The 6 Best Stainless Steel Cookware Sets, According to Lab Testing 

Cook up your favorite dish with the Cuisinart MultiClad Pro Triple Ply 12-Piece Set.

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

Stainless Cookware Set
Photo: Courtesy of Amazon

Stainless steel pots and pans are a fantastic addition to your kitchen, whether you're just starting to build out your kitchen, or upgrading to a gorgeous new set. In addition to having a gleaming finish, stainless steel cookware sets are highly durable and can last a long time with the right care.

"Stainless is good for long-term investment as the finish, when kept clean, will not deteriorate. Non-stick pans are nice for cooking but the finish can wear off and become a health hazard," says Will Gilson, chef and owner of Puritan & Company.

To find the best stainless steel cookware sets, four testers went to our lab in Birmingham, Alabama, and put 28 sets to the test over the course of five days. The testers were given a pre-determined methodology and were asked to evaluate each set based on four categories: heating capability, durability, design, and ease of cleaning. In addition to Gilson, we also consulted Chef Jason Santos and Mary Rodgers, director of marketing communications at Cuisinart.

Overall, the best stainless steel cookware set is the Cuisinart MultiClad Pro Triple Ply 12-Piece Set. The set is easy to clean and offered an even sear during cooking tests. The handle also remained cool to touch.

Here, the best stainless steel cookware sets.

What We Recommend

01 of 06

Best Overall: Cuisinart MultiClad Pro Triple Ply 12-Piece Set

Stainless Cookware Set
Courtesy of Amazon

Also available at Williams Sonoma, Macy's, and Bed Bath & Beyond

Why You Should Get It: The set is easy to clean and testers were able to get an even sear while cooking. Plus, the handle on the pan remained cool to touch, which is a key safety feature.

Keep in Mind: The lids on this set aren't glass, so you'll have to remove them to take a look at what you're cooking.

Overall, the best stainless steel cookware set is the Cuisinart MCP-12N MultiClad Pro Triple Ply 12-Piece Set. According to testers, the cookware set feels durable and like it would last a long time. Plus, it was very easy to clean.

This set is oven safe to 500 degrees and during testing, the temperature of the pan stayed pretty even. The temperatures ranged from 350 to 400 to 334 around the pan, which means when you're browning meat or fish it's going to be evenly cooked without a lot of fuss.

After heating up one of the pans, testers cooked up several scallops and found they did not stick, had clean flipping, and were easy to remove from the pan. Overall, the pan gave the shellfish an even, golden browning. Testers found that they got similar results when they cooked a frittata as well, noting that there was little sticking and that the pan offers a nice, even sear. After cooking, they noted that the pans could be easily cleaner and had little discoloration.

Testers liked that the handle of the pan remained cool to the touch even with high heat, an ideal safety feature especially if you have small children at home. They also loved how durable this set feels, describing it as "a beast."

It's worth noting that since the lids aren't glass, you'll have to lift them to check on your dishes as they cook. However, all of the pieces are dishwasher safe, so they'll be easy to clean in case anything spills over.

Product Details:

  • Number of Pieces: 12
  • Pieces Included: 1.5-quart saucepan with cover, 3-quart saucepan with cover, 3.5-quart sauté pan with helper handle and cover, 8-quart stockpot with cover, 8-inch skillet, 10-inch skillet, and 20-centimeter steamer insert with cover
  • Construction: Triple ply construction, aluminum core, and a brushed stainless finish
  • Dishwasher Safe: Yes (cookware and covers)
02 of 06

Best Budget: Cuisinart Chef's Classic Stainless Steel 7-Piece Set

Stainless Collection
Courtesy of Amazon

Why You Should Get It: The set is dishwasher safe and has glass lids, so you'll be able to easily check on what you're cooking. Plus, the inside of the pans has measurements, which might make cooking easier for some.

Keep in Mind: The set is smaller than other options.

If you're looking for a set that's less expensive than other options, the best stainless steel cookware set is this 7-piece set by Cuisinart. The set received one of the highest ratings overall and was one our testers wanted for their own kitchens.

While cooking, testers found that the pan heated evenly and gave the scallops a nice hard sear with even browning. The frittata slid right out of the pan with very minimal sticking as well, with testers noting that the handles didn't stay hot for too long afterward. They also didn't notice any real warping or discoloration.

In terms of design, the set received a near-perfect score as testers liked the glass lids and the included steamer pot attachment. They also appreciated the traditional design on this set and noted that the pieces feel substantial. Plus, another detail that makes this one of the best stainless steel cookware sets worth considering is that the inside of the pans has measurements, so even beginner chefs can cook up something.

