When kitting out a kitchen or moving into a new house, buying up the right cookware set is a necessary part of the process. Rather than owning a varied collection of pots and pans collected over the years which don’t match and have hot spots that cause food to burn in places, a new set of cookware is an excellent choice to start fresh.

A bonded base is something that only the high-end saucepans and other pans offer. This type of base inducts heat in an even manner so that food cooks at the same heat level regardless of where the produce sits in the pan.

Lower quality cookware sets save money by using inferior materials. Handles made of plastic, rather than stainless steel, and the bases aren’t thick or bonded, lacking the durability of premium cookware.

What’s Included with The Best Cookware Set

The number of pieces in a cookware set varies between packages and brand. A larger number of pans doesn’t denote better quality. Sometimes, on a fixed budget, it is better to buy smaller sets made from materials that will last, then adds more matching pieces later.

A set of utensils to use when cooking comes with most cookware sets. Expanding upon these with your additions is the best plan when kitting out a new kitchen or moving into a new apartment.

When it comes to handles, they’re not all built the same. A wide stainless steel handle with side grips and quality riveting ensures a comfortable grip, excellent balance, and a handle that won’t work its way apart over time.

Being able to pour out liquids or soups directly from the saucepan is an ideal scenario. Cookware thoughtfully designed with tapered edges helps busy cooks make light work of sharing their culinary creations with the family without any undue fuss.

A multi-quart saucepan complete with a lid is a piece to look for with any cookware set. A straining cover is an alternative to the lid on this type of pan and works equally well.

Any cooks who enjoy using a stockpot with a customary lid should keep an eye out for the inclusion of this item in their chosen cookware set.

Outside of using a separate steamer, a steamer insert used inside a larger saucepan, is a useful extra.

A sauté pan with a convenient lid and helper handle offers lots of flexibility to the chef.

A frying pan and one or more non-stick skillets make welcome additions for anyone who likes to create a lovely fried breakfast on lazy Sunday mornings.

It is convenient for cookware to be induction ready and safe for the dishwasher. With the move towards induction hob cookers and access to dishwashers in many homes, both of these are requirements now.

Cooks who either like to put pots directly into a heated oven or to cook food first and then complete a dish by placing the saucepan into the oven as a final step benefit from oven safe cookware capable of withstanding 350 to 500-degree heat levels.

Pot lids might be metal or made from tempered glass. Either way, containing the nutrients and flavors is essential for excellent cooking.

What to Know Before Making a Purchase

The main problem experienced with any cookware set is the material used with the pot. Is it stainless steel, anodized aluminum, ceramic, or is it made of something else?

The second issue that arises is the handles that work loose and cannot be tightened. Trying to hold loose handles makes using a pan filled with hot water or cooked food a treacherous ordeal. Any company offering a set of cookware that has a history of wobbly handles is one to avoid. Clearly there is a manufacturing or quality issue with the set, and this won’t improve after the purchase. The fact that they may fix the issue down the line won’t help current owners unless they experience the same problem with their cookware set and return it under warranty for replacement in time.

The third issue is how the base gets constructed, its conductive material, and thickness. With cheaper sets, the bases end up being the bane of the chef who finds the food cooking unevenly across the inner surface of the pan. The base is almost always the cause of the problem and not something one can fix directly.

Other Considerations

Grooves in the underside of a pan might look attractive but can catch soapy suds which then stick to it and smoke under heat when reusing the pan. While a seemingly small problem, the smoke could set off an alarm in the kitchen and be a repeating problem.

Best Brands

Rachael Domenica Ray is a celebrity chef and author with a range of related cookware marketed under her name.

Cook N Home is an affordable factory outlet brand based in California that produces cookware and related products under both the Cook N Home and Cooks Standard brands.

Cuisinart produces an extensive range of kitchenware, kitchen equipment, gadgets, and cutlery.

Calphalon makes non-stick hard-anodized aluminum & ceramic cookware and oven-ready bakeware for use in the home and commercial kitchens.

What Consumers Say

Taking a look at consumers’ reviews, these are a few of the opinions most often voiced by buyers:

Avoid scratches: Non-stick pots and pans only stay that way if utensils are used that won’t scratch the inside of the pan. Scratched protective coatings quickly lose their non-stick protection and become a constant problem for chefs who find their dishes cooking unevenly after that.

Non-slip: Minor grooves on the bottom of the pots can avoid them slipping on the burners. Just make sure the grooves are not too deep otherwise, the dishwasher won’t be able to clean the pan completely.

Wood over plastic: Utensils are better when made of wood instead of plastic because the wooden ones won’t melt inside a heated pot when left for too long.

Dishwasher and oven safe: Anyone who owns a dishwasher needs to look for dishwasher safe cookware. Chefs who like to take the pot off the heat and slide it directly into the oven also need oven safe cookware.