Food52 made its own line of cookware—is it worth buying?
We tried the Five Two cookware set to see how well it works.
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With the holidays coming up, it’s about time we all got our cookware in order. If you’re like us, you probably have your tried and true favorites. However, we’re also always on the hunt for a new sets to add to our repertoire, so when Food52 announced their Five Two cookware we couldn’t try it fast enough.
What is Food52?
Food52 is an online food community comprised of a website featuring recipes submitted by consumers and tested by the site’s test kitchen pros. Founded in 2009 by Amanda Hesser, Food52 claims its cookware is based on feedback from thousands of home cooks within their community and countless rounds of testing.
What’s in a set?
The 7-piece Core Set consists of a 10-inch skillet with a ceramic nonstick interior finish and a 2.7-quart saucepan, a 4-quart sauté pan, and a 6-quart stock pot with lids, plus a felt liner to use when storing to protect from scratches. Each piece is also sold individually, but you’ll save just over $100 if you buy the set, available on the Food52 website for $299 plus shipping.
What’s the Five Two cookware made of?
The base metal (or core) of this cookware is aluminum, which provides great heat distribution. The aluminum is completely clad with stainless steel which makes the cookware look great, prevents denting, and keeps the aluminum out of your food. The 10-inch skillet is coated with a ceramic nonstick finish.
Each Five Two piece has a cast stainless steel handle with a stonewashed finish. And like other cookware brands we’ve tested, the Five Two cookware lids have glass inserts to let you keep an eye on your food as it cooks without having to uncover.
How does the cookware look and feel?
This cookware is downright beautiful and looks like it belongs on a pro-style trophy range. None of the pieces have riveted handles, which means cleanup will be easier, though this is a small deviation from classic commercial style. And surprisingly, for cookware that’s been so well-vetted by both consumers and recipe testers, the handles are not comfortable to hold.
In addition to the glass lids, there are a few other nice features that set Five Two cookware apart. There are built-in strainers in the lids (goodbye, colander!) and measurement marks on the inside of the saucepans (so long, measuring cups!).
How does it perform?
We were super impressed with how evenly the skillet browned a layer of flour and a huge pancake. The skillet evenly distributed heat across the bottom surface and onto the side as well. When we cooked an Italian chicken dish, the onions cooked slowly and evenly, and we didn’t get any burnt bits (even though these are sometimes tasty)—the chicken pieces all browned at the same time and the tomato-wine sauce simmered steadily.
When we cooked rice, the saucepan released steam that spilled over onto the range, but we still got a potful of nicely cooked. (Rice cookers are still our favorite for easy cooking and clean-up here.) The ceramic nonstick coating was fine for pancakes, but did stick a bit when we fried eggs. Using the nonstick skillet, we were able to put a nice sear on both sides of a steak in the time it took to cook it to medium rare.
Is it easy to use and clean?
As long as you don’t grab the handles too close to the pot itself, you can hold it without a mitt or a pot holder after you’ve been simmering food for an hour. Whereas many glass lids steam up so much that you can’t see inside, we found that we could easily watch our food cook through these lids. The sauté pan—not the ceramic skillet—is oven-safe, making it great for broiling fish or melting cheese.
Because of the aluminum core, this cookware can be used on an induction range, but it doesn’t have super flat disc bottoms so may not make good contact with the burners. All of the stainless-steel pieces can go in the dishwasher, but hand washing is recommended for the ceramic skillet. As with all stainless-steel cookware, it took some scrubbing to remove burnt-on gunk and return it to a pristine finish.
What we like
- It includes a good assortment of useful pieces.
- It distributes heat exceptionally evenly.
- The pot handles stay cool enough to touch during stovetop cooking.
- The saucepans contain measuring lines.
- The lids are glass and have built-in strainers.
- This cookware can take high oven or broiler heat.
- There are no rivets to clean around.
What we don’t like
- The handles aren’t comfortable to hold.
What owners say
On Food52’s website there are 62 reviews with an average rating of 4.3 stars. Negative reviewers report finding it hard to clean, and in some cases, heavy. There are also a few reports of the ceramic finish on the skillet not staying stick resistant over time.
Food52 will accept a return in the original packaging for 30 days from the date of delivery. During the pandemic, they recognize it may be difficult to make a return within 30 days and are making exceptions.
Is Five Two cookware worth it?
Move over All-Clad. Five Two is beautiful stainless-steel cookware for a lot less. Right now, Amazon is selling a comparable 10-piece All Clad set starting at $325, which is still about $25 more than the similar Five Two set.
The variety of pieces included in the Five Two set are everything you need when you’re cooking dinner for your family or feeding a crowd. The inclusion of a nonstick skillet comes in especially handy when scrambling eggs, making omelets, or flipping hotcakes.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.