Whether you're shopping for a gift, moving into your first house or simply replacing old pots and pans, you can't go wrong buying a full set of cookware. This ensures you'll have all the essential equipment for cooking up a delicious meal, and as an added bonus, your collection of pots and pans will look beautifully cohesive.
There are so many cookware sets to choose from, however, ranging from under $100 to over $1,000. It can be a tough choice, especially if you're not familiar with common cookware brands or materials that can include stainless steel, ceramic and enameled cast iron. To help make your decision a little easier, here are some of our absolute favorite cookware sets by various categories that you can buy today:
- Our favorite overall: All-Clad D3 Tri-Ply Bonded cookware set
- Our favorite under $100 set: T-fal Titanium Nonstick cookware set, 12-piece
- Our favorite $200 set: Cuisinart Multiclad Pro Stainless Steel 12-piece cookware set
- Our favorite nonstick set: Cuisinart GreenGourmet Nonstick 12-piece cookware set
- Our favorite stainless-steel set: Tramontina 12-Piece Stainless Steel Tri-Ply Clad cookware set
- Our favorite copper set: Calphalon Tri-Ply Copper 10-Piece cookware set
- Our favorite cast-iron set: Lodge Seasoned Cast Iron 5-piece bundle
- Our favorite set for small kitchens: Calphalon Premier Space Saving Nonstick 6-piece set
What to look for when buying a cookware set
There are a number of factors you'll want to consider when shopping for the best cookware set for your needs. First of all, there's the choice of material. Cookware is commonly made from aluminum, stainless steel, cast iron, copper or a combination of several materials, and each type of metal has its pros and cons.
Aluminum pieces are typically less expensive, for example, but they're also less durable. Stainless steel can withstand heavier use, but it costs more and isn't as great at conducting heat (which is why stainless-steel pans often have an aluminum core). And pans with a non-stick coating can make clean up easier.
You'll also want to think about what pieces you need -- if you already have a stockpot you love, for example, you might want to look for a set without one to save a little money. Further, make sure to carefully look at what's included in each set, as some brands try to "inflate" the number of pieces by including small utensils like spoons and spatulas that you might already own.
Other important considerations include the type of stove you have -- for instance, not all cookware works on induction cooktops -- as well as how you plan to use the pieces. Some cookware is dishwasher- and oven-safe, while other sets need to be cared for by hand or can't withstand certain types of oven heat.
We've taken all these factors into account as we selected the following cookware sets for our buyer's guide. After hours of research, reading product reviews, comparing brands and taking a deep dive into their reviews, we've landed on these eight great cookware sets for any type of home cook.
If you want the absolute best cookware set, no matter the price, arguably the best option is this 10-piece set from All-Clad. While it's not cheap, this set of stainless-steel cookware will last for the rest of your life if taken care of properly, making it a worthwhile investment for home chefs.
This set consists of both 8- and 10-inch frying pans, 2- and 3-quart saucepans with lids, a 3-quart saute pan with lid and an 8-quart stockpot with lid. All the pieces are made from three-ply stainless steel with a thick-gauge aluminum core for better conduction and more even heat distribution, and they feature riveted stainless-steel handles. The pots and pans are warp-resistant, induction-compatible, dishwasher-safe and oven-safe up to 600 degrees (without their lids).
These products are made in the US and come with a limited lifetime warranty. Reviewers say they heat evenly and look beautiful -- most agree that they're 100% worth the investment!
For those outfitting their first home, a budget-friendly cookware set might be more practical. In this case, you can't go wrong with this 10-piece nonstick set from T-fal. T-fal cookware is known for its affordable prices, and this set has everything a novice chef needs to get started in the kitchen.
With this bundle, you get both 8- and 9-inch frying pans, 1- and 2-quart saucepans, a 3-quart deep saute pan, a 5-quart Dutch oven, four tempered glass lids, and utensils including a slotted spatula and a spoon. The cookware is made from aluminum and features the company's "Titanium Advanced" nonstick finish to ensure your eggs always slide right out.
Additionally, the pans feature a "thermospot temperature indicator" that shows when the pan is preheated to the proper temperature -- it's a helpful hack for those just starting out with cooking. Plus, reviewers rave about the quality and performance of these wallet-friendy pans, writing that the cookware "really does make you a better cook."
Cuisinart offers quality midprice cookware, and many people have good things to say about the 12-piece set from this brand. The pots and pans have an elegant, minimalist look and have a variety of features that will make your time in the kitchen more enjoyable.
