It is also a very underrated and underestimated thing. It’s actually what you cook the majority of your food with, so investing in a good set is actually worth it. Whether you’re going for a nonstick pan set, or just an egg fry pan, our list of best cookware sets should come in handy.
- 1 Overview of the Best Cookware Sets
- 2 1. Simply Calphalon Nonstick 10 Piece – our top rated cookware set
- 3 2. Select by Calphalon Hard Anodized – a similar option worth considering
- 4 3. Starfrit The Rock 10-piece cookware set – Durable and innovative
- 5 4. AllClad Copper Core review – a basic, yet premium offering
- 6 5. Tramontina Gourmet 8-piece – a not-that-strong contender for the best stainless steel cookware set
- 7 6. Circulon Premier Professional 13-piece hard-anodized cookware set– a well-rounded stainless steel base option
- 8 7. GreenPan Rio Ceramic 12 piece set – one of the best ceramic cookware options on a budget
- 9 8. Zwilling Spirit 3-Ply Ceramic Nonstick – a midrange cookware set worth taking a look at
- 10 9. Epicurious Aluminum 11 piece – the best pot set when speaking of looks!
- 11 10. Gotham Steel 10-piece set – great if you’re on a really tight budget
- 12 11. Eurocast Cookware – a premium offering that is somewhat worth it
- 13 So, which one is the best cookware set?
- 14 A buyer’s guide
- 14.1 Do you get a set, or a piece by piece?
- 14.2 Consider how your cookware set will work with your cooktop
- 14.3 Your cooking style and level of experience
- 14.4 What’s the difference between coating and cladding?
- 14.5 Know the main terminology
- 14.6 What kind of cookware types are there?
- 15 Wrapping things up – what type of cookware is best?
Overview of the Best Cookware Sets
When you’re looking at what’s available on the market, there are a lot of choices. However, you can’t just go and buy any set you find interesting. There are a lot of considerations that you need to think about before you pull the trigger. What cookware is safe to use? What type of cookware is best? We’ll answer those questions a bit later. Now, we’ll give you a list of options.
In this list you will find products that are all from reputable brands. Brands that have been around for a while and have a range of products for just about anyone. Regardless of which of those options you go for, you won’t regret it. Let’s take a look at what the options for the best cookware sets are, as well as some of the best non-stick cookware sets and best omelette pans. Regardless of what your requirements are, we have a recommendation for you.
1. Simply Calphalon Nonstick 10 Piece – our top rated cookware set
If you’re looking for an all-round set that doesn’t break the bank, do read our Simply Calphalon cookware review. Their 10-piece set contains everything that you need to get started, comes from a reputable brand, and manages not to cause damage to your wallet. You could also opt for the same 10-piece set with utensils, or even the Simply Calphalon 14 piece cookware set. However, here we’ll focus on the 10 piece nonstick cookware set.
The first thing you’ll want to know from our Calphalon review is what this set contains. In the 10 piece set are all the essentials. You have a Simply Calphalon pan, two in fact, one 8 inch, and one 10 inch. There’s also a 1 qt and 2 qt covered sauce pan, as well as a 3 qt covered saute pan and the 6 qt covered stock pot. What might be disappointing is the lack of a 4-quart saucepan, but as we mentioned, this set focuses on the essentials. If you only counted six pieces so far, you’re right – the other four are the tempered glass lids. You shouldn’t find it surprising that they count their lids in the pieces, most manufacturers do the same.
As far as the materials go, the Calphalon cookware set is made of aluminum. It’s not just any aluminum, it’s Calphalon’s signature hard-anodized one. The construction will guaranteed excellent conductivity, as well as even heating. The pots and pans’ interior surface is also double-coated with what we all know to be Calphalon’s reliable and sturdy nonstick coating. You will see below, in the buyer’s guide, why nonstick is a great option, and many Simply Calphalon reviews agree.
Why is it the best?
