The best cookware for every type of home cook

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A meal is only as good as the equipment it’s made with, and a great cookware set is the most essential. A well stocked kitchen should include a mix of cookware in different materials, such as nonstick, stainless steel and cast iron so that you’re able to cook any recipe you come across, from fluffy pancakes to braised meats.

At the end of the day, the type of cookware you choose depends on how you like to cook and, equally important, how you like to clean up after a good meal. If you hate washing up, you’ll likely want something dishwasher safe, like a stainless steel set. A durable cast iron set could be appealing if you need long-lasting cookware and don’t mind maintaining it. Below are our full recommendations for the best cookware sets for every kind of cook and lifestyle.

Jump To: Best Overall | Best (Budget) Overall | Best Nonstick | Best (Budget) Nonstick | Best (Splurge) Stainless Steel | Best For Gas Stovetops | Best For Induction Cooktops | Best Cast Iron | Best For College Students | For Those Who Need Elevated Essentials


What To Look For

Material

You’ll want to have a mix of nonstick, stainless steel (or copper, which is similar to stainless steel) and cast iron cookware pieces in your kitchen to cook up pretty much any recipe you come across. Nonstick is good for sticky foods like eggs and pancakes, but you might reach for a stainless steel pan for cooking things that require caramelizing and deglazing. Nonstick pans are also prone to scratching, so you should avoid metal utensils on them. If you need something that gets really hot and retains heat — or that can go from the stovetop to the oven — cast iron is the smart choice.

Maintenance

All pots and pans need a bit of upkeep no matter how long they’re designed to last. Some can simply go through the dishwasher after each use, while others need a little extra maintenance, which we are noting in our picks below.

Number of Pieces

Our cookware picks below come with four to 16 number of pieces. What makes a cookware set worth it is knowing that you’ll use all included pieces in your recipe rotation. If a set includes a piece of cookware, such as a grill pan, a steam pan or a mini frying pan that you don’t think you’ll use frequently, it might be worth finding a set that better suits your everyday needs.

Price

You can easily spend a small fortune on a cookware set. Our cookware picks below range from $90 to $700, with our top overall pick ringing up at around $300. Below, we’re ranking our cookware picks under that average as $ (under $300), to $$ (at around $300) to $$$ (over $300).

 


Our Recommendations For The Best Cookware

1. Best Overall — Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad 12-Piece Stainless Steel Cookware Set

Wayfair

$310 from Amazon $291 (was $610) from Wayfair

Materials: Stainless Steel | Maintenance: Dishwasher Safe | Number Of Pieces: 12 | Price: $$

Among the most versatile, practical and affordable cookware sets we found is this set from  Brazilian high-end houseware brand Tramontina. Stainless steel is durable against everyday meals, messes, clanks and bangs, and it also distributes heat evenly and effectively for thorough cooking, as heavier cookware conducts heat better than lighter cookware. To prevent food from sticking to a stainless steel pan, heat the pan until hot before adding oil.
The set includes two frying pans, three sauce pans, a deep sauté pan, an 8-quart stock pot and lids.

  • Pros: Induction compatible, oven safe
  • Cons: Not nonstick, not safe with metal utensils

2. Best (Budget) Overall — T-fal Performa Stainless Steel 12-Piece Cookware Set

Amazon

$109 from Amazon

Materials: Stainless Steel | Maintenance: Dishwasher Safe | Number Of Pieces: 12 | Price: $

This stainless steel cookware set from French brand Tefal — marketed at T-Fal in the U.S. — is an affordable stainless steel pots and pans set if you want cookware that heats evenly, is easy to clean and is scratch resistant. We especially like that this set includes measuring spoons — useful for baking as well as cooking. This set includes two frying pans, two sauce pans, a 5-quart stock pot, matching lids and a measuring spoon set.

  • Pros: Dishwasher safe, induction compatible, oven safe
  • Cons: Smaller skillets than our Best Overall pick, smaller stock pot than our Best Overall pick

3. Best Nonstick — Rachael Ray Cucina Nonstick 12-Piece Cookware Set

Amazon

$159 from Amazon

Materials: Nonstick Aluminum and Hard Enamel | Maintenance: Hand Wash | Number Of Pieces: 12 | Price: $

This 12-piece nonstick cookware set from Rachael Ray is lightweight, affordable and versatile enough for most recipes you’ll want to tackle. You can go from stove, to oven, to table with this cookware, and messes are easy to clean and wipe away thanks for the nonstick coating. That said, you shouldn’t run these pots and pans through the dishwasher because it’ll erode the nonstick coating over time, so it’s suggested to only hand wash these pieces. Avoid using cooking spray with nonstick pans and instead use oil or butter to avoid sticky buildup over time. This set include two frying pans, two sauce pans, a sauté pan and a 6-quart stock pot, with matching lids. It also includes a nylon slotted spoon and a slotted spatula.

  • Pros: Lightweight, oven safe to 400 degrees, stylish
  • Cons: Not induction compatible, hand-wash only, not safe with metal utensils

4. Best (Budget) Nonstick — GreenLife Ceramic Nonstick 16-Piece Cookware Set

Amazon

$120 from Amazon

Materials: Ceramic, Aluminum | Maintenance: Dishwasher Safe | Number Of Pieces: 16 | Price: $

If you’re looking to spend a little less, this 16-piece set is good value for money. It’s reinforced with aluminum, creating excellent heat conduction. The nonstick coating is free from PFOA, PFAS, lead and cadmium, and the soft-grip handles make this set extra comfortable to use. This set includes a mini frying pan, two larger frying pans, two sauce pans, a sauté pan, a 5-quart stock pot, a stainless steel steamer, four utensils and lids. If you do a lot of bulk cooking, we recommend getting a larger stock pot to add to your collection so you can cook for a crowd.

  • Pros: Dishwasher safe, lightweight
  • Cons: Smaller stock pot than others on our list, not as durable as other recommendations on our list, not oven safe at high temperatures

5. Best (Splurge) Stainless Steel — All-Clad D3 3-Ply Stainless Steel 10-Piece Cookware Set

Amazon

$700 from Amazon $695 from Walmart

Materials: Stainless Steel | Maintenance: Hand Wash Recommended | Number Of Pieces: 10 | Price: $$$

Sure, our Best Overall pick is also made of stainless steel — but that pick takes into account of lot of factors, including price and cleaning ease. If you’re less concerned with budget, this All-Clad stainless steel set is among the best of the best — and for good reason. All Clad’s cookware is designed to last a lifetime. It’s made with three bonded layers of stainless steel and aluminum making it durable for decades to come. It’s suitable for all cooktops including gas, electric and induction, and is made in the U.S. of U.S.-sourced stainless steel. The set includes two frying pans, a sauté pan, two sauce pans and an 8-quart stock pot, plus lids.

  • Pros: Oven and broiler safe up to 600 degrees,  induction compatible, made in the U.S.
  • Cons: Recommended hand-wash only, heavy

6. Best For Gas Stovetops — Cuisinart MultiClad Pro 12-Piece Cookware Set

Amazon

$289 from Amazon $300 from Macy’s

Materials: Stainless Steel | Maintenance: Dishwasher Safe | Number Of Pieces: 12 | Price: $$

Like the All Clad set, this pick from Cuisinart is made with three layers of aluminum and stainless steel to make it extremely durable. The triple ply is ideal for even temperate cooking, especially on gas stovetops, which can be hard to gauge exact cooking temperatures. For a set of cookware that can handle the heat, this one is up for the task. This set comes with two frying pans, two sauce pans, a covered sauté pan, an 8-quart stock pot, a stainless steel steamer insert and matching lids. It also includes a lifetime limited warranty against defects.

  • Pros: Dishwasher safe, induction compatible, oven safe
  • Cons:  Lid handles get hot, not nonstick

7. Best For Induction Cooktops — KitchenAid Hard Anodized Nonstick 10-Piece Cookware Set

Amazon

$260 from Amazon

Materials: Aluminum | Maintenance: Dishwasher Safe | Number Of Pieces: 10 | Price: $$

An easy way to see if your cookware is induction compatible? See if a magnet sticks to it. What makes induction cookware special is that the bottom of the pan is made of magnetic metal. Cookware materials like clay, glass, 100% aluminum, copper and non-magnetic stainless steel won’t work on induction cooktops. This set from KitchenAid is made of aluminum, but includes an induction-compatible and magnetic base. The set includes everything you need for heavy-duty cooking, including a grill pan for cooking up steaks, frying up sausages or grilling up veggies, if that’s part of your weekday meal plan. This set includes two frying pans, a square grill pan, two sauce pans, a 6-quart stock pot, and matching lids.

