How to Select a Cookware Set?

stainless stell cookware by lagostina all-clad j.a. henckels :: copper calphalon cookware

The high-quality cookware makes a difference when cooking. They last longer but more importantly they will cook better because they distribute heat more efficiently.

A set provides the basic pots and pans that you need on a daily basis. You will add specialized pots as you need them.

Although a superior cookware set can cost a lot, it is money well spent. Cookware in large retail chains go on sale at 50% off a few times a year. So check the store flyers to spot your favorite cookware.

Finishes and base compositions

Copper pots and pans work incredibly well. I like their charming look. But they require too much work to keep their beautiful shine. This is why, stainless steel rules on my house. The only exception is my enameled cast iron Dutch oven by Le Creuset.

My basic cookware set has a copper inlay base. Some higher-end sets have a copper core with a stainless steel finishes. This is the case of the Copper-Core collection by All-Clad. I just added to my wish list.

Stay away from non-stick

I know that non stick cookware is really popular. Believe me, I do not enjoy cleaning and modern stainless steel cookware is a lot easier to clean. Except for the average size frying pan to cook your eggs, stay away from non-stick cookware. I am sorry but you cannot cook properly in those.

I used the stainless steel cookware all my life. In the worst case, I do a couple turns with a light duty scour pad. I let my pots and pans soak in hot water and dish liquid (I used Sunlight or Dawn) for a few minutes after they cooled down. As clean as new!

What to look for when buying a cookware set

Bring this checklist when you go shopping for your next cookware.

  1. Extra-thick base. A superior cookware is heavy because of its 3 to 5-ply construction.
  2. Double-rivet handles are more robust and durable.
  3. For safety reasons, go for long, stay cool handles. But also select a handle that feels comfortable in your hands. Hold the pots and pans in your hands before buying a set. Like I said, you will use it for a long time. So take the time
  4. Heavy lids stay in place. Look for a shape that promotes water circulation.
  5. Oven safe cookware is a must; broiler safe is the ultimate solution. Make sure the lids are also oven safe.
  6. A 12″ (30-32 cm) everyday pan with loop handles and a lid is practical to move the pan from the stove top to the oven to the table. Buy it separately from the set. I own two such pans and use them several times a week.
  7. All metal handles, because they support higher oven temperature. I bought my second everyday pan with loop handles because the handles of the first one are not all in metal. I was preparing a delicious recipe that was calling for an oven temperature higher than 350 °F. Luckily, I bought my Jamie Oliver Italian Series Ragout pan at 50% off at The Bay two years ago.
  8. Buy a set that supports all stove top types. If you buy a gas, glass, ceramic and induction stoves all have their requirements. The finest cookware sets are typically built for all stove top types.
  9. Here is a quick test if you are tempted by the new Electrolux  Induction Hybrid cooktops, do the magnet test. You can use a decorative kitchen magnet. If the magnet sticks to the base, the cookware is induction cooking ready.
  10. Dishwasher safe is a matter of a personal choice; some people do not like to put their cookware in the dishwasher. I am lazy when it comes to cleaning; therefore dishware safe cookware is a must for me.

I selected 5 high-quality cookware sets for you or to give as a wedding gift. See Sourcing for details.

>>> Sourcing:
Buy online: Lagostina Pro-Clad 10-Piece Cookware Set [] – price: $899.99 CAD
Buy online: Tri-ply Copper 10-pc. Cookware Set by Calphalon [] – price: $449.99 USD
Buy online: Copper-Core 10-pc. Cookware Set by All-Clad [] – price: $1,199.99 USD
Buy online: J.A. Henckels 7-Pc. Classic Clad Cookware Set [] – price: $599.99 CAD
Buy online: MC2 Master Chef 2 7-pc. Cookware Set by All-Clad [] – price: $339.99 USD

  • Sarah J
    May 20, 2008 at 12:32

    Dawn Power Dissolver is fantastic for getting tough stuff off pans. Or I add a little water and put the pan back on the stove, bring the water to a simmer and use a wooden spoon or spatula to scrape off the yuckies.
    It really isn’t hard to clean stainless pans.

