How to Find the Best Cookware

Food is a life necessity. Because of this, there tends to be much time spent preparing it. With all the time and energy given to preparing a meal for our loved ones, shouldn’t we have the best tools available? If you think so, then you need to keep this guide on hand as you search for the Best Cookware for your kitchen.

Whisk and Mix was created for the purpose of assisting home cooks, creative culinarians, and professional chefs as they set about gathering kitchen equipment. The purpose of the many guides provided on this site is to keep the shopping process simple so that you can spend your precious time and energy creating feasts for family and friends.

As you read through this guide, you will discover what qualities and features it takes to be considered the best in cookware and how each piece can be used in the kitchen. We will also talk about the good and bad concerning each available piece of cookware. And with this information beside you, you should be able to make an informed decision as you head to the store.

Cookware Qualities

As you begin the search for the Best Cookware, keep the following qualities and features in mind:

Cleaning & Maintenance

Pots and pans are notoriously difficult to keep clean. This is why it is imperative that you take this factor into consideration as you search for cookware. While all cookware can be a hassle to clean up after certain meals, some types require more maintenance and effort than others.  

If you don’t want any extra steps during kitchen cleanup, you probably don’t want a cast-iron skillet or a copper pot. These two types of cookware are the most difficult to keep clean and looking great.

Cooking Skills & Style

Consider what types of food you most frequently cook, in other words, your culinary style. If you don’t fix fried rice at all or very often, then don’t bother getting a wok. If you feel the urge to fix some later, you can try it in another type of pan or purchase a wok then. There is no need to spend extra money on items that will only clutter up your kitchen.

Alongside your culinary style, consider your culinary skills. Certain types of cookware require a little skill to use properly. As an example, stainless steel is a little difficult to use on breakfast items until you have practiced for a while. Now, this doesn’t mean you should avoid stainless steel if you haven’t scrambled an egg in decades, but it does mean you will have to work at learning how to use this type of cookware if you get it. This is just one of many examples and we cover more of this in the cookware materials portion of this guide.

Cookware Materials

There are numerous types of cookware materials available. Each type has its pros and its cons which you will need to consider and weigh against other factors. Let’s talk about each of these materials and what they do best and why you should consider adding a cookware set made from them to your kitchen.

Aluminum

This type of cookware is inexpensive and popular for its ability to conduct heat quickly.

Pros

  • Aluminum conducts heat very well
  • Aluminum is inexpensive
  • Aluminum is lightweight

Cons

  • Aluminum is reactive to alkaline and acidic foods
  • Aluminum can discolor certain foods
  • Aluminum can be easily scratched and dented

Anodized Aluminum

This type of cookware features aluminum that has been put through a chemical process to make it more durable, more resistant to corrosion, and less reactive to foods.

 

Pros

  • Anodized Aluminum is durable and scratch-resistant
  • Anodized Aluminum conducts heave very well
  • Anodized Aluminum does not leach metals
  • Anodized Aluminum requires low maintenance care and clean-up

Cons

  • Anodized Aluminum can be expensive
  • Anodized Aluminum is usually heavy
  • Anodized Aluminum is not dishwasher safe
  • Anodized Aluminum does not last a long time
  • Anodized Aluminum is not designed for high heat

Carbon Steel

This type of cookware is similar to cast iron, but is lighter in weight. Typically, woks and stir-fry pans are made of carbon steel.

Pros

  • Carbon Steel is durable
  • Carbon Steel retains heat very well
  • Carbon Steel is more lightweight than cast iron
  • Carbon Steel is used in both expensive and non-expensive cookware

Cons

  • Carbon Steel must be cleaned and maintained in a manner similar to cast iron

Cast Aluminum

Consider this the easier to clean and use alternative to cast iron. It has a lot of the same positive features of cast iron but with its own unique qualities added.

Pros

  • Cast aluminum is inexpensive
  • Cast aluminum is more lightweight than cast iron
  • Cast aluminum resists rust
  • Cast aluminum resists sticking to foods
  • Cast aluminum is dishwasher safe
  • Cast aluminum heats and cools quickly

Cons

  • Cast aluminum can easily warp
  • Cast aluminum can be reactive to certain foods

 

Cast Iron

This is a type of cookware that has been in use for hundreds of years and is certainly worth learning how to use.

