July 20

Viking Cookware: As Good as All-Clad (Or Better)?

By trk

Last Updated: August 12, 2021


Viking is known for luxury appliances, but they also make several lines of cookware and some other kitchen tools. The brand is associated with high quality (and high prices), but does the cookware live up to the reputation? And is it still made in the USA? 

Here, we take a detailed look at Viking cookware. We review all the lines and discuss quality, performance, durability, budget, and. more. Find out if Viking is the right cookware for you.


Table Of Contents (click to expand)

Viking Cookware Lines at a Glance

Viking is best known for their clad stainless cookware, but they actually have 11 lines of cookware (though their 3-ply Black and Copper set is out of stock everywhere, so we didn't review it). If you count their 3-ply set sold at Sam's Club that isn't the Contemporary line, they actually have 12 lines of cookware (we had a hard time chasing down the particulars of this set, so we didn't review it either, but do give our impressions of it below).

Viking's 5-ply Professional stainless line is still made in the USA. According to Clipper Corporation, who own the rights to distribute Viking cookware, all of Viking's other lines are now made in China.

Some pieces are hard to find or are out of stock on the Viking Culinary site, so Viking may be phasing them out. For example, the 3-ply Mirror line made in the USA is no longer listed--do not confuse it with their 3-ply Contemporary line, which is made in China, or with the other 3-ply stainless line sold at Sam's Club. (You may still be able to find some of the US-made 3-ply Viking cookware on Amazon.)

We included links to all the pieces we found, even if they're no longer available at Viking. Below we have the detailed reviews and our recommendations for each line. Lines we like and recommend have an asterisk before the name. 

Viking Cookware Line

Features

Recommendation

Viking Contemporary 3-ply 10pc set

-S-a-s (stainless-aluminum-stainless construction)

-18/8 stainless cooking surface

-Induction compatible

-Glass lids

-Volume markings on deep pcs.

-Stay-cool, ergonomic handle

-Oven safe to 600F/lid to 450F

-Windsor style angled sides

-Limited lifetime warranty

-Made in China.

Recommended with reservations: Solid cookware at a fairly good price, but you can get other tri-ply Chinese cookware for less.

Equally good (or better) options include All-Clad D3, Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad, and Cuisinart Multiclad Pro.

3-Ply ??

(out of stock--phasing out?)

see skillet on Amazon (made in USA)

see stock pot on Amazon (made in ?)

see 13pc set at Sam's Club (China)

Viking 3-Ply Skillet made in USA

-Steel-aluminum-steel

-18/10 stainless cooking surface

-Induction compatible

-Oven safe to 600F

-Limited lifetime warranty

-Made in China or USA.

No recommendation: Sam's Club set is Chinese, hard to determine if some of Amazon pieces are discontinued US-made or imported from China. No info on the Viking site and unsure what to test.

Viking Professional 10pc Set

-Steel-alum-alum-alum-steel

-18/10 stainless cooking surface

-Induction compatible

-Stainless lids

-Stay-cool, ergonomic handle

-Oven safe to 600F

-Limited lifetime warranty

-Made in USA

Not recommended. Too thin to provide superb heating, and expensive. At this price, you would be better off with All-Clad Copper Core, Demeyere Industry5, or Demeyere Atlantis.

Viking Nonstick Skillet

-Anodized alum. w/PTFE nonstick 

-Induction compatible base

-"Metal utensil"/"dishwasher" safe

-Tempered glass lids

-Volume markings on deep pcs.

-Stay-cool, ergonomic handle

-Oven safe to 400F/lids to 350F

-Limited lifetime warranty

-Made in China.

Recommended with reservations. Good quality, heavy duty nonstick, and performance is good, but no better than some other, less expensive nonstick. Both All-Clad Essentials and Anolon Copper Nouvelle are comparable quality for less.

Viking Cast Iron Skillet

-Cast iron w/stick-resistant enameled cooking surface 

-No seasoning required

-Matte enamel exterior

-Induction compatible

-Oven safe to 400F

-Limited lifetime warranty

-Made in China.

Not recommended. We prefer bare, seasoned skillets and you can save a ton by going with Lodge. The Dutch ovens are only oven safe to 400F, so not good for bread or other high heat tasks: we recommend Le Creuset on the high end and Marquette Castings or Tramontina on the bargain end. (See our Dutch oven review for more info)

Viking Carbon Steel Skillet Set

-"Blue" heat-treated carbon steel 

-Induction compatible

-Stainess handles

-Oven safe to 450F

-Limited lifetime warranty

-Made in China.

