Very attractive copper-colored exterior
Copper is decorative, not functional
Lid handles can get hot
Copper finish can discolor
We couldn’t help but “ooh” and “ahh” as we unpacked the Cuisinart Chef's Classic Stainless Color Series 11-Piece Set, but when it comes to cookware, performance is what really matters. We made soup, sautéed onions, and roasted carrots in the oven, just to get warmed up. No matter what was on the menu, we made sure to use at least one piece from this copper cookware set, although we’ll admit that we made salad in a bowl. Now we know everything this set can and can’t do. Read on for all the details.
Design: So attractive
The very first thing anyone would notice about this set is how pretty it is. The brushed copper-colored surface, sometimes called rose gold or blush by the manufacturer, looks great, while the shiny steamer adds a bright accent to the set. Stainless steel handles and interiors complete the look, and the glass lids fit neatly to hold heat and steam in and let you see the food as it cooks. The handles are riveted on for security, and they feel comfortable in use.
The very first thing anyone would notice about this set is how pretty it is.
The instructions note that the exterior of the pans can discolor if the flame is too high and comes up the sides of the pans rather than just heating the bottom. While we always take care to keep the flame under the pan and not let it lick the sides, we left a pan slightly off-center and a small section of the exterior turned a lighter, more golden color. It wasn’t visible from a distance, but it gave us a good idea of what the discoloration might look like if the cookware were exposed to high flames.
The discoloration didn’t affect the performance of the pan, but anyone who values the look will need to be careful or be willing to live with the results. Personally, we don’t mind when our cookware shows signs of many, many cooking sessions, but we’re not entirely sure how this set’s colored exterior will age.
Material: Stainless steel
The pans are made from stainless steel with a copper-colored exterior. To be clear, the copper color on the exterior is not a functional copper coating that would affect the cooking performance. Instead, that color is all about appearance—and we really loved the appearance.
Attached to the bottom of each pan is a metal disk that has an aluminum core surrounded by stainless steel. While we prefer cookware with a formed bottom rather than an attached disk, that disk helps make this set less expensive, so we really can’t complain about it too much. Because of the stainless steel bottom, this set can be used on induction cooktops along with all the other types of stoves you’ll find in kitchens.
The handles are made from cast stainless steel that stayed reasonably cool during cooking. Most of the time, we didn’t need to use a mitt to grab the handle when we were cooking on the stove, but we were cautious when the pots were left simmering for a long time.
The lids are glass with a stainless steel rim and handle. The handles got hot during long cooking sessions, so we needed mitts, but we had no trouble grabbing them, even with our bulkiest mitts. For shorter cooking times, the lid handles stayed reasonably cool, but the glass was quite hot.
Since the cooking surface is stainless steel, we wouldn’t use the skillets for cooking scrambled eggs, but they’re great for browning foods or stir-frying small quantities, while the sauté pan was perfect for cooking larger quantities than the skillets could handle, and for making and reducing sauces. And of course, the large, 8-quart stock pot was great for making a pot of stock and for using that stock to make soup. The sauce pots were great for making applesauce, reheating soup for lunch, and cooking a pot of rice.
Heating Capacity: Even heating, and oven safe
The layered bottom disk gave us even heating, so we didn’t have hot spots during cooking, while the aluminum core made these more responsive than solid stainless steel pans. The combination made these a pleasure to use. They heated quickly and evenly and retained heat well enough that adding food didn’t make the pan temperature drop too much.
The cookware also performed well in the oven. They’re oven safe to 400 degrees, which is less than most recipes require. The lids are oven safe to 350 degrees, so they’re not quite as heat resistant as the pans but still sufficient for most recipes. While we have plenty of baking and roasting pans, it’s handy to have cookware that’s oven safe, so we were happy to give these a try.
They heated quickly and evenly and retained heat well enough that adding food didn’t make the pan temperature drop too much.
We used the 3-quart sauté pan for roasting carrots and appreciated the long handle (grabbed with an oven mitt, of course) when we shook the carrots for even roasting. When we removed it from the oven, we appreciated the helper handle on the opposite side, so we could hold the pan with both hands for safe transport. Later, we used the 10-inch skillet to cook a small meatloaf in the oven. The meatloaf cooked well, didn’t make a mess in the oven, and was easy to remove with the skillet’s long handle.