Product Details:

  • Number of Pieces: 7
  • Pieces Included: 1.5-quart saucepan with cover, 3-quart saucepan with cover, 8-quart stockpot with cover, 10-inch skillet, and a steamer basket attachment
  • Construction: Stainless steel, aluminum
  • Dishwasher Safe: Yes (cookware and covers)
03 of 06

Easiest to Clean: Tramontina Gourmet Stainless Steel Induction-Ready Tri-Ply Clad 12-Piece Set

Stainless Steel Cookware Set
Courtesy of Amazon

Why You Should Get It: There are ergonomic handles that are easy to hold.

Keep in Mind: Testers noticed discoloration when the pan was removed from the oven.

Whether you entertain often or just dislike doing the dishes, this Tramontina set is the best stainless steel cookware set for your need. This comprehensive set won over our testers with how easy it was to clean, making it a must-have for any kitchen.

Overall, testers found that the pieces in this cookware set felt well-built. The pieces have sturdy handles and after cooking, testers didn't notice any warping. They specifically liked how easy the set was to clean, earning it a near-perfect score in that category. With just water and a spatula, testers were able to rid the pan of food remnants. It's dishwasher safe too, making it even easier to give it a thorough clean.

When it came to cooking, testers noted that the pan we tried heated quickly and very evenly—around 400 all across the pan—to the point that the butter for the frittata seemed on its way to burning. This caused the frittata to stick to the pan a bit while scallops quickly caramelized and left discoloration and marks on the pan.

Testers found the pan had some serious discoloration after removing it from the oven too, and the scallop marks have gotten even darker. There was even more discoloration around the sides and edges, which testers thought was probably from the cooking oil.

Product Details:

  • Number of Pieces: 12
  • Pieces Included: 8-inch fry pan, 10-inch fry pan, 6-quart covered deep sauté pan, 1.5-quart covered saucepan, 2-quart covered saucepan, 3-quart covered saucepan, and an 8-quart covered stock pot
  • Construction: Tri-Ply clad construction, stainless steel, aluminum, magnetic stainless steel
  • Dishwasher Safe: Yes (cookware and covers)

Related: The 9 Best Dishwashers to Cut Down on After-Dinner Cleanup

04 of 06

Best for Even Heating: Anolon Nouvelle Stainless Steel Cookware Pots 10-Piece Set

Stainless Cookware Set
Courtesy of Amazon

Also available Wayfair, Bed Bath and Beyond, and Overstock

Why You Should Get It: The pans offered an even sear and the handle stayed cool to touch while cooking.

Keep in Mind: The lids have a domed shape that might be hard to store.

When it comes to stainless steel cookware, even heating is a key factor and this Anolon set certainly didn't disappoint. Testers were impressed by the pools of melting butter the pans created during testing, earning it a perfect score in that category.

During testing, testers found that the pan heated evenly at all points, with the average temperature being around 325 degrees. The scallops cooked with a little stick on the first flip but when they were removed from the pan but they had a nice, even "crusty crust." Overall, testers felt that the pan did a great job searing the shellfish, but there was a bit of a crust left on the pan. However, the pan ended up being easier to clean than expected.

While cooking a frittata, the eggs took a bit of coaxing with the spatula to get them out of the pan without sticking. However, it didn't leave any marks or discoloration. Overall, the handle stayed cool to the touch during the cooking process and there was no warping when the pan cooled off in the ice bath afterward. However, testers felt that the handle felt looser.

It's worth noting that the lids on this set have a rounded, dome shape that might be hard to store in a kitchen. Testers also found that the pots were a bit heavy and might be hard to stack, so the set may be more ideal for someone who stores their set on a hanging rack.

Product Details:

  • Number of Pieces: 10
  • Pieces Included: 1.25-quart saucepan with lid, 2.5-quart saucepans with lids, 6.5-quart stockpot with lid, 8-inch frying pan, 10.5-inch frying pan, 3-quart sauté pan with lid
  • Construction: Stainless steel, copper
  • Dishwasher Safe: Yes (cookware and covers)
05 of 06

Best Starter Set: Calphalon Classic Stainless Steel 10-Piece Set

Stainless Steel Cookware Set
Courtesy of Amazon

Also available at Wayfair

Why You Should Get It: The 10-piece set includes essential cookware pieces and offered even heat distribution.

Keep in Mind: Testers felt that the walls on the pan felt thin and there was minor discoloration and flexing, so the set may need to be replaced at one point.

Whether you're moving into a new home or just tapping into your cooking skills, this 10-piece Calphalon set is the best stainless steel cookware set you should consider. Testers appreciated the set's price point and liked that it offers even cooking and an easy clean-up.