Not recommended: We liked cooking with these pans, but the 450F oven rating is too low for carbon steel; if you use it for searing, you will want higher temps than this. If you're OK with that temp restriction, these are nice pans: the best deal is the 2-pack on Amazon or Sam's Club (2 for the price of 1--or even less!).

*2-Ply Hard Stainless

see it at Sam's Club (best price)

see it at Sur la Table (stainless lids)

see it at Nordstrom (stainless lids, both colors, but more expensive)

see it at Viking.com (stainless lids)

Viking 2ply 11pc Set Red

-2 ply aluminum-stainless

-Stainless 18/8 cooking surface

-Induction compatible

-Oven safe to 400F

-Comes in red and blue

-Sam's set has glass lids/SLT stainless

-Limited lifetime warranty

-Made in China.

Recommended: As one of the few 2-ply stainless-aluminum sets on the market today, this is a great set with excellent heating performance. The set pieces are good (love the steamer insert). But no open stock is available, so it may be hard to match if you want to add pieces to the set.

7-Ply Titanium/Stainless 10pc Set 

see it at Sur la Table

see it at Nordstrom (incl. knife set)

see it at Viking.com

Viking 7 Ply 10pc Set wTitanium

-7 ply s-a-a-a-a-a-Ti

-Pure titanium cooking surface

-Induction compatible

-Oven safe to 600F; lids safe to 300F

-Great (large) pcs in set, incl. 10"/12" skillets

-Nordstrom set comes with set of knives

-Limited lifetime warranty

-Made in China.

Not recommended: Way too thin for the price (2.5mm). If you cook for anyone with a nickel allergy, this is better than nickel-free stainless, but very expensive. At this price, Demeyere Industry and All-Clad Copper Core are better choices.

*5-Ply Hard Stainless

(out of stock on Viking--phasing out?)

see buying options on Amazon

Viking 5ply Hard Stainless Sauce Pan

-ha-a-a-a-s 

-18/8 stainless cooking surface

-Induction compatible base

-Volume markings on deep pcs.

-18/8 stainless lids

-Oven safe to 500F

-Limited lifetime warranty

-Made in China.

Recommended: Thick and heavy with plenty of aluminum for excellent heating, plus steel disc for induction compatibility. Unfortunately the set is out of stock everywhere, but you can find open stock pieces on Amazon (and maybe the set will be back in stock but we don't know).

3-Ply Copper 13pc Set

(out of stock--phasing out?)

see it on Amazon

see it at Sam's Club

Viking Contemporary 3-ply 10pc set

-3 ply copper-alum-stainless

-18/8 stainless cooking surface

-Induction compatible

-Oven safe to 600F/lids to 400F

-Volume markings on deep pcs.

-Limited lifetime warranty

-Made in China.


Not recommended: The copper layer is very thin (probably just plating). If you want copper heating, go with a real copper brand like Mauviel. If you want durable cookware, clad stainless is a better choice, such as Tramontina, All-Clad D3, or even Viking Contemporary.

*Recommended by The Rational Kitchen.

Viking also makes a number of specialty cookware pieces you can find at different retailers:

Viking roasting pans (Amazon)

Viking stainless Multipot cooker w/steamer (BB&B)

Viking 3-ply stock pot (BB&B)

Viking 8 qt. stove top pressure cooker (Amazon)

Viking die-cast aluminum oval roaster pan (BB&B)

See all Viking specialty cookware at Viking.com

Who Is Viking?

Viking is an American manufacturer of luxury appliances. They are best known for their commercial-size gas ranges designed for home use, and also known for designing beautiful and innovative products. In addition to ranges, Viking makes refrigerators, range hoods, dishwashers, and outdoor grills and cooking equipment. They've been in business since 1987.

You can read more about Viking appliances at their website.

Viking cookware is made by a subdivision of Viking called Viking Culinary. In addition to cookware lines, Viking sells bakeware, knives, stainless steel utensils, and heavy duty pot racks. You can read more about Viking Culinary and see all their products at their website.

This article focuses exclusively on Viking cookware. Viking has modeled several of their lines on All-Clad's cookware lines. Like All-Clad, Viking has 2-ply, 3-ply, 5-ply, and 7-ply clad stainless lines and a line of anodized aluminum nonstick. They also sell cast iron, carbon steel, and tri-ply copper cookware. 

Overall, Viking has their cookware bases covered: If you own a Viking range and want cookware to match, you can probably find a line that will make you happy.

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Why Is Viking Cookware So Expensive?

No question: most of Viking's cookware lines are expensive.

