The best stainless steel cookware is not an easy thing to pin down. There are a lot of opinions on the optimal number of pieces, who the best manufacturer is, the most important features or what finishes look the nicest. The more you think about it, the list just seems to goes on and on. But in the end, even though many home cooks and chefs will defend their opinions until they are blue in the face, many of these things come down to personal preference based on experience. Well experience in the kitchen is one thing we do have so you can rest easy knowing that the opinions contained in this cookware guide are meant to get you the the best product possible, period.

In these stainless steel cookware reviews and guide, we are going to cover absolutely everything you need to know in order to make the most informed decision possible. We here at Mamie’s have done the heavy lifting and testing for you so you never have to worry that you are purchasing a cookware set that is less than satisfactory. We are going to first review our favorites and then move into what to look for, the advantages and disadvantages and some basic care tips. There is a lot to cover so let’s get into it!

Brand & ModelWeight# Of PiecesOur RatingPrice
Cuisinart Multiclad Pro23 lbs.12
T-fal Ultimate Cookware19 lbs.12
Calphalon Classic20 lbs.10
Chef’s Star Professional32 lbs.17
Rachael Ray Signature20 lbs.10

Cuisinart MCP-12N Multiclad Pro Stainless Steel 12-Piece Cookware Set

best stainless steel cookware set
The elegant Multiclad Pro line from Cuisinart is our absolute favorite. It comes out on top in every area including looks, features and price point. Cuisinart is known for crafting deluxe, high-quality cookware for the serious home chef and this collection is no different. The reviews of the cookware are almost unanimously positive and is our go-to recommendation for family and friends. The 18/10 metal features a beautiful brushed finish while the interior of the cookware has a stunning mirror finish that is non-reactive and will help your food to not stick to the surface. This Cuisinart collection includes tri-ply Heat Surround technology which means that you will find a copper core running through the base of all the pieces and up the sides for superior and even heat.

The handles are stainless steel as well which stay cool to the touch while sitting on the stove and can also withstand the heat of the oven up to 500 degrees and the broiler too. Most pieces come with a tight-fitting lid and all of them are built with a drip-free pouring rim. Because it’s Cuisinart, it also comes with a lifetime warranty against any defects.

Calphalon Classic Stainless Steel Cookware Set, 10-Piecestainless steel cookware reviews

Caplphalon is a household name at this point which we have come to associate with quality and long-lasting cookware. The stunning 10-piece cookware set stands out with its brushed finish and extra long stay cool handles. Unlike the Cuisinart, the Calphalon Classic utilizes an impact-bonded aluminum base which also provides even heating across the pieces to ensure proper cooking and no burning. A nice little touch that is unique to this set are the etched marks on all of the pots and pans for easy measuring. It is little details like this that make Calphalon a favorite amongst home cooks. The lids are see-through and made of tempered glass and each one has a straining hole the lines up exactly with the pour spout removing the needs for a strainer when draining out liquid.

This collection comes with all of the essentials you will need for everyday cooking and can take care of all your searing, simmering, boiling and frying. All 10 pieces are dishwasher safe for super easy cleanup, although we still recommend hand washing to preserve the shine of the stainless steel. This cookware will work equally well on all types of cook tops ranging from gas and induction to glass ceramic and halogen. It’s versatility and price makes it a great gift.

Chef’s Star Professional Grade 17 Piece Pots & Pans Set

stainless steel cookware reviews

The Chef’s Star pro set is one of the larger collections on our favorites list and strikes the balance between being complete, versatile, good-looking and durable. With it’s 18/10 construction this cookware is built to last and stay looking new for many years to come. The bottom of all the pots and pans are encapsulated with an impact-bonded aluminum base for the even heat distribution needed for proper cooking and minimal burning. The handles are riveted directly to the pan, and feature an anti-slip finish and ergonomic molding for better handling around the kitchen.

Chef Star has left nothing out with the 17-pieces included and comes with plenty of extras like multiple kitchen tools (spoon, slotted spatula, and a 2-prong fork), a boiler basket, a steamer basket and beautiful tight-fitting lids for almost every piece. The set is suitable for all stove and cooktop cooking sources and is dishwasher safe. The stainless steel can handle high heat in the oven up to 500 degrees and is safe for the broiler, freezer and refrigerator. The whole thing comes with a limited lifetime warranty so you don’t have to worry about defective pieces ruining the entire set. This set up it perfect for the home chef that wants to have everything they need in one collection and have it built to last.

T-fal C836SC Ultimate Stainless Steel Copper Bottom Cookware 12 Piece Cookware Set

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The T-fal cookware set is certainly the most uniquely constructed collection on our list, but it is also one of the most durable and stylish as well. The polished interior and exteriors are not only eye-catching, but make for easy and fast cleanup too. The standout feature of the T-fal cookware is the multi-layer base which incorporates a thick-gauge aluminum core bonded between two layers of stainless steel, finished with copper heat channels along the base of the pieces. The end result of this unique construction is increased strength, superior warp resistance, and extremely fast, even heat throughout the entire pan.

