With a continued focus on healthy eating, many people are cutting down on the amount of fat that they cook with. This is a great way to keep the body healthy, but certain types of cookware are not going to respond well to using a limited amount of oil or fat.
Nonstick cookware. A good set will provide the benefits of traditional pans with the added bonus of easy cleanup, and the ability to cook with less fat.
A Brief Discussion About PTFE And PFOA Coatings And Nonstick
Over recent decades, nonstick cookware has admittedly garnered a bit of negative attention, due to fears about emissions of toxic chemicals.
Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) is more commonly known by the Dupont brand name Teflon and has been in use since the 1940s. Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) is another associated chemical, which is used in the process of making Teflon.
In recent years, questions have been raised about whether PFOA can be harmful to human health, but because the chemical basically burns off during the manufacturing process, no data exists to show that using Teflon coated pans is in any way dangerous.
After a great deal of research, even Good Housekeeping has given the go-ahead for the safety of most nonstick coated pans, as long as they are used properly.
This includes avoiding heating over 500°F, never preheating a pan empty, and making use of proper ventilation.
In addition, high-heat processes such as searing and broiling should be performed in cookware that is not nonstick coated. The type of cooking fat that is used for these processed is an important consideration as well.
Bottom Line Up Front: Roasten’s Most Recommended Product
Woll Diamond Plus – The Best Nonstick Cookware Set For Most People
We feel Woll Diamond Plus offers the best product for those that plan to use nonstick as their primary cookware set. If you normally use clad stainless steel or cast iron for most of your cooking, you may want to investigate cheaper and more disposable options.
However, if you need a set of nonstick that will last decades, this offering from Woll should be at the top of your list. Made in Germany at a state of the art green-certified facility, Woll’s pans are safe for use with metal utensils.
At the higher end of the price scale, the Diamond Plus cookware set is resistant to cuts and scratches with an ultra-hard coating, thanks to the diamond crystals embedded into its PFOA-free lining (which is applied to both the inside and outside of the pans).
What’s In The Set?
10 pieces, which include: 3.2-quart 8-inch Sauce Pan with lid, 2.1-quart 7-inch Sauce Pan with lid, 6.3-quart 11-inch Stock Pot with lid, 3.7-quart 11-inch Sauté Pan with lid, 8-inch Skillet and 9-inch Skillet.
Features And Benefits:
- Diamond crystals embedded in the nonstick coating are super hard, creating an extremely scratch-resistant product.
- Diamond coating conducts heat much faster than most metals—four times faster than even copper.
- Lighter in weight but high-quality heat distribution.
- Dishwasher safe.
- Oven safe (to 480°F) including lids and handles. This makes it safe for Browning, Searing, and Deglazing. It’s not a good idea to sear with most nonstick pans, as most coatings can’t survive the high heat.
- Energy-efficient lids made from safety glass.
- Cast ergonomic handles with threaded brass insert, for safety and convenient cleanup.
- Can use metal utensils.
- PFOA free.
- Limited lifetime warranty against defects in materials or craftsmanship.
The best thing about these pans, other than being imperious to almost all abuse, is the fact that the sauté pan and skillet handles detach.
Normally, you have one of two options – plastic or rubberized handles that are comfortable and protect against burns, as they don’t transfer heat. However, these generally won’t survive a trip through the oven.
Or, you must contend with metal handles (usually hollow to assist with shedding some heat) that are often uncomfortable and which you must use a potholder or a kitchen towel with when moving them around on the stovetop. However, metal can easily withstand oven use.
With the Woll Diamond Plus, you get the best of both worlds – the detachable handles are very comfortable and safer than their metal counterparts. And they detach – allowing you to slide them in the oven.
This detachable feature also allows for use in smaller ovens (remember: these are designed for European customers, where appliances are often smaller than those available in the USA or Canada). But more importantly, you can fit more pans into a larger oven, as you don’t have to fight the handle placement.
The smaller handles on the stockpot and the saucepan are applied with a threaded brass insert in the metal – meaning there aren’t any visible rivets. Stuck and baked-on food often collects around the interior head of rivets and it is a pain to clean. This design eliminates that chore.
It should be noted that the basic Woll Diamond Plus line is NOT induction capable. For that, you’d need to pony up another c-note (or a little more) and take a look at the Woll Diamond Plus Induction.
Who’s It For?
Someone who has a significant other or children who can’t be taught to use wooden, plastic, or silicone utensils while cooking no matter how much coaching, teaching, mentoring, nagging, yelling or butt-chewing occurs.
I’d still recommend using wooden or silicone utensils on a routine basis, but if you catch your spouse frying with a metal spatula, then it’s not the end of the world.
Hard-Anodized Non-stick Cookware
Wondering if there is another option for nonstick cookware other than a chemical coating?
Hydroelectrically treating aluminum allows it to become more durable and useful, creating a nonstick type of cookware that is not coated using PTFE or PFOA.
