In this buyer’s guide, we will explore the world of stainless steel pots and pans. To help you decide on the right products for you and your kitchen, we have picked some of the best rated stainless steel cookware to review and compare.
We really like Cuisinart‘s 12-Piece MCP-12N Multiclad Pro Cookware Set and consider it to be an investment, rather than just a one-off thing that we expect to replace in a year or two. It fits our criteria of being from a popular and reputable brand, uses quality stainless steel, suitable for induction cooktops, and has a warranty program.
Most of these sets don’t have nonstick coatings to prevent food from sticking. However, they offer unique features that set them apart from their nonstick counterparts and may serve you years to come when used properly and taken care of.
How To Choose Your Cookware
Here are five things to consider before buying:
- Is this a reputable brand?
- What grade of stainless steel is used and how thick is it?
- Is it induction compatible? This is only required if you have an induction cooktop.
- Warranty options just in case something goes wrong.
- What do you actually need? Large skillets, big pots, or a complete set?
Our Top Picks: Best Stainless Steel Cookware Reviews
1. 10-Piece Viking Professional 5-Ply Stainless Steel Cookware Set
Viking Stainless steel cookware is built to be used and to last for years. This 5-ply set features stainless steel in the two outside layers and a triple layer of aluminum in the core for excellent heat conduction.
The non-reactive stainless shell means that your food never comes in contact with aluminum.
One of the best features of Viking cookware is the handle design. The long handles on the 2 and 3-quart saucepans, as well as the frying pans and the straight-edged, saute pan are flared up and away from the cooktop.
If you’ve got a lot of pans on the cooktop, you’ll be glad when you can reach out to adjust or reposition a pot and grasp a cool, comfortable handle.
The squared-off handles on the stock pot, lids and the helper handle on the saute pan offer plenty of clearance, so no burned knuckles!
This cookware can go from cooktop to oven to grill. It’s broiler safe and will tolerate up to 600 degrees Fahrenheit / 315 degrees Celsius. This cookware works well on induction cooktops, and best of all, it can all go in the dishwasher!
2. 13-Piece T-fal Ultimate Stainless Steel Copper-Bottom Cookware Set
The copper bottom design feature on this beautiful T-Fal cookware set will have you displaying it proudly on your pot rack.
These pans feature multiple layers of metal with great heat conducting qualities, including aluminum and the visible layer of copper.
This cookware will also make cooking easier thanks to the glass lids with steam vents. The long handles are flared to keep your hands up and off the cooktop.
The short handles on the stockpot and the lids allow plenty of clearance. This set also comes with a steamer insert for veggies.
Each piece of the T-fal Ultimate cookware set is dishwasher safe and can tolerate up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit / 260 degrees Celsius.
It should be noted that this set is marketed as induction compatible, but many users have not had good results with this set on their induction ready cookware.
Also, the large saute pan doesn’t offer a helper handle. If you like to move pans from cooktop to oven, the lack of a helper handle may be problematic.
SEE ALSO: Best Induction Cookware
3. Cuisinart® Multi-Clad Stainless Steel Cookware MCP-12N (12-Piece)
Cuisinart‘s Multiclad series is considered to be for “professional home use” which we consider being top rated stainless steel cookware.
The Cuisinart MCP 12 piece cookware set combines quality materials like those in high-end cookware without the giant price tag.
This set meets our top pick criteria of quality stainless steel, well-known brand, and overall value.
See our full Cuisinart Multiclad Pro Review here.
- Tri-ply 18/10 stainless steel with aluminum core
- 18/10 solid steel handles
- Induction compatible
Cuisinart has included some ease-of-use concessions, like rolled edges for pouring liquids out of your pots.
These edges help prevent excess dripping down the sides. It’s something simple, but I’m sure you can remember the last time that that has happened. You know, when gravy starts to burn on the outside of the pot.
The aluminum core is in the bottom and sides, unlike cheaper sets which have aluminum cores in bottom only. It’s sandwiched between 18/10 stainless steel. This combination helps ensure an even distribution of heat.
This set includes Cool Grip™ handles to help prevent your hands from burning while cooking.
