Best Cookware Sets of 2022

    Familiar names such as Farberware, Kenmore, and Tramontina do well in CR's tests, but so do a few newcomers

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    Person cooking on a stovetop. Photo: iStock

    Is it time to replace your cookware? If the handles are loose or broken, or the bottom of a pan is warped (creating hot spots that burn food), it’s time to shop. And of course, when the coating of a nonstick pan is flaking, it’s got to go.

    Cookware is typically sold in sets consisting of about five to 15 pieces, or as individual pots and pans, referred to as open stock. But a 12-piece set won’t have a dozen pots and pans. “In boxed sets, manufacturers count a lid as a piece,” explains Marion Wilson-Spencer, CR’s market analyst for cookware. “Even utensils and a cookbook may be counted as pieces.”

    We buy and test cookware sets ranging from less than $100 to $600 or more, from well-known brands such as All-Clad, Anolon, Calphalon, Cuisinart, and Zwilling J.A. Henckels, as well as sets sold under the names of celebrity cooks like Ayesha Curry, Rachel Ray, and The Pioneer Woman. Of course, you can also assemble your own set. If you go that route, here are the basic pieces you need, plus why you should consider a Dutch oven.

    In our tests, we evaluate heating evenness, speed of heating, sauté performance, nonstick durability, handle sturdiness, and more. To evaluate various pieces, we cook pancakes, fry eggs, boil water, and simmer tomato sauce.

    For more information, see our free cookware buying guide, which includes a primer on different types of cookware and the materials they’re made of. Below are the 10 best cookware sets from CR’s latest tests, both nonstick and stainless steel, listed alphabetically by type. CR members can jump to our cookware ratings for details on how each set performed, and even more options.

    CR’s take: For its price, the Farberware Glide set did surprisingly well in our tests. The copper-colored interior is ceramic nonstick and earned a Very Good score in our durability tests (some pans earn an Excellent). The pans aced our cooking evenness and simmering tests, but when we tested to see how well eggs glide out of the pan, not all did so without a little nudging. The handles stay cool to the touch but became loose during our sturdiness test. The 11 pieces include two frying pans, two saucepans, a sauté pan, a stockpot, four lids, and a steamer insert.

    CR’s take: With its pink blush exterior, white ceramic interior, and gold handles, the GreenPan Padova Reserve certainly makes a style statement. But how is it on substance? Not too shabby. In fact, its scores on all our major cooking tasks were top-notch, including an Excellent for speed of heating. Its handles are sturdy and stay fairly cool to the touch. The nonstick coating is durable, although some of the nonstick pans we tested did even better on that test. The 10 pieces include two frying pans, two saucepans, a sauté pan, a stockpot and four lids.

    CR’s take: The eye-catching 12-piece Kenmore Arlington Metallic set also stands out for its performance in the kitchen. Cooking evenness and speed of heating are top-notch, and the nonstick coating is so slick that you’ll never be stuck with egg residue in the pan. Our sauces simmered without scorching and the nonstick coating is durable, earning a Very Good rating in that test. The handles stay cool to the touch when cooking but could be more sturdy, typical of pans in this price range. The 12 pieces include two frying pans, two saucepans, a sauté pan, a Dutch oven, four lids and two wooden spatulas.

    CR’s take: Known for its colorful enameled cast iron Dutch ovens, Le Creuset also turns out a respectable set of nonstick cookware, the Le Creuset Toughened Pro. In our tests, cooking evenness, simmering, and speed of heating were all top-notch, but food release was not as clean as some competitors. Still the Le Creuset earned a Very Good score. The handles tend to get hot when you’re cooking, so you’ll need a pot holder, but the handles are sturdy and the nonstick coating is durable. This 10-piece set includes two frying pans, two saucepans, a sauté pan, a stock pot, and four lids.

    CR’s take: If you do the math, you’ll see that at $130 for the set, the pieces in the 15-piece Member’s Mark Hard Anodized Aluminum cookware set from Sam’s Club cost less than $10 each. That might make you doubt that this set can measure up against pricier cookware, but it does. It aced our cooking evenness, simmering, and speed of heating tests and did almost as well on the food release task, earning a Very Good (because a few eggs needed nudging out of the pan). The handles stay relatively cool and held their own in the sturdiness test. The set includes three frying pans, three saucepans, a sauté pan, a Dutch oven, a stock pot, and six lids.

    CR’s take: The 8-piece Fissler Original-Profi collection set has five substantial cooking vessels and three lids. It earns a top mark of Excellent for cooking evenness and aces our tests for heating water quickly. The handles stay cool to the touch and are sturdy, so this set should serve you well for a long time. The pans do very well at simmering sauces but aren’t as impressive when it comes to sautéing. The 8-piece set includes a frying pan, three saucepans, a stockpot and three lids.

    CR’s take: This nicely priced 10-piece Kenmore Elite Devon Tri-Ply set should satisfy most of your cooking needs. The lids are glass, so you can watch what you’re cooking without letting any heat escape. Cooking evenness is top-notch, and this set earns Very Good ratings for both speed of heating and gently releasing eggs from the frying pan. The handles stay cool to the touch, but could be sturdier. The 10-piece set includes a frying pan, two saucepans, a sauté pan, a Dutch oven with a steamer insert, and four lids.

    CR’s take: With just five pieces—a frying pan, a saucepan, a stockpot, and two lids—the Made in Cookware Starter Kit is aptly named. But even a novice cook will appreciate the performance of these pots and pans. The stainless steel pan aces the cooking evenness test, meaning pancakes turn out evenly browned. Speed of heating is also superb, and we quickly brought 4 quarts of water to a near-boil in the 5-quart stockpot. Food release is impressive, earning a Very Good rating, though no uncoated pan measures up to a nonstick pan in that test.

    CR’s take: It may be hard to believe that you get 14 pieces of cookware at this price and, admittedly, not every pan is a winner. Still, you can accomplish a lot with the Member’s Mark Tri-Ply set sold at Sam’s Club. Cooking evenness was top-notch, earning an Excellent rating. The set did very well at simmering but you should still keep your eye on your sauce. The food release score is on a par with the best stainless pans we test—only some nonstick earn an Excellent in that department. The handles are sturdy, which is not typical of pans in this price range. The 14 pieces include three frying pans, a sauté pan, two saucepans, a Dutch oven, a stockpot, a steamer insert, and five lids.

    CR’s take: The Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad set has enough pans to satisfy most of your cooking needs while not taking over an entire kitchen cabinet. It excels at cooking evenness and simmering and earns a Very Good on both the speed of heating and food release tests. The handles stay safely cool to the touch and are very sturdy. The 8-piece set includes two frying pans, two saucepans, a Dutch oven, and three lids.

    Mary H.J. Farrell

    Knowing that I wanted to be a journalist from a young age, I decided to spiff up my byline by adding the middle initials "H.J." A veteran of online and print journalism, I've worked at People, MSNBC, Ladies’ Home Journal, Good Housekeeping, and an online Consumer Reports wannabe. But the real thing is so much better. Follow me on Twitter.