If you’re like me, you’ve had the same Calphalon cookware for years. And while it works great, you’ve probably seen the rush of direct-to-consumer brands making objectively more beautiful products. And while cookware is meant for cooking, not ogling, that doesn’t mean you can’t ask yourself: Are these beautiful pieces comparable? The answer is yes – each is made with craftsmanship and precision to rival your favorite set at home. Well, take what? This is harder. To help you out, I tested five brands – Made In, Caraway, Equal Parts, Great Jones and Five Two by Food 52. Each had a piece I really, really loved – so if you’re after a unique new pot or pan looking for a new pan, rest assured we’ve got these out for you. But if you’re looking for a new complete cookware set – I found one set to be a bit superior to the others, at least for your average home cook.
Best complete set
Cumin cookware is a statement piece to say the least. The brand prides itself on offering non-toxic and eco-friendly cookware, but let’s be honest: the first thing that will catch your eye are the colours. Poppy yet well designed, they give you a choice of six, which may be the hardest decision you’ve made in a long time. Beyond the color palette, the cookware itself is beautiful, complete with beveled edges and a sleek design from handle to lid. The set consists of four non-stick ceramic pieces – a frying pan, a sauce pan, a casserole and a casserole. I like that they use the Dutch Oven as both a soup pot and an oven to save space. While the lids aren’t transparent, they do feature a vapor hole, which is a nice and very important touch.
If you’re buying a set, it’s better to buy all the nonsticks and then accent it with stainless steel parts, which is why I think this set is the best. Other sets (like Great Jones’s) have stainless steel built in. While these parts are closer to restaurant quality, I’ve found I’m less likely to use them since they’re more difficult to clean. Instead, cumin pans are the easiest to clean overall, the easiest to maintain, and the most versatile. Side note: Kümmel also offers organizational tools: the lids fit in the pots, the set comes with magnetic pan holders that fit perfectly on the pans, and it comes with a canvas lid holder that fits perfectly on the inside of a cupboard.
Blue carbon steel skillet
The Made In Blue Carbon Steel Skillet is by far the best skillet on the market and every cook should have one in their arsenal. Carbon steel is like cast iron, only better. That’s because it gives you the best of both worlds – cast iron to avoid sticking and stainless steel for heat and ease of use. Easy to clean, you can cook anything on this pan and if you take good care of it, it will last forever.
If this were a competition to determine the best pots and pans for a chef, Made In would win out of those five. Their cookware is used in several three Michelin star restaurants – it’s that good. The starter set consists of five pieces – a 10″ stainless steel skillet, a 10″ charcoal skillet, a 2 liter saucepan, an 8 liter stock pot and a small can of carbon steel seasoning wax. That’s great if you like stainless steel, but the reality is that most home cooks don’t. It’s harder to clean, but on the flip side, it’s better for the type of high-heat cooking you need to cook bacon or fish. This is the set you should get if you’re an advanced chef who dives headfirst into cookbooks with no fear in the world.
Best nonstick pan
Equal parts essential skillet
When they say this is a must-have pan, they mean it. Crafted from ceramic non-stick material, it’s a 10-inch wonder that you can cook just about anything in. It also has a lid, making it great for multipurpose use, and even better, it has taller walls than the average pan. That means you can stir fry or sauté without getting little bits of onion all over the place.
In terms of the complete set, I found Equal Parts almost identical to Caraway except for a few minor details. While the price is lower, there are fewer colors to choose from and it lacks the smaller touches (no steam vents, no organization tools). I also found the range and sizes of the pans a little interesting. The pan is comparatively small and the pot is also a bit big. However, this is still an excellent set of ceramic non-stick cookware. All parts pack away easily, are free of toxins like Teflon, synthetic coatings, and lead, and they’re all oven safe to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
This is the best pot you can find. It’s not just a saucepan, it’s also a measuring cup (check out those cleverly designed measuring lines) and a colander. It’s a bit small, but it’s the perfect little pot, and the glass lid lets you see what’s going on inside. Genius.
The Food 52 pot and pan set is really well designed and made with input from the Food 52 online community. The set consists of four parts and includes a 10 inch frying pan, a 4 liter sauté pan, a 2.7 liter saucepan and a 6 liter stock pot. Everything is stainless steel except for the pan, which is non-stick ceramic. The lids are see-through, a really nice touch, and include built-in strainers, another ingenious touch. Similar to Made In, the stainless steel interior isn’t good for the casual cook at home as it’s quite a hassle to clean, but it features anti-yellowing technology to help keep it fresh from day one to the hundredth and looks new.
Best big pot
The Dutchess, Great Jones’ version of a Dutch Oven is the best part of the set in my opinion, so why not just do it alone? It will shine on any hob and as it is made from enamelled cast iron it is multifunctional, oven safe and comes complete with a beautiful gray interior to help prevent stains. It’s also dishwasher safe, folks. If you use your Dutch Oven all the time like I do, you’ll be glad you have this one.
Great Jones’ five-piece set is a fantastic option and includes a ceramic non-stick frying pan and three fully clad stainless steel beauties – a gravy pan, a frying pan and a big ol’ stockpot. It also includes The Dutchess, her Dutch Oven, and there are seven bold colors to choose from. All stainless steel parts are nested together, and four of the parts share only two lids. It’s a beautiful mix of chef-ready cookware – stainless steel, which is great for high heat – and homemade perfection in the form of ceramic non-stick coating and enamelled cast iron. It’s easy to clean and even easier to use. Another cool feature is that you can have the set engraved with a name, an anniversary or a signature dish.
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