Best Cookware Set
- Avalon 12pc Silver Cookware Set
- Oberon 12pc Cookware Set
- Avalon 6pc Silver Cookware Set
- Oberon 6pc Cookware Set
- The Benefits Of A Good Cookware Set
- Different Types Of Cookware
- What To Look For In A Cookware Set
- Best Cookware Set To Buy
- Frequently Asked Questions About Cookware
1. The Benefits Of A Good Cookware Set
Over the course of each entry in our Chef Blog, we’ve stressed over and over again the importance of setting yourself up for success. Of using the right tools for the job in order to get the best possible result, instead of trying to make do with “one size fits all” type solutions or lesser quality products.
Don’t get us wrong; you are still the most important element in the kitchen. Whether a dish turns out good or bad will depend on you, and no set of tools or utensils will magically make every single thing you cook come out perfect. But this is about making things easy for yourself and making the cooking experience easy and pleasurable.
To that end, a quality cookware set is one of the best things you can buy. Not only does it provide you with these awesome kitchen tools that will make your life easier, but buying them in a set will also save you money, as it’s a much cheaper approach than buying these pieces of cookware individually.
Of course, there’s a lot of different factors to take into consideration when looking for a good cookware set. We’ll talk you through the main things you have to look out for, and give you our choices for best cookware sets you can buy.
2. Different Types Of Cookware
When shopping around for cookware, you’ll find a lot of differentiation between the materials they are made out of. If you’re an absolute novice, this can be a bit confusing; before I started looking into it, I only had extremely vague notions, like “cast iron is hard to take care of” and “a non stick pan is best for cooking eggs.”
Truthfully, every type of cookware has its own pros and cons, and certain materials will fit with certain people. Not only that, but you’ll find that some materials are best suited for certain cooking styles. Below we’ll outline some of the basics of each type of cookware, so you can have a better idea what you’re looking at when you look through product descriptions.
Stainless steel cookware
Stainless steel is created by adding nickel and chromium to steel, making it extremely anti-corrosive (hence, “stainless”). You’ll find stainless steel on a lot of pots and pans because it isn’t just durable (you’ll find it doesn’t scratch easily), it also looks great. And because stainless steel is pretty sturdy all around, it’s also dishwasher, oven and broiler safe.
You’re not going to find many pots or pans set that are made entirely of stainless steel -- it’s not exactly a great conductor of heat by itself. For stainless steel cookware, what manufacturers do is use a process for permanently bonding layers of stainless steel to highly conductive material, specifically copper and aluminum. This results in stainless steel clad pots and pans, which are widely considered to be the most versatile type of cookware.
These stainless steel pieces of cookware are extremely practical and they look great, making them great kitchen workhorses. They are low-maintenance and extremely durable, which makes a stainless steel cookware set more than worth the cost.
Cast iron cookware
You’ve probably heard all about cast iron pans; how big and heavy they are, and how hard they are to look after. Truthfully, cast iron pans have a lot of positives going for them, despite their many drawbacks. Let’s talk about the material and how it could come in handy.
Cast iron is a poor conductor of heat; you’ll find that they are very slow to heat up and then slow to cool down. But cast iron’s self-regulating quality makes them really well suited for fry pans, dutch ovens and griddles. They are also extremely durable and resistant to warping, chipping or denting. And you’ll find that this sturdiness comes with an added heft. These pieces are heavy, so be prepared for that.
You’ll find cast iron cookware in its natural state or with an enamel coating. Natural cast iron usually costs much less, but does require the user to apply a coating of “seasoning” to protect it from rust (as well as creating a nonstick interior). Seasoning cast iron cookware isn’t as daunting as it sounds, though; you’ll find plenty of guides online. Cast iron makes for great dutch ovens.
Unlike the previous two types, copper cookware is an excellent heat conductor. It heats rapidly and evenly, and it cools down almost instantly after being removed from the heat. This responsiveness puts the user in full control of the cooking process. However, copper cannot be used by itself for most cookware applications because of how it reacts to certain food elements.
The natural minerals and acids of many foods will cause a reaction in the copper, resulting in an unattractive yellow tint and metallic taste to many foods. This is why copper is lined with a nonreactive metal (such as stainless steel as described above, or more commonly tin). This will create a safe barrier between the copper and the food.
Aluminum is another material that is extremely responsive to heat. It is second only to copper in this regard. But, like copper, when it’s on its own it will have a similar reaction to certain acidic foods, creating an undesirable taste and color. This is why the best aluminum cookware is clad with stainless steel or lined with a nonstick coating, resulting in a powerful and durable nonreactive product.
Aluminum is the most popular core material for stainless steel cookware. And because of its lightweight nature, it makes a really practical choice for griddles, roasting pans or larger pots.
Carbon steel cookware
Carbon steel is another highly heat conductive material. But raw carbon steel is most commonly used in specialty pans, such as skillets or woks. The reason for this is that carbon steel can rust if not seasoned properly. But when seasoned properly, it will develop a naturally nonstick interior (much like cast iron) and experienced cooks will find them extremely useful.
Carbon steel pans can achieve a higher temperature than other pans, and they can hold the heat well and evenly, making them ideal for high-heat techniques. Stir frying on a carbon steel wok is an absolute dream. You’ll also find carbon steel used as the core metal for enamelled cookware such as tea kettles, lobster pots, paella pans, etc.
Clay and stoneware
There’s something really cool about using clay and stoneware, the oldest type of cookware. Most of the stone cookware you’ll find these days consists of baking dishes and casseroles intended for oven use, and they come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. A huge bonus of these pieces is that they look fantastic in the kitchen and on the table.
Clay and stoneware remains practical and durable, heating very evenly and holding heat well like cast iron. And like cast iron, they tend to be on the heavier side. They’re most commonly used for casseroles, lasagna, mac & cheese, enchiladas, etc. You’ll also be able to use them for other baked goods; brownies, bread puddings and the like.
It’s not very common to see stoneware pots and pans that can be used on gas and electric stovetops, but there are a few manufacturers who are making them. Much like cast iron, they can be seasoned to create a nonstick surface, but clay and stoneware are lighter than cast iron.
Nonstick cookware is extremely popular due to their ease of use during cleanup, as well as the fact that they lead to a healthier approach to cooking (since they allow you to use much less oil when cooking things that may stick to the interior surface).
A Nonstick cookware set is extremely useful, but these pieces do require extra care. The nonstick pan lining can chip very easily (avoid metal utensils when using it), and cleaning it with anything too abrasive can scratch and damage it. If you want your nonstick pan to last, you need to take care of it.
There are two types of nonstick cookware: PTFE cookware or ceramic cookware. PTFE is the “classic” style of nonstick surface made popular by the brand Teflon (which you probably thought was the name of the material itself!). PTFE stands for Polytetrafluoroethylene, the material on the nonstick surface.
Ceramic cookware with a nonstick surface is a much newer approach to nonstick cookware. While it’s safe and more environmentally friendly, some say it’s not as durable as PTFE. Just like with PTFE, you should be careful not to overheat it as this might affect its nonstick properties. Non stick cookware sets are very easy to clean.
3. What To Look For In A Cookware Set
Now that you know what the different types of cookware are, let’s talk about the things you should take into consideration when shopping around for a kitchen cookware set.
Weight and size
Generally, you want a kitchen cookware set that is mid-weight -- if you buy a lightweight set, you’ll find many of their pieces to be too flimsy, not durable, and heat too quickly. You want your pots and pans to have some heft, but not so much that they’re difficult to lift.
Some sets are designed in a way where they nest comfortably within each other, which is a great way to save precious kitchen space.
Just like with your knives, how your cookware feels in your hand is extremely important. After all, that’s how you’ll be interacting with it, often for extended periods of time. You want it to feel comfortable, but also like you have control over the cooking process. Look at the quality of the handle material and design, and whether they have silicone wrapping (or other material) to make them more comfortable to hold.
Number of pieces
How many pots and pans do you actually need? Consider the fact that many manufacturers count the lids as individual pieces within your set. Most home cooks look for a small fry pan (think 8” or so), a bigger fry pan for family dishes, a stockpot for pasta or soup, a dutch oven, a saute pan, and a small saucepan for easy tasks. You want to ensure that your set contains pans with lids.
Dishwasher and oven safety
This is one I never really thought about until I started shopping for cookware sets. Not all cookware is suited for all environments. A dishwasher-safe cookware set will save you time and energy, and an oven-safe cookware set will prove extremely useful for cooking since you’ll be able to easily move your cookware from the stovetop to the oven and vice versa.
The truth is a good cookware set is an investment, and you want to make sure you’re buying from a company that is renowned for its quality of materials and craftsmanship. Otherwise, you’ll buy something cheap and low-quality, and you’ll find yourself shopping for another cookware set much sooner than anticipated.
Dalstrong has made a name for itself as a culinary company that caters to chefs and home cooks alike, using high-quality materials as well as expert engineering and craftsmanship in their product designs. Not only do Dalstrong’s cookware sets look fantastic, they are strong performers and extremely durable that evenly distribute heat across the cooking surface.
4. Best Cookware Set
If you want the perfect combination of power, durability and looks, Dalstrong’s Avalon 12-piece silver cookware set is your absolute first choice. With an absolutely luxurious look and best-in-class performance, you’ll find yourself looking forward to cooking just so you can get to play with these tools.
Comes with a 9” skillet pan, a 10” skillet pan, a 12” saute pan, a 4 qt saucer, a 5 qt stockpot and an 8 qt stockpot, each with a stainless steel lid that will last a lifetime.
- Extremely heat conductive 5-ply copper forged foundation, with additional thick gauge layers of nonreactive 18/10 stainless steel and premium aluminum for enhanced heat retention.
- A gorgeous, eye-catching design that will make you proud to show off in your kitchen as you cook.
- Compatible with all stovetops and optimized for induction. Oven safe and broiler safe up to 600 degrees F. Freezer, dishwasher and refrigerator safe.
- Perfectly angled handles, designed for a comfortable and secure hold while cooking.
- Easy to clean.
- This extremely high-quality 12-piece made of premium materials is definitely an investment. Some home cooks may prefer to start smaller, in which case we recommend looking at the Avalon 6pc Silver Cookware Set.
- If you prefer a tempered glass lid instead of a stainless steel lid, check out the cookware sets in the Oberon Series.
This is another stunning 12-piece set, this time from Dalstrong’s acclaimed Oberon Series. Featuring impeccable conductivity thanks to its 3-ply aluminum core and thick layers of nonreactive 18/10 stainless steel cladding, as well as the breakthrough nonstick Eterna® coating for safe and durable nonstick surfaces.
Includes a 9” frying pan skillet, 10” frying pan skillet, 12” saute pan, 4 qt saucier pot, 5 qt stockpot, and 8 qt stockpot, each with its own glass lid.
- Aluminum core with fused additional thick layers of non-reactive 18/10 stainless steel which dramatically prolong the cookware’s life.
- Incredible nonstick Eterna® coating that will last longer than traditional nonstick coatings and maintain its nonstick properties.
- Thick, extra-strong, 4mm tempered glass lids which provide a clear window into the cooking process.
- Easy to clean.
- Oven safe and broiler safe (up to 500 degrees); freezer and dishwasher safe.
- The Oberon Series sports incredible performance and unobtrusively elegant looks, but some folks are more drawn to the Avalon Series’s more outwardly showy appearance.
- Cookware in the Oberon Series features an aluminum core, rather than a copper core like the Avalon series.
Another entry in Dalstrong’s Avalon Series, this is the 6-piece equivalent to the 12-piece set at the top of this list; a great option for the home cook who is drawn in by this series’s incredible performance and looks, but may be looking for a more manageable size (and price tag)!
Features a 9” skillet fry pan, a 5 qt pot, and 12” straight frypan, each with a perfect-fit stainless steel lid.
- 5-ply copper forged foundation, with additional layers of nonreactive 18/10 stainless steel and premium aluminum for great heat retention and conduction. Heats fast, and stays hot!
- Probably the best-looking pots and pans you’ve ever seen.
- Durable, comfortable and gorgeous to look at.
- A fantastic gift option for any home cook.
- This lacks several of the pieces in the Avalon 12-piece set, such as the saute pan. If you’d rather have more variety of tools, look into getting that one instead.
- These lids are stainless steel instead of glass, which some home cooks might prefer.
A great 6-piece set from the Oberon Series, for all your kitchen essentials. This set offers world-class performance and value for your buck, featuring the revolutionary Eterna® nonstick coating.
Includes a 10” frying pan skillet, a 12” saute pan and a 5 qt stockpot, each with its own glass lid.
- The best cookware set to start with if you want to start building your collection without committing to a 12-piece set.
- Aluminum core with additional layers of stainless steel; incredible heat conductivity and retention.
- Eterna® coating is safer and more durable than other nonstick surfaces in the market.
- Incredible quality at a fantastic price point.
- For a larger and more varied version of this set, check out the Oberon 12pc Cookware Set listed above.
- If you prefer a stainless steel lid, look at the sets from the Avalon Series.
5. Frequently Asked Questions About Cookware Sets
What are the items I’ll find in a cookware set?
This varies from set to set, and of course larger sets will include more pieces. But the most common pieces you’ll find in cookware sets are:
- Frying pan
- Sauce pan
- Saute pan
- Dutch oven
As well as a lid for each piece. You’ll most commonly find stockpots and dutch ovens in the larger sets.
Can I mix and match cookware?
Of course! Cookware sets are great because you can get a variety of pieces at a fraction of the price they would cost individually, but you can also buy pieces on their own, mixing and matching from various sets. Check out our selection here.
How do you clean stainless steel pans?
Luckily for you, we wrote a whole guide on how to clean stainless steel pans. If you want to learn how to clean a stainless steel cookware set, read all about it out here.
Is non stick cookware safe?
A nonstick cookware set is generally safe, though there are environmental concerns around PTFE. When overheated (to over 570 F) the nonstick coating of these pans can break down and release harmful chemicals -- however, it is very, very rare that you’ll find yourself overheating your pans to that extent while cooking regularly.
What is the best way to organize a pots and pans set?
Check out our guide on how to make the most of your space by organizing your cookware here.
You can also check in with our Expert Knife Finder Quiz and get specific recommendations based on your needs.
Written by Jorge Farah
Born on the coast of Colombia and based in Buenos Aires, Jorge is a cooking enthusiast and kitchenware obsessive with a tremendous amount of opinions.