Getting the best cookware set for you is, as you’ll see later, an individual choice. However we do have a “best” cookware set here, and it’s the Calphalon one. Let’s elaborate why these are the best nonstick pots and pans. First of all, they don’t cost an arm and a leg. They’re much cheaper than other sets, while still offering quite a lot in terms of functionality. Second, you get all the essential tools – pans, pots, tempered glass lids. And last but not least, the nonstick material will make for easy cleaning, besides the fact that you don’t have to worry about food sticking to it.
| All the necessary tools are included|
Cheaper than many competitors
Nonstick material makes it easy to clean
| Not dishwasher safe, you have to clean it by hand|
Only safe to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, where a 500 degree limit would be preferred
2. Select by Calphalon Hard Anodized – a similar option worth considering
Even though we’d understand if you’re inclined to think this is the same Calphalon cookware set as the one above, you’d be wrong. As you’ll see in our Select by Calphalon review, there are a few small differences, and one major reason why this isn’t today’s winner. This is another Calphalon 10 piece set, and it’s also nonstick. Don’t mistake it for the Select by Calphalon ceramic nonstick set, this is a hard-anodized one. It is again the Calphalon hard anodized aluminum, which guarantees durability and ensures even heating.
This Select by Calphalon 10 piece set has one goal – easy meal preparation, any time you need it. It is durable and absolutely suitable for everyday use. The nonstick interior isn’t easily damaged, but is made to last for a good while instead. You can get food off of it with ease, and it’s even easier to clean up afterwards. There are comfort grip handles on the hard anodized cookware, and they’ll stay cool on the stovetop. This lets you easily move them from the stovetop to the oven, or to the dinner table.
As far as pieces go, you get both an 8” and 10” fry pan, as well as a 1.5 qt. and 2.5 qt. sauce pans, a 3 qt saute pan and 6 qt stock pot. The sauce pans, saute pan and stock pot all have covers, and everything totals to the 10 pieces that are advertised.
Why isn’t the Select by Calphalon the best?
As you see, everything above is actually very similar to the best cookware set on our list. It is also similar in the fact that you can only wash it by hand, which is a bummer. One major downside to this Calphalon cookware set is the fact that you can only use it in an oven up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the difference with the previous set, and why that one is better. A 450 degrees limit isn’t a lot, but 400 is already low, making this not that practical in real world.
| All of the essential pieces are there|
Hard anodized aluminum and nonstick internals make for a great combination
You can use it on gas, electric, glass and halogen stovetops
| Only safe at up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit in an oven|
You can only wash it by hand
3. Starfrit The Rock 10-piece cookware set – Durable and innovative
Standing out as a cookware manufacturer isn’t that easy nowadays. Many brands opt for celebrity endorsements, but others choose to go a different route. As you’ll see from our Starfrit The Rock review, they opted for the second variant. Their innovation is to impact each pan and pot hundreds of times with small steel balls. This makes The Rock cookware set incredibly scratch-resistant, and is one of the most durable nonstick cookware sets. It also improves on the “nonstick” part, by creating miniature air pockets between the pan and your food. Let’s see if all the hype around the Starfrit The Rock is actually worth it.
The Rock 10 piece set comes with all the basics. 11” deep fry pan, 1 qt. saucepan, 2 qt. saucepan, 3 qt. saucepot and a 6 qt. saucepot, all with their respective lids make up for the entire The Rock cookware set. Those lids are tempered glass by the way, so you can look at your food while cooking.
Does the Starfrit The Rock cookware set work that much better than the competition?
Since The Rock pots and pans have the cooking surface as their most heavily advertised feature, you should know whether it works. And the answer is “yes, it does”, but it’s not that much better than the competition. Nonstick coatings today are far from what we had back in the days, and this innovative technology doesn’t result in something that’s that much better than anything else. It does the job, and it does it really well, but that’s about it. If you want an essential cookware set that’s easy to work with, and you can clean easily, you can’t go wrong with it.
| Has all the pieces you need|
The tempered glass lid lets you see through while cooking
Isn’t very expensive
| The tiny divots on the surface create unnecessary air between the food and the cooking surface|
The “innovative” technology doesn’t work miracles, contrary to what Starfrit would lead you to believe
4. AllClad Copper Core review – a basic, yet premium offering
All of the options above are more or less similarly priced, and have the similar things going for them. However, our next option, the All-Clad Copper Core 7 piece cookware set, is a bit different. This specific set comes with a premium price, which only gets higher if you opt for the 10-, or 14-piece sets. The set contains a 10 inch fry pan, 2 qt saute pan, 3 qt saucepan, as well as an 8 qt stockpot. The saute pan, saucepan and stockpot also have covers, totaling at 7 pieces for the set.
Why is it so expensive? Let’s kick things off with the construction. You get a 5-ply bonded construction, where you have stainless steel, aluminum and a thick copper core. This all results in a warp-free strength, responsiveness you can rely on, and most importantly, even heating. The 18/10 stainless steel will offer incredible stick resistance, and is easy to maintain. This is all backed up by the All Clad warranty, which is actually a lifetime one. The All Clad Copper Core pans are oven safe at up to 600 degrees Fahrenheit, and the entire Copper Core set is optimized for induction.
How’s the All Clad Copper Core construction?
As far as the construction goes, the stainless steel handles of the All Clad Copper Core 7 piece set are all riveted. They’re also contoured, and have venting, which results in a comfortable grip. The lids are also stainless steel, and you have flared edges, something we’ll discuss about later on. That polished exterior has copper accent highlights, for a lovely design. It is dishwasher safe too, for easier maintenance.
| A premium look, and a premium build|
Pleasure to cook in, with a very responsive cooking performance
Dishwasher safe, and oven and broiler safe at up to 600 degrees Fahrenheit
| The price is higher than what many people are comfortable paying for a cookware set|
The All Clad non stick set only has 7 pieces, which is less than competitive products
5. Tramontina Gourmet 8-piece – a not-that-strong contender for the best stainless steel cookware set
If you’re one of those folks who prefers “durable” over “nonstick”, this Tramontina cookware set is absolutely something to look at. You get a few Tramontina pots and pans, namely 8” and 10” saute pans, as well as 2 and 3 qt. covered sauce pans, and a 5 qt. Dutch oven. Everything is made with a tri-ply construction, which is comprised of 18/10 Tramontina stainless steel, an aluminum core and magnetic stainless steel. This construction means you’ll get great performance and optimal heat diffusion.
While we’re discussing the Tramontina pots construction, you have riveted stainless steel handles which are ergonomic and provide comfort and durability. The lids of the Tramontina cookware are also stainless steel. This does guarantee durability, but you need to lift the lid if you want to check how your food is progressing. The Tramontina pan set is dishwasher safe. This is a highly requested feature with people who just want to throw it in the dishwasher once they’re done with it, and not bother washing it by hand. However, the highest you can put it in the oven at is 350 degrees, which is a bummer.
Why doesn’t it get a higher rating?
Well, first of all, stainless steel, even though the most popular, isn’t the best pots and pans material. Stickiness is an issue with some of the products, and that makes cleaning them difficult. Sure, they’re dishwasher safe, but that won’t help too much, honestly. The oven limitation is also a major downside, since you want at least 450 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. And a minor downside is that the lids are stainless steel and require you to lift them if you want to check up on your food.
| A well-priced tri ply cookware set|
Constructed for maximal durability and with a lifetime warranty to back that up
| Only oven safe at up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit|
Cleaning them might still be difficult due to this not being a non stick cookware
6. Circulon Premier Professional 13-piece hard-anodized cookware set– a well-rounded stainless steel base option
This Circulon Premier Professional cookware set is a set that offers more than its competition in terms of quantity, and remains more or less similar in terms of quality. For a small increase in price compared to our top 3 offerings, the Circulon pots and pans set gives you a few more pieces to play with. More specifically, their Professional 13 piece set has everything: 1 and 3 qt. covered saucepans, a 4 qt. covered saucepot, a 5 qt. covered saute, an 8qt. covered stockpot, as well as 8.5”, 10” and 12” French skillets. Even though not that heavily advertised as such, this may very well be the best nonstick induction cookware set in this price range.
Their TOTAL food release system will make sure that you get exceptional food release while the surface doesn’t suffer as much abrasion. As far as the nonstick part is concerned, there’s DuPont’s Autograph. This is their most advanced 3-layer nonstick, which also makes the Circulon cookware safe even if you use metal utensils. The heavy gauge cookware will not only heat quickly, but evenly too. There’s a stainless steel base, which makes sure that the Circulon Premier Professional is suitable for any stove. And yes, that includes induction stoves too. The handless are made of silicone and stainless steel, and they’re double riveted for strength. You won’t be having any issues as far as that goes.
Why aren’t these the absolute best nonstick pots and pans?
