8 best baking sets, from Asda and Lakeland to Le Creuset

Bakeware is a staple of any cook’s kitchen, but, whether you’re an ardent baker or have caught the Great British Bake-Off bug, choosing what you need can be overwhelming. If you want beautifully risen cakes and biscuits with a snap, then knowing which material, weight and quality of bakeware you need is important. 

What do you bake – and how often?

If you have an all-round passion, then larger sets will be more versatile. If you’re topping up an existing collection, then the specialist ranges may suit.

If you are a less frequent baker, then the more expensive brands may not be worth it. The budget brands stood up well in the test and come highly recommended.

For those who bake a lot, investing in the more expensive sets can pay dividends in the long run. These are made from stronger materials and can stand up to the rigours of frequent use and washing.  

To wash or not?

The jury is still out on the washing of bakeware as many argue this can destroy any build-up of oiliness which creates a natural non-stick surface. However, modern bakeware now comes with excellent robust non-stick coatings more or less as standard, so most will only need a quick wipe. If you feel you must have dishwasher capability, then look carefully at the instructions before buying as not all are.

How it stacks up

Bakeware takes up a lot of room though some will nest. If your kitchen does not have spare cupboards or drawers, then a smaller, yet still versatile set you can easily pack away will be best.  

How we test

The baking sets tested were made up of several different pieces, and we tested a range from each; where possible, a cake or loaf tin, buns, and a baking tray. We made ginger cakes, lemon drizzles, muffins, Yorkshire puddings, pastry cases and jam tarts. Here are our favourites.

These sets are listed in price order

Wilko 4-Pack Roasting Starter Set

£5, Wilko
Best for: A bargain set that delivers well

Wilko baking set

Key specs – Number in set: 4, oven tray, Yorkshire pudding tin, baking tray, loaf and sandwich tin; Material: 0.4mm gauge steel; Non-stick: Yes; Dishwasher safe: yes; Guarantee: 5 years; Extras: None

It is staggering that a fiver will buy you this four-piece bakeware set. It may not be the sturdiest set in the test but it is in no way flimsy, and so confident are Wilko in the durability of its product, it also comes with a five-year guarantee.

There were no problems with any of the bakes. Most were evenly coloured and the Yorkshire puddings well-risen and golden brown. The non-stick coating worked for the most part, but a few biscuits did get caught on the tray, so a little light greasing is advised.

We especially liked the wide rims which make the bakeware easy to handle, especially when hot from the oven. The pieces also nest together, so stack up neatly for small spaces.

George Non-stick Cook and Bakeware Set 9 Piece

£11, Asda
Best for: High-quality on a budget

George from Asda baking set

Key specs – Number in set: 9, 1 large roaster, 1 small roaster, 1 loaf tin, 2 sandwich tins,1pizza tray,1 4-cup Yorkshire pudding tray,1 small bun tray, 1 large oven tray; Material: Aluminium; Non-stick: Yes; Dishwasher safe: Yes; Guarantee: 100 days satisfaction; Extras: None

This nine-piece set from George at Asda was such a surprise in the test. For the price, it would be easy to think that this set would be low in quality but it was anything but. Made from aluminium, the trays were strong but light. In all tests, the bakes were evenly coloured with no dead spots.

This set covers all bases, including a roaster for the beef and a traditional four-hole Yorkshire pudding tin. So that’s Sunday lunch sorted.  

The set has an excellent non-stick coating, so bakes slid out smoothly. At just  10 inches, the pizza tray was the only piece that felt a little on the small side.

VonShef Oven 5-Piece Oven Bakeware

£14.99, VonShef
Best for: Durability and space on a budget

VonShef baking set

Key specs – Number in set: 5, 1 muffin tray, 1 medium oven tray, 1 round cake pan, 1 loaf pan and 1 springform cake tin; Material: Carbon steel; Non-stick: Yes; Dishwasher safe: Yes; Guarantee: 2-year warranty; Extras: None

The VonShef set comes with warp-free heavy-duty steel and a tough non-stick coating, which delivered excellent results with the bakes. We were particularly impressed with the sturdiness of the non-twist oven tray. 

