The Best Cheap Cookware Sets
Purchasing a multi-piece cookware set typically costs significantly less than buying each piece individually. The trick is to find a set with the pieces, features, and performance you want within your budget. Well-burnished names such as All-Clad, Le Creuset, Calphalon, and Swiss Diamond are aspirational, gourmet brands that can easily cost well over $700 for a set. It's possible, however, to get a good set of cheap cookware that features elements of the upmarket sets and bears a brand name such as Farberware or T-fal. We found cookware sets for less than $80 that can help home cooks turn out good-tasting, good-looking food.
Our Top Pick
Wearever Cook & Strain 10-Piece Set Review
Included Pieces: 1- and 2-quart lidded saucepans | 5-quart lidded Dutch oven | 9.5-inch skillet | 2 utensils and colander
- Pots have pour spouts, and pan lids have a straining feature so foods like pasta don't have to be poured into a colander (although the set comes with one).
- Oven-safe to 500 degrees.
- Many praise the durability of the set, which has a limited lifetime warranty.
- Can be used on any stovetop, including induction.
- Dishwasher-safe; users say even burnt-on foods clean off easily after soaking.
- Some purchasers who've previously owned WearEver sets claim that they used to be much heavier.
- Pans discolor if the heat is too high.
Takeaway: Consumers who've purchased the WearEver Cook & Strain 10-Piece Set (A834S974) consider it a high-quality product for a really low price. The bottoms of the pots are said to be thick enough to distribute and hold heat well, and features like the pour spouts and straining lids add convenience. The set takes care of the essentials, and a colander and two serving spoons sweeten the deal. Expect years of life from this tried and trusted cookware.
Farberware High Performance Nonstick 17-Piece Set Review
Included Pieces: 1- and 2-quart lidded saucepans | 5-quart lidded Dutch oven | 10-inch lidded skillet | 8-inch skillet | 11-inch square griddle | 6 utensils and cookie pan
- Comes in black, red, aqua blue, and champagne.
- Very durable, with a lifetime warranty; some users have had the same set for 20 years.
- Reviewers marvel that nothing sticks to these pans; they're easy to clean and the coating is high quality.
- Oven-safe to 350 degrees; included cookie sheet can withstand 450 degrees.
- Includes a griddle, uncommon in cheap cookware sets and very much appreciated for making pancakes.
- Finish can discolor easily with high heat.
- Low heat threshold means it takes a long time for water to boil.
- Users say the included nylon tools are small, melt easily, and are poor quality; the cookie sheet is also smaller than expected, holding 6 to 8 cookies at best.
- Some assert that the handles could be better made and a bit more secure.
Takeaway: The Farberware High Performance Nonstick 17-Piece Set is a solid starter cookware set, particularly for a first apartment, because it comes with all the basics a kitchen needs, including a cookie sheet and an assortment of utensils. Those who appreciate just a hint of hue in their kitchen will also like the color choices. Just keep in mind that the bases are aluminum, which heats well and evenly but cannot be used on an induction range.
Greenlife Soft Grip 14-Piece Set Review
Included Pieces: 1- and 2-quart lidded saucepans | 5-quart lidded stockpot | 7- and 9.5-inch skillets | 2.5-quart lidded sauté pan | 4 utensils
- Comes in a variety of colors, including turquoise, red, and black.
- Ceramic coating raises fewer health concerns than traditional nonstick; interiors are non-toxic and contain no PFAS, PFOA, lead, or cadmium.
- Pans heat up quickly (although they should be used only on low heat) and are oven-safe to 350 degrees.
- Soft handles are easy to hold; cookware feels sturdy.
- Longevity is an issue, according to some reviews.
- Exterior paint scrapes off easily and can become discolored.
- Ceramic coating shows scratches and can peel off or chip after a while; white interiors can stain with high heat or use of oil with a low smoke point.
- Not compatible with induction stoves.
Takeaway: For people who are accustomed to other types of pans, there is a learning curve to ceramic cookware -- be sure to cook at lower heats and stay away from olive oil and cooking spray or you can expect a stained and sticky surface. On the plus side, buyers don't have to worry about harmful chemicals leaching into foods. While it's difficult to find a cheap ceramic cookware set of decent quality, the highly rated GreenLife Soft Grip 14-Piece Ceramic Set (CW0004970) provides a safe and moderately durable cooking surface at an affordable price.
Cook N Home 12-Piece Set Review
Included Pieces: 1.5-quart lidded saucepan | 1.5-, 2-, and 3-quart lidded casserole pans with loop handles | 5.5-quart lidded stockpot | 10-inch lidded skillet
- Metal handles allow the cookware to go in an oven up to 500 degrees.
- Encapsulated aluminum bottom for even cooking.
- Can be used on any kind of stove, including induction.
- Each pot and pan comes with a vented, tempered glass cover, allowing users to see the food inside without lifting the lid and letting heat and steam escape.
- Medium weight is easy to hold, even when full of food or water.
- Handles are hollow, so they might hold water if put in the dishwasher; they also get hot with cooking and require potholders.
- Users say the pans can scorch and stain easily; water marks are an issue.
- Some reviewers wish the glass lids were more substantial, and there are some reports of shattering.