Well, the first thing is the Circulon warranty. When you have competition that comes at even lower price points, and offers lifetime warranty, you can’t be offering “limited” lifetime warranty. You need to step it up. Next, we have the price-to-performance ratio. The Circulon cookware set doesn’t cost a lot more than competitor options, evident when you have a Circulon cookware vs Calphalon comparison, for example. However, it doesn’t offer much more either. You get two to three extra pieces, something you can easily buy separate if you prefer Calphalon’s set. When you’re paying more, you’re expecting to get something extra. And last but not least, there’s the oven temperature – it’s limited to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. When you consider everything said in our Circulon Premier Professional review, you might be expecting a bit more.
| A well-rounded set which has more than the essential tools|
Durable construction which is both nonstick, and compatible with induction stoves
Tempered glass lids that let you keep track of your food
| “Limited” lifetime warranty is something to be careful about|
Oven-safe limit is a lowish 400 degrees Fahrenheit, which won’t make a lot of people happy
7. GreenPan Rio Ceramic 12 piece set – one of the best ceramic cookware options on a budget
GreenPan ceramic cookware has been around for a while. They’re pioneers in the world of healthy ceramic non stick cookware. And as you’ll see in our GreenPan ceramic review, they offer quite a bit, especially when you consider the price range they’re competing in. They are actually a budget option, and their ceramic cookware set does live up to the claims. The promise of not containing any persistent pollutants or toxic chemicals is true, and the GreenPan set is incredibly easy to use.
The GreenPan 12 piece set from their Rio collection has 8” and 9.5” open frypans, a 9.5” covered sautepan, 1 qt., 2 qt. and 3 qt. covered saucepans, as well as a 5 qt. covered casserole. When you consider the price, you get a lot for your money, especially with their material choice. The Thermolon ceramic non stick is where the GreenPan healthy ceramic claims come from. It’s made with no cadmium, no lead, no PFOA and no PFAS. Even if you happen to overheat your pan, it won’t release any harmful fumes, nor will it blister or peel. You get a heavy-gauge construction which nets reliable results in terms of cooking, as well as incredible heat conduction. The GreenPan nonstick is made with stay-cool Bakelite handles that are ergonomically designed to provide a comfortable and relaxed grip.
Is this the best ceramic coating cookware set? No, but it answers to the “What nonstick cookware is safe” question, hands down
This is absolutely a great cookware set. It’s a champ in terms of build quality, and you get a lot more than you pay for when we’re discussing price. The materials of choice are both healthy and ensure performance, and there are glass lids that let you check up on your food every once in a while, without losing heat. The GreenPan cookware set is absolutely one to consider if you want budget-friendly, healthy ceramic cookware.
| Safe cookware that has no toxic chemicals whatsoever|
Cheaper, yet offers more than its competition
Ceramic and nonstick guarantee good heat distribution and easy cleanup
| Not really durable|
Oven temperature limit is very low at 350 degrees Fahrenheit
8. Zwilling Spirit 3-Ply Ceramic Nonstick – a midrange cookware set worth taking a look at
If you still want a nonstick cookware set, but wouldn’t mind paying a bit more than the Greenpan above, you should read on for our Zwilling cookware review. The Zwilling Spirit ceramic has 10 pieces. There is an 8” and a 10” Zwilling ceramic fry pan, both have no lids. You’ll also find a 1 and 2 qt. Zwilling saucepan with lids, a 3 qt. saute pan with a lid, and the last piece is a 6 qt. Dutch oven, also with a lid. This covers all the essentials you might need for your kitchen, but not much more, honestly.
The build quality of the Zwilling pots and pans is decent and somewhat justifies the price. You get a 3mm thick 3-ply construction, from rim to rim. The thick aluminum core of the cookware set is what gives it that quick and even heat conduction, and is what will make sure your food is well made. It is worth mentioning that the material of choice for the Zwilling pots and the non stick pans isn’t ceramic, but stainless steel. There is a PFOA and PTFE free ceramic coating, however, which just like the GreenPan, releases no harmful fumes.