The first and probably most recognizable brand name in this type of cookware is Calphalon®, from whom Hard Anodized Aluminum Cookware arrived on the American market in the late 1960s.
The process of anodizing aluminum through oxidization creates cookware that is durable, lightweight, scratch-resistant, and stick-free.
What To Look Out For
If you are in the market for nonstick pans but you aren’t quite sure exactly what you are looking for, here are a few elements to consider to make an educated selection.
Whether you are buying one piece or an entire set, some of the questions to ask about the cookware you are considering are related to the weight of the pan, type of metal, how evenly it cooks, whether it is oven safe, lids and handles, ease of cleaning, and warranty.
This particular feature in pans is always a tough balancing act. Heavy pans are more useful in allowing for an evenly heated surface, but they can also be harder to handle and clean.
Lighter weight pans are convenient but typically provide a less even cooking surface. Mid-weight is a good choice, but if you can deal with the heft (and the cost) of heavyweight, then that is certainly the most durable selection.
Critical in a set of cookware as a long-term investment, the metal you choose will affect its durability. Stainless steel, cast iron, copper, and hard anodized aluminum are the most common metals used to make pans. (When purchasing among these metal pan choices, the differences are many and important!)
Cast iron is the hardest and most durable, but also the heaviest (plus it is sometimes difficult to care for, if you are the throw everything in the dishwasher type). Of course, a lot of oil is required to cook in cast iron unless it is specially coated.
Aluminum, as long as it is hard anodized, is considered to be the next hardest and durable with easy cleanup. It does not weigh as much as cast iron and is less expensive.
Without a coating or the hard anodization process, however, aluminum may have a tendency to be reactive, meaning that the food cooked in it may actually soak up a bit of the metal.
Copper is usually very high end and has incredibly even heat conductivity, meaning it quickly adjusts to changes in heat. But, it is very high maintenance with an extremely high cost.
Most copper is now lined with stainless steel, but older pieces (as well as a small selection of new stock) are coated with tin on the inside, which has some natural nonstick properties.
Stainless steel is a solid contender with good performance and durability, with a middle of the road price range. You should try to choose a product that is stainless clad over the top of an aluminum core.
These tend to be a bit expensive, but conduct heat better than other stainless products that have a spun aluminum disk attached to the bottom.
The cheapest stainless steel products are just that – stainless steel with no aluminum component.
Compatibility With Induction
Induction ranges and hobs are starting to become more popular in the USA, and are already commonplace in Western Europe and parts of Asia.
These stovetops heat through an electrical-magnetic process that directly affects the metal in the bottom of the pan, rather than passing it through a series of resistant copper coils as is the case with most electric stoves.
To make this happen, the cookware must contain some degree of iron, whether that be an additional steel disk that is applied (as is with the case with De Buyer’s Prima Matera copper line) or with the addition of a special coating that is applied to the outside (which you’ll find on some aluminum pans).
If you think you may upgrade to induction any time soon or you already have this type of stove, make sure your choice is labeled induction-ready or compatible.
Although most people are typically looking for saucepans, skillets, and stock pots that can be used predominantly on the stovetop, having the option to put your quality cookware in the oven is an excellent feature.
Any plastic or wooden handle will likely not be oven safe, so metal handles are recommended.
Often it is easy to tell a high-quality set of cookware simply by evaluating the handles. Handles and lids are sometimes the areas where low-end sets will skimp to make the cost cheaper. But this also means that handles will probably be the first factor you have trouble with.
Look for handles that are solidly attached (rivets can be more difficult to clean than welding), and made of metal so that you have the option to begin a dish on the stovetop and then place it in the oven.
Keep in mind, metal handles also conduct more heat and can cause burns if not used with care. Some handles feature plastic or rubber guards that can be removed for oven use, and in some cases, the entire handle can be removed.
Glass lids are fairly commonplace and convenient to take a peek at what is cooking without having to open the lid. Lids should fit snugly and should be easy to put on and remove.
Much of the point of owning nonstick cookware is to make the cleanup process significantly easier. (Of course, there are cooking benefits as well!) Some people believe that nonstick pans can never be cleaned in the dishwasher, but this is not necessarily true.
Before buying, check the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions to be confident about how each brand will hold up. The beauty of nonstick is that it is easy to clean, so even if the pans cannot be placed in the dishwasher, they still offer an easier cleaning solution than other types of cookware might.
Definitely a benefit, most manufactures provide at least a limited warranty, as long as the pieces are not exposed to atypical wear and tear. Some cooking sets have a lifetime warranty, so it’s great to check that out before purchasing, as it could save you money in the long run.
Do remember that in order for a warranty to be valid, it is necessary to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use (such as using non-metal utensils).
Roasten’s Nonstick Reviews And Recommendations
Best, Lowest Cost Economy Nonstick Set: T-Fal
Our top pick for value in terms of quality and price, T-fal offers its 10-Piece E938SA Professional Total Nonstick Thermo-Spot Heat Indicator Cookware Set.
