I am ready to start cooking in my new apartment and I am looking for a cookware set that users on SA have purchased and would recommend to a beginner chef.

My main goal is buying a set that will last a long time. There was this set I was interested in on Woot! but a lot of bad reviews were claiming that during the first two weeks of use the pans would already start to show signs of wear, and black spots would appear, apparently signifying a break through to the aluminum core inside a lot of the cookware.

The main factor I worry about is whether or not the metals will leech into my food. I don't know much about cooking but I don't want to be poisoned by my cookware.

One last factor I consider is price, but I'd rather pay for quality over shoddy, toxic pots and pans.

Does anyone have any brands they trust and would recommend?

Thank you for your help!

  • This is very broad and opinion based, everybody has their favorites. Asking for brands is problematic since they vary from region to region.
    – GdD
    Sep 23, 2016 at 8:03
  • 2
    Head to flea market, consignment shop, goodwill, salvation army. Buy some used cast iron, take care of it...
    – Ecnerwal
    Sep 23, 2016 at 13:18
  • 1
    And you might find some quality stuff at places you wouldn't expect; All-clad is the gold standard in a lot of cases, but the Tramotina stuff form Walmart is apparently pretty solid stuff for a lot of stuff they make.
    – Batman
    Sep 23, 2016 at 14:52
  • related : cooking.stackexchange.com/q/10817/67 , cooking.stackexchange.com/q/30444/67 ; cooking.stackexchange.com/q/18264/67 ... and there are likely more, but I need to go to sleep.
    – Joe
    Sep 24, 2016 at 2:38

3 Answers 3


Buying piece by piece is generally a better option than buying a set, because you can get higher quality individual pieces versus spending money on things you need.

Nonstick doesn't last forever, so spending a lot of money on nonstick doesn't make a lot of sense.

The Food Lab and America's Test Kitchen both have lists of pots and pans you want to have (as well as recommendations(+reviews in the latter case) for brands easily found in the US). They're smaller than a cookware set you'd buy, but may still be too much depending on what you do. Buy what you need -- I cook almost everything I eat in a stainless steel skillet and my other pans don't really get all that much use (and you can always buy them later; I don't need a dutch oven for example). I think the Food Lab list is a bit more reasonable (but some of the stuff is clearly dependent on cooking style, e.g. woks).

Also, note that you can re-use a lot of pots and pans or work around having specific ones on a list -- for example, a rimmed baking sheet + wire rack takes up less space than a roasting pan (and works fine for roasting birds or whatever; it doesn't do everything a roasting pan does, but its way cheaper for good quality stuff).


Assuming this is about teflon (or teflon/ceramic hybrid) nonstick cookware.

No nonstick cookware lasts "forever" unless treated more carefully than you will, in the long term, be willing to treat it in everyday cooking.

The quality of a coating is dependent a lot on the manufacturer of that coating system (and the manufacturer of the pan using it correctly). All but the lowest quality nonstick cookware tends to name the coating system used - even IKEA does these days, for example a certain pan will say it has "DuPont Teflon Classic" on the packaging.

In the end, don't buy off-brand, sub-par stuff, but don't pay a price that you'd only pay for something not considered disposable.

Considering alternatives to teflon coatings:

Ceramic is just as easily damaged in the end, and is semi-nonstick in the end.

Carbon steel, Cast Iron, Wrought Iron are semi-nonstick but require seasoning and special care (but can usually be restored to great shape DIY). Not dishwasher safe.

Enamel is also at best semi-nonstick.

Plain stainless steel really requires a nonstick cook since the pan certainly isn't.


+1 to @rachandboneman for an excellent answer. My preferred product is hard anodized aluminum, which will last forever, is extremely durable, scratch and chip resistant. Brands include Calfalon, Circulon, Anolon, Cuisinart, T-Fal, as well as some with celebrity chef names. While they cost more and are best when hand washed, you'll never have to replace them. And I second @Ecnerwal ... look for these in flea markets, consignment stores and the like, to start your collection.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.