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After researching the best stainless steel cookware on the market today, we purchased the top 15 options and put them to the chef’s test. We cooked our favorite meals using each set, specifically looking for features like even heat distribution, how easy they were to clean and what kind of convenience features they included, like measurement marks and pour spouts. These pots and pans reminded us why stainless steel cookware is some of the best cookware to have in our kitchens.
After eating way too much good food, we found that we were most pleased with the results we got from the All-Clad D3 stainless steel cookware set. Paying the premium price for this set is well worth it due to its tri-ply build, unique design and ability to always emit even heat no matter what we were cooking. Keep reading to learn more about the All-Clad set and the others that made the chef’s cut.
Award: Top Pick/Best All-Clad Stainless Steel Cookware
WHY WE LIKE IT: The All-Clad D3 stainless steel cookware set is the best of the best, and it’s easy to tell why. With durable, tri-ply construction and thoughtful design, this cookware set is sure to help you create some culinary masterpieces in your own kitchen.
The All-Clad brand is one of the most popular and premium cookware brands for both home and professional chefs. And for good reason! Every part of these pots and pans is designed for performance. Its sturdy 3-ply construction allows for quick and even heat distribution. And if you ever have a problem with any part of the 10-piece set, you can always take advantage of All-Clad’s excellent lifetime warranty to get a replacement. This kitchenware set includes two frying pans/skillets, two sauce pans, a 3-quart sauté pan with a lid, and a stockpot with a lid, and each piece is broiler and oven safe up to 600 degrees Fahrenheit. Plus, all items are dishwasher safe.
See also: Create your own delicious takoyaki with the best nonstick frying ball pan.
One design aspect that many people don’t like is the u-shaped handles on each one of the pieces. The inner part of the handle dips inward in a u shape, which is meant to allow for greater stability in your hand. However, many find it uncomfortable. We didn’t mind the shape, but understand why some would think that way. All in all, the All-Clad D3 stainless steel cookware was an easy top pick for Gadget Review. It does as good of a job as the best air fryer.
Award: Honorable Mention/Best Durable Stainless Steel Cookware
WHY WE LIKE IT: The Cuisinart MCP-12N Multiclad Pro cookware set brings Cuisinart’s dedication to quality to the kitchen with excellent lid design, drip-free pouring and quality heating at an affordable price.
When you buy any Cuisinart products, you know you’re going to get high quality and durability, which also rings true for this Multiclad Pro stainless steel cookware set. The entire set has a Triple Ply construction that features a pure aluminum core and a brushed stainless steel exterior. This 12-piece cookware set consists of 2 covered sauce pans, 2 open skillets/frying pans, a covered saute, a covered stockpot, and a steamer insert with a lid. One of the best features of this set is in the lid design. Each lid is compatible with a single piece of the set, which allows for the tightest seal possible while sacrificing some of the interchangeability you get with other sets. Plus, each lid/cover is dishwasher safe. Each of the pots and pans is also designed with a lip that prevents drips while you’re pouring, and they have a polished cooking surface that does not discolor or react with food or alter flavors. Of course, if you prefer a slow cook, the best slow cooker is for you.
The Professional Tri-Ply Clad of this 12-piece cookware set features a core of aluminum and a brushed stainless exterior that ensures high heat retention. Of course, with such durable designs, you can expect some small downsides. For starters, the rivet plate where the handle connects to the pan sticks out a bit, leading to grime and liquid build ups that can eventually lead to corrosion. Make sure you clean this area thoroughly once you’re done cooking. The fry pans/skillets are also heavier than other options on our list, but this can provide some benefits that shouldn’t be overlooked like superb heat retention, making it one of the best stainless steel cookware sets. It is similar to the Cooks Standard 12-Piece Cookware, although the Cooks Standard does not have even heat distribution.
Award: Best Stainless Steel Cookware Under $200
WHY WE LIKE IT: If you’re looking for exra-affordable, yet still extra-durable stainless steel cookware, then consider the T-fal C836SD Ultimate set. With a 3-layer design and clear lids, you get premium cookware at a budget price.
Finding high-quality stainless steel cookware at budget pricing can be difficult. Cookware sets under $200 often aren’t long lasting or don’t distribute heat evenly during cooking, and aren’t the best value for your money. You won’t run into any of these problems with the T-fal set. We were surprised at how well these pots and frying pans/skillets cooked, due to their extra-thick-based made with aluminum, copper, and stainless steel. The handles overheating a bit too much for comfort was a small price to pay for the impressively even heat distribution. This set includes 3 skillets/fry pans with lids, 3 sauce pans with lids, a dutch oven with lid, and a stainless steel steamer. The tempered glass lids are great as they trap in heat and moisture with a vented hole to let out a little steam to maintain visibility, and this cookware set is oven safe up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
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One of the downsides to the T-fal set’s design is how difficult they can be to clean at times, even in spite of its ability to prevent food from sticking to the bottom of the pan (see our best non stick pans list for better options). The handle design allows for food build-up, especially around the area where the handle connects to the pan. However, these are dishwasher safe, so the cleaning problem can be alleviated somewhat. Overall, if you’re looking for a reliable stainless steel cookware set, the T-fal C836SD isn’t a bad choice whatsoever. This is one of the best stainless steel cookware sets on the market today.
Award: Best Ergonomic Stainless Steel Cookware
WHY WE LIKE IT: The Duxtop SSIB-17 Professional stainless steel cookware set is one of the lesser known sets on our list, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less quality. It features an impressive ergonomic design for all its pots and pans, including measurement markings and anti-slip handles.
