The 7 Best Stainless Steel Cookware Sets This 2020

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    Our Top Choice...

    Key Features

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      Suitable for all cooktops, including induction
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      Dishwasher and oven safe
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      Easy to clean
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      Great value for your money

    cooking in stainless steel

    Stainless steel is one of the best materials for cookware in a lot of ways. While not the best at any one thing, it makes an excellent material component in just about every kind of cookware, even if only as the handles. But as the primary material itself, well it can be iffy, which we’ll get to in a moment.

    The best stainless steel cookware sets go out of their way to mitigate stainless steel’s weaknesses while enhancing its strengths, which we’ll talk about below; why you should or should not buy stainless steel cookware and what makes a good set in general.

     

    For the complete product list, please continue reading...


      7 Best Stainless Steel Cookware Sets Reviews

    Specifications:

    • Set includes: 8” frying pan, 10.5” frying pan, 12” frying pan with lid, 1 quart saucepan with lid, 2 quart saucepan with lid, 3 quart saucepan with lid, 5 quart Dutch oven with lid, steamer insert.
    • Materials: 18/10 stainless steel with copper bottom, glass (lids)
    • Total weight: 23.8 lbs.

    This is an excellent set overall, with the perfect ratio of versatility, quality, and price.

    Copper bottoms are always excellent to see on stainless steel cookware, negating some of the inherent downsides of this kind of cookware without adding a ton of unnecessary weight or cost.

    In terms of weight, these pots and pans are hefty without being unwieldy. They are clearly thick and sturdily constructed, but no more than a set like this calls for. The lids likewise have solid, thick handles that are easy to grip with our without mitts, and are fairly heat resistant, while forming a nice tight seal around the lid.

    The overall material is 18/10 stainless steel; a good variant for cooking, with a lot of strength and great anti-corrosion capability

    It’s hard to do better than this set, with its combination of simplicity, variety, and quality. The only thing I don’t like is the steamer insert, which is that flimsy steel contraption I always find immensely annoying to deal with as opposed to the simpler rigid steamer basket that comes with some sets.

    Pros

    Excellently thick construction.
    Copper bottom for increased heat conductivity.
    Solid, sturdy, and weighty in the hand.
    Dishwasher safe.
    Good price.

    Cons

    Unwieldy and flimsy steamer insert.

    Specifications:

    • Set includes: 1.5 quart saucepan with lid, 3 quart saucepan with lid, 8” open skillet, 10” open skillet, 3.5 quart sauté pan with lid, 8 quart stockpot with lid, steamer insert with lid.
    • Materials: aluminum core with brushed stainless steel interior and exterior, stainless steel for lids.
    • Total weight: 21 lbs.

    Here’s a set in all stainless steel (appearance, anyway), even the lids; no glass here.

    The actual construction is a bit better than it looks though, with a pure aluminum core and triple ply construction. This set of cookware is a powerhouse of cooking efficiency, heating up fairly fast while retaining stainless steel’s main good qualities (durability, longevity, and shininess). The lids are tight fitting and “self basting” for a multitude of purposes, making them great for roasts and stews you want to toss on a stovetop.

    If you need to finish them off in the oven these are oven safe up to 550 degrees Fahrenheit, and work incredibly well as roasting dishes for a fair few things. It will turn out different from a slow cooker, but no less good.

    The only real rub is the price. Not anything too crazy, but just a bit more expensive than out winner, and it’s a bit of a tossup as to which one is better, so this one gets the downward bump, even though it does include my preferred kind of steamer insert.

    Pros

    Extremely durable and sturdy construction.
    “Self basting” lids with a tight fit and no dripping.
    Tri-ply construction improves heat conductivity without compromising structural integrity.
    Good steamer insert.

    Cons

    A bit pricey.

    Specifications:

    • Set includes: 8” frying pan, 10” frying pan, 12” frying pan, 1.5 quart saucepan with lid, 2.5 quart saucepan with lid, 3 quart sauté pan with lid, 3 quart chef’s pan with lid, 6 quart stockpot with lid.
    • Materials: aluminum core with stainless steel exterior and interior, tempered glass with stainless steel frame and handle (lids).
    • Total weight: 25 lbs.

    Speaking of expensive, we’ve got Claphalon’s offering.

    This set is undeniably very high quality. It’s a Tri-ply set, meaning a strong aluminum core sandwiched between a pair of sturdy stainless steel layers to give it strength as well as heat conductivity.

