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Which cookware sets are best?

Whether you consider cooking an art form or a mundane task, you need the proper tools to get the job done. For example, you can’t boil corn on the cob in a skillet. The best cookware set, then, is designed to accomplish the type of cooking you do.

The Cuisinart 14 Piece Chef’s Classic Cookware Set is a durable and versatile collection of cookware focusing on the details that can help make cooking a joy.

What to know before you buy a cookware set

Cookware sets manufactured using multiple materials

Depending on your needs, preferences and budget, you can get cookware sets made from aluminum, stainless steel, cast iron or copper.

Aluminum: Aluminum cookware is affordable and a great conductor of heat, but it is not durable. If you purchase aluminum cookware, hard-anodized is the best option as it increases the metal’s durability.

Stainless steel: Stainless steel is a solid choice for many homeowners. While it does not necessarily excel in any aspect, it offers a good balance of price, durability and conductivity. 

Cast iron: Cast iron retains heat, it’s durable, and features an affordable price tag. On the downside, the material is heavy and requires special care to maintain.

Copper: The best material option for cookware is copper. It is an excellent conductor of heat, and the material is very durable when you care for it properly. However, copper can be heavy, and it is the most costly option.

You may not use all the pieces in a large cookware set

More isn’t always better, especially if space is limited in your kitchen. If you only cook because you need to eat, you can get by with just a handful of essential items, like a skillet, saucepan, stockpot, dutch oven and baking sheet.

Skillet: You can use a 10 or 12-inch skillet to cook everything from breakfasts to burgers.

Saucepan: When you want to heat a can of soup, vegetables or make your trademark sauce, this is the tool you need.

Stock pot: While most home cooks rarely use this item to make stock, it comes in handy for large one-pot meals intended to feed the whole family.

Dutch oven: Users primarily utilize a dutch oven for covered, wet-heat cooking that creates melt-in-your-mouth meals.

Baking sheet: If you like baking, a baking sheet is essential. However, it may be hard to find smaller cookware sets with this item included.

What to look for in a quality cookware set

Nonstick coating

The best nonstick cookware coating will be nontoxic, durable and dishwasher safe.

Durable, ergonomic handles

If the handles on your cookware are loose, uncomfortable or they become hot, it can create a safety issue when you are cooking. Don’t discount the importance of high-quality handles.

Properly fitting, vented glass lids

A properly fitting glass lid allows you to see at a glance how your food is coming along. A vented lid is the best option because it reduces condensation and gives the steam an easy, controlled exit.

How much you can expect to spend on a cookware set

A cookware set can cost $50-$200. Be careful about purchasing a large collection of inferior items just because it has a low price tag.

Cookware set FAQ

Can I put my cookware set in a dishwasher?

A. The answer to this varies from set to set as most nonstick coatings will break down in a dishwasher and begin to flake off. Unless the manufacturer specifically states that a cookware set is dishwasher-safe, do not place your cookware in a dishwasher.

I purchased a 10-piece cookware set, but there are only four pots and two pans. Where is the rest of my set?

A. Each item of a cookware set is counted separately. This means that the lids count as pieces too. If you purchase a 10-piece cookware set, you’ll probably get four pots, four lids and two pans. 

What’s the best cookware set to buy?

Top cookware set

Cuisinart 14 Piece Chef's Classic Cookware Set

Cuisinart 14 Piece Chef’s Classic Cookware Set

What you need to know: This is a durable set of nonstick, hard-anodized cookware that includes a diverse group of pieces to handle a wide variety of cooking tasks.

What you’ll love: The handles on this set are riveted to the cookware and feature a comfortable ergonomic design. The cookware is oven safe up to 500 degrees, while the glass lids can handle temperatures up to 350 degrees.

What you should consider: This set scratches easily, so you must take care when handling it.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond, Overstock and Wayfair

Top cookware set for the money

T-fal Ultimate 12 Piece Cookware Set

T-fal Ultimate 12 Piece Cookware Set

What you need to know: This affordable anti-warping set of cookware has a lasting nonstick coating and delivers an even heat base for greater cooking control.

What you’ll love: The patented thermal spot indicator turns red when the pans are properly preheated, so you know when it’s the perfect time to add ingredients. The set includes six pieces of cookware, including four lids, a spoon and a spatula.

What you should consider: Most user concerns with this set tend to be minor issues such as tiny bits of food getting caught in nooks and crannies, making it difficult to clean.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Macy’s

Worth checking out

Rachael Ray 12 Piece Cookware Set

Rachael Ray 12 Piece Cookware Set

What you need to know: This colorful set of cookware is designed for the individual who wants to add a bit of flair to their kitchen.

What you’ll love: The handles on this set are dual-riveted for durability and user rubber for comfort. The cookware is coated with PFOA-free nonstick to facilitate cooking and cleaning.

What you should consider: Some individuals do not like the compact design of the pots. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Wayfair


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Allen Foster writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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