Shopping for the best cookware can be overwhelming because of the many different types to choose from. Differences in cookware varies from brand, size, materials, and functionality.
It is important to take some time to consider the type of cookware you need before you purchase because not all types of cookware are functional for every person.
In some cases, people prefer to combine different types of cookware so they can cook with a wider range of foods with ease. The first thing you need to do is find out what type of cookware sets there are available on the market.
What Are the Best Types of Cookware?
Cookware comes in a wide range of designs and types.
You can purchase stainless steel cookware, copper cookware, induction cookware, nonstick cookware, stone cookware, glass cookware, aluminum cookware, hard anodized cookware, cast iron cookware, enameled cookware, carbon steel cookware and others.
Here is a brief rundown of the best types of cookware for your kitchen.
Induction cookware is cookware that can be utilized on an induction stove. Please note that not all cookware is compatible with these types of stoves.
Only cookware that is made of ferrous metal such as cast iron or stainless steel will work on an induction stove. This is because these stove tops produce heat through a magnetic field that is created by adding nonferrous pots on the stove.
There is some induction cookware made of ferrous metals such as copper or aluminum that does work on these stoves because they are designed with a layer of non-ferrous metal inside or at the base of the pot.
If you have an induction stove, it is important to invest in top induction cookware or you run into problems with generating enough heat while cooking.
Induction cookware can vary greatly in terms of brand, materials, and design. You can get all sorts of pots and pans that are compatible with induction stoves.
Most induction cookware will function on a normal stove, so you don’t have to worry about replacing your cookware set every time you move.
The main benefits of using induction cookware is that it is compatible with normal stoves, thus saving you a lot of energy in the long run as the cookware produces its own magnetic field to generate heat.
The cons of induction cookware is that it can be quite expensive, especially if you want to invest in a quality brand or in a ferrous metal pot with a built-in non-ferrous base.
Best Stainless-steel Cookware
Stainless steel cookware is very popular around the world. Stainless-steel pots and pans can be easily identified by their beautiful chrome-like shine. These pots are often sold in sets and can include a wide variety of designs.
These cookware sets are incredibly durable, tarnish- and stain-resistant, easy to care for, and do not react with food and they heat rapidly. Most stainless steel pots and pans are compatible with induction cooktops, as well as, dishwasher and oven safe depending on the handle.
These pots and pans do not have a non-stick coating and are usually tougher to clean. In this case, you can invest in one or two coated pans for easier cleaning when you are cooking foods like eggs.
Best Copper Cookware
Real copper cookware offers a remarkable look due to the red sheen naturally produced by this metal. Copper is quick to heat, quick to cool down, and is highly durable if you invest in something thick enough.
The best copper pans should be at least 1/16 or 1/18-inch-thick, and these cookware items should be coated with something like a stoneware, stainless, or non-stick lining.
These pots and pans are ideal for all forms of cooking and can be used to cook all types of foods. The ones with iron or brass handles are also oven safe.
Copper cookware is expensive. The metal is also softer and tends to dent easily.
The metal can react with your food, which is why many modern copper products are now lined with stainless steel to make them safer to cook in.
These pots are not compatible with induction stoves and the natural copper does tend to react with oxygen resulting in it turning green over time. This green deposit can be removed by polishing your pots, but it is important to note that these pots are not dishwasher safe at all.
Best Aluminum Cookware
Aluminum cookware is a common type of cookware on the market because it is a good heat conductor, and the metal is very light.
These pots and pans are usually coated with a non-stick surface because the natural metal does tend to discolor and can affect the taste of food. Anodized aluminum is usually coated to prevent bitter tastes in food.
These pots and pans are usually very affordable, lightweight, and strong. It is also super easy to cook in and to clean, thanks to the non-stick coating it is treated with.
The non-stick surface can discolor some of the dishes you make. These pots and pans can also affect the taste despite the lining on the metal.
Some non-stick surfaces tend to scratch and lift from the pan if you are not careful when cleaning the pots and pans. It’s important to note that you cannot scrub or use metal utensils like forks and spoons when using these pots and pans.
Best Non-stick Cookware
Non-stick cookware is cookware that is treated with a non-stick coating. Just about any type of pot or pan can have a nonstick coating. There are a few different types of non-stick coatings that can be used to line pots and pans such as the following:
PTFE is a synthetic fluoropolymer that is applied in a thin layer over a pot or pan. Cookware with a PTFE coating is typically and remarkably affordable because these coatings are not ideal for cooking.
