Does the sight of your dull pans and pots with rusted bottoms make you cringe? Believe us; we know how that feels. Most people have had their share of cookware sob stories. But you don’t have to be one of them.
You want durable, rust-free, and safe to use pots and pans. And what’s better than stainless steel to serve that purpose?
Below, we’ll be reviewing some of the best stainless steel cookware sets Consumer Reports. So if you want delicious sears on your steaks without damaging your pan, read on to find out which is the best stainless steel set for you.
Click to jump straight to each topic
- The 5 Best Stainless Steel Cookware Sets Consumer Reports for 2021 Reviews
- #1. Best Overall: Cuisinart MCP-12N Multiclad Pro Stainless Steel Cookware Set
- #2. Runner-Up: Calphalon Classic Pots And Pans Set
- #3. Best High-End: All-Clad Brushed D5 Stainless Steel Cookware Set
- #4. Top Rated: T-Fal C836SD Ultimate Stainless Steel Copper Bottom Cookware Set
- #5. Best Budget Consumer Reports: Cook N Home Stainless Steel Cookware Set
- Is Stainless Steel Cookware Safe?
The 5 Best Stainless Steel Cookware Sets Consumer Reports for 2021 Reviews
If you want to take your cookware game up a notch and invest in stainless steel pots and pans, we’ve got your back. Here are five of the best stainless steel cookware reviews that fit everyone’s needs:
#1. Best Overall: Cuisinart MCP-12N Multiclad Pro Stainless Steel Cookware Set
We chose this set as the best overall because of its great price-quality ratio. In fact, we think it’s about as good as high-end cookware (except for a few design flaws) while still being affordable.
It’s most significant feature is, of course, the three-ply construction. The core consists of aluminum, topped with a stainless steel layer, and the exterior is a stunning polished stainless steel.
Aluminum helps heat the pan quicker than pure stainless steel cookware. Plus, the aluminum isn’t just at the bottom of the MCP pots and pans, but also all the way up to the sides, which helps distribute heat evenly.
Coming towards its design and build, cookware from this range feels sturdy and heavy. This ensures durability – they can survive a lot of banging and falling off surfaces. It’s also dishwasher and oven safe and compatible with induction cooking.
To make pouring less messy, all of the 12 pieces in this line have flare rims. Moreover, the handles are long and grippy for you to hold on to them comfortably. And don’t worry, they won’t get hot – they don’t have the aluminum core as the rest of the utensils’ body.
Lastly, the lids are stainless steel and somewhat thinner. This might cause them to dent if used too roughly. But the good thing is that they fit super snugly on to the pots and pans, ensuring a tight seal.
However, since they’re not glass, the tight seal can make lifting them to check the contents inside annoying and slightly tricky. Also, you might see an occasional stain on the cookware from cooking proteins.
With capabilities such as withstanding heat up to 500°, stunning rust and corrosion-resistant exterior, and excellent heat retention, this set is worth much more than its reasonable price.
#2. Runner-Up: Calphalon Classic Pots And Pans Set
This 10-piece set from Calphalon has some pretty nifty features and comes at a reasonable price, becoming the runner-up in our best stainless steel cookware sets list.
For starters, the cookware has impact-bonded aluminum bases. This means that the aluminum has been stuck to the stainless steel with heat and pressure, making it durable.
You may have noticed that we said ‘aluminum base,’ and not ‘body.’ This is because the aluminum beneath the stainless steel does not extend up to the sides. Hence, it may not distribute heat as evenly as the Cuisinart stainless steel cookware set. But you’ll also pay much less for this one, so that’s something to consider.
Cookware handles are equally important. They’re sized averagely in this set – about five inches long compared to Cuisinart’s eight inches. However, they stay cool even at high heat. They’re also double-riveted for extra security, even though the pots and pans are relatively lightweight.
The best part about the Calphalon Classic stainless steel cookware is its lids, made up of tempered glass. While they’re susceptible to breakage, they make checking the food much easier as you won’t have to lift the lid. However, the lid handles can get hot, so be careful!
These pots have a pour spout at the side, and the lids have a built-in strainer. Hence, you can easily strain the contents inside without using a colander. And yes, you can still steam your food – just turn the lid, so the strainer doesn’t line up with the spout.
Apart from this, it comes with measuring marks inside the pots. Also, it’s dishwasher, oven, and broiler safe. Hence, this set is ideal for anyone who wants decent quality with a lifetime warranty at a reasonable price.
#3. Best High-End: All-Clad Brushed D5 Stainless Steel Cookware Set
Okay, so you’re fed up with your sub-par and cheap cookware, and you want to upgrade. Enter All-Clad D5: every chef’s dream. It’s one of the top names when it comes to premium cookware. And for this reason, it has an eye-watering price point.
When you consider its five-ply build, the price seems justified. All-Clad includes two layers of 18/10 stainless steel and two layers of aluminum. The bottom of the pots and pans have magnetic steel for induction cooking.
These five layers help make the cookware durable and resistant to warping. Plus, the full-body aluminum layer makes them extra-ordinarily good at heat conductivity and retention.
This undoubtedly cuts the cooking time by a lot and gives beautiful sears on your meats and veggies. But inevitably, so many layers make the cookware a bit heavy.
The extra smooth starburst finishing on the inside greatly reduces the chances of food sticking. Plus, the flared rims help with mess-free pouring, but we expected a spout at this price range, like that of the Calphalon Classic.