Hard anodized on the outside and nonstick coated on the inside, this set is medium weight and makes for easy cleanup.
What’s in the bundle? The set includes two Skillets (8” and 10.25”) three sizes of Saucepans (1 qt., 2qt., and 3 qt.) and a 5 qt. Dutch oven. It also comes with four glass lids sized to fit skillets as well as pans.
It should be noted that this collection is slightly smaller than many other sets, so it is not ideal for cooking for large groups of people.
Features And Benefits:
- Thermo Spot indicator in the center of the pan shows up when the pan is preheated to the proper temperature, helping to avoid mistakes in using the pan too early.
- Handles nicely covered with a comfort silicone to keep them from getting too hot and to allow for ease of handling.
- Nonstick interior on this set is high-quality and cannot be scratched off by using metal utensils – an excellent benefit for durability.
- Dishwasher safe for convenience, but very easy to clean by hand as well.
- Easily stackable for convenient storage.
- Works on induction burners as well as standard electric or gas stovetops.
- Oven safe to 350°F.
- Limited Lifetime Warranty by the manufacturer.
Who’s It For?
Scanpan CTX 10-Piece Deluxe Set is for those who want functional luxury. This set is made in Denmark with 5-layer clad recycled aluminum/stainless steel construction.
The ceramic titanium surface is patented for the best nonstick PFOA-free use, and the hybrid glass/stainless steel lids are charming and user-friendly.
What’s in the set?
- Includes a 3-quart Saucepan with lid
- 2 ¾-quart Saucepan with lid
- 10 ¼-inch Sauté with lid
- 7 ½-quart Dutch oven with lid
- 8-inch Skillet and,
- 10 ¼-inch Skillet.
Features And Benefits:
- Scratch-resistant, even using metal utensils.
- Even heat distribution.
- Mid-weight using aluminum/stainless steel construction.
- Stainless steel lids with glass window.
- Largest Dutch oven/stock pot of any set, for larger cooking projects.
- Oven safe to 500°F.
- Hollow metal riveted handles (and lid handles) for comfort and durability.
- Dishwasher safe.
- Induction friendly.
- High-temperature durability allows for browning, searing, and deglazing.
- Easy add-on pasta insert or Stack N Steam.
- Lifetime Manufacturer Warranty against defects (with receipt).
Some folks have complained about the stainless steel exterior turning brown. Yes, it will. Any time you cook with oil it will eventually coat the surface and start seasoning – just like it will in a cast-iron skillet. All stainless products need some cleaning on the outside on occasion to keep the surface bright and shiny.
However, we recognize that most folks who purchase nonstick as their primary set of pots and pans want as little clean up and maintenance as possible – which is the primary reason that the Woll offering was chosen as our number one recommendation. It has the coating applied to both the interior and exterior.
Who’s It For?
Those that want a higher-end look than the utilitarian appearance of the Woll Diamond Plus offering, and who desire the ability to use metal utensils. It’s great to mix in with a set of higher-end stainless clad products such as those offered by Demeyere and All-Clad.
The Porcelain Coated Cast Iron Option
One final product that deserves a nod is Le Creuset’s Signature 5-Piece enameled cast iron. Still made out of the same hefty iron as your grandma’s pan, but covered with an enamel base inside so that the sticking factor that you hate about Grandma’s pan is not as much of an issue.
And unlike traditional cast iron, acidic foods such as tomatoes and vinegar will not compromise the integrity of the finish.
Although on the pricey end of the market, this is definitely a great compromise with more convenient cleaning, but the heat retention and cooking results you love about cast iron.
What’s In The Set?
This great little starter kit will give you a taste of enameled cast iron, including a 3 ½-quart round French oven with lid (their version of a Dutch oven), 1 ¾-quart Saucepan with lid, and a 9-inch round Skillet.
Features And Benefits:
- Hefty iron for even cooking.
- Enamel covered base for less sticking.
- Fun colors such as teal blue or red to complement kitchen décor.
- Oven safe to 500°F.
- Built in stabilizers allow lids to fit without sliding.
- Exterior enamel resists cracking and chipping.
- Interior enamel resists dulling and staining.
- Ergonomic composite knobs on lids.
- Handles are cast for easy cleanup.
- Limited Lifetime Manufacturer’s Warranty for normal household use.
Who’s It For?
Those who want nonstick without worrying about any chance of chemical leaching or possible health issues with various coatings. Porcelain is like glass – about as safe and inert as you can get. This Le Creuset collection is available in multiple colors on Amazon.
So you’ve finally decided that it’s time to invest in a new set of pots and pans for your kitchen!
Whether you are an engaged couple looking for a set to place on your gift registry, a young mom, an aspiring chef, or a retired mailman, you can make cooking and cleanup a breeze with one of Roasten’s recommended nonstick cookware sets.
You’re sure to find yourself experimenting with new recipes, inviting your friends over for dinner parties, and enjoying it every step of the way.