There may be only five pieces in this set, but the pans can be used for multiple different things. For example, the cake pan can also be used as a small roaster, or for deep pies; the muffin tin can be used for buns, Yorkshire puddings and mince pies. The oven tray is just deep enough also to be used for a Swiss roll.

Kids’ Real Cookware Ultimate 48-Piece Baking Gift Set

£29.99, Lakeland
Best for: Budding young bakers

Lakeland kids baking set

Key specs – Number in set: 48, everything for young bakers including cake, muffin and loaf tins. Material: mainly silicone; Non-stick: Yes; Dishwasher safe: No; Guarantee: 3 years; Extras: suitable for ages 3 and upwards.

You are never too young to start baking, and this comprehensive 48-piece kit provides everything kids need to get cracking.

We put this set into the hands of a supervised not-quite-four-year-old. They created some very respectable biscuits and a moist marbled banana cake which came out easily from the non-stick loaf tin.  

The set, however, is not a plaything. It is real tools and pans, but made to be used by smaller hands. There is all the equipment needed for rolling, moulding and decorating cake pops, cookies, cupcakes and more.

Everything is sturdy and well-made, and so even the youngest child can use it safely without fear of it breaking.

ProCook Non-Stick Bakeware Set

£35, ProCook
Best for: Versatility

Procook baking set

Key specs – Number in set: 6, springform cake tin, 12 cupcake tray, small and large baking trays, small roasting tin and a loaf tin; Material: Heavy gauge carbon steel; Non-stick: Yes; Dishwasher safe: Yes, Guarantee: 10 years; Extras: None

This carbon steel ProCook set comes with a generous 10-year guarantee. It was easy to see why the company is so confident, as the bakeware felt robust and well-made. The only slight disappointment was a surprisingly flimsy fastener on the springform. The sturdy steel also meant the pans heated very quickly and the colouring of cakes and pastries was even all round.

The interior of the bakeware felt super smooth, so it was of little surprise to discover it has a double layer superior ProCook Ultra SI non-stick coating. No greasing was needed, and the bakes still fell from the tins.

Silverwood Starter Set

£44.95, Silverwood
Best for: Simplicity and style
Silverwood four piece bakeware set

Key specs – Number in set: 8, 2 fixed base sandwich tins, 1 loose base round cake tin, 1 baking tray, 4 cutters; Material: Anodised aluminium; Non-stick: Yes; Dishwasher safe: Handwash only, Guarantee: 25 years; Extras: None

The simplicity and understated elegance of this British-made anodised aluminium bakeware bears testament. The soft silver colour, even after just a few uses, takes on a lovely patina which only enhances its good looks. No dishwasher use allowed (or needed) for these beauties.

However, it is not just the aesthetics of this set that makes it so pleasant to use. The even heat distribution it gives out also resulted in perfectly cooked and evenly coloured bakes, especially the biscuits, making this set the best performing during the tests.

This set is for a budding baker, rather than a more experienced one, who may find the smaller sizes of the cake and sandwich tins a little annoying.

Lakeland 5-Piece Mixed Bakeware Set

£47.95, Lakeland
Best for: A quality all-rounder

Lakeland five-piece baking set

Key specs – Number in set: 5, 20cm Springform Cake Tin, Baking Sheet, 2lb Loaf Tin, 12 Hole Deep Bun Tin, 20cm Round Deep Pie Tin; Material: 1mm thick carbon steel; Non-stick: Yes; Dishwasher safe: Yes, Guarantee: 10 years; Extras: Safe grip handles

The Lakeland set showed exceptional attention to detail. Not only did this bakeware feel good to hold, but it also has an attractive blue colour on the outside and a double layer of Quantum 2 professional non-stick within.

The ergonomic design of wide, safe grip handles on all but the springform, and clean edges, meant no trapping of water when washing, which in other pans can cause rust. Plus, some pieces have fill and sizing measures to prevent overfilling the pan and spoiling the bake.

All of this resulted in professional-looking bakes.

There may be only five (very useful) pieces in this set, but there are many more pieces to buy to add to it, making it suitable for all levels of baking experience.

