In today’s reviews we will introduce you to hard anodized cookware – what it is, how it works and the advantages and disadvantages associated with a hard anodized cookware set. We are focusing on cookware sets because they are such an important tool that we all use in everyday life. Cooking is a chore for some and a joy for others, but a necessity for most of us. The quality of cooking depends largely on the set of tools you are using – while great cooks can produce great results with any kind of tools (though at different levels of effort), for the rest of us the quality of the cooking tools is a bit more decisive. Hence, here is an introduction on hard anodized cookware and a list of the three best sets we recommend to you.
Hard anodized cookware refers to all kinds of pots and pans that are made from electronically-hardened aluminum. Aluminum is a high quality material to begin with, but processing it though a chemical process improves its quality even further. The chemical process of hardening aluminum is fairly simple. In the first step, the aluminum base (which means the cookware piece made of aluminum) is placed in a sulfuric acid bath and a weak electric current is passed through it. This causes for the aluminum ions in the cookware to oxidize, as they are exposed to oxygen. This creates aluminum oxide.
The second step is to cool the sulfuric acid to 0 degrees Celsius and then pass a strong electrical current through it. This causes for the aluminum shell of the cookware to anodize immediately. Due to that, the surface pores of the shell are dramatically reduced and the surface becomes incredibly strong – much stronger than even stainless steel.
Given this description of the process of producing anodized cookware, you can already anticipate some of the advantages that might arise. Firstly, the cookware is very strong and sturdy – thus, it will have a lifetime that lasts much longer than other types of cookware. Secondly, and this is a truly remarkable feature of such cookware, the pans and pots produced in this way are very virtually non-porous. This implies that food will never stick to the pan, even if it is burned or overcooked. Also, the pans and pots are much easier to clean and they will not change color or any other feature due to exposure.
The fact that anodized pans and pots are non-sticky means that you will never again have to use cooking oil just so that the food does not burn – you can use it only when it adds to the desired taste or consistency of the food. Because this is hardened aluminum we are talking about, the pans and pots are also resistant to scratches – thus you will not need to use wooden utensils as with Teflon-coated pans and pots. Here, the non-stick feature of the pans and pots is embedded in their structure and cannot be scratched away!
Some of the other noteworthy benefits of hard anodized cookware are that it provides even heat distribution and that it is suitable with almost all heat sources. Regarding the latter, aluminum cookware can be used with gas and electric stoves, commercial restaurant burners and similar. It is not recommended for use on an open flame, which would be used when camping or grilling. Hard anodized cookware sets can withstand very high temperatures. Basically, the melting point of aluminum is the only boundary, and that is about 1221 degrees Fahrenheit or 660.56 degrees Celsius.
With all these benefits in mind, we felt that a review of some excellent hard anodized cooking sets should be useful to all of you who are looking for a kitchen upgrade that will make a difference and last a lifetime.
Hence, we are reviewing the following sets:
- Circulon Symmetry Nonstick 11-Piece Cookware Set
- Anolon Advanced Bronze Hard Anodized Nonstick 11-Piece Cookware Set
- Cuisinart 66-11 Chef’s Classic Nonstick Hard-Anodized 11-Piece Cookware Set.
Each of these is produced by a different manufacturer. In addition, each comes at a different price – an important consideration when it comes to such high quality kitchen sets which are bound to cost more than a traditional cookware set. An important similarity is that they all consist of 11 cooking pieces which are largely the same.
Circulon Symmetry Hard Anodized Cookware Set
The Circulon Symmetry Cookware Set is on the top of our list because it is in fact the best hard anodized cookware set we could find! In our opinion, it has all the features and elements that you could need, and the price is right as well.
While this cookware set is certainly not cheap, we cannot really expect it to be when we are talking about a high quality multi piece cooking set that may very well last a lifetime. Furthermore, there is always the possibility that you will be able to find it on sale for a discounted price.
The pieces included in this set are the following:
- 1 quart pouring saucepan
- 2 quart covered saucepan
- 3 quart covered saucepan
- 8 quart covered stockpot
- 8.5 inch French skillet
- 10 inch French skillet
- 3 quart covered sauté pan.
Thus, as you can see, it really does include all the pots and pans you may need – the saucepan, the skillet and the sauté pan
In addition to these basic features, the Circulon Symmetry Cookware Set has a few others that truly make it multi tasking and convenient to use. First of all, it has a nonstick surface not only inside but outside as well, meaning that you will not have a problem cleaning any food that spills over the rim of the pot/pan, as it sometimes happens. Secondly, the handles to all pots and pans are ergonomic so they provide a slip-free grasp. They are made of silicon and stainless steel and will not be damaged if the pots or pans are used in the oven, up to a temperature of 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Thirdly, all the lids included in the set are made of tempered glass and designed to lock in temperature and moisture. Fourthly, this set is dishwasher safe and safe to use with metal utensils. We should mention that while most anodized cookware sets are dishwasher safe, it is not always recommended to put them in the dishwasher. While the pot or pan base itself will not be damaged, the handles are not made of hard anodized aluminum and therefore are not as durable. Thus, washing them by hand can extend their durability. Fifthly, we should also mention that the stainless steel base of the pots and pans in this set is suitable to use with any type of stove top, including induction stove tops.
As you can see, the Circulon Symmetry Cookware Set is a well-designed and well-made hard anodized cookware set and so we cannot recommend it enough. But, for comparison, here are two alternatives that you might also like.
Anolon Advanced Bronze Hard Anodized Nonstick 11-Piece Cookware Set
The Anolon Advanced Bronze Hard Anodized Nonstick 11-Piece Cookware Set takes the #2 spot on our list of the best hard anodized cookware sets.
It is similar to our #1 pick in many ways, and it comes at a lower price.
Thus, it is another solid choice if you are looking to upgrade your kitchen with an excellent cookware set.
In terms of pieces included in the set, the variety is very similar to the Circulon Symmetry Hard Anodized Nonstick 11-Piece Cookware Set. Specifically, it includes:
- 1.5 quart covered saucepan
- 3 quart covered saucepan
- 8 quart covered stockpot
- 8 inch skillet
- 10 inch skillet
- 3 quart covered sauté pan
- inch shallow grill pan
Other than some minor differences in the size of some pieces, the main difference between the two sets is that this one includes an extra shallow grill pan at the expense of a 2 quart covered saucepan. Depending on what you usually make, one set will suit your needs better than the other.
Some additional features of the Anolon Advanced Bronze Hard Anodized Nonstick 11-Piece Cookware Set in terms of convenience and practicality are also very similar to the Circulon Symmetry Hard Anodized Nonstick 11-Piece Cookware Set. The handles are similarly made of silicon and stainless steel and are oven safe. The lids are made of break resistant glass. The pots and pans heat up quickly and they provide even heat distribution, which is a general characteristic of all hard anodized cookware.
Aesthetically, both sets look similar – the high quality design is clearly visible. The color palette in the Circulon Symmetry Hard Anodized Nonstick 11-Piece Cookware Set is stainless steel and matte black, while in the Anolon Advanced Bronze Hard Anodized Nonstick 11-Piece Cookware Set it is stainless steel and matte chocolate brown.
Cuisinart 66-11 Chef’s Classic Nonstick Hard-Anodized 11-Piece Cookware Set
The last set that we want to present today is the Cuisinart 66-11 Chef’s Classic Nonstick Hard-Anodized 11-Piece Cookware Set, which takes the #3 spot on our list of the best hard anodized cookware sets.
The listing price of this set is pretty much the same as that of our #2 pick, however comparing the discounted prices, this set has a clear price advantage.
If the other two are really out of your price range, then we do recommend looking into this one. Of course, the other two sets are somewhat better, but the essential pieces you need are included in this set as well. And it will last you decades as long as you take proper care of it.
Included in this set there are:
- 1.5 quart saucepan with glass lid
- 2.5 saucepan with glass lid
- 3 quart sauté pan with glass lid
- 8 quart stockpot with glass lid
- 8 inch skillet
- 10 inch skillet
- 18 centimeter steamer insert.
Thus, as you can see, the variability of cookware pieces is very similar to that of the other two sets. Instead of the shallow grill pan included in the Anolon Advanced Bronze Hard Anodized Nonstick 11-Piece Cookware Set, here you have a steamer insert, which is certainly very useful as well.
Regarding additional features, the handles in this set are made purely of stainless steel and the lids are made of tempered glass that is break resistant, similarly as with the other sets. One notable difference is that the rims of the pots in this set are tempered so that you can enjoy drip-free pouring. Another one is that this set comes with a Quantanium nonstick cooking surface that is reinforced with titanium for lasting food release. While both other sets have features for better food release, they do not have a cooking surface reinforced with titanium.
Here are some last remarks to make sure your anodized cookware lasts you for years and years.
- Firstly, wash it by hand whenever possible.
- Secondly, never run a sizzling pan under a stream of cold water immediately after cooking. Instead, leave it on a cool burner to cool down first. Both of these measures will help preserve the pots and pans in any of these sets.
- Thirdly, keep in mind that the best way to store these pots and pans is by hanging them on a rack. Stacking them might result in some damage over time, albeit minor.
- Lastly, while all sets are said to be metal utensil safe, this generally refers to things like forks and spoons, and not to some electronic devices with metal accessories. Take good care of your hard anodized cookware and you will never need to replace it!