A Zwilling classic that could’ve been better
We have to admit that we came out of the review a bit disappointed. This is basically a more premium alternative to the GreenPan cookware set, with a few things going for it as an advantage. It makes use of the same Thermolon coating throughout every piece of the Zwilling 10 piece cookware set, but the construction is a bit better and it feels much more premium. However, it is much more expensive. And, even though we didn’t get to test it for that long, there are many reviews that claim the non-stick coating wears of rather quickly.
| A tri-ply construction with a healthy ceramic nonstick coating|
At 3mm thick, every piece of the Zwilling cookware set is sturdy and feels premium
It’s induction ready, which is something you don’t see with many ceramic cookware sets
| It is expensive, especially compared to the GreenPan alternative|
With so many people complaining about the nonstick coating wearing of, it’s a risky investment
9. Epicurious Aluminum 11 piece – the best pot set when speaking of looks!
As you’ll see in our Epicurious cookware review, this cookware set looks stunning, but the performance leaves a bit to be desired. It is by no means bad, but when you see something that looks this good, you’d be inclined to think it performs a bit better. The Epicurious copper cookware only looks like copper. The material of choice is aluminum, and there’s a heavy-gauge construction. That, with the stainless steel base which is impact-bonded, will ensure that the heat distribution is rapid and even, regardless of the heat source.
The contents of the 11-piece Epicurious pots and pans set are pretty standard. There are 8” and 10” fry pans, which are the only pieces without a lid. And there are 1.5 qt. and 2.5 qt. saucepans, as well as a 4 qt. saute pan and an 8 qt. stock pot, all with their respective lids. The last piece is the universal steamer insert, made of stainless steel, which fits bot the 1.5 qt. and the 2.5 qt. saucepans. The Epicurious cookware is a pretty complete set, with the steamer insert being an interesting addition.
Unfortunately, looks are all the Epicurious 11 piece cookware has going for it
Even though we’d love to be able to say otherwise, the cookware set just doesn’t quite cut it in terms of performance. It promises quick and even heat distribution, but that wasn’t what we got from it. It is a great addition to any kitchen if looks are important, but we even found people reporting that the paint chips of pretty easily.
| The copper paint makes it look very good|
You get a complete set for a decent price
Made of aluminum and comes with tempered glass lids
| Only oven safe at up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit|
Performance is somewhat lacking in a few departments
10. Gotham Steel 10-piece set – great if you’re on a really tight budget
Do you have a fairly tight budget to spend on a cookware set? Do you like products that are endorsed by celebrity chefs? If either of these questions has an answer that is “yes”, read on through our Gotham Steel cookware review. The Gotham Steel cookware set comes with everything you need – fry pans, skillets, stock pots, and even a steamer insert. At this price point, you’re getting more than you’d think. The cookware set is endorsed by Daniel Green, a chef known for his easy to make healthy recipes.
The material of choice is aluminum, but you do get Gotham Steel nonstick pans. They’re coated well, and require no seasoning in order to maintain their abilities. You will find that things simply slide off the pan. Well, at least when they’re new. Gotham Steel products are actually completely safe, being PFOS, PFOA and PTFE free. You should note, though, that the pots and pans aren’t induction compatible, which might be a bummer for some.
Gotham Cookware actually works surprisingly well
Yes, this might not be the best non toxic cookware, even though it isn’t very far. However, you get quite a respectable set of kitchen tools, and ones that will get the job done more than well. And at this price, you really shouldn’t complain. The cookware is safe, versatile, and if a celebrity chef is endorsing it, it can’t be bad.
| The price is extremely hard to beat|
Components make up a very versatile cookware set
It is oven safe at up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, and is also dishwasher safe
| The build quality leaves a lot to be desired|
Durability isn’t good at all, with the nonstick coating wearing of rather fast
11. Eurocast Cookware – a premium offering that is somewhat worth it
As you’ll see in our Eurocast cookware review, not everything that is expensive is always worth it. What you get from the Eurocast cookware set is a Ferno-ceramic cooking surface. It is claimed to be very effective at preventing food from actually sticking, but the temperatures must be right for this. And if the food manages to stick, once you remove it, the nonstick layer of the Eurocast Professional series will be less effective, permanently. This is a major downside, especially for a product that costs this much.
You also get handles that are rubberized, and thus completely safe to manipulate. However, this makes them not oven safe at above 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Eurocast Berghoff solve this by making them removable – just get them out if you want to use them in the oven. Performance is reasonable. The nonstick solution leaves a bit to be desired, but they’re overall very user friendly, pretty durable, and well-designed. All things considered, you really should be getting more from the Berghoff Eurocast cookware that costs this much.
| The Ferno-ceramic surface works great if you use it as intended|
Removable handles are a nifty feature for using them in the oven
The build quality is decent, and should last a long time
| Pricing is higher than what we consider is worth it|
The fact that you could easily permanently damage the nonstick layer is a major downside
So, which one is the best cookware set?
