What's the best cookware for induction cooking?
Clad stainless steel cookware is hard to beat, and we'll tell you why we think so here.
Quality levels vary considerably among makers, as do prices. If you want to invest your money well, it's important to educate yourself about induction cookware before you buy.
There's a lot to know, but we demystify your options, explain what makes induction cookware great--or not so great--and provide our favorite recommendations.
Before you get to it, here's a short video, made by the Belgian cookware manufacturer Demeyere, on how induction cooking works:
You can also check out our other articles on induction and induction cookware:
The Best Induction Cookware at a Glance: Sets and Nonstick Skillets
Here's a summary of the best induction cookware: the first table is clad stainless steel cookware sets; the second table is skillets (non-clad stainless). See detailed reviews of each below. With a set of clad stainless steel cookware and a nonstick skillet or two, you have about 99% of your cooking essentials covered.
Best Induction Cookware Sets (Clad Stainless Steel)
-3mm thick (excellent heating)
-Rivetless cooking surface
-Made in Belgium
-30 year warranty
-Insulated lids (SLT only).
-Heavier than All-Clad
-Smallest set is 10 pc.
-2.6mm thick (excellent heating)
-Many sets and open stock to choose from
-Made in USA
-Some people hate the handles.
Best Bargain Set: Cuisinart Multiclad-Pro
-2.6mm thick (excellent heating)
-Made in China
-Lower quality stainless than A/C.
-Super thick pieces
-Rivetless cooking surface
-75% more alum. than AC D3
-Made in Belgium
-30 year warranty.
-May feel unbalanced to people used to fully clad cookware.
Best Induction Nonstick Skillets (Non-Clad Stainless)
Best Nonstick Skillet Overall: Anolon Nouvelle Copper
-cast, anodized aluminum body w/induction disc
-Triple PTFE cooking surface
-0.5mm copper in base
-Rivets flush w/cooking surface
-Oven safe to 500F
-Limited lifetime warranty.
-PTFE coating will probably only last a few years
-Pan has steep sides w/smallish flat cooking surface
-Made in China.
Best Nonstick Ceramic Skillet: GreenPan Valencia Pro
-Thermolon™ Minerals coating
-Anodized aluminum body
-Oven safe stainless handle
-Metal utensil/dishwasher safe
-Oven safe to 600F (lid to 420F)
-Limited lifetime warranty/2 yr warranty on coating.
-Price on the high side for nonstick
-Ceramic nonstick will probably only last a few years
-Made in China.
Best Cast Iron Skillet: Lodge
-Excellent for high heat searing
-Made in USA.
-Slow, uneven heating
-Rough base can scratch glass cooktops
Induction Cooking Pros and Cons (And Why the Right Cookware Matters)
Quick Tips on Buying Induction Cookware
If you don't want to read the whole article, here are some quick tips that will help you select the best induction cookware for your needs:
- First and foremost, the cookware must have a magnetic base to work with induction, so be sure the cookware has this. (We go into more detail below on what cookware works with induction.) If you're shopping online, look for "induction compatible" in the writeup; if you're shopping in person, a magnet will tell you everything you need to know.
- Clad stainless steel cookware is a good choice with induction because it's fast heating, responsive, durable, and won't scratch the glass cooktop. Cast iron, carbon steel, and disc clad aluminum cookware also work, but we recommend good quality clad stainless as the best cookware for induction. (Again, we go into detail on why below.)
- Choose good quality clad stainless cookware, because lower quality clad cookware may make noise with induction; natural vibration of induction hobs can make the cookware layers buzz and hum; this generally doesn't happen with good quality clad stainless (and not at all with cast iron, because--no layers). Every brand we recommend here will work well with induction.
- Choose cookware with a flat bottom for the same reason: if the bottom isn't flat, you may get vibration and noise. All the brands we recommend here will work well with induction.
How Does Induction Cookware Work? (The Basics)
The basic feature of induction cookware is that it's magnetic: the bottom of the pan must stick to a magnet.
But there's a little bit more to it than that.
Magnetism: The Key to Induction Cookware
Most people in the market for induction cookware know that induction-compatible cookware has to be magnetic. That's not all there is to it, though. Here are some important considerations:
- The best induction cookware is highly magnetic--but only on the bottom, where the pan comes into contact with the burner. A magnet should not only stick, it should stick hard and fast and be somewhat difficult to remove. However, most cookware marketing/packaging now states whether it is induction-compatible or not, so the magnet test isn't as necessary as it was a few years ago. (And if you're shopping online, just be sure to search for "induction cookware" and not just "cookware.")
- It is also important to use pans of decent quality. You want cookware that's fairly heavy for a couple of reasons. First, heavy pans are more durable and less prone to warping, and this is important because the intense, instantaneous heat can warp thin, poorer quality pans. Second, very lightweight pans may not be detected by an induction burner (particularly true of inexpensive portable induction burners). If a pan is too light or its magnetic stainless layer is too thin, it may not work with an induction burner, even if labeled as induction compatible. (If you read Amazon reviews of inexpensive "induction-compatible" cookware, you'll see that many people complain that the large pieces work fine, but the smaller pieces don't. This is what's going on when that happens.)
- Also because of the intense, rapid heating of induction, it's important that the pan distribute heat evenly or you will constantly have to deal with scorches in your pan and burnt food. Again, this requires a fairly heavy bottom with a strong magnetic field.
- We also recommend that you don't bother with converter disks. They do a lousy job. They slow down response time, essentially turning your high-powered induction burner into a conventional electric stove. If you invest in good quality induction cookware, this is definitely now what you want.
Which Cookware Works on Induction Cooktops?
So, magnetic cookware works with induction. But which cookware is magnetic?
Here's a list:
Clad stainless steel. The most common stainless steel, called 18/10 or 18/8 or "surgical stainless" or 300 grade, is not magnetic. To make clad stainless cookware magnetic, an 18/0 grade--also called 400 grade--is used on the exterior of the cookware. 400 grade stainless steel is nickel free, which makes it magnetic.
Why isn't magnetic stainless steel used throughout induction cookware? Because it isn't as corrosion resistant as 300 grade stainless. Thus, most clad stainless cookware has magnetic stainless on the exterior and 300 grade on the cooking surface. (Some cheaper clad stainless cookware is all 18/0 and advertised as "nickel-free." It tends to be inexpensive and poorer quality cookware, so you don't want this unless you have a nickel allergy and are sensitive to the nickel in good quality clad stainless cookware.)
Older clad stainless cookware, made before the mid-1990s, may be all 18/10 and therefore not induction compatible. But almost all new clad stainless cookware is induction compatible.
Cast iron. Cast iron is magnetic, so all cast iron cookware is induction compatible. This includes enameled cast iron cookware like le Creuset and Staub, as well as bare cast iron like Lodge.
Carbon steel. Carbon steel is magnetic, so all carbon steel cookware is induction compatible.
Cookware with a magnetic stainless disc on the bottom. You will notice that aluminum cookware is not on this list. Aluminum is not magnetic, so it is not compatible with induction cooktops. However, many brands of aluminum cookware has a magnetic stainless disc attached to the bottom that makes it induction compatible. This includes T-fal Professional, Anolon Nouvelle Copper, and GreenPan Paris, as well as many others.