The somewhat short handles are riveted to the sides and are ergonomic for easy handling around the oven and stovetop. The machine precision lids feature see-through tempered glass with a ventilation hole making for easy viewing and moist cooking. Like the Calphalon set, the T-fal features interior measuring marks and gently flared rims for quick measuring and easy, spill-proof pouring which removes then need for a colander when draining out liquids. The entire set is dishwasher safe (although we suggest hand washing everything) and safe in the oven and broiler up to 500 degrees.

Rachael Ray 10-Piece Cookware Set

best stainless steel pots

Rachel Ray has made a name for herself in recent years for not only her television cooking shows and cookbooks, but her great cookware as well. This 10-piece set comes will all the basics need to handle everyday cooking tasks. While this isn’t the most complete set on our list, it’s great from the home cook who is simply looking for high quality essentials. Every piece features a very unique and great looking tulip shape highlighted by a polished finish. The thick base of aluminum, which is fully encapsulated in stainless steel, ensures even heating and stress-free temperature control while cooking on a stovetop.
What you’ll probably notice first about this cookware set are the attractive rubberized handles which provide a very comfortable grip. These handles, however, are only safe in the oven up to 350 degrees. So if you are going to be cooking hotter than that you may want to considering another set, all of which can go up to 500 degrees. Overall this set is a great value for the amount of pieces and quality you receive. We recommend it for a first set or smaller household such as an apartment.

What to look for When Purchasing

Minimum 18/10 Ratio to Ensure Quality

When looking at different cookware collections, you want to make sure that the ration of chromium to nickel is 18 to 10. The chromium and nickel work together in a synergistic fashion to give your cookware durability and shine. The chromium specifically gives the stainless steel a long-lasting quality with little rust, while the nickel works in concert with the chromium to give your pots and pans a great shine. With the 18/10 ratio, the higher you go the stronger the anti-corrosion property is, but you will want to be looking for this number as a minimum and was required to be considered for our stainless steel cookware reviews.

Well Made Lids and Handles

Since the stainless steel is so high quality, you’ll want to make sure that you find a collection that has lids and handles that match. You don’t have to look far to find special features that help handles stay cool or are ergonomic as many sets offer this bonus. The pots and pans can be on the heavier side and you want to be comfortable handling them. Also, depending on whether or not you plan on going directly from the stovetop to oven or vice versa, you want to make sure the handles can “handle” the transition. Avoid sets that feature rubber grips as these will easily melt in the heat of the oven. It’s also important to note whether the set comes with enough lids for your needs.

Aluminum or Copper Core

This one is important. While regular stainless steel is great because it won’t rust and is as durable as all get out, the heat distribution leaves something to be desired. It simply does not distribute heat well leading to hot spots in the cookware and burnt food. This is why when looking at nicer cookware sets, you will often see an aluminum or copper core which run the base and up the sides of the pots or pans. With the added core, you will have extremely durable cookware that heats evenly and is very sensitive to changes in temperature. This level of precision control is a big part of what makes stainless steel so sought after.

Advantages and Disadvantages of the Best Stainless Steel Cookware

The very best stainless steel cookware sets are going to share a few common features. These features are pretty universal when looking at quality cookware and deal with attributes like metal thickness, quality of construction and the overall composition of the metal.

Advantages of Stainless Steel Cookware

Durable Construction

When multitasking in the kitchen the last thing you want to have to worry about is fragile cookware that is going to quickly damage through normal use. One of the great things about stainless steel is that it’s incredibly durable and also dent and scratch resistant unlike copper cookware that can dent very easily. Steel tends not to chip, rust or even stain which makes it a great asset in the kitchen due to its low maintenance time after you’re done cooking. Because it doesn’t take on grease or stain easily, it’s very quick to clean and is generally dishwasher safer. Stainless steel pans cans also withstand high heats in the oven and be used as storage when sticking leftover food directly in the fridge. Basically, your pots and pans can take a beating and all you need to worry about is cooking great food in them.

Available at Different Price Points

You can pretty much find a great stainless steel set to fit any budget. Like anything else, the lower your go on price the more you will sacrifice in other areas. With cookware, you will most likely be giving up the thickness of the metal and a copper or aluminum core. The next thing to go is generally the quality of the lids and handles. We discuss these features in details below so you can decide how important they are to you.

Preservation of Flavor

With metals like those found in copper cookware, there is some risk of a leaching effect and imparting undesirable flavors into the food. Obviously, you don’t want a metallic flavor in your food and while this is avoidable through special steps with copper, when dealing with stainless steel, this isn’t something you have to worry about. Stainless steel is an alloy that makes it not only super strong but also non-reactive. This basically means you can simmer very acidic foods like tomato sauce and impart no flavor at all from the metal. Another issue you’ll hear people talk about a lot with cookware is a non-stick coating and it’s potential negatives when it comes to chemicals in your food.

