Looking for the best induction cookware? Quality levels vary considerably among makers, as do prices. You can end up paying too much for an inferior brand if you're not careful. This is why it's SO important to educate yourself about the clad cookware market before you buy.
There's a lot to know, but we demystify your options, explain what makes induction cookware great, and provide our favorite recommendations.
Here at TRK, we're kind of cookware fanatics. We have more cookware than anyone could ever possibly need. But along the way, we've learned a few things, and we're going to share that wisdom.
This post is about induction cookware, but take note: all induction-compatible cookware will work with other heating methods, which means that "good quality induction cookware" is synonymous with "good quality cookware." Therefore, this article is applicable to all readers, even if you don't have an induction cooktop, stove, or portable burner.
"Good quality induction cookware" is synonymous with "good quality cookware." So even if you don't have an induction cooktop, this article can help you find a really nice set of clad stainless cookware.
Before you get to it, here's a short video, made by the Belgian cookware manufacturer Demeyere, on how induction cooking works:
Also check out our other articles on induction products and induction cooking:
If you don't see what you're looking for, check out all of our articles on induction cooking here.
Best Induction Cookware Recommendations at a Glance
This is the short list of our favorite induction cookware. For details, keep reading or scroll down.
Made in USA, lifetime warranty.
Best Bargain Set: Cuisinart Multiclad-Pro
Lifetime warranty, great price.
Made in China, possibly not 18/10 stainless.
Over the top: Demeyere Atlantis
Rivetless, Silvinox® finish, app. 75% more alum. than AC D3.
Best Individual Pieces
Best Skillet: Demeyere Proline
Superb heating, rivetless, Silvinox, designed for induction.
Best Sauce Pan: Cuisinart MC-Pro
Flared rim, stainless lid.
Made in China.
Best Nonstick Skillet: Anolon Nouvelle
Cast aluminum, copper in base for superb heating, induction compatible, inexpensive.
Smallish flat cooking surface.
Best Stock Pot: Cuisinart MC Pro
Nice wide design, flared rim, stainless lid, inexpensive.
Made in China.
Best Roasting Pan: Cuisinart Chef's Classic
Stainless rack included.
Made in China.
Best Dutch oven:
Durable. Heavy lid for braising. Made in France. Lifetime warranty.
Induction Cookware Basics: What You Need to Know
Most people in the market for induction cookware know by now that induction-compatible cookware has to be magnetic. There's a little more to it than that, though. Here are some important considerations:
- In fact, induction cookware must be 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.")
- The intense heat of induction burners is hard on pans, so it's important to use pans of decent quality. That is, heavy-bottomed and not prone to warping. Thin-walled pans can warp easily from the high, instantaneous heat of an induction burner, and once warped, pans are useless for induction cooking. (Warped pans are also often the culprit behind complaints about buzzing and hissing of induction burners. A pan needs to make good, all-over contact with an induction burner for best results.)
- Also because of the intense, rapid heat, 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 flat, heavy bottom made of a highly magnetic material.
- Also, 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--and a mediocre one, at that. This is true regardless of how great the cookware you put on it is.
This pretty much leaves us with two choices: clad stainless steel and cast iron. We like clad stainless for most pieces and cast iron for Dutch ovens. For nonstick skillets--the only nonstick piece we recommend--we like cast aluminum with a stainless disk on the bottom.
We'll discuss each of these here.
Heating Properties: What It's All About
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.
Heating properties are a factor of what metal(s) a pan is made of and how thick those layers of metal are. (NOTE: Since induction cookware has to be magnetic, we are not including non-metal cookware such as glass.)
For example, a pan with a 1.0mm thick layer of aluminum is going to have better heating properties than a pan with a 0.5mm thick layer of aluminum. There's more to it than that, but this is the basic formula.
As for heat retention, mass is almost as important as material. That is, the heavier a pan is, the longer it will retain heat. This is why cast iron pans are known for excellent heat retention. Thus, a thick pan is going to retain heat better than a thin pan, regardless of what it's made of.
In general, heat retention is good, although it is often a trade-off between speed of heating and heat retention. If you're going for heat retention--such as for searing a steak, where hanging onto heat is crucial--use cast iron. If you're looking more for evenness and speed, then clad stainless, aluminum, or copper are better options.
