Best Nonstick Cookware Sets for $100 or Less
In CR’s tests, these nicely priced sets perform as well as those that cost much more
The most expensive nonstick cookware set in Consumer Reports’ cookware ratings costs $600 and its performance (particularly the set’s nonstick durability) earns it a place on our list of top picks.
But you can also buy a set that stands out in our tests for a fraction of that—and offers similar cooking performance. In fact, in our latest batch of tests, a number of cookware sets that sell for $100 or less get top marks in our cooking tests. The trade-off? Most of the sets in this lower price range share one drawback: The handles aren’t as sturdy as those on high-end cookware. That means they may become loose over time.
And Marion Wilson-Spencer, the analyst who covers the cookware market for Consumer Reports, notes something else to consider when shopping. “Keep in mind that no matter how much you spend on a cookware set, not every piece is a pot or pan,” she says, “because manufacturers count lids and even utensils as pieces.” For example, the AmazonBasics set (shown above) has 15 pieces, but five of them are plastic utensils, including serving spoons and a soup ladle.
Consumer Reports tests both nonstick and stainless steel cookware sets. Stainless steel tends to be a bit more expensive, and there are no high-performing stainless steel cookware sets in our ratings that cost $100 or less. Below, in alphabetical order, are seven nonstick standouts from our tests of cookware sets.
Note that the prices listed below may change, so you may occasionally see a cookware set that crosses the $100 threshold—or one that’s going for a lot less.
CR’s take: At its usual list price of $52, this 15-piece set from Amazon Basics is the lowest-priced set in our tests. For that price you still get superb performance, including evenly browned pancakes, slowly simmered tomato sauce, and a 5-quart stockpot that quickly brings water to a near-boil. The handles, however, are even less sturdy than most of the handles on sets in this price range. In that test, the AmazonBasics earns only a Fair. On the plus side, the nonstick coating is durable.
CR’s take: Two of the pieces in the 10-piece Blue Diamond Enhanced Ceramic set are plastic utensils, but at this price you’re still getting a nice complement of cookware. The ad for this “As Seen on TV” set claims the coating is scratch-resistant and shows a cook using a hand mixer in one of the pans without harming the surface. It did hold up well in our durability tests, earning a Very Good rating. In our cooking tests, water quickly came to a near-boil in the 5-quart stockpot and tomato sauce simmered slowly without scorching.
CR’s take: For the 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. There are no extraneous pieces in this 11-piece set so you’ll make good use of all of them.
CR’s take: The 10-piece Gotham Steel set is well priced and performs well, earning Very Good ratings in all the main cooking tests: even cooking, sauce simmering, and bringing water to a near-boil quickly in the 5-quart Dutch oven. One exception is the food-release test, in which testers cook four eggs in quick succession. The eggs easily slide out of the best pans but had to be nudged out of the frying pan in this set. Handles stay cool to the touch but aren’t the sturdiest, which is in keeping with other sets in this price range. A steamer insert is included.
CR’s take: This 10-piece Pioneer Woman Classic Belly Ceramic set—named for Ree Drummond of Food Network fame—comes in a variety of bright colors, including a blue set with a floral pattern. In our cooking tests, this set earns an Excellent rating for cooking evenness, meaning pancakes came out evenly browned. Eggs easily slid out of the frying pan in our food-release test, and water quickly came to a near-boil in the 5.5-quart stockpot. The cookware held up well in our durability test, withstanding 2,000 passes with steel wool.
CR’s take: With its copper-hued coating, the 10-piece Red Copper Ceramic Infused set is colorful inside and out. It aced our tests for quickly bringing water to a near-boil and for slowly simmering tomato sauce. It earns a Very Good rating for heating evenness in our pancake test, but eggs had to be nudged out of the pan in the food-release test. So if fried eggs are part of your breakfast rotation, consider other sets. That said, the nonstick coating held up well in our durability tests. The set includes a steamer insert.
CR’s take: This colorful 16-piece Tasty set has six pans and four lids. The remainder of the pieces are accessories, including utensils, a cookbook, and three small prep bowls. In our tests, cooking evenness was top-notch, earning the set an Excellent rating, and speed of heating and simmering were solid, too. The handles stay cool to the touch and are sturdier than many models in this price range. But when we fried eggs, it took a little coaxing to get them out of the pan without sticking.