Practical nonstick cookware is popular with home cooks and experienced chefs alike. After all, cooking with coated vessels can prevent foods from sticking to surfaces, saving meals from ruin. What’s more, nonstick cookware often requires less (or even no) oil, resulting in lower-fat fare. Like its traditional counterparts, nonstick cookware can range widely in price.
Read on to learn more about these particular pots and pans so you can find the best nonstick cookware set for your cooking style, budget, and skill set.
- BEST OVERALL: Calphalon Classic Pots and Pans 10 Piece Cookware Set
- BEST BUDGET: Farberware Nonstick Cookware Pots Pans Set, 15 Piece
- UPGRADE PICK: All-Clad Essentials Nonstick Cookware Set, 10-Piece
- BEST BEGINNER SET: T-fal Ultimate Hard Anodized Nonstick Cookware Set
- BEST VARIETY SET: Gotham Steel 20 Piece Cookware + Bakeware Set
- BEST OVEN SAFE: Ninja Foodi NeverStick 12-Piece Cookware Set
- BEST INDUCTION COOKWARE: Rachael Ray Create Delicious Nonstick Cookware Set
- BEST FOR ENVIRONMENT: GreenLife Ceramic Nonstick Cookware Set 16 Piece
- BEST FOR SAVING SPACE: Calphalon Space-Saving Pots and Pans 10-Piece
- ALSO CONSIDER: Cuisinart Chef’s Classic Non-Stick Set
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Nonstick Cookware
While the appearance of nonstick cookware is a consideration, it isn’t the only factor used to decide on the best nonstick cookware set for your kitchen. Before choosing a product, think about the number of pieces in the set, the cookware material, cooktop compatibility, and the additional product features detailed below.
Pieces in Set
Cookware sets feature anywhere from three to 15 or more items, but the right set depends on your specific needs. Consider how much cooking is usually done and whether meals are typically for small or large groups. How much kitchen storage is available is also a factor.
Some key items to look for in a set are a 10- to 12-inch frying or sauté pan, a 3- to 4-quart saucepan, and an 8- to 10-quart stockpot. If moving into a first home or replacing an entire cookware collection, opt for an extensive set with varied options for pots and pans.
For occasionally preparing dinner for two, an eight-piece set that includes various sizes of saucepans, skillets, and a large soup pot might be enough. For serving up multiple meals per week for a large family, however, a larger set with up to 15 pieces offers more flexibility and range.
Nonstick pans can be made out of a range of different materials including aluminum, stainless steel, and copper.
- Aluminum nonstick cookware is the most common option available. These lightweight nonstick pans conduct heat well and work on most cooktops. They should not be used on an induction cooktop unless the nonstick pan has a stainless-steel base.
- Stainless-steel nonstick pans are another popular choice due to the low price, high durability, and versatility to work with any type of cooktop as long as the temperatures remain below 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Copper nonstick pans are considered to be one of the best frying pan materials because copper has better heat distribution and conductivity, making it quick and easy to heat up the pan. However, the superior conductivity means that these pans need to use insulated or stainless-steel handles to help protect the user.
Food slides easily from cookware surfaces thanks to one of two types of nonstick coating: classic or ceramic.
- Classic nonstick coating, officially known as PTFE (for polytetrafluoroethylene), was made popular when the brand name Teflon first hit the market in the 1960s.
- Ceramic coatings are made with ceramic nanotechnology—a fancy way of saying “very small particles”—and are considered the more environmentally friendly choice.
While PTFE tends to last longer than ceramic, the Environmental Protection Agency has found a potential health risk in overheating pots and pans with PTFE nonstick coating. At temperatures around 500 degrees, PTFE can release fumes that are likely carcinogenic, so those who cook at high temps may wish to opt for ceramic.
Unfortunately, ceramic nonstick coating cookware doesn’t hold up as well as PTFE and may need to be replaced within a few years after frequent use.
There are many different types of cooktops including gas, electric, halogen, and induction, and most nonstick cookware sets can be used on any type of cooktop as long as they are never exposed to temperatures exceeding 500 degrees. However, some nonstick pots and pans will have issues working with induction cooktops.
An induction cooktop heats the nonstick pan by transferring currents from an electromagnetic field that sits below the glass surface of the cooktop. Magnetic materials, like stainless-steel and cast-iron cookware, will heat up without causing the actual surface of the cooktop to heat up, but nonmagnetic materials, like aluminum, copper, and ceramic cookware remain at room temperature no matter how long they sit on the cooktop.
Handle and Lid Features
Handles can be made of the same material as the pan, requiring the user to have an oven mitt or potholder to lift a hot pot off the stove. However, many manufacturers have made the switch to insulated handles that are cool to the touch. The rivets from the handle to the pot or pan should be tight and secure, ensuring that the handle doesn’t shift or twist while being gripped.
The lids of pots and pans can be made of the same material as the cookware, and the lid’s handle can be a material that’s cool to the touch. Another popular style is tempered-glass lids that have built-in ventilation holes to help release pressure from the cookware. Non-vented lids aren’t a bad choice, but depending on the meal, they may need to sit awkwardly to provide a gap for ventilation.
While all the other factors on this list speak directly to the functional capabilities of the nonstick cookware set, the aesthetic appeal affects whether the ideal set looks great in a kitchen. Nonstick cookware sets are made in a range of materials, colors, and styles, so there is a wide variety of options to suit different tastes.
Consider the kitchen’s specific aesthetic and style, like one with full stainless-steel appliances and existing stainless-steel cookware. New cookware can match the existing look or stand out like brightly colored pots and pans inside a white, black, and silver kitchen color palette.
The decision about whether a certain color or pattern looks good or not is almost entirely subjective, so choose what you think looks good. After all, you’re the one who will be looking at and using the cookware day after day.
Cleaning and Maintenance
Beyond using it for cooking, cookware also is reheated, stored, and washed. So it’s essential to consider whether a set is safe for the dishwasher and/or microwave. While Teflon is microwave-safe, PTFE cookware is generally made of metals—and metal should never be placed in a microwave, where it’s likely to explode. Some ceramic cookware is microwave-safe, but pieces with any metallic compounds are not to be nuked.
Many cookware brands claim their products are dishwasher-safe. Just remember that nonstick coatings degrade faster at higher temperatures. To prolong the life of nonstick cookware, consider washing it by hand. Hard-anodized nonstick aluminum cookware is more durable than the typical aluminum, but even this improvement on traditional aluminum pans is better if it’s hand-washed. Avoid scratches to cookware by skipping metal spoons and spatulas in favor of wood, silicone, and nylon kitchen tools.
Our Top Picks
The top products below have been selected based on key considerations mentioned above, quality, and brand reputation. This curated list across various categories can help you find the best nonstick cookware collection for your kitchen.
It’s not always easy to keep a close eye on the food cooking in the oven or on the stovetop, especially when there are kids or pets causing distractions in other parts of the home. However, the Calphalon Classic nonstick cookware set comes with innovative pot and pan inserts that are specifically designed to prevent water and food from boiling over.
This hard-anodized aluminum cookware can handle temperatures up to 450 degrees, and the set includes the most common cookware types to equip any kitchen. It has an 8-inch frying pan, a 10-inch frying pan, a 2.5-quart saucepan with a lid and a no-boil-over insert, a 3-quart sauté pan with a lid, and a 6-quart stockpot with a lid and a no-boil-over insert. The lids have a built-in strainer, and the cookware has measuring marks and pour spouts for efficient cooking.
Available in a range of colors including blue, aqua, black, red, purple, teal, champagne, copper, and pewter, this affordable nonstick cookware set by Farberware is a great option to add a personal touch to the kitchen. The aluminum nonstick cookware set includes a 1-quart saucepan, a 2-quart saucepan, an 8-inch frying pan, a 10-inch frying pan, a 5-quart stockpot or Dutch oven, and a medium cookie pan.