Duxtop isn’t a name you hear too often in the cookware business, even though they’ve been around for a little bit. However, that doesn’t affect the quality of this cookware set in the slightest. If you’re looking for pans that are comfortable to use, this is the set you should consider. The set includes 2 saucepans with lids, a casserole with lid, a stockpot with lid, 8 and 9.5-inch skillets/frying pans, a saute pan with lid, boiler basket and steam basket, and 3 pieces of kitchen tools. Its overall durable, ergonomic design makes for a more comfortable and convenient time in the kitchen. The handles are more rounded with an anti-slip design and the insides of the pots and pans include measurement markings. The lids are even clear so you don’t have to risk burning yourself to check on how well your food is cooking. Plus, all items included are dishwasher safe.
This is the largest set on our list, offering 17 individual pieces, including some cooking utensils. One of the only downsides we could find to this stainless steel cookware is that food tended to stick more to the bottom of the pans more during our first few go-s in the kitchen. This cleared up over time, but it’s definitely something to think about. In the end, you’re getting a solid cookware set when you buy the Duxtop SSIB-17 Professional, so don’t be worried that the price isn’t worth it. You may also want to check out the best electric kettle.
Award: Best 10-piece Stainless Steel Cookware
WHY WE LIKE IT: Calphalon is another big name in the cookware game and the quality of their classic stainless steel set backs that claim up. The set uses a tried and true design that’s not flashy but gets the job done with chef-like efficiency through even heat distribution and added durability.
The Calphalon Classic stainless steel cookware brings us back to a time when simple, austere designs where prevalent. There’s not a lot of flash to these pots and pans, which we found to be a good thing. They still heat evenly and hardly ever let food stick to the bottom. The set even includes measurement marks and pour spouts for greater convenience during cooking. This set includes 2 fry pans/skillets, 2 sauce pans with lids, a saute pan with lid, and a stockpot with cover.
The set is super durable, as well, which doesn’t come as a big surprise for Calphalon products. We were a little disappointed in the lack of effective stacking and that the pans scratched easily if you don’t put some kind of cloth between them. However, if you’re looking for a simple, reliable, and highly effective 10-piece stainless steel cookware set, the Calphalon Classic will probably be just right for your needs. Add a full lifetime warranty and super-affordable price on top of all those features and you’ve got yourself a set that will last you a long time. Now you are cooking with gas. Speaking of gas, Check out the best gas range reviews.
As a former line cook/sous chef/general kitchen lackey, I spent eight years running hot and cold stations at some of the best (and a few of the worst) restaurants in the Bay Area, including the Michelin-rated Plumed Horse in Saratoga, California. During my time in these high-end establishments I had the opportunity to use some of the classiest, most expensive stainless steel cookware imagineable, and as a result I know just how much punishment they can put up with in the most hectic use scenarios.
When shopping for the best stainless steel cookware, the three factors you want to keep an eye on are: the “ply” rating of the pan or pot (which is just a fancy way to refer to the thickness of the metal), the conductive material on the bottom or inside the layers of the cookware (aluminum or copper are preferred), as well as the overall durability rating (18/10 or 18/18) which will dictate how long it lasts. I have several family members who still have stainless steel cookware that was passed down to them by their parents, and although it’s not in the best shape ever, it’s still a piece of kit that’s been on top of a controlled fire for over 40 years and could easily go another 40 more with proper care.
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How the pot or pan is layered with various types of metal is referred to as ply. In general you won’t need much more than 3-ply cookware for most daily tasks, though there are reasons to go with thicker ply or more layers of stainless steel if you can afford the added cost. More layers between the heat source and your food means a more even cook overall, and allows you to better control and contain hotspots on your pan to prevent burning for longer cook times as you might find with stews, soups, or certain braises.
The ply content of a cookware set is also where you’ll choose between either an aluminum or copper core – and while it’s hotly contested topic which is “better” – ultimately I believe it’s a matter of how you plan to use the cookware and how long you want it to last. Copper core pans are strong, but definitely won’t last a decade or longer unless you take extremely dainty care of them. Aluminum cores conduct slightly more heat, but can also warp easier over time and generally doesn’t work with induction burners, which should be a concern for only a small set of stove owners out there.
The best stainless steel cookware is preferred by world-renowned chefs and upstart home cooks alike for all the reasons we’ve listed above and more. If you’re someone who prefers a heavy, durable pan to cook your morning eggs in opposed to a flimsy Teflon pan, then they could be a great investment to last you in the long term.
Stainless steel pots and pans contain no harmful chemicals in their core materials (like Teflon), so whenever you cook using them you can be sure your food and anything you server to your family will be 100% contaminant-free.
Stainless steel cookware are also highly versatile, and can go from the stovetop, directly into the oven, and back again without any extra damage to the handles or core of the pan. This in mind, we looked for stainless steel cookware that was rated for temperatures up to at least 550°, a temperature range just beyond what most home ovens can reach on their own.
No best stainless steel cookware set would be complete without a few additional kitchen accessories to round things out, now would it?
If you’re feeling to lazy to fire up the stove or oven but still want something to eat on the fly, you might be better off going with one of our picks for the Best Stainless Steel Microwave instead (because more stainless steel is always a good thing, right?). Also, if you’re a first time owner of stainless steel cookware and want a few more cleaning tips aside from what we’ve already provided here – or you’re just a visual learner – check out this guide that breaks down everything you need to know about proper care and cleaning in greater detail.
Of course, instead of slaving over a stainless steel stock pot all day there’s also the option to go with the Best Slow Cooker instead, which is a set-it-and-forget-it option that even the most accomplished chefs in the world can agree are nice for a big meal that doesn’t take up an even bigger portion of your day!