  • Pros: Oven safe to 500 degrees, dishwasher safe, glass-ceramic cooktop compatible
  • Cons: Lid handles get hot, a grill pan might not be as frequently used as other traditional cookware pieces

8. Best Cast Iron — Lodge Seasoned Cast Iron 5-Piece Cookware Set

Amazon

$90 (was $150) from Amazon $90 from Walmart

Materials: Cast Iron | Maintenance: Hand Wash, Thoroughly Dry, Frequently Season | Number Of Pieces: 5 | Price: $

The best part about cast iron cookware is that it’s virtually impossible to destroy. You can even clean rusty cast iron skillets to make them good as new, which is why if you’re looking for cookware that’ll last this lifetime and beyond, a cast iron set is a good investment. Of course, there are a lot of things you shouldn’t do with cast iron in order to prolong its life, like letting it soak or running it through the dishwasher. Cast iron is infamously not safe for the dishwasher. To make things easier on you, all pieces in this set are pre-seasoned with vegetable oil to minimize sticking and streamline clean up, though you’ll still want to season your skillet for extra longevity. To season cast iron, spread a thin layer of vegetable oil over the skillet, place it upside down in the oven and bake at 375 degrees for one hour, then let it cool in the oven. This set from well-known cast iron brand Lodge includes a griddle, two skillets and a 5-quart Dutch oven with a lid.

  • Pros: Durable, virtually indestructible
  • Cons: High maintenance, heavy, likely not practical for everyday cooking

9. Best For College Students — Our Place Always Pan

Our Place

$112 (was $150) from Our Place

Materials: Ceramic Nonstick | Maintenance: Hand Wash Recommended | Number Of Pieces: 4 | Price: $

While technically not a set, this piece of cookware gets the honor of making this list because of how practical and space-saving it is for college students. This one pan does the job of 10 pieces of traditional cookware. The pan itself is deep enough to roast a chicken, while being functional enough to fry an egg or sauté ground beef. The pan braises, sears, steams, strains, sautés, fries, boils, bakes, serves, stores food, all in one. The set includes the oversized skillet pan, a steam-release lid, a beechwood nesting spatula and a steamer basket that doubles as a colander.

  • Pros: Oven safe, induction compatible, 100 day trial, free shipping, free returns
  • Cons: Not safe with metal utensils, avoid using high heat to preserve the nonstick coating

10. For Those Who Need Elevated Essentials — The Copper Set from Material Kitchen

Material Kitchen

$280 (was $355) from Material Kitchen

Materials: Copper, aluminum, stainless steel | Maintenance: Dishwasher Safe | Number Of Pieces: 5 | Price: $$

Perhaps you already have a set of cookware and are simply looking for some durable, elevated essentials for the few of pots and pans you use every single day. This small set from Material — AKA a brand that prides itself on making “keep for life kitchenware” — has just the pieces most folks use on a daily basis, nothing more, nothing less. This set includes a three-quart sauce pot, a three-quart sauce pan and a 10-inch skillet. What makes this set particularly special is that it’s designed with a 5-ply copper core, which is the best of the best materials in cookware thanks to copper’s ability to heat quickly and evenly.

  • Pros: Premium materials, dishwasher safe
  • Cons: Not safe for metal utensils

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DWYM Staff

At our very core, we are journalists. It runs in our blood to investigate, uncover truths and share. We relish in giving you the chops to confidently get amazing products and services at great deals and avoid scams and budget pitfalls through our advocacy, advice and expertise. Ultimately, we want to help make your buying, spending and saving moments more inspired and budget-friendly. We promise to put our investigative know-how to very good use, so you don’t waste your money. More.

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