Unfortunately, physics allows heat to be transferred to the handles regardless of the Cool Grip™ technology. The handles will get hot, as with any stainless steel pot or pan so you should use a potholder or suitable hand protection.
Price wise, it’s a little steeper than your average stainless set. It’s hard for us to imagine that more expensive cookware is any better when applied in the kitchen because they’re both using the same grades of surgical steel.
If you’re not on a tight budget, Cuisinart‘s MultiClad Pro Cookware is worth considering.
4. Heim Concept 12-Piece Induction Ready Stainless Steel Cookware Set
If soups, stews, and casseroles are your thing, this cookware may be a great option.
The Heim Concept cookware set features 4 casserole pots from 1.75 quarts to 5.75 quarts with snug fitting lids that offer a vent hold.
Anyone that struggles with heavy pans will really appreciate this set. Even the large saute pan offers a helper handle, so moving these pans will be a stable process.
The interiors offer a mirror finish, so clean-up is quite easy. It’s important to note that the manufacturer doesn’t address the question of putting these pots in the dishwasher. However, many users have already tested this and find it works well!
The Heim Concept cookware set features a layered bottom for heat conduction, and this set works well on induction cooktops.
Be aware that there is no high-temperature rating, so take care when using these pots at very high heat or under the broiler.
5. Rachael Ray Stainless Steel II 10-Piece Cookware Set
The Rachel Ray line of cookware is loaded with fun and colorful accents, and this set is no different. This stainless steel set features a burst of orange in the silicon handle covers.
These covers offer cool comfort but will limit the temperature tolerance of this cookware. It can’t be used in the oven at temperatures higher than 350 degrees Fahrenheit / 177 degrees Celsius.
If you have an induction cooktop, you’ll appreciate that these pans magnetize well.
These pans feature an aluminum core for heat transference and a mirrored exterior finish. The interior finish is brushed for easy cleanup.
The saucepans and stockpot feature a flared tulip design that’s narrower at the bottom and wider at the top.
While this is visually quite graceful, the handle clearance on the stock pot is very narrow.
The silicone handles will stay cool, but your knuckles may get very close to the body of the pot when you use this piece of the set.
Learn more about Rachael Ray cookware here.
6. Swiss Inox Si-7000 18-Piece Stainless Steel Cookware Set
This cookware is built for cooks and chemists alike. The round stainless steel lids offer a built-in thermometer, so you always know how things are going inside the pot. Be aware that the lids are designed to fit a little loosely.
There are several casseroles in this set. The handles are quite large, even on the smallest pot, and offer plenty of gripping area for safe transfer.
These pots are made of nine layers of both aluminum and steel, beginning and ending with non-reactive surgical stainless steel for a food-safe surface.
The interior layers feature aluminum for great heat transference and stamped steel to provide a magnetic layer for induction cooktops.
Worried about aluminum cookware dangers?
If your kitchen is small, know that you can stack these pans. The set includes a fry basket, a mixing bowl and a bakelite mat to use as a trivet.
You can move the pans easily from cooktop to oven thanks to the user-friendly handle design, then take the pot to the table and display it proudly on the trivet!
7. Duxtop Professional 17-Piece Stainless Steel Induction Cookware Set
If you need a once and done set of cookware, the Duxtop Professional kit is a great option. Of course, you get the basics, including two frying pans, two saucepans, a casserole dish, a straight-sided saute pan with helper handle, and a stockpot.
All but the frying pans come with their own vented glass lid so that you can keep an eye on your meal.
Also, you get a toolset including a spoon, slotted turner and meat fork. Finally, you get a boiler basket and a steamer basket, both of which will hang in the stockpot.
Be aware that this set is built for keeps and is quite heavy in comparison to many stainless steel sets. Fully packed, this cookware weighs nearly 35 pounds.
However, if you love to cook and are ready to invest in pieces that will stand the test of time, the Duxtop SSIB-17 Professional cookware set is a terrific option to consider.
8. Calphalon Classic Stainless Steel Cookware 10-Piece Set
The Calphalon Classic Cookware set is a mid-range priced set for home use created by an American brand.
- Glass lids (typically better fitting than all metal)
- Induction compatible
- Straining holes in pots
The first feature that caught our eye was the straining ability of the pots. They have a strainer and pour spout incorporated right into them.