This set also has four shatter-resistant glass lids, a spatula, strainer spoon, serving spoon, whisk, and a spaghetti serving spoon. Just make sure that the pots and pans are only used at temperatures below 350 degrees and that the cookie pan is used at a maximum temperature of 450 degrees. When it comes time to clean up, this cookware set is dishwasher-safe, so just give the pots and pans a good rinse before putting them in the dishwasher.
The All-Clad Essentials nonstick cookware set comes with an 8.5-inch frying pan, a 10.5-inch frying pan, a 4-quart sauté pan with a lid, a 2.5-quart saucepan with a lid, a 13-inch square sauté pan, two silicone cooking pot stands (trivets), and a 7-quart stockpot with a lid and a strainer insert. This impressive array of cookware is an ideal option to fully equip a kitchen in a new home with all the basic cookware necessities.
This nonstick cookware is made of hard-anodized aluminum that is coated in three layers of PFOA-free nonstick material. The heavy-duty construction increases the durability of the aluminum, but it’s the high-quality nonstick surface that allows the cookware to be used at temperatures up to 500 degrees. This set can be washed in a dishwasher, but the manufacturer notes that hand-washing is better for the nonstick coating.
This 12-piece set of hard-anodized aluminum cookware hits the sweet spot with not too few and not too many components. The budget-friendly set is perfect for folks with small kitchens, with just six vessels: two saucepans, two frying pans, a griddle, a Dutch oven, with corresponding lids and tools. It also comes with a slotted spoon, spatula, and ladle.
A built-in heat indicator in the center of each piece helps prevent undercooking or overheating, which can extend the life of the set when kept under 350 degrees, where it’s both oven- and dishwasher-safe (but a microwave no-no).
While this cookware set isn’t suitable for induction cooktops, it does come with an impressive variety of ceramic and copper pots, pans, and bakeware that can be used with any other type of cooktop. The 20-piece set includes an 8.5-inch frying pan, a 10.25-inch frying pan, a 9.5-inch square sauté pan, a 1.5-quart saucepan with a lid, a 2.5-quart saucepan with a lid, a 9.5-inch pan with tall sides and a lid, a steamer, a fry basket, a muffin tray, a square baking pan, a cookie tray, a round baking pan, a loaf pan, and a 4-quart stockpot with a lid and multipurpose insert.
Each pot or pan is equipped with a stainless-steel handle that remains cool to the touch during cooking. The durable Gotham Steel cookware set is dishwasher-safe and can be used at temperatures up to 500 degrees due to the high-quality, PFOA-free nonstick coating.
Ninja Foodi manufactures their nonstick cookware at an incredibly high temperature of 30,000 degrees, while standard nonstick cookware is only made at about 900 degrees. This means that the PFOA-free nonstick coating, the stainless-steel handles, and the hard anodized aluminum pots and pans can be used in the oven at temperatures of up to 500 degrees without causing damage to the cookware.
The 12-piece nonstick cookware set includes an 8-inch frying pan, a 10.25-inch frying pan, a 12-inch frying pan with a tempered-glass lid, a 1.5-quart saucepan with a tempered-glass lid, a 2.5-quart saucepan with a tempered-glass lid, a 3-quart sauté pan with a tempered-glass lid, and an 8-quart stockpot with a tempered-glass lid. Also, the lids for the 3-quart sauté pan and 8-quart stockpot are interchangeable.
Designed for use with any type of cooktop, including induction cooktops, this Rachael Ray nonstick cookware set is made primarily with aluminum, but the base of each pot and pan is stainless steel. Due to stainless steel being a magnetic metal, it can quickly heat up on an induction cooktop, transferring the heat from the stainless steel to the aluminum to completely heat up the pot or pan.
The 13-piece set comes in six different color options including teal, purple, gray, burgundy, light blue, and red. It’s a dishwasher-safe option that can be used at temperatures up to 400 degrees. This set comes with a 1.5-quart saucepan with a lid, two 3-quart saucepans with lids, a 6-quart stockpot with a lid, an 8.5-inch frying pan, a 10.25-inch frying pan, a cookie pan, and a spatula.