Which Cookware Does NOT Work on Induction Cooktops?
Any cookware that is not magnetic--or does not have a magnetic disc on the bottom--is not induction compatible. Here's a list:
Copper. Pure copper cookware is not induction compatible because copper is not magnetic. However, clad copper cookware, like All-Clad Copper Core, is induction-compatible because of the magnetic stainless exterior.
Note also that pseudo-copper cookware--those inexpensive copper-colored nonstick pans--do not contain any actual copper, and may or may not be induction-compatible. Like other aluminum cookware, they need to have a magnetic base in order to work with induction; some have these, and some don't.
Aluminum. Aluminum is not magnetic so if there is no magnetic disc, it is not induction compatible. Many aluminum brands of cookware do have a magnetic plate on the bottom to make them induction compatible, such as All-Clad HA1 and Anolon Nouvelle Copper.
Ceramic. 100% ceramic cookware, like Xtrema and Corningware Visions, does not work with induction (because, no magnetism). However, ceramic-coated nonstick cookware can be induction compatible if it has a magnetic base. Examples include GreenPan Paris, which is aluminum with a magnetic stainless base, and Zwilling Spirit, which is clad stainless cookware with a ceramic coating.
Does Induction Cookware Work on Gas and Electric Cooktops?
Yes. In fact, we think the best induction cookware--clad stainless steel--is also the best all-around cookware, no matter what type of stove or cooktop you have.
Why Is Clad Stainless Steel the Best Cookware for Induction?
We think clad stainless is the best cookware for induction cooktops.
When you combine stainless steel and aluminum, or stainless and copper, you get the best of both worlds: the durability and stability of stainless with the fabulous heating properties of aluminum (and/or copper).
Clad stainless steel cookware is as durable as cast iron, has the heating properties of aluminum (that is, fast and even), and is stable and non-reactive.
For these reasons, we think clad stainless steel makes the best all-around induction cookware. In fact, we think clad stainless cookware is the best all-around cookware period--so even if you don't have an induction cooktop, there are a lot of reasons to go with clad stainless cookware.
What About Cast Iron and Induction?
Many people use cast iron on their induction burners, and they love it. We think it's okay, but not great. Cast iron holds heat extremely well--better than anything else--and is durable, but it's got some drawbacks in general and for induction cooking in particular.
Here are the drawbacks of cast iron for induction cooking:
- It's heavy and can have a rough exterior, so it can scratch glass cooktops if not handled carefully.
- It heats slowly and unevenly, which is not ideal for induction, which is super fast--so you can end up with a lot of hot/cold spots if you don't allow it to pre-heat enough before cooking.
General drawbacks of cast iron are that it is reactive with acidic food, which limits its usability for things like tomato sauce and citrus-based sauces. This means you can't just reach for it every time you start cooking without thinking it through: if you're making something with tomatoes, lemon juice, wine, or other acidic foods or liquids, cast iron is not the best choice. Even if it's not enough acid to eat through the seasoning, these foods will take their toll on the seasoning, requiring you to season more frequently than you otherwise would have to. And if the acids do eat through the seasoning, it can impart a metallic flavor to your food; nobody wants that.
Having said all of this, there is definitely a time and place for cast iron in induction cooking (or any type of cooking). It's the absolute best choice for high-heat searing and deep frying. Cast iron has the highest heat retention rating of any cookware material, so it's the best choice for any task that requires cookware to hang onto heat and not crash when you add cold food to the pan.
Our favorite choice for cast iron is the always affordable Lodge brand: you can spend hundreds more on beautiful, artisan cast iron that will be smoother out of the box (and therefore more nonstick), but it's not going to heat any better because all cast iron heats pretty much the same.
Furthermore, all cast iron develops a smooth patina with use, so unless you have an unlimited budget, we think Lodge is the best overall choice.
See our article Cast Iron Skillets: How Much Should You Spend? for more information on differences between inexpensive cast iron pans and artisan cast iron pans.
Does Nonstick Cookware Work with Induction?
Most nonstick pans are aluminum, so they will only work with an induction cooktop if they have a magnetic base. If they're clad stainless, then yes, they will almost certainly work with induction.
However, our recommendation is that you don't buy nonstick cookware for your primary cookware.
You should have one or two nonstick pans that you use for eggs, fish, and other delicate or sticky foods. But the life span of a nonstick pan is short--it's estimated to be 1-5 years, and often ends up on the low end of that.
Even with moderate use and excellent care, nonstick frying pans don't usually last more than a couple of years. (Yes, there are exceptions to this, and taking very good care of your pans can help, but in general, you shouldn't expect more than a couple of years from your nonstick cookware.)
Nonstick pans are also fussy to use: You have to use utensils that won't scratch. You can't use anything abrasive to clean them. You can't put them in an oven--at least over 400F or so--because it degrades the coating. Aerosol cooking spray also degrades the coating if it's PTFE. And you should never, ever use high heat because heat kills the nonstick coating faster than just about anything else--and can possibly release toxic fumes, too, if the pan is PTFE.
Even if the manufacturer says you can use metal utensils, put it in the oven, and put it in the dishwasher, doing any of these will shorten the life of your pan. (In fact, most manufacturers who claim you can use metal utensils tell you not to in the fine print.)
But if you're a serious cook, probably the biggest issue with nonstick pans is that it's hard to get a nice browning on your food, or a fond in your pan to make a sauce with. Even if you use high heat (which--again--is a no-no), the slippery surface isn't conducive to a proper Maillard reaction--and browning is extremely important to add flavor to your food.
So yes, you should have a dedicated nonstick egg pan. We have a few recommendations here for our favorite nonstick and cast iron--which is almost as good as nonstick--in the table above and more detailed reviews below.
You can also check out our Cookware page for a list of articles we have on nonstick cookware.
What Is Clad Cookware (And Why Is It So Great for Induction)?
Clad cookware is cookware that has more than one type of metal "clad" together to capitalize on the best properties of each. Usually the cladding is done so the durable stainless is on the outside, with an internal layer(s) of aluminum and/or copper. Three-ply cladding, also known as tri-ply, is the most common configuration: stainless-aluminum-stainless.
Here's a diagram from All-Clad showing their tri-ply construction:
Clad cookware can have more layers, but this gets expensive without always creating a lot more heat conductivity. If you're interested in multi-ply cookware, you have to do your research in order to get the best product. It is not automatically better than tri-ply. (The Demeyere Industry 5 we recommend here is an excellent 5-ply option.)
Cladding is done by exerting a tremendous amount of pressure on the metals to get them to bond together. It is an expensive process, which is why clad cookware can be expensive.
Actually, prices are all over the map--as is quality. With the exception of the very top brands, most clad cookware is now made in China, with varying degrees of quality control. You needn't avoid all cookware made in China, but you do have to be careful about which brands you buy. We like and recommend a few brands, but recommend you steer clear of brands you know little about, especially if the makers don't give detailed information about the configuration.
If you want American-made cookware, see our Guide to Cookware Made in the USA.
What Makes Clad Stainless Steel Cookware Good Quality?
Good quality clad stainless is better than most other types of cookware for induction.
However, not all clad stainless cookware is created equally. Quality levels vary considerably among makers, as do prices. Poor quality clad cookware can warp, pit, and rust. And sometimes the inner layers of aluminum are too thin to provide good heating.
You can pay too much for inferior cookware if you're not careful (even for a few well-known brands).
This is why it's SO important to educate yourself about the clad cookware market before you buy.
Here are some reasons to buy the best clad stainless steel cookware you can afford:
- Quality control in Chinese factories can be poor or even non-existent, so it's hard to know what you're getting unless you choose a reputable brand.
- Layers can separate if not properly clad or if they're too thin, rendering pans useless.
- Inferior grade stainless steel can pit and rust. Cheaper pans can also have inferior grade steel on the cooking surfaces; there is often no way to know for sure, except by a company's reputation.
- Good companies offer lifetime guarantees on their products. Even reputable brands of Chinese-made clad stainless steel cookware has a lifetime warranty, so there's no reason to buy a brand that does not have a lifetime warranty. (Example: Cuisinart Multiclad Pro, Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad.)
You don't have to spend a fortune to get good cookware. If you're on a budget, there are reasonably priced options you can be very happy with.
What Do I Need to Know Before Buying Induction Cookware?
What are the considerations to choose the best induction cookware? These are the most important things to think about: heating properties, cladding design, durability and stability, design/features, ease of cleaning, and warranty.
We discuss each of these here.
With all cookware, the heating properties are the most important feature. That is, how quickly and how evenly a pan conducts heat and how well a pan retains heat. After all, this is why we use cookware in the first place: to conduct heat to cook our food.
Heating properties are a factor of what metal(s) a pan is made of and how thick those layers of metal are. There's a lot more to the science of heating, but the two most important properties are 1) thermal conductivity and 2) heat retention.
Thermal conductivity refers to how quickly and evenly a pan can spread heat. Copper has the best thermal conductivity of all cookware materials because it's very fast, even, and responsive to temperature changes. Aluminum is second to copper, and also heats quickly and evenly. Stainless steel has terrible thermal conductivity, but it's durable, which is why it's used on the exterior of cookware. Cast iron has poor thermal conductivity, meaning it heats slowly, unevenly, and us slow to respond to temperature changes--but this last thing is what gives it excellent heat retention properties.
Heat retention refers to how long cookware hangs onto heat. Cast iron has the best heat retention of all cookware materials because once hot, it hangs onto heat for a really long time. This is what makes it great for heat-retentive tasks like searing steaks and deep frying chicken.
Copper has fairly poor heat retention, which is another way of saying that it's responsive; aluminum is somewhere in the middle (between cast iron and copper), and this makes it good all-around cookware.
Stainless steel actually has pretty good heat retention, so when clad with aluminum, the result is versatile cookware that you can use for almost any task.
Also when looking at heat retention, mass is almost as important as material. That is, the thicker and heavier a pan is, the longer it will retain heat. A thick pan is going to retain heat better than a thin pan, regardless of what it's made of. (Most cast iron skillets are about 4mm thick, while most clad stainless cookware is less than 3mm thick--this added mass also aids cast iron's impressive heat retention.)
In general, heating properties are often a trade-off between thermal conductivity and heat retention. Good quality clad stainless steel cookware--that with enough internal aluminum and/or copper to heat your food evenly--provides an excellent combination of conductivity and retention that makes it the most versatile type of cookware on the market.
While there are other factors in high quality clad stainless cookware, cladding is one of the most important--so we'll get into a little more detail on it next.
Cladding can vary considerably among clad stainless cookware brands. That is, the inner layer(s) of aluminum and/or copper can differ in both quality and thickness. If the internal layers are too thin, the result will be poorly heating cookware with hot and cold spots and an inability to hang onto heat. Thin cookware is also more prone to warping.
Thus, the most important question to ask when looking at clad cookware is, "How thick should the aluminum layer be?"
The industry standard is All-Clad. Their tri-ply line (D3) is the cookware against which everyone else is comparing and competing. All-Clad D3 has an internal layer of aluminum that's 1.7mm thick. (We know this because we measured it.) This is enough to provide excellent, even heating without being too heavy.
Many other brands have thinner cladding, which is what makes them less expensive. (Lower quality stainless steel can also reduce the cost.) Demeyere, a Belgian company, went in the other direction and is trying to outdo All-Clad. Its thicker aluminum layers provides better heating as well as more resistance to warping--but it is also heavier.
How do you determine the quality of a cookware brand's cladding? It can be difficult, because often the information is not given (unlike when buying copper cookware, which you pay for by the thickness). We at The Rational Kitchen have done our own research, so we can provide the configurations of many cookware brands. (That is, we've actually cut open the cookware and measured it.)
So even if you can't get the information from the makers themselves, you can often get it from an independent tester (like us)--and you should, because it's arguably the most important factor in buying clad stainless steel cookware.
Full Cladding Vs. Disc/Bottom Only Cladding
Another important question about cladding is: Is it fully clad or bottom-only clad?
Some stainless cookware--such as Cuisinart Chef's Classic and Tramontina Gourmet Prima--is not fully clad but instead has a disc of clad material bonded to the bottom. Thus, there is no heat-conducting metal on the sides of the pan, just stainless steel.
(Aluminum cookware can also have a magnetic disc on the bottom to make it induction compatible--however, because aluminum conducts heat well, this is less of an issue than it is for clad stainless cookware.)
Full cladding distributes heat all over a pan. It makes a huge difference with a skillet because you often use the sides of the pan in the frying process.
For pans that you use primarily with liquids--e.g., sauce pans and stock pots--full cladding isn't as important. Natural convection currents in liquids distribute heat pretty well on their own.
However, there is also some excellent disc-clad cookware on the market, such as Demeyere Atlantis and Fissler. Most high-end disc clad cookware is made in Europe, where disc cladding is more popular. Conversely, most inexpensive disc-clad cookware is made in China.
Which Type of Cladding Is Best?
Largely because of All-Clad's marketing, most Americans prefer full cladding. And it's true that there are a lot of low end cookware lines that have disc cladding because it's cheaper to manufacture.
We prefer full cladding largely because the pieces feel more balanced than bottom cladding; in particular, the very thick bottom cladding of top quality pieces can feel bottom-heavy and awkward to use.
However, as for which is better, it's really all about personal preference. Disc-clad cookware can be just as good as fully-clad cookware, if not better. Demeyere Atlantis is some of the best clad stainless cookware on the market.
The more important factor is the design of the disc...
How can you tell the good disc clad cookware from the not-so-good? By looking at the disc:
- A good quality disc is several millimeters thick and spans the entire width of the pan bottom and extends slightly up the side.
- A poor quality disc is thin--not much thicker than full cladding--and has a smaller diameter than the pan bottom.
