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Whether you're a beginner, an occasional cook, or a professional chef, there's no denying the importance of having nonstick cookware in your kitchen. Not only are they key to making the perfect eggs, pancakes, and even simmered sauces and seared meats, but they're also easier to clean and less likely to get discolored than their stainless steel counterparts.
But with countless brands of nonstick cookware on the market, it's difficult to know which ones you'll likely be using serious elbow grease on to clean after a few uses—and which ones will actually stand the test of time. Need some suggestions?
We've put together this comprehensive list of the best nonstick cookware sets to help you decide.
Best Overall: Rachael Ray Hard-Anodized Nonstick Cookware Set
Lightweight but sturdy
Includes a lot of pieces
Silicone covered handles stay cool
Not suitable for induction
Looking for a nice set of pans that won’t break the bank but also performs way above its price point? Turn to this Rachel Ray 12-piece set. The handles are covered in silicone (in a variety of colors) for a decorative touch and a functional purpose—since the silicone doesn’t retain heat, you won’t need to grab potholders before picking up one of these pots or pans. (You’ll also get a slotted spoon and spatula in the same color as the cookware’s handles.)
If you’re cooking a meal that needs to finish in the oven, this set can probably handle the heat up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. These pans are relatively lightweight (handy for people who don’t want to feel like they’re weight-lifting while cooking up dinner), while still being sturdy enough to not slip and slide on stovetops with a flat surface. Important note: this cookware cannot be used with induction stovetops.
"A common problem with most nonstick cooking sets is the coating peels off. We’ve used and washed the Rachael Ray set regularly for months now, and it’s still as nonstick as ever." — Stephanie Vermillion, Product Tester
Runner Up, Best Overall: Anolon Advanced Hard Anodized Nonstick Cookware Set, 11 Pieces
Oven safe to 400 degrees
Durable nonstick surface
Not induction compatible
Must be washed by hand
This 11-piece set, which includes saucepans, frying pans, a sauté pan, and a stockpot, comes with a lifetime warranty. All the cookware—including lids—is oven-safe for temperatures up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Food truly won’t stick to these pans, which the manufacturer says can even hold up to metal utensils. (Sticking with wood utensils is probably your best bet to avoiding scratches over the long-term, though.) Even eggs cooked without butter or oil release without issue.
"These anodized aluminum pans are triple-coated with a nonstick finish, which explains why our omelet released oh-so easily from the pan." — Donna Currie, Product Tester
Best High-End: Calphalon Signature Nonstick 10-Piece Cookware Set
Quick to heat
Easy to clean
Great performance from nonstick interior
Like many other selections on this list, this sturdy set of Calphalon nonstick pots is hard anodized, which means it's undergone a treatment process that left it extremely durable. According to the manufacturer, metal, wood, nylon, or coated utensils are all safe for use with this sturdy cookware. Although all the cookware has extra-long stainless steel handles, some cooks note the handles do get hot to the touch, so you may need to use a potholder if you’re moving the pan from one burner to another.
The pans in this Calphalon set heat up quickly, distribute heat evenly on the pan’s surface, and retain heat well. The set includes two omelet pans, two saucepans, a sauté pan, and a stockpot, plus lids. Each of the pots and pans has a pleasing weight and heft, making them enjoyable to cook with.
"The pots and pans have a lifetime warranty. It’s definitely an investment, but we feel the longevity makes this cookware worth the purchase." — Donna Currie, Product Tester
Best Oven Safe: Caraway Cookware Set
Beautiful minimalist aesthetic
Does not contain PTFEs or PFOAs
Oven safe to 650 degrees
Caraway's collection isn't just non-toxic and non stick, it's also one of the only ceramic pans that can withstand oven temperatures up to 650 degrees without any worry of breaking down. This new direct-to-consumer brand performs really well and is available in several unique shades that aren't often found in the kitchen—pink terracotta, sage, cream, navy, and dove gray. This 7-piece set includes everything you’ll need to furnish (or re-furnish) your kitchen: a frying pan, sauté pan, saucepan, Dutch oven, and three lids. It also comes with a handy magnetic pan storage rack and canvas lid holder, easy storage options that other brands typically don’t consider.
