A good pan set will make cooking and hosting easy, whatever’s on your menu. Stylish pans can even double as serving dishes (case in point: the Always Pan), making it a purchase that you want to get right, whether you’re kitting out a new kitchen or giving your collection a refresh.
That’s where the House Beautiful homes experts come in. They’ve tried pan after pan to find the best sets for every hob and kitchen. Here are their favourites at a glance:
What to look for in a pan set?
As well as dealing with the obvious question about whether the set you’re looking at has enough saucepans and frying pans to suit your cooking needs, there are a couple of other considerations when investing in cookware.
First up, you need to decide what material you’re after. Stainless steel is a classic; it’s long-lasting and generally dishwasher safe. It can be used with any food type (unlike some more reactive metals like copper), but fares best on low settings. If it doesn’t have a non-stick coating, use a generous splash of oil to avoid food clinging or burning.
Another reliable material choice is aluminium. Generally, these pans will have a non-stick coating which makes them easy to clean, and scratch- and stain-resistant.
If you have an induction hob, you’ll also need to check that the pan set is compatible. All the ones on this list are, apart from the Amazon Basics set.
Finally, consider the care they need; many can handle the dishwasher, but not all. That said, a good non-stick coating makes hand washing a breeze, and if you want to keep your set pristine for years to come, it’s undoubtedly the safer option. Using wooden utensils also helps to minimise scratching and scuffing.
How we test pan sets
Our homes experts test pan sets by donning their aprons and cooking up a feast of household favourites, including pancakes, fried eggs, meat, sauces, caramel and rice.
Throughout their testing, they assess the effectiveness of the non-stick coatings, the design of the pans, and how easy they are to use and clean. If in line with manufacturer guidance, they try the pans in the oven and the dishwasher.
These are the picks they’d award a Michelin star: