Stocking up on cookware doesn’t have to break the bank. The best cookware sets under $200 can be made from different materials — including stainless steel, ceramic, and aluminum (with or without nonstick coatings) — depending on your preference and needs, but pay attention to the pieces that come in a set to ensure they’ll work for your kitchen.
When purchasing a cookware set, the biggest decision is which material to go with. Stainless steel cookware is durable, strong, and can handle high heat. That said, food can stick to it, and it tends to be pricey. Aluminum cookware is cheaper but still strong. However, it can discolor light-colored foods and even potentially make them taste bitter. Nonstick cookware (which is often made from aluminum) is covered in a nonstick coating so you can cook with little to no oil; cleanup is a breeze since foods slide right off. However, it isn’t super durable (though, nonstick cookware that is hard anodized has undergone a treatment process to make it more durable), and certain utensils can scratch off the nonstick coating. Some nonstick cookware may release toxins when overheated, too. If you’re concerned about this, look for cookware that features ceramic, which is nonstick, but doesn’t have these risks.
If you’re looking to outfit your kitchen in one go, look for a set with at least one skillet, small and large saucepans, a sauté pan, and a stockpot. These are essential pieces that’ll get you up and running. Additional pieces — like a dutch oven or a steamer basket — aren’t necessary, but they can be helpful to have. Also, take note of the lids that come in the set. Metal lids are durable, but aren’t see-through. Glass lids allow you to see the food that’s in the pot (if they don’t fog up, that is), but can more easily break or crack if dropped. Silicone handles are also a nice touch since they make the cookware easier to hold when hot.
These five cookware sets are both highly rated on Amazon and low in cost, so they’ll make a great addition to your kitchen.
1. A Fan-Favorite Stainless Steel Set
Set includes: 8 inch frying pan, 10.5 inch fry pan, 12 inch frying pan with lid, 1 quart saucepan with lid, 2 quart saucepan with lid, 3 quart saucepan with lid, 5 quart dutch oven with lid, and a stainless steel steamer
With more than 4,000 reviews on Amazon and a stellar 4.4-star rating overall, this 13-piece cookware set from T-Fal is clearly adored on the site. And it’s easy to see why — the set is made of durable 18/10 stainless steel that handles heat amazingly and won’t react with your foods. The pieces all have a copper bottom, which helps to channel heat from the center outward. Riveted stainless steel handles are secure and ergonomically designed for comfort, while the tempered glass lids feature a hole that allows steam to escape, so you can always see the food that's cooking inside.
The set is suitable for all cooktops. And all of the pieces are dishwasher- and oven-safe (up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit). The set comes with a lifetime limited warranty.
This pick is also available in a nonstick aluminum set in various sizes.
Enthusiastic Amazon review: "I just bought my second set of his cookware for my son and his wife. Love that it is oven safe. I have bought several brands of stainless in my 65 years of cooking and this is equal quality to sets I have spent over $1000. on! If you cook a lot, don't hesitate to buy this cookware. great price for the quality."
2. A Nonstick Set With Hard Anodized Aluminum
Set includes: 1 quart and 2 quart saucepans with lid, 6 quart stockpot with lid, 8.5 inch and 10 inch frying pans, 3 quart sauté pan with lid, and utensils
If you’re on the hunt for a nonstick cookware set, look no further than this one from Rachael Ray. The pieces are made of aluminum, but are hard anodized, so you can rest easy knowing that they're much more durable than average nonstick aluminum cookware. Double-riveted silicone handles are easy to grip, while glass lids are great for viewing your food as it cooks.
The 12 cookware pieces are oven-safe up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and they’re dishwasher-safe, too. The set also comes with a lifetime limited warranty.
Choose from three colors, or opt for the set with an added frying pan.
Enthusiastic Amazon review: "I was looking for a good, sturdy set of everyday pots and pans. After researching, i ordered these. I've been using them for quite a while and they are fabulous! The [heat] distribution is awesome and everything cooks evenly. I haven't had anything stick to them, no burning or discoloration of the pots, and super easy clean. It's a great set!"
3. A Super Cheap Stainless Steel Set
Set includes: 1.5 quart saucepan, 1.5 and 2 quart casserole pans, 3 quart casserole pot, 5.5 quart stockpot, a 10 inch frying pan, and lids
A set with 12 pieces of stainless steel cookware will normally pricy, but that’s not the case with this set from Cook N Home, which costs just around $60. It might seem too good to be true, but the set boasts a stellar 4.3-star rating on Amazon, with 4,000 and growing reviews, a true testament to the quality of these pieces.
The set is made of stainless steel, which is sturdy and durable, and each pot and pan has an aluminum disc in the bottom for more even heat distribution. The handles feature silicone, so they’re safe and comfortable to hold. The tempered glass lids allow you to see your food as it cooks, and a steam vent ensures they won’t fog up as much.
Only downsides to this pick? The pieces aren’t oven- or dishwasher-safe.
Enthusiastic Amazon review: “I was really skeptical about buying a set of stainless for under $100. but decided to give them a try on the basis of reviews. I have used them for over a week now and am totally in love with them- they look great, clean up easily, and are pretty decent quality for the price. I cook on a glass top stove and am tired of pots warping rendering them useless! These cannot warp and handles stay cool to the touch for impatient cooks like myself who are too rushed to reach for a potholder. I would definitely recommend these pots!”
4. An Affordable Ceramic-Coated Set
Set includes: 1 and 2 quart saucepans, 3 quart casserole, 5 quart dutch oven, 8 and 9.5 inch frying pans, and lids
Brighten up your kitchen with this 10-piece cookware set from Cook N Home. The aluminum cookware pieces boast a colorful exterior — choose from green, red, or turquoise — and a ceramic-coated interior that’s nonstick. The handles stay cool to the touch, while the tempered glass lids allow you to view your food as it cooks.
Amazon reviewers are impressed by this set; they give it a solid 4.3-star rating on the site, after more than 3,000 reviews, with many reviewers indicated that its low price tag certainly doesn't mean it is low in quality.
However, these cookware pieces are not induction-, oven-, or dishwasher-safe.
Enthusiastic Amazon review: "This is, by far, one of the best sets I've ever bought. First, they're nice to look at. The color matches my kitchen perfectly. Next, the non-stick coating makes cooking and cleaning up a dream come true. Foods cook evenly and quickly and slide right out onto the plate. And washing by hand, which is a must, is very fast as the food comes off immediately. I LOVE THEM."
5. A Smaller Stainless Steel Set With Metal Lids
Set includes: 2 quart sauce pan, 3 quart sauce pan, 6 quart stockpot , 4 quart sauté pan, and lids
If you prefer a cookware set with metal lids — which can be more durable than their glass counterparts — this one from Cooks Standard is a great option. The 8-piece set has just the essentials to get you started (the only other piece you might want for a full starter set is a skillet pan). The pieces are all made of 18/10 brushed stainless steel, and the pots and pans all have an aluminum disc in the bottom that provides even heat distribution and prevents hot spots. The pieces are oven-safe (up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit) and can go in the dishwasher.
Enthusiastic Amazon review: "Excellent heat distribution. Price is fantastic for what you’re getting. Easy to clean. I would purchase these again."