For my New Year’s resolution, I decided to update my living space to help better enjoy it. First up was the kitchen: I decided to finally upgrade my cookware. I opted for the Rachael Ray Cucina cookware set — which we recommended in our guide to cookware sets as a top nonstick option and which I’d gotten my hands on for a few weeks — and it has elevated my cooking, simplified it and brought the act of cooking closer to being pleasurable than I imagined was possible.
I’d been putting off replacing my bare-bones cookware for years. As a decidedly non-master chef, I figured the cheapest cookware would fit my needs perfectly when I bought the last set — high quality cookware was never a priority for me. And it did for my needs perfectly, for a time. Mere months after buying that cheap cookware set, it quickly lost its charm. I saw pots and pans completely lose their nonstick coating (and I may have ingested some of it). Once my old set was no longer nonstick, cooking was often a disaster. Whenever I tried to make fried rice, for example, a layer of congealed rice would form at the bottom of the pan. Making scrambled eggs? Forget about it. Soon, the pans were scratched, stained and had to be replaced, but for someone who doesn’t do much elaborate cooking, it was easy to put it off — years passed before I began to search for a new set in earnest.
SKIP AHEAD Other cookware sets to consider
When I visited my family for the holiday season, I noticed that my mom had purchased a new nonstick cookware set — complete with kitchen utensils — from Rachel Ray. I was immediately taken by its nonstick qualities, even after several months of heavy use (my mom cooks far more often than I do). The colorful style didn’t hurt either. When I saw that Select recommended it as a nonstick cookware set, I was sold. And after months of use, it’s still impressing me: the nonstick qualities have held up perfectly, for one thing. And while cooking still isn’t my forte, it isn’t nearly the chore it was previously.
I’ve really enjoyed this cookware set for its nonstick properties. Whether I’m frying eggs or searing fish, the food glides right off the pan onto my plate when I’m finished cooking. The rubber handles also provide a good grip. The set has also been a great style addition to my kitchen — I chose the Pumpkin Orange color and it’s available in many colors that also pop like Agave Blue and Lemongrass Green.
The set includes a 6-quart stockpot, a 3-quart sauté pan with a lid, a 3-quart saucepan with a lid, a 1-quart saucepan with a lid, a 10-inch frying pan, an 8.5-inch frying pan, a spoon and a slotted turner — which I find particularly useful when flipping or turning food over. The pots and pans are oven-safe up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, the brand says, and are made from aluminum and porcelain.
If I had to pinpoint any limitations of the set, the stockpot’s handles do conduct heat when you boil water so using oven mitts might be your best bet. But that quirk hasn’t impacted the overall cooking experience — I haven’t had to mitt up when using any of the other pots and pans. The biggest takeaway for me is that I’m cooking more often and improving as a chef — something I thought was impossible not long ago. And while watching a lot of cooking TV has helped, it’s this cookware set that really kickstarted the journey.
Other cookware sets to consider
Whether you’re looking for a cookware set that’s more affordable — or one with all the bells and whistles — here are some other highly rated options to consider.
This 15-piece cookware set has 8- and 10-inch fry pans, 1.5- and 2-quart saucepans with lids, 3- and 5-quart casserole pans with lids, a pasta server, a soup ladle, a slotted turner and both slotted and non-slotted serving spoons. We previously featured it as an affordable option in our guide to cookware sets. The aluminum pots and pans are nonstick, according to the company, and BPA free. Amazon says to only use this set under low and medium heat. It has a 4.6-star average rating from over 39,000 Amazon reviews.
We featured this premium cookware set from All-Clad as a top stainless steel option in our guide to cookware sets. This 10-piece set contains an 8- and 10-inch fry pans, 2- and 3-quart covered saucepans, a 3-quart covered sauté pan and an 8-quart covered stockpot. The pots and pans are made of both aluminum and stainless steel, with the starburst-finished stainless steel providing a non-reactive and stick-resistant cooking surface, according to the company. The set is oven and broiler safe up to 600 degrees Fahrenheit. It has a 4.7-star average rating from over 260 reviews on Bloomingdale’s.