Buying cookware branded by a celebrity won't make you a better chef or a TV star, but it might be an improvement over cooking on old, warped and worn out pots and pans. Consumer Reports just tested cookware sets from celebrity names like Rachael Ray to popular brands All Clad, Cuisinart and Le Creuset, and more.
Browning pancakes to check for cooking evenness, simmering sauce, sautéing potatoes, these are just a few of the checks Consumer Reports runs to see how well cookware performs.
Recently, testers looked at several sets from celebrities like Rachael Ray and the Pioneer Woman and familiar brands like All-Clad and Cuisinart.
The sets come in a variety of materials from anodized aluminum, coated cast iron, and stainless. Testers also looked at non-stick coated pans.
An egg release test checks how "non-stick" a pan really is. Testers are looking for the egg to slide off easily and leave nothing behind. They even scrub coated pans 2,000 times with steel wool to see how durable the non-stick coating is.
So which sets do best in Consumer Reports' tests?
"Non-stick cookware tends to do really well in our testing because it releases food easily and is easy to clean up," said Consumer Reports Home Editor Paul Hope.
Cuisinart's Green Gourmet Hard Anodized set for $250 seared the non-stick competition and earned top-ratings. But you need more than non-stick for a well-rounded cookware collection.
"There are definitely times you want uncoated cookware like stainless steel or cast iron, especially if you're searing food," Hope said. "You can't really get non-stick cookware hot, but you can sear in cast iron and stainless steel."
Because cookware sets can be costly, for example, the top-rated uncoated All Clad cookware set costs $600, Consumer Reports also tested some fry pans separately and suggests buying pots and pans individually.
Top scores for individual fry pans went to the $115 All-Clad Tri-Ply Stainless Steel Fry Pan. And for non-stick fry pans, consider Red Copper Non-stick, a Best Buy for $20.
Consumer Reports says it's also important to choose the right cookware for the type of range you have. For smooth top ranges look for cookware with a disc base, a dead flat surface fused to the bottom. For gas ranges, skip the disc bases and opt for solid metal with the same thickness throughout.
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