Overall, reviewers say All-Clad Stainless (*Est. $750 for a 10-piece set) is easily the best stainless-steel cookware. However, for a lot less, experts and owners agree that Cuisinart Chef's Classic Stainless 10-Piece Cookware set is a good budget choice. Unlike the All-Clad cookware, which has an aluminum core that extends up the sides of each pot, the Chef's Classic line has a fully encapsulated aluminum disk built into the base of each pan, but it doesn't extend up the sides.
As a result, the Cuisinart pans heat fairly slowly, and once heated, they tend to run a little hot, requiring you to keep a close watch on your food as it cooks. Both professional tests and user reviews expose some durability problems with this cookware, ranging from minor scratches and stains to cracked, warped and split pans. Several user reviews also note that like many stainless-steel cookware sets, there is a bit of a learning curve when determining how to appropriately use the pots and pans. Cuisinart does include a helpful manual, though. Cuisinart Chef's Classic Stainless pans are oven-safe to 550 degrees Fahrenheit and have comfortable, riveted handles that stay cool to the touch.
Cook's Illustrated magazine includes Cuisinart Chef's Classic Stainless cookware in several of its exacting cookware tests. This brand is also included in cookware reviews at ConsumerReports.org. To gauge how this cookware holds up over time, we consulted hundreds of owner reviews at Amazon.com and Macys.com.
1. Cook's Illustrated Magazine
Editors compare seven 12-inch stainless-steel skillets. Although the Cuisinart Chef's Classic Stainless cookware set does not include a skillet this size, the review provides helpful information about this brand's durability, overall quality and ease of use.
Review: Traditional Skillets, Editors of Cook's Illustrated magazine, Jan. 2009
This extensive review tests 35 complete sets of traditional and nonstick cookware, including Cuisinart Chef's Classic Stainless. Each set is evaluated on evenness of cooking, ease of cleaning and handle design. Although it's great to see so many pots and pans tested, the report itself is not very detailed.
Review: Kitchen Cookware, Editors of ConsumerReports.org
3. Cook's Illustrated Magazine
Editors test nine 12-quart stockpots, including the Cuisinart Chef's Classic Stainless, by preparing pasta, corn and beef chili. They also evaluate how easy each pot is to handle, wash and stow away.
Review: Stockpots, Editors of Cook's Illustrated magazine, Feb. 2007
4. Cook's Illustrated Magazine
Nine saute pans, including a Cuisinart Chef's Classic Stainless pan, are tested in a variety of tasks ranging from pan-searing strip steaks to cooking crepes. Each pan is rated on performance and design, and the results are listed in chart form.
Review: Saute Pans, Editors of Cook's Illustrated magazine, Sept. 2006
The Cuisinart Chef's Classic Stainless 10-Piece Cookware Set earns an average of 4 stars out of 5 in more than 500 reviews. Most owners are very happy with these pans, but a few say that food sticks or burns too easily. We also read some reports of durability problems ranging from scratches and stains to cracked and split pans.
Review: Cuisinart 77-10 Chef's Classic Stainless-Steel 10-Piece Cookware Set, Contributors to Amazon.com
There are more than 120 reviews here for the Cuisinart Chef's Classic Stainless 10 Piece Cookware Set, and another 100 or so for other sets in the same line. On average, this cookware gets about 4.5 stars from users, who say it heats quickly and evenly but can be hard to clean. We also saw some complaints about durability.
Review: Cuisinart Cookware, Chef's Classic Stainless 10 Piece Set, Contributors to Macys.com
About 70 owners at Cooking.com give the Cuisinart Chef's Classic 10-Piece Cookware Set an average rating of 4.6 stars out of 5. However, most of the user reviews are much shorter and less detailed than those at other sites.
Review: Cookware Set Chef's Classic Stainless by Cuisinart, Contributors to Cooking.com