The 5 best Cookware Sets in 2022
From avid home cooks to take-out connoisseurs, we all need a few pots and pans. Cookware sets can be daunting, no matter how confident you are in the kitchen — there’s an almost endless variety of materials and different combinations of pieces. However, we found that you can use those factors, the material and number of pieces, to guide your choice.
We turned to the experts, who all agreed that less is more when it comes to cookware. Based on our own experiences and conversations with chefs, food editors, and leaders of the Cookware Manufacturers Association, we came up with the following as a basic outline for an ideal cookware set.
Our cookware research methodology
While we haven’t yet tested the sets in this guide firsthand, our picks are based off of extensive research and expert interviews. Here are the factors we considered when putting together this guide:
Pieces: The first thing we did was establish a list of essential pieces all cookware sets should have. Our three experts agreed that quality is more important than quantity when it comes to cookware. Chernick, Battiliana, and Phojanakong each suggested a pared down list of essential pieces. With this input and our own experience in the kitchen, we created the guidelines found at the top of the page.
Materials:We identified the pros and cons of different cookware materials, Chernick recommended stainless steel for cookware sets because it can handle the wear and tear of a busy kitchen, and we agree. Stainless steel is durable, doesn’t require special maintenance, and cooks most things well.
Construction: We considered the construction of each cookware set. Besides cast iron, most cookware is made by layering different metals. This can increase the heat conductivity of less conductive metals; for instance, stainless steel pans often have aluminum cores because aluminum heats up much quicker. Additionally, having multiple layers makes the cookware more durable. Battiliana said there is a connection between performance and quality, as thinner metal pans will wear out faster than better constructed pans.
What should I avoid when buying a cookware set?
Steer clear of cookware sets with too many pieces that will clutter your kitchen. Less is more — most home cooks just don’t need three different sizes of saucepans.
Beyond the pieces, consider the material best suited to your cooking style. For instance, nonstick cookware is great for casual cooks who want the easiest pan to use and clean, while stainless steel holds up better over time.