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Our Top Choice...
Cookware us a many and varied thing. There’s a pot, pan, sheet, or other specialized gewgaw for anything you’d care to cook, and most come made in a wide variety of materials, styles, looks, and other varieties.
Today I’ll be breaking down the broad categories of cookware by construction, and going over some of the best cookware of each type I can find. Without further ado, let’s get into it.
Here are the best cookware set you can buy:
- Best overall - Calphalon 10 pc Tri-Ply Copper Set
- Runner up - Rachael Ray Cucina 12 piece Ceramic Cookware Set
- Best nonstick - Rachael Ray Cucina Hard Anodized Nonstick Cookware Set
- Best budget cookware set - Amazon Basics 8 piece Nonstick Cookware Set
- Best budget ceramic cookware set- CorningWare 12 piece Ceramic Bakeware Set
- Best copper cookware set - Michelangelo 12 pc Ultra Nonstick Copper Cookware Set
- Best stainless steel cookware set - T-fal Ultimate 13 piece Stainless Steel Cookware Set
- Best cast iron cookware set - Lodge 5 Piece Seasoned Cast Iron Cookware Set
For the complete product list, please continue reading...
10 Best Cookware Sets Reviews in 2021
1. Best overall - Calphalon 10 pc Tri-Ply Copper Set
This set is top notch, and is one of the strong contenders here for best overall set. Everything is beautifully made, a brushed copper exterior with an aluminum core and stainless steel interior.
This give you the best of all worlds: aluminum and steel’s durability with copper and aluminum’s conductivity making for excellent quality cookware, each element covering for the weaknesses of the others in perfect harmony.
The only real downside is that the steel interior is very prone to sticking, but that’s something largely unavoidable with any metal cookware without a ceramic or PTFE coating.
The handles are riveted on well, and the tight fitting lids are perfect for stews and sauces, which you don’t want to boil off TOO much moisture, giving you excellent control on how much moisture escapes, at the cost of the quick view that a glass lid would provide.
All in all it’s difficult to find something better…so long as you can handle the stomach churningly huge price tag on this set.
Extremely high quality materials that cover for each of the others’ individual weaknesses.
Very high durability.
Great decorative appearance.
Great lids are tight fitting; great for sauces and stews.
Extremely high price tag when not on sale.
Stainless steel interior is prone to sticking.
2. Runner up - Rachael Ray Cucina 12 piece Ceramic Cookware Set
This is a great nonstick alternative to the above, with a lightweight and fast heating aluminum construction that is sturdier than it might seem, with a nice enamel for appearance that comes in a variety of great colors (the Agave Blue pictured above is my favorite, but most of the others are quite good as well; the only one I’d avoid is the brown) that can be matched to any kitchen aesthetic.
The silicone handles are comfortable, well angled, and oven safe, increasing the versatility of this set immensely.
The tempered glass lids are impact resistant and durable, while allowing a great view of the interior of each pot and pan when in use.
Plus, as mentioned, unlike our winner this entire cookware set is a durable, safe nonstick kind of cookware that makes cleanup a breeze.
While the Calphalon set certainly takes the cake in terms of raw quality and performance, this Rachael Ray Cucina set comes in as a much more budget friendly option that is nonetheless extremely well made and will be a great start to any kitchen.
Well made and sturdy.
Safe nonstick ceramic is easy to cook on and clean up.
Good price for what you get.
Oven safe and heat resistant silicone handles are comfortable and easy to maneuver.
Included utensils are almost completely worthless.
3. Best nonstick - Rachael Ray Cucina Hard Anodized Nonstick Cookware Set
When it comes to artificial nonstick surfaces, this is the best cookware set around. Not to be confused with out similarly named runner-up cookware set, this is a PTFE nonstick coating (more commonly known by the brand name, Teflon) rather than ceramic coating, that nevertheless performs admirably for what it is.
The overall construction is top notch, with a hard anodized aluminum shell and well riveted handles with a good silicone coating for comfort and support. Hard anodized aluminum is, as the name implies, a very hard material; about twice as durable as the standard steel used for cookware.
The aluminum construction makes them quick to heat: both on the stovetop and in the oven (they are oven safe), so you can get to cooking faster with this cookware. The set’s variety is limited, but it provides all the basics you need to make the majority of foods you’d ever care to make, so that’s just fine.
The only real issues with it are the utensils (which are pretty much trash), and the designation of “dishwasher safe” being a bit of a misnomer; using a dishwasher on these tends to result in a stripped PTFE coating.
