Best Cookware Sets – Reviews and Buying Guide

Time for a look at the best cookware sets available today at My Shiny Kitchen. Whether you are a fan of branded names, budget cookware, or particular materials, our pick of the best sets available today, should help you find the one to keep you cooking for years.

Whilst many of us plod along quite happily with mis-matched cookware accumulated over the years, there is something rather dreamy and very desirable about great cookware sets. But with so much trash available, it pays to do a little research before you buy, so hopefully this buying guide will help! There are various materials used to create these sets, and which you choose is likely to be based on what you already use, and what you trust. For me, cookware should be stainless steel with a copper core, but of course this is a personal choice, so I have included the most popular materials even though I don’t personally like them!

Now obviously even my overstocked kitchen won’t hold all these sets, so I have used a bit of technical knowledge, personal preference, and a whole lot of research based on both customer reviews of cookware, and what the manufacturers themselves claim, to bring you the 5 best cookware sets today:

1. Best Stainless Steel Cookware Sets

cuisinart multiclad cookwareCuisinart MultiClad Pro Stainless Steel cookware wins for us, because it is high quality, but it is a fraction of the cost of that most desirable All Clad Cookware.

The reasons why we love the MultiClad range are numerous…

  1. Did I mention the (relatively) low price?
  2. Aluminum cores that run up the sides of the pans, not just in the base as you would find with cheaper stainless steel cookware. So the pans heat evenly every time.
  3. High quality 18/10 stainless steel inside and out, for easy cleaning and good looks. Stainless steel is my preferred material for everyday cookware since it doesn’t react with foods.
  4. Suitable on induction stove-tops, gas, electric, ceramic and halogen.
  5. Even available for broiler use.
  6. All pieces can go in the oven too (up to 550º).
  7. Lifetime warranty.

I think that’s plenty of good reasons to choose the Cuisinart stainless steel pro range. But if you need more encouragement, they’re freezer and dishwasher safe too. Personally though I advise not putting stainless steel cookware into the dishwasher as it can be a little harsh on such shiny pots and pans.

2. Best Non-Stick Cookware

t-fal non-stick cookware

This was a difficult one to choose. In the end we went for the T-Fal Signature Cookware set, but with the KitchenAid Gourmet range as a very close (though more expensive) runner up.

I know non-stick hard anodised cookware is extremely popular. After all it’s easy to clean, difficult to burn things in, and lightweight. The aluminum construction means heat distribution is great and sets can be bought relatively cheaply.

You do have to care for it just right though, as you don’t want that non-stick coating to become scratched as it will quickly fail. Also, though many customers claim they pop theirs in the dishwasher, it isn’t guaranteed as dishwasher safe, and you really don’t want to mess with the coating, so roll your sleeves up and wash this cookware by hand please!

One of the key reasons for suggesting you choose T-Fal’s Signature cookware sets if you are looking for non-stick is the price. There are many other brands of hard-anodised non-stick pots and pans available (many celebrity sponsored such as Rachel Ray’s cookware and Paula Deen cookware). But both seem to fall into one of two categories; cheap and plain nasty, or branded and plain over-priced.

These aren’t heavy pans, and to be honest they are unlikely to last a life-time, but no non-stick is. But for those of you that prefer non-stick they are amongst the best sets available. Of course, being non-stick they are only suitable for use in the oven up to 350º, and you will need to store them carefully to ensure the coating stays in pristine condition.

The 12 piece T-Fal set has just about all you want, but it doesn’t include anything particularly large. Do take note of the handle sizes, and the lids though as these are not great space-savers and in a small kitchen you might find them a little difficult to find a home for.

Which Type of Cookware Set to Buy?

I believe for the majority of us there really are only two types of cookware set we are likely to consider; stainless steel, or non-stick hard anodized cookware. Which you choose is likely to be based on what you are familiar with using, and what your friends and family tell you!

There are of course other possibilities but they are far less popular; copper might be beautiful but is extremely pricey, and probably won’t perform any better than a good quality tri-clad stainless steel set, cheap aluminum won’t last that long as it is thin and very easy to bend and buckle, enamel looks good but is easy to chip, best for many might just be enamelled cast iron cookware but the price is very prohibitive, and the weight is off-putting for many.

Stainless Steel Cookware

There are a few points to consider before opting for stainless steel if you haven’t tried it before:

  • It simply must have an aluminum core to ensure even heat distribution. Most cheaper sets will only have aluminum in the base, if you can spend a little more get one with aluminum in the sides too.
  • You really shouldn’t put it in the dishwasher even if they say you can!
  • To avoid things sticking try to heat the pots slowly before adding any ingredients, and ensure those ingredients are at room temperature. It is very easy to make fridge-cold meat or fish stick horribly!
  • Cheap sets can often come with handles that are poorly designed and difficult to clean. Look for solid rivets and solid handles. Even very high quality cookware can have this simple flaw; I have an old European Meyer set that is fantastic in all but one respect – hollow handles are impossible to clean properly.
  • Stainless steel (if reasonable quality) is heavy if you’re only used to very cheap pans previously.
  • There are a few things that can be difficult to cook in steel, particularly if you haven’t used them previously. Scrambled egg is a prime example, and the main reason I have a few enamelled cast iron pans and skillets in My Shiny Kitchen, as well as many stainless steel ones!
The two reasons I love stainless steel, and have so much of it at home is that a) it is very tough which means I can use whatever utensils I like, and wash it up with whatever I like, and b) it doesn’t react to any foods so my stock pot can double as a preserving pan when I’m in the mood to make some jam!

Non-Stick Cookware

Again, if you are not familiar with non-stick pots and pans do think before you buy:

  • Modern non-stick is very reliable, but you need to buy quality and look after it. T-fal and Meyer (who manufacturer for KitchenAid amongst others) tend to be good bets. But not all non-stick is equal; it has to be hard anodized (known as hard base ceramic) non-stick if you want it to be at all tough and hard wearing.
  • You will need to avoid using sharp utensils.
  • Avoid the dishwasher if you want the pans to last well.
  • Be careful in the oven, as most non-stick pans are only okay in a relatively cool oven.
  • The outside is important too – make sure the exterior coating is hard enough to cope with the occasional ding since kitchens are busy places!
I am a little too hard on my cookware to go for traditional non-stick I’m afraid, so for me the best cookware sets are always stainless steel!

Best Cookware Sets

Don’t forget too, that no matter how stylish, how practical, and how tough a set of cookware is, it isn’t any good if the pots and pans included aren’t what you need! Double check the dimensions of the pans included in any set, and compare them to what you currently use to see if you will actually need everything that is included. There is no point in spending more money on a 12 piece set if you never use the extra pans and could have got away with the 7 piece one!

Also, remember how much storage you actually have available to look after all this new kitchen cookware.

About Kelly Rockwell