With stainless steel cookware, there is no non-stick coating so there is no risk of any material chipping off into your food over time. You can use any kind of cooking or serving utensils you’d like without having to worry. And with a coating of oil or grease, stainless steel performs just as well as Teflon or other comparable cookware surfaces.

Heat Transfer and Distribution

With higher-quality stainless steel cookware, you will almost always find some kind of copper or aluminum core and/or base. Copper is well known for its abilities to retain and distribute heat, so when it’s incorporated into stainless steel, it becomes a very formidable tool in the kitchen. With a copper base, you have a much finer degree of control over the temperature of your cookware. It heats up fast and responds to changes in heat quickly, offering the chef precision temperature adjustments when cooking. It also distributes the heat evenly across the base or interior of the pan that eliminates any cold spots that can create unevenly cooked or burnt food. The best stainless steel cookware combined with copper or aluminum can really elevate your cooking and take your food to the next level.

Looks Good in the Kitchen

One thing that’s always great about well-manufactured cookware is that it looks great in the kitchen and stainless steel is no exception to this. Stainless steel has a sharp, bright shine to it that can really give your kitchen a very modern look while still being functional as well. The pots and pans can be hung from a display rack when not in use to create a stunning accent that gives the room the feel of a professional kitchen.

If you don’t have space to hang them, many of the cookware sets in our guide can be stacked inside of each other for easy storage. Stainless steel is very versatile and can help achieve multiple looks in the kitchen especially when paired with stainless steel appliances, mixing bowls and other accents.

Earth Friendly

If you are concerned about excess waste or your environmental footprint, stainless steel comes out in first place. While other cooking surfaces like Teflon can be difficult to recycle and can sit in a landfill forever, stainless steel is fully recyclable and easy to break down for repurposing into other objects. While it may not seem like a big deal, when it comes to waste every little bit helps.

Chemicals in cooking materials life Teflon have also been linked to female infertility and when heated, can produce some pretty scary gas that is bad for animals and humans both. With 100 percent stainless steel, none of the environmental concerns come into play. Not only is pure metal better for the environment, but it’s also an investment that is going to last you much longer as well.

Disadvantages of Stainless Steel Cookware

Even the best cookware is going to come with some caveats. In the interest of providing you with the most thorough overview possible, we present some of the more serious drawbacks of going stainless to consider below.

Poor Heat Transfer without Copper or Aluminum

While stainless steel coupled with an aluminum or copper core and/or base is going to give you some of the best heat distribution money can buy, if it isn’t made with one of those two, the heat transfer will definitely suffer. On it’s own, stainless steel doesn’t heat evenly which can lead to hot spots in your pan which you are forced to cook around and become quite a nuisance.

Nicer Cookware is Expensive

The better the stainless steel set is, the more you are going to have to pay for it. When buying, we always suggesting purchasing a set that is of a decent thickness and also has copper or aluminum elements. This will add to the cost, but we look at good cookware as an investment, and if it taken care of and cleaned properly, it can literally last you a lifetime. We have definitely made the mistake of going cheaper to save money and then needing to reinvest when the cookware gave out on us early. In the end, we probably spent close to if not more than we would have originally if had just invested in well-made cookware upfront.

Recipes Require More Oil or Grease

Because stainless steel does not come with any kind of non-stick coating, you have to add oil to the pans when cooking to prevent any major food from sticking. This is true for even the best stainless steel cookware. For us, this generally isn’t an issue as we add lots of oils and fats to our food, but it’s worth noting for those cooks who don’t.

Harder to Clean

Because they are not non-stick, and also because cheaper collections have more hot spots in the pan due to poor heat distribution, stainless steel can be difficult to clean. The hot spots can lead to parts of the food burning and sticking to the pan. It’s nothing that a good bit of scrubbing can’t take care of, but don’t expect the food scraps to slide right off like they would with a Teflon surface. You always need to watch out for rust, as stainless steel is more prone to rusting in humid temperatures. Again, these spots can be easily cleaned off, but if you live somewhere that’s extremely humid year-round, you may want to opt for another metal out of convenience.

How to Maintain Your Stainless Steel Cookware

When looked after properly, your cookware can last you a lifetime. If you followed our advice above, your cookware has at least an 18/10 chromium to nickel ratio that will keep your cookware free of rust, but you want to make sure that you don’t remove the chromium. This means staying aware from harsh cleaners that can strip away at the chromium film leaving the metal vulnerable to air, oxidation, and eventually rust. Instead, just scrub your cookware with water and a gentle scrubber made of plastic (stay away from steel wool) and let it dry thoroughly. Any chromium that’s been removed will reform naturally over a few days.

If you prefer something more natural, you can check out our post about cleaning pots and pans with lemon and salt. It’s a great alternative and is helpful for many different kinds of surfaces.

Remy Bernard

Owner and Editor at Miss Mamie's Cupcakes
A baker, chef and writer, Remy started as a way to deepen and spread her passion for making delicious food.