Here's how Viking stacks up to other popular cookware brands considered to be the same quality level:

Brand/Set
Approximate Prices

$1000

$ 800

$450

$280

$75

$60

$200

$300-$400 (depending on color)

Viking's best deal is probably the 2-ply (stainless/aluminum), 11-piece set at Sam's Club which is about $250. The same set at Sur la Table--but with stainless lids--is more than twice as much. (You can read more about these sets below in the review.)

Why is Viking cookware so expensive? Largely because the name is associated with luxury products. If people shell out the money for a top-of-the-line luxury Viking range, they may want Viking cookware to go with it, and the cookware is priced accordingly.

But is it worth the premium price?

Our best answer is maybe. All of the lines are well made and good quality, but some of them are (we think) overpriced and do not deliver what buyers need and deserve. 

There's no question that Viking cookware is well made, no matter where it's made. But let's see how it stacks up to comparable brands.

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Viking Vs. All-Clad: Comparison Tables

Here we'll compare the Viking lines to the similar All-Clad lines. These are:

  • Viking 3-ply Contemporary vs. All-Clad D3--both 3-ply clad stainless steel
  • Viking 5-ply Professional vs. All-Clad D5--both 5-ply clad stainless steel
  • Viking Hard Anodized Nonstick vs. All-Clad Essentials (or HA1)--both hard anodized nonstick.

Viking Contemporary Vs. All-Clad D3

Viking Contemporary 10pc set:

Viking Contemporary 3-ply 10pc set

All-Clad D3 10pc set:

All Clad D3 10pc set

Feature

Viking Contemporary

All-Clad D3

Configuration:

stainless-aluminum-stainless
stainless-aluminum-stainless

Total thickness:

3mm

2.6mm

Cooking surface:

18/8 stainless

18/10 stainless

Induction compatible?

Yes

Yes

Lids:

Glass

Stainless

Oven safe to:

600F 

600F

Buying options:

5/7/10pc sets, several open stock pieces

5/7/10/14/21pc sets, huge variety of open stock pieces

Set pieces (10pc set):

8"/10" skillets, 2qt/3qt saucepans, 3.6qt sauté pan, 5qt Dutch oven

8"/10" skillets, 2qt/3qt saucepans, 3qt sauté pan, 8qt Dutch oven

Price:

10pc set: $450

10pc set: $700

Warranty:

Limited lifetime

Limited lifetime

Made in:

China

USA

Viking Professional Vs. All-Clad D5

Viking Professional 10pc set:

Viking Professional 10pc Set

All-Clad D5 10pc set, brushed:

All-Clad D5 10pc set

Feature

Viking Professional

All-Clad D5

Configuration:

stainless-aluminum-aluminum-aluminum-stainless
stainless-aluminum--stainless-aluminum-stainless

Total thickness:

2.5mm

2.6mm

Cooking surface:

18/10 stainless

18/10 stainless

Induction compatible?

Yes

Yes

Lids:

Stainless

Stainless

Oven safe to:

600F 

600F

Buying options:

5/7/10pc sets, several open stock pieces

5/7/10/13pc sets, several open stock pieces

Set pieces (10pc set):

8"/10" skillets, 2qt/3qt saucepans, 3.5qt sauté pan, 8qt stock pot

8"/10" skillets, 1.5qt/3qt saucepans, 3qt sauté pan, 5.5qt Dutch oven

Price:

10pc set: $1100

10pc set: $800

Warranty:

Limited lifetime

Limited lifetime

Made in:

China

USA

Viking Hard Anodized Nonstick Vs. All-Clad Essentials Nonstick

Viking Hard Anodized Nonstick Skillet
All-Clad Essentials Nonstick skillet set

Feature

Viking Hard-Anodized Nonstick

All-Clad Essentials Nonstick

Configuration:

hard anodized aluminum-aluminum-nonstick coating
hard anodized aluminum-aluminum-nonstick coating

Total thickness:

3mm

3mm

Cooking surface:

PTFE nonstick coating

PTFE nonstick coating

Induction compatible?

Yes

No (HA1 is)

Lids:

Glass

Glass

Oven safe to:

500F 

500F

Buying options:

10pc set, several open stock pieces

several sets, several open stock pieces

Price:

8" skillet: $50

8"/10" skillet set: $50

Warranty:

Limited lifetime

Limited lifetime

Made in:

China

China

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Is Viking Cookware Made in the USA?

Viking Professional 10pc Set

Viking Professional is beautiful cookware.

People may think that, like their ranges, Viking cookware is made in the US. Today, only one line is: the Viking 5-ply stainless Professional line is made in the USA. All other Viking cookware is now made in China.