Cleaning: Use the dishwasher
We normally don’t clean cookware in the dishwasher, mostly because there’s seldom room for bulky items, but we decided to wash a few of these pieces in the dishwasher when we had sufficient space. The pots came out of the dishwasher clean, both inside and out, with no damage to the colored coating, and the lids were also sparkling clean.
Most of the time, we opted to hand wash the cookware, and it wasn’t difficult. When we roasted carrots, a small carrot stuck to a corner and burned onto the pan, looking rather serious about staying there. Rather than pulling out the heavy cleaning artillery, we rinsed off what we could, then let the pan soak for a short while. The carrot loosened without any prodding, then we just had to do some light work with a scrubbie sponge to remove the rest of the burned-on food. Cleaning the pan after making meatloaf was just as easy. A short soak, and the pan was easy to clean.
The pots came out of the dishwasher clean, both inside and out, with no damage to the colored coating, and the lids were also sparkling clean.
Other cooking sessions didn’t leave much residue, even when we made sticky foods like applesauce. These pots and pans will never be as easy to clean as nonstick cookware, but the most we needed to do was give the pans a short soak. Most pots simply required a good wipe with a soapy cleaning sponge.
Even though cleaning was easy, we gave a little extra cleaning attention around the rivets in the interior, since food could get stuck in these areas. However, we prefer the handle security that rivets provide, and don’t mind the extra cleaning required.
Included Items: Everything you need, but not ideal for large quantities
This set includes a 1.5-quart saucepan with lid, a 2.5-quart saucepan with lid, a 3-quart sauté pan with lid, an 8-quart stock pot with lid, an 8-inch skillet, a 10-inch skillet, and a steamer insert to fit the 2.5-quart saucepan. The lids for the stock pot and sauté pan are interchangeable, and they also fit the 10-inch skillet, which made us happy. While we usually cook in skillets without using a lid, it’s nice to have a lid available to help keep food warm or perhaps when a little bit of steaming is needed. The lid for the 2.5-quart saucepan fits both the pan and the steamer basket.
While we liked the included items, when we made soup in the stock pot, we wished we had another sizable pot for cooking noodles. Just swapping the 2.5-quart saucepan for a 3-quart would have been a plus. While we liked the 3-quart sauté pan and had enough space for cooking four chicken thighs with plenty room for more, a large family might want to add an even wider frying or sauté pan to this set, but of course, it’s easy enough to buy an extra piece if it’s needed.
The steamer wasn’t huge, because the pan it sat on wasn’t huge, but it was large enough to steam some cauliflower for a side dish, and it was great for steaming eggs—which is our preference over boiling. Unlike steamers that fit inside pots, this steamer perches on top of its pot, so we could fill it with food while the water in the pot was heating up. When our food was ready, we could place the steamer safely on the pot without risking burns that can happen when trying to arrange food in a steamer that’s deep inside a pot.
Price: Affordable, but not cheap
Given the Cuisinart name, the attractive appearance, and the good performance, we’re pleased with the price. While it’s not the cheapest cookware you’ll find, you could easily pay as much for a single high-end pot or pan.
Cuisinart Chef's Classic Stainless Color Series 11-Piece Set vs. Cuisinart MCP-12N Multiclad Pro Stainless Steel 12-Piece Cookware Set
Made by the same company at a slightly higher price point, the pieces in the Cuisinart MCP-12N Multiclad Pro Stainless Steel 12-Piece Cookware Set, which we also tested, are very similar to those in the Chef’s Classic set that we reviewed, including the fact that both cookware sets are dishwasher safe. The stock pot, smaller sauce pot, and two skillets are the same size in both sets.
The sauté pan and larger sauce pot are larger in the Multiclad Pro set, the lids on this set are stainless steel rather than glass, and the cookware is safe to a higher oven heat. However, there’s no denying that the Chef’s Classic set is much prettier. Still, we think the deciding point should be usefulness. The Multiclad set with its larger pieces would be better for people who cook larger quantities, while the Chef’s Classic would be the better choice for singles or couples, or small families who don’t cook in large quantities.
- Product Name Chef's Classic Stainless Color Series 11 Piece Set
- Product Brand Cuisinart
- MPN CSS-11BU
- Price $179.00
- Color Copper
- Material Stainless Steel pans, stainless steel encapsulated aluminum disk bottom, glass lids
- Warranty Lifetime
- What’s Included 1.5-qt saucepan with lid, 2.5-qt saucepan with lid, 3-qt sauté pan with lid, 8-quart stock pot with lid, 8-in. skillet, 10-in. skillet, steamer insert to fit 2.5-qt saucepan