Reactivity with food is something you don't want. So a low rating means the material is reactive with food. For example, stainless steel is one of the most non-reactive metals known to man, so it gets a 5 star rating in this category. Aluminum, copper, and cast iron all react with food, so they get lower ratings. (You do not want your cookware to react with your food. It can impart a metallic taste.) In fact, this lack of reactivity is one of the factors that makes stainless cookware so great.
Durability is important, too, but it's kind of a by-product of having great heating properties because the thicker layers found in pans with excellent heating properties also make for more durable cookware. Having said that, it's also true that stainless and cast iron are simply more durable materials than copper and aluminum, which are softer metals that wear faster (and also react with food). Durability is another reason clad stainless cookware is so desirable.
Finally, induction compatibility: not all metals are induction compatible, which is yet another reason that clad stainless is the best cookware for induction.
This table highlights the important properties of the most popular cookware metals:
Cookware Metals at a Glance
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Yes (if exterior is 18/0 stainless).
No (unless it has stainless disk).
Many people use cast iron on their induction burners, with varying results. It's heavy and can scratch glass cooktops if not handled carefully. It heats slowly and unevenly, which is not ideal for induction. However, if you give cast iron enough time to heat throughout, it makes a good companion for induction cooktops.
What Is Clad Cookware?
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, a layer of 18/10 stainless on the cooking surface, 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:
Some cookware has 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.
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 is expensive.
Actually, prices are all over the map--as is the quality. With the exception of the very top brands (i.e., All-Clad, which is made in the USA and Demeyere, made in Belgium), 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 recommend a few in the Reviews section.
Is Clad Cookware Better than Other Cookware?
Copper, aluminum, cast iron, carbon steel, stainless: Let's see how they all stack up.
Copper cookware is considered the holy grail of cookware. But other than All Clad Copper Core, which has a relatively thin internal layer of copper (and thus can't compete with "real" copper brands like Mauviel and Falk), copper is not induction compatible. (There are a few other stainless brands with a copper interior, but we we'll discuss them in another article.) Copper is also beautiful, but it requires a fair amount of maintenance (i.e., polishing two-three times a year) to keep it that way.
Aluminum cookware is soft so it scratches easily, and it reacts with acidic food, sometimes imparting off flavors. It is also not induction compatible unless it has a stainless disc on the bottom (which also improves durability in that it helps prevent warping). Some people are also concerned about the possible link between aluminum ingestion and Alzheimer's (though there is no substantial evidence that this is the case).
Cast iron and carbon steel are extremely durable and induction compatible, but they heat slowly and unevenly, and they can react with acidic foods, creating odd metallic flavors. If you need heat retention, cast iron is the way to go--and to a somewhat lesser degree carbon steel--as it hangs onto heat like no other cookware does. But for general purpose cookware, it isn't always a good choice, especially with induction because the fast heating can cause a lot of unevenness before the pan heats through. (Enameled cast iron does not react with food, but has the same heating properties, so it's excellent for many tasks, but will still be slow and have a hard time keeping up with induction hobs.)
That leaves us with clad stainless cookware, which we believe is better for general, daily use than other types of cookware. It has good heating properties, it's durable, it's nonreactive with food, and it is induction compatible.
Therefore, good brands of clad stainless are better than most other types of cookware, especially if you need induction compatibility. It's about the best all-around cookware there is.
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 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--and remember that no induction-compatible pans are 100% 18/10 stainless, regardless of marketing claims. 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 (such as All-Clad) offer lifetime guarantees on their products.
Don't worry: you don't have to spend a fortune to get good cookware--we promise! If you're on a budget, there are reasonably priced options you can be very happy with. best induction cookware
About Nonstick Cookware
Do yourself a favor, and don't buy nonstick cookware for your primary pans.
Okay, yes, you should have one nonstick pan that you use for eggs, fish, and other delicate foods. But the life span of a nonstick pan is short--very, very short. Even with only moderate use, nonstick frying pans don't usually last more than a couple of years.
They are fussy to use: you must be very, very careful with them. You have to use utensils that won't scratch the pan. You can't use anything abrasive to clean them. You can't put them in an oven because it degrades the coating. Aerosol cooking sprays also degrade the coating. And you shouldn't use them with high heat settings because they'll age the pan faster and possibly release toxic fumes.