The coatings usually lift after 2 to 3 years and can cause all sorts of medical conditions such as kidney disease, immune problems, flu-like symptoms, kidney disease, and many others because of the lifting of the cookware.
A mixture of silica, oxygen, binders, color pigments, and reinforcing agents is used to create a ceramic coating. These surfaces usually look glossy and offer terrific non-stick capabilities. The ingredients are mostly non-toxic, but this type of coating can easily lift or shatter when a pot or pan falls.
Silicone pans are very popular for non-stick baking equipment. This rubbery surface isn’t used as a lining in cookware because silicone tends to discolor and doesn’t cling well to metal surfaces. Silicone coatings are usually used for handles of pots and pans though.
You can also get full silicone pans that can be used in the oven. These pans and bakeware are usually flexible and ideal for baking because of their non-stick surface and their ability to bend.
Porcelain Enamel Coating
Cookware with these coatings tend to be expensive. Porcelain or enamel coatings are often used in cast iron cookware. The product is very safe for cooking, but these pots and pans are fragile and can be damaged when you use metal utensils or steel wool with the cookware.
Seasoned Cast Iron Coating
Cast iron coatings can be beneficial for your health because it introduces iron into the food cooked in the pan. These pots and pans are also highly durable. These pots and pans tend to be heavy and you do need to continuously season your cast iron cookware, so it won’t rust after each use.
Anodized Aluminum Coating
Raw aluminum can react to your food and can make food cooked in the cookware taste bitter. The food tends to stick to raw aluminum surfaces.
When aluminum is anodized, the surface becomes smoother and poreless so food can no longer stick to the surface.
Agonized aluminum is non-toxic, non-reactive and heat resistant. This is one of the most common types of cookware available on the market and it is fairly affordable. Please remember to not scratch the surface of your cookware, otherwise the raw aluminum can be exposed and will affect your food.
Best Anodized Cookware
When you are shopping for anodized cookware, it is important to not invest in cookware with a PTFE coating. Both cookware can be made with aluminum metals, but the difference lies in the coating. Anodized linings are non-toxic while PTFE coatings can be toxic.
Anodized cookware is glorious to cook in because of the non-stick surface. It is also easy to clean and it is considered the most lightweight cookware. The cookware sets are very common on the market and are readily available at affordable prices.
The anodized coating of these pots and pans can be scratched if you use steel utensils for cooking or if you scratch the surface with steel wool or a hard brush. Once the surface is scratched, the entire surface will start to lift.
When the surface is scratched, these pans should be discarded because your food can be exposed to raw aluminum which is toxic to cook in.
Best Glass Cookware
Tempered glass can be used to make cookware. This cookware is highly durable and can handle high temperatures. Glass cookware is also very beautiful because there are so many designs and different colors to choose from.
The glass is beautiful, and it is a non-toxic product that won’t alter the taste of your food. Glass cookware is naturally non-stick due to the smooth surface.
Glass cookware can break when you drop it. Rapid temperature changes can also cause your cookware to crack or break. Glass cookware can become stained by certain foods or by temperature.
Best Cast Iron Cookware
If you are not fond of non-stick coatings that tend to lift, you should consider cast iron cookware. Cast iron is naturally non-stick and this type of cookware is highly durable, if you properly care and season your pots before the first use.
These pots and pans are naturally non-stick and can handle extreme temperatures. This cookware can retain temperatures longer so food can stay warm for much longer. This cookware is extremely durable.
Cast iron cookware can be very heavy and hard to clean, which makes it impractical for everyday cooking. It is not dishwasher safe and the frying pans do not cook evenly. The pots should be seasoned before the first use.
Best Enameled Cookware
Enamel is often used as a coating inside other pots such as cast iron, aluminum, or stainless-steel pots and pans. Enamel cookware heats up slowly and retains heat well to keep your food warm. Porcelain enamel can be combined with all sorts of colors to create beautiful and vivid cookware sets.
This coating is highly durable, and it is dishwasher safe. The coating is also corrosion resistant and can withstand extremely high temperatures of over 500 degrees F. These pots and pans are also very stylish due to their vivid colors.
Enamel pots and pans are very heavy. The enamel coating can also chip if you drop the pot or pan because the enamel will likely be exposed to direct flames and discolor from the gas stoves.
Best Carbon Steel Cookware
Carbon steel or blue steel cookware is very popular amongst professional chefs because this type of cookware is so durable. They are perfect for high-performance cooking because the cookware is quick to heat up and are perfect for all types of stovetops.
