Consumer Reports tests brand-name, celebrity-branded cookware

By Marilyn Moritz - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - 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 tested cookware sets from celebrities, such as Rachael Ray, and from popular name-brands, such as All Clad, Cuisinart and Le Creuset, among others.

Browning pancakes to check for cooking evenness, simmering sauces and sauteing potatoes are just a few of the ways Consumer Reports tests to see how well cookware performs.

Consumer Reports looked at several sets from celebrities, including Rachael Ray, Pioneer Woman and Ayeesha Curry. 

Cookware comes in a variety of materials, including anodized aluminum, coated cast iron and stainless steel. Testers also looked at nonstick coated pans.

"Nonstick cookware tends to do really well because it releases food easily and is easy to clean,” said Paul Hope, home editor for Consumer Reports.

Cuisinart's Green Gourmet Hard Anodized set for $250 sizzled in the nonstick competition and earned top ratings.

Cookware from Rachael Ray and Pioneer Woman rated very good and Ayeesha Curry’s products rated good.

But you need more than nonstick pans for a well-rounded cookware collection. There are definitely times you want uncoated cookware such as stainless steel or cast iron, especially if you’re searing food.

"You can’t really get nonstick cookware hot, but you can sear in cast iron and stainless steel,” Hope said.

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 frying pans went to the $115 All-Clad Tri-Ply Stainless Steel Fry Pan. And for nonstick fry pans, CR says to consider Red Copper Nonstick, which is a best buy for $20.

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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