Pros

  • Cast Iron is durable
  • Cast Iron conducts heat well
  • Cast Iron retains heat well
  • Cast Iron is dishwasher safe
  • Cast Iron can last for many years when cared for properly

Cons

  • Cast Iron can be expensive
  • Cast Iron is heavy
  • Cast Iron can rust if not properly cleaned and seasoned
  • Cast Iron can stick to food if not properly cleaned and seasoned

Ceramic

This type of cookware is often considered bakeware since casserole dishes are very often made from ceramic. Ceramic can, however, be used to coat pots and pans to create toxic-free non-stick surfaces.

 

Pros

  • Ceramic is non-toxic
  • Ceramic is non-stick
  • Ceramic is easy to clean
  • Ceramic conducts and retains heat well
  • Ceramic is more lightweight than cast iron

Cons

  • Ceramic is fragile
  • Ceramic is more often used for bakeware

Copper

This type of cookware is classic and beautiful.  It is also the best conductor of heat.

Pros

  • Copper is a beautiful looking type of cookware
  • Copper conducts and retains heat well

Cons

  • Copper is reactive to certain foods
  • Copper can leach toxins into foods
  • Copper is difficult to clean and maintain a pristine shine
  • Copper dents and scratches easily

Enamel-Coated Cast Iron 

Essentially, this type of cookware is cast iron with a facelift. An enamel coating is placed over a cast-iron skillet or pan to provide a little color, less frustration while cleaning, and no reactions to foods.

 

Pros

  • Enameled cast iron can be used on stovetops, inside ovens, and on grills
  • Enameled cast iron retains heat very well
  • Enameled cast iron does not rust if the enamel is not damaged
  • Enameled cast iron comes in a variety of colors
  • Enameled cast iron does not need to be seasoned

Cons

  • Enameled cast iron is heavy
  • Enameled cast iron does not heat up quickly
  • Enameled cast iron does not have the nonstick qualities of regular cast iron
  • Enameled cast iron should be handled with extra care so that the enamel is not chipped or scratched
  • Enameled cast iron can be expensive

Fully-clad Stainless Steel

This type of cookware combines the best of metals into one. Aluminum or copper cookware is covered by stainless steel and the combination works to provide excellent heating with excellent durability.

Pros

  • Fully-clad Stainless Steel is durable
  • Fully-clad Stainless Steel conducts and retains heat very well
  • Fully-clad Stainless Steel cleans up easily
  • Fully-clad Stainless Steel is non-reactive

Cons

  • Fully-clad Stainless Steel is expensive
  • Fully-clad Stainless Steel is heavy

Nonstick 

This type of cookware is designed to prevent food messes and to ease the process of clean-up.  

Pros

  • Nonstick cookware is easy to clean
  • Nonstick cookware does not stick to food
  • Nonstick cookware reduces and even eliminates the need for cooking with fat
  • Nonstick cookware is inexpensive

Cons

  • Nonstick cookware is easy to scratch
  • Nonstick cookware can leach toxic when overheated
  • Not all nonstick cookware is oven safe
  • Not all nonstick cookware is dishwasher safe

Stainless Steel

This type of cookware is a kitchen staple because it has so many positive attributes. It does, however, have a few key setbacks that should be considered as you shop.

Pros

  • Stainless Steel is durable and will not peel or chip
  • Stainless Steel can provide an excellent sear on meat
  • Stainless Steel is usually oven safe

Cons

  • Stainless Steel does require some time to learn how to cook with it properly
  • Stainless Steel does not conduct heat as well as other metals
  • Stainless Steel may not clean up easily
  • Stainless Steel can be affected by certain food acids

Durability

This is a quality that you should definitely consider as you select cookware. You may not be in a position to purchase the most expensive and durable type of cookware, but you certainly do not want to get stuck with cookware that will break down quickly and cause you to spend more time and money on more cookware.

Heat Conductivity

This quality will go hand in hand with your personal cooking style and skill set. Cookware that does not conduct or retain heat very well can be difficult to use, so make sure you select something that suits your culinary needs.

Price Range

Give yourself a budget to spend on your cookware set and find the best items within that range. If you need to be cautious with what you spend, consider buying only key pieces of equipment rather than whole sets or pans that you may never use. If, however, you have no limit to your cookware budget, get whatever you want.

Size & Storage

When you shop for cookware, consider how much storage space you have in your kitchen. Make sure you get items that you can store without frustration. Also, keep in mind that you don’t have to get one of everything. You may only need a few certain pans.

Stove Type

This is a factor that many people overlook but it is very important. Some types of cookware do not work well with certain types of stoves.  Make sure you get cookware that works with the stovetop you are using.  