Takeaway: The Cook N Home 12-Piece Stainless Steel Set is not too hefty but still sturdy enough to cook food without burning -- although reviewers warn that high heat can cause discoloration and should not be used. Although the set only includes one skillet and one small, 1.5-quart saucepan, the three casserole pans increase versatility. The glass lids for every pot and pan also help make this cookware collection a good value for the price.
T-Fal Excite Nonstick 14-Piece Set Review
Included Pieces: 1- and 2-quart lidded saucepans | 5-quart lidded Dutch oven | 10-inch lidded skillet | 8-inch skillet | 5 measuring spoons
- Comes in a variety of vivid colors, including red, blue, green, purple, and orange.
- Frying pans have a "thermo spot" indicator in the middle that shows when it's time to add food.
- Good-size pieces for a small family.
- Heats evenly, according to reviews.
- Oven-safe to 350 degrees.
- All pieces are dishwasher-safe and clean wonderfully, users say.
- Nonstick coating is PFOA-free, with no lead or cadmium, and 100 percent recyclable.
- Some reviewers who've had T-fal products previously say this set is not as substantial.
- Outside can discolor after extended use.
- Nonstick coating wears off after a while, users report.
Takeaway: Most owners are very happy with the T-fal Excite Nonstick 14-Piece Set, thanks to the quality of the nonstick coating -- as long as it lasts. The bright color choices add appeal (the blue cookware set is a favorite). Although five of the 14 pieces are measuring spoons, consumers still consider the set a good value for the money. The lightweight aluminum construction raises questions about the lifespan of this cookware but is a boon for users who don't like lifting heavy pans. Potential buyers should keep in mind that aluminum pans are not compatible with induction ranges.
T-Fal Initiatives 14-Piece Set Review
Included Pieces: 1- and 2-quart lidded saucepans | 5-quart lidded Dutch oven | 11-inch lidded skillet | 4.5- and 7.5-inch skillets | 4 utensils
- Pans heat evenly, according to reviews, and can withstand up to 570 degrees on the stove (medium heat) and 350 degrees in the oven.
- Users say the ceramic coating performs well and foods don't stick; this set is very easy to clean.
- Comes in black or champagne.
- PFTE- and PFOA-free; contains no lead or cadmium.
- Ceramic coating can peel off and is said to discolor easily.
- Nonstick surface can lose its effectiveness over time.
- Some griping about loose handles that need constant tightening.
Takeaway: The T-fal Initiatives 14-Piece Ceramic Set is a bit of a hit-or-miss proposition for users looking for healthier alternatives to traditional nonstick pots and pans. While the set receives endorsements from many satisfied consumers, it also receives its fair share of grumbles regarding construction, quality, and longevity. Some users insist that the instructions must be read carefully, because care and usage are more complicated for ceramic cookware than for ordinary cookware. Others claim that no matter how much they baby these pans, they can't seem to keep them looking or performing their best. Still, there are a lot of pieces for the price -- including a small "one egg wonder" skillet -- and all the cookware is dishwasher-safe, although users say hand washing is the way to go. This set cannot be used on an induction cooktop.
Gibson Home Essentials Total Kitchen 83-Piece Review
Included Pieces: 1- and 2-quart lidded saucepans | 4-quart lidded stockpot | 9.75-inch skillet | Knife set with block | Flatware and dishes for 4 | 21 kitchen tools | Plastic storage containers
- Complete starter set for a student or someone setting up a first home.
- About as cheap as kitchenware gets.
- Included dishes have attractive red or black banding.
- Buyers complain of items that were broken in the box or missing.
- Cookware is too small for most uses.
- Plastic handles; cookware cannot go in the oven.
- Very poor quality; many reports of breakage after just a few uses.
- Not guaranteed to be dishwasher-safe; the manufacturer recommends hand washing.
Takeaway: Getting everything you need to set up a kitchen in one box may seem like a good deal -- and a few buyers continue to think it is, given the incredibly cheap price of this cookware combo package. In general, however, users have found the products flimsy, the lids ill-fitting, the knives dull, and the kitchen tools unworkable. The cookware is not suitable for induction cooktops and cannot go in the oven, lest the plastic handles melt. Add to this the manufacturer's recommendation that the entire set should be hand washed, and it's easy to see why many consumers say it has made life harder, not easier.
Tramontina Simple Cooking 9-Piece Nonstick Review
Included Pieces: 1- and 2-quart lidded saucepans | 4-quart lidded Dutch oven | 7-inch skillet | 9-inch lidded sauté pan
- Comes in red or a polished metal finish.
- Good sizes for single people.
- Nonstick finish lives up to its name and is easy to clean.
- Relatively flimsy; one reviewer says this cookware is so lightweight that the handles are heavier than the pans.
- "Nonstick" coating needs to be seasoned.
- Many buyers were disappointed that these pots and pans are so small; they say the packaging is deceptive.
- Tempered glass lids reportedly shatter easily.
- Not oven-safe; plastic handles.
Takeaway: If you shop for cookware sets at Walmart, you might be tempted by the Tramontina name and the low price tag attached to this cookware set. But many owners complain that the nonstick coating starts to peel off after a few months and the pans are easily dented. And while the extremely light weight is a benefit for users who have trouble lifting heavy pans, it speaks to an overall lack of quality. This cookware is not suitable for use on an induction cooktop or in the oven. Consumers attracted to this brand might consider stepping up to a more substantial Tramontina cookware set.