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Best Overall: Cuisinart Multiclad Pro 12-Piece Stainless Steel Cookware Set
If you’re looking for a quality set of cookware that won’t break the bank, this set has everything you need. It has a brushed stainless exterior and a polished interior surface, cool-grip handles that are riveted on for security, and tight-fitting lids that self-baste the food as you cook.
The triple-ply construction includes an aluminum core for heat retention and even heating. The rims are tapered for easy, mess-free pouring. The set is oven safe to 550 degrees and can be used on any cooking surface, including induction. The pans can also be used under the broiler. All pieces are dishwasher safe for easy cleaning.
The set includes a 1 1/2 quart sauce pan with lid, a 3 quart sauce pan with lid, an 8 inch skillet, a 10 inch skillet, a 3 1/2 quart sauté pan with lid, an 8-quart stock pot with lid, and a steamer insert with lid. The only piece you might want to add to this collection is a nonstick skillet for your morning eggs.
Best High-End: All-Clad 10-Piece Brushed Stainless Steel 5-Ply Cookware Set
If you’re ready to replace your inexpensive cookware with a high-end set that will make the neighbors jealous, this set will be the jewels of your kitchen. But it’s not all looks—these pieces are also workhorses that are designed for heavy duty use in your busy kitchen.
This set includes all of the pieces you really need in your kitchen: an 8 inch frying pan, a 10 inch frying pan, a 1 1/2 quart sauce pan with lid, a 3 quart sauce pan with lid, a 3 quart sauté pan with lid, and an 8 quart stock pot with lid.
These are made with a 5-ply bonded construction that has alternating layers of stainless steel and conductive aluminum for warp-free strength and even heating. The cooking surface has a starburst finish for stick resistance, and the pots have flared rims that make it easy to pour liquid from them.
For those days when a recipe calls for a specific pot size and you can’t remember the details of your set, the capacity is etched on the bottom of each piece. The handles are made from stainless steel and secured with flat rivets. Lids are made from stainless steel so you can’t see what’s cooking, but they’re unbreakable and you can use them in the oven along with the pots.
These are oven and broiler safe to 600 degrees and can be used on any cooking surface, including induction. They are dishwasher safe, for easy cleaning. Once you own this set, the one thing you might want to add is a nonstick skillet for cooking your morning eggs, but there isn’t much else that you’ll need for most of your cooking.
Best Budget: Cook N Home 12-Piece Stainless Steel Cookware Set
If you don’t have the budget for a high-end set of cookware, this collection will fit your budget while it looks good on your stove. The pans have a mirror finish inside and out, and an encapsulated base for even heat distribution. These can be used on all cooking surfaces.
The handles are made from stainless steel, and are riveted on for durability, and the lids are tempered glass, so you can see what’s cooking. The pots are oven safe to 350 degrees and the lids are safe to 270 degrees to preserve their appearance. If you’re not concerned about discoloration of the metal, you can use the pots up to 500 degrees and the lids to 350 degrees. They are dishwasher safe for easy cleaning.
The set includes a 1 1/2 quart sauce pan with lid, a 1 1/2 quart casserole with lid, a 2 quart casserole with lid, a 3 quart casserole with lid, a 5 1/2 quart stock pot with lid, and a 10 inch frying pan with lid. While this set includes a variety of pots and pans that are useful, you might be tempted to add a smaller frying pan or a larger stock pot or Dutch oven to your collection.
Runner Up, Best Overall: Anolon Nouvelle Copper 10-Piece Cookware Set
This set ticks all of the important boxes—it includes cookware in sizes you’re likely to use, it’s made from stainless steel that won’t rust or stain or react with acidic foods. It also has a multi-metal base that offers the best heat distribution, retention, and control.
The set includes a 1 1/4 quart saucepan with lid, 2 1/2 quart saucepan with lid, a 6 1/2 quart stockpot with lid, an 8-inch French skillet, a 10 1/2 inch French skillet, and a 3 quart sauté pan with lid.
The base has a layer of copper enclosed in aluminum and covered with stainless steel that makes it suitable for any cooktop, including induction. The tulip shape looks elegant and the polished exterior adds to the class while the brushed interior hides the inevitable scratches that come from use.
The handles are made from cast stainless steel, attached with two rivets for durability, and the domed lids have high loop handles that are easy to grab, even if you’re wearing mitts.
The set is oven safe to 500 degrees and can be used under the broiler. For easy cleaning, all pieces are dishwasher safe. Since the lids are stainless steel rather than glass, you can’t watch what you’re cooking, but it means the lids are also oven safe and are unbreakable.
Best for Durability: Calphalon Classic 10-Piece Stainless Steel Cookware Set
This durable set will last a long time, while looking good. The impact-bonded base provides fast, even heating while the long handles are designed to be ergonomic and to provide a secure grip, even when the pan is full of hot food. The handles are double-riveted for security.
There are fill lines inside the pan, so you can add a precise amount of liquid or food without pulling out measuring cups. The covers have straining holes that lime up with the pour spouts, so you can drain your noodles or vegetables without hunting for a strainer.
