The Rachael Ray Hard-Anodized 10-Piece Cookware Set is similar in many ways to the top-rated budget-friendly Rachael Ray Porcelain Enamel 10-Piece Cookware Set (*Est. $130). Both sets offer even heating and good nonstick performance, but both have some durability issues. One difference between the two is that the Hard-Anodized cookware can be used on a smoothtop stove and the enameled cookware cannot. Otherwise, the two sets differ mostly in appearance.
The Rachael Ray cookware offers great performance for its price. Testers at the Good Housekeeping Research Institute say this cookware distributes heat evenly, maintains a steady simmer and has a good nonstick surface. Owners at Amazon.com and Cooking.com generally support these claims. "I have not burned anything, as the aluminum helps evenly distribute heat," reports one Amazon.com user. However, several owners caution that it is important to only use this cookware on low or medium heat to prevent food from burning. Another Amazon.com reviewer finds this frustrating, saying it "takes forever to boil noodles." However, a user at Cooking.com has the opposite problem, saying that this cookware actually burned spaghetti because water evaporates too quickly even on the low setting. Another limitation of this cookware is that, like all hard anodized cookware, it will not work on an induction cooktop.
Reviewers generally like this cookware's weight and features. One owner at Cooking.com says the weight is just right: not so light as to feel flimsy, but not so heavy as to be unwieldy. The reviewers at Good Housekeeping particularly like the cookware's stay-cool handles and lids. Although the cookware is not dishwasher-safe, reviewers say it is easy to clean by hand -- with a few caveats. First, the handles are attached with rivets, and food can collect under them. Second, the cookware will stain with use, although the Good Housekeeping review notes that the stains will come off with an abrasive cleanser.
This cookware has personality. The pots themselves have a dark gray finish, like most anodized aluminum cookware, but the orange handles add a pop of color that owners appreciate. (We found only one owner who described the orange color as "flashy" and "weird.") However, some owners are frustrated that the cookware's durability problems (discussed below) affect its looks after a short period of use.
Durability suffers with budget price tag. Several owners describe the pans as too light and flimsy, and many report that the nonstick finish peels off within a year or so. We also read complaints that the dark outer finish wears off during cleaning. "I loved these pans for the first 1-2 years and now they look horrible," mourns one Amazon.com user. Another weak point is the glass lids. Glass lids can obviously break if dropped, but many users like them anyway because they can see what they're cooking. However, of the many cookware sets with glass lids, this is the only one we saw with two separate reports of glass lids shattering during cooking. Owners report hearing a loud "pop" followed by small pieces of glass flying everywhere. Out of more than 500 reviews, only two mention this problem, but it's troubling nonetheless.
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1. Good Housekeeping
Review Credibility: Very Good Testers at the Good Housekeeping Research Institute evaluate nearly 50 lines of cookware on a wide variety of kitchen tasks. (The report covers cookware lines as a whole, not specific sets.) They simmer sauces, pan-brown burgers and (for nonstick cookware) prepare eggs without fat. Editors also evaluate the cookware's construction and how easy it is to clean. The Rachael Ray Hard-Anodized Cookware receives a grade of A-minus. Testers say it heats evenly, simmers steadily and is easy to clean by hand. On the downside, it stains with use, and food can get stuck under the handle rivets.
Review: Rachael Ray Hard Anodized Nonstick Cookware, Editors of the Good Housekeeping Research Institute, November 2010
Review Credibility: Good The Rachael Ray Hard-Anodized 10-Piece Cookware Set has about 415 reviews from owners at Amazon.com. Overall, it earns a rating of 4.5 stars out of a possible 5. Owners say it cooks evenly, looks nice and has a great nonstick surface that's easy to clean. However, there are some complaints about durability. Owners say that the nonstick cooking surface wears off quickly, and there are some reports of damage to the outer finish as well. A couple of users also report problems with the glass lids shattering during cooking.
Review: Rachael Ray Hard Anodized Nonstick 10-Piece Cookware Set, Orange, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of December 2012
Review Credibility: Good This Rachael Ray cookware set gets a 4.5-star overall rating (out of 5) from more than 130 users at this retail site. Owners say the cookware cooks evenly, has a great nonstick finish and cleans up easily. They are split on the issue of durability, with some saying the nonstick finish holds up well and others complaining that it is easily damaged. Overall, 94 percent of owners recommend the cookware and 92 percent consider it a good value.
Review: Orange 10-pc. Hard Anodized Nonstick Cookware Set by Rachael Ray, Contributors to Cooking.com, As of December 2012