  • At Home with Kim Vallee
    January 30, 2009 at 18:54

    Chris: You should be very happy for years with the Lagostina Academy 10-pc. 5-ply Copper Cookware Set. The double-rivet handles and the entire set seems well made. The copper layer sandwiched between aluminum layers and covered by stainless/steel typically uniform the cooking. I always been happy of the Lagostina cookware I bought and this set is more high end.. If you were looking for a set, I would take advantage of the 50% off until Feb. 15, 2009.

  • David Money
    April 29, 2009 at 17:21

    How do I know if my 18/10 stainless steel cookware is oven safe. And safe up to what temperature. Is not all 18/10 stainless steel cookware the same. The brand is Meyer. That is all it says is Meyer. Not All-Clad, Faberware or Calaephon (sp?) Can you help or direct me to someone who can?

  • At Home with Kim Vallee
    April 29, 2009 at 18:12

    David: It is funny because Meyer sells its products under well-known brands.
    The oven safe element first depends on the handle. If they are not made of the same metal, forget it. Unfortunately, there is no way to know which temperature your cookware can sustain. The basic oven-safe cookware can resist up to 350 F. The best brand are safe up to the 550 F.

    I would suggest that you send digital pictures of your cookware to Meyer and see if they can help you. Good luck!

  • At Home with Kim Vallee
    April 29, 2009 at 18:17

    David, I found these for you.

    Note: I noticed that some non-metal handles can go on the oven up to 350 F.

  • Melinda
    May 2, 2009 at 22:27

    Looking to purchase the “Lagostina Pro-Clad 10 pc cookware set, your input would be greatly appreciated.

    • At Home with Kim Vallee
      May 3, 2009 at 01:49

      Melinda: The glass lid is an handy feature. With the 5-ply, riveted handles and the lifetime guarantee, I think you cannot go wrong. I got a few Lagostina pans and pots plus an utensil set at home and they never disappointed me.

  • Kitchen
    July 29, 2009 at 07:55

    Cooking is always full of inspirations. The book recipes and the cookware, they are best friends in my kitchen.

  • Julie
    December 9, 2011 at 15:12

    What would you purchase… Lagostina ACADEMY-CLAD 12 PIECE 5-PLY SET or HENCKELS Spirit 10pc set?… both are retailed at $900 but both on sale. Looking for a good quality set that will with stand a lot of cooking.

    • Kim
      December 9, 2011 at 17:05

      Hi Julie, both seem like a good choice on paper. My instinct tells me to go with the Lagostina. If I am not mistaken, the Henckels set has only 3-ply. Having said that, you could go with the ones that feel the best on your hands. Note that I already own some Lagostina cookware (a cheaper model that I bought several years ago) and that I never cooked with Henckels.

  • Ray
    June 5, 2012 at 16:28

    Hello Kim,
    Lagostina ACADEMY-CLAD 12 PIECE 5-PLY SET, it’s 899$ and 70% off at the baie.
    1. Fiveply base technology
    2. Durable cast stainless steel handles
    3. Stainless steel lids
    4. Heavy gauge body
    does it compare to the lagostina pro-clad ? or not at all. And what about the interior are they the same. Not sure.

    Thank you

    • Kim
      June 6, 2012 at 11:28

      Ray, I did not try it but I checked the specs and it looks great on paper. This particular set is a part of the Premium series by Lagostina. At 70% off, I would say “Go for it!”.

  • Pamela Robertson
    June 9, 2012 at 18:40

    Hello there
    Can you help us?
    We have/had a set of Kim 18/10 3m Sandwich bottom pots. Unfortunately the 160mm glass lid lept out of the cupboard and smashed on the floor. We are therefore only left with the rim and handle!
    Could you please advise us by Email if we can get a replacement lid because we love our set of pots. We live in Tauranga NZ if you so happen to be off shore.
    Thanking you
    Pamela Robertson

  • Anita
    October 11, 2012 at 16:23

    We wanted to buy a stainless steel cookware and debating which Lagostina to go for. There are so many. I do some heavy cooking and wanted something sturdy. I wanted steel lids and preferable avoid the long handles unless these are an imp feature to have

    We were looking at the Casa Pro and was wondering is this a good one or go for the Pro-Clad?

    Thank you what about the Henekals


    • Kim
      October 15, 2012 at 15:58

      Anita, my post was about listing key features to look for when shopping for quality cookware. I don’t keep track of, nor test, all models and brands. Therefore, I can’t tell you which particular model performs better.