At one time, Viking had two lines made in the US: their 5-ply and their 3-ply stainless steel. They now have two 3-ply lines: one is called Contemporary and one is simply Viking Tri-Ply (see it at Sam's Club). Both are made in China.

If you find a Viking 3-ply stainless line with stainless lids, it might be an old version of the Mirror 3-ply, which means it was made in the US. However, some of their Chinese-made lines now also have stainless lids (most have glass), so it can be hard to tell. 

The bottom line is that if you want to buy American-made cookware, your only certain Viking option is the Professional 5-Ply line.

see viking professional cookware on amazon

see all viking cookware on amazon

The bottom line is this: If you want to buy American-made cookware, your only Viking option is the Professional 5-Ply line. All other Viking cookware--including both lines of 3-ply stainless--is now made in China.

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What to Look for When Buying Cookware

We go into more details about how to buy cookware--especially clad stainless cookware--in other articles, such as A Guide to Induction Cookware, Stainless Steel Cookware Sets: A Detailed Buying Guide, and The Top 5 Brands of Stainless Steel Cookware. We will repeat the information here, but in less detail, so if you want to know more, you can check the articles.

Heating Performance

Heating is the most important feature of any cookware since its entire function is to heat/cook food. 

Heating is a huge topic--so huge that books have been written about it. We'll try to keep it as brief as we can and still give you all the info you need. 

For cookware, the most important factors are thermal conductivity and heat retention.

Thermal conductivity measures how quickly and how evenly a material heats. Cookware materials with the highest thermal conductivity are copper and aluminum. 

Heat retention measures how long a material holds onto heat. Cookware materials with the highest heat retention are cast iron and carbon steel (cast iron being the superior option). 

Heat retention is also affected by the mass of cookware, regardless of the material. In other words, a thick layer of aluminum is going to hold onto heat better than a thin layer. This is simple logic: it takes longer for heat to travel through something thick than through something thin.

For most cooks, thermal conductivity is the more important feature. That is, they want cookware that heats up quickly and evenly, without hot and cold spots. Thus, copper or aluminum cookware of a sufficient thickness makes the best all-around cookware for most people. Since copper is beyond the reach of many cooks, aluminum is the most commonly used cookware metal. Aluminum is seen in bare, nonstick, and clad stainless cookware.

The quality--and price--of aluminum cookware can vary greatly. In general, the thinner the aluminum, the less expensive the cookware is, and the poorer the heating properties.

For good thermal conductivity, you want a layer of aluminum that's at least 1.5mm thick, and the thicker it is, the better it will heat and hold onto heat. 

Buying cookware can be frustrating because makers don't always disclose the amount of aluminum (or copper) in their cookware. How can you know what you're paying for when they don't tell you?

We try to fill that gap as best we can by measuring the wall thickness of every cookware brand we review. It is only by having this information that you can be certain you're getting cookware with the heating properties you want.

In addition to all-purpose fast-heating cookware, many cooks also like to have a cast iron skillet for high heat-retention tasks like searing and deep frying. Cast iron skillets are inexpensive and are an excellent addition to your kitchen; if you have issues with heavy pans, carbon steel is a lighter alternative. These pans can also double as nonstick pans once they're well-seasoned, allowing you to avoid all the issues that come with nonstick cookware.

One more category of cookware is enameled cast iron. We find it a little heavy (and a little expensive) for daily use cookware, but it's hard to beat enameled cast iron for a Dutch oven. The enamel protects the cast iron from rusting, and the cast iron itself holds onto heat to give your stews, braises, and stocks as much heat as possible. You don't have to spend a small fortune to get a good enameled Dutch oven, but there are reasons to consider doing so; you can read more about it below in our review of Viking cast iron.

Durability

You may have noticed that we didn't include stainless steel in the discussion about heating performance. That is because stainless steel has terrible thermal conductivity: one of the lowest ratings of all cookware materials.

Durability is the reason stainless steel has become so popular in the cookware world. Aluminum is a soft metal that scratches easily (unless anodized), and can also be reactive with food, imparting off flavors to your dishes. But when combined with stainless steel, you get the best of both worlds: a durable cooking surface with great heating properties.

If you use nickel-free stainless steel for the exterior, you also get induction compatibility. Win-win.

There are many different types of stainless steel, and you should learn about them if you're interested in stainless steel cookware. More expensive brands tend to have more durable steel, for example. And American brands tend to have higher quality steel than Chinese brands (but not always). 

In short, there is a lot to learn about cookware durability.

