While you might have a favorite dutch oven or love working with cast iron cookware, it's unreasonable to expect a single type of pan to be capable of cooking all your recipes. To truly realize your full culinary potential, you need a variety of pots and pans in different shapes and sizes.
There are two options to round out your kitchen:
You could piece together a complete cookware set by individually purchasing each pan. This will no doubt have you spending lots of time researching and hunting down products, not to mention will take a substantial chunk of cash out of your wallet.
Or, the significantly easier and, often less expensive option, is to buy a pre-packaged set of pots and pans. Such sets often get a bad rap for bundling together a bunch of equipment you don’t (while at the same time not including everything you do).
To help you avoid this pitfall, we've spent several years researching and testing dozens of the most popular cookware sets around. In this most recent update, we discovered that the best set for most people is the HexClad Hybrid Cookware Chef’s Package(available at HexClad). With 13-pieces, including some bonus items, it's everything your kitchen needs.
We also still love our former top cookware set, the Cuisinart MCP-12N Multiclad Pro Stainless Steel 12-Piece Cookware Set (available at Amazon), which we've named our best value pick.
Here are the best cookware sets we tested ranked, in order:
HexClad Hybrid Cookware 13-Piece Chef's Package
All-Clad HA1 Hard-Anodized Nonstick 10-Piece Cookware Set
Cuisinart MCP-12N Multiclad Pro Stainless Steel 12-Piece Cookware Set
Hestan NanoBond Titanium 10-Piece Ultimate Set
Hestan ProBond Forged Stainless Steel 10-Piece Ultimate Set
T-fal C561SC Titanium Advanced Nonstick 12-Piece Cookware Set
Equal Parts The Cookware Set
GreenPan Premiere Ceramic Nonstick 11-Piece Cookware Set
HexClad cookware is relatively new to the scene, and their claim to fame is their unique hybrid technology. These pans combine all the features you love about stainless steel with the ease of use of nonstick pans, all in one neat package. After testing the HexClad Hybrid Cookware Chef's Package, we were impressed enough to name it our Best Overall.
Before we dig in, we will say that these pans are not as nonstick as traditional cookware. They weren’t capable of cooking an egg without cooking oil, for example. But, the pans heat up quickly and evenly (like nonstick), and they do exhibit nonstick properties when they’re seasoned and used with a minimal amount of cooking oil. Our chicken thighs had some of the most even, gorgeous searing out of any skillet we’ve used, and it was exceptionally easy to clean because any built-up bits wiped off easily with a paper towel. Unlike most nonstick, the Hexclad can be used with metal utensils because of its unique laser-etched hexagon top, which also makes it less likely to scratch.
The pans feature tri-ply construction (like multi-clad stainless steel pans), but they’re significantly lighter. That allowed us to toss vegetables with ease, and the ergonomic, rounded handles felt great while we used them. The saucepans also have a bowl-like shape on the interior, so it was much easier to stir into the edges to keep sauces from burning.
This set is not inexpensive, but it contains everything you need for a starter kitchen, plus some bonus items. It’s also a great choice for anyone looking to upgrade their old cookware set, too. The Hybrid Cookware Chef’s Package comes with 8-, 10- and 12-inch frying pans, 2- and 3-quart saucepots, an 8-quart stockpot, and a 12-inch wok. These pans contain a magnetic layer, too, so you can use them on induction cooktops.
If you’re specifically looking for a nonstick set, we recommend the All-Clad HA1 Hard-Anodized Nonstick Cookware Set. It not only aced our tests, but each pan is beautifully designed with a sleek, black finish and shiny metal handles. The handles are long enough to create a perfect balance with each pan, and they feature All-Clad’s signature concave shape that’s super comfortable to hold. While the pans are a little on the heavy side, they’re well-built with heavy-gauge hard-anodized aluminum that should make them more durable. All-Clad also coats the pans with three layers of PFOA-free nonstick material, creating a slick finish that helps the food release easily.