    The handles are excellent, perfectly curved to easy fall into the hand at stovetop height and make it easy to move these around as needed without awkward straining.

    The tempered glass lids are nice, tough but clear to let you see foods cooking as needed. The variety is good, and it even comes with a full lifetime warranty, so if you manage to ruin one, you can get it replaced.

    But boy…that price. You’re paying somewhere in the ballpark of 3 times the price of our winner for cookware that is not even close to being 3 times as good. I could see paying about $150 less for this set, but as is these are iffy to recommend, and should only be bought if you’re sure this is what you’re going to be using to cook for the rest of your life.

    Pros

    Extremely well made.
    Durable construction.
    Full lifetime warranty.
    Good variety.
    Great heat distribution.

    Cons

    Ludicrous pricing.

    Specifications:

    • Set includes: 8” frying pan, 9.5” frying pan, 1.6 quart saucepan with lid, 2.5 quart saucepan with lid, 8.6 quart stockpot with lid, 4.2 quart casserole with lid, 5.5 quart sauté pan with lid, 9.5” pasta basket, sauté pan helper.
    • Materials: stainless steel with impact bonded aluminum base, glass with stainless steel frame (lids)
    • Total weight: 34 lbs.

    A less expensive one, though only slightly.

    You do get a great variety with this one though, a bit more than the average set which is plenty enough to justify the price point here.

    I like the construction. Rather than a Tri-ply this one has the aluminum base that aids conductivity, and it’s quite a thick and sturdy one. That lets the interior be a bit thinner and lighter without compromising the structure of the pots and pans in this set, making them more of a breeze to move around (a godsend for anyone who moves houses a lot like I do, for sure).

    The variety is solid, with everything you’d expect to find, along with not one but two different kinds of steamer insert and a trio of surprisingly good stainless steel utensils (fork, spoon, spatula); these kinds of utensils are usually thrown in as an afterthought with no regard to their actual quality, so it’s nice to see ones I might actually consider using for a change.

    This one is certainly worth the price if you want a set with a bit of a lighter heft to it at the cost of slightly less heat conductivity. I’d err on the side of the better performance of the Tri-ply models, but a lot of people might not notice the difference depending on their own purposes.

    Pros

    Great variety of useful cookware and tools.
    Serviceable stainless steel utensils included.
    Good sturdy construction.
    Relatively lightweight per piece.
    Multiple steamer baskets and helper inserts.
    Absolutely massive stockpot.

    Cons

    Cost to performance ratio is iffy; on the borderline between overpriced and fair.

    Specifications:

    • Set includes: 8” frying pan, 10” frying pan, 2 quart saucepan with lid, 3 quart saucepan with lid, 5 quart Dutch oven with lid.
    • Materials: aluminum core with magnetic stainless steel interior and exterior, stainless steel lids.
    • Total weight: 16.45 lbs.

    This one’s main claim to fame is being usable with induction stovetops. That’s not to say the rest of it isn’t good; it is, but the main standout feature is the ability to cook on induction stoves.

    So, if that’s not a feature that appeals to you, this set probably isn’t for you.

    Still, the set is otherwise quite good. It’s solidly constructed with a great Tri-ply design, and they feel of them is hefty without being unwieldy. The handles are good, sticking out at proper angles for each size piece to be easy to grab, turn, drag, and use to flip food with ease.

    The pot lids are great spill proof lids that really lock in moisture; great for stews and other things you don’t want to simmer down or dry out too much.

    The variety is okay, the price is solid (depending on the vendor), and the construction is top notch. If you’ve got an induction stovetop, this is a great set for it, though otherwise probably won’t wow you.

    Pros

    Induction ready.
    Great solid construction.
    Good heat distribution.
    Durable and long lasting.
    Easy to maneuver.

    Cons

    Price can be absolutely ludicrous based on seller.

    Specifications:

    • Set includes: 1.5 quart saucepan with lid, 2.5 quart saucepan with lid, 8 quart stockpot with lid, 9.5” sauté pan with lid, spoon, slotted spoon, ladle, pasta spoon, potato masher.
    • Materials: 18/0 stainless steel, glass (lids)
    • Total weight: 16 lbs.

    If you have concerns about nickel toxicity leaching into your foods, or you have a nickel allergy, this set from Homi Chef has you covered.

    It is completely nickel free, or at least legally nickel free (it could have up to .75% nickel in it, so little enough it may as well be zero). This give sit a very interesting sheen, as well as a few drawbacks.