Even if the manufacturer says you can use metal utensils, put it in the oven, and put it in the dishwasher, doing so will shorten the life of your pan even more.
The high heat issue isn't as true for the newer, ceramic (non-PTFE) pans, which use a different nonstick technology. But the ceramics tend to lose their nonstick properties even faster than the plastic-based (PTFE) pans.
Probably the biggest issue with nonstick pans is that it's very hard to get a nice browning on your food. Even if you use high heat (which--again--is a no-no), the slippery surface isn't conducive to a proper Maillard reaction. So why would you want to use a nonstick pan for anything that you wanted to brown?
So yes, you should have a dedicated nonstick egg pan, like the ones shown here. But for everything else, stainless is the best option. best induction cookware
What Are the Basic Types of Pans?
Just so we're on the same page with terminology, here are the basic types of cookware:
Frying, sauteeing, browning, searing. Usually comes w/out lid.
Boiling, pasta-making, heating. The other all-purpose pan, doing most things a skillet is not used for. Most kitchens benefit from having at least two saucepans in small and medium/large sizes.
Sauteeing, browning, searing, and shallow braises (e.g., cooking greens). Similar to skillet but comes with lid.
Stews, braising, casseroles, soups, stocks. Because most Dutch oven task require holding onto heat, we like cast iron for this piece--and enameled cast iron is the most durable and nonreactive.
Stock-making, soup-making, boiling pasta and other large quantities of liquids.
Reducing liquids, curved sides for ease of whisking. Similar: Chef's pan, Windsor pan.
Placed over saucepan to steam foods.
Cook gently over steam heat. Used for heat-sensitive, easily-scorched foods (e.g., hollandaise sauce, melting chocolate).
Eggs, fish, and other delicate foods. Note dark, nonstick coating--should not be main skillet.
Oven-roasting. Can come with or without rack shown here.
There is some overlap of use in the different pans. Often, the pan you use is about personal preference. For example, skillets are similar to saute pans for most uses, so it really depends on whether you prefer straight or curved sides. (Though they do have distinct purposes: See Should I Buy a Skillet or a Sauté Pan, Or Both?) A Dutch oven can be used as a small stockpot or a large sauce pan. Sauciers are basically curve-sided sauce pans. And so forth.
There are other, specialty pans such as: paella pans, asparagus pans, pasta pots (with inserts for easy draining), Windsors, gratin pans, etc. None of these are deemed essential for everyday cooking, which is why they're rarely included in sets.
Looking for more about specialty items? Webstaurant store has a decent list of pan types, as well as bakeware.
You can also check out our All-Clad Copper Core review because for some reason, you can get almost every type of pan known to man in Copper Core.
Sets Vs. Individual Pans?
There are good reasons to buy sets, and there are good reasons to buy individual pieces. In the end, your cookware collection is likely to be a mix of both.
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.
If you need a few pieces, you can start with a small, 5- or 6-piece of a skillet, saute pan and sauce pan (including lids), like this All-Clad set. These are an excellent way to acquire basic pieces that you're sure you'll use. Just be sure the pans are the sizes you want--for example, this All-Clad set has a 3-quart sauce pan and a 10-inch frying pan: is that what you want? Because a 10-inch frying pan is roughly equivalent to a 3-quart saute pan, so they're essentially the same size, and both on the small side of "all-purpose;" a 12-inch skillet is a more useful all-around pan if you are cooking for more than one person.
Remember: If the set doesn't have the pieces you want, no amount of saved money will make you happy.
The Most Important Pieces (and Sizes)
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? best induction cookware
But if you're trying to cover as many bases as possible with just a few pieces, here are our suggestions:
Best All-Purpose Sizes:
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. But these are good basic sizes for the foundation pieces of your collection.
What to Know Before Buying
What are the important considerations when choosing clad cookware? Aside from 1) overall quality, and 2) set vs. individual pieces, here are some things to think about:
As we said, cookware is all about the heating properties. And all cladding is not created equally. Far from it! When you pay a premium price for clad cookware, you're not only paying for durability, you're also paying for even heating and good heat retention.
Cladding can vary considerably among different brands. That is, the inner layer(s) of aluminum and/or copper differ in thickness.
The thickness of the layers of cladding matter. The thicker the internal aluminum layer, the more even the heating. However, if the layers are too thick, pots can border on cast-iron-like unwieldiness, without bringing a whole lot more to the table. It can be hard to find exact specifications for the thickness of cladding, but the important thing to know is how evenly a pan distributes heat.