Le Creuset Family Baking Set

£89, Le Creuset
Best for: A worthy investment

Le Creuset baking set

Key specs – Number in set: 4, 12 Cup Bun Tray, 22cm Kugelhopf, Swiss Roll Tray and 24cm Springform Tin; Material: Heavy gauge carbon steel; Non-stick: Yes; Dishwasher safe: Handwash only; Guarantee: Lifetime; Extras: Heat resistant silicone handles.

This set was the most expensive tested and had just four pieces. We did not test the Kugelhopf, but we were delighted by the performance of the tray, bun tin and springform.

The fastener on the springform was the best in the test; it snaps shut easily and stays securely closed. Nothing stuck to the edges, not even boiling jam from the tarts, and we loved the heat resistant handles; they look great and work well, especially on the cake tin as it gave added grip.

With a lifetime guarantee, there is added confidence that the investment in these pieces is worth every penny.

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8 best food processors – how to pick between Magimix, Tefal and more

Who doesn’t need an extra pair of hands in the kitchen, especially ones that can take care of some of the more mundane aspects of cooking, such as chopping the onions, grating a wedge of hard cheese, neatly slicing potatoes for a cream-laden gratin, or quickly creating a purée, soup or smoothie?

A food processor will do exactly this. These kitchen workhorses fly through some of the chores of food preparation by chopping, slicing, grating, mixing, blending, kneading, and even dicing. A food processor, however, should not be confused with a blender. A food processor is a multi-function gadget comprising of a mixing bowl(s) with a range of attachments, including grating and slicing discs or blades, knives and whisks. Blenders are usually single-function and create smoothies, juices, soups or batters. Both are useful in the modern kitchen.

How we test

We have rigorously tested all the processors here in a domestic kitchen setting on the most popular functions by grating several kilos of hard cheese and fresh coconut (almost impossible to do on a hand grater) and creating enough shortcrust pastry to provide quiches and pies for months.

Root vegetables sliced – and where appropriate diced – for over eight litres of soup then blended in the processor, plus meat was chopped for burgers and chilli. As not all processors have blenders, they were not tested, but some special functions were.

Prices for food processors range from over £1000 for a top-notch, professional piece of kit to down as low as £49.99. They all do a job, some faster, quieter and neater than the others. Price does often influence the speed and quality of the processing, although do not underestimate cheaper models.

Before you decide which one suits your needs, here are a few questions you may want to consider.

What do you want to use the processor for?

Are you a busy cook making family meals, baking, bread making and entertaining, or, do you merely want to speed up preparing ingredients? Your choice will help determine what functions are essential to you.

How much space do you have?

Multi-function processors are bulky, some with many attachments. Perhaps a compact style will suit you better.

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How many are you cooking for?

Buy a processor that’s too small and it will be frustrating, too big and you will not get the best out of it.

Do you need all those attachments?

Unless you’re a keen cook, many will end up gathering dust at the back of a cupboard alongside that once-you-thought-would-be useful spiralizer you bought summers ago.

Here’s our pick of the best budget, mid-range and high-end processors.

Best budget processors

Tower T18004 1.5L Food Processor

£29.99, Robert Dyas
Best for: Light, infrequent use

tower t18004 food processor

Key specs – Size: 42(H) x 25(W) x 34(D); Bowl size: 1.5 litre; Power: 600w; Attachments: 1 grating/slicing disc, blender disc and stainless-steel chopping blade; Additional notable features: 1.4-litre blender

The Tower processor sits at the lowest price point of all the machines tested and, although not the best on test, it has some great features that anyone seeking a simple, easy-to-use processor for lighter duties would appreciate.

The processor base, jugs and attachments feel extremely light but are also a little flimsy. The bowl was not as easy to fit onto the bottom compared to others and the lid was a little tricky to use – anyone with wrist problems would struggle, although we suspect this problem would ease with continued use.

There was very little to complain about with the slicing and grating though, but only one size makes its uses limiting. The light stainless-steel blade performed well and chopped through onions, carrots and celery without struggle, and blending a soup was as straightforward as it comes. Pastry fared less well, and it needed much more processing than is right to create a light and crumbly finished dough.

Do not, however, dismiss this food processor, it has its place, and for someone who will only expect it to perform light duties and doesn’t want to over-challenge it with large quantities, the Tower delivers good results, even if it does take a little longer than others.