You can clearly see the difference in these images, which show a thick bottom disc (left) and a thin one (right):
Not all inexpensive disc-clad cookware is poor quality. The Cuisinart Professional line has an excellent base similar to the Demeyere Atlantis. If you're on a budget or for whatever reason want to buy disc-clad cookware, we much prefer Cuisinart Professional over other budget brands (such as Cuisinart Chef's Classic).
If clad stainless cookware is much less expensive than competitors, it's usually for one or more of these reasons:
- It may be disc-clad only (examine images carefully for a "seam" or look for phrases like "impact-bonded").
- It may be fully clad, but have thin internal layers of aluminum, meaning poor heating properties and the likelihood of warping.
- It may use poor quality stainless steel on the exterior, making it more prone to rusting, pitting, and other corrosion.
Durability and Stability
Second only to heating is durability. You want cookware that can withstand a beating in the kitchen and keep going. You don't have to worry about heat, utensils, the dishwasher, or how much abuse a pan can take. You want cookware that's going to last--and even stay shiny and looking great over years of hard use.
Stainless steel is extremely durable cookware.
You also want cookware that doesn't react with food and is impervious to corrosion and rust--that is, you want cookware that's stable and non-reactive. Stainless steel wins this category too, being very non-reactive with food or the environment (unlike cast iron, which can react with food if not properly seasoned).
It also requires no seasoning or polishing, and it will retain its durability and stability throughout its life--which should be several decades (or more).
You should have cookware that you love and that's a joy to use. This means you have to like the design and find it comfortable to use--and, that you like the looks of the cookware. If you don't like both the design and the looks of your cookware, your kitchen time may feel like drudgery. Nobody wants that!
Here are the design considerations we think are important.
Cookware can come with stainless lids, glass lids, or no lids at all. (Most skillets do not come with lids, for example.)
The best material for lids is stainless steel, for these reasons:
- Steel lids make the best fit.
- Stainless can go in the oven; glass may or may not be oven-compatible.
- Glass lids are more fragile, heavier, and can be harder to store.
You may disagree and prefer glass lids so you can see inside your pans without removing the lid. We've found that steam tends to make this impossible most of the time, so even the one advantage of glass lids isn't much of an advantage.
Note also that stainless lids are often an indication of a higher-end brand, while glass lids tend to be found on mid-range and less expensive cookware.
Handles present a number of considerations:
- Overall ergonomics: Is the handle easy to grasp? Does it cut into your hand? Does it feel unbalanced? In general, does it make the pot easier or harder to use?
- Short or long: Traditionally, skillets and saucepans have one long handle, but some instead have two short ones. A long handle makes a pot easier to grab, while short handles can make it easier to use in the oven and store. This is purely preference, but know that both options are available.
- Helper handles: Helper handles are short handles opposite from the long handle. They're called helper handles because they make it easier to maneuver heavy (and full) pots. They're incredibly useful, especially on larger sauce pans, skillets, and sauté pans.
- Silicone-coated and plastic handles: Some lines of cookware have silicone-coated or plastic handles. These are nice for gripping, but not so nice on a gas stove or in an oven. Although usually guaranteed to be oven safe, the silicone and plastic will wear out long before the rest of the pan. Gas flames will also take a toll. This is not the case with stainless handles--which we vastly prefer for this reason.
Some cookware has flared rims, which reduces drips when pouring. Other cookware has flat rims, which can drip more when pouring:
Some people prefer flared rims for drip-free pouring, but in our testing we honestly didn't find a great deal of difference. If a flared rim is important to you, skip the All-Clad D3 and go with Copper Core, Demeyere, or Cuisinart MultiClad Pro.
Rivets Vs. Rivetless
Now this one is important: Some clad cookware (Demeyere) has a rivetless cooking surface because the handles are welded on. This is a really nice feature because it eliminates the gunk buildup that can happen around rivets. Rivets are far from a deal-breaker, but a rivetless cooking surface is definitely a nice feature.
Ease of Cleaning
Most stainless cookware is dishwasher safe, which is a great feature. However, we recommend hand-washing all your cookware because dishwasher detergents contain abrasive materials that can dull cookware over time.
Stainless steel is not a non-stick surface, so all stainless pans are going to require some elbow grease if used for messy, sticky foods. Some brands are easier to clean than others, however. Demeyere, for example, has a proprietary finishing process called Silvinox® that makes them easier to clean. And rivets vs. no rivets is also a factor.
In general, though, stainless cookware is not the wicked mess that a lot of people believe it to be. If you heat oil first, then add the food, then wait until the food releases naturally from the pan before trying to stir or flip it, you will be amazed by how little your food actually sticks to the pan--and what does stick you can use to make a pan sauce.
No, it can't compete with nonstick cookware, but clad stainless has so many qualities that make it superior to nonstick that it's really a no-brainer for 95% of cooking tasks. You can use any utensils and any level of heat you want, because stainless can take all the abuse you throw at it and still look and perform like new.
Most brands of clad stainless steel come with very long--30 years--or lifetime warranties. Even many of the lower-priced brands do, including Cuisinart. So there is no reason to buy a brand that doesn't come with a long warranty.
You should buy a reputable brand name, as some lesser known brands may not honor warranties--but established makers almost always will (including makers of inexpensive cookware).
Is It Better to Buy Sets or Individual Pans?
There are good reasons to buy sets, and there are good reasons to buy individual pans. In the end, your cookware collection is likely to be a mix of both, as no set is going to have all the pieces you'll need.
Reasons to Buy a Set
- Because you're just starting out and need everything.
- Because you know you'll use every piece in the set.
- Because you want your cookware to match.
- Because sets are a good deal, even if you have to put up more money up front (and again, if you'll use all the pieces in the set).
Reasons to Buy Individual Pieces
- Because you don't want and won't use all the pieces in a set.
- Because you want different quality levels--for example, you want a top-of-the-line skillet because it gets the most wear and tear, but you don't want to pay for a high-end stockpot, which won't get as much use (and doesn't need to spread heat as evenly).
- Because you're adding to an existing collection.
- Because the pieces you want aren't available in a set (e.g., a roasting pan, nonstick frying pan).
- Because the size you want isn't available in a set (e.g., a 12-inch frying pan).
- Because there's a sale going on and you can't pass up the great deal you found.
One of the main problems with sets is that they can contain small, "filler" pieces that bulk the set up, but which you won't find very useful. For example, some sets have a 1.5 quart and a 2 quart sauce pan. These are so similar in size--and both small--that you'll use them for the same tasks, whereas a 1.5 quart sauce pan and a 3 quart sauce pan have very different uses.
Furthermore, large pieces are more useful in general than small pieces--you can use a large piece for a small project, but you can't use a small piece for a large project. So unless you're routinely cooking for just one or two people, larger pieces are better.
Our advice is to buy a small, 5- or 7-piece set of a skillet, sauté pan and sauce pan (including lids), like this All-Clad set. This is an economic way to acquire basic pieces that you're sure you'll use. Then you can augment with other pieces as you know you'll need them.
