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Buying Guide: The Best Cookware Sets For You

How to Choose a Cookware Set

Buy the Best Cookware Sets for Your Kitchen

How To Choose a Cookware Set

Your dreams of culinary mastery are well within reach when you have the right cookware set at hand to help you get there. Whether you're replacing old cookware or are buying a gift for a newly married couple or college grad, you'll want to know how to choose a cookware set. With a wide range of materials, colors and sizes, there is sure to be a cookware set that meets your unique cooking needs.

There are several points to consider when shopping for quality cookware sets. Do you want the convenience of cookware that's dishwasher safe, or do you prefer easy-to-clean nonstick pots and pans? Use this guide to help you find the best pieces for your kitchen.

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What Makes the Best Cookware Sets?

Sizes and Types of Cookware Sets

Stainless Steel Cookware Set

Cookware sets come in a wide range of sizes. When you research how to choose a cookware set, the first thing you'll want to do is check to see which pieces come in each set. A basic set typically comes with a frying pan, saucepan, stockpot or Dutch oven, and at least two lids. Larger cookware sets might also include several different sizes of frying pans and saucepans, as well as saute pans and cooking utensils. Other pieces, such as cookie sheets or griddle pans, may also be part of your set.

Additional Pieces

Cookware set comparisons often come down to what isn't included in the set. If the set you love doesn't come with absolutely everything your kitchen needs, remember that you can usually buy additional pieces that coordinate with your cookware set. For instance, woks and stir fry pans don't typically come in a cookware set, but you can often find a piece that coordinates with your chosen cookware. You can also supplement your basic cooking set with specialty cookware pieces, such as egg poachers or pancake pans, for making delicious dishes with greater ease.

Materials

One of the most important considerations when you learn how to choose a cookware set is the materials. There are many different options, and each material serves a specific purpose. Here are some of the most popular options for cookware:

  • Stainless steel
  • Copper
  • Annodized Aluminum
  • Clad
  • Cast iron

Stainless steel cookware offers excellent heat distribution, and it's nonreactive, so you can make any of your favorite dishes with this type of cookware. Many home cooks love the look of these pots and pans, with their sleek style and professional finish. You can find stainless steel cookware that is dishwasher safe.

Copper cookware makes a beautiful addition to any kitchen, and you can display your pots and pans proudly when not in use. This type of cookware conducts heat wonderfully, letting you cook each meal evenly. Copper is reactive, so you'll need to consider an alternative for any acidic foods, like marinara sauce or chili.

Anodized Aluminum Cookware Set

Anodized aluminum cookware is popular for its nonstick surfaces, which is why we love this durable, versatile option. It's easy to care for, and it provides excellent heat retention and distribution. Anodized aluminum is also scratch-resistant and nonreactive. Regular aluminum cookware conducts heat beautifully, but is reactive with acidic foods.

Clad cookware is made from a combination of metals to provide more durable cookware with excellent heat conductivity and distribution. You can choose between 3-ply, 5-ply and 7-ply cookware, depending on your needs and budget. The higher the ply, the more expensive your cookware will be. These pots and pans are made with a combination of copper and/or aluminum clad between two layers of stainless steel. It can be the best of both worlds as you'll enjoy the heat conduction of the inner layers, but will cook on nonreactive, durable stainless steel . In some cases, you can find clad cookware that comes with nonstick surfaces for added versatility.

Cast iron cookware is a workhorse in the kitchen. Once seasoned, it offers a stick-resistant surface and it's known for its ability to distribute consistent, even heat throughout. Many of today's cast-iron pieces have a porcelain-enamel coating, which offers protection, an almost nonstick effect, and adds a pop of color to your cookware collection.

Cookware Design

Different types of cookware sets come with unique features. Ergonomic, soft-touch handles on frying pans and saucepans provide you with a comfortable grip while cooking, while others are oven-safe for added versatility as you cook. For the most longevitity, look for handles that are securely fastened by strong rivets to keep them securely attached to your pots and pans. The lids for your cookware should fit securely to each pot or pan, and should feature a handle that is easy to grip, so you can remove the lids easily when you need to stir ingredients.

Quality Cookware Set

Quality cookware sets often come with tempered glass lids that let you see your foods as they cook, which prevents you from having to remove the lids to check on your dishes. Invest in the best quality cookware sets for your budget, and select a set that offers durable construction. Take note of the weight and materials of each piece to ensure your cookware set is easy to use and that it will last for years to come in your kitchen.

Color and style are also important considerations when shopping for different types of cookware sets. While copper and stainless steel cookware have beautiful, natural finishes, other pieces come in a dazzling array of colors. You can choose the cookware set that coordinates with your kitchen decor or your best dishes to create a cohesive look in your kitchen. If you want to display your cookware when you're not cooking, look for pieces with looped handles that you can hang from a rack.

Knowing how to choose a cookware set is all about weighing your options. Whether you want a basic cookware set for your small kitchen or you want a large set that makes it possible to cook grandiose, complex feasts, there is a set of cookware that is perfect for you. Shop for a set that is made from high quality materials, so it'll last through countless meals. Don't forget to shop for specialty pieces, such as microwave cookware, so you have all the tools you need to make your favorite dishes. Once you buy cookware sets and supplemental pieces for your kitchen, you'll be able to cook everything from fluffy pancakes and crispy bacon to a sophisticated coq au vin.

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