For many chefs and home cooks alike, stainless steel cookware is the best kind of cookware to have. There are several different reasons for that. It’s extremely durable, for one, which means you can use it over and over again for years and not have to replace it.

But there are many other advantages as well. It’s easy to maintain—if it starts looking dull, all you need is a little vinegar to restore its shine. It easily withstands high temperatures, so you can use it for just about any type of cooking, from steaming to frying and sautéing to stewing and more.

No matter what style of kitchen you’ve got, it will probably go with the décor, and it’s generally quite affordable, too.

Not all stainless steel cookware is the same, however. If you’re looking to buy a set for your kitchen or as a gift for a friend or loved one, you may wonder which one is best.

We recently reviewed dozens of them, looking at factors like:

  • The grade of stainless steel: 18/8 or 18/10 is the standard—the first number indicates the percentage of chromium in the steel, and the second indicates the percentage of nickel. Chromium enhances durability and protects against rust, while nickel provides extra hardness and a high-polished look.
  • The core material: Often present in a disc-like shape at the bottom of the pot, the core material helps conduct heat—options include aluminum and copper with copper being superior.
  • The presence (or not) of cladding: Cookware that is “fully clad” has a complete layer of copper or aluminum along the base and sides rather than just a disc at the bottom. This helps the cookware heat evenly and retain heat more efficiently.
  • The quality of the handles and lids: The style, material, and shape of the handles and lids can affect their longevity and durability.
  • The weight of the pot: A heavier pot means more material in the pot, which creates a sturdier product that heats more evenly.
  • Cost: A set of stainless steel cookware can vary widely by cost, depending on the brand, materials used, and construction.

All of these top-rated stainless steel cookware sets can be purchased online at Amazon.

Best Stainless Steel Cookware Overall
T-fal C836SD Ultimate Stainless Steel
This 13-piece set comes complete with everything you need for home cooking, and is made with a heavy gauge base with multiple layers for fast, even heat distribution.

We’ve identified the T-fal C836SD Ultimate Stainless Steel as our top pick. You get all the different pots and pans you need in this 13-piece set, plus a unique, three-layered base that provides even heat distribution perfect for all your favorite recipes.

The 5 Top-Rated Stainless Steel Cookware Sets

Editor's PicksBrandRating
Best Stainless Steel Cookware OverallT-fal Ultimate Stainless Steel4.5
Best Nonstick Stainless Steel CookwareCirculon Acclaim Cookware4.8
Best Budget Stainless Steel CookwareCook N Home Stainless Steel4.3
Best High-End Stainless Steel CookwareAll-Clad D5 Brushed Stainless Steel Cookware4.6
Best Safe Stainless Steel CookwareHOMI CHEF Nickel-Free Stainless Steel Cookware4.4

*Ratings are from Amazon at the time of publication and can change.

Best Stainless Steel Cookware Overall: T-fal Ultimate Stainless Steel

Best Stainless Steel Cookware Overall
T-fal Ultimate Stainless Steel
This 13-piece set comes complete with everything you need for home cooking, and is made with a heavy gauge base with multiple layers for fast, even heat distribution.

The T-fal Ultimate Stainless Steel is your perfect all-around cookware set, ideal for replacing old tired-out pots and pans, or as a wedding or graduation gift. You get 13 pieces, including the following:

  • 8” frying pan
  • 5” frying pan
  • 12” frying pan with lid
  • 1-quart saucepan with lid
  • 2-quart saucepan with lid
  • 3-quart saucepan with lid
  • 5-quart Dutch oven with lid and stainless steel steamer

All of the pans have a unique heavy gauge base with multiple layers of copper, stainless steel, and aluminum for fast, even heating. You can see the copper in the bottom, and know that it’s channeling heat from the center outward to help prevent hot spots. The stainless steel is a quality 18/10 grade, and the base is also compatible with induction heat.

That means you can use these pans wherever you like—on the stovetop or in the oven (safe up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit)—plus you’ll find interior marks for easy filling. Each tempered-glass lid is vented to allow steam to escape, with riveted stainless steel handles ergonomically designed for comfort.

T-fal says the pans are dishwasher safe, but reviewers warn that the pots will last longer if you hand wash.

T-fal C836SD Ultimate Stainless Steel Key Features:

  • Heavy-gauge base with multiple layers of copper, stainless steel, and aluminum for fast, even heating
  • Tempered glass lids with venting and ergonomic handles
  • 13 pieces for all of your cooking needs
  • Quality 18/10 stainless steel construction
  • Safe for the stovetop or oven, and with induction cooking methods

Best Nonstick Stainless Steel Cookware: Circulon Acclaim Cookware

Best Nonstick Stainless Steel Cookware
Circulon Acclaim Cookware
Avoid scrubbing with this quality 13-piece nonstick set complete with lids and rubberized stainless steel handles.

If you hate having to clean your pans, try the Circulon Acclaim Cookware. Circulon specializes in a unique, PFOA-free nonstick surface to make clean-up a breeze. The Total Nonstick System features raised circles on the surface of the pans (look closely and you can see them), as well as a premium-quality nonstick surface that resists scratching, staining, and chipping, while providing for extraordinary food release.

That same nonstick coating is on the outside of the pan, too, which helps keep it looking great after every use. The manufacturer claims that this nonstick system lasts “10 times longer than ordinary nonstick.”

The pans are made of hard adonized stainless steel, which is twice as hard as regular stainless steel and helps distribute heat evenly to reduce hot spots and prevent burning. They are suitable for all types of cooking, so feel free to use them on stovetops and with induction, and they are safe in the oven up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

This set includes:

  • 1-quart saucepan with lid
  • 2-quart saucepan with lid
  • 3-quart saucepan with lid
  • 6-quart stockpot with lid
  • 3-quart sauté pan with lid
  • 5-inch frying pan
  • 10-inch frying pan
  • 12-inch frying pan

You’ll enjoy gripping onto handles that are dual riveted for strength and wrapped in rubberized grips for comfort. Fold-out rings on the ends allow you to hang the pans to store them if you wish.

Circulon Acclaim Cookware Key Features:

  • Unique nonstick surface features raised circles and nonstick coating inside and out
  • Made of hard adonized stainless steel for even heat distribution
  • Handles dual riveted for strength and wrapped in rubberized grips
  • Suitable for stovetops, ovens, and induction cooking
  • Includes rings on the ends of the handles for hanging

Best Budget Stainless Steel Cookware: Cook N Home Stainless Steel

Best Budget Stainless Steel Cookware
Cook N Home Stainless Steel
The stainless steel cookware you need for a price you can afford.

Buying a whole set of stainless steel cookware can sometimes seem impossible when finances are tight. You don’t have to deprive yourself or your kitchen, however, if you go with the Cook N Home Stainless Steel 12-piece set. Each pan is made of stainless steel with an aluminum disc layered in the bottom for even heat distribution.

Granted, an aluminum disc won’t give you the same even heat distribution as a multi-layered base will, but that aluminum will still help distribute the heat and may work perfectly well enough for you. The steel is mirror polished inside and out for a nice shiny appearance, and like most stainless steel options, these are induction compatible and work well on gas and electric stovetops. They are not recommended for oven use.

This set comes with:

  • 5-quart saucepan with lid
  • 5-quart casserole pan with lid
  • 2-quart casserole pan with lid
  • 3-quart casserole pot with lid
  • 5-quart stockpot with lid
  • 10-inch sauté fry pan with lid

All of the lids are made with tempered glass and have steam vents, while the handles are riveted for durability and covered with rubberized grips. The pans aren’t dishwasher safe, so always wash them by hand.

Cook N Home Stainless Steel Key Features:

  • Mirror polished stainless steel for an attractive look
  • Aluminum disc helps distribute heat
  • Tempered-glass lids allow you to see what you’re cooking
  • Riveted handles with rubberized grips
  • Complete set for an economical price

Best High-End Stainless Steel Cookware: All-Clad D5 Brushed Stainless Steel Cookware

Best High-End Stainless Steel Cookware
All-Clad D5 Brushed Stainless Steel Cookware
The high-performance All-Clad cookware is everything the professional chef expects: durable, versatile, compatible, and convenient.

For professional chefs at home and work, the All-Clad D5 Brushed Stainless Steel Cookware is the stainless steel of choice. This set has the unique d5 patented five-ply bonded construction throughout, with alternating layers of stainless steel and aluminum. This layered construction differs from other 5-ply designs in that it has an additional layer of stainless steel in the center, which provides that extra boost in even heating.

The stainless steel is 18/10 grade while the d5 brushed cookware is stick-resistant and non-reactive to food. The lustrous brushed exterior not only cooks evenly but looks great on the stove or the tabletop. The bottom of each pan features an engraved capacity marking for easy identification, and each piece is designed with a rolled lip for easy pouring.

This set includes:

  • 8” frying pan
  • 10” frying pan
  • 5-quart saucepan with lid
  • 3-quart saucepan with lid
  • 3-quart sautéing pan with lid
  • 8-quart stockpot with lid

Use this set for all your cooking needs, including searing, braising, sautéing, and simmering. The lids are made of stainless steel and have riveted oversized, easy-grip loop handles that stay cool on the cooktop.

Expect a lifetime of use with these pots and pans, as that’s what they’re made to provide. All-Clad provides a lifetime warranty.

All-Clad D5 Brushed Cookware Key Features:

  • High-performance quality stainless steel
  • Patented 5-ply bonded construction for even heating
  • Stainless steel lids with easy-grip loop handles
  • Engraved capacity marking on the bottom of each pan
  • Lifetime warranty

Best Safe Stainless Steel Cookware: HOMI CHEF Nickel-Free Stainless Steel Cookware

Best Safe Stainless Steel Cookware
HOMI CHEF Nickel-Free Stainless Steel Cookware
Enjoy peace of mind and allergy-free cooking with this nickel-free, coating-free stainless steel set.

If you have family members with nickel allergies, which are fairly common, or if you are worried about chemicals in nonstick coatings, choose the HOMI CHEF Nickel-Free Stainless Steel Cookware.

This set is completely nickel-free and PFOA-fee, so you don’t have to worry about potentially toxic chemicals in a nonstick coating. HOMI CHEF gives you complete peace of mind by avoiding coatings altogether and using heat surround technology and a 3-ply stainless steel and aluminum construction. This helps eliminate hot spots and provides a naturally nonstick surface.

When you get these pans, you’ll notice the shiny polished copper band at the bottom of each one. It not only imparts a classic beauty to the set but ensures the even heat distribution as well.

  • 1-quart saucepan with lid
  • 2-quart saucepan with lid
  • 7-quart stockpot with lid
  • 8” frying pan
  • 5” frying pan
  • 5-quart sautéing pan with lid

All of the pans have stainless steel handles that stay cool while cooking, while the lids have similar handles and are made of see-through tempered glass. The flared rims ensure drip-free pouring.

HOMI CHEF Nickel-Free Stainless Steel Cookware Key Features:

  • 3-play construction provides even heat distribution
  • Copper band at the bottom encourages heating and looks great
  • Nickel-free and PFOA-free
  • Tempered glass lids with roomy loop handles
  • Enjoy a one-month full-refund trial with this set

Once you get your stainless steel set home, you may find that you prefer home cooking to even the highest quality restaurants. To further stock your kitchen, check out our Best Electric Pressure Cookers and Best Cast Iron Skillets.