    First, it is going to be far less corrosion resistant than regular stainless steel (which can be up to 18% nickel), so it has a lot higher maintenance requirements overall. It is still dishwasher safe, which is great, but you’ll probably want to make extra sure to hand dry these before you put them back in the cupboard.

    The variety is low, but the construction is great as are the included utensils, including a potato masher, which is a nice touch.

    This one is a bit hard to judge as it relies on a single defining feature to make itself worthwhile. If you need nickel free cookware, this is pretty much the best around. If you don’t…there are better sets for the same price.

    Pros

    Nickel free for allergenic concerns.
    Lightweight and easy to use.
    Great heat retention and distribution.
    Solid price.

    Cons

    Variety is low, and nickel free construction is only a selling point for some people.

    Specifications:

    • Set includes: 1 quart saucepan with lid, 2 quart saucepan with lid, 8 quart stockpot with lid, 8” frying pan, 10” frying pan, 3 quart sauté pan with lid.
    • Materials: aluminum core and stainless steel body, glass (lids).
    • Total weight: 21.4 lbs.

    Rounding us out is a great budget set, coming to us from Farberware.

    While the relatively low price is the main draw, that’s not all it has going for it. This set still meets a great minimum standard of construction, with a nice “tulip” shape as they describe it, which gives the set a nice look (and makes it very easy to cook one pot meals in the sauté pan as well).

    The handles have a bit of a steep angle for my tastes, being a bit annoying to shift and shake as you need to when cooking, but not beyond the pale. The lids are good, and it has a lifetime warranty to back up the overall solid aluminum and steel construction.

    As an added bonus, this set is also compatible with induction stovetops, which is hard to find, and you don’t have to pay a premium for this one.

    Overall a good, though not great, stainless steel cookware set.

    Pros

    Relatively inexpensive pricing.
    Lightweight and easy to handle.
    Induction stovetop compatible.
    Lifetime warranty.

    Cons

    Annoying handle design.
    Relatively less heat conductivity than other cookware sets.

    Final Verdict

    T-fal C836SD

    For the most part I stand by my winners here, with T-fal and Cuisinart stealing the show with two excellent stainless steel cookware sets, both providing a perfect confluence of value and performance as compared to the rest of these offerings.

    Calphalon and Tramontina have technically better construction overall, but are so enormously overpriced for what is a relatively small increase in performance it’s difficult to justify getting them. Meanwhile the others are a bit niche, save the Farberware set which is just an all around great budget option for anyone looking o start their kitchen with a great “starter set” of stainless steel cookware.


    How Do I Find the Right Set for Me?

    For cookware sets in general, one of the main things you look for is the variety of things it comes with.

    Each cookware set should at the very least include the standard assortment of everyday use cookware items: frying pans, sauté pans, saucepans, and stockpots. What assortment they come in varies, but every set should include at least one of each, and preferably several each of the frying pans and saucepans.

    As the variety increases though, so does the price, so you want to gauge exactly how much you want to pay for each element of a set. In general a basic set of stainless steel cookware is going to run you $100, while higher end sets can cost $150, $200, even over $400 for the absolute best in materials and construction.

    Just keep in mind your own budget; even “okay” stainless steel cookware is durable enough to carry you for years on a single purchase, so don’t feel pressured to buy above your budget unless you’re planning to get very serious about your cooking.

    Why Buy Stainless Steel Cookware?

    Stainless steel is a weird material for cookware.

    On the one hand, it’s an exceptionally durable material. You really have to go out of your way to destroy a piece of stainless steel cookware, and I’m not just talking about it denting or scratching; stainless steel is also heavily corrosion resistant, which scales up based on the nickel content of the steel used to make it. So unlike cast iron  (which has similar “bump and scrape” durability), you can’t accidentally rust over or otherwise destroy stainless steel.

    This upside comes with a severe drawback though: stainless steel is a terrible conductor unlike like pans made of copper which is pretty good heat conductors. It takes about 16 times as long to heat up as aluminum.

    To solve this issue, most stainless steel cookware is not completely (or even mostly) stainless steel: it’s partially aluminum, either as an aluminum core with steel cladding, or as a stainless steel interior with an aluminum base.

    Both are good, but the cladding or “Tri-ply” design is usually better, so that’s mostly what we look for in higher end options.

    So in short: you buy stainless steel for its durability and longevity, not its cooking power; almost every other major material for cookware is better for raw cooking potential (unless you’re searing meats, in which case stainless steel is great).