This should make it easier to cook pasta and then drain it, or after blanching vegetables in water, without a colander.
The second was the full lifetime warranty. This is a prime example of a brand that wants to ensure a good customer experience.
Of course, the warranty doesn’t cover misuse or imperfections that are going to occur with any stainless steel cookware set, but it’s something to keep in mind.
The Calphalon Classic set isn’t an 18/10 stainless steel set like the Cuisinart MultiClad Pro.
In fact, we’re not sure exactly what grade of stainless it uses. Calphalon states “Medium-Gauge” stainless steel, which is the lowest grade of their stainless steel collections.
We think the Calphalon 10 piece Classic cookware set may be a great way to get started with stainless cookware and their warranty rivals higher end cookware brands.
9. All-Clad D3 Stainless Cookware Set
All-Cad cookware is one of the top brands in the industry. I’ll start by saying that this All-Clad cookware set is not for most people.
It’s higher quality cookware that requires a larger budget. If you’re a serious home or professional chef, then this might be one to consider.
- 18/10 stainless steel (surgical grade)
- Compatible with all cooktops
- Limited lifetime warranty
Okay, let’s get it out of the way. I said that this set requires a larger budget, so what are the reasons for this?
Each piece is handcrafted in the USA. That’s actually two points in the same sentence.
Being made in the USA and handcrafted items are always going to cost more than machine-made because it’s very labor intensive.
All-Clad is a respected brand in both home and professional kitchens because they are known for using the best of the best materials and back up their products with a limited lifetime warranty.
To be fair, most stainless steel functions pretty much the same in practice.
However, the added attention and care to each piece that All-Clad is offering may be what sets it apart from the rest.
11. Farberware Millennium Stainless Steel Cookware Set (10-Piece)
We all need cookware, but we don’t all have the money to spend on it.
The Farberware Millennium cookware set is what we would consider as one of the best budget stainless steel cookware sets and may be what you’re looking for.
- Glass lids
- Limited lifetime warranty
Why is this set so budget friendly? We believe there are 2 reasons for this. The product is made in China where production costs are much cheaper, and the Farberware set is not made from 18/10 stainless steel.
Farberware deliberately constructed this cookware set without nickel in the steel alloy. This makes it perfect for those with nickel allergies or other special needs.
On the other hand, the lack of nickel in this cookware set makes it a little less durable than those made of 18/10 steel.
Some of the pots in this set have slightly unusual dimensions. While the volumes on the packaging are similar to most, the pots are tall and thin. This can be a bit awkward to cook with if you’re a shorter person.
With that said, even if it only lasts a couple of years, you could replace the 10-Piece Farberware Millennium cookware set at least once before spending as much as you might on a high-end surgical grade cookware set.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Stainless Steel Cookware Induction Compatible?
Most modern stainless steel sets are induction capable, either from using a magnetic stainless alloy or because of an iron disk built into the bottom.
The difference doesn’t matter too much so long as the set you purchase is marked as ‘induction compatible cookware.’
Do Stainless Steel Cookware Handles Get Hot?
Sometimes stainless cookware has their handles coated with silicone but most of the time they are not.
Because stainless steel is a poor conductor of heat (comparatively), these handles are usually a bit cooler than the rest of your pot.
However, they’re still made of metal and attached to a hot pot or pan, so you’ll almost always need to use a potholder.
Is Stainless Steel Better Than Nonstick?
You might assume based on the name (‘non-stick’) that food sticks to everything that doesn’t have a non-stick coat. That isn’t the case.
Metal cooking surfaces can be used to fry eggs or perform other delicate tasks with a little bit of care and preparation. If you’re not digging stainless steel, check out our cast iron cookware reviews and best copper cookware guides.
As long as you preheat your pan, keep your heat relatively low and use a generous amount of cooking fat, food won’t stick to your stainless steel cookware.
There are some advantages to non-stick. Most notably you can crack an egg into a cold pan on a burner turned all the way up with no butter or oil and flip it easily. You can’t do that with a stainless steel pan.
SEE ALSO: Waterless Cooking
On the other hand, you don’t have to worry about replacing your stainless steel pans as you would with nonstick cookware when the non-stick coating goes bad. In fact, they’ll probably last you for years if taken care of properly.
In our Tramontina reviews we cover both types of cookware to give you a better comparison.
What Is Stainless Steel Cookware Made Of?
The stainless steel used in cookware is extremely non-reactive. It’s resistant to acids, bases, rust and just about everything you might think of that can corrode or attack metal.
It’s also stable at very high temperatures (most stainless steel cookware is oven safe to 500F/260C).
However, stainless steel is a poor conductor of heat. That means that a pan constructed out of only stainless steel would be very hot where it was heated and relatively cool everywhere else.
Because of this, almost every set of stainless cookware is constructed with one or more layers of aluminum inside. So really, you’re effectively purchasing aluminum cookware with a stainless steel cooking surface.
Aluminum is light, strong and a very good conductor of heat making stainless steel pots and pans heat up quickly and evenly
One of the most important features to look at in your cookware is where the aluminum is in each pot and pan.
If it’s just in the bottom, heat won’t spread up the sides as easily. This isn’t a deal breaker, but if you use deep pots and pans quite often, it may be something to consider.
Types Of Stainless Steel
Durability is important when it comes to stainless cookware and not all pots and pans cook the same. The thickness and makeup of your cookware determines how they handle on the stove or in the oven.
Thick, heavy pots and pans will retain a lot of heat. A thinner, lighter pan will reach a high temperature more quickly and cool off faster when you turn off the burner.
“Stainless” is an extremely large category of alloys. There are over 150 grades, all of which have unique properties.
Without getting too deep into the technical side of things, 18/10 stainless steel (18% Chromium, 10% Nickel) is what we consider the best for cookware and is the same grade of that which is used in the medical field for implants.
This is a particularly durable mix of nickel and chromium that will help make sure your cookware lasts for years. It has higher corrosion resistance and less leaching potential of nickel and chromium.
What Is Surgical Stainless Steel Cookware?
From time to time, you will see cookware list that they are using surgical stainless steel. Surgical stainless steel is also known as 316. It’s also known as 18/10 as mentioned above.
For any pot or pan, you want to make sure that it’s using the 300 series of steel whereas something like a mixing bowl would use a poorer quality in the 400 series range of steel. 400 series would degrade fast with heat and abrasives like salts and metal utensils.
Is Stainless Steel Cookware Expensive?
Expensive cookware is often, but not always, made in a country where manufacturing is expensive like those made in the USA that also has tight quality controls.
If you buy a cheap set from a brand overseas that you haven’t heard of before, chances are they’re less likely to care about your experience compared to those in the USA, Germany, UK, France, Italy, and Canada.
Cheap pots and pans are sometimes, not always, made in a country where manufacturing is cheap, like China which usually has less human oversight between the factory and your door.
It’s in the best interests of an established brand that sells expensive cookware to make sure that you’re happy with every set you purchase and that they last you a very long time.
This isn’t to say that you should buy the most expensive set of cookware available, but rather that you should research a few sets you might be interested in and see if you can find evidence that they last for a few years.
Some middle-of-the-road brands offer the same sturdy construction as the high-end ones for less than half the cost.
What Care And Maintenance Tips Do I Need?
Here is an awesome guide on how to season a stainless steel pan.
The process called ‘seasoning’ involves spreading a layer of oil on very hot metal cookware to make it non-stick.
With cast iron, the effect of seasoning lasts a long time. With stainless steel, the effect is short-lived, especially if you wash the pot or pan with soapy water.
Stainless cooking surfaces should clean easily with hot water and a bit of careful scrubbing. Learn how to clean stainless steel pans properly to make them last longer.
Never put cold water in a hot metal pan or pot. Not only can this result in splashing of hot oil, but it will also cause the metal to cool unevenly and warp your cookware.
While you can put stainless steel in the dishwasher, it’ll usually discolor and require you to hand wash and polish it afterward. We always recommend hand washing pots and pans no matter what they’re made of.
Purchasing a set of stainless steel cookware is simple. There aren’t a lot moving parts to think about, and most sets are pretty similar. We think that your budget may be one of the biggest factors in deciding.