This type of pots and pans are perfect for all stovetops and the materials used are non-toxic. There is no surface that can peel off or scratch off the material. These pots and pans are also easy to clean by wiping off food particles with paper towels.
The cookware is not dishwasher safe. Ideally, you should only wipe this cookware with paper towels, but you can also hand wash it with mild soap and a soft brush. These pots and pans must also be seasoned before the first use.
Best Stone Cookware
Stoneware cookware is relatively new on the market. This type of cookware is made of clay. Stoneware cookware is toxic-free, but high-quality stoneware needs to undergo several processes before it reaches its final form.
Not all stoneware cookware can be used on a stovetop. Be sure to look for a set that can work for ovens and stove, so your pieces do not shatter when you transfer it from one to another.
These pots and pans offer the same cooking benefits as the cast iron but are extremely lighter. The clay retains heat very well and these cookware sets are usually quite charming because stoneware cookware can be produced in many different designs and colors. It also features a non-stick surface.
The pots and pans can crack if it is suddenly exposed to an extremely high or low temperature. Pieces that are not designed for stovetops can also crack and break if you place it on a stovetop. Stoneware can obviously break if you drop them.
Best Backpacking Cookware
Backpacking cookware is specially designed to be light and portable. There are many different brands out there that offer backpacking cookware sets with different sizes.
Ultimately, these sets are designed with smaller pots and pans that fit inside a bigger pot and pan to create a portable and light set. These sets usually include multiple pots, pans, and even cutlery with folding handles made of titanium or anodized aluminum.
The sets are designed to be light and compact. Most sets include multiple pots and pans that fit inside each other to save some space in your backpack. These sets are usually treated with a non-stick surface to ease cleaning while you are out and about in the wilderness.
The cookware sets are usually small and only serve 1 to 2 people. You typically don’t receive many lids and the handles that are not heat protected. The sets are also super basic in terms of design as the smaller pots need to fit inside bigger ones.
Best Camp Cookware
Like backpacking cookware sets, camp cookware is designed to be very light, compact, and portable. These sets are usually bigger than your average backpacking sets.
Camp cookware varies greatly in size and is made using all sorts of materials. Today, you can even get collapsible silicone cookware with steel bases. This type of cookware can be used over an open fire or gas stove.
The cookware sets are usually minimalistic with just a few basic pots and pans that are designed to be light and compact during camping trips.
The sets are compact and very portable. These sets are usually made of lighter materials, and the smaller pots usually fit inside larger pots to reduce space. Camping sets may include utensils and cutlery. Most of these sets are made of durable and impact-resistant materials.
These sets can be pricey compared to your average cookware because it is specially designed for portability. The handles are usually collapsible and often don’t offer any heat protection. The cookware sets tend to be very small and usually don’t offer the same style you would want for a kitchen.
Other Things to Consider When It Comes to Cookware
Materials are the not the most important factor to consider when you are shopping for the best cookware sets. The following items can also affect your final purchasing decision:
Cookware can be fitted with all sorts of handles. It is important to find a set with a decent handle that is heat resistant. Plastic handles are heat resistant, but it cannot be used inside the oven.
Some cookware with cast iron handles is incredibly durable and can be used in the oven, but these tend to be extremely hot to the touch. Ultimately, the best handle is one that won’t fall off after a year or two of usage. It is much easier to grab a mitten than it is to try and weld a handle back on.
Cookware pieces can greatly vary between each set. You can get all sorts of pieces such as skillets, saucepans, frying pans, Dutch ovens, roasting pans, baking sheets, and many others.
If you are shopping for a skillet, be sure to get the best ovenproof skillet so you can use it on top of the stove or inside your oven without any risk of the handles melting or burning. The same goes for other types of cooking tools such as pans that you might want to use inside the oven.
Cookware lids vary a lot as well. You can invest in glass lids that allow you to see the food while cooking or solid lids that are made of the same materials as the rest of the pot.
Cookware lids can also be fitted with all sorts of accessories such as decompression holes or thermometers. These accessories can make the cooking process much easier.
There are many different types of cookware sets available on the market. Shopping for the perfect set is a part of all the fun!
The best thing you can do when purchasing a good set of cookware is to consider all the pros and cons of each set before you buy. A list of pros and cons would usually give you a good idea of whether the set will work well for you or not.
Once you have decided on the main types of cookware to buy, it is up to you to decide on which brand, lids, accessories, and handles fits your cooking needs the best.
If you are still having a tough time choosing which set is best for you, you should check out some of our other guides where we discuss in detail and compare cookware sets that you can buy right now.