As for performance, we had absolutely no complaints. The lid fit tightly onto the saucepots, trapping steam inside the pan to create some of the best rice in the testing group. We were also impressed at how crispy our chicken skin became, as most nonstick pans don’t excel at creating a hard sear. Put it all together, and this set became the clear choice for our Best Nonstick Cookware Set. Our only major complaint was the pans don’t nest very well, making storage more difficult.
The hard-anodized nonstick set certainly seems expensive at first glance, but it comes with a wide variety of pots and pans that make it worth every penny. The set includes 8- and 10-inch frying pans, 2.5- and 3.5-quart saucepans, a 4-quart sauté pan, and an 8-quart stockpot.
Cuisinart MCP-12N Stainless Steel 12-Piece Cookware Set
The Cuisinart MCP-12N Multiclad Pro Stainless Steel 12-Piece Cookware Set, our former Best Overall, offers incredible performance at a great value. We had no complaints with the medium-sized sauté pan (which not only comfortably fit four chicken thighs but also seared each one to perfection). The large stockpot is well-sized for making soup, cooking pasta, or blanching vegetables and is dishwasher-safe for an added bonus.
In addition to their performance and high quality, these pans are easy to use. The triple-ply construction gave the pans the benefit of heat conductivity, but the anodized aluminum core ensures that they’re not too heavy to handle. And because it’s available at a fraction of the cost of our new top pick (and big retailers often put it on sale), it was a no-brainer to give it a Best Value award.
The set includes everything you need to cook a meal: two saucepans (1 1/2- and 3-quart), an 8-quart stockpot, a medium-sized 3.5-quart sauté pan, two skillets (8- and 10-inch), and a steamer insert—all with comfortable handles and a design that creates a nice balance when holding the pan.
While we know every shopper can't justify the price, Hestan's NanoBond is an exceptional line of cookware and is worth the dough if you have it. It’s gorgeous to look at and feels good in the hand, and you get the kind of performance you’d expect at this price—even heating, steady simmering, and no burning at the bottom or in the corners. Thousands of layers of titanium-based nanolayers are bonded to the stainless-steel surfaces of NanoBond cookware, which the brand claims make it 400% stronger than traditional stainless steel and therefore resistant to staining and scratching. These pieces can even take heat up to 1050°F!
While there are lots of good cookware sets out there, this line offers just about every performance plus and ease of use you could ever want. The 10-piece set includes 8.5- and 11-inch skillets, 1.5- and 3-quart saucepans, a 3.5-quart sauté pan, and an 8-quart stockpot. Read our full review here.
Hi, I’m Lindsay Mattison, a trained professional chef and dinner party enthusiast. I’m the type of person that uses every single pot and pan in the house when I’m cooking dinner (and, I’ll probably dirty up all the tasting spoons and mise en place bowls, too). So, I definitely understand the importance of having the right set of pots and pans to get the job done! It wasn’t easy testing all these samples (and my house was quite cluttered for a few weeks), but it was well worth it to help you find the best cookware for the right value.
Professional chef and food writer Sharon Franke also contributed testing and writing to this piece for both Hestan sets.
After selecting 12 top-rated cookware sets (half stainless steel and half nonstick), we decided to cook a multi-component meal using each set. To function for everyday life, the pots and pans had to be sized appropriately to cook dinner for one, but we also wanted to know if you could easily cook a larger dinner (like Thanksgiving) using each set. To earn our seal of approval, at least two saucepans, one sauté pan, and a stock pot had to fit on a standard cooktop range at the same time. While we did not test a Le Creuset nonstick set in this particular round, we did love their famous (and colorful) 5.5-quart round ceramic coated number when we tested affordable dutch ovens.
Keeping that in mind, we designed the tests to evaluate performance, ease of use, and value. We seared chicken thighs in the sauté pan, tossed vegetables in the skillets, simmered sauces and cooked rice in the saucepots, and blanched vegetables in the stockpot. If the set came with nonstick gear, we fried a few eggs without oil to see how well the coating worked. Finally, we measured any noticeable hotspots and maybe did a little taste testing to see if one set made a tastier meal than the others. In the end, none of the sets completely failed but we did have a few favorites.