The pots and pans themselves are coated in ceramic, allowing for a non-stick surface that doesn’t contain PTFEs or PFOAs. Although this set is on the pricier side, reviewers love that these pans are easy to use and clean, and they feel a bit more lightweight than other pots and pans in their arsenal. While they're also dishwasher safe for easier clean-up, hand-washing is recommended to increase the pan's life span.
"Teflon® may be considered the gold standard of nonstick, but this ceramic Caraway set outperforms every other pan we’ve tried by a mile." — Lindsay Boyers, Product Tester
Best Starter Set: Farberware 15-Piece Aluminum Nonstick Cookware Set
Includes every essential pan for beginners
Easy to clean
Great price point
May not be enough capacity for larger families
Setting up a first kitchen can be overwhelming—and also downright pricey. This 15-piece set comes with a baking sheet as well as five kitchen tools that’ll come in handy as you build kitchen supplies. All the items have a sleek, elegant appearance, and the cookware is available in a variety of colors.
In this set, you'll get three saucepans, a Dutch oven, two sauté pans, a grill pan, a fold-up steamer, and an assortment of plastic kitchen tools. This cookware is durable and has all the easy-to-clean qualities you’d expect from nonstick pans.
Note: Families and avid home cooks may find the pan sizes a bit smaller than usual (the larger of the skillets is 10 inches, where some sets have an 11- or 12-inch skillet).
Best Budget: T-fal Signature 12-Piece Nonstick Cookware Set
Set also includes utensils
Thermo-spot indicates when pan is preheated
Silicone handles stay cool when cooking
Might not last as long as more expensive brands
In addition to six pans (two frying pans, two saucepans, a griddle, and a Dutch oven) you’ll also get a nonstick coating-safe spoon, ladle, and spatula in this budget-friendly set. You can use these pans on any stovetop aside from induction, and they're also oven-safe up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Each of the pans has the letter “T” inside a circle; this little visual isn’t just a decorating motif—the “thermo-spot” turns solid red when the pan is preheated and ready for you to start cooking.
Pans heat up and retain heat well. Silicone handles also mean you can skip oven mitts or potholders when moving the pan. You’ll find this cookware set easy to clean and a good choice for basic home cooking.
Best Dishwasher-Safe: Farberware Glide Dishwasher-Safe Nonstick Cookware Set
Copper ceramic coating releases easily
Build in strainers in lids
Sure, nonstick pans are easy to clean. But often, they handle the test of time best if they’re only washed by hand. That can be a drag, especially at the end of a long night when plopping everything in the dishwasher is the speediest—and most appealing—option. Enter this attractive Farberware set, which is dishwasher safe for hands-off cleanup.
This set comes with two saucepans, two sauté pans, a stockpot, four lids, and a set of cooking utensils. In addition to being easy to clean, the copper ceramic coating on the pan’s interior helps ensure that food releases, while the shatter-proof saucepan lids have built-in strainers to make it easy to drain out water or excess sauce.
Best Skillet Set: All-Clad HA1 Hard Anodized Nonstick 3-Piece Set
Oven safe up to 500 degrees
Sizes might be limiting depending on what you're cooking
Dishwashing might discolor exteriors
If you don’t need a full set of nonstick cookware, or if you tend to use skillets the most, this 3-piece set from All-Clad is a great option. It comes with a 10-inch fry pan and 4-quart sauté pan. While those sizes may seem specific, they’re the ones you’re most likely to use for everyday cooking. From weekend pancakes and a quick grilled cheese to seared steaks or sautéed chicken at dinnertime, these skillets can handle it all. The nonstick interiors heat up quickly and cook food evenly—no weird hot spots here. Plus, they're dishwasher and oven safe up to 500 degrees.