Cast iron, enameled cast iron, and carbon steel are also very durable cookware. There's less to know about these, because they are essentially the same no matter how much you spend. The exception is enameled cast iron, which tends to be more durable as the price goes up. But even inexpensive enamel will usually last a long time.

The least durable cookware is nonstick (both types), which people buy for other reasons. But if you want durable cookware, avoid nonstick and go with clad stainless, cast iron, or carbon steel.

Safety and Stability

We used to just talk about stability, but after our research into nonstick cookware, we also consider this a safety issue.

"Stability" refers to how much a cooking surface will react with food or the environment. For example, stainless steel is extremely stable (and safe) because it does not react with food in any way and also does not rust or corrode (at least, not if it's good quality). Enameled cast iron is also very stable for the same reasons. 

Cast iron and carbon steel are stable when well-seasoned, but when they aren't they will react with acidic foods and also rust (they must be washed and dried after each use, even when seasoned, to avoid rusting).

Bare aluminum cookware will react with some foods, imparting an off flavor. There is also some evidence that ingesting aluminum can be bad for humans, so it may not be safe, either. 

Copper is also unstable and will react with food, which is why copper cookware has a stainless or (more traditionally) tin cooking surface. 

PTFE nonstick cookware is safe when used correctly, but high heat will cause the coating to break down into potentially toxic (and potentially carcinogenic) substances. These coatings are also very bad for the environment, and have made their way into the world's water supplies, and into the bodies of most people on the planet.

For these reasons, we consider PTFE nonstick the least safe and least stable cookware material.

Design and Usability

Design and usability are about how the cookware is to handle. This is the most subjective category, meaning that you can only decide for yourself if you like how the cookware looks, feels, and handles. 

We look at things like:

  • Weight: is the cookware light enough to handle easily yet heavy enough to perform well? 
  • Balance: does the cookware feel balanced and comfortable in your hand? 
  • Handle design: is the handle comfortable? Is it easy to stabilize a full pot with? 
  • Pouring lips: is the pan drip-free (or mostly drip-free) when you pour from it? 
  • Lids and lid pulls: are the lids stainless or glass (we prefer stainless)? Are the pulls easy to grip? 
  • Pan shape: Do the pans have a lot of flat cooking surface? Are they easy to stir, scrape, and wash?
  • Rivets: do the pans have rivets to collect gunk? (Most do, but some do not.) 
  • Helper handles on larger pieces: especially important if you have ergonomic issues
  • For stainless cookware, is it disc-clad or fully clad, and what is the quality of the cladding?

We can make recommendations, and these are the things we look at. In the end, you have to decide for yourself if cookware works for you or not.

And of course, is the cookware pretty? Because you shouldn't buy cookware that you don't find attractive--it won't be as much fun to use.

Helper Handle Callout

Ease of Care

Nonstick is the quintessential easy-to-care-for cookware, and because it's easy to care for, people tolerate its delicacy and long list of care instructions. 

If ease of care is important to you, you are probably a fan of nonstick cookware. However, we have found that most cookware, when used correctly, is fairly easy to care for. For example, using low to moderate heat will keep food from sticking to most surfaces (even stainless steel). It will also prevent cooked-on food and grease stains that are hard to scrub off. 

Thus, when used correctly, most cookware is easy to care for. So we don't put a lot of weight on this category, although we know many people do. If you want easy-to-care-for cookware but also want to move away from nonstick because of its potential safety issues, you just have to learn a few simple techniques. 

The one type of cookware that really does need routine maintenance is copper cookware, and that is only if you want it to retain its original luster. Oxidized copper works just as well as shiny copper, it just isn't as pretty. So if you want to keep it pretty, you'll have to polish it a few times a year. 

Cast iron and carbon steel also need to be re-seasoned occasionally to keep their nonstick properties and avoid rusting. It's an easy process, and the end result is completely safe nonstick cookware.

As for stainless steel, you can keep it easy to wash by following a few simple rules:

  • Use low to medium heat (no high heat, except to boil water)
  • Once pan is hot, add cooking oil or butter to create a thin coat on the entire cooking surface
  • When oil is hot, add food
  • Do not attempt to move the food until it has formed a crust; it can then be moved without sticking.

These rules will also work for enameled cast iron. 

We may never convince you that cast iron and stainless steel are as easy to care for as nonstick, and maybe they aren't. But with the right techniques, they come very close, and we believe their safety makes them worth the small bit of extra trouble. 

Budget

If you're on a tight budget, it's even more important to pick your cookware carefully. You will probably be tempted to buy inexpensive cookware, but we encourage you to do your research and find the best cookware you can afford.

