Not recommended for high heat
Let’s face it: A bargain cookware set isn’t going to have the same features as a high-end set, and the Cook N Home 12-Piece Stainless Steel Cookware Set certainly has its pros and cons. We took this cookware set through its paces, keeping in mind its target buyers aren’t likely to be gourmet cooks or cookware snobs. The question, then, is whether the cons are a deal breaker, given the low price tag. Are the pros enough to make this stainless steel cookware appealing to the audience it’s designed for? We cooked, tested, washed, and repeated—read on to find out what we decided.
Design: Good from far, but far from good
The Cook N Home 12-Piece Stainless Steel Cookware Set includes a 1.5-quart saucepan with lid, a 1.5-quart casserole pan with lid, a 2-quart casserole pan with lid, a 3-quart casserole pan with lid, a 5.5-quart stockpot with lid, and a 10-inch fry pan with lid. With a polished exterior, glass lids, and round loop handles, these pots and pans look attractive at first glance. On closer inspection, however, it becomes apparent that this set is on the small side of the cookware spectrum, with a lot of small pots and few family-sized pieces. We thought it was odd there were two 1.5-quart pots that were identical except for the handles, with a separate lid for each. Further, upon picking up a piece, you’ll immediately notice how light these pans are, even though the base seems generously thick.
One benefit to having multiple smaller pots is that you’ll be able to fit more of them on the stove at the same time, so you can warm up a few sauces while cooking something more substantial in a large pot. The smallest pots in this set can be used for heating a can of soup or canned vegetables, but the small size can make stirring messy.
During some intense cooking sessions with the Cook N Home 12-Piece Stainless Steel Cookware Set, several issues became apparent. First, while the handles on both the pots and the lids look substantial, they are actually rather lightweight since they’re formed from flat metal. It turns out they’re hollow, so water can end up inside when you’re washing the pans and lids. This can create a bit of a mess since water will dribble out the handles as you move the pots and lids from sink to drain board. There’s also a risk that you’ll end up with food particles inside the handles if you immerse the pot or lid in water to soak them.
This set is on the small side of the cookware spectrum, with more small pots and few family-sized pieces.
The second issue has to do with the handles as well. Only two pans in the set have long handles—the 1.5-quart saucepan and the 10-inch fry pan—while the rest have the style of side-loop handles you’d see on a stock pot or Dutch oven. This style works well for large, heavy pots, but when you want to stir food in one of the small pots, you’re going to need a potholder or oven mitt to keep your fingers safe from burning. The side handles are graduated based on the size of the pot, but none of them are generously large.
Further, the handles on the glass lids are all rather small, and the round shape gives you less room to grasp the handle. As such, we found ourselves using two fingers to lift the lids. While grasping the lids with just two fingers wasn’t uncomfortable, using these pots would be easier and more convenient with a more generously sized lid handle.
For storage, many people like to flip pot lids upside down so the handle is inside. This saves space and allows pots to be stacked. The lids on this set stay secure while upside down, but they’re impossible to remove without tipping the pot. It’s certainly not a deal breaker, but it’s not convenient either. For storage, nesting them might be a better idea, but the metal-on-metal contact will likely scratch the finish.
The most peculiar thing about this set is that some of the cookware makes a pinging or clicking sound as it’s heated. We weren’t able to figure out where the sound was coming from, and it didn’t seem to affect the cookware’s function. However, it’s a bit disconcerting when your cookware is making strange noises.
Material: Thin stainless steel and an aluminum disk base
The pans in this Cook N Home set are made from stainless steel and feature an aluminum disk on the base. The sides of the pans are made from fairly thin material and have a formed edge that improves rigidity. The lids are made from tempered glass with a stainless steel rim and a stainless steel loop handle.
There are a few benefits to glass lids, like the ability to see the food as it cooks. Glass is also a good insulator, so the lid and handle stay cooler as you cook. On the downside, it’s possible to break these lids if you drop them. Plus, they each have a small hole in the lid to let out steam—a good idea in theory—but at a frisky boil, steam and spurts of water start coming out the sides of the lid, even when the pot isn’t very full. At a gentle simmer, the hole works as intended, but we’d suggest simply placing the lid at a slight angle when you want to vent steam as you cook.
Heating Capacity: Quick heating, but uneven cooking
The pans in the Cook N Home 12-Piece Stainless Steel Cookware Set heated quickly thanks to the aluminum disk in the base. They didn’t brown food as well as other pans, and the steak we cooked browned unevenly. The manufacturer warns against using these on high heat, so we weren’t able to preheat the pan as much as usual, but otherwise, the results were decent. All the foods we cooked released easily from the pan and nothing burned, but we did scorch the sides of several pans while cooking.
Because the pots are made from rather thin material, they don’t hold heat as well as pots with a sturdier construction. However, with a lid on, they keep food warm for a reasonable amount of time.
As mentioned, these pans should not be used on high heat, as they can warp or discolor, and they should be heated slowly, increasing the heat gradually to the final temperature. They shouldn’t be heated while empty, and you shouldn’t add cold liquid to a hot pan or immerse a hot pan in cold water, as either of these actions could warp the pans. These pans should not be used under the broiler, but they can be used on an induction cooktop.
Finally, these pans are oven-safe to 350 degrees, which is sufficient for baking or roasting but not as high as many other pans.
The most peculiar thing about this set is that some of the cookware makes a pinging or clicking sound as it’s heated.
Cleaning: Scrubbing required
Like most stainless steel cookware, it’s best to add water to these pans as soon as you’re done cooking to help release any food. Steel wool and other abrasives shouldn’t be used during cleaning.
These pans can be washed in the dishwasher, but repeated dishwasher cleaning can dull the shiny surface. Because the set includes many small pans, we were able to get the entire set, along with the lids, into the dishwasher in one batch.
We also noticed the pans are prone to white spots when cooking certain foods or adding salt too early in the cooking process. These stains aren’t harmful and can be removed, if desired, by boiling white vinegar in the pan. The manufacturer does not recommend storing food in these pots, though, as salt can damage the metal finish.
Because the sides of these pans are so thin, you may end up burning them, which makes cleaning a bit more time-consuming. The manufacturer recommends cleaners like Bar Keepers Friend, and in our testing, this successfully removed any scorch marks.
At this price point, it’s hard to gripe too much about the flaws.
Price: A bargain price for modest needs
This cookware set is inexpensive—you can find it for less than $60, making it around $10 per pan and lid. At that price point, it’s hard to gripe too much about the flaws, and if a pan fails, it’s not a tragedy to throw it out. This would be a fine set for someone whose cooking needs are modest or for projects when you don’t want to use your good cookware. However, an experienced cook would likely be frustrated with the subpar quality of these products.
Competition: Better options for under $100
In the under-$100 range for cookware sets, there are several off-brand cookware competitors, but you can also find a few more familiar brands, as well. Cuisinart offers a value set with just four pots and three lids that would be a good option for someone with a small kitchen. While you don’t get as many sizes of cookware with this set, they’re all useful items and better quality.
Another option in the same price range is a Paula Deen set that includes stainless steel pots and nonstick skillets. We’re not fond of the included spatulas that make the set seem bigger than it is, but the rest of the pieces are useful, and pans like these are much-loved by home cooks who often make scrambled eggs or omelets.
1.5-quart saucepan and lid, 1.5-quart casserole pan and lid, 2-quart casserole pan and lid, 3-quart casserole pan and lid, 5.5-quart stockpot and lid, 10-inch fry pan and lid
Functional for the price.
At the end of the day, you get what you pay for, and this bargain cookware set isn’t the greatest by any means. While we wouldn’t recommend it for serious cooks, it’s priced right for beginner cooks, such as college students sharing an apartment, folks who only need to heat noodles and soup, and those who don’t have money in the budget for a better set.
- Product Name 12-Piece Stainless Steel Cookware Set
- Product Brand Cook N Home
- Price $54.99
- Model Number NC-00250
- Material Stainless steel with aluminum base and glass lids
- Other Options Silicone handles
- Warranty 6 months