Andrew James Multi-Functional Food Processor

£56.49 (price correct at time of publishing), Andrew James
Best for: Value for money

andrew james multifunctional food processor

Key specs – Size: 23 x 41.5 x 23 cm; Bowl size: 2.4 litres; Power: 800w; Attachments: 8 with 4 grating/slicing discs, blades, whisks, coffee grinder, citrus press, spatula and large 2-part plunger; Additional notable features: 1.5-litre blender

The Andrew James processor, cost-wise, may be sitting towards the lower end of the market but it delivers a vast range of attachments and accessories. The processor itself is robust and a good weight, and – with the addition of rubber suction cup feet – stays relatively still while processing, although when grating hard cheese, it did move slightly and was rather noisy.

The controls are straightforward with the dial having two speed settings, pulse and off. Equally the set-up instructions were easy to follow and the machine was up and running in about 10 minutes – most of that time was spent sifting through all the attachments to sort out what was what.

The Andrew James machine is good value considering it’s so well-equipped, meaning there is little need for any other gadget. The attachments are not as substantial as the more expensive machines but made short work of all the punishing processes it was put through, with little wastage.

There is no storage with this processor though and with so many attachments – jugs, bowls etc. – it requires a lot of space. The blades and the slicing discs, as would be expected, are super sharp and with no distinctive safe storage, accidents can happen, as a cut finger here bears testament.

Best mid-range processors

Tefal DO824H40 Double Force Pro Food Processor

£119.99 (price correct at time of publishing), Amazon
Best for: Reliable performance

tefal double force pro food processor

Key specs – Size: 40(H) x 32(W) x 28(D) cm; Bowl size: 3 litres; Power: 1000w; Attachments: 3 reversible grating/slicing discs, dough blade, stainless steel chopping blade, whisk/beater, citrus press, spatula, storage box; Additional notable features: 2-litre blender, EasyLock lid and dual force motor

The Tefal processor has an impressive range of attachments, which at this price is a bargain. It’s sturdy and even on top speed there was little vibration, meaning a very quiet machine. There is also an in-bowl storage box and the cord winds neatly away, making this an excellent space-saving processor.

The 1000w motor and large three-litre bowl means the Tefal can tackle hefty loads and quantities, and in every test it performed exceptionally well, evenly and with little or no waste. There is also a series of pre-programmed tasks found on the control panel, which intuitively chooses the motor speed most suited to the task.

However, the instructions supplied with the processor are complicated to work through, with page after page of tiny drawings and text is kept to a minimum. With patience, good eyesight, plenty of time and some knowledge of food processing, it is possible to work it out though. Anyone new to using a food processor would possibly struggle to get the answer they need, which is a shame as this is an excellent machine and offers excellent value for money.

KitchenAid 5KFP0919 2.1L Food Processor

£179, KitchenAid
Best for: Efficiency and style

kitchenaid food processor

Key specs – Size: 195(W) x 540(H) x 260(D) mm; Bowl size: 2.1 litre (also available in 1.7 litres); Power: 240w; Attachments: 3 grating/slicing discs, dough blade, stainless-steel multifunction blade, 2-part plunger; Additional notable features: 1-click, twist-free lid locking system

The KitchenAid shines on style and performs extremely well. The neat, semi-retro appearance of this machine means there’s no hiding this beauty away in a cupboard.

The instructions are straightforward, with the processor up and running within minutes, and the innovative one-click, twist-free bowl and latched lid locking system was the best lock of all the processors tested, making this both a secure and safe machine to use.

The discs and blades store inside the bowl, which can be a faff as they need to be removed every time, but cleverly inserted so sharp edges are facing down to prevent slicing fingers when removing them. The cable is stored in the base too, all of which makes the KitchenAid neat and tidy on the worktop.

Do not be put off by the 240-watt motor either; this machine packs a punch with its smooth, quiet and powerful delivery, with two speeds and pulse delivered by the simple push down buttons. The KitchenAid performed well in all functions, with a variety of slicing thicknesses, grating hard cheese into fluffy clouds and producing delicate shreds of vegetables through to hefty chunks. The stainless-steel blade whips through meat, pastry and purées in a flash, too.