Things to Know About Buying a Cookware Set
Although I wish it weren’t true, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all pot or pan. Each cooking task requires a specific size. For example, you wouldn’t want to boil pasta in a small, 1-quart saucepot because it won’t all fit. And, it certainly wouldn’t make sense to cook up one cup of oatmeal in a large, 8-quart pot. (For those of you who opted out of culinary math: 1 quart = 4 cups)
So, cookware companies try to anticipate your needs by providing small, medium, and large pots and pans. Before you buy anything, consider your cooking style: do you usually cook food for one or for a crowd? The former means you can opt for smaller cookware. Do you cook mostly soups and sauces, or are you a fan of scrambles, stir-fries, and pasta? The answer determines whether you want a selection of saucepots or if having a large skillet is more important in your set.
In the end, it’s best to look for a set that has at least two small saucepots, one large stockpot, a small egg pan, and a larger skillet or sauté pan, all oven-safe, of course. Anything extra (including being dishwasher safe or a frying pan), I consider a bonus! Most sets come with a lid for every saucepan, stockpot, and sauté pan. Sets count these lids as extra pieces to increase the count, so the above set would have five pots and pans but will be called an 8-piece set. While we’re on the topic, try to look for metal lids. Yes, that means you can’t see what’s going on inside the pot, but those glass lids always fog up anyway! The metal lids will never drop and shatter, giving them a longer lifespan than the glass variety.
Choosing Nonstick or Stainless Steel
Again, this goes back to your cooking style. Stainless steel is great for searing meat, leaving behind those delicious fond bits that make the perfect start to a pan sauce. They also tend to last longer than the nonstick varieties, which can be easily scratched, are not as easy to clean, and generally can’t go into the dishwasher—so be prepared to do a bit of hand washing. That being said, nonstick is easy to cook with, has fewer hot spots, and is even easier to clean and maintain. Many people find themselves attracted to nonstick pans when they start out because it’s a low-cost investment that can be upgraded in the future. When looking at nonstick, keep in mind there are two material types: The hard-anodized aluminum pans are Teflon-free (PFOA-free) and tend to be heavier (and more durable) than the coated varieties.
Hestan ProBond is great-looking and high-performing cookware, competitively priced with stainless steel sets from All-Clad. While not as exceptionally durable as Hestan's NanoBond line, the ProBond pieces are similarly well-constructed, with even heating, flush rivets, and a good weight.
The 10-piece set includes 8.5- and 11-inch skillets, 1.5- and 3-quart saucepans, a 3.5-quart sauté pan, and an 8-quart stockpot—a good assortment of basics that's definitely a better buy than individual pieces if you’re in need of all of them. You have the option of supplementing your set with ProBond nonstick skillets but will have to look to another brand for a Dutch oven.
If you’re looking for an inexpensive, easy-to-clean nonstick cookware set, look no further than the T-Fal C561SC Titanium Advanced Nonstick 12-Piece Cookware Set. There are plenty of advantages to either type of cookware, but you’ll generally find nonstick is easier to clean, especially after cooking with frying pans.
While a nonstick pan will rarely rival a stainless one when it comes to searing meat, this set performed admirably. It cooked eggs perfectly without requiring any extra oil and the saucepots simmered sauces and cooked rice without scorching. To top it all off, this set’s stockpot boiled water faster than any others in our test group, the pans heated quickly and evenly, and the comfortable, padded handles stayed cool.
In addition to the basics any kitchen should have to get cooking, this nonstick set includes a few bonus items: two saucepans (1- and 2-quart), a 5-quart stockpot, a large 5-quart sauté pan, two skillets (8- and 9-inch), a spatula, and a slotted spoon.
