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Consumer Reports: Top-rated pots and pans

Thursday, December 09, 2010

When it comes to buying cookware, a good, quality set can set you back hundreds of dollars, so you want to be sure it's money well spent.

To see if a high price will get you high quality, Consumer Reports tested 16 uncoated pots and pan sets, ranging in price from $80 to $800, which are good for browning, searing, and caramelizing. There were sets from big names new to stainless-steel cookware, such as Le Creuset, Pyrex, and the Culinary Institute of America.

Testers put each set through a series of tough tests.

To see how evenly the pans cook, testers made pancakes. The pricey $550 Culinary Institute pans did so-so and the $450 Le Creuset set couldn't handle the heat either.

Some of the sets come with a nonstick fry pan, so testers looked at those, too. A machine was used to scrub the pans up to 2,000 times to see how the surface holds up. Some didn't. Testers then fried eggs on the worn surface to see whether food stuck and how hard it was to clean.

In the end, testers top-rated a Bonjour 10-piece, stainless-steel set for $540. While the set is pricey, none of the less-expensive sets did as well in all of Consumer Reports tests.

"The Bonjour cooked food evenly; it had comfortable, durable handles; and it was pretty easy to clean. Plus, it's oven-safe up to 500 degrees," said Consumer Reports' Celia Lehrman.

If you're looking for a nonstick cookware set, Consumer Reports recommends the $190 EarthPan with Sand Flow. It cooked food evenly and performed better than nonstick cookware that costs twice as much. Plus, it's dishwasher safe.

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