One exception to this rule, though, is the Demeyere Industry 5 10-piece set. Often, a 10-piece set has small, filler pieces that you won't find very useful. However, all the pieces in this set are really nice, including an 11-inch skillet, a 4 quart sauce pan, and an 8 quart stock pot. So even though Demeyere sets are more expensive, you really do get better pieces overall than you do from many other makers.
Remember: If the set doesn't have the pieces you want, no amount of saved money will make you happy.
What Are the Most Important Pieces (and Sizes) in a Cookware Set?
Whether you decide on a set or choose to buy pieces separately, the most important pieces--the ones you'll use almost every time you cook--are a skillet and a saucepan. You also need a Dutch oven or stockpot and a roasting pan. With these 4 pieces, most basic cooking tasks are covered.
What size pans should you get? Well, you have to think about how you're going to use your pans--How many people do you cook for? Do you entertain? Do you like to make enough for leftovers or just enough for one meal? Will you get more use out of a Dutch oven or a stockpot? Do you have other pieces that will take up the slack (like hand-me-down pots from your mom or an old cast iron skillet) when necessary?
But if you're trying to cover as many bases as possible with just a few pieces, here are our suggestions:
Best All-Purpose Size:
10-12 inches/3-5 quart
Dutch Oven or Stockpot
app. 20 in. x 14 in. (including handles; sizes vary by brand)
You will discover, as you use your pans, where you might prefer to have other sizes: a smaller skillet or saucepan for when you're just cooking for yourself; larger options if you're cooking for a crowd or meal prepping; maybe a good quality sauciér for bechamel and caramel. But these are good basic pieces in good sizes for the foundation pieces of your collection.
Review: Best Induction Cookware Set Overall (Heaviest): Demeyere Industry/Industry 5/5 Plus
Pros: 3mm wall thickness for superb heating, Silvinox@, welded (rivet-free) handles, excellent pieces in the set (no too-small filler pieces), optimal for induction.
Cons: Heavy, expensive, 10 piece is the smallest set available.
Other cookware makers competed against All-Clad with lower prices, but Demeyere's strategy was to make a better product for the same or slightly higher cost. We think they've succeeded with Industry 5, because their design is better than All-Clad's in several ways.
Demeyere introduced Industry 5 in the mid-1990s, probably to compete in the US market against All-Clad. You might also see it called 5Plus, but it's the same cookware. Demeyere has changed the name a few times, but the construction is the same--and it's excellent.
Demeyere Industry 5/5 Plus has three internal layers of aluminum sandwiched between stainless steel:
Industry 5 cookware has a total wall thickness of 3.0mm, with a total aluminum thickness of 2.1mm. This is about 25% more aluminum than All-Clad D3 (and remember, D5 has less aluminum than D3).
Being thicker than All-Clad makes Industry 5 heavier, as well. To compare, an All-Clad D3 10-inch skillet weighs 2 pounds, an Industry 5 9.4-inch skillet weighs 3.3 pounds.
It's not as heavy as the Demeyere Atlantis (reviewed below), but it's heavier than All-Clad D3.
This is why we have two "best overall" options: if lighter weight and maneuverability is more important to you, go with All-Clad D3 (or D5, or Copper Core). If you instead opt for top notch performance and don't mind that the cookware is thicker and heavier, than Industry 5 is the way to go. They are both excellent options.
Industry 5 has all the great features of classic Demeyere cookware, including:
- 3mm walls with 2.1mm of aluminum (about 25% more than All-Clad D3)
- Silvinox® finish for long lasting shine and easier cleanup
- Welded handles, which means no rivets on the cooking surface
- Flat base for optimal induction cooking and resistance to warping
- Grooved lip for spill-free pouring
- Shot-blasted handles for better grip
- Double-walled insulated lid (Sur la Table only)
- Oven safe to 600F
- Dishwasher safe
- 30 year warranty.
Demeyere Industry 5 comes in a 10-piece and a 14-piece set, and you can buy several open stock pieces available, as well. It's unfortunate that there aren't smaller sets available, but the 10-piece set does contain all useful pieces and nothing we consider filler pieces. So if you're looking for a set and need everything, the 10-piece Industry 5 should definitely be a consideration. Even the 14 piece set contains excellent, usable pieces, though we prefer an enameled cast iron Dutch oven--for reasons you can read about in our review of enameled cast iron Dutch ovens--so you may not get the use out of that piece, even though it's a great size.
The 10-Piece Set includes:
- 9.4 inch skillet
- 11 inch skillet
- 3 quart sauté pan w/lid
- 2 quart sauce pan w/lid
- 4 quart sauce pan w/lid
- 8 quart stock pot w/lid.
The 14-Piece Set includes:
With 2.1mm of aluminum, Industry 5 has about 25% more aluminum than All-Clad, giving it excellent heating performance. It is also extremely flat on the bottom to provide maximum contact with induction hobs.
Industry 5 is also oven safe to 600F.
Demeyere cookware is made with the user in mind. It has a lot of really great design choices. Some of the great design includes:
- Grooved lips for drip-free pouring
- Welded handles for a rivet-free cooking surface
- Shot-blasted handles for better grip
- Flat, level base for optimal induction use and resistance to warping
- Helper handles on all the larger pieces
- Double-walled lids to hold in heat (Sur la Table only).
Ease of Cleaning
Demeyere finishes their clad stainless cookware with a proprietary process they call Silvinox®. Silvinox essentially removes all the impurities from the surface of the stainless steel, which makes it easier to clean and helps it keep its silver-white finish for years and years.
Industry 5 also has welded handles, which means no rivets on the cooking surface. This not only makes the pans easier to clean, it's also more sanitary, as there's no way for gunk to build up on the cooking surface.
Nobody buys clad stainless cookware because it's easy to clean, but because of Silvinox and the welded handles, Demeyere is some of the easiest clad stainless cookware to care for.
Demeyere Industry 5 definitely belongs in the "Best Overall" category. If you want excellent quality and great performing cookware and don't mind the heavier weight, go with Industry 5. If you want lighter cookware and are willing to sacrifice a little on performance, go with All-Clad D3. (And if you really don't care about weight and are concerned only with performance, consider the Demeyere Atlantis reviewed below.)
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Review: Best Induction Cookware Set Overall (Lightest): All-Clad D3 Stainless Tri-Ply
Pros: Excellent quality, many set and open stock options available, made in USA, limited lifetime warranty.
All-Clad is the original clad cookware. It is made in the USA and it offers a limited lifetime warranty on all of its products. Every other clad cookware brand, including high-performing competitors like Demeyere, are competing for the All-Clad market.
All-Clad makes several lines of cookware. This review is for the stainless steel tri-ply (D3)--the line we believe to offer the best all around performance and durability of all the All-Clad lines.
All-Clad D3 sets come in 5 piece, 7 piece, 10 piece, and 14 piece. We recommend the 5- or 7-piece set if you want some nice basic starter pieces and the 10 piece if you're looking for a larger assortment. The 14 piece is probably more than most people need, though some of the pieces are really useful.
