest, Culture Trip, Neighborhoods.com, among many others. You can learn more about Alex at AlexTemblador.com.