- Food and Cooking
What is The Best Cookware Set in 2014?
Stainless steel or non-stick? A large set with lots of different cookware options or a smaller set with just the basics to get started? When you are ready to buy a new set of cookware there are lots of questions that need to be answered in order to help you find the right set for you. There is no one best set for everyone, but by considering your cooking habits and needs you can find the best set for your kitchen.
The first thing you have to decide is what kind of cookware set you want. The two most commonly available choices are nonstick and stainless steel. Both are non-reactive, which means you can cook any type of food in them, unlike copper, aluminum, and cast iron, which you can’t cook acidic foods in. For those who don’t have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen, nonstick cookware is easier to use and clean. It also makes it possible to use less fat when cooking, because usually very little oil is needed when cooking with nonstick cookware. The downside of nonstick is that the nonstick coating doesn’t last forever, but the quality of the nonstick coating will make a difference in how long it does last. Also some nonstick cookware can’t be put in the oven or washed in the dishwasher, read the description carefully if it is important to you for your cookware to be able to do those things.
Finally, some people have concerns about the chemicals that go into making the nonstick coating. If you are worried about that, there are some things you can do to minimize the risk. Don’t heat an empty nonstick pan on a burner, cook on low to medium instead of high, and when the nonstick coating begins to chip or flake you should throw that pan away and replace it.
Stainless steel has the advantage of lasting longer, a good quality stainless steel pan can literally last you a lifetime. They are also oven-proof and dishwasher safe as long as the handles are made of a material that can withstand those environments. Many cooks prefer the more even heat distribution of a stainless steel pots, and they are also better at browning food, searing meat, and making some sauces.
T-fal E938SA74 Professional Total Nonstick Oven Safe Thermo-Spot Heat Indicator Dishwasher Safe 10-Piece Cookware Set
Now, lets first take a look at some nonstick sets.
If you are on a budget and want a set that is not too expensive but that has all the pieces you need to get started, look at the T-fal E938SA74 Professional Total Nonstick Oven Safe Thermo-Spot Heat Indicator Dishwasher Safe 10-Piece Cookware Set.
I think this set is great quality for the price, I especially like that this set is oven and dishwasher safe. I try to wash my pots and pans by hand, because I know it helps them last longer, but some days I just don’t have time, and being able to throw them in the dishwasher with the other dishes instead of having to leave them soaking in the sink is great.
This set comes with 2 frying pans, 3 sauce pans and a dutch oven, and all the pieces have securely riveted silicone handles that stay cool even when the pan is hot. All the pieces in this set have a nonstick exterior for easier cleaning, and I also like the sturdy tempered glass lids. Sometimes it’s really nice to be able to check on food without having to lift the lid. Another thing I like about this set is that while only the saucepans and dutch oven come with lids, the same lids can be used with the skillets if desired.
Cuisinart 66-17 Chef's Classic Nonstick Hard-Anodized 17-Piece Cookware Set
If you are a more serious cook, and want a larger set with a few more features, there is the Cuisinart 66-17 Chef's Classic Nonstick Hard-Anodized 17-Piece Cookware Set. This set comes with 3 saucepans, 3 skillets (one of which has a lid), a saute pan and a stockpot with a pasta insert and a steamer insert.
If you cook pasta very often you will love the pasta insert, instead of having to carry a large pot of boiling water to the sink to drain the pasts you just lift the pasta insert and shake it gently over the pot to help it drain, and then dump it in your serving bowl. The handles on this set are stainless steel, and the lids are made of break-resistant glass. One thing to note, the metal handles on the lid do tend to get hot if you are boiling or steaming something for a while, so be sure to lift them with a potholder to prevent burns.
WearEver Pure Living Nonstick Ceramic Coating PTFE-PFOA-Cadmium Free Dishwasher Safe Cookware Set
If you want a nonstick cookware set, but are nervous about the health questions surrounding most nonstick cookware, consider the WearEver Pure Living Nonstick Ceramic Coating PTFE-PFOA-Cadmium Free Dishwasher Safe Cookware Set. These pans are coated with ceramic, which is not only nonstick, but I think it makes for a really beautiful set of pans as well.
This set comes with 2 skillets, 1 sauté pan, and one dutch oven, and it comes in both red and gold, both of which I think are really pretty. The glass lids on this set are oven proof, and these pans are safe to use at very high temperatures, up to 750 degrees Fahrenheit. I also like the handles, they are silicone, so they don’t get hot easily, and they have a nice soft finish. Some people have found that the nonstick properties of their ceramic pans tends to wear off over time, so to prevent that, I recommend washing this cookware by hand.
T-fal C798SC64 Ultimate Stainless Steel Copper-Bottom Multi-Layer Base 12-Piece Cookware Set
Next lets look at a few stainless steel options. A good starter set is the T-fal C798SC64 Ultimate Stainless Steel Copper-Bottom Multi-Layer Base 12-Piece Cookware Set. Stainless steel on its own is not the best heat conductor, so to improve that manufacturers will put a layer of aluminum or copper in between 2 layers of stainless steel.
Copper is an excellent heat conductor, but it will react with acidic foods, and needs special care and attention to keep its shiny appearance, which is why it’s not popular on its own for cookware. So cookware like this gives you some of the benefits of copper without the work of caring for it and the worry of what you can or can’t cook in it. To me the visual combination of the copper the mirror-finish stainless steel with the glass lids is very eye-catching, so besides being a great bargain I think this set of cookware adds a nice touch of style to your kitchen as well. This set comes with 2 sauté pans, 3 sauce pans and a dutch oven.
Cooks Standard Multi-Ply Clad Stainless-Steel 10-Piece Cookware Set
Another set that is a great value for your money is the Cooks Standard Multi-Ply Clad Stainless-Steel 10-Piece Cookware Set. This set is made of 18/10 stainless steel with an aluminum core. 18/10 stainless steel is the highest quality grade of stainless steel used to make cookware, so this is a set that with proper care should last you a very long time.
This set has 2 skillets, 2 saucepans and a large stockpot with a steamer insert. The lids and handles on this set are also stainless steel, and the handles are securely riveted on. The exterior of the pots are a brushed stainless steel to help resist scratching, and both the pots and lids are oven safe to 500 degrees.
Cuisinart MCP-12N MultiClad Pro Stainless Steel 12-Piece Cookware Set
If you are a serious cook, and are ready to invest in a set that will last you a lifetime, look at the Cuisinart MCP-12N MultiClad Pro Stainless Steel 12-Piece Cookware Set. Cuisinart is one of the most widely recognized names in quality stainless steel cookware, and their MultiClad Pro line was developed with the serious home chef in mind. This set comes with 3 saucepans, 3 skillets, 1 sauté pan and a large stock pot with 2 steamer inserts. The pots and pans in this set are made with 18/10 stainless steel, and have a brushed exterior finish and a mirror-polished interior.
The lids and handles are also made with 18/10 stainless steel, and are mirror polished, and the handles are designed to allow air to flow through the base to help keep them from getting too hot. If you have not owned stainless steel cookware before, and ever have trouble with cleaning it or keeping its shiny appearance, the best hint I’ve learned is after I finish cooking something I just add water to the pot and let it soak while I eat, and anything that doesn’t wash right off I use Barkeepers Friend with a little scouring pad, and it gets it shining like new.
© 2013 Bob Miller