That would be the Simply Calphalon Nonstick 10 Piece. It is the best cookware nonstick set you can get. The Simply Calphalon set won’t cost you an arm and a leg and has a hard-anodized aluminum construction, something Calphalon are known for. This construction guarantees even heating and great conductivity. You will also get tempered glass covers, and you can use this cookware set in the oven at up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. A great all-round option!
A buyer’s guide
Whether you’re getting a whole new cookware set, or just want to replace a few scratched pans, there are a few things to consider. The most expensive cookware sets aren’t always the best ones, for example. And some of those chef-endorsed sets aren’t really that good either. Having a good, quality set is important, and making the right choice isn’t all that easy. Especially when you have a vast choice of materials, from stainless steel and cast iron to copper and nonstick enamel, styles and prices. Being well informed before you buy can make a huge difference, so let’s make sure you are well informed.
Do you get a set, or a piece by piece?
If you have the choice, always buy a set. A set will guarantee that you get matching pieces, both in terms of looks, and performance. They’re also made of the same materials, so you won’t get a stainless steel pot and an iron clad crepe pan. If you tend to keep your cookware in non-see through cabinets, looks won’t matter. However, if you get a matching set, you might get that urge to proudly display your kitchen tools. And honestly, there’s no reason not to.
Consider how your cookware set will work with your cooktop
You can use any set with any cooktop, but there are some combinations that work much better than others. For example, if you have a smoothtop range, a flat-bottomed pan will work best. Flat-bottomed pans are the most popular option today. If, however, you have a vented ring on the burner, you can use it to support the wok of a round-bottom wok. And last but least, if your kitchen is equipped with an induction cooktop, you’ll need cookware which has magnetic properties.
Your cooking style and level of experience
You need to be honest and realistic with your needs and habits in the kitchen. This is an important way to narrow down your choices, and make sure that you get a suitable cookware set. The best nonstick pan set might not be what you need, and the best induction cookware won’t make a difference from a basic one if you can’t work it right.
If you’re new to the whole cooking game, a stainless set might not be the best option for you. Unless you know what you’re doing, scrambled and fried eggs are more or less impossible. Copper is another tricky one – it’s a material you shouldn’t use for certain foods, and in certain ways. Your style will also make an impact. If you want something that will result in good sear, stainless steel is what you need. If you like to finish things up in the oven, get something that is oven proof.
What’s the difference between coating and cladding?
Stating that a pan is “hard-coat anodized” doesn’t mean a lot in terms of sticking. This is just a way of saying that the soft surface of the aluminum has been changed and is a hard surface. It doesn’t equal nonstick coating, which is something that allows your food to brown without getting stuck on the pan.
Cladding is used to describe the metal layers that are fused together to make up the cookware. For example, if you have the inner and outer layers of a pan made from stainless steel, the inside might be copper, or aluminum. It could also be a conductive or magnetic material. Clad can also refer to a material being added to a pan’s bottom, to enhance heat transfer.
Know the main terminology
- Handle refers to the holding part. Often metal or silicone-coated, it ensures easy transition from one place to the other. If it’s silicone-coated, or wood, it will remain cool to the touch, even while it’s on the stove.
- Rivets are a means of joining parts together, such as the handle and the pan, or the handle and the lid. Other options for joining parts include welding or screws.
- Body materials are essential to know, and you should choose based on the food you prepare. Stainless steel is a great all-rounder and excels at browning food. For braising, you’re best off with enameled cast iron.
- The rim can either be slightly rolled, or a straight edge. If you’re pouring liquids often, a rim that’s slightly rolled can help you out. However, if you’re tossing ingredients, you’re better off with a straight edge.
- The surface can vary and is also chosen according to the food you cook most often. A nonstick coating will make sure cleaning up is easy, a cast iron surface will last you for ages (and is also stick-resistant), and stainless steel is great for browning, as mentioned above.
- The core is what is sandwiched between the inside and outside, and this is often where conductive materials are found, for example copper and aluminum.
- Sides are either high and vertical, or flared. Flared sides will increase evaporation, thus reducing cooking liquids. High, vertical sides are best for simmering liquids.