The set includes an 8 inch frying pan, a 10 inch frying pan, a 1 1/2 quart sauce pan with lid, a 2 1/2 quart sauce pan with lid, a 3 quart sauté pan with lid, and a 6 quart stock pot with lid. The lids are made from tempered glass, so you can see what’s cooking.
The cookware can be used in the oven or under the broiler, and the pans and lids are dishwasher safe for easy cleaning.
Best for Small Kitchens: Calphalon Premier Space-Saving Stainless Steel Supper Club Set
Designed to save space, this cookware stacks neatly for more compact storage on a shelf or in the pantry. There’s no need to worry about the order they stack since they can stack and nest in any order you choose—so you can keep your favorite on top for easy access. Unlike some sets designed for space-saving that are most useful for single cooks, this includes family-sized cookware that has enough space for a whole meal or for prepping ahead.
The set includes a 4-quart chef’s pan, an 8-quart stockpot with cover, and a 5-quart sauteuse with cover. Made from stainless steel with an aluminum core, this cookware heats quickly and evenly with no hot spots for professional cooking performance. It’s oven safe to 450 degrees and is dishwasher safe for easy cleaning.
Best with Additional Materials: Made In Cookware The Sous Chef
Stainless steel is a great choice for many cooking tasks, but most cooks admit that they need cookware made from other materials to round out the collection. That’s where this set shines. It focuses on stainless steel, but also includes a nonstick pan and a carbon steel pan to round out the set.
The stainless steel pieces include a 10-inch frying pan, a 2-quart saucepan with lid, a 4-quart saucepan with lid, a 3.5-quart sauté pan with lid, and an 8-quart stockpot with lid. It also includes a 10-inch nonstick frying pan that’s perfect for eggs or pancakes and a 12-inch carbon steel frying pan that has many of the same properties of cast iron but with a much lighter weight. It also includes a can of carbon steel seasoning wax.
All of the cookware is induction compatible. The stainless steel cookware is oven safe to 800 degrees, the nonstick pan is oven safe to 500 degrees, and the carbon steel is oven safe to 1,200 degrees.
Best High-End Starter Set: Le Creuset 5-Piece Tri-Ply Stainless Steel Cookware Set
When the cook is looking for quality cookware over a large number of pieces, this set is worth a close look. It includes the ones that are most useful, making this high-end set more affordable, so it’s great for new cooks and for folks who are starting to upgrade their existing cookware. The pans have a full aluminum core, all the way up the sidewalls, for great heating properties with no hot spots and even cooking.
While the set is small, the pans are a great size for cooking a full meal or for prepping ahead. The set includes a 10-inch frying pan, a 3-quart saucepan with lid, and a 7-quart stockpot with lid. These are oven safe to 500 degrees and induction compatible.
Best for a New Kitchen: Rachael Ray Create Delicious Stainless Steel 10-Piece Cookware Set
This set includes everything a new cook will need, in a happy design with bright red handles that will perk up the kitchen. These are made from polished stainless steel with etched measurement markings inside that make it easy to see if there’s enough water for the pasta. The rims are flared for-neat pouring and the lids are glass so it’s easy to check the cooking progress without lifting the lid and losing steam and heat. The handles are riveted on for security and the red silicone gives a secure grip.
The set includes a 1-quart saucepan, a 2-quart saucepan with lid, a 6-quart saucepan with lid, a 10.25-inch deep pan, and a 3 quart sauté pan with lid, along with a wooden spoon and slotted turner. These are induction compatible and oven safe to 400 degrees.
Best Design: Lagostina Martellata Hammered Copper 10-Piece Stainless Steel Cookware Set
Stainless steel cookware is a favorite because it’s so sturdy and versatile, but it can look rather plain. This set solves that problem since it has a hammered copper exterior that looks beautiful. Over time, the copper finish will develop a patina that many cooks love, but it's easy to clean the pans to bring them back to their original brightness if that’s preferred.
It’s not all flash, though, since it has an aluminum core encased in stainless steel for even, consistent heating with no hotspots. The lids and handles are stainless steel that offers an attractive color contrast. The edges of the pans are rolled for neat, easy pouring and the pots are oven safe to 500 degrees. This set includes an 8-inch skillet, a 10-inch skillet, a 2-quart saucepan with lid, a 3-quart saucepan with lid, a 3-quart deep sauté pan with lid, and a 6-quart stockpot with lid.
Number of pieces A large set can give you every pot and pan you could want, and all the pieces will match so they’ll look good on the stove and in the pantry. However, not everyone needs that much cookware — or has enough space to store it — so a smaller set might be a better fit.
Cookware sizes Large families will prefer sets with larger pots and pans that can cook all the pasta, burgers, and sauces in a single pot, while small families and singles may not need a giant stockpot and might prefer a smaller frying pan.
Lid material Glass lids let you peek at your food while it’s cooking so you won’t lose the heat (and you don’t need to hunt for a potholder). All-metal lids don’t let you watch the cooking process, but they’re likely able to handle more heat, particularly in the oven.