Note that the 12-inch skillet--a very useful piece and the best size for most people--is not included in the smaller sets. This is typical for most manufacturers (with the exception of Demeyere), but it's one of the reasons we recommend going with a smaller set, and supplementing with the pieces you know you want individually. In the big picture, it's more economical than buying a huge set just to get the larger skillets and sauce pans.
Always pay attention to the sizes of the pieces in sets. They're usually small, and you'll often have to supplement with additional individual pieces.
The 5 Piece set Includes:
The 7 Piece set includes:
The 10 Piece set Includes:
The 14 Piece Includes:
The stainless line has a 1.7mm layer of aluminum sandwiched between a magnetic stainless exterior and a polished stainless interior, with a total overall thickness of 2.6mm. This is enough to provide excellent evenness of heating.
As mentioned above, All-Clad D3 has the even heating that all other clad cookware is competing against. This doesn't mean it's the very best, but the performance is very, very good for how light and durable the cookware is. For overall even heating, All-Clad is one of the very best available.
All-Clad D3 pans are also oven safe to 600F.
Design (Lids, Handles, Rims)
Lids: All All-Clad D3 lids are stainless and fit snugly over the pans. The saute pan lids will fit the skillets. The lid handles have a nice rounded shape, easy to use and grip. They stay cool under all cooking conditions with the exception of high gas heat.
Note: If you buy All-Clad skillets separately, they can come with or without lids. If you want lids, make sure the skillet you order comes with one!
Handles: The long handles are grooved on the top; this has advantages and disadvantages. You can clamp your thumb into the groove to stabilize a pan while you're handling it, which is a nice feature. But if you just grip the handle, or steady it under your forearm, the groove can dig into your hand or arm uncomfortably.
A lot of people dislike the traditional All-Clad handles because of this. However, we like them: that "U" shaped design is there so you can stabilize the pot with your thumb, and it works very well once you get the hang of it.
Rims: The rims of the skillet/frying pans, sauté pans, and Dutch oven/stockpot are flared for easy pouring. The rims of the saucepans are not.
Ease of Cleaning
One of the costs of high-end clad cookware is the polished surface of the stainless steel. More expensive cookware generally has a more polished surface, which makes it smoother, and thus food sticks less. All-Clad D3 has a highly polished surface, so it tends to be easier to clean than less expensive stainless cookware.
Putting your cookware in the dishwasher will wear away the highly polished surface, so we actually recommend hand washing your stainless cookware. But in a pinch, you can certainly throw it in the dishwasher.
All-Clad D3 is lightweight, maneuverable, and yet provides great heating performance. You could go with more expensive lines of All-Clad, but you don't really get much of a boost in performance.
If you want maneuverability yet still great heating performance, All-Clad D3 is the way to go. If you want a boost in performance and don't mind heavier cookware, go with the Demeyere Industry 5 reviewed above.
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Review: Best Bargain Induction Cookware: Cuisinart Multiclad Pro
Pros: Good quality cookware at a very good price, lifetime warranty.
Cons: Made in China, not quite as high-performing as All-Clad, possibly not made of 300 Series (18/10) stainless.
Cuisinart Multiclad Pro is a Chinese knockoff of All-Clad. It has similar cladding but with a slightly thinner aluminum layer, so the performance isn't quite as good--but it's really, really close. So if you want something close to All-Clad without the high price tag, Cuisinart is an excellent option. The 7-piece set has a 10-inch skillet and two covered saucepans. The 12-piece set includes an excellent variety of pieces, including a steamer. Stainless lids are included for the saute pans and stockpot.
You can go cheaper--there are a lot of those options out there--but you won't find the near-to-All-Clad performance that you'll get with the Multiclad Pro set.
The company also offers a lifetime warranty, which is not something you'll find with a lot of other cookware sets at this price point.
The 7 Piece Set includes:
The 12 Piece Set Includes:
The Cuisinart Multiclad Pro Stainless Tri-Ply has cladding similar to All-Clad, but with a slightly thinner aluminum layer, which makes the performance less even than All-Clad--but still very good.
In our testing, we found that the Multiclad Pro heated as fast as All-Clad and only slightly less evenly; once it had a had a chance to even out, performance was virtually identical to the All-Clad D3.
All pieces and lids are oven safe to 550F.
One drawback of the Cuisinart Multiclad Pro is that it's probably not made from 18/10 stainless steel. We know this because Cuisinart doesn't mention the grade of steel they use, and at one time they did.
What kind of stainless is it made from, then? Probably a 200 Series stainless, which isn't quite as corrosion resistant as 300 Series (i.e, 18/10) stainless steel. But Cuisinart doesn't say, so this is only a guess.
In our testing, the stainless held up well. We hadno issues with corrosion, rusting, or pitting. However, it's quite possible that MC Pro won't hold up over time as well as a higher end brand.
The good news is that the lifetime warranty Cuisinart offers should cover any issues related to this. So if you have any problems, they should replace a pan at no cost.
You can read more about stainless steel at Wikipedia.
Design (Lids, Handles, Rims and Rivets)
The overall design of this cookware is excellent. In fact, one reason we really like this set is that it is as pretty as All-Clad. It looks like a much more expensive set than it is.
Lids: The lids are made of stainless and fit the pans snugly. They are as oven safe as the pans themselves (to 550F). The skillets do not come with lids, but you can use some of the lids interchangeably on the different pieces.
Handles: Both the long and the short handles are easy to grasp and hang onto:
The large saute pan has a helper handle. Unfortunately, there are no helper handles on the saucepans or large skillet--but few manufacturers include helper handles on pans of this size.
Rims: One of the really great design features of the Cuisinart MultiClad Pro line is that all the pans have flared rims. Even the saucepans have flared rims, which is great for dripless pouring.
Rivets: Handles are riveted onto the pans and lids, which isn't ideal because food particles can stick around them. If you want rivetless cookware, consider Demeyere cookware, which is a top notch and expensive brand we like and recommend.
Ease of Cleaning
The finish is (surprisingly) about the same as All-Clad, so this along with the rivets make the ease of cleaning about average. MultiClad Pro is also dishwasher safe.
Similar In Performance
Cuisinart French Classic (Tri-Ply): This is similar to the Multiclad Pro set, but it is made in France. It's higher priced than Multiclad Pro, but still considerably less than All-Clad. It's also gorgeous cookware, with swoopy handles and an extra shiny finish. If you don't want to buy "made in China," this is a great choice that won't break the bank.
Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad is another All-Clad knockoff that's extremely close in performance to D3. It's more expensive than Multiclad Pro but still a great deal, and made of 18/10 stainless. Be sure you're looking at the Tri-Ply Clad line--Tramontina makes several cookware lines and this is the one closest to All-Clad performance.
Buy this set if you want All-Clad like performance, want a lifetime warranty backed by a reputable company, and don't mind a product made in China. The Cuisinart Multi-Clad Pro is an excellent Chinese All-Clad knockoff.
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Review: Best Disc-Clad Induction Cookware: Demeyere Atlantis/Silver 7
Pros: Superb design and performance, optimal for induction cooktops, Silvinox® finish, welded (rivet-free) handles.
Cons: Heavy and expensive. Bottom-clad pieces might feel unbalanced to people who haven't used them before.
