Best Cookware Set Reviews 2018: Top 5+ Recommended
Cooking is my lifelong passion (as if you haven't noticed that already), and, not to brag, but I think I'm pretty good at it. But then again, I'm no stranger to burnt food.
Still, I have a perfect defense strategy when my husband and kids are making jokes about that: "It's not me, it's the pan".
You'd be surprised to know just how true that can be. Some cookware sets are made of materials which are simply waiting to mess your food up.
That’s why I’ve started my search for the best cookware sets on the market.
Before I share my finds with you, let me just guide you through the buying process and explain the factors that matter the most.
It’s All About The Material
If I would have to subdue this entire buying guide to a single factor which will decide what is the best cookware set that would definitely be the material.
It is imperative to choose cookware set which is constructed of an excellent conductor of heat so that the heat is evenly distributed throughout the pans and other cookware.
Also, the material should, by no means, interact with food.
Now, we'll discuss the most popular materials for cookware and some of their pros and cons:
- Stainless steel is famous for its durability and even heating. It doesn't react with the food. Stainless steel is dishwasher, oven, and broiler safe. If you decide for uncoated steel, it may be tougher to clean.
- Nonstick coating is every housewife dream. It can be cleaned in several seconds, and it is also great if you prefer a non-fat diet because it requires little to no oil. If there is one evident flaw of this material that is that it is easy to scratch if you are using metal utensils. Also, the food doesn't get that nice brown color when cooked in nonstick dishes.
- Enameled cast iron has that nostalgic charm I simply can’t resist. These classic, usually colorful sets heat slowly, but evenly and they retain heat very well. They don't react with acidic ingredients, and they are corrosion resistant. Still, they are very heavy to carry, and if you drop them, the enamel can chip.
- Uncoated cast iron, on the other hand, is much more similar to nonstick materials because it can withstand high temperatures with little to no sticking of the food. Also, it is very durable and retains heat well. However, you may find it that some pans fry the food unevenly and that they are difficult to clean.
- Carbon steel and blue steel are often used in professional kitchens because they are designed for high-performance cooking. They can be used on every cooktop and can be wiped clean in several moves. Carbon and blue steel are prone to rust and they are not dishwasher safe.
- Copper cookware sets look amazing, but it also offers even cooking and rapid cooling down. Some, not all models, are safe for oven use. Despite all these advantages, the price of copper cookware can be a true turnoff. Also copper is difficult to maintain and can dent easily. (E.g, Red Copper Pan, Gotham Steel Pan)
- Aluminum is lightweight, strong, easy to maintain, excellent heat conductor, and, best of all, very affordable. However, aluminum cookware can cause discoloration in some foods and induce a bitter taste.
Your Cooking Habits Play A Big Role Too
Your cooking personality has a lot to do with your choice of cookware.
Is cooking something you do out of love, or you just like to slap some things together and call them a meal?
If you really love cooking and do it often, you will probably be ready to invest more money and make your cookware a lifelong investment.
How You Cook Also Matters?
For example, if you do a lot of stir-frying then you should get cast iron cookware. If you like slow cooking, you should stay clear of copper cookware because it can induce bitterness, and if searing and deglazing are something you often do, the best cookware for you is made of stainless steel.
Consider The Number Of People You Cook For
How big is your family? And how often do you have the chance to prepare for larger gatherings?
The number of people you cook for will determine how many pieces your set should have.
If you cook for a small family, and you are more of a "have to" than "love to" chef, you should search for a set with basic pieces such as a 8" skillet, a 10" skillet with a lid, a sauté pan with a lid, a saucepan with a lid and a stock pot with a lid.
If your cooking persona is searching for something more challenging, on the other hand, you should complete your set with a larger stock pot (14” or 17”), cast iron skillet, wok and a few more saucepans.
Not Every Material Is For Every Type Of Cooktop
Finally, you need to consider how your cookware will match your stovetop.
The most popular type of pans is flat-bottomed, and they are perfect for a smooth-top range. Round-bottomed woks need to be vented rings on the top of the stove for support.
Induction cooktops use the transfer of magnetic energy and therefore requires magnetic cookware. Regular stainless steel, aluminum, glass and ceramic sets are no good for this type of stovetop.
Most Recommended Cookware Sets On The Market - Barbara's Reviews 2018
Now that you know the factors I considered when trying out cookware sets, we can move on to choosing the winner out of top five sets on the market.
The pieces of this 12-piece set are made of aluminum and coated with nonstick hard titanium coating. Also, the hard anodized exterior is scratch resistant.
The first thing that sets this set apart from the other four is the thermo-spot heat indicator which shows when the temperature is ideal for cooking.
This is great if you are not a fan of some of the other techniques for determining if the pan is hot enough we, the traditional housewives love to use, such as drops of batter or dropping a grain of rice into the hot oil.
The riveted silicone handles are really comfortable to hold, and all the pieces are oven and dishwasher safe. I loved that the set includes a covered Dutch oven because I simply can't get enough of one-pot meals such as casserole and braised ribs.
It's a bit annoying that you can use only wooden and silicone utensils for these pieces, but if you get over that drawback, this is a pretty decent set. The unforgivable flaw, however, is the fact that the discoloration of the coating can appear after just several uses.
What I Liked
- The thermo-spot can be quite useful, especially for those inexperienced in the kitchen
- The handles are easy to hold
- The set is both dishwasher and oven safe
- The covered Dutch oven works perfectly
- The non-stick surface does a fair job of living up to its name
What I Didn’t Like
- The coating starts rubbing off after some time
- You can use only silicone and wooden utensils
- Even those leave marks after some time
This cookware set was love at first sight, and can you blame me?
