Over the years, kitchen cupboards can get cluttered with pots and pans of varying quality. Rather than picking up odd and mismatched saucepans along the way, buying a set where all perform in a similar way can help build your confidence as a cook.

Advertisement

You’ll get to know your pans and their capabilities as you try different recipes, never having to second-guess which one to use. If you often cook for friends and family or like to keep your cookware on display, style may also be a consideration.

Pan sets come in so many combinations of sizes and types, it can be difficult to decide what to go for. Every one of the combos we’ve tried and tested here has different items that can be added to complete your ideal collection. From steamers to casseroles, sauté pans to woks, there’s a lot you can add later to the basic trio of lidded saucepans.

As with any equipment you use daily, buy the best you can afford. A thin aluminium set with plastic knobs may be binned in a few months, but higher-grade stainless steel pans will last and save you money in the long run.

Think about how much room you have to store pans. A heavy base is crucial for distributing heat efficiently. Consider the lining – we all love non-stick properties but some need to be oil-seasoned every month and may not be suitable to go in the dishwasher.

More like this

Well-fitting lids are important, as are comfortable handles. In terms of size, ask yourself if that giant casserole is going to languish on the shelf, or whether you really need a tiny milk pan. Stick to the basics, with at least two 16-20cm pans, and you can grow your kitchen collection from there.

Read on to discover which saucepan sets stood out in our rigorous tests. For hundreds of buyer's guides, visit our product reviews section and read about how we test products. Also find reviews of food processors, slow cookers, non-stick frying pans and much more.

Jump to section

Best pan sets at a glance

  • Best pan for pouring and straining: Kuhn Rikon All round 3-piece saucepan set, £179.95
  • Best saucepans for non-stick: Ninja Zerostick stainless steel 3-piece pan set, £159.99
  • Best pan set for commercial quality: HexClad Hybrid Pot 6-piece set, £399.99
  • Best lightweight pans: Lakeland Forged Aluminium 3-piece saucepan set, £129.99
  • Best pan for stylish shapes: Circulon Style Anodised 3-piece saucepan set, £199
  • Best professional-quality pan set: Samuel Groves stainless steel tri-ply 3-piece set, £297
  • Best hybrid pan set: Circulon C Series SteelShield 3-piece pan set, £192
  • Best pan set for small households: ProCook Professional anodised cookware set, £119
  • Best investment pan set: Le Creuset 3-ply stainless steel pan set, £274
  • Best fuss-free pan set: Stellar 7000 5-piece pan set, £134.95
  • Best pan set for students: Judge Vista 3-piece pan set, £64.50
  • Best budget pan set: Salter Megastone 3-piece pan set, £53.78

Best pan sets to buy in 2024

Kuhn Rikon All round 3-piece saucepan set

Kuhn Rikon 3 piece pan set

Best pan for pouring and straining

Pros:

  • Excellent quality for the price
  • Glass lids with steam vent
  • Strainer function in the lid
  • Oven-safe to high temperature
  • Two spouts

Cons:

  • None

Star rating: 5/5

This Swiss-designed pan set certainly impresses on first viewing. The three pans come in generous sizes of 1.9L, 2.7L and 3.7L and are made in a hefty 18/20 stainless steel, so they have an almost professional feel. They're solid rather than heavy, and easy to handle even when filled with food.

The thick, solid base makes them suitable for all cooking surfaces, including induction, and we were impressed by their ability to heat super-fast and respond instantly to lowering the heat, which we found essential when caramelising the onions, which came out a delicious, even golden brown. Likewise, when cooking the porridge, we had to lower the heat once the porridge thickened, and the response was immediate.

The handle was comfortable to hold and never became hot while using on induction, though this may not be the case if the pans are used on a high gas flame, and they'll most certainly get hot when used in the oven, where they're safe up to 240ºC.

The lids are glass, and we loved seeing what was happening without removing a hot lid. There are two spouts on each pan, which makes pouring left or right very easy, and even more accessible and safer to use with the strainer built into the pan lid; a simple touch but one that made these pans a standout to use.