The industry standard is All-Clad. Theirs is the product against which everyone else is competing. Most other brands' cladding is thinner, and this is what makes them less expensive (but in a few cases, perform almost equally). Demeyere, a Belgian company, went in the other direction and is trying to outdo All-Clad. Its thicker aluminum produces better heating properties--but it is also more expensive.
Full Cladding Vs. Bottom Only
Related to heating properties is the cladding configuration: fully cladded or bottom-only cladded?
Some stainless cookware is not fully clad but instead has a disc of clad material bonded to the bottom. There is no heat-conducting metal on the sides of the pan.
Full cladding helps distribute heat evenly all over a pan. It makes a huge difference when frying because food cooks quickly and at high temps. best induction cookware
For pans that you use primarily with liquids--e.g., boiling water for pasta, making soups and stock--full cladding isn't as important. Natural convection currents in liquids distribute heat pretty well on their own.
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 they're cheaper to manufacture. In fact, if you want to buy on the low end, be careful to choose a line that does have full cladding. Both Cuisinart and Tramontina--brands we like and recommend--make several lines of disc clad stainless. We do not recommend any of these.
However, there is also some excellent disc-clad cookware on the market, such as Demeyere Atlantis and Fissler. High-end bottom clad pieces have extremely thick discs--usually 5mm or more: compare that to All-Clad tri-ply with a total thickness of 2.6mm! A substantial disc is required for spreading heat, so cheap disc-cladded cookware is too thin to make up for the non-cladded sides.
Most high-end disc clad cookware is made in Europe, where disc cladding is more popular. Conversely, most low-end disc clad cookware is made in China. But the easiest way to tell the difference is by looking at the disc itself:
- If it's several millimeters thick and the entire width of the pan bottom, it's good quality.
- If it's the same thickness as fully clad pieces or only slightly thicker, and of a smaller diameter than the pan bottom, it's poor quality.
You can clearly see the difference in these images, which show a thick bottom disc and a thinner one:
If clad cookware is much cheaper than competitors, it's usually for one of two reasons:
- It may be bottom-clad only (read the fine print!).
- It may be made of poor quality stainless and have thin internal layers of aluminum, meaning poor heating properties and the likelihood of pitting, rusting and warping.
Durability and Stability
Second only to heating is durability and stability. You want cookware that can withstand a beating in the kitchen and keep going; you also want cookware that doesn't react with food and is impervious to corrosion and rust.
Stainless steel cookware wins in both of these categories.
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. Here are the important design considerations.
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.
All of our cookware recommendations have stainless lids.
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? And, do you like its looks?
- 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 on the opposite side of a long handle. They're called helper handles because they make it easier to maneuver heavy pots. I'm a huge fan of helper handles! They're incredibly useful. Here's an example of a pan with a helper handle:
- Silicone-coated handles: Some lines of cookware have silicone-coated 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 will wear out eventually if you use a pan in the oven frequently. Gas flames will also take a toll. In fact, silicon will wear out eventually no matter how careful you are with it. 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 will drip more when pouring:
Some people insist on having 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
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 they are definitely easier to wash.
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 can dull the stainless 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 stainless, for example, has a proprietary finishing process called Silvinox® that makes their stainless 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.
No, it can't compete with nonstick by any stretch, 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. Like what, you ask? Well, it's durable, you can use any utensils and any level of heat you want. Most importantly, you can get a nice Maillard reaction on a stainless cooking surface that isn't possible on nonstick even if you use high heat (which you shouldn't).
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 also try to buy a brand name you're familiar with, as some lesser known brands may not honor warranties, but established makers almost always will.
Best Set Overall: All-Clad D3 Stainless Tri-Ply
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 the high-performing competitors like Demeyere, are competing for the All-Clad market.
All-Clad has several lines of cookware. The stainless steel tri-ply is their original line, and has two layers of stainless with aluminum sandwiched between. They also make a 5 ply line (D5), a 7 ply line (D7), a copper core line, and two aluminum lines (MC2 which stands for "Master Chef" and LTD2, which stands for "limited"), which are not induction-compatible. D5, D7, and Copper Core are all induction compatible and are top quality cookware. However, the improved heat conductivity is somewhat small compared to the increase in price over the D3 (tri-ply). For that reason, we recommend the D3 Tri-Ply as our overall best pick.