Atlantis is Demeyere's original line of clad stainless cookware, and everything about it is geared to absolutely superb heating performance, particularly on induction cooktops.
Only the straight-sided pieces are bottom clad; this includes sauté pans, sauce pans, and stock pots. The curve-sided pieces--i.e., skillets and sauciérs--are fully clad.
There is method in this madness: Demeyere designed their cookware this way because straight-sided pieces are used primarily for liquids, which don't need full cladding to heat evenly; and curved-sided pieces are used for solid foods and delicate sauces, which do require full cladding for optimal performance.
We love this design. It's thoughtful, and it makes the most of every piece of cookware. It shows that Demeyere has put real effort into coming up with the absolute best performing cookware you can find.
We also love that the magnetic steel is encased inside layers of 18/10 stainless: since magnetic stainless is less corrosion resistant, this design means the cookware is going to be more durable than that with the magnetic (18/0) stainless steel exposed. (This is what their "TriplInduc®" technology means: 3 layers of stainless steel.)
We also love that the smallest skillet is 9.4 inches--almost as big as the big skillet in most sets. So even if you go with the smallest size, you get a good-sized skillet.
In short, everything about Demeyere Atlantis indicates well-thought-out design.
Here's a diagram of the bottom-clad pieces:
Here's a diagram of the fully clad pieces:
Atlantis is definitely not cheap. But here's what you get for your investment:
- Fully clad pieces have approximately 75% more aluminum than All-Clad D3 or D5
- Bottom-clad pieces contain 2mm of copper, plus two thin layers of silver (the best heat conducting metal known to man)
- Rivetless cooking surface (welded handles)
- Silvinox® finish ensures long-lasting shiny finish and makes cleaning easier
- Optimized for induction cooking with TriplInduc® technology that makes it about 30% more efficient on induction cooktops than other clad stainless cookware
- Good sized pieces in the set, with an 11 in. skillet and 8 qt Dutch oven/stock pot
- 30 year warranty.
Atlantis is almost twice as thick as All-Clad D3, which makes it heavy. And, the thick, heavy bottom-clad pieces can feel bulky and unbalanced, especially if you're accustomed to working with fully clad cookware.
These design choices make this cookware incredibly high performance, and an excellent choice for induction cookware, but may not be ideal for the average American cook.
Is all this performance needed? It really depends on how serious you are about cooking. Some chefs, once they've tried Demeyere Atlantis--especially the Proline skillet--can't bear to go back to the "flimsiness" of All-Clad. Others find it too heavy, comparing it to working with cast iron cookware (and some of it really does feel that heavy).
So if you're really into cookware, or want the best of the best, or are in search of an over-the-top gift for someone who loves to cook, Demeyere Atlantis is a fine choice. On the other hand, All-Clad D3 is excellent quality, will last you a lifetime, and is much easier for the average cook to work with. Both are superb choices; it's really a matter of your preferences.
If you're not looking for a set and would rather buy piecemeal so you get exactly what you want, we highly recommend the Atlantis Proline skillet. Since a skillet gets the hardest use in most kitchens, and since it tends to be the piece that needs to have the best heating performance, the skillet is the best place to invest your cookware budget. And there is no better skillet on the market than the Proline. Its only drawback is that it's heavy, so if you have hand or wrist issues, this is not the skillet for you. It's a superb piece of cooking equipment.
Sur la Table carries a house brand of Atlantis called Silver 7: it's the same excellent cookware with double-walled lids. If you're interested in the Atlantis cookware, be sure to compare prices between it and the Silver 7 before buying--they are identical cookware.
For more information, see our article about Demeyere and how it compares to All-Clad.
Atlantis is available in a number of set sizes, including 3 piece, 6 piece and 9 piece. These are all unique sets with very different options.
The 3 Piece set includes:
- 9.4 inch Proline skillet
- 5.5 quart sauce pot w/lid.
The 6 Piece set includes:
- 9.4 inch Proline skillet
- 5.5 quart sauce pot w/lid
- 3.2 quart sauce pan w/lid
- Steamer insert for sauce pot.
The 9 Piece set includes:
- 11-inch Proline skillet
- 2.3 quart sauce pan w/lid
- 3.5 quart sauciér w/lid
- 5 quart sauté pan w/lid
- 8.9 quart Dutch oven w/lid.
Silver 7 comes in a number of set sizes, as well. Go to Sur la Table to find out more.
Demeyere Atlantis/SLT Silver 7 is top notch cookware; some of the best induction cookware around. If you can afford it, it will provide excellent performance for decades. Remember, though, that this is heavy cookware, so if you have any ergonomic issues, it may not be the right choice for you.
If you don't want a whole set, but do want to invest in one or two excellent pieces, the Proline skillet is hard to beat. Again, it's almost twice as thick as an All-Clad D3 or Copper Core skillet, but all of that heft means unbeatable heating performance.
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Review: Best Nonstick Skillet Overall: Anolon Nouvelle Copper
The best part about the Anolon Nouvelle Copper skillet isn't that it's affordable, even though it is. The best part about it is the disc base, which has 2 layers of aluminum with a 0.5mm layer of copper sandwiched in between. This is enough copper to significantly improve the heating: it's super fast and super even--and the fact that the body is cast, anodized aluminum means that the excellent heat transfer is going to continue throughout the pan, from rim to rim. At this price point, you're not going to find another pan with this much copper.
Here's an exploded view of the disc base, showing the aluminum and copper layers:
It doesn't stop there, though. This pan has a stainless steel handle for durability and it stays decently cool during stovetop cooking. The handle rivets are flush with the cooking surface for easy cleaning--this is a very nice feature on an inexpensive nonstick aluminum pan.
The pan has enough heft to feel good in your hand and to work on any induction cooktop.
It's dishwasher safe, but we recommend hand washing for the longest nonstick life. It's also oven safe to 500F. Anolon offers a limited lifetime warranty, though don't expect it to cover a worn out nonstick coating.
The one drawback of this pan is that it has very sloped sides, giving it a fairly small flat cooking surface. If that is a dealbreaker for you, we recommend the All-Clad HA1 hard-anodized nonstick skillet--but it's not quite as good as the Nouvelle Copper skillet.
If you're looking for a good quality PTFE pan that's induction compatible, the Anolon Copper Nouvelle is one of the best options out there.
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Review: Best Nonstick Ceramic Skillet: Valencia Pro
Nonstick ceramic is great when it's new--but it tends to not last all that long, so you don't want to spend a lot on it. You should spend just enough to get a pan with good heating properties, that you won't feel too bad about replacing in a year or two (possibly longer if you treat the pan well).
The GreenPan Valencia Pro fits the bill perfectly. There are cheaper nonstick ceramic pans out there, but they won't provide the quality, heft, and pleasure of use that the GreenPan Valencia Pro does. And remember: you need a certain amount of weight for your induction cooktop to recognize cookware, so if you go too low-end, you're likely to end up with a pan too light to work.
GreenPan makes good quality cookware, and Valencia Pro is one of their induction-compatible lines. It has a durable anodized aluminum body and a stainless steel handle that stays fairly cool for stovetop use.
