Buying a stainless steel cookware set
Quality ingredients allow for delicious food, but it’s the tools you use to create those meals that influence how easy and effective you cook in the kitchen. Stainless steel cookware products are popular options, desired for both their modern, simple aesthetic as well as their versatility.
This 10-piece set by Lagostina is our top pick. Read on for what you need to know about why stainless steel may be right for you, and how to go about finding the right set for your culinary lifestyle.
What to know before you buy a stainless steel cookware set
It’s worth understanding how stainless steel pots and pans are made before considering whether or not to buy one. Stainless steel cookware is made of alloys comprising mostly chromium, which is often paired with nickel or other metals. Numerical ratios in descriptions such as 18/10, for example, denote the amount of chromium against nickel in the piece.
Stainless steel is not a great conductor of heat, so the bottom of pieces are coated with copper or aluminum; quality options are tri-ply, featuring all three metals.
Benefits and drawbacks
Stainless steel pots and pans are nonreactive — they cater to all kinds of food, offering versatility in the kitchen. With heavy and durable construction, they also stand up well over time, making them a worthwhile investment. Most are easy to clean and dishwasher-safe and are offered at reasonable prices. Their construction and heat distribution can be enhanced by copper or aluminum cores.
Some options can be quite poor at transferring and distributing heat, so it’s best to avoid cheaper models or those offered from unfamiliar or unreliable brands.
Concerning cooking, stainless steel material is ideal for braising and browning, and most are oven-safe. They don’t require seasoning, although food may stick if you don’t preheat and oil ahead of time. Stainless steel cookware isn’t typically suitable for baking and may fail to achieve high temperatures.
Number and types of pieces
A cookware set may include anywhere from a few pieces up to a whole collection that will keep you comprehensively covered in the kitchen. Keep in mind that when counting the number of pieces, companies list lids as individual pieces, which means that a 10-piece set may really feature six pots and pans with four accompanying lids.
Basic cookware sets include a pair of skillets, one or two saucepans and a stockpot. These accommodate frying, sauteing and boiling a range of meals, including meats and vegetables, soups and sauces. More advanced sets may include a steamer basket, a Dutch oven, a smaller egg fry pan and even a baking sheet.
What to look for in a quality stainless steel cookware set
Some handles are cool to the touch, allowing them to be easily wielded despite the pan being hot. These allow for more convenient handling and movement instead of donning an oven mitt. What’s more, while most pots have two handles on either side, a secondary handle is more of a luxury on pans and skillets. Some higher-end models feature the standard long handle as well as a smaller one on the outside to better move and serve heavier pieces. Most handles have smaller holes at the end, allowing spoons to be kept close at hand or to be hung when not in use.
Some sets include one or more utensils compatible with stainless steel; some may even match a particular style or accent color. Wooden or silicone utensils are recommended for use with stainless steel products since metal utensils can scratch the surface and lead to food contamination.
Most stainless steel cookware has flared or tapered edges to allow for easy pouring without any drips or spills.
Most stainless steel cookware is oven-safe, though the maximum temperature limit varies from anywhere between 300 and 550 degrees. Stainless steel cookware can be used with both gas and electric stovetops, and magnetic bottoms allow for use with induction stovetops as well.
How much you can expect to spend on stainless steel cookware set
Most quality stainless steel cookware sets cost $150-$350, with price increasing alongside the number of pieces and the quality of the materials.
Stainless steel cookware set FAQ
How do I clean and maintain my stainless steel cookware set?
A. Most stainless steel cookware pieces are dishwasher-safe, though often, soapy, warm water and a gentle cloth can tend to any dirt or grime. Avoid food sticking and creating burnt areas by preheating and gently oiling your pans before adding food. Vinegar can eliminate calcium spots, while baking soda may do away with water spots.
How many pieces do I need?
A. How often you cook and for how many people you cook determines the number of pieces you need. All kitchens are well served by at least one fry pan, one saucepot and one stock pot. You may add one pan and pot if you have a small family for which to cook. Also consider other appliances you may have. A pressure cooker may substitute for a stockpot, while a grill or griddle can suffice for an extra fry pan.
What’s the best stainless steel cookware set to buy?
Top stainless steel cookware set
What you need to know: High-quality, long-lasting set with a hammered copper exterior that provides quality cooking and stunning style.
What you’ll love: Vintage look offers aesthetics alongside impressive functionality. 10-piece set covers all basic cooking needs. Oven-safe up to 500 degrees. Durable tri-ply construction.
What you should consider: Expensive. Lids heat up.
Where to buy: Amazon
Top stainless steel cookware set for the money
What you need to know: Quality, affordable stainless steel set with a splash of color from a trusted budget-friendly brand.
What you’ll love: Easy to maintain set of stainless steel pots and pans featuring colorful heat-resistant lids and handles. Flared rims and riveted handles add convenience and control. Low price.
What you should consider: Only oven-safe up to 400 degrees. Some concerns about durability and heat distribution.
Where to buy: Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: Professional-grade set ideal for larger households or frequent chefs looking to master the art of cooking.
What you’ll love: Elegant-looking cookware that offers both style and practicality in the kitchen. Large 12-piece set includes a steamer insert and a large covered saute pan. Dishwasher-safe. Oven-safe up to 550 degrees.
What you should consider: Pricey investment. Quite heavy.
Where to buy: Amazon
Anthony Marcusa is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.
Copyright 2021 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.