All-Clad D3 sets come in 5 piece, 10 piece, and 14 piece. We recommend the 5 piece 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: sets include smaller pieces and to get the larger pieces, you either have to buy the huge set or supplement with individual purchases. We recommend buying a smaller set, with pieces you know you'll use, and buying other pieces individually as you know you need them.
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 Includes:
- 10 inch skillet
- 3 quart saucepan with lid
- 3 quart saute pan with lid.
The 10 Piece Includes:
- 8 inch skillet
- 10 inch skillet
- 2 quart saucepan with lid
- 3 quart saucepan with lid
- 3 quart saute pan with lid
- 8 quart stockpot with lid (I would call this a Dutch oven).
The 14 Piece Includes:
- 10 inch skillet
- 12 inch skillet
- 2 quart saucepan with lid
- 3 quart saucepan with lid
- 3 quart saute pan with lid
- 6 quart sauté pan with lid
- 12 inch chef's pan
- 8 quart stockpot with lid (again, I would call this a Dutch oven as it's an awfully small stockpot).
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; for that, you would have to get copper cookware, which is fussy to use and hard to keep clean. But 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 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, saute 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 has a very 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.
Similar in Performance
Demeyere Proline: Thicker cladding, better performance, more expensive. Reviewed below.
Vollrath Tribute: Vollrath is a good company and they make one of our favorite products in the world, the Mirage Pro 59500P Portable Induction Cooker. Their cookware is good quality, but it has very heavy cladding, yet without much improved performance over All-Clad. It is less expensive (by a lot!), however, no lids are included. Frankly, the set is just not very pretty, either. Finally, because it's so heavy, it's like using cast-iron. It's good quality, but no lids plus heaviness plus being not pretty gets the Vollrath cookware a thumbs down.
Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad: Cladding is the same as All-Clad, with surprisingly similar performance. Much less expensive. The skillet is oddly shaped, with a small cooking surface and deeply sloped sides. But other than that, this is good quality cookware at a much lower price.
Buy this set if you want excellent performance, a lifetime warranty, a made-in-USA product, and are willing to pay the premium price. All-Clad D3 is one of the best products on the market.
Pros: Excellent quality, made in USA, limited lifetime warranty.
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Best Bargain: Cuisinart Multiclad Pro
Cuisinart Multi-Clad 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.
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:
- 1-1/2 quart saucepan with lid
- 3 quart saucepan with lid
- 8 quart stockpot with lid
- 10 inch skillet.
The 12 Piece Set Includes:
- 1-1/2 quart saucepan with lid
- 3 quart saucepan with lid
- 8 inch skillet
- 10 inch skillets
- 3-1/2 quart saute pan with lid
- 8-quart stockpot with lid
- Steamer insert (for stockpot) with lid.
The Cuisinart MCP 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 Multi-Clad 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. best induction cookware
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 the same as All-Clad. MC 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 really gorgeous cookware. 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 can live with good (not great) 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. best induction cookware
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, which may affect long term durability.
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Over the Top: Demeyere Atlantis
(Note: Demeyere is pronounced de-MY-ruh.)
Made in Belguim, Demeyere Atlantis is, in our opinion, the best clad stainless cookware on the market, bar none. It's also one of the few cookware lines that's more expensive than All-Clad D3 (and some pieces are more than D5 and Copper Core!). 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 silver to enhance heating properties
- Rivetless cooking surface
- Silvinox® finish ensures shiny finish and makes cleaning easier
- Optimized for induction cooking with TriplInduc® technology that makes it about 30% more efficient on induction 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.
If it's so great, why is it "over the top"? For one thing, it's almost twice as thick as All-Clad D3, which makes it heavy. For another, Americans aren't enamored with bottom-clad cookware, and the straight-sided pieces have bottom cladding--this adds to the bulkiness of the cookware, and it can feel unbalanced if you're accustomed to fully clad pieces.
These aren't really drawbacks. They're design choices that make this cookware incredibly high performance, 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--especially the Proline skillet--can't bear to go back to the "flimsiness" of All-Clad. Others find it too heavy, and the bottom-clad only pieces to feel unbalanced.
