Regardless of your age, you know you've officially become an adult when you get excited about buying a cookware set. All jokes aside, this is actually a super-duper purchase: choosing a cookware set instead of lots of random individual pans will make your life easier in so many ways!
At the same time, though, choosing the wrong set can turn your kitchen into a living hell… and not just because of the heat. Let's avoid that. Here's how to choose a cookware set that actually matches your food habits and needs.
What Are the Benefits of a Cookware Set versus Individual Pots and Pans?
If we had to sum up the benefits of buying a cookware set in a single word, we'd definitely say 'practical':
- It's cheaper than buying individual pieces: it might sound like a big investment at first, but, if you start adding up the cost of individual pots and pans, you'll immediately notice the difference; plus, don't forget that this is a valuable investment that will last you for years!
- It saves you time: instead of having to browse dozens of individual pots and pans and trying to compare all their features, you'll find everything in one place;
- It looks cohesive: we all secretly want our kitchen to look fabulous, right? Choosing a cookware set is key to ensuring a smart, cohesive look;
- It will probably optimize your cupboard space: most cookware sets feature pots and pans in complementary shapes, meaning that you can easily stack their pieces or even store some of the smaller ones inside the bigger pots.
What's the Right Type of Cookware Set for My Household?
A cookware set is a big, bulky, and long-term investment! You definitely need to make sure that you consider these points before getting stuck with a 20-piece set that doesn't fit your cupboards or 6 tiny pieces that will require you to buy a new item every time you want to experiment with new cuisines.
Do you enjoy cooking? If cooking feels more like a chore than a passion, you should value practicality above anything else, and you'll probably find yourself using only the most basic and common pieces. However, if your kitchen becomes your own 5-star restaurant whenever you turn on the hobs… go on and treat yourself to a beautiful cookware set with lots of exciting pieces to try!
How many mouths do you need to feed?
To give you an idea, an average cookware set has around 10 pieces; don't forget that this number doesn't necessarily involve pots and pans only: items like spatulas and ladles are often included in that list;
a basic 6-piece set could work for a single professional and usually includes an 8" or 10" skillet, a 10" or 12" skillet, a stock pot, a sauté pan and saucepans with lids;
sets with a few extra pieces or bigger pots are more adequate to cater for larger families and households.
- What do you usually cook? As well as the standard pieces, consider these options if you often cook (or have always wanted to, but never had the right equipment!) certain types of dishes:
- A Dutch oven for stews and braised meat;
- A larger stock pot for soups or if you prefer to save time by cooking more portions to freeze for later;
- A wok for stir-fries and Asian-inspired dishes;
- A casserole for… well, casserole recipes (duh);
- Bakeware such as muffin trays or cake pans if you want to complement your meals with delicious desserts.
- How much room have you got? We all like to dream, but purchasing a 15-piece set when you only have a spare shelf in your cupboard is not realistic! If you're tight on space, go for smaller sets and make sure you check the measurements of their bulkier items;
- Is it compatible with your stovetop? Most of them are pretty versatile, but, if you have induction hobs, you'll definitely need to look for compatible stainless-steel sets;
- Do you want it to be dishwasher-safe? If you usually hand-wash everything, it won't be a problem, but, if you value speed and practicality, you'll need to check that the set you've fallen in love with is actually dishwasher-safe (most non-stick items aren't!).
What's the Best Material for a Cookware Set?
True, some might look shinier than others or be perfect for your décor, but make sure you consider durability, washability and practicality before anything else!
- Stainless-steel sets are durable, non-reactive and, usually, dishwasher-safe; you can also find a set for every budget, from the most affordable to fancier options;
- stainless steel cookware sets are very versatile and, although they're perfect for modern kitchens, they can work well with different décor styles;
- a popular alternative to non-stick options, stainless steel guarantees particularly tasty results when cooking meat;
- While ordinary aluminum is known to constitute a hazard because it can leak into the food, anodized aluminum is a safer, non-toxic choice;
* it can take a bit longer than other materials to heat up, but it's a fantastic heat conductor;
- lightweight but strong, it's also very durable, smooth and scratch-resistant, which makes it a practical alternative to non-stick models;
- however, it's better to hand-wash these pots and pans;
- like stainless steel, they're perfect in modern kitchens, but it's easier to find them in different colors too, especially the popular black design which works with lots of décor styles;
- Cast iron is a cheaper timeless choice;
- although it doesn't heat up very fast, it distributes the heat evenly and retains it for longer: you can easily bring a pot to the table without its content becoming lukewarm after a few minutes;
- however, cast iron cookware is rather heavy, and it requires more maintenance: as well as having to hand-wash it, you should periodically season it in order to protect it from rust;
- cast iron is the best material to give your kitchen a traditional, nostalgic feel; because these sets come in different hues, you could even choose one that matches your kitchen's accent color!
- Copper is a stylish and more expensive option;
- thanks to its excellent thermal conductivity, your food will cook in a perfectly even way;
- however, it does react with acidic or alkaline food resulting in an unpleasant metallic taste;
- a good compromise is to choose a copper cookware set with stainless-steel lining!
- copper cookware can be a distinctive element in industrial kitchens.
As for the inner surface, you can often find a different non-stick material, which makes cooking easy by avoiding the risk of burning the bottom of your food:
- Teflon: incredibly durable and named after the brand that invented it, this synthetic coating got a bad reputation in the past for releasing toxic fumes, but is now perfectly safe as long as you don't reach the maximum temperature of 500°F/260°C;
- Ceramic: this will be a better choice if you're after more environmentally-friendly materials; ceramic coating is praised for being even safer, although it might start to peel off after 4 or 5 years.
Both of these non-stick coatings can occasionally be deemed as dishwasher-safe, but handwashing them helps prolong their lifespan and non-stick property, which also makes them effortless to wipe.
We bet that you can almost smell the mouth-watering dinners that you'll cook with your new pots and pans! Let's just quickly go over the most important things to keep in mind when choosing a cookware set:
An average cookware set has around 10 pieces; 6-piece sets can be enough for single professionals who value practicality, whereas bigger sets are better suited for larger households or aspiring chefs who like to try different cuisines
Consider what type of food you usually cook, how much room you've got to store pots and pans in the kitchen, whether your stovetop has special requirements, and whether you want your new cookware set to be dishwasher-safe or not
While some materials can work better with specific décors, focus on durability and washability when choosing the right material for you.