Though we’ve covered quite a few of our fave stainless steel cookware sets in our giant buying guide (available here), we wanted to go more in-depth into more of the options out there. We love stainless steel, and there is no shortage of sets with nearly every combination of pieces (and at nearly every price point!) imaginable.
Our top ten sets cover a broad spectrum of prices — from quality budget sets to premium brands — and a variety of included pieces. If you’re interested in a brand but don’t like the set’s lineup, there are typically other options available. Just watch for the brand name and the name of the line (that last part is important as many manufacturers have different lines with various designs and quality).
Before we dive right in, one more quick note. If you find that sets aren’t the best purchase for you, most — if not all — of the brands we’ll be covering also offer individual pieces. That way you can get only what you’ll actually use.
Kitchara 5-Ply Stainless Steel Set: Best Overall
Great for families of 4 or more, cooks who are new to stainless steel, and anyone looking for an affordable premium stainless set.
One of our favorite cookware brands offers a 5-ply, 18/10 stainless steel cookware set that’s designed for families. This set is around $400 — which is a great price for premium 5-ply — and comes with useful pieces for everyday cooking.
Kitchara’s 10-piece set includes:
- 2-quart saucepan with cover
- 4-quart saucepan with cover
- 4 quart saute pan with cover
- 8-quart stockpot with cover
- 10-inch skillet
- 12-inch skillet
In addition to loving the design and sizes, and that excellent price, we like Kitchara (and Made In, the next brand we’ll be discussing) because of their business design. Direct-to-consumer brands are hot these days, and this is great news for shoppers. Online-only, direct-to-consumer brands cut out the costs of selling in retail stores and pass those savings on to consumers. They also, by and large, have excellent customer service. With Kitchara specifically, this translates to a lifetime warranty, responsive customer service, and even one-on-one help for questions about using the product.
This set isn’t perfect for everyone, though. It is large, so it’s not the best fit for small families or those without a lot of cabinet space. The pieces are heavy (which you’ll often see with premium stainless, particularly when it is 5-ply and above), so it might be difficult for some cooks to manage.
Check out our full review of Kitchara’s 10-piece set here.
As far as product offerings, Kitchara currently only comes in this set, though you can buy individual items from the set (see all products here).
Made In Cookware – The Starter Kit: Best USA-Made
A small but useful set that’s great for singles or couples, Made In is 100% American made and sold direct to consumers.
In the U.S., a lot of shoppers like to buy American-made whenever possible. Cookware can be tricky to find made in the USA, and in fact, it can be super frustrating when you try to look. Many brands that used to be made here are now manufactured abroad and many more brands are less than forthcoming about the actual country of origin. Made In Cookware is 100% made in America and you can see exactly where all the components come from and where in the country the manufacturing happens.
Made In is, like Kitchara, a direct-to-consumer brand. But they only sell their products through their site (it’s not available on Amazon, like many other DTC brands). However, Made In offers fast and free shipping as well as a 45-day risk-free trial, so there’s no reason not to buy direct.
Made In has a few “kits” available — including “The Sous Chef,” which is a set very similar to Kitchara’s (above) but also includes a nonstick skillet — but we like to recommend “The Starter” which includes:
- 10″ skillet
- 2-quart saucepan with cover
- 5-quart stockpot with cover
Made In’s cookware is 5-ply, 18/10 brushed stainless. It is induction compatible, oven safe to 500 degrees, and dishwasher safe.
The biggest drawback to Made In sets is the price. Though it is well-priced for American-made 5-ply, it’s still on the high end of price and may be out of budget for a lot of shoppers. And, like other 5-ply+ stainless, it is a bit heavy.
All-Clad D3: Most Popular
The name is well-known among home cooks and pros alike, and, while you’ll pay a premium, it’s a solid and reliable set.
If cookware was in high school, All-Clad would be prom king. Or head cheerleader. Does this metaphor even work? Anyway. My point is All-Clad is well known as an industry leader. For a lot of cooks, All-Clad is the be-all, end-all, or at least the cookware they hope to own one day.
The D3 line is our favorite for stainless from the brand. It’s tri-ply rather than 5-ply (you’d have to spring for the D5 to get that) but it’s less expensive than the D5 and the difference in performance is minimal.
Available in 5-, 7-, 10-, and 14-piece sets, All-Clad’s options are useful for a variety of cooks and family sizes. The 7-piece is one of the bestselling options and includes:
- 10-Inch fry pan
- 3-Quart covered saucepan
- 3-Quart covered sauté pan
- 8-Quart covered stockpot
All-Clad’s D3 cookware is made in the USA (although the lids may not be — the information about this is conflicting) and comes with a lifetime warranty. You’ll pay around $500 for the 7-piece set, but the brand is known to last a lifetime, so it isn’t a bad investment at all.
While many cooks have a great time with their All-Clad cookware, do note that the handle can give some folks trouble. All-Clad uses a u-shaped handle on their cookware that can be hard to hold. If you haven’t heard of this, be warned that it’s a contentious issue in the cookware community! In my experience, the larger, heavier pieces (like frying pans) are particularly tricky due to the handle shape. You can buy covers to help you hold them, but for some shoppers, it’s best to find something that’s naturally more comfortable.
Tramontina Gourmet Stainless Tri-Ply: Cult Fave
While not as well-known as some other brands, fans of Tramontina rave about the quality. It’s also pretty affordable!
Tramontina isn’t a name that a lot of cooks know, but the brand is pretty prolific. Their stainless sets come in a huge variety of prices and are available in multiple stores. Founded in Brazil in the early 1900s, Tramontina now provides cookware that is manufactured in China and the United States, in addition to Brazil.
