Mainstays Cookware: Review & Buying Guide

Mainstays Cookware 1

Whether you’re outfitting your first apartment or simply need to replace some old pots and pans, quality cookware is essential in any kitchen. But if you’re on a tight budget, premium brands can be out of reach.

That’s where Mainstays cookware comes in. As Walmart’s popular private label brand, Mainstays is known for affordable home products that get the job done without breaking the bank. But how does Mainstays cookware compare to more expensive brands when it comes to quality and durability?

This complete guide has the answers. Below we’ll explore the different types of Mainstays cookware sets, review top picks, compare pros and cons, provide expert buying tips, recommend alternatives, and more. That way you can find the best Mainstays cookware set for your needs and budget.

Types of Mainstays Cookware Sets

Mainstays offers a range of cookware sets to choose from. Here are some key factors to consider when selecting a set:

Aluminum vs Aluminum with Nonstick Coating

Most Mainstays pots and pans come in either straight aluminum or aluminum with a nonstick coating.

Aluminum is inexpensive, fairly durable, and conducts heat well. But food can sometimes stick.

Nonstick coatings like Teflon let food release easier and make cleanup a breeze. However, they can scratch or chip over time.

For easy cleaning, nonstick Mainstays sets are a good choice for most home cooks. But if you’re willing to scrub a little more, straight aluminum will hold up longer.

Set Sizes

Mainstays cookware comes in sets ranging from 5 to 14 pieces. Larger sets have more variety, but may include specialty pieces you won’t use often.

Consider which pots, pans, and other items you’ll realistically need for everyday cooking before choosing a set size. For most households, a basic 10 or 12-piece set is ideal for outfitting a kitchen without overbuying.

Color and Style Options

While not as varied as more expensive brands, Mainstays cookware does come in a range of color choices beyond basic black.

For example, the 10-piece aluminum set is available in gray, aqua, or red. And the 12-piece stainless steel set comes in copper, black, or silver.

Having color options makes it easier to match your existing kitchen decor. But functionality and performance should still take priority over color.

Top Mainstays Cookware Sets Reviewed

Now let’s take a look at some of the most popular Mainstays cookware sets and how they compare.

Mainstays 10-Piece Aluminum Nonstick Cookware Set

This 10-piece aluminum set is one of the most affordable and well-rounded Mainstays collections. It includes all the basics like 2 saucepans, 2 skillets, a stockpot, saute pan, and more.

Thanks to the nonstick coating, food release and cleanup are easy. Users say eggs and delicate foods slide right off with little-to-no sticking.

However, some note the nonstick effectiveness started to decline after about a year of frequent use. That’s fairly typical for pots and pans in this price range.

In terms of cooking performance, the aluminum construction conducts heat evenly. The pots and pans work well for basic simmering, searing, frying, and more.


  • Very inexpensive for a complete 10-pc cookware set
  • Teflon nonstick cooking surface for easy food release
  • Suitable for all cooktop types except induction
  • Handles stay cool while cooking
  • Tempered glass lids seal in moisture and nutrients


  • Nonstick coating is not the most durable
  • Hand wash recommended to preserve nonstick
  • Not suitable for induction cooktops
  • Quality is lower than premium brands

For a starter cookware set on a very tight budget, the Mainstays 10-piece aluminum nonstick set is a solid choice. While not the most durable, it provides reliable performance for daily home cooking tasks.

Mainstays 12-Piece Stainless Steel Cookware Set

This 12-piece stainless steel set is a slight upgrade from the basic aluminum line. The stainless steel construction is more durable and conduction heat evenly just like aluminum.

Compared to nonstick, stainless steel can develop “hot spots” where food sticks. But the satin finish on this Mainstays set does help with food release. And stainless makes this set dishwasher safe.

In terms of cooking performance, users say the cookware heats evenly whether using gas, electric, glass top or induction stovetops. Searing meat, frying eggs, and making sauces or stir fry all work well.


  • More durable stainless steel construction
  • Satin finish helps with some nonstick abilities
  • Oven and dishwasher safe
  • Works on all cooktops including induction
  • Larger 12-piece set with great variety


  • Not as nonstick as Teflon-coated cookware
  • Must hand wash to preserve exterior finish
  • Fewer pieces than some other sets
  • Prone to scratches over time

For those wanting a moderate step up in durability without a huge jump in price, the Mainstays 12-piece stainless set is an excellent option. The variety of pieces makes it great for outfitting any kitchen.

Mainstays 14-Piece Ceramic Nonstick Cookware Set

This large 14-piece ceramic nonstick set provides even more cooking options than the other Mainstays collections. The aluminum body has a speckled ceramic nonstick coating claimed to be more durable than standard Teflon.

In real-world tests, the ceramic coating did seem to resist scratches better. And it provides effortless food release just like traditional nonstick.

However, a few users had issues with discoloration of the interior over time. Excessive high heat is likely the cause rather than the ceramic coating itself.


  • Large variety of pieces for many cooking tasks
  • Durable ceramic nonstick coating
  • Easy cleanup and food release
  • Handles stay cool during stovetop cooking


  • Higher price for some pieces you may not use
  • Ceramic may still degrade over time
  • Exterior paint can chip
  • Not induction compatible

For home cooks wanting a sizeable and varied cookware set on a budget, the Mainstays ceramic nonstick 14-piece set is a great buy. Just avoid putting it under the broiler and store carefully to prevent chips.

Mainstays 5-Piece Induction Cooktop Compatible Stainless Steel Set

This compact 5-piece set is perfect for those with induction ranges. The stainless steel construction allows it to heat up quickly and evenly on induction.

It provides the basics like a saucepan, skillet, and stockpot. The cookware performs well for simmering sauces or soups, frying eggs, searing meat, and more.

Stainless steel isn’t as nonstick as ceramic or Teflon coatings. But the satin finish does help prevent excessive sticking and allows for easy cleanup.


  • Works on all cooktops including induction
  • Durable and oven safe stainless steel
  • Satin finish helps with food release
  • Affordable price for induction-compatible set


  • Small 5-piece set lacks variety
  • Stainless steel not as nonstick
  • Prone to cosmetic scratching
  • No lids included

For induction cooking on a budget, the Mainstays 5-piece induction-compatible set provides good value. Consider supplementing it with a few additional pieces like a nonstick skillet for eggs.

Buying Considerations for Mainstays Cookware

Mainstays cookware can be a great affordable option for many shoppers. But there are a few factors to keep in mind when choosing a set:

  • Budget – Mainstays is cheaper than premium brands, but may not hold up as well over years of daily use. Consider how frequently you cook when deciding if the lower lifetime value is worth the upfront savings.
  • Cooktop Compatibility – Most Mainstays sets work on electric and gas stoves. But some are also suitable for induction ranges. Check before buying if you have induction.
  • Number of Pieces – Only get the number of pots, pans, and other items you’ll truly use. Large sets often include specialty pieces that just take up cabinet space.
  • Ease of Cleaning – Nonstick interiors definitely make cleanup easier. But they won’t last as long as uncoated stainless steel.

Consider your specific needs in each area before deciding on a particular Mainstays cookware set.

Mainstays Cookware Pros and Cons

Here are some of the key benefits and downsides of Mainstays cookware sets compared to premium brands:


  • Very inexpensive, especially for complete cookware sets
  • Provides all the basics needed for outfitting a kitchen
  • Some sets have modern ceramic nonstick for easy food release
  • Durable enough for average home cooking needs
  • Sets available for all cooktop types including induction


  • Quality and durability not as good as premium brands
  • Nonstick coatings may chip, scratch, or lose effectiveness
  • Not ideal for frequent or serious cooks
  • Limited color and style options
  • Low resale value compared to other brands

While Mainstays can’t match the performance of top brands like All-Clad or Le Creuset, it provides very good value for the incredibly affordable prices. The cookware is decent quality for basic home kitchen needs.

Expert Tips for Buying Mainstays Cookware

Here are some expert tips to get the most out of Mainstays pots and pans:

  • For best heat conduction, choose aluminum sets unless you specifically need induction.
  • Avoid large sets with odd specialty pieces you likely won’t use. Stick to the basics.
  • Hand wash to extend the life of any nonstick coating. Dishwasher detergent can degrade it.
  • Use on low-to-medium stovetop heat settings to prevent food burning or cookware warping.
  • Consider supplementing with a few higher quality pieces from premium brands later for more versatility.

Following this advice will help you maximize the value and longevity of affordable Mainstays cookware.

Top 3 Best Mainstays Cookware Picks

If you’re ready to choose a set, here are my top 3 picks for best Mainstays cookware:

  • Mainstays 10-Piece Aluminum Nonstick Set – The best all-around option with essential basic pieces like skillets and saucepans. A great starter set for outfitting any kitchen.
  • Mainstays 5-Piece Induction Set – The top choice if you have an induction cooktop. Provides induction-compatible stainless steel cookware on a budget.
  • Mainstays 12-Piece Stainless Steel Set – A nice step up in durability thanks to stainless steel. More pieces than the basic aluminum set.

Any of these would serve most households very well for daily cooking needs. Choose based on your specific requirements and budget.

Alternative Budget-Friendly Cookware Brands

Mainstays provides excellent value for the low price. But it’s not the only affordable cookware on the market. Here are some other top budget-friendly brands to consider:

  • Tramontina – Well-made Brazilian cookware popular in restaurant kitchens. Great for the price.
  • Rachael Ray – Line from celebrity chef has durable nonstick sets at low prices.
  • Anolon Advanced – Hard-anodized aluminum construction costs a bit more but cooks superbly.
  • T-Fal – Known for innovative nonstick technologies like T-Fal Titanium. Excellent budget option.
  • Calphalon Simply – Hard-anodized pots and pans with good nonstick. Costs a little more than Mainstays.

Any of these brands can save you money while still providing quality cookware for daily home cooking. Check them out if you want alternatives to Mainstays.

The Bottom Line

While it won’t match premium brands, Mainstays cookware delivers very good performance and durability considering the ultra-affordable pricing. It’s a great option for outfitting a kitchen on a tight budget.

Focus on choosing durable sets with pieces you’ll actually use like the top picks reviewed above. And feel free to supplement with higher quality pieces down the line for more versatility. With the right expectations, Mainstays can be an excellent budget-friendly choice for most basic cooking needs.

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