Equal Parts made one of our favorite nonstick pans, so it’s no surprise that we loved the Equal Parts Non-Stick Cookware Set. For starters, these pans are absolutely gorgeous, which somehow makes cooking out of them that much more fun.
Each pan features comfortable handles that didn’t get too hot, and the ceramic nonstick coating allowed us to get a great sear on the chicken without burning any residue onto the bottom. That helps to make clean-up a breeze! The pans also stack nicely for storage and feature universal lids, making this set perfect for anyone with storage constraints.
The ceramic nonstick set is definitely minimal, though, and we thought the price tag was a little high for four pans. It comes with their 8-inch Fry Pan, 3.5-quart Sauce Pan, 10-inch Essential Pan (a sauté pan with 2.5-inch tall sides), and an 8-quart oven-safe stockpot.
GreenPan Premiere Ceramic Nonstick 11-Piece Cookware Set
GreenPan was the first company to produce ceramic nonstick pans, and they have dozens of cookware sets to choose from. We tested the GreenPan Premiere Ceramic Nonstick 11-Piece Cookware Set because of its stainless-steel construction, which is heavier than aluminum but more durable.
Some of the premium nonstick sets we tested were a little skimpy on the contents, but you’ll get six well-built pots and pans with this set, plus lids and a steamer basket. The nonstick properties on this pan were top-notch, and the pans included small details that we appreciated (like rounded handles that stayed cool as you cooked and recessed handle rivets that we appreciated when cleaning the pans).
On the flip side, these pans didn’t heat as evenly as some of the other sets we tested, and it was a little hard to stir into the corners of the saucepans. They were also a little on the heavy side, but that’s well worth it for a well-built pan.
This ceramic nonstick set, which is exclusive to Williams Sonoma, includes 9.5- and 12-inch frying pans, 1.5- and 3-quart saucepans, a 3-quart sauté pan, a 6-quart stockpot, and a stainless steel steamer insert.
At first glance, the Anolon Advanced Home 11-Piece Cookware Set doesn’t seem very different from the Anolon Advanced set. When it came to performance, though, it blew its predecessor out of the water.
This more recent upgraded version has an enhanced nonstick finish, so it performed much better on our egg tests. The eggs flipped with ease, and the rice simmered perfectly without browning or sticking to the bottom of the pan. We also loved the soft, ergonomic handles, and were thrilled when they didn’t get hot after extended use.
On the flip side, the pans didn’t heat as evenly as multi-clad stainless steel, and they couldn’t produce a hard sear on the chicken thighs, either. That said, if you’re specifically looking for a nonstick pan set, this one won’t disappoint.
In addition to the standards—two saucepots (1.5- and 3-quart), an 8.5-quart stockpot, and a medium-sized 3-quart sauté pan—you’ll get a small and a large skillet (8.5- and 12-inch). The addition of that second, larger skillet feels like a bonus from the usual 10-inch addition because it gives you the room to make stir-fries or other one-pot meals.
If the gorgeous appearance of the Caraway Cookware Set isn’t enough to make you want to buy it, the extra attention to detail will definitely push you over the edge. The set comes with four pans, three lids, and two specially designed storage pieces. The modular racks house the pans on their side so they’ll easily fit inside a cabinet, and the genius canvas lid holder can hang on the inside of the door.
When it came to performance, these pans absolutely met our expectations. The lid features a small hole to allow steam to escape, producing some of the better rice in the group. And the nonstick properties didn’t fail in any of the tests, allowing eggs to slide around without any cooking oil. That said, the set lost some points because it doesn’t contain a full set of pots and pans, despite the high price tag.
This ceramic nonstick cookware set includes one 10.5-inch frying pan (skipping the smaller 8-inch egg pan that comes with most cookware sets). You’ll also get a 3-quart saucepan, 4.5-quart sauté pan, and a 6.5-inch Dutch oven (which is a great bonus item instead of a traditional stockpot). If you don’t need all the sizes of pots and pans and this set fits your needs, you’ll be happy with the Caraway.