Ninja ZEROSTICK stainless steel 3-piece pan set – C63000UK

Ninjazerostickstainlesssteel3piecepanset

Best saucepans for non-stick

Pros:

  • Robust pans
  • Glass lids
  • Stay Cool handles
  • Oven-safe to 260ºC
  • Exceptional non-stick

Cons:

  • Edging towards heavy with food

Star rating: 5/5

Unwrapping these stainless-steel Zerostick pans from Ninja, we were impressed by the three chunky pans that greeted us. They come with several promises, including being 20x tougher than traditional non-stick, with no flaking or peeling; being dishwasher- and metal utensil-safe, plus scratch-resistant; being oven-safe to 260ºC; and having a 10-year replacement guarantee, including the Zerostick coating.

We were able to test out at least some of these promises, especially the non-stick, when cooking both the onions and the porridge. Nothing stuck. The pans heated super-fast and were responsive to the raising and lowering of the heat. And, though there is no need to put the pans in the dishwasher because a quick hand-wash was more than sufficient, we were happy with the dishwasher results.

With the pasta, we heated the 1.5 litres of cold water to boiling in an impressive four minutes. We couldn’t test Ninja’s longevity claims, but the pans certainly feel sufficiently well made to bear this out.

These Ninja pans are made from highly polished stainless steel with an aluminium core, with a brushed stainless steel handle on the pan and the glass lid, adding some weight overall. We found them sturdy and well balanced on the stove, and edging towards heavy when filled with food, so they may not suit some. But if you are after well-made, efficient pans that refuse to have anything stuck inside or out, these are the pans for you.

HexClad Hybrid Pot 6-piece set

HexClad 6-piece pan set

Best pan set for commercial quality

Pros:

  • Commercial standard hybrid pans
  • Includes a generous 26cm stock pot
  • Oven-safe to 260ºC (lids 240ºC)
  • Dishwasher-safe
  • Metal utensil-safe
  • Hexagonal steel ridges for better searing
  • High-grade, non-toxic Japanese coating for toughness

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Need seasoning before use

Star rating: 5/5

If it was possible to fall in love with a pan, it could easily be the hybrid HexClad. There were gasps of delight as they were lifted from their boxes and taken from their protective cloth bags; they are extremely handsome, with a shiny, heavy-gauge stainless steel exterior, and signature laser-etched hexagon design on the inside.

Each hexagon is a hybrid of stainless-steel ridges and non-stick valleys, giving superb searing potential coupled with total non-stick on the bottom and partly up the sides. Above this, the hybrid continues with a zigzag pattern and lines up to the rim.

The result of all this patterning is that the HexClad pans are incredibly robust, and claimed to withstand all metal utensils, including spatulas, whisks and even electric mixers. We found this a scary proposition after forever being told not to use metal anywhere near non-stick, and it takes courage to do. But we felt reassured as the pans do come with a lifetime warranty, including for the non-stick.

Despite the hefty robustness of these pans, they do need a little TLC with seasoning before use, much like a cast iron pan, and this does need to be repeated from time to time. Also, unlike some non-stick, using a little oil when cooking is recommended as you're cooking on steel and non-stick.

On the test, the pans were sublime. The 1.5 litres of water boiled in 3 minutes and 5 seconds and stopped dead when we switched off the heat. The gentle simmering of the onions was on the lowest heat. It produced soft caramelisation in 20 minutes instead of the expected 40, and the porridge similarly cooked super-fast, with zero sticking. Cleaning was a doddle, and despite these being totally dishwasher-safe, they only needed a quick rinse.

The pans may be expensive, but with just a little TLC, they will pay back in bucketloads with their ease of use, fast, quality cooking, and stunning appearance. You will not want to put them back in the cupboard.

Available from:

Lakeland forged aluminium 3-piece saucepan set

Lakeland saucepan set

Best pan for weight

Pros:

  • Lightweight yet sturdy
  • Glass lids
  • Bakelite stay-cool handles and knobs
  • Attractive, grey-flecked non-stick
  • Extremely easy hand-washing

Cons:

  • Only oven-safe to 170ºC because of the handle
  • Slow to heat

Star rating: 4.5/5

These forged aluminium pans from Lakeland are lighter than most of the pans on our test, but that doesn't affect their sturdiness. The good-looking black pans are well built and have an unusual grey-flecked interior, with a double layer of smooth non-stick coating, covered by a three-year guarantee from Lakeland.

Aluminium construction means these pans have an excellent heat distribution, and the bonded steel base means they can be used on all heat sources, including induction. On the test, we found that the pans stood securely on the hob, and the lids are well fitting, but the heating was slow. That was evident when bringing the 1.5 litres of water to a boil for the pasta, which took 8 minutes. However, the pan did respond quickly to reductions in temperature, making it easy to caramelise the onions without burning them.

That aside, we loved the soft and secure feel of the stay-cool Bakelite on the pan handle and knob of the glass lid, even though this restricted the heat when used in the oven to a maximum of 170ºC. Though the pans can go in the dishwasher, Lakeland recommends hand-washing to prolong the life of the non-stick. Overall, they're an excellent set of pans where weight is a consideration, at a reasonable price for the quality.

Circulon Style anodised 3-piece saucepan set

Circulon Saucepan Set

Best pan for a stylish shape

Pros:

  • Stylish flared shape
  • Attractive stay-cool handle on pan and lid
  • Oven-safe to 260ºC
  • Non-stick lasts 15 times longer than others
  • Dishwasher-safe

Cons:

  • No matching pans

Star rating: 4.5/5

There's a good reason why these pans from Circulon are called Style, being by far the most stylish on our test, with their tall, black, flared sides which make for excellent pouring from any angle. We particularly liked the beautifully contrasting stainless steel lids with distinctive S-shape stay-cool handles, which are very comfy and secure to hold.

The Circulon pans offer a non-stick that lasts 15 times longer than others and guarantees nothing will stick, and they are 3 times more resistant to the dishwasher. All of this bore out well in our test. Nothing stuck, not even the porridge, which is a chief sticking culprit; the pan was almost clean after use and hand-washed quickly and easily.

The anodised pans are robust and not heavy, and even with food, we found them well balanced and secure to carry around. Our test results were excellent: fast heating (1.5 litres of water took 4½ minutes to boil for the pasta), responsive to raising and lowering the temperatures, which worked well when caramelising the onions, and the porridge cooked in minutes with no sticking.

These pans are expensive at full price, but given the lifetime guarantee, excellent quality and great cooking results, they are a good investment and should give years of use.

Samuel Groves stainless steel tri-ply 3-piece set

Samuel Groves stainless steel tri-ply 3-piece set

Best professional-quality pan set

Pros:

  • Ergonomic handles
  • Beautifully designed
  • Oven-safe to 260C
  • Metal utensil-safe

Cons:

  • Lids are not transparent

Star rating: 4.5/5

Like Crane, Samuel Groves prides itself on hand-making all of their pans in England. This three-piece set features pans that are reassuringly weighty and have lovingly sculpted handles. You’d easily mistake these pans for the kind you’d find in a professional kitchen. With all Samuel Groves pans, you can make the most of their ‘pan for life’ scheme and the brand will refurbish the pans as needed.

They’re oven-safe to 260C and suitable for all hob types. The pans are fantastic to cook with; they’re careful and controlled, but produce consistently high results. Plus, nothing stuck. If you’re after a frying pan to go with the set, we recommend the Samuel Groves Tri-Ply frying pan.

Read our full Samuel Groves Stainless Steel Tri-Ply 3-piece set review.

Available from:

Circulon C Series SteelShield 3-piece pan set

Circulon C Series SteelShield 3-piece pan set

Best hybrid pan set

Pros:

  • Slim ergonomic handles
  • Distinct S-shaped handles
  • Oven-safe up to 260C
  • Size of pan detailed on underside
  • Dishwasher-safe
  • Metal utensil-safe

Cons:

  • No steam vent, can’t place lids ajar

Star rating: 4.5/5

If you’re torn between a non-stick or uncoated saucepan set, this Circulon set promises the answer. These pans are non-stick, but cook like steel, producing an intense sear while also managing to cook delicately. Add to the collection with the Circulon C Series SteelShield frying pan.

These pans are attractive and feature Circulon’s tell-tale concentric circle design. The lid handles are also a distinctive S-shape. We struggled a little with the lids, they don’t have a steam vent so steam escapes underneath, so be sure to aim the steam away from you.

On the whole, cooking on these pans was a joy to do. They’re quick to heat up, but keep you in control. Our only minor gripe was that food got stuck to the ridges and overcooked slightly, but this would only be a concern if cooking something that needed to be silky smooth, like custard or béchamel.

Read our full Circulon C Series SteelShield 3-piece saucepan set review.

ProCook Professional anodised cookware set

ProCook Professional anodised cookware set

Best pan set for small households

Pros:

  • Suitable for all hob types
  • Oven-safe to 260C
  • Dishwasher-safe
  • Comfortable handles
  • 25-year guarantee

Cons:

  • Saucepans are on the smaller side
  • Handles get hot
  • Pans are quite heavy

Star rating: 4.5/5

Comprising three saucepans and a frying pan, this saucepan set is on the smaller side, making it better suited to couples or singletons looking for a full set.

This versatile set is oven-safe to an impressive 260C, is dishwasher-safe and comes with a 25 year guarantee. We found the handles comfortable, but they did get hot in use.

The non-stick coating is effective as nothing stuck to the pans. The frying pan produced well-risen pancakes, but we did find them a little patchy and uneven overall. Despite their size, these pans are on the heavier side, and while this wasn't an issue when cooking on the hob, there was noticeable straining when transferring pans from the hob to the sink or hob to the oven.

Read our full ProCook Professional anodised cookware set review.

Available from:

Le Creuset 3-ply stainless steel pan set

Le Creuset 3-ply stainless steel pan set

Best investment pan set

Pros:

  • Classic styling
  • Unsurpassed heat distribution
  • Lifetime guarantee
  • Diverse range of pans can be added to the collection

Cons:

  • Initially expensive
  • Not easily stackable
  • Heavier than most sets

Star rating: 4.5/5

Combining good looks with second-to-none construction, this set of three saucepans will be on display in your kitchen years from now. The pans’ triple-layer stainless steel ensures even, constant heat and the solid lids made cooking with less water possible, locking in steam and flavour.

Laser-etched measurements inside the pans and curved rims for no-spill pouring only made us love them more. They’re heavier than the other pans we tried, but an extra grab handle makes lifting easy, even when full.

Read our full Le Creuset 3-ply stainless steel saucepan set.

Stellar 7000 5-piece pan set

Stellar 7000 5-piece pan set

Best fuss-free pan set

Pros:

  • Helpful draining holes in lids
  • Big pouring lips on pans
  • Handles are long and comfortable

Cons:

  • Handles get hot

Star rating: 4/5

With its striking high-shine finish, this five-piece set from Stellar is professional looking, but comes at a reasonable price. These pans come with added extras like draining holes in the lid, which means there are no frantic searches for a colander or sieve.

Very little stuck to these pans either, so clean up, on the whole, was a doddle. The milk pan and frying pan are useful additions, particularly if you’re looking for a complete set. The non-stick coating on both of these pans is effective too.

Water came to a boil quickly, saving you time. And for added ease and versatility, they’re all dishwasher- and oven-safe up to 210C.

Read our full Stellar 7000 5-piece saucepan set review.

Judge Vista 3-piece pan set

Judge Vista 3-piece pan set

Best pan set for students

Pros:

  • Draining holes in the lid
  • Pouring lips either side of pan
  • Volume markings up the side of pan

Cons:

  • Oven-safe to low temperature

Score: 4/5

This is a simple and sturdy saucepan set, ideal to pack your child off to uni with. It’s suitable for all hob types and comes with useful and space-saving added extras like draining holes in the lids and volume markings inside the pans.

They’re lightweight, but have a slightly weighted base. In general we found the pans quick to heat up, but some foods did end up sticking to the pan. While the pans are oven-safe, they’re only suitable to a somewhat limiting 150C.

But if you’re just after a simple set for equally simple cooking tasks, this set gets the job done. Add to the collection with the Judge Vista frying pan. And for more key university items, read our student kitchen essentials list.

Read our full Judge Vista 3-piece saucepan set review.

Salter Megastone 3-piece pan set

Salter Megastone 3-piece pan set

Best budget pan set

Pros:

  • Long, comfortable handles
  • Hanging holes
  • Suitable for all hob types

Cons:

  • Very light
  • Lots of plastic packaging

Star rating: 4/5

Not all of us can afford to spend hundreds on a saucepan set and sometimes you just need something that will get the simple stuff done. This Salter saucepan set has an effective non-stick coating and wide, open pans.

The pans are very light, so be careful of accidentally knocking them. Thankfully the handles are comfortable to hold and do not get too hot.

They’re a little slow to respond to changes in temperature, but nothing stuck to the pans, meaning clean up is easy. They’re cheap and cheerful, so good if you’re on a budget or if you’re looking for a set to take camping with you, for example.

Read our full Salter Megastone 3-piece pan set review

Other pan sets tried and tested

How to choose the best pan set

There’s a lot to consider before choosing a pan set. If you’re starting out, a three-pot set will give you everything you need to cook most meals. All your hob needs for a Sunday roast are covered – there will be a pan for potatoes, vegetables and gravy. A number of the sets on this list form part of a wider collection of pans, like frying pans and sauté pans, meaning you can add to your set later on. We recommend always going for the very best quality you can afford. If you’re a seasoned cook, think about what gets used most in your kitchen (we all have our favourites) and look for a set that incorporates that style of pan in its wider range, if not already included in the box.

What to look out for when choosing a pan set

The majority of the pan sets we’ve tested include three different sized saucepans. Some sets also come with a frying pan and milk pan, while others also come have sauté pans. Consider what you need and what you already have – you don't want to buy a set with a frying pan if you already have a much-loved one in your kitchen.

  • Weight: depending on the material used, the pans can get very weighty when full. Look for lug-handles for extra support. At the other end of the spectrum, a lightweight pan isn’t necessarily a good thing; they tend to be unbalanced on the hob and can be easily knocked.
  • Hob suitability: choose a set that’s suitable for your hob. Ideally choose one suitable for all hob types, so there’s no risk of the set becoming redundant if you move from gas or electric to induction.
  • Oven-proof: a pan that can go from hob to oven offers added versatility. It's simpler to cook dishes like oven-baked risotto, that start on the hob and move to the oven, in a pan that can do both, and there’s less to wash up after. Check the maximum temperature the pan is oven-proof to – anything above 180C is ideal.
  • Easy to clean: in an ideal world, pans would always be washed by hand, but we’re all busy and it’s uber convenient to be able to pop the pans in a dishwasher once you’ve finished cooking. Always check whether the pans are dishwasher-safe before washing.

How we tested pan sets

We put these pan sets to the test by cooking a variety of foods in the appropriate sized pan. We started with breakfast foods and cooked custardy scrambled eggs in the smallest pan to see how well we could control the heat, and if we were able to reach into the edges to ensure everything was fully incorporated. We also cooked notoriously-difficult-to-clean porridge in the smallest pan.

In the medium-sized pan we cooked fried onions. This let us see if the pan could cook slowly and caramelise the onions evenly. We played around with the temperature on this test to see how well the pan responded to changes.

Finally, in the largest pan, we cooked pasta. We brought the pan up to a boil from cold to see how quickly it heated up and how evenly the pan distributed heat. After adding the pasta, we popped the lid on. We wanted to know whether the pan would bubble over, and if you could still see through the lid.

Some pan sets came with frying pans as standard. We called on our frying pan tests to test these out and cooked American pancakes and omelettes.

As well as how the sets looked together on the hob, there was a long list of attributes on our list of must-haves.

  • Efficient cooking: crucially, they had to have excellent, non-stick linings and efficient heat distribution so we could rely on food being evenly cooked, with responsive heating and cooling when we adjusted controls.
  • Weight and balance: heavy-based pans are great for cooking, but they couldn’t be so weighty that we’d struggle to move one from hob to sink, or so light they could tilt easily on the stove.
  • Build quality: the pans had to be built to last, with firmly welded or riveted handles, which had to feel comfortable to grip when the pan was full.
  • Storage: finally, we looked at how the sets stacked together for storage, marking down any that were likely to topple over and cause cupboard chaos.

Best non-stick frying pans
Best cast iron skillet pans
Best pancake pans
Best griddle pans
Best sauté pans
9 of the best paella pans
Best woks
Best casserole dishes
Always pan: First look review
Smeg cookware range: First look review
How to store pans

More appliance reviews

Best air-fryers
Best stand mixers
Best food processors
Best multi-cookers
Best bean-to-cup coffee machines
Best coffee pod machines
Best espresso coffee machines
Best ice cream makers

Advertisement

If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at goodfoodwebsite@immediate.co.uk.

Comments, questions and tips

Choose the type of message you'd like to post

Choose the type of message you'd like to post
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement