If you’re the type of mom who’s always in the kitchen, either preparing a one-off meal or a four-course dinner party, it’s probably safe to say your pots and pans have gone through the ringer. So when is it time to switch up your essentials? When you have to douse the bottom of your pan with oil so your omelette doesn’t stick, or when you find yourself scrubbing so hard during clean up that your arm starts to hurt and your sponge falls apart. If any of these red flags resonate, you might want to check out the best cookware sets and upgrade ASAP.
Cookware sets are by no means a cheap investment, so it’s important to do your research and figure out which bundle is truly worth the splurge. Depending on how much room you have to spare in your cupboards, there are cookware sets that include anywhere from 10 or less pieces to 18 different pots and pans. From non-stick materials to cast iron skillets, aluminum and stainless steel options, the best cookware set for your kitchen will ultimately come down to what you need, how much you can store and your cooking preferences. Here are our favorites that are built to withstand the test of time (and heavy usage).
This story was originally published in January 2020.
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1. T-fal Ultimate 17-Piece Titanium Cookware Set
If you’re going to overhaul your entire collection, you might as well splurge on this full set. The Ultimate 17-piece set includes everything and anything you could possibly imagine needing in your kitchen: three frying pans, one square griddle, two saucepans with lids, one sauté pan, one dutch oven pot with a lid, one steamer insert and one egg frying pan.
The cookware is made from anodized aluminum, so it retains heat and is both scratch-resistant and non-stick. It also features a thermo-spot indicator ring in the center of the pan that turns bright red when it’s preheated to perfection. What’s more, even clean up is made easy with these pieces, which are all dishwasher safe.
2. Cuisinart Multiclad Pro Stainless Steel 12-Piece Cookware Set
Cookware sets are made from a bunch of different materials. This one is stainless steel that features a triple-ply construction — three layers of aluminum sandwiched between the stainless steel — to ensure your cookware delivers maximum heat retention and even heat distribution in order to eliminate hot spots. The set consists of two covered saucepans, two open skillets, one covered sauté pan, one covered stockpot and a steamer with lid that are all dishwasher- and oven-safe up to 550 degrees Fahrenheit.
3. GreenLife Soft Grip 15-Piece Ceramic Set
Another contender for anyone looking to update their entire collection is this masterful cookware set that consists of 16 essentials: one miniature frying pan, two open frying pans, two covered saucepans, one covered stockpot, one covered sauté pan, one stainless steel steamer and four utensils. Each piece of cookware is made of Thermolon ceramic with a sturdy aluminum-reinforced body that conducts more heat with less energy. They’re also free of PFOA, PFAs, lead and cadmium, which is great for your health and the environment because they won’t release toxic fumes.
And, granted, we realize “going green” can often translate to items that don’t prioritize aesthetic, but GreenLife’s ceramic set comes available in eight colorful finishes (black, black diamond, blue, burgundy, lavender, red, soft pink and turquoise), so you can choose which style matches the rest of your kitchenware. The set is pretty and highly durable: It’s dishwasher- and oven-safe up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.