- Last but not least, the base is something we spoke about earlier – a flat base is best for smooth-top ranges, and induction requires magnetic base materials (examples include stainless steel alloys that respond well to the magnetic field).
What kind of cookware types are there?
You can’t just get any kind – it’s best if you get the material that suits your style of cooking. For example, braised foods are best in pans that can retain heat over long periods. If you’re cooking white or tomato sauces, that shouldn’t be done in unlined aluminum or copper cookware. Those ingredients will react with the metal. And last but not least, sautéed foods will taste best if cooked in pans that quickly transmit heat. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular options.
By far the most popular choice, it’s long-lasting and uncoated. Excellent for browning and braising, and you can often find it sold in sets. This is the “workhorse” in the kitchen, and you can do pretty much anything with it. It lasts for ages, is easy to care for, and won’t react with any food you might cook in it. The heating is uniform and rapid, and some sets are magnetic, making them compatible with an induction cooktop. They’re safe for ovens and dishwashers. However, they’re sometimes tough to clean, which is a bummer.
Nonstick coatings are durable, and will release even delicate foods with zero effort. They require little to no oil, and they’re great for nonfat, or low-fat dishes. You’ll find they are exceptionally easy to clean, and are often ideal for use on just about any kind of cooktop. If you take into account the handle material, most are oven-safe at up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. However, not all are safe for metal utensils, and not all are dishwasher-safe. The food won’t brown as well, so keep that in mind.
Enameled cast iron
If you need something that works well for sautéing, browning, frying or searing, these are colorful, classic pieces that you can easily move from the stovetop to the dining table. If you get a covered piece, you can also stew, braise, slow-cook or roast meat. They’re famous for their excellent heat retention, and they heat evenly and slowly. The coating is durable and won’t react with any potentially acidic ingredients, and they’re also corrosion-resistant. The only downside is that they’re heavy, and their small handles can make moving them from the stovetop to the oven a bit difficult.
Uncoated cast iron
If you’re looking for an extremely durable alternative to nonstick, this is it. You can preheat uncoated cast iron to higher temperatures if you want to brown meat. Keep in mind that this type of cookware isn’t really known for even cooking. They’re also harder to clean, which makes them impractical for everyday cooking. You also can’t wash them in a dishwasher. And last but not least, if you want them to last, you’ll have to season and maintain them. Leaving them in a damp environment will result in rust. All things considered, it is durable and nonstick, but you’ll have to take special care of it.
The best in terms of quick, yet even cooking. It also cools down quickly, giving you maximum control. If you want it to last, look for anything 1/16 to 1/8 inches thick, or heavy-gauge copper. And it’s not just ideal for things such as sautéing, searing or frying. You also get a very nice kitchen-to-table presentation. Some heavier models that have handless of iron or brass are safe for using in the oven as well. However, they can be pretty pricey. They also dent easily. Keep in mind that since copper is a reactive material, these models are often lined with a nonreactive material, such as stainless steel or tin. They aren’t compatible with an induction cooktop, and if you want to clean them, you can only do so by hand.
Blue steel and carbon-steel
Made for high-performance cooking, these are an absolute favorite in professional kitchens. They’re very efficient and durable, and you can use them with any kind of cooktop. Cleaning them is as easy as wiping them with paper towels, and they’re the material of choice for omelet and crepe pans. However, you can’t just wash them, and if you want them to not rust, you’ll need to rub them with multiple coats of oil, which is often impractical.
As our last option, we have Aluminum, which is an excellent conductor as far as heat goes. It is also lightweight and not expensive. However, it’s prone to staining, and this can affect foods and how they taste. It can actually discolor some light-colored foods or sauces, which isn’t something anyone would enjoy. That’s why anodized aluminum is actually coated and that won’t happen.
Wrapping things up – what type of cookware is best?
Making the final decision is actually really personal. If you’ve read our buying guide, you’ll see that it all comes down to personal choice. How much time you spend cooking, what you cook the most, how much of an expert you are in the kitchen, and how much you can afford to spend, are all factors. When you’re buying, it’s good to buy the best you can afford. You do have quite a few very good options in the list above, and as we said in the beginning – regardless of which one you go for, you won’t regret it. What do you think is the best cookware set? Did we miss any?