The Gourmet Tri-Ply is a top-selling and highly rated set from Brazil, available in 8-, 10-, or 12-pieces. You can find a 12-piece set for under $300 that includes:
- 8-In fry pan
- 10-in fry pan
- 5-qt covered deep sauté pan
- 1.5-qt covered saucepan
- 2-qt covered saucepan
- 3-qt covered saucepan
- 8-qt covered stockpot
You can read our full review of this set here.
Overall, the Tri-Ply line is great for everyday use. That it’s lower in price than a lot of other brands is a huge draw for shoppers. Do note, however, that it’s not going to be as good as more expensive cookware. For instance, Serious Eats put the Tramontina up against the All-Clad and found that the All-Clad outperformed Tramontina in nearly all tests. Even so, it’s a good quality cookware set that should work well for most cooks.
Cuisinart MCP-12: Best for a Budget
This is our top pick for an under $300 price tag — and it’s actually much closer to $200 for a 12-piece set!
This 3-ply cookware set from Cuisinart appears on pretty much every “best” list you’ll find. It’s consistently highly-rated and is the best selling option at this price point.
The 12-piece set includes:
- 1 1/2-quart covered saucepan
- 3-quart covered saucepan
- 8-inch skillet
- 10-inch skillet
- 3-1/2-quart covered saute pan
- 8-quart covered stockpot
- steamer insert with lid
You can save a little money, ditch a few of the pieces, and swap out the stainless lids for glass with the under $200 10-piece tri-ply, but we like the 12-piece a bit more.
Cuisinart also offers many other stainless options at various prices. Do note, however, that the “Chef’s Classic” line is disc-bottomed rather than fully glad, which isn’t ideal for everyday pots and pans. However, it’s very inexpensive so it might be worth your time if you don’t do a lot of cooking, or you don’t mind the lack of cladding.
While the customer reviews across the board on the MCP-12 are overwhelmingly positive, there are still some things to note about this set. It is a beautiful and durable set of pots and pans, but they aren’t going to be on par with premium stainless. Most negative reviews (on Amazon and elsewhere) indicate some pans experiencing warping after a short period of time. The handles aren’t the greatest either, and they do tend to get hot. That said, this is still an excellent option at this price point. If around $200 is your budget for stainless cookware, Cuisinart is definitely a good decision.
Heritage Steel Core Set: Premium 7-Ply
Check out this gorgeous premium cookware from American brand Hammer Stahl when 5-ply just ain’t enough.
We actually discovered Hammer Stahl at this year’s International Home and Housewares Show and found ourselves smitten. The USA-based and made brand has been making kitchenware for more than 40 years. At IHHS, Hammer Stahl revealed their new branding for the cookware, changing from American Clad Hammer Stahl to Heritage Steel to separate the line from their German-made cutlery.
One of the coolest things about HS’s 7-ply design is the transparency and explanation of the 7 layers that comprise each piece (get the details and see a helpful infographic on their site here). This is unique, thoughtfully designed cookware that will absolutely last a lifetime.
The 10-piece Core Set includes:
- 1.5 Quart saucepan with cover
- 3 Quart saucepan with cover
- 4 Quart deep sauté with cover
- 8 Quart Dutch oven with cover
- 10.5 Inch fry pan with cover
A few notable features from this brand: the outer layer is made of 316Ti stainless, which is premium grade stainless and titanium for extra rust resistance and durability. The fry pan includes a lid, which is almost unheard of in sets. And, Hammer Stahl is a really great brand based in Pennsylvania, with multiple generations of the founding family still working there today.
This is a more expensive set, so this will be out of budget for a lot of folks. However, if you have the cash to spend, we strongly encourage you to spend some time getting to know Hammer Stahl and Heritage Steel!
Demeyere 5-Plus Stainless Steel: Lust-Worthy (& Rivetless)
While this is the most expensive set on our list, it’s pretty dreamy, so we had to include it.
I’ll admit that the inclusion of this set is pretty personal: I’m obsessed with Demeyere. This is my bucket list cookware brand, and I think the 5-Plus set is stellar. Demeyere is an industry leader when it comes to premium, top of the line cookware and this selection gives you practically everything you need to have a perfectly stocked kitchen. (I just wish it also came with a saucier!)
For around a grand, you’ll get this gorgeous set, which includes:
- 2-qt covered sauce pan
- 4-qt covered sauce pan
- 9.5″ fry pan
- 11″ fry pan
- 3-qt covered sauté pan
- 8-qt covered stock pot
One of the notable design features of Demeyere is the rivetless handles. Though riveting is preferred in general, Demeyere is one brand that actually makes this design work. Your handles aren’t going to fall off, is what I’m saying.
Of course, the high price tag isn’t going to be worth it for the majority of shoppers. While it’s beautiful and performs excellently, the differences in performance and overall design may not be worth several hundred more dollars. But if you are looking for a top of the line premium set, Demeyere is too good to ignore.
T-fal Multi-Clad: Tiny Price, Big Set
Okay, you don’t want to spend more than $150 but you want a good set. You’re covered.
T-fal is known for being a budget brand that performs. Many outlets rate the brand well, and the price is great. This large set is an excellent bargain and the lowest priced set we recommend.
The 12-piece set includes:
- 8 in frying pan
- 10 in frying pan
- 12 in frying pan
- 1.5 qt covered saucepan
- 2.5 qt covered saucepan
- 3-qt covered saucepan
- 6-qt covered Dutch Oven
- 3 qt steamer insert
Though you won’t get the same performance as a higher priced set, these pieces still deliver. It’s also a very durable set that should last quite a while.
The pieces aren’t ideal for every kitchen in that there are some “filler” items and it takes up a lot of storage space. But for those looking for a comprehensive set, this does a great job of addressing needed pieces. We’d recommend the Cuisinart MCP set we discussed above over this one, but if that’s out of budget, T-fal is your best bet.