This set gives you 1.5- and 3-quart saucepans with lids, 8- and 10-inch open skillets, a 3.5-quart saute pan and lid, an 8-quart stockpot and lid and a steamer insert with matching lid. The pans are made with a pure aluminum core, triple-ply stainless steel walls and a beautiful brushed finish. The rims are tapered for drip-free pouring, and the cookware has "Heat Surround" technology that allows even surface heat distribution along the sides and walls -- so say goodbye to hot spots!
The Cuisinart set is dishwasher- and oven-safe up to 550 degrees, and it can be used on induction cookware. According to reviewers, these pots and pans will last for years if you take care of them properly, and many say they perform as well as other high-end stainless steel pans.
No one loves scrubbing burnt food off the bottom of a favorite skillet, which is why nonstick cookware is so popular. The nonstick pots and pans in this 12-piece set from Cuisinart are incredibly easy to care for, as pretty much all food will slide right off the scratch-resistant, ceramic-based nonstick coating. They're made from hard-anodized aluminum to ensure even heat distribution and eliminate hot spots, and they're oven-safe to 400 degrees.
This set consists of an 8-inch skillet, a 10-inch frying pan with lid, 1.5- and 2.5-quart saucepans with lids, a 3-quart "everyday" pan with lid, a 6-quart Dutch oven with lid and a steamer insert. Because the set is part of Cuisinart's GreenGourmet line, the products feature an eco-friendly nonstick coating and the handles are made from 70% recycled steel.
Stainless-steel pans are undeniably pretty, and they also deliver in terms of performance, as this metal is incredibly durable. If you're partial to stainless steel, you'll like this 12-piece cookware set from Tramontina, as it provides unbeatable heat diffusion and durability.
In this set, you'll find 10- and 12-inch frying pans, 5-, 3- and 1.5-quart saucepans with lids, a 5-quart Dutch oven with lid and a 12-quart stockpot with lid. The cookware is made from triple-ply stainless steel and features riveted, ergonomic handles. All of the pieces can be put in the dishwasher and are oven-safe up to 500 degrees. Plus, their precision-fitted lids help to lock in flavor, and reviewers say you can't beat this set for price and performance.
This collection of copper cookware from Calphalon will look absolutely stunning in your kitchen -- and their performance is nothing to scoff at, either! The set consists of 8- and 10-inch frying pans, 1.5- and 2.5-quart saucepans with lids, a 3-quart saute pan with lid and a 6-quart stock pot with lid.
These pieces feature a lustrous brushed-copper exterior and satin stainless-steel interiors and lids, and they have an inner aluminum core for superior heat conduction. The riveted handles are designed to be ergonomic and resist heat, and all the pans feature flared rings for easier pouring. You can put these pieces of cookware in the oven or broiler, but they don't work with induction cooktops and shouldn't be put in the dishwasher. People absolutely rave about the beautiful appearance of these Calphalon pans, but be warned that copper cookware requires more maintenance than your average stainless-steel pan.
Read more: How to clean cast iron
Cast iron is ideal for searing, braising, roasting and more, so this five-piece pre-seasoned cast iron bundle from Lodge will get plenty of use in your kitchen. It consists of a 10.5-inch griddle, 8- and 10.25-inch skillets, a 5-quart Dutch oven and a lid that fits on the larger skillet and the Dutch oven.
The cooking surface of each piece is pre-seasoned with 100% vegetable oil and the pieces need to be hand-washed and dried to maintain the integrity of the seasoning. Reviewers say that every piece in this set is high-quality, and many note that five pieces for less than $100 is a bargain for a good cookware set.
A large collection of cookware can quickly take over your kitchen cabinets, and if you live in a smaller home or apartment, the Space Saving collection from Calphalon will be your best friend. These pans are specially designed to stack together neatly, taking up 30% less space.
This six-piece set consists of 8- and 10-inch fry pans, a 3.5-quart pour-and-strain saucepan with cover and a 3-quart saute pan with cover. The pans are made from hard-anodized aluminum with a nonstick finish, and what's unique is that they're metal utensil-friendly -- there are multiple layers of the nonstick finish to resist scratching when they're stacked. The pieces have stainless-steel handles, and you can pop them in the dishwasher for easy cleaning. Buyers say these pans "exceeded expectations," performing beautifully and saving space in the cupboard.
This article was written for Chowhound by Camryn Rabideau.
Originally published in December.