More important than the cost of cookware is the cost-per-year-of use. A set of cheap nonstick cookware may seem like a great deal, but if you have to replace it every couple of years, is it really? 

Instead, you should buy the best clad stainless cookware you can afford. Even an inexpensive set like Cuisinart Multiclad Pro will outlast any set of nonstick cookware by a few decades. Thus, your cost-per-year-of-use is lower, even though you paid more up front.

And if you can't afford the set you want, we encourage you to either save up until you can or buy individual pieces as you can afford them. You will be happier in the long run buying quality pieces of open stock than you will with a cheap set.

One of the best pieces you can own is an inexpensive Lodge cast iron skillet. For $30 or less, this skillet will tide you over until you can afford the clad stainless you want, and it will last forever. Another win-win.

You don't have to buy the most expensive cookware on the market to get good quality. But you should try to buy cookware that's made well and will last. 

Cookware should also be backed by a good warranty, ideally a lifetime warranty. Although note that "lifetime" warranties are rarely honored for nonstick cookware, and you shouldn't expect them to be; nonstick will only last for a few years, so makers will only honor the warranty if there is a factory defect. They will not honor a warranty for normal wear and tear of the nonstick coating.

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Sets Vs. Open Stock: Which Is Better?

Viking 7 Ply 10pc Set wTitanium
Demeyere Proline Skillet
Le Creuset 6.75 Qt Dutch oven

There are good reasons to buy sets, and also good reasons not to. 

General Buying Advice

Generally, you get a better deal when you buy cookware in a set. However, you should be sure you need and will use every piece in a set before buying. Otherwise, you're just wasting money.

Also, no set is going to have every single piece of cookware you need, and you shouldn't expect it to. No matter how great a set is, you are always going to want other pieces eventually.

For these reasons, our advice generally is that if you need a lot of cookware, buy a set--but not too large a set. 10 pieces is the largest we like to go, and even that may be too much (though you are likely to appreciate having large and small skillets and sauce pans).

If you buy a smaller set--say, 5 pieces or 7 pieces, you are more likely to use all the pieces, and also to know which pieces you miss and want to add to your collection. You still get the deal of buying a set, but you won't feel guilty about buying the additional pieces you want. 

Matching Cookware Vs. Un-matching Cookware

If you want all your cookware to match, be sure to buy a brand that has a lot of open stock pieces available. All-Clad D3 and Copper Core have the biggest collections we've seen, so can be great sets to start with. 

The Viking clad stainless lines also have several open stock pieces available, but nothing like All-Clad's selection. So if you want matching cookware, this is something to consider. 

If you don't care about matching pieces, then your options are unlimited. You can get the top-notch Demeyere Proline skillet, a Le Creuset Dutch oven, a fine copper sauciér for delicate sauces, and an inexpensive stainless roasting pan and stock pot (because heating performance isn't all that important for these pieces).

Or whatever combinations of cookware you want! You also have the option of getting the best quality of each type of pan (e.g., the Demeyere Proline), which becomes more important as your cooking skills get more sophisticated. 

About Buying Nonstick Cookware

If you're shopping for nonstick cookware, we strongly recommend you get just a skillet or two. Because nonstick wears out in a year or so, whole sets are very uneconomical.

Furthermore, you really only need nonstick for a skillet, and then, only for sticky foods like eggs and fish. (Yes, sauce pans can be messy to clean sometimes too, but nothing like skillets.)

We also recommend aluminum nonstick skillets over clad stainless: aluminum pans cost less and have equally good or better heating properties. And, you won't mind tossing them as much when the nonstick quits working (but the rest of the pan is still going strong).

Sets Vs. Open Stock: Conclusion

In short, there are pros and cons to buying sets, and pros and cons to buying open stock. There's no right or wrong answer, so just do what feels right for your situation, and have fun with it.

*Review: Viking 3-Ply Contemporary Clad Stainless Steel Cookware

Viking Contemporary 3-ply 10pc set

Overall Rating: 4.0

Heating Properties: 4.0

Durability: 5.0

Safety/Stability: 5.0

Ease of Care: 3.0

Design/Usability: 4.0

Budget: 3.0

  • 18/8 stainless cooking surface with induction-compatible exterior (18/0)
  • 3mm walls with thick aluminum interior for excellent, even heating
  • Angled Windsor shape
  •  Induction compatible
  • Tall, stay cool handles
  • Helper handle on deep sauté pan
  • Vented glass lids
  • Oven safe to 600F (lids to 450F)
  • Internal volume markings in deeper pots (not in skillets)
  • Sealed edges (dishwasher safe)
  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • Made in China.

Viking Contemporary is nice cookware. The first thing you notice about it is how solid and well-built it feels. Or maybe that's the second thing after you notice how attractive it is, with its high gloss finish, bold signature Viking handle, and modern "Windsor" style, angled-out walls.

Like all Viking cookware, the Contemporary line is induction compatible.

The 10 piece set includes: 

  • 8 inch skillet
  • 10 inch skillet (weighs 2lbs, 14 oz.)
  • 2.4 quart sauce pan with lid
  • 3.4 quart sauce pan with lid
  • 3.6 quart sauté pan with lid
  • 5.2 quart Dutch oven with lid.

These are good sizes, although we prefer to see a 10-inch and 12-inch skillet rather than an 8-inch, but this is what most sets have, so we can't take really complain about it.

You can buy several pieces of the Contemporary line as open stock, including a Viking steamer insert that works with 2-4 quart Viking sauce pans. (See steamer insert on Amazon)

The 3.6 quart deep sauté pan is a great piece.

What we liked:

The Contemporary pans have straight sides that angle outward in what's called a Windsor design, much like on a Lodge cast iron skillet. Viking says this increases the amount of flat cooking surface, but we did not find any measurable difference: the 10-inch skillet's bottom surface is just over 8 inches (likewise, the 8-inch skillet has about a 6-inch cooking surface and the 12-inch has about a 10-inch cooking surface). This is about the same as you see on All-Clad D3 skillets with curved sides.

Whether you like the pan shape or not is purely personal preference. We like it; it's easy to get a turner in to flip food, and it also looks great. One small drawback is that the pans have no pouring lip, but liquids poured without dripping, so we didn't really miss it. 

The pans are heavy: the 10-inch skillet weighs almost 3 pounds (compare that to the All-Clad D3 10-inch skillet, which weighs just over 2 pounds). This isn't so heavy that the pans are hard to handle, but it is certainly an indication of high quality tri-ply cookware with plenty of internal aluminum for excellent, even heating. 

Surprisingly, the Contemporary pans are thicker than All-Clad D3: 3mm versus 2.6mm. This extra thickness means these pans have more aluminum, which means more even heating and better heat retention than D3. Our performance testing bore this out: these pans cook as well or better than the D3 pans we've tested.

We were surprised by this, especially considering the lack of thickness of the 5-ply Professional pans and the 7-ply Titanium pans--both 2.5mm--but yes, these 3-ply pans are thicker and heavier than the higher ply Viking lines.

The pans are completely sealed, so there's no aluminum visible around the edge. This makes them completely safe to toss in the dishwasher. 

The volume marks on the deeper pots are great. Why doesn't all cookware have these?? 

The outside has a high gloss finish, but the cooking surface has a slightly matte finish that for some reason cleans up more easily than some other brands of clad stainless we've tested.

What we didn't like: 

The handle is really high and really heavy. You can see in the photo how far the handle arcs above the pan; in person, the handle is very noticeable. One advantage to this is that the handle stays cooler on a gas range. However, it's heavy, and some people found the height made the pans harder to maneuver.

We also didn't like was the vented glass lids. We much prefer stainless lids for durability, but the vents were yet another reason to dislike these lids: the vent helps to prevent boil overs by releasing pressure, but that also means you can't build up any pressure when you want to. This is be a small drawback, but pressure helps food cook faster, so it's a good option to have. 

The pans are 18/8, not 18/10, which shouldn't make much of a difference in durability, but is a slightly lower quality steel than 18/10. For a premium brand like Viking, 18/10 should be standard.

Performance and Handling

We tested the 10-inch Viking Contemporary skillet and were pleased with the performance. The pan heated quickly and evenly, and the heat retention was good; it held onto heat for quite awhile and didn't crash too much when we added food to the pan like thinner cookware will. All good.

We pan seared a steak in it--the ultimate test of heat retention--and got good results:

Pan Seared Steak Viking Contemporary

The sear from Viking Contemporary.

We also made a stir fry and scrambled eggs. Of course we used cooking oil, as you need to with stainless cookware, but we got good results all the way around. Heat-up time was fast and the heat evened out rapidly across the pan. This means that food cooked evenly and quickly, even at low and medium heat settings.

There was some sticking with the eggs (scrambled), but that is to be expected with stainless and was less than we thought we'd get.

Cleanup was surprisingly easy. We like that you can use an abrasive scrubby pad when you have to--something you can't do with a nonstick pan. It made quick work of the scrambled egg residue, and the pan still looked gorgeous after being scrubbed.