During cooking testers, our testers liked that this pan heated up fast and reached 400 degrees—it cooked both the scallops and frittata perfectly, without any sticking. It's worth noting, however, that while testing durability, there was some discoloration and flexing of the material. They also felt that the pan walls feel thin and the pieces were not as well constructed as some of the other tested sets.

Overall, testers noted that the pans cleaned up very easily. The eggs only needed a light brush to remove any leftover bits. The seared scallops did leave a mark however it was easy to remove with the help of Bar Keepers Friend.

Although testers were concerned about the set's durability, they felt it was very well designed and had solid handles that feel good in your grip. Testers did not that the stock pot felt a bit small for batch cooking, however they liked that the set had glass lids that make it easy to monitor your food.

Product Details:

  • Number of Pieces: 10
  • Pieces Included: 8-inch fry pan, 10-inch fry pan, 1.5-quart. saucepan with cover, 2.5-quart saucepan with cover, 3-quart saute pan with cover, and a 7-quart. dutch oven with cover
  • Construction: Stainless, aluminum
  • Dishwasher Safe: Yes (cookware and covers)

Related: The Best Nonstick Pans for Every Type of Home Cook

06 of 06

Best Design: All-Clad Brushed D5 Stainless Cookware Set 5-Ply Stainless Steel 10-Piece

Stainless Steel Cookware Set
Courtesy of Amazon

Also available at Williams Sonoma

Why You Should Get It: Testers felt that it was a durable, reliable set and liked that it was easy to clean.

Keep in Mind: It's more expensive than other sets on the market.

This five-ply set was one of our highest-rated picks and is the best stainless steel cookware set if you're in the market for a stylish and durable design. Though the set is an investment, testers felt like the look of the brushed finish and felt that the high-quality pieces are worth it.

In terms of design, testers noted that the pan handles had a nice feel and found that the squared-off lid handles fit comfortably in their hands. The bigger pans and pots have a helper handle for ease of holding anything heavier or hot as well. Overall, they felt that the set had a substantial feel that helped justify the price point.

When cooking, neither the scallops nor eggs stuck to the pan. In fact, both cooked with a nice, even heat, and there was no noticeable warping when we dipped the pan into ice after cooking. The set was noticeably easy to clean, which is a plus given that it's not recommended to put the pieces in the dishwasher.

Product Details:

  • Number of Pieces: 10
  • Pieces Included: 8-inch fry pan, 10-inch fry pan, 1.5-quart saucepan with lid, 3-quart saucepan with lid, 3-quart sauté pan, and an 8-quart stock pot
  • Construction: 5-ply bonded construction with alternating layers of stainless steel and aluminum
  • Dishwasher Safe: Not recommended

The Bottom Line

Overall, the best stainless steel cookware set is the Cuisinart MultiClad Pro Triple Ply 12-Piece Set. The set is easy to clean and offered an even sear while cooking. Plus, the handle on the pan remained cool to touch, which makes it safer to use. For a less expensive option, the Cuisinart Chef's Classic Stainless Steel 7-Piece is the best stainless steel cookware set. The set is dishwasher safe and the pans have measurements on the interior, making cooking with them even easier.

Our Testing Process

To find the best stainless steel cookware sets, four testers went to our lab in Birmingham, Alabama, and put 28 sets to the test over the course of five days. The testers were given a pre-determined methodology and were asked to evaluate each set based on four categories: heating capability, durability, design, and ease of cleaning. Testing these sets included cooking both scallops and a frittata. The overall rating was determined by averaging the scores of each category.

What to Know About Stainless Steel Cookware Sets Before Shopping

Number of Pieces

When you're shopping for a stainless steel cookware set, it's important to note how many pieces there are and what's included. According to Mary Rodgers, director of marketing communications at Cuisinart, 7-11 pieces is an ideal range to start with but you'll want to keep in mind that lids count in that number. In general, she recommends looking for a combination of saucepans, sautés pans, skillets, and stock pots.

"If you are a family, you could consider 10- and 12-inch skillets and a 5-quart sauté pan, and an 8-quart stock pot. If you are a smaller household, you can choose the smaller sizes," says Rodgers. "Choose non-stick surfaces for skillets if you are a novice cook."

Cladding/Construction

If possible, it's best to invest in a multi-ply set as the pieces are durable and long-lasting. However, it's worth noting that they're likely going to be a more expensive design.

"Multi-ply sets in three or five ply are the best performing and more expensive, but cookware is an item used every day in-home kitchens and is an investment," Rodgers says. "If you invest in a good multi-ply stainless-steel set, you will have it for an extremely long time if cared for appropriately."

