Not all cookware is for all cooks. Between the person who doesn’t know what blanching is and those that own commercial-grade blowtorches, there is a divide. Cookware, like all product categories, can be stratified in a dozen different ways. What’s the best brand if you want your pans to look good? What about the best cheap brand? The best for beginners? These are the best cookware companies for every different cook to invest in.
The Budget-Minded Cook: Potluck
Potluck makes utilitarian cookware. On its site, it promises no retail markups, no gadgets and no single-use products. To that end, its lineup is stuffed with just the basics — a skillet, a stock pot, sauce pans, the only three knives you actually need and a tightly curated cast of kitchen utensils. The cookware is three-ply stainless steel, the knives are hardwearing high-carbon steel and the prices are ideal — $270 for an entire kitchen suite.
The Beginner Cook: Equal Parts
The newest brand on the list was designed from the top-down to cater to the cook who doesn’t know their way around stovetop. The pots and pans are ceramic-coated aluminum, making them lighter, easier to clean and faster-heating than any stainless steel cookware you can buy. The entire collection is nesting, so space isn’t an issue, and every set comes with eight weeks of free text-based cooking guidance. Fire questions, curiosities and recipe ideas to Equal Parts’ cook hotline for immediate backup in the kitchen.
The Aesthetics-First Cook: Great Jones
Great Jones serves up cookware with a helping of vibes. The brand’s distinctively glossy, round look isn’t for everybody, but for those looking for cookware that doubles as decor, there aren’t many better options (Eva Solo makes a solid alternative). But the two best things about Great Jones cookware have nothing to do with its looks: the rivet-less interior is as easy to clean as pans can get, and the handle, though strange at first, stays cooler than any handle we’ve ever tested. Great Jones stainless steel pieces are also much thinner and lighter than most performance-focused options.
The Value-Conscious Cook: Made In
Made In is kind of like a millennial All-Clad; its carbon steel, stainless steel and non-stick cookware is premium, performance-minded and is sold at marginally better price points. Like All-Clad, they’ve got more chef cred than most cookware brands, with company investments from Tom Colicchio and Grant Achatz. If you want technical cookware for a more manageable price, it’s Made In or bust.
The Pure Performance Cook: All-Clad
The inventors of cladded cookware have, for the better part of fifty years, been the choice brand for commercial cooks. Its stainless steel cookware — the line it’s best known for — is heavier than standard layered steel. The added weight means its temperature is kept stable, even when cold food is dropped into it, and it’s resistant to warping like more affordable options. Is it expensive? Yes, a single 10-inch fry pan can run you $100. Is it worth it? If you spend serious time in the kitchen, without a shadow of a doubt.