For example, induction stovetops require cookware that is magnetic on its bottom. If you have an induction stovetop, you will need to check the cookware manufacturer to make sure the pots and pans are able to cook on this type of stove. Another example is glass stovetops. These may not cook very well with cookware that has ridges on its bottom.  

Recommended Products

Now that we have covered the qualities and features that make up the Best Cookware, let’s take some time to discover some of the best options available on the market today.

The Best Aluminum Cookware: Nordic Ware 7-Piece Cookware Set

nordic cooking set

This is a sturdy set that contains the basic pots and pans that every kitchen should hold.

Pros

  • Conducts heat very well
  • Lightweight set
  • Comes with a 20-year warranty
  • Can be used on gas, glass, and electric stovetops
  • Silicone handles are removable for use in the oven
  • Nonstick cooking surface

Cons

  • It is an expensive set
  • It is not dishwasher safe
  • It should not be used with metal utensils since they can scrape off the nonstick cooking surface

The Best Anodized Aluminum Cookware: T-fal Hard Anodized Cookware Set

This is a great set that provides 12-pieces of the most used pots and pans.  

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Nonstick
  • Resists scratching
  • Toxin-free
  • Set includes lids
  • Thermo spot technology
  • Non-reactive

Cons

  • Some customers have stated that the nonstick surface does not work well

The Best Brazier Pan: Thunder Group Stainless Steel Brazier Pan with Lid

This is a fabulous pan for braising lamb shank and short ribs, or if you prefer, vegetables, curries, and bread pudding. It is an all-around versatile and useful kitchen companion.

Pros

  • Designed with a flat bottom for more heat conductivity
  • Provides even heat distribution
  • Designed with ergonomic handles

Cons

  • It is an expensive pan

The Best Budget Cookware: Cuisinart TPS Stainless Steel Cookware Set

If you need a new cookware set but are on a budget, this is the perfect set to get. It is a set that includes pots and pans in several different sizes as well as glass lids.This is a set designed to go the long haul and last for years.

Pros

  • Oven safe
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Can be used on any type of stovetop
  • Stainless steel does not peel or chip
  • Stainless steel is excellent for cooking meat

Cons

  • Stainless steel cookware requires experience to cook items on it without burning them
  • Stainless steel does not conduct heat very well
  • Stainless steel can be difficult to clean

The Best Carbon Steel Cookware: Excegucok Carbon Steel Wok

This type of metal is mainly available in the form of woks and stir-fry pans. If you need a new wok that is reasonably priced and highly durable, then this is the pan for you.

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Includes utensils to use the wok for deep frying, boiling, steaming, and pan-frying
  • Designed with a heat-resistant wooden handle

Cons

  • Must be cleaned and seasoned to maintain a rust-free surface

The Best Cast Aluminum Cookware: IMUSA USA Heavy Duty Cookware Set

This is a basic 8-piece cookware set that is ready for most kitchen tasks. Since it is made from cast aluminum it is a great option for beginner cooks and for those who are on a budget.

Pros

  • Reasonably priced
  • Heats quickly
  • Heats evenly
  • Durable

Cons

  • Cannot be used in an oven
  • It is not dishwasher safe

The Best Cast Iron Skillet: No. 12 Cast Iron Skillet

cookware set

This skillet by Smithey is lovely and works wonderfully for pan-frying and oven-baking. It is a truly versatile kitchen tool.

Pros

  • Designed with an ergonomic handle
  • Designed with pour spouts on either side
  • Designed with holes for hanging storage
  • Can be engraved for personalization

Cons

  • It is an expensive option
  • It is not dishwasher safe
  • It requires proper cleaning and regularly seasoning to maintain a workable cooking surface

The Best Ceramic Cookware: Caraway Cookware Set

This ceramic coated cookware set is going to please the most scrupulous chef with its good looks and quality design.

Pros

  • Available in six different colors
  • Non-toxic
  • Non-stick
  • Can be used on gas, electric, and induction stovetops
  • Safe to use in an oven up to 550 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Comes with its own storage system

Cons

  • Only includes four pans
  • It is an expensive option

The Best Cookware for a Glass/Induction Stove Top: Duxtop Professional Stainless Steel Induction Cookware Set

This set includes has everything a kitchen needs for preparing and cooking excellent meals. Not only can it be used on an induction stovetop, but it can be used on electric and gas as well.

Pros

  • Oven safe pots and pans up to 550 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Oven safe lids up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Freezer safe
  • Conducts and retains heat well
  • Built to be durable
  • It has many positive online customer reviews and ratings

Cons

  • It is an expensive option
  • Some customers have stated that they did not receive all the pieces in the set
  • Some customers have stated that their set tarnished easily

The Best Copper Cookware: The Copper Set

This is a luxury set of pots and pans that will thrill the creative hearts of professional chefs and home cooks alike.

Pros

  • Heats up quickly and evenly
  • Stainless steel interior lining allows for easy cleanup
  • Oven safe up to 800 degrees Fahrenheit

Cons

  • It is an expensive option
  • It is not dishwasher safe
  • It cannot be used on induction stovetops

The Best Dutch Oven: Lodge Enameled Dutch Oven

This is the quintessential Dutch Oven that every kitchen should have. For braising, broiling, and bread baking, this Dutch oven can’t be beaten.

Pros

  • Available in several different colors
  • Has over 28,000 positive online customer reviews and ratings
  • Non-reactive
  • Designed with loop handles for safe carrying
  • Oven safe up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit

Cons

  • It is expensive when not on sale
  • It is not dishwasher safe

The Best Egg Poacher: Eggsentials Egg Poacher Pan

If you want to make the best-poached eggs possible, consider using this pan that comes with all the equipment you will need.

Pros

  • Non-stick
  • PFOA free
  • Designed with individual insert cups
  • Can be used on an induction stove
  • Provides even heat distribution
  • Bakelite nobs for safe handling
  • Has over 4,000 positive customer reviews and ratings

Cons

  • Some customers have commented that the pan is too small and too shallow

The Best Enameled Cast Iron Cookware: Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron 8-Piece Cookware Set

This may feel like an extravagant purchase but if you want to work with the best kitchen equipment, you are going to need this set.

Pros

  • Available in four different colors
  • Comes with a limited lifetime warranty
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Oven and broiler safe up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Can be used on any type of stovetop

Cons

  • Enamel can chip and break
  • Metal tools should not be used with this set since they can scratch the enamel

The Best Frypan: HexClad Hybrid Stainless Steel Frying Pan

If you just need a frying pan to complete your kitchen cookware collection, this is the ultimate option.

Pros

  • Oven safe up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Non-stick
  • Built to be durable
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Scratch-resistant
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Can be used on all types of stovetops
  • The handle is designed to stay cool when on a hot stovetop
  • Evenly and consistently conducts heat

Cons

  • Does not come with a lid
  • It is an expensive option
  • Some customers have stated that their pan lost its non-stick surface quickly
  • Some customers have stated that the non-stick surface only works on low heat

The Best Fully-clad Stainless Steel Cookware: Heritage Steel Core Cookware Set

Since this type of cookware is known for its excellent cooking ability and quality design, it is often the preferred option. Try it for yourself and discover how good it feels to cook with top-quality tools.

Pros

  • Designed to conduct heat evenly and quickly
  • Easy to clean
  • Ergonomically designed
  • Resists corrosion
  • Non-reactive
  • Lifetime warranty

Cons

  • It is a very expensive option
  • Some customers have stated that it is difficult to maintain its shininess 

The Best Griddle: Hexclad Hybrid Griddle Pan

Use this uniquely designed griddle pan for all your breakfast food and whatever else you crave to try on the griddle.

Pros

  • It is designed for excellent temperature control
  • Safe for use in an oven with temperatures up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Can be used on induction stovetops
  • The handle is designed to stay cool on a hot stovetop
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • It is an expensive pan

The Best Nonstick Cookware: Michelangelo Nonstick Copper Cookware Set

michelangelo cooking set

If you need cookware that is sturdy and easy to use from start to finish, opt for this set of nonstick pans

Pros

  • Can be used on any type of stovetop
  • Non-toxic
  • Handles are designed to stay cool on the stovetop
  • Easy to clean
  • Oven safe up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Excellent heat conductivity and retention

Cons

  • Some customers have commented that their set has warped after a few uses

The Best Paella Pan: La Tienda Traditional Steel Paella Pan

For yummy Mediterranean cuisine, this pan is sure to please.

Pros

  • Conducts heat very well
  • Designed to absorb flavor and cook better with more use
  • Cooks food for up to 16 people

Cons

  • It is an expensive pan
  • Does not fit inside a standard size oven
  • Hand wash only
  • Should be seasoned after each use

The Best Roasting Pan: Made In Carbon Steel Roasting Pan

Blue Carbon Steel Roasting Pan

This pan is designed to fulfill all your roasting needs year-round.