All-Clad BD005710-R D5 Stainless Steel 10-Piece Cookware Set
All-Clad is well known for making top-of-the-line (and, expensive) cookware. This All-Clad BD005710-R D5 Brushed 18/10 Stainless Steel 5-Ply Bonded 10-Piece Cookware Set is no exception. While there’s no denying the superior heat distribution and overall performance of these 5-ply, bonded stainless-steel pans, there were a few things that caused them to fall down in the ranks. First, the very hefty price tag is hard to swallow, especially considering that the heavy material makes it harder to flip vegetables or pour out the contents with ease. The straight (and stainless steel) handle design doesn’t help in that regard, throwing off the balance and causing you to really feel the weight of each pan.
That being said, if you’re willing to dish out the coin (or, have a wedding registry in the near future), these pots and pans will last a lifetime. The set comes with two saucepots (1.5- and 3-quart), an 8-quart stockpot, a medium-sized 3-quart sauté pan, and two skillets (8- and 10-inch).
Tramontina 80116/249DS Tri-Ply 12-Piece Cookware Set
If you regularly make large amounts of soup or stock, you may want to consider the Tramontina 12-Piece Stainless Steel Tri-Ply Clad Cookware Set. It’s the only set that came with a 12-quart stockpot—that's overkill for boiling pasta or blanching vegetables, but perfect for larger batch recipes. The wide handles were comfortable to hold and the tri-ply construction provided even heating, from browning chicken breasts to cooking sauces without scorching.
You’ll get some larger-sized pots and pans with this set for a great price (so, if you’re looking for small 1-quart saucepans, this isn’t the one for you). The roomier pans are nice, giving you more space to cook larger quantities while still fitting on a standard range top. You’ll find two saucepots (3- and 5-quart), two stockpots (5- and 12-quart), a large 5-quart sauté pan, and two skillets (10- and 12-inch) in the set.
Circulon Symmetry Hard Anodized Nonstick 11-Piece Cookware Set
Each pan in the Circulon Symmetry Black 11-Piece Cookware Set has raised, concentric circles on the nonstick surface. While I couldn’t tell you the history of these ridges or how they became a Circulon signature trait, I can tell you that they definitely work to keep food from sticking to the pan! In addition to acing the nonstick tests, the Circulon pans performed well overall (except that the tall-and-skinny stockpot design took the longest in the group to boil water). Overall, these were some of the more comfortable pans we used, with well-thought-out, padded handles and nicely balanced weight.
This set has a nice variety of items, including three saucepots (1-, 2-, and 3-quart), an 8-quart stockpot, a medium-sized 3-quart sauté pan, and two skillets (8.5- and 10-inch). Everything you’d need in just the right sizes!
From a performance perspective, we really liked the pans included in the Great Jones Family Style Set. The small nonstick pan was one of our favorites when we reviewed nonstick pans, and we loved the way the saucepan had measurements etched into the side for ease of measuring. All the pans have welded-on handles, too, which made clean-up so much easier compared to scrubbing around traditional rivets.
The pans passed our tests with flying colors, but the set itself fell a little short. It didn’t contain all the items we consider essential. For example, we would really like to see a small saucepot and a 12-inch skillet in the mix. And while we liked how the saute pan and stockpot share a lid to save storage space, we wondered what we’d do if we wanted to cook with both pans covered at once.
When it comes to price, it seems high for a set missing so many pieces. That said, it’s the only set we tested that includes a Dutch oven. That’s a big selling point considering that a single Le Crueset Dutch Ovens can cost almost as much as this entire set!
The set comes with Great Jone’s “Small Fry” (an 8.5-inch nonstick pan), and three fully clad stainless pieces: “Deep Cut” (a 10.25-inch deep sauté pan), “Saucy” (a 3-quart saucepan), and “Big Deal” (a 8-quart stockpot). It also includes the “Dutchess,” a gorgeous 6.75 quart Dutch oven available in several colors.
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