by Staff Writer
Stainless steel is one of the most popular materials for cookware because it is durable, non-reactive, and relatively inexpensive. However, not all stainless steel is the same quality, so you'll want to keep these tips in mind as you shop. When you know what to look for, you'll be able to choose the best stainless cookware set for your kitchen.
Look for stainless cookware with an aluminum core. While pure stainless steel cookware is durable and doesn't corrode, it doesn't retain heat well and can cook food unevenly. To solve this problem, stainless steel cookware often features aluminum or copper cores in both the base and side walls of each pan. You can even find a stainless steel cookware set that includes both aluminum and copper in the base. This helps your food cook more evenly and helps the pan retain heat when you add more food.
Buy 18/10 stainless cookware for quality. To ensure that the cookware set you're looking at will last, look at the types of metal used to make it. For example, an 18/10 stainless steel cookware set contains 18 percent chromium and 10 percent nickel and is considered very durable. Chromium protects stainless steel from stains and rust, while nickel makes chromium more effective and gives your pots and pans a glossy shine. The higher the numbers are, the more corrosion-resistant the cookware set is.
Find sets that include the right pots and pans for your favorite recipes. Though you may be tempted to buy a cookware set that includes the most pieces for your money, you'll want to look for sets that provide you with the pieces you'll really use. A basic cookware set will include a sauté pan or skillet for cooking meat and vegetables, a sauce pan for soups and sauces, and a stock pot for soup and pasta. To determine which additional pieces you'll use, read our guide on the best pots and pans.
Purchase sets with durable handles and lids. While the quality of metal in your stainless cookware is important, you'll also want to buy pots and pans that have sturdy handles and lids. You can often find stainless steel cookware with cool-touch, easy-to-grip handles, but you'll also want to consider whether you need handles that can go from stovetop to oven for the recipes you like to make. Make sure the set includes lids, as many recipes will require them for food to cook properly.
Remember that accessories are counted as part of the set. A 19-piece stainless cookware set for a low price may sound enticing, but remember that some of those pieces may be spatulas, spoons, ladles, and even recipe books. The price is only worth it if you really need all those pieces. Again, be sure to consider what you'll really use before you buy a set with lots of accessories.
Published May 31, 2011
Updated March 19, 2015