Invest in GreenLife’s nonstick cookware set to help reduce the impact that cookware products can have on the environment. With a recycled aluminum design and a nonstick coating that is made with sand-derived ceramic instead of relying on PFAS, PFOA, lead, or cadmium, this set is an ideal option for anyone concerned about hazardous chemicals.
The 16-piece set comes in seven different color options, and it includes a 4-inch mini frying pan, a 7-inch frying pan, a 9.5-inch frying pan, a 1-quart saucepan with a lid, a 2-quart saucepan with a lid, a 5-quart stockpot with a lid, a 2.5-quart sauté pan with a lid, a 7-inch stainless-steel steamer, and four nylon kitchen utensils. The cookware can be used at temperatures up to 350 degrees, and each pot and pan has a rivet-less interior to help prevent snags and food buildup.
Apartments, condos, and small homes tend to have one troublesome thing in common: small kitchens. A cramped space can make it hard to store dishware, bakeware, and cookware, but this stainless-steel cookware set by Calphalon can help reduce the amount of space required for storing cookware by up to 30 percent.
The 10-piece set is fully stackable, meaning that every piece in the set can be stacked up in a single tower that includes an 8-inch frying pan, a 10-inch frying pan, a 2.5-quart saucepan with a lid, a 3.5-quart saucepan with a lid, a 3-quart sauté pan with a lid, and a 6-quart stockpot with a lid. Due to the stainless-steel exterior, this nonstick cookware set can be used with induction cooktops, and the cookware is oven-safe up to 450 degrees.
This extensive but not prohibitively expensive 17-piece set of classic nonstick aluminum cookware is enormously popular, with good reason. It’s especially well suited to fat-free cooks, featuring a cooking surface that’s anodized (toughened up with a protective oxide layer) and reinforced with titanium, so little oil is needed to keep food from sticking.
Safe in oven temperatures up to 500 degrees (lids are safe up to 350 degrees), this sleek black set also boasts stay-cool handles. It’s metal, so the set isn’t microwave-friendly, but it’s dishwasher-safe.
FAQs About Nonstick Cookware
For more information about nonstick cookware sets to fully equip your kitchen, keep reading to find answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about nonstick cookware.
Q. What is the best nonstick cookware brand?
There are several top nonstick cookware brands including All-Clad, Calphalon, T-fal, and Rachael Ray.
Q. What are the basic pots and pans?
The most commonly used pots and pans in a cookware set include cast-iron skillets, sauté pans, saucepans, and stockpots. These sets can include roasting pans, baking dishes, and casserole dishes.
Q. What is the coating on nonstick cookware?
The nonstick coating on traditional nonstick cookware is known as polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), or Teflon. This chemical treatment is safe at temperatures below 500 degrees, though if the cookware is regularly used between 400 to 500 degrees, it may begin to break down prematurely.
Q. What type of cookware set do I need?
The type of nonstick cookware set that is best for you depends on your personal cooking style, the number of people in a household, and the type of cooktop. Avoid aluminum, copper, and ceramic if you have an induction cooktop, and opt for larger sets of pots and pans for big families.
Q. How long will my cookware set last?
Nonstick cookware sets typically last about three to five years. These pots and pans should be replaced when you notice signs of pitting or peeling.
While the kitchen is a place of creation, innovation, and delicious feasts that can bring the whole family together, it can be challenging to achieve great results when making favorite foods without a high-quality nonstick cookware set. Nonstick cookware products can be made of copper, aluminum, stainless steel, ceramic, or hard-anodized aluminum, but copper, aluminum, ceramic, and hard-anodized aluminum don’t work with induction cooktops.
Beyond the right cooking vessel material, the handles and lids also can make or break a set. This often-overlooked part can help make cooking easier with built-in ventilation and cool-to-the-touch handles that don’t require an oven mitt or potholder to protect hands from dangerous temperatures while cooking a delicious meal.