According to the maker, it is metal utensil and dishwasher safe, though we recommend using wooden or plastic utensils and washing by hand. It's oven safe to 600F. Lids are sold separately (and you don't need a GreenPan lid, just one that's the right diameter).
The pan is a little high-priced for ceramic nonstick, but the quality makes this pan a joy to use, and a certainty to work with your induction cooktop. If you want to avoid PTFE but still want to go with nonstick cookware, GreenPan is an excellent choice--see our Ultimate GreenPan Review for more information.
The pan has a lifetime warranty on the body and a 2 year warranty on the nonstick coating, which seems about right to us (and more honest than the warranties some other manufacturers offer).
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Review: Best Cast Iron Skillet: Lodge
If you want nonstick properties without the potential health issues associated with nonstick cookware, cast iron is a great choice. And no worries about metal utensils or high heat, because cast iron can take everything you throw at it.
Or, if you want a pan for high heat searing, deep frying, or other tasks that require good heat retention, cast iron is a great choice. It hangs onto heat better than all but the very thickest clad stainless pans (like the Demeyere Proline).
In fact, we think a cast iron skillet is a necessity in any cook's kitchen. It's not as versatile as clad stainless, but what it's great at, it's hard to beat.
We like Lodge because it's inexpensive, will last forever, and is made in the USA. Most other brands of inexpensive cast iron are made overseas.
You can spend more on artisan cast iron. It's beautiful stuff, and it will be smoother out of the box than Lodge, which has a rough texture until repeated use fills in those gaps with polymerized oil (which is what seasoning is). But if you can live with the rough texture for the first several uses, your reward is saving hundreds of dollars for a pan with literally the same heating properties as the expensive ones.
Lodge cast iron is cheap, durable, made in the USA, and great for a number of tasks. For about $30, this pan will provide a nonstick surface that you won't have to replace every few years, and will put a sear on a steak like nothing else can.
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Other Induction Cookware Brands We Looked At
Here are several of the induction cookware brands we looked at that didn't make it into our top picks. Some we liked, some we didn't: an asterisk indicates a brand we like.
All-Clad D5: As high quality as D3 but more expensive without really adding a lot to the party. It has an internal layer of stainless which All-Clad says makes it their premium induction cookware. We disagree, and think both D3 and Copper Core are better induction cookware. It comes in brushed or polished stainless, though, so if you like the brushed look and are willing to spend more to get it, then D5 is a good option. See our detailed comparison of D3 and D5 for more information.
*All-Clad Copper Core: One of the few copper options that is also induction compatible. Also very high quality cookware but more expensive than D3. If you love it and don't mind spending more, Copper Core is a great choice for induction cookware. See our Copper Core Review for more information (and we recommend you read the full review before you buy).
Calphalon: Mid-range cost and performance, but glass lids make this set less desirable than Cuisinart MC Pro.
*Cuisinart French Classic: The build quality and performance is pretty much identical to Cuisinart Multiclad Pro, but this line is more expensive. It's also prettier, and it's made in France, so if you love it and don't mind the higher cost, the French Classic is a great induction cookware option. You can read more about it in our Cuisinart Clad Cookware Review.
Duxtop: Would love to recommend this set as the price is great and we love some Secura products. (Secura owns Duxtop). But we haven't tested it, so the quality of this made-in-China set is largely an unknown (and yes, we say this despite its many positive reviews on Amazon). You're probably better off getting fewer pieces of higher quality induction cookware that you know you'll use, or a set of Cuisinart Multiclad Pro or Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad for a little more.
*Hammer Stahl/Heritage Steel: A made in USA brand and excellent quality. If you want American made and don't want All-Clad for whatever reason, Hammer Stahl/Heritage Steel makes excellent, though expensive, cookware.
Le Creuset Stainless Clad: Not made in France. Not comparable quality to Le Creuset enameled cast iron. Probably overpriced.
Made In: So many people want to know more about this brand because it's gotten rave reviews and is a made in USA brand that's cheaper than All-Clad--although not much cheaper. They now include a carbon steel skillet in their stainless sets, so If you're in the market for clad stainless or induction cookware, you have to question whether you really want a carbon steel pan, presumably to replace your nonstick pan. It's an interesting idea, and carbon steel will last forever (like clad stainless), but it is not a straight-up substitute for nonstick. You may want to do more research before you decide. Also, MadeIn's carbon steel and nonstick cookware is not made in the US--they are both made in Europe. Which is fine, but it seems to go against the brand's "MadeIn" name, which implies that all their cookware is made in the US. Now any set you buy from them is going to have foreign-made pieces in it, as only their clad stainless cookware is made here. If it weren't for their Made In shtick and the fact they now make several products overseas, we would like and recommend this brand.
Magma Nesting Stainless Coowkare: This set of low-performing, bottom-clad cookware has removable handles and is designed for RVs and other small spaces. But if you have limited space, why not just get a few basic, good-quality pieces instead? Those removable handles are going to loosen quickly, and few things are more potentially hazardous than cookware without solid handles. Do not recomment.
Mauviel: French cookware with performance similar to All-Clad but more expensive. Not recommended.
Misen: Another direct-to-consumer brand that's gotten huge press in recent years. Unlike Made In, Misen is made in China. The cookware is 5-ply with a design similar to All-Clad D5. However, the cookware is a full 3mm thick--considerably thicker than any of All-Clad's offerings. If you like the looks of the set, or like the idea of getting a knife or two with your clad stainless cookware, Misen is an okay choice. But the 5-ply cladding with stainless steel in the interior doesn't make a lot of sense--why not put some copper in there, or even just more aluminum for better heat conduction? (Also, we can't vouch for the quality of the knives.)
Swiss-inox: Bottom-clad cookware with gimmicky "temperature management" knobs. Spend a little more and get Cuisinart MC-Pro.
*Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad: Good performance similar to Cuisinart MC-Pro. It's more expensive than the Cuisinart Multiclad Pro, which is why we didn't pick it as the best bargain brand. However, it's still considerably less costly than All-Clad. The 12-piece set comes with a large (12 inch) skillet and other large pieces, so it's actually a pretty great price--but you have to buy the 12 piece set, or bigger, to get the big pieces, and most people don't really need a 12-piece set of cookware. But if you prefer the pieces and design of this set, we recommend it. (See our detailed Tramontina review)
Viking: Some made in China, some made in USA. Expensive. Be sure you get the made in USA for best quality. Probably overpriced.
*Vollrath Optio: Good quality and decent price, but very heavy, bottom clad, not very pretty, and no lids are included. This is super heavy duty cookware, but designed more for professional kitchens (which some people might prefer).
Final Thoughts on the Best Induction Cookware
Finding the best induction cookware for you can be a challenge. You can spend a fortune and get top-of-the-line induction cookware. Yes, you'll probably love it, but with a little bit of research you may find cookware you'll love just as much for less. As long as you know what you're buying (and there's a lot to know), you can be happy with your purchase.
Do you have any thoughts or ideas about the best induction cookware? Please share in the comments section.
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