Browning pancakes to check for cooking evenness, simmering sauce - these are just a few of the checks Consumer Reports runs to see how well cookware performs.
Recently, testers looked at several sets from celebrities like Rachael Ray and the Pioneer Woman and familiar brands like All-Clad and Cuisinart.
The sets come in a variety of materials from anodized aluminum, coated cast iron, and stainless steel. Testers also looked at non-stick coated pans.
This egg release test checks how "non-stick" a pan really is. Testers looked for the egg to slide off easily and leave nothing behind.
They even scrubbed coated pans 2,000 times with steel wool to see how durable the non-stick coating was.
So which sets performed best in Consumer Reports' tests?
"Non-stick cookware tends to do really well in our testing because it releases food easily and is easy to clean up," said Paul Hope, Consumer Reports Home Editor.
Cuisinart's Green Gourmet hard anodized set, which sells for $250, seared the non-stick competition and earned top ratings.
But you need more than non-stick for a well-rounded cookware collection.
"There are definitely times you want uncoated cookware like stainless steel or cast iron, especially if you're searing food," said Hope. "You can't really get non-stick cookware hot, but you can sear in cast iron and stainless steel."
Because 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 fry pans went to an $115 All-Clad tri-ply stainless steel fry pan. And for non-stick fry pans, consider red copper non-stick, an economical buy for $20.
Consumer Reports rates the best cookware for your money
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