It’s not the cheapest processor but far from the most expensive, making this a great-value, super-efficient and good-looking machine.

Ninja 1100W Smart Screen Food Processor with FreshVac Technology

£179.99, Ninja Kitchen
Best for: Healthy lifestyles

ninja smart screen food processor

Key specs – Size: 17 x 21 x 43.5 cm; Bowl size: 1.1 litres; Power: 1100w; Attachments: 1 reversible slicing and grating disc, double dough blade, stainless steel 4 blade knife, 2-part pusher,large feeder tube; Additional notable features: 3 speeds, touch pad control panel, 2.1-litre vacuum blending pitcher, 2.1-litre vacuum blending pitcher lid and valve, FreshVac technology vacuum blending pump, 2 x 600ml lidded drinking cups

By just peeping inside the Ninja box, it’s evident that this machine is for much more than just food processing. With only a 1.1-litre processing bowl, it doesn’t handle vast quantities but what it does do is grate, slice, blend, chop and whip up pastry extremely quickly, thanks to a powerful motor and a fearsome-looking four-blade knife.

There is only one reversible disc though, meaning less versatility than machines of a similar price. The pastry is easy to make but needs caution, as the ferocity of speed here could quickly over blend.

The machine is sturdy and with four suction-cup feet it clings to the work surface and keeps vibration to a minimum. But even with this steadiness, the motor is extremely noisy.

The complete Ninja system also includes a large 2.1-litre blender and an even more fearsome-looking six-blade knife for making healthy smoothies, juices and frozen drinks. Impressively, the machine knows what jug you’re using (food processor, blender or single-size drinks cup) and intuitively adjusts speed and processing accordingly.

The Ninja is an impressive food system, which is not just useful to the home cook but to anyone seeking a healthy eating and drinking lifestyle.

Magimix 4200XL Food Processor

From £269.95 (price correct at time of publishing), Amazon
Best for: Larger family

magimix 4200xl food processor

Key specs – Size: 42.5(H) x 21(W) x 26.5(D) cm; Bowl Size: 3 litres; Power: 950w; Attachments: 2 slicing discs, 2 grating discs, dough blade, stainless steel blade, triple pusher and extra-large feeder tube, egg whisk, blending tool and spatula; Additional notable features: Large, medium and small bowl (with blades)

This good-looking, solid machine comes in five colours and with not one but three bowls, which nest neatly one inside the other. The large blades and discs are interchangeable with the main (three-litres), medium (2.6-litres) and mini (1.2-litres) bowls. The three sizes of bowl give greater flexibility in quantities, from chopping herbs through to large batches of pastry and even 1kg bread without strain.

There are just three operating push buttons on the base, with a pulse, stop and auto button, where usually there would be at least two speeds. Pushing auto, the processor runs in a continuous mode, which gave better and more even results and created the best pastry of all the processors tested. The 950w motor was supremely efficient and made light work of producing even slices and grating with no wastage.

The Magimix is the quietest of the processors tested too, as its solidity holds it firmly on the worktop with little or no vibration. This solidity, however, makes the processor one of the largest and heaviest but, if you have a large family to feed, are a fervent baker or avid cook, you’re going to love this machine.

Cuisinart FP1300U Prep Pro

£250, John Lewis & Partners
Best for: Unusual attachments

cuisinart prep pro

Key specs – Size: 42(H) x 20(W) x 28 (D) cm; Bowl size: 3 litres; Power: 550w; Attachments: 2 slicing and grating discs, mini bowl and blade, dough blade, stainless steel blade, 3-part pusher, large feeder tube, egg whisk, blending tool and spatula; Additional notable features: Touchpad control panel, dicing and spiraliser kits

The Prep Pro is the latest processor from Cuisinart and is a sturdy machine with a slick, attractive design, touchscreen controls and no fiddly buttons, which makes it easy to clean.

From box to functioning took longer than most, as the processor comes with a host of unusual pieces, including a dicing attachment. The step-by-step instructions are clear and mean the machine is easier to use than at first glance. Our early attempts of diced potatoes resulted in varied sizes and shapes but, with practice, quickly became neat and even; this could be our favourite attachment to date.

The base of the Prep Pro was lighter than expected when compared to similarly priced machines, but that in no way affected the rigours of the testing, which were all tip-top with no complaints at all. The processor sits well on the counter with little vibration, meaning it’s also quiet.

There are many parts to the Cuisinart Prep Pro and thankfully storage has been well thought through, with separate boxes for discs and blades. The dicer and spiraliser will need extra room in the cupboard but are worth it.

Best high-end food processors

Thermomix TM5 Touchscreen

From £964, Thermomix
Best for: Professional chefs and serious cooks

thermomix tm5 touchscreen

Key specs – Size: 33(H) x 32(W) x 30(D) cm; Bowl size: 2.2 litres; Power: 550w; Attachments: 4 blades, cutting and stirring knife, heating system, Varoma steamer, measuring cup, butterfly whisk, spatula, recipe chip; Additional notable features: Speed continuously adjustable from 100 to 10,700 rpm, Cook-Key (not included)

At close to £1000, the Thermomix needs to pack a punch, and it does. This processor is one of the simplest and quietest to use, yet bizarrely has the least amount of attachments with the functionality to replace almost all small kitchen cooking appliances in the kitchen.

The Thermomix weighs, cooks, chops, crushes, emulsifies, whips, mixes, steams, blends, kneads, grinds simmers, grates and mills – phew. What it does not do is slice or grate medium cheese but harder varieties chopped well. Making pastry was easy too, as ingredient by ingredient is weighed as it’s added to the bowl, and processing a batch took 15 seconds.

There is a recipe chip included in the price, which gives easy access to tried-and-tested, basic recipes displayed on the touchscreen. There’s also a subscription-based service called Cookidoo that provides access to thousands of recipes online.

To justify the price is easy given the range of functions, but for this machine to realise its full potential, it needs to be in the hands of a serious cook, a busy working parent wanting to quickly and easily make nutritious meals, or the professional chef desperate for another pair of hands in the kitchen.

This article has been updated. It was originally published in January 2019.

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9 best saucepan sets from Tefal, Le Creuset and more

There are many pieces of equipment you can skimp on in the kitchen, but a good set of saucepans is not one. They are paramount to good cooking, whether you’re learning the ropes or are already an experienced chef. But choosing the right ones for you isn’t always easy, so we’ve put them to the test to find the very best.

How to choose a saucepan

There are many things to consider when choosing a pan. You want them to look good on the hob but other things to consider are:

  • Heat source – most pans work on gas and electric but not all on induction hobs, so it’s worth checking this before you buy.
  • Budget – a set of saucepans can set you back anything from tens to hundreds of pounds, and with pans, you usually get what you pay for. A good pan set can last a lifetime if well looked after though.
  • Space and needs – a set of pans could include just two great pieces, or 15, so it’s worth considering the size of your kitchen and what you’ll actually need them for.
  • Size and weight – although pans are usually standard in size, they vary enormously in weight depending on their construction. Consider how heavy they are without food, as this can easily double when full.

How we test

All pan sets were put into a domestic setting and used in general day-to-day cooking to test the heating, evenness of cooking and cleaning of the pans, all with and without lids.

The 20cm pan in every set was tested for heat-up speed and distribution using one litre of water brought to boiling on high heat with the lid on, plus then hard-boiled for three minutes to check the quality and fit of the lid, noise and steam emission.

Saucepan sets are listed in price order.

Berghoff Leo Non-Stick Saucepan Set

£60, Argos
Best for: Ease of use

berghoff

Key specs –Number in set: 3; Material: Aluminium; Non-stick: Yes; Lid: Silicone rimmed tempered glass; Handle: Phenolic silicone; Oven safe: No; Dishwasher safe: Yes; Sizes: 16, 18 and 20 cm; Hob types: All; Guarantee: 10 years

These eye-catching pans delivered well in all cooking tasks and nothing stuck to the bottom of them. Cleaning was simple too – even though they are dishwasher safe, they hand-washed quickly and easily.

They weren’t the quickest pans to heat up, but once water was boiling there was not a whisper of noise, thanks to the well-fitting silicone lids and steam vents. Plus, an integrated straining function meant draining the cooking water was easy too.

