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Best Cookware Sets of 2018

All-Clad, Calphalon, and Cuisinart impress our testers, Swiss Diamond shines, and Tasty deserves a look

A person cooking on a range with a cookware set.

How do you know when it’s time to replace cookware? If handles are loose or broken or if the bottom of a pan is warped (which can create hot spots that burn food), it’s time to shop. And when a nonstick pan’s coating is flaking, it has to go. 

Cookware is sold as individual pieces or sets. If you need an entire set, we’ve got you covered, starting with details on what’s included.

“In boxed sets, manufacturers count a lid as a piece,” explains Marion Wilson-Spencer, a market analyst covering cookware for CR. “Even utensils and a cookbook may count as pieces.” So keep in mind that a 12-piece set might not contain a dozen pots and pans.

Lab Tested for Your Kitchen
We buy and test frying pans and cookware sets. To determine whether a pot can maintain a consistent low temperature, testers bring tomato sauce to a near-boil, then reduce the heat and let the sauce simmer for 20 minutes. They place thermocouples—sensors that measure temperature—throughout the pot to measure temperature uniformity. (A pot should be able to maintain a consistent temperature below the boiling point to simmer properly.) We evaluate speed of heating, sauté performance, nonstick durability, handle sturdiness, and more.

Nonstick surfaces remain popular because they’re easy to clean and require little or no oil or butter when cooking. But check out our cookware buying guide, which includes a primer on different materials. 

Here’s a roundup of the best cookware sets from CR’s tests, four nonstick sets (listed alphabetically) and two uncoated sets. Our cookware ratings provide all the details and also include the brands Ayesha Curry, Gotham Steel, Le Creuset, and Red Copper. They make it easy to compare sets ranging in price from $99 to $600 (along with several dozen frying pans).

Go to Consumer Reports' 2018 Holiday Central for updates on deals, expert product reviews, insider tips on shopping, and much more.

Nonstick Cookware
Cuisinart Green Gourmet Hard Anodized GG-12
Cuisinart Green Gourmet Hard...

    Cuisinart Green Gourmet Hard...

    CR’s take: The 12-piece Cuisinart Green Gourmet nonstick set scores high enough to make our recommended list, earning an Excellent in cooking evenness. And the 6-quart Dutch oven quickly brings water to a near boil. This set is made of anodized aluminum, which you may appreciate. (Anodizing is a process that hardens the surface of aluminum and renders it nonreactive, so you can cook acidic foods in the pan without worrying about aluminum leaching into it.) 

    Rachael Ray Cityscapes Porcelain Enamel Nonstick (Bed Bath & Beyond exclusive)
    Rachael Ray Cityscapes Porcelain...

      Rachael Ray Cityscapes Porcelain...

      CR’s take: Made of aluminum and coated in porcelain enamel, this Rachael Ray Cityscapes set is also available in red or gray. (A spatula and cookie tray bring it to 12 pieces.) It’s one of the few tested sets that rates Excellent for food release, meaning food slides easily off the nonstick surface when new. (It needs a little nudging once the coating starts to wear.) But food doesn’t cook so evenly in the frying pan, and as is true of most sets under $150 that CR tests, the handles here are not sturdy. 

      Swiss Diamond Reinforced #6010
      Swiss Diamond Reinforced #6010

        Swiss Diamond Reinforced #6010

        CR’s take: Another recommended set, the 10-piece Swiss Diamond is one of the most expensive in our ratings. You get something for the price, though: It has the sturdiest handles of all nonstick sets in CR’s tests, rating Excellent. The nonstick coating proved to be one of the most durable in our tough tests—a machine rubs steel wool over the coating until it has worn through or for up to 2,000 strokes, whichever comes first; Swiss Diamond withstood all 2,000 strokes. The pans are made of aluminum, and the nonstick coating keeps metal from leaching into your food. The 8.5-quart stockpot is a generous size, and the glass lids allow you to keep an eye on what’s cooking. 

        Tasty Titanium Reinforced Ceramic
        Tasty  Titanium Reinforced Ceramic

        Tasty  Titanium Reinforced Ceramic

        CR’s take: The Tasty 11-piece nonstick (counting the recipe booklet that comes with this set) is among the least expensive we tested and comes close to making our recommended list. Tasty (from the arm of Buzzfeed that generates those wildly popular food videos) rates Excellent in our nonstick food-release tests. The set is sold at Walmart and made of aluminum with a stainless steel base, making it one of the few nonstick sets in our ratings that can be used on an induction range or cooktop. A 6-quart Dutch oven and an 11-inch griddle pan are included as part of the set—a nice surprise, given the relatively low price. But the handles do not stay cool to the touch and aren’t very sturdy.

        Uncoated Cookware
        All-Clad Stainless-Steel
        All-Clad Stainless-Steel

          All-Clad Stainless-Steel

          CR’s take: The 7-piece All-Clad Stainless Steel set also makes our recommended list. Simmering sauce evenly and without scalding can be a challenge for some uncoated cookware, but not for All-Clad. The 6-quart stockpot in this set gets a rating of Excellent in our sauce-simmer tests, conducted using tomato sauce. This cookware works with induction ranges, is oven-safe up to 500° F, and is dishwasher-safe, too. It’s the most expensive of the uncoated sets, but note that the handles aren’t very sturdy.

          Calphalon Premier Space Saving 8 piece
          Calphalon Premier Space Saving 8...

            Calphalon Premier Space Saving 8...

            CR’s take: The Calphalon Premier Space Saving 8-piece stainless set rates high enough in our tests of uncoated cookware to make our recommended list. Food cooks evenly and browns nicely, earning a Very Good rating in our evenness tests. The stainless handles are long and sturdy, and you can use these pots and pans on any type of range, including induction. You can pop them in the oven as long as the temperature doesn’t exceed 500° F, and when it’s time to clean up, your dishwasher will take it from there. And if you’re low on storage space, take note: Calphalon designed this set so that it stacks and nests, which frees up precious cabinet space.

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            Kimberly Janeway

            For years I've covered the increasing water and energy efficiency of washers and what it means to consumers, along with innovations in a variety of products, and whether manufacturers deliver on their promises. What I'm really trying to do is to help consumers, and consumers help me by posting comments and posing questions. So thanks!