Best Space Saver: Calphalon Premier Space Saving Nonstick Set
Great for smaller kitchens
Durable, well-performing pieces
In a kitchen that is lacking in storage, less is more—but not if you pick up this space-saving set from Calphalon: more is definitely more here. This nonstick cookware collection boasts 15 pieces, comprised of two saucepans, a sauteuse pan, sauté pan, soup pot, and stockpot (all with flat, space-saving glass lids) plus three different sized frying pans. This set is designed to stack and nest, so you'll save a whopping 30 percent in storage space compared to a typical 15-piece cookware set.
Constructed of hard-anodized aluminum, these durable pans are built for quick, even heating and are even resistant to most metal utensils. The welded stainless steel handles stay cool while used on a cooktop. These pans are also oven safe up to 450 degrees. Though the price on this set is a little on the high side, it's because you get virtually every type of essential pot you'd need and then some. If the 15-piece set is just too much for you, it is also available in a 14, 10, or 8-piece version as well.
The top spot goes to the Rachael Ray Cucina Nonstick 12-Piece Nonstick Cookware Set: it's durable, well-priced, and it cooks well consistently. Plus, it comes in a whimsical assortment of colors. On a budget? You won't have to sacrifice quality with the T-fal Signature 12-Piece Nonstick Cookware Set (buy it here).
What To Look For When Buying Nonstick Pans
Nonstick pans can be made out of many types of base material, which will help determine how well your pan conducts, maintains, and responds to heat. The lightest and most popular of these is aluminum, which conducts heat well and can be used on a variety of cooktops. Stainless steel is another popular choice—these pans tend to be heavier, with more substantial thickness making them less susceptible to dings and dents. Copper is another great option, as this metal has superior heat conductivity, and is also extremely responsive to changes in heat. As for the interior, there's polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), ceramic, and hard-anodized aluminum, which we'll discuss later.
Number of Pieces
Depending on your cooking style and family size, the number of pieces you need will vary. The most utilized nonstick pan will likely be a skillet, so be sure to choose a set that has at least one (two is even better). Another essential pan to have is a stockpot, great for cooking rice or thicker sauces and stews and allowing for easy cleanup. More pieces will give you more versatility but will require more space to store.
Most nonstick cookware functions just fine on gas, electric, and halogen cooktops—always check with the manufacturer’s instructions to be sure. The most common material used to make nonstick cookware is aluminum, which is not induction-friendly on its own. If you have an induction cooktop, look for one that has a stainless steel base that specifies it is compatible for use with this type of stove.
Nonstick cookware is generally safe for low and medium temperatures, though some of the more modern versions can stand higher heat. Traditional PTFE coatings are generally safe to about 400 degrees, ceramic coatings can typically withstand higher temperatures (over 500 degrees with some models), and hard-anodized cookware can fall somewhere between 400-500 degrees, depending on the manufacturer. If you often start foods on the stove and finish them in the oven, make sure to check what temperatures the cookware can withstand, so you won’t have to transfer from one pan to another to finish your cooking.
Nonstick cookware is available at a wide variety of price points, the least expensive of which are lightweight aluminum pans with PTFE or ceramic coating. Since medium- and heavyweight pans require more material to construct, they will naturally be a little more expensive. Keep in mind that nonstick cookware generally wears out quicker than stainless steel, copper, or enameled cast iron pieces and will need to be replaced at some point.
Many manufacturers offer some type of limited warranty against defects in material, construction, or workmanship. This warranty typically will not cover damage from thermal shock, improper use, nonstick deterioration, damage from metal/sharp utensils, or damage caused by abrasive cleaners and scouring pads. Be sure to double-check the warranty provided by the vendor to ensure it is to your satisfaction.