These pans feel sturdy and come with soft-touch handles, making them simple to lift and move around safely, even when full. You can’t go far wrong with this great-value set.

ProCook Professional Steel Saucepan Set

£67, ProCook
Best for: New cooks

procook

Key specs – Number in set: 2; Material: Stainless steel; Non-stick: No; Lid: Stainless steel-rimmed glass; Handle: Cooltouch; Oven safe: Yes, to 260°C; Dishwasher safe: Yes; Sizes: 14 and 16 cm; Hob types: All; Guarantee: 25 years

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If you’re new to the kitchen and want to invest in a couple of good pans, these ProCook products are the best fit for you. They’re part of a much broader range of professional-standard pans, but these sturdy stainless steel vessels will work well in the hands of both a chef and home cook.

They were among the fastest to heat up, with warmth radiating all the way up the sides for even, quick cooking. The curved handles stayed cool too – thanks to ProCook’s Cooltouch technology – and made the pans comfy to handle and safe to use on the stove. However, they do get very hot in the oven, despite claiming to be oven-safe, so watch out for that.

VonShef Hard Anodised 5-Piece Pan Set

£68.99, VonShef
Best for: Value for money

vonshef

Key specs –Number in set: 5 ; Material: Anodised aluminium; Non-stick: Yes; Lid: Cast steel; Handle: Cast steel; Oven safe: Up to 220°C; Dishwasher safe: Handwash recommended; Sizes: 16, 18 and 20 cm saucepans, 14cm milk pan, 24cm frying pan; Hob types: All; Guarantee: 2 years

This five-piece set from VonShef covers all bases with three good-sized, lidded saucepans, a milk pan and a frying pan, making it an ideal starter set that is exceptional value for money.

They’re all made out of anodised aluminium, which the makers claim is three times harder than stainless steel. They certainly felt robust while still a manageable weight, but the cast steel felt quite narrow in the hand and needed a firm grip to feel secure.

The pans have a double layer of non-stick coating, so food slid around well and required little oil. The pans heated steadily, and although not as fast as some, the distribution of heat was even. Better still is the ability of these pans to go from hob to oven, further adding to their versatility.

Tower Ice Diamond Saucepan Set

£93.38 (price correct at time of publishing), Amazon
Best for: Family cooking

tower

Key specs – Number in set: 5; Material: Heavy gauge aluminium; Non-stick: Yes; Lid: Stainless steel-rimmed glass; Handle: Stainless steel; Oven safe: Yes to 280°C; Dishwasher safe: Yes; Sizes: 16,18 and 20 cm saucepans, 20 and 28 cm frying pans; Hob types: All; Guarantee: 1 year

The five-piece Tower Ice Diamond pan set gets its name from the unusual ice-textured finish and diamond-reinforced non-stick surface, which reduces the need for oil and makes them easy to handle.

The walls of these pans are thicker than any other we tested, and the slightly flared shape gives them a solid, sturdy appearance, without making them too heavy.

The pans were the slowest to heat water to boiling but, once heated, there were no dead spots, and everything cooked quickly and easily.

Oven-safe and dishwasher-friendly, this set is great for the demands of everyday family cooking and will not disappoint.

Green Pan Mayflower Saucepan Set

£104.95, Natural Collection
Best for: Superb non-stick coating

greenpan

Key specs –Number in set: 3; Material: Aluminium; Non-stick: Yes; Lid: Stainless steel-rimmed glass; Handle: Wood; Oven safe: No; Dishwasher safe: Hand-wash recommended; Sizes: 16, 18 and 20 cm; Hob types: All; Guarantee: Lifetime warranty with normal use, 2 years on non-stick coating

The colour of these pans alone makes them appealing, but the Thermalon Infinity non-stick diamond coating also made it the slickest set we tested.

No food came close to sticking to the bottom, and a quick wipe round was all that was needed for the most part after cooking, which is just as well as these pans are not dishwasher safe.

The wooden handle was comfortable to hold and did not retain heat. However, this also means the pans are not suitable for the oven. Heating speed and distribution was good, and all cooking was even.

The lightness of the pans make them easy to lift, but also a little skittish with hard-boiling water, which had the pan rattling and spitting out steam. These durable pans should last for years to come.

Circulon Total Hard Anodised Saucepan Set

£109.99, Circulon
Best for: Reliability

circulon

Key specs – Number in set: 3; Material: Hard anodised aluminium; Non-stick: Yes; Lid: Stainless steel-rimmed glass; Handle: Curved phenolic with hanging hook; Oven safe: Yes; Dishwasher safe: Yes; Sizes: 16, 18 and 20 cm; Hob types: All; Guarantee: Lifetime

So assured is Circulon of its Total Hard Anodised range of pans that it offers a lifetime guarantee (when used in a domestic setting).

And these pans were our top performers – all have a non-stick coating both inside and out, so even when mashed potato burnt in a moment of distraction, one swish of a wooden spoon around the pan lifted everything off the bottom easily.

The speed of heating was rapid too, and the distribution of heat was even. Plus, the easy-to-hold handles and the gently curved lips of the pans made pouring a pleasure. These are all-round super reliable pans that can be used for years to come – and are a reasonable price considering the quality.

Lakeland 5-Piece Copper Coloured Pan Set

£124.99, Lakeland
Best for: Style

lakeland

Key specs –Number in set: 5; Material: Lightweight aluminium; Non-stick: Yes; Lid: Stainless steel-rimmed glass; Handle: Stainless steel; Oven safe: Yes; Dishwasher safe: Hand-wash recommended; Sizes: 16, 18 and 20 cm plus 14cm milk pan and 25cm frying pan; Hob types: All; Guarantee: 3 years

These good-looking copper-coloured pans would make a statement in any kitchen and are far too pretty to hide away in a cupboard.

The five-piece set consists of a milk pan, frying pan and three saucepans, so they cover all needs, although the largest – a 20cm saucepan – only holds 2.3 litres, which may not be big enough for larger families.

We found the riveted, slim handles ensured excellent grip though, while a well-fitted vented glass lid released steam, keeping the pans quiet on the hob. The dual-layered non-stick coating meant that food slipped around the pan, and cleaning by hand was easy.

These pans also heat up quickly, and can be used on the stove or in the oven, so their versatility is impressive.

Tefal Ingenio Stainless Steel Pan Set

£202.50, John Lewis & Partners
Best for: Clever design

tefal

Key specs – Number in set: 13; Material: Stainless steel; Non-stick: Yes; Lid: Stainless steel, silicone rim; Handle: Detachable phenolic cool touch; Oven safe: Yes, to 260°C; Dishwasher safe: Yes; Sizes: 16, 18 and 20 cm, plus 2 frying pans (22 and 26 cm); Guarantee: Lifetime warranty with regular use, 2 years on non-stick coating

The smart design of these pans will easily win fans for their practicality and versatility. The set includes three saucepans, two frying pans, three lids, refrigerator covers and two detachable handles, so you can build the pan you need and move them from hob to table to fridge with ease.

The pans also stack one inside the other, thanks to the removable handles, making them more compact to store. Once handles are attached though, they feel secure and are comfortable to hold.

All the pans have Tefal’s titanium non-stick coating, making them easy to clean, and its recognisable Thermo-Spot, so you can tell when they’ve heated up to optimum temperature and are ready to use. A rubber-edged rim to the lids includes a gap for easy drainage, too.

Le Creuset 3-Ply Stainless Steel Pan Set

£345, Le Creuset
Best for: Lifetime use

le creuset

Key specs – Number in set: 3; Material: 3-ply stainless steel; Non-stick: No; Lid: Stainless steel; Handle: Stainless steel and helper handle; Oven safe: Yes; Dishwasher safe: Yes; Sizes: 16, 18 and 20 cm; Hob types: All; Guarantee: Lifetime

Le Creuset pans are made with layers of stainless steel bonded with aluminium. This made them the fastest to heat up on test and gave them the best heat distribution. As a result, food cooks quickly with less heat needed. There’s no non-stick coating though.

The handles are securely riveted and comfortable to hold. Plus, there are helper handles to compensate for the heaviness of these sturdy vessels. They might be expensive, but this high-performing, stylish set will last you a lifetime.

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