T-Fal Unlimited Cookware Set Review: High-Quality Pans At A Fantastic Price (2024)

The T-fal Unlimited Cookware Set earned our “best value” recognition in our larger tested review of the best nonstick cookware on the market. Ahead, learn more about why we enjoyed using this budget-friendly set—and how we came to our conclusions.

Whether you’re an amateur cook or a seasoned pro, your kitchen should be equipped with a set of reliable nonstick pans. Cooking and cleaning are just so much easier when the surface of your pans consistently releases your food. Of course, a brand-new set of pans can be expensive, and many would-be buyers are discouraged by higher price tags. The good news: The T-fal Unlimited Cookware Set is just around $175 for a full 12-piece set, and it earned high marks from us during our rigorous testing process. In fact, we believe it’s the best value set on the market.

The bargain, of course, is only one of the reasons why we’re fans of T-fal’s set. These pans also eliminate many of the restrictions required by most other nonstick brands. If you read the fine print on other sets, you’ll likely be warned against placing the pans in the dishwasher, using metal utensils and so on. And because there’s no fat required to cook in a nonstick pan, the user essentially has to guess when the pans are preheated. The T-fal set, on the other hand, is dishwasher-friendly, metal utensil-safe and has a handy guidance system that tells you when your pans are ready to use. Altogether, it’s an incredible array of added benefits.

What You Get: 8.5- and 10.5-inch fry pans, 1- and 2-quart saucepans with lids, 3.5-quart sauté pan with lid, 6-quart Dutch oven with lid, spoon and turner | Material: Aluminum with PTFE nonstick coating | Cleaning: Dishwasher safe | Oven safe: Up to 500 degrees

Best For:

  • Beginners and those with small kitchens
  • People who want to wash their pans in the dishwasher

Skip If:

  • You want bigger pans


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T-fal Unlimited Cookware Set Features

A True Scratch-Free Surface

Cooking is arguably easier in nonstick pans—including T-fal—because most pans’ aluminum core is encapsulated by a layer of PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene). But even with that coating, some brands can still scratch, peel or chip easily, which eventually renders the nonstick surface useless. That, by the way, is also why many manufacturers say to avoid metal utensils and dishwashers. The T-fal pans, meanwhile, have two extra layers of that same coating, which provide a far more durable surface that can handle both metal utensils and the dishwasher.

Both qualities were quite literally put to the test when I undertook our larger tested review process, which involved several different nonstick brands. Nonstick pans truly shine when making delicate and sticky things, so I dove right in making sunny side up eggs and scrambled eggs with cheese in the fry pans and rice in the T-fal’s 2-quart saucepan. Not only did everything release with minimal effort, but it was perfectly cooked, too—firm whites and jiggly yolks on the sunny side up eggs, fluffy scrambled eggs and tender rice grains without a clump in sight.

And did I use metal utensils? You bet I did. To be fair, T-fal actually included two in the set as if to dare me to test them. I used the turner (spatula) for the eggs and it worked like a charm, not a scratch to be seen. Later, I continued to use it on all the protein tests, and I used the included spoon to serve the marinara and rice. Still no scratches.

For the sake of fairness in my initial testing against other sets, I hand-washed everything. All the pans needed was a quick swipe of a soft sponge in some warm, soapy water, and they were clean as a whistle. But of course, once the initial testing was done, I had to take the T-fal set for a spin in the dishwasher—just to see if it held up to its “dishwasher-friendly” claims. And voilà: no scratch, chip or peel in sight.

(If you need further validation, this is where I admit to previously owning two T-fal fry pans. They have been in consistent rotation on the stove and dishwasher for five years now, and they’re still holding up well. There is some light wear on the pan edges, but the centers are still completely scratch-free.)

Designed To Take the Guesswork Out of Cooking

While a nonstick surface eliminates the need for fat in a pan, it inadvertently removes the telltale signs that a pan is preheated. After all, there is no glistening oil or perfectly melted butter. This fact might prove to be a challenge for some cooks, especially beginners. Luckily, T-fal takes the guesswork out of the process with their signature Thermo-Spot: The center of their pans turns solid red when it’s properly preheated.

Even though I’m more experienced in the kitchen, I found the Thermo-Spot helpful while cooking proteins like pan-fried turkey burgers and sauté pan chicken breasts. For nonstick, you need just the right temperature to get a good sear and crust—it just doesn’t have the same surface adhesion as stainless steel to help that process along. The Thermo-Spot provided great guidance to know when to put my meats in the pan, and the end results were ideal: golden-brown crusts and juicy interiors on both the burgers and breasts.

The set also comes with tight-fitting, clear glass lids. If you need to bring water to a boil for hard-boiled eggs or bring it to a simmer for perfectly cooked rice, a clear lid gives you a literal window to the inside, and you’re able to know exactly what’s happening. That’s a big plus.

Ideal For Small Stoves and Kitchens

Most home cooks want a set that can handle standard-sized recipes, even if kitchen space is a challenge. If you have a small stove, narrow cabinets, limited counter space or a combination of any of the above, the T-fal offers a few smaller-sized pieces in an otherwise standard set that can help address those space concerns.

While the fry pan and sauté pan sizes are on par with most other nonstick brands, where you might notice a big difference—and save the most room—is in the six-quart stockpot. It’s noticeably taller and narrower compared to other brands, making it ideal for smaller burners. That said, it still has enough capacity to handle a large batch of marinara sauce, though it does sacrifice some surface area on the bottom. I found that somewhat challenging when I wanted to develop fond (the tasty brown bits that create flavor), but the resulting sauce was still flavorful—it just required a slightly longer cooking time.

The one-quart saucepan is also noticeably smaller than some other brands on the market. After all, most brands will offer a two-quart as the smallest in a set. Still, the one-quart heats up a serving of marinara nicely, and it’s ideal for smaller tasks like single-serving leftovers. It’s also great if you lack grip or general upper body strength. In general, the set feels light enough for someone who might desire that sort of “easy” weight, but not so light that it feels cheap.

How Does The T-Fal Unlimited Cookware Set Compare To Other Nonstick Cookware Sets?

The T-fal Unlimited Cookware Set is, in our opinion, the best value nonstick cookware set on the market right now. It stacked up well against other brands in our larger nonstick cookware review and testing process. If you batch-cook, make larger recipes or have a bigger stove, this is probably not the set for you. I personally found myself wishing some of the pots were bigger—I like the extra surface area when cooking in bulk. Even so, overall, this set performed very well in everyday cooking and cleaning, and I loved not having to play by the typical nonstick rules. Combined with its incredibly reasonable price point, the T-fal set offers a hard-to-beat value proposition, and I’d recommend it without hesitation to any budget-conscious cooks.

How I Tested The T-Fal Unlimited Cookware Set

We conducted a wider series of tests to determine the best nonstick cookware on the market, and the T-fal set performed beautifully, earning our “best value” recognition. To review all of the different nonstick sets, I first wanted to assess whether each pan could cook a given recipe in a standard timeframe, and whether the resulting food was the expected color, texture, temperature and flavor. I also took note of how comfortable the handles were to grip and how tightly the lids fit and stayed on.

I based each of the cooking tests I conducted on the shape of the various pans I used. I made both sunny side up eggs and scrambled eggs with shredded cheese over medium heat in the fry pan to ensure that they were cooked through and fluffy (and more importantly, that they released out of the pan easily). I also fried 85% lean turkey burgers in 4-ounce portions on medium-high heat to test the browning and caramelization capabilities. For the sauté pan, I cooked 6-ounce thin, boneless and skinless chicken and made a lemon-butter sauce. I looked for a golden-brown exterior and a fully cooked, juicy interior.

For the pots, I first made a large batch of marinara sauce with a base of onion, garlic and two 28-ounce cans of peeled tomatoes to test both capacity and flavor. To test the smaller saucepan’s ability to heat and cool correctly, I reheated two portions of the marinara and also made 12-minute hard-boiled eggs to look for solid, bright yellow yolks. And finally, in the medium saucepan, I made long grain white rice in a two-to-one water-to-rice ratio to ensure it didn’t stick to the pan and yielded fluffy, separated rice grains. After each test, I allowed the pans to cool, then hand-washed them to assess how easy they were to clean.

My Expertise

I’m a professionally trained baker with 15 years of experience freelance baking and recipe testing. I am also a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education, and I have my master's degree in food studies from New York University. Additionally, during my initial review of cookware brands, I consulted gear pro and kitchen equipment tester Sharon Franke, a 30-year veteran of the Good Housekeeping Research Institute.

I tested the T-fal set over a two-month period. Though I opted to purchase the pricier All-Clad D3 after our overall testing process, I can confirm that the five-year-old T-fal pans I had previously owned are still consistently used in my personal kitchen and in great shape, with only some light wear on the pan rims.

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T-Fal Unlimited Cookware Set Review: High-Quality Pans At A Fantastic Price (2024)


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