Types of Nonstick Cookware
Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), also known as Teflon, is what serves as the coating for traditional nonstick cookware. Pans made with PTFE are easy to use and clean, but the coatings do wear away as you use them. The biggest concerns with PTFE mainly have to do with the breakdown of the coating, which begins to happen at 450 degrees. At high temperatures, PTFE releases toxic fumes which can potentially cause respiratory health problems.
Commonly linked to PTFE, PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) was used in the manufacture of traditional nonstick coatings, and there are some concerns about the safety of these chemicals in the long term and its effects on the environment. Since 2015, regulations mandate that all cookware sold in the US and Canada is PFOA-free, meaning that it is no longer a major component in manufacturing nonstick cookware.
Ceramic nonstick cookware is coated in a material that is derived from silica, one of the components of beach sand. This is applied—either dipped or sprayed—to coat the interior surface of the pan and then it is cured by high-firing in an oven. While most PTFE coatings need at least three coatings, ceramic coatings can require as little as just one layer, reducing the time and energy required to manufacture these types of pans. The ceramic glazes on cookware sold in the US and Europe are also subject to regulations that prohibit lead or cadmium, eliminating any worry about leaching. The glass-like finish also poses no risk of emitting toxic fumes, which is why those in search of a “non-toxic” nonstick pan often choose ceramic. The drawback of ceramic is that it is more brittle than traditional nonstick coatings, making it more susceptible to developing surface cracks and losing its nonstick property faster.
While PTFE and ceramic coatings are coated onto other metals to make a nonstick layer, hard-anodized aluminum has a nonstick surface that is essentially “baked in.” It is made by electrochemically hardening soft aluminum to make it stronger than stainless steel, and an oxidized top layer that is also nonstick and tougher than traditional nonstick coatings. Hard anodized aluminum stands up well to high heat, resists scratches, and doesn’t react with acidic foods, and because the nonstick surface is part of the actual pan (versus being bonded onto the metal), it is not prone to chipping or flaking.
This popular French cookware brand (sometimes known as Tefal) takes its name from the combination of Teflon and aluminum. It has a reputation for high-quality, affordable nonstick cookware that can be used for years. T-Fal's portfolio includes full sets of cookware, single pans, and specialty pieces such as woks and grill pans.
Calphalon invented hard-anodized aluminum cookware using a process adapted from the aerospace industry in the 1960s. This Ohio-based brand is still a leading producer of premium quality cookware, with mid-range price points that make it a popular and attainable brand for avid home cooks.
The GreenPan brand was created by two school friends from Belgium who wanted to find a non-toxic alternative to traditional nonstick cookware. Its proprietary coating is called Thermolon™, a ceramic glaze that does not use PFOA in its manufacturing and will not release toxic fumes at high heat.
The Pennsylvania-based cookware company All-Clad is beloved by professional and home cooks around the world. It is a premium cookware brand known for its high-quality cladded stainless steel lines but also offers hard-anodized nonstick and stainless steel nonstick options as well.
Some cookware sets will also come with extras, like nonstick-friendly spatulas, spoons, and other non-cookware items. If you’re setting up a brand new kitchen, these items are a nice addition, but if you’re already well-stocked in the cooks' tools department, look for a set that includes cookware only.
There are some universal rules for nonstick cookware that will help you prolong its life. Always use the pans within the recommended heat range, as some nonstick coatings do not work well at higher temperatures. Ghee, butter, and oil are recommended for cooking, but nonstick sprays will leave a sticky buildup that can be difficult to remove and will affect the pan's nonstick properties. Protect your cookware's finish by avoiding sharp or metal cooking utensils, which can cause scratches and gouges that can lead to eventual chipping or flaking. Should you notice that the coating on your nonstick cookware is beginning to crack, it is time to replace it. While some nonstick pans claim to be dishwasher safe, you'll get more wear out of your cookware if you hand wash them. Since the nonstick surface lets food debris come off easily, washing your pots and pans with a non-abrasive scrubber and mild dish soap is a simple and effective method to clean them.
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