Pros

  • Oven safe up to 1200 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Includes a roasting rack
  • Can hold a 12lb. turkey
  • Handles are designed for easy carrying and for folding aluminum foil over them
  • 45-day return and refund policy

Cons

  • It is an expensive pan

The Best Sauce Pot: Made In Stainless Clad Saucepan

Made In Stainless Clad Saucepan

This is the ultimate in saucepans and if you take cooking seriously, you will probably want this one.

Pros

  • Handles are designed to stay cool on a hot stovetop
  • Lightweight (2lbs.)
  • Induction compatible
  • Has over 10,000 positive online customer reviews and ratings

Cons

  • It is expensive

The Best Sauté pan: Made In Blue Carbon Steel Frying Pan

Made In Blue Carbon Steel Frying Pan

For a beautifully designed and wonderful to work with sauté/frying pan, you have to try this option.

Pros

  • It has over 5,000 positive online customer reviews and ratings
  • It is designed to heat quickly and evenly
  • The handle is designed to stay cool on a hot stovetop
  • It can be personalized

Cons

  • It is an expensive pan

The Best Stainless Steel Cookware: Made In The Sous Chef Set

If you are after the best stainless steel cookware, then you should really try this set.

Pros

  • Over 10,000 positive customer reviews and ratings
  • Non-stick
  • Handles stay cool on hot stovetops
  • Oven safe

Cons

  • It is an expensive set
  • Should not be used with metal cooking utensils

The Best Stock Pot: Made In Stainless Clad Stock Pot

This pot from Made In will thrill lovers of food and cooking.

Pros

  • Oven safe up to 800 degrees Fahrenheit
  • 45-day return and refund policy
  • Induction compatible
  • Handles are designed to stay cool on hot stovetops

Cons

  • Expensive

The Best Wok: Blue Carbon Steel Wok

If you value your kitchen tools and only want to work with the best, then this wok is what you need. 

Pros

  • Can be used on glass stovetops
  • Can be returned within 45 days for a refund or store credit
  • Safe to use in an oven with temperatures up to 1200 degrees Fahrenheit
  • It has nearly two thousand positive customer reviews and ratings

Cons

  • It is not dishwasher safe
  • It should be seasoned before use
  • It will need to be regularly maintained to prevent rust.

FAQs

Question: Which Pots and Pans Should Beginner Cooks Have in Their Kitchen?

Answer: Everyone has to start somewhere and when it comes to setting up your kitchen for the first time, don’t forget these essential cookware pieces:
Cast Iron Skillet – this is an all-around workhorse that can be used to bake and fry.
All-Clad Stainless Steel Fry Pan w/lid – this piece offers excellent heat conduction and retention along with great sears on meat and veggies.
Sauce Pan – this is something you are apt to use for pasta sauces and soups and one-pot dishes, so make it a good one.
Stock Pot – this is a large pot that can be used for bigger portions of soups and sauces.
Non-stick Frying Pan – this is a great pan to have around to quickly fry up eggs and other food until you’re more familiar with a stainless steel variety.

Question: When Should Cookware be Replaced?

Answer: A lot of the cookware we listed in this guide is meant to last for decades, if not a lifetime.  For these items, you should check the manufacturers’ labels for warranty information and make sure to contact the manufacturer if something goes wrong with an item before the warranty ends.  
Most stainless steel and cast iron products should last for many long years when cared for properly.  The one type of cookware that will need to be replaced with frequency is non-stick cookware.  This type should be replaced after five years of use or when the pans begin to peel.

Question: Can Non-stick Cookware be Repaired?

Answer: Yes, but only up to a point.  If the following three methods do not work on your pans, then you should consider replacing them.
Boil 2 Tbsps. Of baking soda and ½ cup of white vinegar for ten minutes in your non-stick pan.  Rub it with vegetable oil. 
Use a non-stick pan repair spray.
Contact the manufacturer to find out if they do repairs or find a local pan-repair specialist near you.

In Conclusion

Cookware is an important feature in every home.  Finding the best is more than just splurging on a luxury item, it is creating an environment rich in familial fun and an atmosphere where food and flavor can flourish.

I hope that this guide has helped you determine which cookware items or sets that best suit your cooking style and will make the entire process frustration-free.

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