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 definitely the way to go. On the other hand, All-Clad D3 is excellent quality and will last you a lifetime. Both are superb choices; it's really a matter of your own preferences.
We won't go into more detail here, as we've written an article about Demeyere and how it compares to All-Clad. Here you'll find everything you need to know about the how the two brands really measure up.
You can also read about the Demeyere Proline (Atlantis) skillet below, as it's our pick for best skillet.
This is top notch cookware. If you can afford it, it will provide excellent performance for decades.
Pros: Superb design and performance, especially for induction cooktops.
Cons: Heavy and expensive. Bottom-clad pieces might feel unbalanced to someone who hasn't used it before.
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Best Individual Pieces
Here are our best picks for individual pieces. Buying individually can be more expensive, but you get exactly what you want.
Best Skillet: Demeyere Proline
(Note: Demeyere is pronounced de-MY-ruh.)
If you spend money on just one piece of high-end cookware, it should be your skillet. The skillet gets the most use of any pan in your kitchen, and it gets the hardest use--frying over high heat, oils and fats, finishing in the oven; the works. Saucepans and saute pans can get heavy workouts, too, but the skillet is the true workhorse of the kitchen.
Quality-wise, the Demeyere Proline skillet is one of the very best choices you can make for clad cookware. It has thicker cladding than All-Clad, featuring "4.8mm 7-ply material combining layers of stainless, a core of aluminum, and aluminum alloys incorporated from rim to rim." (Compare this to 2.6mm thickness of All-Clad D3.)
It's oven proof, dishwasher safe, has no rivets to catch food, and it is treated with a special coating called Silvinox that "improves the resistance of stainless steel preventing discoloration, tarnishing and dulling due to handling, and contact with aggressive detergents and certain foods." (from the Demeyere website)
Silvinox is the next best thing to nonstick, but way more durable.
The 11-inch is our preferred size for an all-purpose skillet, although you can get the 9-inch Proline for about half the price.
Demeyere cookware is made in Belgium and has a 30 year warranty. best induction cookware
This skillet offers the best available clad technology on the market. It's actually a step above All-Clad in both heat conductivity and heat retention. (This is reflected in the price!)
This skillet is oven safe, although Demeyere does not give a max temp.
Demeyere Atlantis has excellent long term durability.
Design (Lid, Handle, Rim and Rivets)
Lid: Like most skillets, this one does not come with a lid and Demeyere doesn't make one to fit it (at least not in the US market, that we could find). You can buy an aftermarket lid such as this one, or possibly use one from a saute pan or Dutch oven in your existing collection.
Handle: The long handle has a nice, flattish shape that can be gripped and stabilized easily with one hand. The helper handle is a bit squarish and slightly awkward, but we love that the 11-inch skillet has a helper handle. Not a lot of skillets in this size do. best induction cookware
Rim: Has a flared rim for easy pouring.
Rivets: The handles are welded on, so the cooking surface is free of rivets. Excellent for cooking and cleaning.
Ease of Cleaning
Because of the Silvinox coating and the welded (rivetless) handles, this skillet is the very best option available if you're looking for easy cleaning. It is also dishwasher safe.
Buy this skillet if you can afford the best and want a frying pan that will last a lifetime. This is one of the best options on the market.
Pros: Top-notch quality, easiest-cleaning stainless on the market.
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Best Saucepan: Cuisinart MultiClad Pro 4 Qt. Saucepan
While not quite as pretty as the All-Clad saucepan, the Cuisinart Multiclad Pro Stainless 4-quart saucepan is a great all-around pan at an excellent price. This pan is the same line as the Cuisinart MC-Pro set recommended above. The set comes with a 3 quart saucepan, but if you buy pieces separately, you can upgrade to a 4 quart saucepan for just a few dollars more. Don't go any smaller than a 3-quart if you want a general-purpose saucepan.
Here's why we recommend this saucepan:
- Saucepans don't require the even heating/heat retention of skillets, so you can get by with good-but-not-excellent quality (i.e., you don't need All-Clad cladding to achieve good results). And the cladding on this pan is good enough that even if you use it for thick, viscous foods (i.e., stews, breakfast cereals, and the like), you are unlikely to get scorches.
- This saucepan has a flared rim.
- The Cuisinart clad cookware has a great reputation for quality and durability and is backed by the Cuisinart warranty.
The heating is very close to All-Clad D3. For saucepan use, the heat conductivity is more than adequate.
This pan is oven safe up to 550F.
Design (Lids, Handles, Rims and Rivets)
Lid: Well-fitting stainless lid. Oven and dishwasher safe.
Handle: The long handle is easy to grasp and maneuver the pot with. Unfortunately there is no helper handle on this pot--at 4 quarts, this would be nice.
The lid handle is also easy to grasp, with plenty of room to get your fingers around it without having to touch a hot surface.
Rim: The flared rim is one of the features that make this saucepan stand out. It's a great feature.
Ease of Cleaning
Ease of cleaning is average for stainless clad cookware.
This pan is dishwasher safe.
Buy this saucepan if you want to save money and still get good performance. best induction cookware
Pros: Good quality pan at a great price. Flared rim.
Cons: Not as pretty as All-Clad D3.
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Best Nonstick Skillet: Anolon Nouvelle Copper-Hard Anodized Aluminum Nonstick Skillet
If you've made the mistake, as so many of us have, of buying an expensive nonstick pan only to have it lose its nonstick properties in just a couple of years, then you'll surely appreciate our recommendation to buy a cheap nonstick skillet, and no other nonstick cookware at all.
The truth is, no nonstick has a lifespan of more than a few years. And this is true no matter how much you pay and promises of lifetime warranties: just try to cash in on that and see if any manufacturer will replace your nonstick skillet just because it's sticking (not gonna happen). So why in the world should anyone pay hundreds of dollars for an expensive brand that's not going to last any longer? The coating is going to wear out just as fast as it will on a less expensive pan. Ceramic pans (like the ones you see on late night infomercials) aren't a great solution, either, because while they're probably more durable, the nonstick isn't going to last even as long as the PTFE (in most cases, anyway).
This Anolon nonstick pan is a great choice for a nonstick skillet. In fact, the Anolon nonstick skillet is a truly excellent pan. And not just at this price point, but at any price point. Here are a few things to really like about this pan:
- Excellent bottom cladding, including a 0.5mm copper layer (unheard of at this price!)
- You can use metal utensils on the pan (although we don't recommend it)
- Has the look and feel of much more expensive cookware.
This isn't a bottom-clad pan; rather, this is a cast aluminum pan with additional materials on the bottom that enhance heating and make it induction compatible.
The thick aluminum-and-copper bottom cladding makes heating incredibly even. The anodized aluminum sides also provide fast, even heating.
Meyer (the manufacturer) says the pan is oven-safe to 500F, but we don't recommend putting it in the oven. High heat will shorten the life of the nonstick coating. best induction cookware
Durability: This pan's nonstick coating is made of Dupont Autograph, a type of PTFE. This doesn't necessarily mean the pan will last longer than other types of nonstick, so you can probably expect an average life out of it (i.e., a few years or more depending on use).
Handle: Lightweight without feeling cheap and has a nice, squarish shape that's easy to hang onto and stabilize. It also looks great.
Shape: The shape of the pan may be a drawback. As you can see from the photo above, it has a smallish cooking surface with steeply sloped sides. The bottom diameter of the 12 inch skillet is about 9 inches. Depending on how you cook, you may actually prefer this: the wide slopes make it very easy to get underneath food with a spatula.
9 inches is enough room for 2 grilled cheese sandwiches or 2 large chicken breasts without crowding.
Ease of Cleaning
It's nonstick, so it cleans up easily.
Note: Never, ever, ever put nonstick pans in a dishwasher! Even if the manufacturer says it's okay. The harsh detergents will shorten the life of the pan.
Buy this pan if you want a high quality nonstick skillet at an amazingly reasonable price. In the case of nonstick, paying more won't get you a better pan. This pan is as good as or better than any All-Clad nonstick pan at a fraction of the cost.
Pros: Top quality pan, excellent quality, lifetime warranty by reputable maker.
Cons: Smallish cooking surface due to very sloped sides.
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Best Stockpot: Cuisinart Multi-Clad Pro (8 Qt or 12 Qt)
Once again, this is from the Multi-Clad Pro line, one of our favorite sets reviewed above. If you buy the MC-Pro set, the 8 quart stockpot is included. It would be better if the set had a Dutch oven so you could purchase the 12 quart stockpot separately, though, because a 12 quart stockpot is a much better tool than an 8 quart is for making large batches of stock to freeze. The only problem with the bigger one is storage, so be sure you have a shelf, cupboard, or closet space big enough to store it.
This is a nice all-around pot. Many stockpots have cladding only on the bottom, where it's most necessary to prevent the scorching that can occur during long, slow simmers. But this one with full cladding costs less than some bottom-clad pots. The MC-Pro cookware is so stellar at such a reasonable price, and this pot is no different. There are cheaper ones around that will do a good job, but this one is a great deal with no compromise in quality.
With the fully clad design, this stockpot offers excellent, even heating and good heat retention at a great price. In fact it's probably more than you need in a stockpot, but the quality and name brand are well worth the investment.
This pot is nice and wide, which makes it easier to use than some taller, narrower stockpots. It has big, grippable handles, a flared rim, and a heavy stainless lid that fits down snugly.
Ease of Cleaning
The stainless is dishwasher safe, so if you can fit it in your dishwasher, yay!
Buy this stockpot if you want a big pot for soups and stock making, want good quality, a lifetime warranty, and a reasonable price.
Pros: Great quality, great price, great design.
Cons: You can probably find an adequate stockpot for less (but this is a pretty good deal).
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Best Roasting Pan: Cuisinart Roasting Pan
This roasting pan is another product from Cuisinart. It is lower end than the Multiclad Pro line, and the price reflects that. Yet is has triple-ply construction and a good quality, polished stainless finish.
This roasting pan should be all you really need. (If you want something more substantial, check out All-Clad's roaster--it's beautiful but significantly more expensive than this one.)
The cladding offers great heating for oven roasting and is great for using on the surface of a stove, as well (like for making pan gravy). You could go higher end, but for a roasting pan you really don't need to.
This is one of the largest roasting pans on the market. It's about 16 inches by about 20 inches (including the handles). This is large enough for a most meats, including a good-sized turkey.
Handles: Handles are important on a roasting pan because when in use, it's heavy. The handles on this pan are easy to grab and have excellence clearance to minimize the possibility of burns. In fact, the handles are one of our favorite things about this pan.
Rim: This pan has a flared rim. Although this isn't a drawback, it also doesn't really serve a purpose on a roasting pan, and actually adds another (admittedly small) surface to clean.
Rack: This pan includes a stainless steel rack, which is a nice feature. Many racks, if included at all, have a nonstick coating, which we've found to be pretty much worthless for making cleaning easier. With the stainless rack, you can spray it with cooking spray and it's actually easier to clean than the nonstick racks.
Ease of Cleaning
Let's face it: no roasting pan is easy to clean!
Our best recommendation is to use a lot of cooking spray to help with cleanup. Or, when possible, line the pan with foil. best induction cookware
Buy this roasting pan if you want to save a few dollars and are happy with average heating performance--which is really about all you need in a roasting pan.
Pros: Big enough for a turkey, good enough quality for oven roasting, durable, inexpensive, lifetime warranty.
Cons: Made in China.
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Some Other Brands You May Be Curious About
Here are some brands to think about--some yay, mostly nay. They all get almost universally positive reviews on Amazon. Does that mean the quality is the same, regardless of what price point you choose? Absolutely not. We're glad many people are happy with their inexpensive sets (and their overpriced sets too!). But you will never regret buying the best you can afford and buying from a reputable manufacturer.
So here's a list of brands that might get your attention.
An asterisk indicates a recommended brand.
Note: Many of these brands make several lines of cookware, but we only looked at the clad stainless lines. Other lines might be excellent. (For example, Mauvial copper cookware is top notch.)
Calphalon: Mid-range cost and performance, but glass lids make this set less desirable than Cuisinart MC Pro or All-Clad.
Mauviel: French cookware with performance similar to All-Clad but more expensive. Not recommended.
Le Creuset Stainless Clad: Not made in France. Not comparable quality to Le Creuset enameled cast iron. Probably overpriced.
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).
Swiss-inox: Bottom-clad cookware with gimmicky "temperature management" knobs. Spend a little more and get Cuisinart MC-Pro.
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.
Duxtop: Would love to recommend this set as the price is great and we love some Secura products. (Secura owns Duxtop). But 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 that you know you'll use, or a set of Cuisinart MC Pro or Tramontina Tri-Ply clad for a little more $$.
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 money. 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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