The pans also have very long ergonomic handles with bolsters and stay cool to the touch. However, the lid handles do get hot, which is a bummer, but not a deal-breaker. Another thing to keep in mind is that the long handles make it hard to store the pans. Holes at the end do make it possible for you to hang them, though.
As expected, the cookware is dishwasher-safe and can withstand an astounding 600° in the oven/broiler. You can also use any sort of spoon with these, but it will leave scratches.
We think this set is perfect for anyone willing to pay the price for highly durable and stunning stainless steel cookware with a lifetime warranty.
#4. Top Rated: T-Fal C836SD Ultimate Stainless Steel Copper Bottom Cookware Set
T-Fal? Isn’t this a stainless steel cookware review? You’re right. But guess what? T-Fal doesn’t only manufacture non sticks, but also a very impressive set of 18/10 stainless steel cookware.
Hence, the C836SD copper bottom stainless steel set is one heck of a deal for beginners who want feature-rich cookware for a good price.
For one, it has a six-layer build – a copper core, layers of aluminum and stainless steel, and a thin copper layer at the bottom. The copper helps with quick heat-up, while the aluminum helps in heat retention and distribution.
However, after some time, you may notice that the copper is discoloring and flaking. But it’s nothing that interferes with the cooking process or performance.
Not only do these pots and pans look great with a brushed finish, but the glossy insides also help prevent food from sticking. Plus, all the pieces are oven and broiler safe, withstanding temperatures up to 400°. They’re also dishwasher safe and are compatible with induction stoves.
The handles on these things are nice and ergonomic too, but they might get hot after prolonged exposure to heat. We love the lids, though. They’re made up of glass and have nice little holes that let out excess steam.
Overall, the T-Fal C836SD line is a top-rated stainless steel cookware set, if you ignore some minor flaws. It offers an attractive price point and even a year-long guarantee. A beginner level cook and this set together make the perfect combo.
#5. Best Budget Consumer Reports: Cook N Home Stainless Steel Cookware Set
So far, our stainless steel cookware reviews have consisted of around 200 bucks and above price points. But not everyone can afford that. Hence, we decided to include the Cook N Home Stainless Steel Cookware 12-piece set. With a price tag of barely $70, this set can be the one for all of you on a budget.
To begin with, these pots and pans have a thick aluminum base that heats up quickly. The sides are rather thin, though, and you may notice that the food gets scorched here. In fact, all the pieces are lightweight, which may be advantageous for some, but not all.
But what we liked is that every piece comes with its separate glass lid, which has holes to release steam. A word of caution, though: the lid and side handles do get hot relatively quick since they’re not solid but hollow.
This set is ideal for a small family because all the pieces are smaller in size. The cookware heats up pretty quick, but doesn’t retain heat as good. However, at this price, we can’t complain much – you get what you pay for.
On the bright side, though, this set is dishwasher and oven (not broiler) safe. It can withstand heats up to 350°, though the lids bear much less. You can also use this on induction tops, and you get a 6-month long warranty with the set as well.
Our verdict? This range is not meant for the serious and passionate home-cook. It’s ideal for someone who expects flaws like lightweight build, poor heat retention, and small size. But at the same time, you get a fairly attractive stainless steel cookware that’s much safer than its non stick fellows.
Is Stainless Steel Cookware Safe?
Let’s face it: everyone loves making quick omelets in non stick frying pans. But did you know that Teflon cookware releases harmful fumes on high heat? They also scratch easily and leach small amounts of plastic into your food. Over time, this can cause serious health issues.
When you compare stainless steel vs. non stick, the former option is much safer. Stainless steel is made out of a mixture of nickel and chromium, both of which are harmless in small amounts (except for people with nickel allergy).
We recommend that you use silicone or wooden spoons with stainless steel cookware, so you don’t accidentally scratch the surface. This way, it will be a long while before any core metals start leaching into your food.
Stainless steel is also very resistant to heat. You can use most of such cookware in the oven without having it warp or get damaged. And unlike non sticks, you won’t have to worry about any coatings coming off at high temperatures.
Another thing worth noting is that the quality of steel matters a lot here. Top-rated sets will be made out of 18/10 or 304-grade stainless steel. This type has superior resistance to corrosion and heat and adds to the steel’s durability. Anything less will not be ideal for use in cooking.
Because it’s unreactive for the most part and pretty durable and corrosion-resistant, stainless steel is considered pretty safe.
It will also last you much longer than any other material. The only downside is that you’ll have to put in some time into prepping your pots and pans to prevent sticking.
Other than that, stainless steel is an excellent option for those who want durability, safety, and aesthetics (there’s no denying that stainless steel utensils look incredible!)
Every kitchen deserves one of these beautiful sets of stainless steel cookware. This is why we set a wide price range – from $900 to just below $70 – so everyone can experience cooking with stainless steel.
If you can trade off non stick surfaces for safety, unbeatable heat resistance, and mouth-watering sears and browning, upgrade to stainless steel.
And what’s more? With some prep and temperature management, you’ll find that food doesn’t stick to its surface anymore. You can even make eggs in stainless steel, given that you know how to prep the pan. (Check out this video to learn how to season your stainless steel pans like a pro).
In case you decide to up your cookware game and shift to stainless steel, we hope you found our stainless steel cookware reviews helpful!