The Viking handle is comfortable, looks great and makes it easy to stabilize the pot whether in your hand or stabilized under your arm. However, as we mentioned above, it's tall, long and heavy, and some people found it made the pan harder to use. On smaller pans, you may find the handle pulls the pan over so it doesn't sit levelly. (We didn't see this, but some Amazon reviewers said it was.a problem.)

We also like that the deep sauté pan has a helper handle--but wish the large skillet did, as well. (The 12-inch skillet should definitely have one, like All-Clad's 12-inch skillets, but it doesn't.)

All the pans in the Contemporary line have a flat rim; no lip for pouring. Even so, pouring was easy and we had no issues with drips or spills.

Overall, we were pleasantly surprised by the performance of the Viking Contemporary 3-ply cookware and find it to be good quality, good performing cookware.

Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Heavy duty 3mm walls for even heating and good heat retention
  • "Windsor" design is attractive and easy to work with
  • Volume marks on deeper pots for easy measuring
  • Ergonomic, stay-cool handles
  • Induction compatible
  • Pretty good-sized pieces in set
  • Completely sealed edges (safe for dishwasher).
Cons
  • Some people found the tall handle made the pans hard to maneuver
  • Vented glass lids (we like a lid you can use to create pressure when you want to)
  • No helper handle on 12-inch skillet
  • Expensive for imported (Chinese-made) cookware.

Recommendation

Our rating: Recommended, with reservations

We were surprised how much we liked this cookware. It's beautiful, cooks evenly, and is built like a tank--yet still easy to manage. It's a bit expensive for Chinese-made cookware, but the quality is excellent and you're getting a lot for your investment: Contemporary cookware will last a lifetime. If you're looking for open stock pieces, we highly recommend the 12-inch skillet. 

See Viking Contemporary cookware buying options on Amazon:

Amazon buy button

Buy viking contemporary cookware at viking.com:

Viking 3-Ply Set from Sam's Club and Other Tri-Ply Options

There are some open stock pieces of Viking 3-ply on Amazon that are not Contemporary. Some may be from the Sam's Club set, and some of them are the last few pieces of US-made 3-ply still around. (Sorry we can't be more exact, but the information was hard to find.) The levels of quality may be very different between the Chinese-made Viking and the US-made, so be careful if you buy 3-ply that isn't Contemporary.

Viking 3-ply Skillet

see all viking 3-ply stainless cookware on amazon

These sets/pieces are not listed on the Viking website, so it may be being phased out. We don't know how they compare to the Contemporary set (we didn't test them). We suspect they're probably thinner cookware. We can't say for sure, but the glass lids are an indication that they are not top-notch quality and certainly made in China. The Sam's Club set is a decent set at a great price (around $200), but the Contemporary line is almost certainly higher quality cookware.

This set is different from the Contemporary set, as you can see by the shape of the pans (straight, not angled out):

Viking 13pc TriPly Set Sam's Club

See 13pc viking 3-ply set at Sam's Club 

The same goes for the 17 piece set on Amazon, which looks like the Sam's Club set with a few added pieces:

see 17pc viking 3-ply set on amazon

The 13 piece set from Sam's Club contains:

  • 8 inch skillet
  • 10 inch skillet
  • 2.25 quart sauce pan with lid
  • 3.3 quart sauce pan with lid
  • 4 quart soup pan with lid
  • 5.2 quart deep sauté pan with lid
  • 8 quart stock pot with lid
  • Colander/pasta insert for stock pot.
Viking 13pc TriPly Set Sam's Club

Buy Viking 13pc tri-ply cookware (set only) at Sam's Club:

The 17-piece set from Amazon includes:

  • 8, 10, and 12 inch skillets
  • 1.5 quart butter/sauce pan with spouts (no lid)
  • 2 quart sauce pan with lid
  • 3 quart sauce pan with lid
  • 4 quart casserole pan/soup pot with lid
  • 3.5 quart sauté pan with lid and helper handle
  • 5 quart casserole pot with lid
  • 8 quart stock pot with lid
  • Colander/pasta strainer that fits 8 quart stock pot.

It's a nice set, but we recommend not paying this much for a made-in-China set.

Viking 17pc Tri Ply cookware set

Buy 17pc Viking tri-ply cookware (set only) at amazon:

Amazon buy button

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Review: Viking 5-Ply Professional Clad Stainless Steel

Viking Professional 10pc Set

Overall Rating: 3.6

Heating Properties: 3.0

Durability: 5.0

Safety/Stability: 5.0

Ease of Care: 3.0

Design/Usability: 3.5