Plus, a heavy-duty construction will even make for a better cooking experience.

"Heavier pans tend to have thicker vessel gauge which will help to even heat," a representative for the Calphalon research and development team explained to us. "Also, pans with multilayer help to have better even heat. Normally, when using multiple layers, the manufacturer is adding a material that has a better conduction of heat than stainless steel; thus it helps the pan to conduct heat better, helping avoid hot spots."

Weight

Stainless steel is going to feel heavier than more inexpensive construction items like aluminum but according to experts, that's the point.

"I like heavy just because I think common sense would say the heavier they are, the slightly better quality they are," says Jason Santos, a chef. "I've seen really cheap stainless steel pans that you can basically bend. So I think a heavy set is good. It's safe to say it's probably decent quality."

Care

According to Rodgers, it's important to follow the directions from the maker of your stainless steel cookware set to ensure you're keeping it in the best shape. While many sets are dishwasher safe, some may recommend just using soap and water instead.

Other Stainless Steel Cookware Sets We Tested

Le Creuset Tri-Ply Stainless Steel Cookware Set 10-Piece Set

This set from Le Creuset performed well during testing but testers felt the price point was a bit too steep in comparison to other similar styles. Testers noted that it cooked scallops well and clean up was about average, though some scrubbing was required.

Rachael Ray Create Delicious Stainless Steel Cookware Set, 10-Piece Set

This Rachael Ray set performed well during testing, with testers noting that it cooked evenly and was easy to clean. Testers didn't love the blue silicone handle as well and preferred a set to have more than one skillet. They did appreciate the 1-quart saucepan, however, and felt that it was a good set for someone who just needs the cooking basics.

Calphalon Premier Stainless Steel Pots and Pans 11-Piece Set

Overall, testers found that the pans in this Calphalon set were fairly nonstick and the pans heated quickly. However, testers found the pans in this Calphalon set heated unevenly and there was some discoloring of the pan as well. Cleaning the pan after cooking the scallops took a bit of elbow grease as well and the handles got very hot during one of the cooking tests.

Your Questions, Answered

How do you prevent sticking when cooking with stainless steel?

While cooking, it's not ideal for your food to stick to the pan or pot you're using. In addition to it being difficult to remove your food, it can also make cleaning more difficult as well. To help, Gilson recommends putting a few drops of water into a pan and setting it over high heat—if the drop starts to pop, crackle, and slide across the pan, you'll know it's at the correct temperature and is less likely to stick.

"Low-heat cooking will prevent food from sticking to your stainless-steel cookware while ensuring an even cook," Gilson continued, saying, "When cooking meat, for example, low heat allows the heat to spread to its center, ensuring perfect cooking without sticking. To do this, you need to perform the water drop test. When the pan is hot, you can then place your piece of meat in it and reduce the heat. To cook meat, adding fat is not even required. In fact, once it starts to caramelize, it will come off without a problem. Fish will always require some sort of cooking fat or oil."

How many pieces should I look for in a cookware set?

When it comes to cookware sets, the number of pieces depends on your needs and the size of your household. To start, Gilson recommends going for sets with 5-7 pieces. Just keep in mind that the number of pieces will also include lids.

"I like a large saute pan, a high-sided braising pan, a small saute pan, a saucepan, and a pasta pot," Gilson says.

What's the best way to clean stainless steel pots and pans?

Stainless steel cookware sets each come with their own set of cleaning instructions, so it's worth double-checking what the manufacturer recommends to ensure they're staying in good shape.

"If the food is very stuck on then I would recommend soaking them while hot. Barkeepers friend and a scouring pad help bring the finish back to normal," Gilson says. "Dishwashers often don't do the trick and the drying cycle can actually bake on the stuck-on food."

Who We Are

Tanya Edwards is an award-winning writer and editor. She was formerly the head of digital culinary programming at Food Network. To make this list, she considered insights from product testers who rated each product based on design, durability, heating capabilities, and ease of cleaning. She also consulted Jason Santos, a chef, Will Gilson, chef and owner of Puritan & Company, and Mary Rodgers, director of marketing communications at Cuisinart.

​​What is BHG Recommends?

Next to all of the products on this list, you may have noticed our BHG Recommends seal of approval. Products that earn the seal have been put through rigorous testing to make sure they're worth a spot in your home. We buy most of the products we test ourselves, but occasionally we are provided samples by companies if buying isn't an option. In these cases, we use the same testing criteria we use to test the purchased products and we let you know that we got it for free to remain as transparent as possible about our picks.

Looking for more products that have earned our BHG Recommends seal of approval? Check out our picks for everything from picnic blankets to humidifiers.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles