Best Overall: Farberware Millennium Stainless Steel
If you are just trying to get a handle on induction cooking, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better set than the Millennium Collection by Farberware. A good mix of affordability, durability, and performance, it’s a good value for the price.
Made of stainless steel with a fully encapsulated aluminum base, these are on the heavy side but provide fast, even cooking. The glass lids tightly seal against the rim so you can monitor the progress without lifting it and losing heat.
Oven-safe up to 500 degrees, you can safely cook just about any meal. Plus, the entire set is dishwasher safe for easy cleanup.
Each pot and pan has a double-riveted stainless steel handle for extra durability.
A limited lifetime warranty means Farberware will replace items damaged by everyday household use.
While this is a great starter set for a novice chef, there are better options available for some kitchens, some of which we’ll mention below, but all come at a tradeoff.
- Well-priced for the value.
- Heavy, sturdy, and durable.
- Numerous reviews boast about the longevity of the set.
- The metal handles get rather hot.
- If you don’t follow the before-use instructions, food will stick.
- Several reviewers state that the small-sized pans are not ideal for family-style cooking.
Best Nonstick Selection: T-Fal Professional Nonstick Induction
This T-Fal set can stand up against some of the stickiest messes you might cook up and are compatible with all stovetops. For its versatility, this nonstick set gets our vote.
The Professional Nonstick Induction set is aluminum cookware with a scratch-resistant, titanium-reinforced nonstick interior. The tempered glass lids are vented for steam release, while the handles are silicone-covered to stay cool to the touch.
The cookware is oven-safe up to 400 degrees (the lids to 350), enabling you to cook various dishes. All pieces are dishwasher-safe, though they will probably last longer if you stick to hand washing.
As a category, nonstick cookware is less durable than steel or iron alternatives, with most sets (this included) typically lasting less than five years with regular use.
T-Fal and other makers of traditional nonstick cookware use a PTFE coating to create food release. PTFE is among the slickest substances known to man.
In recent years some kitchens have switched to ceramic nonstick (see our pick below), citing concerns about the manufacturing process for Teflon PTFE, but traditional nonstick cookware still remains one of the most popular options for home kitchens.
T-Fal’s lifetime warranty covers manufacturer’s defects, but will not cover misuse or regular wear and tear.
- A center thermal spot turns solid red when properly preheated.
- Suitable for all stovetops.
- Thick, silicone handles stay cool for easy handling.
- Some reviewers say the abrasive coating on the pans scratch glass or ceramic cooktops.
- The bottoms start to scratch after a few months of use.
- There are several complaints of the lids not securely fitting the pots.
Best Cast Iron: Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast Iron
This Le Creuset cast-iron set is an heirloom-worthy investment. If cared for properly, cast iron will work practically forever. For example, our kitchen uses a Griswold cast iron fry pan from nearly 100 years ago, passed down for multiple generations in my family.
Le Creuset is more expensive than some competitors but offers best-in-class quality and extensive color options on their enameled coatings. The enamel coating not only looks pretty, but it is chip-resistant and doesn’t crack easily.
Cast iron pans have a reputation for how well they hold temperature, heating up and cooling down slowly throughout. In many cases this set will stay hot to touch for 15 minutes after the heating element has been removed.
Admittedly, this set is expensive, heavy, bulky, and requires a special seasoning care routine. But when well-cared for, cast iron can achieve a level of nonstick that is pretty good. And again, they last forever.
Le Creuset’s limited lifetime warranty covers regular consumer use but not damage resulting from things like overheating or neglect.
This set is on the smaller side compared to others on the list but is definitely high-quality. If there were a Cadillac of cookware, it would be Le Creuset.
- It can be used on any stove, oven, or grill.
- The phenolic knobs on the lids can withstand temps up to 500 degrees.
- Works well for both slow cooking and high-temperature cooking.
- Cast iron pans weigh more and are thicker than ones made of other materials.
- It’s more expensive than most cookware.
- Cast iron pans can get sticky if not seasoned regularly.
Best Stainless Steel: Calphalon Tri-Ply Stainless Steel
When All-Clad’s patents on clad cookware expired 20 years ago, Calphalon and other competitors rushed to replicate All-Clad’s tri-ply products and cut retail costs (significantly) using off-shore production.
Calphalon’s stainless steel clad cookware products like this set are similar in quality to All-Clad, and at a significantly lower price point, although some owners report occasional manufacturing issues.
With an aluminum core between two stainless steel layers, you get even heating with these tri-ply pots and pans.
This set is responsive to changes in temperature from the heating element, and cladware has less heat retention that cast iron. This makes it an excellent choice for recipes with delicate ingredients, and can be more forgiving for novice cooks who need to course correct quickly after overheating a dish.
Calphalon’s full lifetime warranty covers any defect in material or workmanship under normal household use. If you are looking for a reliable stainless steel set without a hefty price tag, you can’t beat this Calphalon set.
- It can be used on any stove, oven, or grill.
- This sleek cookware can go from the oven straight to the table.
- It can be used in the oven and broiler.
- Tri-Ply design evenly heats the bottom and sides.
- There’s a learning curve when cooking with stainless steel cookware.
- Some owners complain that the stainless steel discolors easily with use.
- Its thinner handles may be difficult for some users to grasp.
Best Budget Option: NutriChef Excilon Ceramic Induction
This NutriChef Excilon set is a great way to outfit a new or rarely used kitchen. It’s considerably more budget-friendly than other options on this list, and ceramic is generally the most affordable cookware on the market.
Ceramic cookware is widely seen as a healthier alternative to traditional PTFE nonstick cookware. Ceramic coated cook surfaces tend to be slightly less slippery and durable than Teflon, but they are typically cheaper and free of controversial chemicals in the manufacturing process.
The Nutrichef Excilon pots and pans are made of reinforced forged aluminum, with an outer ceramic layer that leads to a better transfer of heat throughout. The tempered glass lids have vents, allowing steam to escape and easy monitoring, while the blue diamond pattern is a more modern aesthetic than some other cookware.
The mineral-based inside coating inside is non-toxic and won’t break down during cooking, and the scratch-resistant cookware is eco-friendly. Since this set retains heat up to 500 degrees and is compatible with gas, electric, ceramic, and induction cooktops, you can make a wide variety of meals and easily clean it all in the dishwasher.
Although ceramic offers a healthy alternative to PTFE nonstick cookware, it also rarely lasts more than two years with regular use. Unfortunately, some lines wear out much more quickly.
NutriChef offers a 10-year limited warranty against manufacturer defects.
- The lid handles have silicone, heat-safe grips.
- PTFE/PFOA/PFOS free.
- Several owners complain that the nonstick coating doesn’t hold up.
- Takes longer to heat up than cookware made of other materials.
- Not oven-safe, so not as versatile as alternatives.
Best High-End Option: All-Clad D3 Stainless Steel
American-made by the originator of clad cookware (although some lids and handles are now being produced off-shore), this All-Clad stainless steel set is one of the best. The price is higher than knock-off alternatives, but top-notch is top-notch, and All-Clad offers excellent customer support.
Like the Calphalon set, this tri-ply 7-piece set features an aluminum core bonded between an inner layer of stainless steel and a bottom layer of induction stainless steel all the way to the rim, allowing it to hold and distribute heat evenly throughout. The handles, also stainless steel, are secured with stainless steel rivets and designed to remain cool while on the stovetop.
These pans get so hot that you rarely need to go above medium heat. The entire set is dishwasher safe, and the pots/pans can be used in the oven and broiler in temperatures up to 600 degrees. Included are stainless-steel lids (not oven safe), but tempered glass ones can be purchased separately.
Highly durable, stainless steel won’t rust, and as long as you don’t use metal utensils, it won’t scratch.
All-Clad’s limited lifetime warranty covers defects in materials, construction, or workmanship under normal use.
This cookware set is also available in a 5-ply copper core upgrade, which no other brands are doing with the same level of quality and materials. While the 5-ply upgrade is awesome, it is unreasonably expensive for most kitchens.
- Flared edges allow for drip-free pouring.
- Extremely durable.
- It’s nonstick, therefore toxin-free
- Because the lids aren’t American-made, they may be ill-fitting.
- Scratches easily.
- Stainless steel lids are not oven safe.
Buyers Guide: Things To Consider When Picking A Set
What is Induction Cooking?
In a nutshell, induction cooking doesn’t use traditional elements to heat a pot or pan. Instead, it heats directly via an electric current underneath the cooking surface in a coil wire. That element is activated by the iron-based cookware’s magnetic metal, warmed, and then transfers heat throughout the pan. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons.
The Pros of Induction Cooking
Induction cookware heats up faster than on a gas or electric stove, saving you time in the kitchen and energy use on your utility bill. Since the pots and pans maintain a consistent temperature throughout, you get more control over your cooking experience.
Unlike traditional stovetops, induction ranges don’t emit gas into the air, and because heat focuses on the area where the pot/pan is, the surface is safer and easier to clean.
The Cons of Induction Cooking
On the flip side, there are disadvantages to induction cooking. Because the technology is rather new, induction ranges are significantly more expensive than gas or electric ones. Size matters, as well, when induction cooking.
If your pot or pan is too small or off-center, it won’t properly activate the stove’s heating element. And if the power goes out, there’s no dinner since induction stoves require electricity to work.
What to Look for When Considering Induction Cookware
There are several factors to bear in mind when it comes to induction cookware. Since induction stoves specifically require compatible cookware, what you already have in your cabinet may not work.
A quick way to test is to hold a magnet to the bottom: if the magnet attracts, then your pot is induction-compatible. Of course, even if your existing kitchenware works with induction cooktops, there’s nothing wrong with adding to your collection, either.
If you find yourself needing new pots and pans, here’s the basic rundown of the materials option you’ll find both with our top recommendations and on the cookware market in general.
Considering the Material Options
Induction cookware comes in four common material options: stainless steel, cast iron, ceramic, and traditional non-stick.
What Are the Benefits of Stainless Steel?
Although pricey, stainless steel cookware heats most evenly for some of the best cooking. It is heavy, durable, and can handle extremely high temperatures. The responsiveness of this construction also makes it preferable in many kitchens.
Why Choose Cast Iron?
It’s almost impossible to ruin a cast iron skillet, one of the reasons they are so long-lasting. When seasoned properly, they are great for nonstick cooking, and cast iron holds heat, so it will keep food warm long after it’s done cooking.
What Are the Advantages of Buying Ceramic?
Ceramic cookware provides a popular alternative to nonstick coating without the use of Teflon. Because the coating itself is non-toxic, no chemicals are released when the pan is heated up.
Why Buy Traditional Nonstick?
Nonstick cookware is the easiest of the bunch to clean and works well for sticky or delicate dishes. Since it isn’t necessary to coat the pan with oil or butter before cooking, nonstick pans can also provide a great option for kitchens who want to eliminate fats or oils from their diet.
While the T-Fal set is a great nonstick selection and the Calphalon set is a quality stainless steel collection that won’t break the bank, we think the induction cookware set that gives you the most bang for your buck is the Farberware option.
Since its base is stainless steel, you are still getting a durable material, but at a lower price point than higher-quality sets. The pots and pans are quite sturdy yet easy to handle and hold up fairly well with everyday use. This cookware can withstand an oven temperature up to 500 and (in a pinch) is dishwasher-safe, allowing you to make a variety of dishes with easy cleanup. Overall, a total win in our book!