The colorful pieces bring spring into the kitchen even in the midst winter. However, I needed to look beyond the appearance to determine whether or not this set can do justice to my cooking.
The set is made of durable aluminum coated with a non-stick coating, and it performs quite well when it comes to everyday cooking activities. The cookware is oven safe, and the glass lids in the package are ideal for cooking soups because they release more steam than metal lids.
The cookware is oven safe, but it is not dishwasher safe, which means that you need to wash it by hand. The size of the pieces in the set is very diverse so that you can use some of them for small family dinners and other for larger gatherings. The set also includes heat-resistant utensils.
If you cook on higher settings you can expect discoloration from the fire burners on the pans and pots, but the bottom doesn’t peel off, it just looks bad. As for the utensils, I would recommend buying them separately since these are of very cheap quality.
What I Liked
- The design is incredibly charming
- Considering the low price, you get much more than you’ve expected
- The non-stick coating performs fine
- The set includes different-sized pieces
What I Didn’t Like
- There can be some discoloration where the heat came into direct contact with the cookware
- I would prefer to get one even larger pan or pot in the set
- The utensils are of poor quality
Let’s start with the elephant in the room here. This is by far the most expensive cookware set on this list. Let us see is it really worth the price.
The pieces are made of stainless steel which is a durable material that provides even heating. It also doesn't react with food and alters its flavor, and it is not prone to discoloration.
What makes these pots and pans unique is the Triple-Ply construction which gives them unsurpassed heat conductivity of a true aluminum core and ensures maximum heat retention while eliminating hot spots.
The cookware is dishwasher and oven safe. The tight-fitting lids preserve the food’s natural juices and nutrients. Since they have magnetic properties, all the pieces are suitable for induction cooktops.
I loved that the set includes a steamer insert with a lid, which makes easier many cooking tasks, including preparing pasta.
This set is ideal for all of you passionate cooks out there, but it also requires additional effort in cleaning and maintaining, unlike the non-stick counterparts. If you are used to aluminum pans, these will feel a bit heavy to you.
Another thing you have to get used to is the heat adjustment which is different for stainless steel.
My main concern is about the lids. The handles on the top absorb the heat too fast, and I had a few burns because of that.
What I Liked
- A lifetime investment
- The Triple-ply construction is doing a fantastic job
- Dishwasher and oven safe
- The lids are tight-fitting
- The set includes a steamer insert
- Suitable for induction cooktops
What I Didn’t Like
- The price isn’t for everyone’s pocket
- The pieces are a bit heavy
- The lids get too hot, too fast
I love Rachael Ray, and I have watched her shows millions of times and prepared her recipes hundred times. That is why I was so excited about trying out this set.
First, I have to comment the color. The agave shade looks enchanting, and I would keep the set on an open shelf to brag about it to all my guests. The set is crafted with aluminum, coated with the non-stick coating and the exterior is made hard enamel porcelain.
The stainless steel handles and the very sturdy glass lids with heat-resistant rubberized lid handles make using these pots and pan a breeze.
The set is oven safe, and it also includes a spoon and slotted turner. The cleaning and maintaining are really simple, and the color doesn't come off with time.
Although I am pretty satisfied with this set, there are some drawbacks I would love to mention. I mind that there is no 12” skillet included in the set. What's even worse, the pieces get scratched quickly even when you use non-metal utensils. The utensils you get in the package are not very useful or durable.
What I Liked
- Good value for the money
- Unique modern and rustic design
- The food doesn’t stick to the bottom
- The cookware is easy to clean
- The handles are very comfy
- Maintenance is simple
What I Didn’t Like
- The set doesn’t seem very durable
- There is no large skillet included
- The non-stick surface gets scratched quickly, even if you're careful
- The utensils are not great
For a long time Teflon was the undisputed king of the non-stick coatings, and then ceramic coating came into play. Ceramic coating definitely wins in the eco-friendly and safety areas, but some argue that it has a shorter life span. However, if there are several layers of coating, there should be no such problems.
The piece I liked the most in this set is the covered casserole 3 Quart. The cookware seems to be super heat conductive, and I didn’t notice any hot-spots in the bottom. The handles are equipped with anti-slip coating, which makes them comfortable and heat-resistant.
The exterior color is very pleasant to the eye, but it is also resistant to high temperatures and easy to clean. For now, the pans and skillets seem very scratch-resistant. The glass lids have heat-resistant handles which are a beneficial addition.
However, the handles are pretty loose, and if you want to be safe while using them, you should take them apart and tighten them all over again. Also, although the ceramic coating inside stays in great shape after several using, the green paint on the exterior can start to scratch off after a short period, especially if you are using a gas stove.
What I Liked
- The design is fun
- The ceramic coating is safe and eco-friendly
- Great value for the money
- Satisfactory heat conductivity
- The handles are not slippery
What I Didn’t Like
- It’s not built to last
- The exterior paint chips off
- The handless keep on loosening
The Final Decision
The final decision comes down to answering the one question I mentioned above: Do you love to cook or have to cook?
If you love to cook and you’re in search for a lifetime investment, then, by all means, you need to purchase the Cuisinart MCP-12N 12-Piece Cookware Set.
Sure, this set is not without its issues, but it more than compensates for that with quality and heat conductivity.
If on the other hand, you have to cook, or your budget is too tight for such an investment, the Vremi 15 Piece Nonstick Cookware Set is the next best choice.