Lightweight and easy to maneuver.
Comfortable silicone handles provide a great grip.
Extremely durable hard anodized aluminum construction and well riveted handles.
Nonstick for easy cleanup.
Washing these in the dishwasher tends to remove the nonstick PTFE coating.
Included utensils are flimsy and poorly made.
4. Best budget cookware set - Amazon Basics 8 piece Nonstick Cookware Set
You’ve probably seen this set, or a set just like this, a thousand times. It’s the cookware set I like to call “the bachelor’s friend”. It’s cheap, serviceable, doesn’t take up too much space, is nonstick so you can clean it easy, and is very forgiving to mishaps; largely because if you end up destroying these in some horrible cooking accident, they can be easily replaced for basically no cost.
There’s no real frills here, no selling point other than they’re cheap, but that’s a selling point in its own. Everything about them is serviceable, which is what you look for in a set like this. The aluminum construction is lightweight and reasonably sturdy. They tend to warp after a while, but any dents can usually be pushed back into place by hand with minimal effort.
The PTFE coating is nonstick and performs well, but will eventually scratch off (especially if you put these in the dishwasher too many times), so it’s best quickly hand washed as soon as you’re done cooking.
The handles are a pretty comfortable plastic, and will need only the occasional re-screwing to keep them in place.
These are the epitome of the budget cookware set, and they’re perfect for this slot.
Nonstick and easy to clean.
Lightweight, but sturdy.
Very forgiving to mistakes.
Perfect for making eggs.
Nonstick coating scrapes off easily.
Set dents easily.
Bad for searing.
5. Best budget ceramic cookware set- CorningWare 12 piece Ceramic Bakeware Set
I’ve had a set just like this for years, and it forms the backbone of most of my baking time in the kitchen. This set is built to handle pretty much everything but cookies and other things cooked on a flat sheet.
The ceramic body is naturally nonstick and easy to clean, as well as non-porous for safety. You should still butter them a little so whatever you’re cooking slides straight out, but it’s not a strict necessity.
The items included are extremely versatile to bake whatever you want to cook. The oval pan makes a great cornbread or stuffing dish for the holidays, the round pans are great for pot pies and other dishes, and I wouldn’t use anything else but these ramekins or similar for making custards and mini-pies; they’re absolutely perfect for the job.
Well made, sturdy, with two different kinds of lids (though admittedly the glass lids are usually less useful unless you plan to serve straight from dish to plate and want to keep something warm), and a very reasonable price make this the best ceramic cookware you can find.
Well made and sturdy; impact resistant ceramic.
Versatile assortment for cooking a variety of dishes.
Stack well for easy storage.
Can be used to serve straight from the dish.
Quality control seems to be hit or miss recently, according to several purchasers.
6. Best budget copper cookware set - Michelangelo 12 pc Ultra Nonstick Copper Cookware Set
This set of copper cookware is excellently made, with a great nonstick (ceramic and titanium) interior that is hard to scratch and keeps food sliding around smooth as butter.
The overall construction is sturdy, with a thick body and good handles which are well angled and the right length, though the ergonomic grips are a bit thick for my taste.
The set is versatile enough to serve basically any purpose you’d care to throw at it, with a collection of great pots and pans, plus a steamer insert for its enormous stockpot, and some quite well made lids.
The look is nice, an understated dark grey (though it looks black in the images due to lighting) with a copper interior that looks nice in any darkly apportioned kitchen arrangement.
The price is also fair for what you get, so no complaints in that regard. This is an overall solid choice of cookware set if you’re into this specific kind of cookware aesthetic.
Well made and sturdy.
Versatile assortment for a variety of uses.
Great steamer insert.
Enormous stockpot is great for huge stews and chilis.
Handles are a bit too thick for my taste, on both the body and lids.
7. Best stainless steel cookware set - T-fal Ultimate 13 piece Stainless Steel Cookware Set
This 13 piece set includes every piece of stainless steel cookware you could reasonably expect to find in a cookware set, with pots and pans of all sorts of sized to perform basically any task you’d want in the kitchen.
They’re all quite well made, with sturdy stainless steel construction all over, and tight but small rivets (making cleanup easier). The handles are nicely curved and ergonomic. They’re easy to hold and maneuver most of these pots around, though I find the one on the middle sized saucepan (the 2 quart one) to be a bit steeper than the rest as compared to its size, making it a bit more cumbersome, but nothing too onerous.
The stainless steel construction is offset by a copper bottom, giving it vastly increased heat conductivity, heating it up much faster than a fully stainless steel equivalent would be, or even one with an aluminum core (which is the most common construction).
This set is top notch, only marred by the poor steamer insert (I really don’t like the flimsy foldout ones) and that one minor issue I mentioned with one of the handles. Otherwise, this set is close to perfect as stainless steel cookware sets go.
Sturdy overall stainless steel construction is very durable.
Lifetime limited warranty gives some peace of mind.
Copper bottom increases speed that the cookware heats up, allowing for faster cooking.
Stainless steel interior is very prone to sticking.
Bad steamer insert.
8. Best cast iron cookware set - Lodge 5 Piece Seasoned Cast Iron Cookware Set
Cast iron is a beautiful material to cook with. Not only does it lend your kitchen a nice rustic look, it’s a powerhouse of a cooking surface; heating up slowly but retaining that heat long after the heat source has been cut off. It is also (once seasoned) a relatively nonstick cooking material, the assorted oils used to season one forming a hydrophobic layer that lets most sticky foods glide right off of it.
This makes cast iron a classic material for cooking breakfast foods; bacon and eggs, and anything else you’d care to cook in the leavings of the former.
It’s a hugely versatile material though, being great for everything from baking to searing: a ripping hot cast iron skillet is perfect for searing and oven roasting steaks like the mighty bone-in ribeye, and similarly thick meats.
This particular set comes with just about everything you could care to have with a cast iron cookware set. The only items not represented here are the more niche ones, like a single egg skillet or a ribbed griddle skillet; two items I own but rarely use, so I don’t value super highly.
The price is great for what you get, a set of 4 great pieces of cookware (plus a lid for the Dutch oven) that could form the backbone of your new kitchen if you let it.
Excellent heat retention.
Huge versatility; stovetop cooking, baking, searing and more all in one.
Great price for what you get.
Easy to use for any purpose.
Durability to last several lifetimes if well maintained.
Cast iron is a finicky mistress with very specific required upkeep; failure to abide by these “rules” will result in subpar results, making the material high maintenance and potentially undesirable.
9. Best Calphalon cookware set - Calphalon Tri-ply 13 piece Stainless Steel Cookware Set
This Calphalon set has nearly unmatched quality in the realm of stainless steel cookware. The design here is top notch, with the same elegantly curved handles I like on the copper set we covered earlier, but with a gentler curve on the middle sized saucepan, negating one of my few complaints with that set.
The triple ply construction (aluminum core sandwiched between two layers of stainless) gives it excellent durability, sheen, and a much better heat conductivity than something that merely had an aluminum base.
The variety is great, with all of the common pieces of cookware you typically need, and no unwanted extras or gimmicky bits. The lids are top notch as well, a tempered glass with very comfortable handles that are easy to pull off when you need to.
The only rub here is the price: like all Calphalon cookware sets you’re going to have to shell out a pretty penny for what you’re getting, which can be off putting when technically inferior cookware can still get you to the finish line for most people.
Fairly lightweight per piece, but hefty enough to be useful.
Very comfortable heat resistant handles.
Excellent construction provides top notch durability combined with good heat retention.
Good variety of cookware in the set.
Lids are well designed for most cooking purposes.
Like most Calphalon cookware, the price is a bit higher than some may be willing to pay.
10. Best induction stovetop safe - Cuisinart Multiclad Pro 12 piece Stainless Steel Cookware Set
Buying cookware for an induction stovetop is tricky, with a lot of hoops to jump through. Not only do you need cookware high in iron (basically limiting your search to cast iron and some steel or stainless steel cookware sets) so it can be magnetically induced, you need cookware that is especially flat, so your stovetop properly senses the pot or pan has been placed on it.
Then add on the extra layer of finding GOOD cookware that meets this criteria, and it’s like trying to find a needle in a haystack.
Thankfully, this Cuisinart set isn’t too far from hand. The quality of the materials is top notch; a triple ply stainless steel construction with an aluminum core that has enough steel into it to be “grabbed” by an induction stove. It’s also perfectly flat, meaning you’re less likely to scuff or mar the fragile stovetop surface when shifting the pot or pan around.
The lids are great; perfect tight fitting lids that are great for soups and sauces, and the variety is good as well, providing everything you need. The steamer insert is also well made and as sturdy as the rest of the set.
My only real gripes are the handles (which are a bit too dramatically swept upward on most of these pieces to be comfortable) and the price, which is a bit more than I’d be willing to pay for the quality…but then again, to a certain extent beggars can’t be choosers when you have such strict criteria to meet.
Well made and durable enough to last a lifetime if well maintained.
Great lids seal in moisture tightly.
Good triple ply construction reduces the drawbacks of both pure aluminum and pure stainless steel cookware.
A bit pricey.
Handles end up a bit too high for my taste, making them uncomfortable for people with longer arms to use.
11. Best cookware set for baking - Green Life 12 piece Ceramic Bakeware Set
This is a set of great ceramic coated bakeware. It has a bit of a different bent than most of these other sets, being meant for baking, and even more so for baking breads, cakes, and pastries than anything else.
The construction is very solid, an exceptionally sturdy stainless steel base paired with a ceramic and titanium nonstick coating that, so long as you don’t go out of your way to scratch it, functions perfectly for a very long time.
That combination of durability and nonstick use is exactly what you look for when baking, and stainless steel’s ability to stay cool for longer periods is an asset here rather than a liability; it ensures the goods are baked evenly without scorching the bottoms overly much like a surface which heats up faster would.
For the price you get an excellent assortment of just about everything you need to get started baking, including a set of quite good silicone utensils, and some plastic measuring spoons. A great deal if you’re looking to up your bakeware game.
Well made and sturdy stainless steel.
Great heat distribution.
Doesn’t burn the bottom of your baked goods unless you severely over bake.
Nonstick for a long time.
High quality ceramic and titanium coating is hard to scratch.
A bit more niche and specialized than most of the other cookware sets on this list.
Calphalon steals the show with its admittedly pricey, but also admittedly top notch cookware sets. However, each of these sets is my favorite in its own way, and some were strong contenders for the best overall slot that I just couldn’t put there for one reason or another. Eventually what decided it was versatility more than raw quality, which the Calphalon copper set and the Rachael Ray Cucina ceramic sets, providing a wide variety of well made pots and pans that looked nice, performed well, and could be used for anything you’d care to mention.
The others are definitely worth a look if you need what they offer (special shoutout to the CorningWare ceramic bakeware set), but ultimately for most people the winner or runner up is likely to be the best option.
How Do I Find the Perfect Cookware Set?
The first thing you want to figure out is what you want your cookware to be made of. Every single one of the major materials has upsides and downsides associated with it, though for the most part you can find all of the most common types of cookware (pots, pans, cauldron and skillets) in any material you like. Let’s go over the 5 major types first:
Nonstick here is going to refer to any type of cookware with a PTFE (commonly known by the name brand Teflon) coating on the interior. Nonstick cookware is cheap, lightweight (typically made of aluminum), easily replaceable, and stores well. The major downsides are that the nonstick coating flakes off easily, which is extremely unhealthy if it gets into your food (and makes the pan VERY sticky), and the aluminum used usually dents easily.
Stainless steel is durable, shiny, and looks nice. You could use the same set of stainless steel cookware your whole life if you take good care of it. Unfortunately it is also very prone to sticking, which can make them difficult to clean after cooking. Many also have a high nickel content, which a minority of people have an allergy or sensitivity to. Stainless steel also heats very slowly compared to aluminum or copper, though it can also as a result reach much higher temperatures, making it great for searing.
Cast iron is a versatile material with great heat retention (though like steel it takes a while to heat up) and natural nonstick properties once properly “seasoned”. They can be used as both excellent bakeware and stovetop cookware. The major drawbacks come from that seasoning, however; it can be difficult to maintain, and cast iron cookware is prone to rusting as well.
Usually this is a ceramic and titanium mix sandblasted onto aluminum cookware. This is the safe nonstick option, as it doesn’t flake or ship like PTFE. Fully ceramic bakeware also exists, and is very high performance.
Copper is naturally antimicrobial, and is an excellent conductor of heat. This means it heats up very quickly and lets you jump right into cooking. Unfortunately the main drawback of copper cookware is availability; it’s difficult to find any on the market and what you can find is usually only partially copper, usually on the base for added heating.
Which one is right for you is going to be a matter of personal preference, largely, but it’s worth knowing your options, especially as price varies between them. In general the price ranges, from high to low: copper, stainless steel, ceramic, cast iron, nonstick. So if you’re on a budget, it’s good to know up front which are the most expensive.