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Best Stainless Steel Cookware

Interested in buying stainless steel cookware? They are a great alternative to typical non-stick cookware. Stainless steel cookware is durable, easy to clean, and most of all, non-reactive. They will not react with your food.

What is stainless steel?

Steel is an ‘alloy’ or mixture of metals made mostly of iron. It also contains some carbon. The carbon makes steel much stronger than regular iron. Stainless steel is steel that also contains chromium and other metals to make it resistant to corrosion and rust. The more chromium in stainless steel, the more resistant to rust it is. If the stainless steel is to be used with food, it must contain at least 16% chromium. Chromium also gives stainless steel its luster and mirror-like finish.

As it name implies, stainless steel does not stain or tarnish like regular steel. Stainless steel also often contains nickel, which gives a silver-like shine and makes it resistant to corrosion and oxidization if you use acidic foods.

There are many different types and grades of stainless steel. The most common type of stainless steel used in cookware is grade 304, and of these, the most popular are 18/10 or 18/8 stainless steel. This means the stainless steel contains 18% chromium and 10% nickel, or 18% chromium/8% nickel. You should look for this grade when shopping for stainless steel cookware.

Now that we have had our chemistry lesson for the day, let’s find out about some of the most popular stainless steel cookware sets on the market today:

Calphalon Premier Stainless Steel 11-Piece Set

This 11-piece stainless steel set includes two sauce pans, a sauté pan, a stockpot, two frying pans, and five flat glass lids. They are rather expensive but are a good investment in quality cookware. They are stylish, elegant, and functional, with a lightly brushed finish that will fit with many types of kitchen décor.

The wide variety in pot and pan sizes will fulfill whatever cooking needs you may have. They evenly sear, brown, and sauté with precision. The two frying pans are 10 inches and 12 inches in diameter. The two saucepans hold 1.5 quarts and 2.5 quarts, and the sauté pan holds three quarts. The large stock pot holds eight quarts.

They can be used on electric, gas, and glass stove tops. In addition, they are all made with magnetic stainless steel, which makes them suitable for using on induction stove tops. Users find these pots and pans do not scratch glass or induction surfaces.

This cookware set is very durable and will stand the test of time. They have a heavy gauge aluminum core that is coated in three layers of stainless steel. This allows for maximum heat retention. And they are oven safe up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. These pots and pans are a mid-range weight – not too heavy but not flimsy or too light weight.

Their handles are ergonomic and easy to hold when tilting the pans to baste a steak. They are long and designed to remain cool while in use on the stove top.

This set is easy to clean. Although they are not officially ‘non-stick,’ users find that the food residue on the surface slides right off. And they are dishwasher safe.

Pros

  • 11-piece set includes 2x frying pans, 2x sauce pans, a sauté pan, a large stock pot, and lids
  • Stylish and elegant, with lightly brushed finish that matches any décor
  • Pots and pans evenly sear, brown, and sauté
  • Can be used on gas, electric, glass, and induction stove tops
  • Made with heavy gauge aluminum core coated with three layers of stainless steel
  • Oven safe up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit

Cons

  • Expensive

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Cook N Home 12-Piece Stainless Steel Cookware Set

This 12-piece set is a more affordable choice. It comes with a 1.25 quart sauce pan, a 1.25 quart casserole, a two quart casserole, a three quart casserole, a 5.5 quart stock pot, and a 10 inch diameter frying pan. All of these pots and pans come with their own lids.

The pans have a shiny mirror polished 18/10 stainless steel finish on both the exterior and interior. They are light weight and therefore easy on the wrists.

They have an encapsulated base, and each pot and pan is constructed with an aluminum disc bottom between the steel layers. These ensure quick and even heat distribution. The base of these pots and pans is flat, which allows them to sit evenly on stove tops, and also helps with storage.

These pots and pans are suitable for use on all cooking surfaces, including induction. They are oven safe up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit but could discolor at temperatures above 350 degrees F. The frying pan has deep walls, which traps moisture, leading to less evaporation compared to other shallower frying pans.

The handles are also made of stainless steel. They are riveted onto the cookware, which makes them very durable. They are wide and deep for a comfortable, easy grip. They have a hole so you can hang them up for storage. The handles are hollow so make sure they dry completely before you hang them up.

The lids are made with tempered glass which enables you to watch what you are cooking. They also have a steam vent. The lids are oven safe up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit but any temperature above 270 degrees F could affect their appearance.

The reflective finish of these pots and pans is easy to clean, and they are dishwasher safe.

One drawback is the lids do not cover the pans 100%; there is empty space around the edges. This leads to the lids shaking and spraying water on your stove top.

Pros

  • 12-piece set includes sauce pan, 3x casseroles, stock pot, frying pan, and lids
  • Made of shiny mirrored polished 18/10 stainless steel
  • Aluminum disc bottom between steel layers ensures quick and even heat distribution
  • Suitable for use on all cooking surfaces, including induction
  • Comfortable, easy grip handles are very durable
  • Tempered glass lids let you watch what you are cooking

Cons

  • Lids do not completely cover the pans, which leads to water spraying

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Cuisinart 77-7 Chef’s Classic Stainless 7-Piece Cookware Set

This seven-piece set is made of classic stainless steel with a mirror finish. For most people who have only owned non-stick pans, this is a definite upgrade. It includes a 1.25 quart sauce pan, three quart sauce pan, and eight quart stock pot, all with covers. The set also includes a 10 inch diameter open skillet. It is a great set for a small kitchen, as it includes all the basic sizes of cookware needed to create most meals.

This set has a nice weight to them. They are high quality and they heat quickly. The bases are triple layered – made of aluminum encapsulated in the stainless steel, and the bases are thick and constructed well. These features distribute heat evenly and eliminate hot spots. They also hold their heat very well. The rims of the cookware are tapered so pouring is easy.

They can be used both on the stove top and in the oven, which makes them very versatile. They are safe to use on all cooking surfaces, including induction cook tops, and they do not scratch glass cook tops. They are oven safe up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. They are also freezer safe so you can store your meals easily.

The stainless steel does not react with food, alter flavors, or get discolored.

These pots and pans have tight fitting covers which seal in nutrients and moisture and result in more tasty and healthy meals. The covers are dripless, so they don’t cause a mess.

The handles are designed to provide extra balance and support when pouring and lifting. They are made of stay-cool stainless steel, for added safety. The handles on the lids are easy-grip. All handles are professionally riveted; this makes sure your cookware has good balance.

This set of pots and pans is easy to clean and dishwasher safe. However, keep in mind they are not non-stick so try to buy some stainless steel wool for cleaning.

One drawback is the edges on the sauté pan are very sharp, so be careful.

Pros

  • Great basic set of cookware with all pots and pans you need
  • Includes 2x sauce pans with lids, a stock pot with lid, and an open skillet
  • Bases made of aluminum encapsulated in stainless steel for quick and even heating
  • Can be used on all cooking surfaces and in oven up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Freezer safe for meal storage
  • Tight fitting lids and stay-cool handles

Cons

  • Edges on sauté pan are very sharp

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Rachael Ray Create Delicious Stainless Steel 10-Piece Cookware Set

This 10-piece polished stainless steel cookware set is great for a new kitchen. It includes a one quart sauce pan, a two quart sauce pan with lid, a six quart sauce pan with lid, a 10.25 inch-deep pan, and a three quart sauté pan with lid. Also included are a slotted turner and a wooden spoon.

It has a pretty design with perky red or light blue handles to brighten up your kitchen. The handles are riveted on for durability and safety. They are made of silicone so you can grip them securely.

The pans have etched measurement markings to you can make sure you have enough water for pasta or whatever you’re making. They have flared rims to make pouring easy and mess-free.

These pots and pans are durable and safe to use with all stove tops. The bottom caps are made of 18/0 (nickel-free) stainless steel which makes them suitable for induction cookware. The walls are made of 18/10 stainless steel. They are oven safe up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. They are strong and versatile. They are specially engineered to provide even heat distribution and reduce hot spots.

They have glass lids so you can easily check what’s happening with your cooking progress without lifting the lids and losing heat. They lock in flavor and heat. The lids are also shatter resistant.

This set is easy to clean and dishwasher safe.

Some users feel this set is not as effective as other sets when it comes to even heat transfer because they are not made with multi-ply stainless steel. Also, they are easy to stain but scrubbing with Windex can help.

Pros

  • Includes 3x sauce pans, a deep pan, and a sauté pan with lids, plus accessories
  • Pretty polished stainless steel design with perky red or light blue handles
  • Pans have etched measurement markings
  • Safe to use on all cooktops, including induction, and oven safe up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Handles are riveted for safety and made of silicone for easy grip
  • Shatter proof glass lids lock in flavor and allow you to view what you are cooking

Cons

  • Not made with multi-ply stainless steel so may have issues with even heat transfer
  • Easy to stain

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What to look for in stainless steel cookware

Now that you have seen some of the most popular sets of stainless steel cookware available on the market today, let’s take a look at what to consider when you are thinking of purchasing such a set.

Stainless steel grade

As mentioned previously, the most popular stainless steel cookware is made of 304 stainless steel and the highest quality of this category come as 18/8 or 18/10. This means the cookware contains 18% chromium and 8% nickel, or 18% chromium/10% nickel. Look for this grade stamped at the bottom of the pan or on the box.

Weight of the pot

A heavier pot tends to mean more material was used to construct it, which means it is thicker and more sturdy, and less likely to have hot spots when cooking. Heavier pots and pans are more durable too, and are less likely to acquire dents or dings. They are also more expensive, however, so you need to consider that as well.

Material used in the core

Stainless steel does not conduct heat well, so you should search for a set that has a base with an aluminum or copper core. This is a disc in the base of the pan. This will give you the superior heat conductivity of aluminum or copper, along with the durability of stainless steel. These types of cookware are generally more expensive than those that do not have an aluminum or copper core.

Also note that the thicker the aluminum or copper core, the better the cookware will distribute heat efficiently and evenly.

Keep in mind that aluminum cores are three times as thick as copper cores, and thus pots and pans with an aluminum core will be more heavy. So if you are comparing the weight of the pans, make sure you are comparing pans that have the same type of core.

The manufacturer

This is important as you want to choose a product that is made by a reputable company that puts a lot of effort into making good quality items. Many times, reviews can tell you which companies are more trusted by users.

How to care for stainless steel cookware

Stainless steel cookware is pretty easy to take care of compared to non-stick cookware, but here are a few tips to keep your stainless in great shape.

  • Cook on medium heat, which will reduce food sticking to your pans.
  • When finished cooking, let your pan cool off before soaking it, to avoid warping.
  • Then soak the pan in warm soapy water. Food will come off easily. Don’t soak for too long, though, as this can cause pitting.
  • If your pan develops stains, use vinegar and water to wash it. Also try Barkeepers Friend to remove stains and restore shine.
  • Do not store acidic foods like tomato paste in your pots and pans that are made of stainless steel.

Good luck with purchasing your stainless steel cookware set. If properly chosen and cared for, it will be a purchase you won’t regret!

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