Ever heard of “waterless” cooking? It’s basically what it sounds like. It’s all about cooking with as little liquid or fat as possible.

But to do this, you do need a specific kind of cookware. Waterless cookware is constructed with a special combination of layered metals, airtight lids and often a steam valve built into the lid knob.

The result is a super thick, heavy construction which heats up quickly, thoroughly and evenly. Your food cooks by being surrounded by 360 heat and vapor.

If you’re looking for a way to cook your food without fat or nutrient-stealing water, a waterless cookware set is a smart choice. There are some really comprehensive, thorough sets on the market for very reasonable prices, some of which are complete with nifty kitchen accessories.

Keep on perusing, as we have got the best waterless cookware sets laid out here for you so you don’t have to do the hard yards of searching yourself.

Then, we’ll look a little more closely at what waterless cookware exactly is, and why it’s worth your time and money.

Best Budget Buy
Maxam KT17 9-Element 17 piece Cookware Set
17pc Stainless Steel Cookware Set
Editor's Choice
360 Cookware 2PIECE 4-Piece Cookware Box Set
New 12 Element 28pc T304 Stainless Steel Waterless Cookware Set Pots & Pans Fast Shipping
Chef's Secret 12-Piece 9-Ply Waterless Heavy-Gauge Stainless Steel Cookware Set by
Maxam KT17 9-Element 17 piece Cookware Set
17pc Stainless Steel Cookware Set
360 Cookware 2PIECE 4-Piece Cookware Box Set
New 12 Element 28pc T304 Stainless Steel Waterless Cookware Set Pots & Pans Fast Shipping
Chef's Secret 12-Piece 9-Ply Waterless Heavy-Gauge Stainless Steel Cookware Set by
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Best Budget Buy
Maxam KT17 9-Element 17 piece Cookware Set
Maxam KT17 9-Element 17 piece Cookware Set
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90%
17pc Stainless Steel Cookware Set
17pc Stainless Steel Cookware Set
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83%
Editor's Choice
360 Cookware 2PIECE 4-Piece Cookware Box Set
360 Cookware 2PIECE 4-Piece Cookware Box Set
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93%
New 12 Element 28pc T304 Stainless Steel Waterless Cookware Set Pots & Pans Fast Shipping
New 12 Element 28pc T304 Stainless Steel Waterless Cookware Set Pots & Pans Fast Shipping
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88%
Chef's Secret 12-Piece 9-Ply Waterless Heavy-Gauge Stainless Steel Cookware Set by
Chef's Secret 12-Piece 9-Ply Waterless Heavy-Gauge Stainless Steel Cookware Set by
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Maxam 9-Element Waterless Cookware Set, Durable Stainless Steel Construction with Heat and Cold Resistant Handles, 17-Pieces

Maxam 9-Element Waterless Cookware Set

This is a very comprehensive waterless cookware set by Maxam, with a distinctly shiny silver exterior and black handles.

You’ll notice that the lid handles have a steam valve with a simple “open” and “close”. This allows you to control the amount of steam being held in the pot during cooking and lets you safely release the steam once the cooking is done. The lids themselves are very tightly fitted to the pans (crucial for proper waterless cooking).

This set comes with a skillet with egg rack, roaster, double boiler, two saucepans with covers (2.5 and 1.7 quarts), and a high-dome cover to go over the skillet or roaster to fit large food items. Every piece has a black, contoured handle and a mirror-finish.

There’s really nothing missing here, you’ve got everything you need for almost any waterless cooking recipe you’d want to create. (FYI: If you’re confused at the “17 pieces” claim when it looks like there’s only 12, that’s because the egg rack holds 5 individual egg holders).

One thing to be aware of is that in some places it is described as being made of “surgical” steel, but this isn’t quite the case. The silver used is 304 stainless steel, still a fantastic metal, but just not surgical.

Speaking of the metals used, this set has the layered construction expected of waterless cookware. There are 5 layers of three different metals in this order: stainless steel, aluminum alloy, pure aluminum, aluminum alloy and stainless steel.

This configuration creates a thorough and even conductivity, with stainless steel sandwiching everything together for durability, safety, and corrosion resistance.

This cookware set retains heat for a long time once it reaches temperature, so you can lower the heat while still cooking everything perfectly well. Stainless steel is a great outer surface as it’s easy to clean, won’t chip or scratch, and is relatively easy to clean.

We think the value of this set is really terrific, considering how many pieces you receive and how well constructed each piece is.

What’s more, it has a limited lifetime warranty.

Maxam KT17 9-Element 17 piece Cookware Set
  • 5-ply 304 surgical stainless steel
  • 9-element encapsulated bases
  • Waterless steam control valves to save vitamins
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Steam valve for controlling vapor

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Sturdy 5-ply construction (stainless steel and aluminum)

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Great value

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Comprehensive collection including accessories (egg rack and high dome cover)

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Fantastic heat retention

Final Verdict

This is a fantastic waterless cookware set for cooking everything from a few steamed veggies to an entire meat dish. You get a wide range of sizes, shapes and uses, all with 5-ply construction for excellent heat conductivity and retention.

Extra points if you love a high-shine stainless steel finish. Great for anyone wanting to get started with waterless cooking, or replace an old waterless cookware set with no gaps to fill.

  • Aesthetics 90% 90%
  • Value 90% 90%
  • Versatility 90% 90%
  • Durability 90% 90%

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BNF Stainless Steel Waterless Cookware Set

BNF Stainless Steel Waterless Cookware Set

This set from BNF is pretty similar to the one above in the sense that it’s a high-shine stainless steel set with black handles and has very similar pieces included. This particular set doesn’t have steam valves on the handles.

The lids are designed to sit tightly in the rim of the pot or pan to create a seal. Because the bottoms of these cookware items are so thick and heat conductive, they hold the heat so well that you can all but turn the heat off once you reach temperature.

What we love about this set is how heavy the pots and pans are. This tells us they’re constructed with the crucial multi-layer stainless steel and aluminum design we require for waterless cooking.

The bottoms have been impact bonded so you can start off with medium heat then turn it down to low. This is fantastic for people who want to avoid using high heats and reduce their power usage.

But what do you get? Here’s what the set contains:

  • 2-quart saucepan with lid
  • 5-quart saucepan with lid
  • 7-quart saucepan with lid
  • Large skillet with a lid
  • 5-quart roaster with dome lid
  • Egg poaching rack
  • 5 egg cups
  • Steamer insert

We like the thoroughness of this collection, with nothing missing for the regular requirements of home cooking.

Do note that this cookware set is not oven-safe, just in case you were intending to buy a set with both stove and oven suitability.

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Tight-fitting lids for locking vapor and heat in

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Thick, heavy bottoms for great heat retention

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Comprehensive collection, caters to most cooking jobs

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Great value

Final Verdict

The BNF Stainless Steel Waterless Cookware Set is a great option for you if you prefer not to have the extra moving parts of steam valves, but you want thick bottoms and tight lids.

You’ll easily be able to cook with low-medium heat (medium maximum) to save power and of course, save water.

  • Aesthetics 70% 70%
  • Value 90% 90%
  • Versatility 90% 90%
  • Durability 80% 80%

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360 Cookware Premium Waterless Stainless Steel Essential 4pc Box Set

360 Cookware Premium Waterless Stainless Steel Essential 4pc Box Set

This set by 360 Cookware is a little higher on the price scale, but the quality and design features are fantastic. This is a 4-piece set with a 1-quart saucepan with lid, and a 3.5-quart saute pan with a lid. It also comes with a set of recipe cards and a tote shopping bag.

You’ll notice that these pans are completely stainless steel, including the lids and handles. The stainless steel on the exterior of the pans has less nickel and more carbon steel (T400 stainless steel), which makes it compatible with induction cooktops. The stainless steel on the interior is T304 surgical-grade stainless steel for safe and healthy cooking.

Of course, the stainless steel sandwiches aluminum in the center, to make for a very heat conductive construction. You have to use low or medium heat with these pans, as the shape and layering of the metals creates an incredibly heat-conductive environment where the heat is retained for a long time.

You’ll see that the rim of the pans and the lids are very wide and extend outward (horizontal from the side of the pan). This is because they’ve been designed to create a seal so the vapor created from the moisture in the food is locked in the pan.

Voila: waterless cooking using only the existing moisture in your ingredients. This is why the brand is called “360”; the vapor is trapped in the cookware allowing the food to cook from all angles as the vapor and heat circulate.

These pans are very versatile as they are oven-safe, microwave-safe and induction compatible. What’s more, they come with a lifetime warranty as the brand is so confident in the durability of their product.

It’s also worth mentioning that 360 Cookware is a “Green Power Partner” of the EPA as they use only wind-generated energy and do not use chemicals in their finishing process.

360 Cookware 2PIECE 4-Piece Cookware Box Set
  • Quality and Construction: Surgical Grade Stainless Steel. Multi Core for rapid, and even, heat distribution. 360 Cookware is thicker than most cookware brands on the market: 110 Gauge. Our Surgical Grade Stainless Steel Cooking surface gives you a healthy, eco-friendly alternative to coated nonstick frying pans or any aluminum pots and pans set.
  • Details to Make Your Life Easier: Dishwasher safe. Oven safe up to 500 degrees F. Ergonomic handles for easier and better control. Works on every type of stove: gas, electric, smooth top, glass top and induction cooktop.
  • Waterless Cookware Capable: A century old technology. The construction of our pans with lids create a vapor seal, which allows you to heat your food from every angle (360 degrees). Cooks food faster at lower temperatures, while keeping the nutrients and natural flavor intact. An added benefit of our cookware.
  • Proudly Handcrafted in the United States, Eco-Friendly and Certified Green Manufacturing:?360 Cookware is manufactured in West Bend, Wisconsin. Recognized by the EPA; our manufacturing process includes no harsh chemicals but instead uses a dry sanding process to produce a smoother finish, which results in easier clean-up and a nicer final product.
  • International products have separate terms, are sold from abroad and may differ from local products, including fit, age ratings, and language of product, labeling or instructions.
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Made from surgical-grade stainless steel

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Sleek, luxe-looking aesthetic with silver handles and lids

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Layered stainless steel and aluminum for great heat retention and 360-degree cooking

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Lifetime warranty

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Induction compatible

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“Green Power Partner”: uses wind-generated energy and 0 chemicals

Final Verdict

If your budget can accommodate this 4-piece set, absolutely put it on the top of your list. The quality of materials, innovative design and versatility make waterless cooking extremely easy and successful.

You’ll enjoy these pans forever, thanks to the lifetime warranty and incredible durability. Great for people who like to buy from environmentally-responsible businesses.

You’ll love these if you prefer an all-silver aesthetic with both brushed and shiny finishes, without any non-metal finishes or accents.

  • Aesthetics 100% 100%
  • Value 90% 90%
  • Versatility 90% 90%
  • Durability 90% 90%

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Video Review

The Cookware Company New 12 Element 28pc T304 Stainless Steel Waterless Cookware Set

The Cookware Company New 12 Element 28pc T304 Stainless Steel Waterless Cookware Set

This is a very large set, complete with 28 pieces of stainless steel cookware, as well as bowls and measuring spoons. What we love about this set is that the lids have temperature knobs which are designed to tell you when the pot or pan has reached the optimum temperature for waterless cooking.

The handles have been riveted tightly to the body of the pots and pans, with a black cap over top to provide extra comfort and a strong, cool grip.

This set includes (take a breath…there’s a lot!):

  • 6-quart saucepan with lid
  • 6-quart casserole with lid
  • 2-quart casserole with lid
  • 1-quart casserole with lid
  • Step-steamer (compatible with different sized pots)
  • 6-quart casserole with cover
  • 75-inch fry pan with lid
  • Large mixing bowl with airtight cover (plastic)
  • Medium mixing bowl with airtight cover (plastic)
  • Grater with removable handle
  • Grater ring adapter
  • Deep fry basket with removable handle
  • Suction cup knob for mixing bowls (for when you use them as a dome cover)
  • Heat resistant pan rest
  • 4-piece measuring spoon set

The addition of the mixing bowls is great to see, as they’re always handy, especially when they come with an airtight lid for storage. You can also use them as double boilers to pop on top of a saucepan of boiling water.

For when you’re roasting or making dishes with more height (i.e. large pieces of meat), you can use the bowls as dome lids too. The “suction cup knob” is meant to be suctioned onto the upturned bowl (when being used as a dome cover) so you can remove the bowl safely without burning yourself.

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New 12 Element 28pc T304 Stainless Steel Waterless Cookware Set Pots & Pans Fast Shipping
  • New 12 Element 28pc T304 Stainless Steel Waterless Cookware Set Pots & Pans
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Amazing value

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Huge set, nothing missing for any home cooking job

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Comes with mixing bowls with airtight lids

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Comfortable, strong-grip handles

Final Verdict

This would be a fantastic set for anyone wanting to completely start again with a new cookware set suitable for waterless cooking.

It would suit new homeowners or even students who need to kit out their kitchen with everything from pots to bowls. The price is pretty great considering how many pieces you get.

  • Aesthetics 90% 90%
  • Value 90% 90%
  • Versatility 90% 90%
  • Durability 80% 80%

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Chef’s Secret 12-Piece 9-Ply Waterless Heavy-Gauge Stainless Steel Cookware Set

Chef's Secret 12-Piece 9-Ply Waterless Heavy-Gauge Stainless Steel Cookware Set

The last set on our list is a 12-piece waterless cookware set made from heavy-gauge stainless steel. This set has an impressive 9 layers (9-ply) for fantastic heat retention and distribution.

It’s got that high-shine stainless steel finish we love, great for upping the luxe factor in your kitchen. The 9-ply construction makes for a very economic cooking experience when it comes to power usage.

The heat is conducted and retained so thoroughly that you don’t need to use anything higher than medium heat, and most often a low heat is more than sufficient.

The handles are really awesome, as they’re made from stainless steel with black contours for comfort when handling hot cookware. The two larger pots have double handles so you can lift them securely with two hands.

Like the set above, this set also has a stainless steel bowl with an airtight plastic lid which can be used as a dome cover for tall dishes or dishes which require lots of circulating vapor. The suction cup dome sucks onto the bowl for an easy, burn-free liftoff.

The knobs on the lids have a temperature gauge which lets you know when the temperature has hit the best mark for waterless, nutrient-saving cooking.

This set comes with:

  • 7-quart saucepan with cover
  • 3-quart saucepan with cover
  • 4-quart casserole with cover
  • 5-inch frying pan with cover
  • Suction cup knob
  • Step double boiler (fits the saucepans and casserole)
  • Stainless steel bowl with airtight plastic cover

We love that the steamer is “stepped”, meaning it can fit on various different pots and casseroles while maintaining that airtight seal.

Chef's Secret 12-Piece 9-Ply Waterless Heavy-Gauge Stainless Steel Cookware Set by
  • Chef's Secret 12-Piece 9-Ply Waterless Heavy-Gauge Stainless Steel Cookware Set
  • 12-Piece Set
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9-ply construction for fantastic heat retention

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Contoured handles

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Stainless steel bowl with cover (can be used as dome cover)

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Temperature gauges on lid handles for getting the perfect temperature each time

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Versatile collection (but not too large)

Final Verdict

This is a great set if you need a versatile collection of cookware but don’t quite need an extensive 28-piece set like the one above.

It’s got everything you need to start a waterless cookware kit, but not so much that you’re inundated. The bowl with lid and the double boiler are a great touch for extra versatility.

  • Aesthetics 80% 80%
  • Value 80% 80%
  • Versatility 80% 80%
  • Durability 80% 80%

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What is waterless cookware?

Waterless cookware is designed to allow for cooking with virtually no added water, fat or liquid. It’s designed to use the moisture already present in the food to create steam which cooks the food. The moisture in the food creates vapor which surrounds the food on all sides, cooking it evenly and perfectly.

Waterless cookware looks like regular cookware, but it generally has more metal layers sandwiched tightly together to create a thick, heavy construction. Stainless steel is generally the interior and exterior layer, with aluminum layered in the middle.

The layered metals make for fantastic heat conductivity and retention, so the cookware stays hot once it reaches temperature, meaning you can turn the element right down to low. This is part of the reason why people prefer waterless cookware, it requires far less energy usage.

The lids are also very crucial; they’re made to fit extremely tight and snug, allowing the steam to circulate in the pot or pan without escaping. The lids will often feature a steam valve or temperature gauge.

A steam valve allows you to control the amount of vapor inside the pot. A temperature gauge lets you know when you’ve reached your desired temperature, so then you can turn the element way down low.

Common features of waterless cookware

Waterless cookware is characterized by a few crucial features in order for it to work effectively. It’s all about the metals used, the way they’re layered, and the construction of the lid.

When choosing waterless cookware you should tick off these boxes:

  • Stainless steel exterior (the part which comes into contact with the heat source)
  • Stainless steel interior (the part which comes into contact with the food)
  • Multi-ply construction with aluminum (at least 3 layers but up to 12)
  • Heavy bottom
  • Overall heavy feel
  • Tight, sealed lids to lock vapor in
  • A steam valve or temperature gauge on the lid

Benefits of waterless cookware and waterless cooking

  • Saves water: this one’s obvious! But it’s a great benefit. Water is a precious resource and waterless cooking allows us to conserve it far more effectively
  • Saves power: waterless cookware allows you to cook on very low heat, and for less time. This is due to the layered metal construction which heats up quickly and remains hot for a long time
  • Helps to keep nutrients in food: over-boiling food in water can sap the nutrients out of veggies and fruits. Waterless cooking lets the food cook perfectly while keeping all the good stuff in the food, ready for you to consume
  • Uses less fat: this is a great benefit for people who follow low-fat diets, as you don’t need to add any oil or butter to the cooking process
  • Made with high-quality materials and tough multi-ply construction: most waterless cookware sets are made with high-quality stainless steel (often surgical-grade steel). The multi-ply construction creates a thick, heavy pot or pan which resists warping and general damage from wear and tear
  • Retains heat extremely thoroughly and evenly, thanks to all those metal layers

Is waterless cookware worth it?

It depends on what your priorities and needs are when it comes to cooking. If you want to…

  • Retain maximum nutrients in your food
  • Cook without fat
  • Use less water and energy in the kitchen
  • Cook on a lower heat

…then yes, waterless cookware is worth it for you. If you really value proper heat retention, heat conductivity, and even heat distribution then you’ll like waterless cookware as the multi-ply construction really delivers in all things heat-related.

However, if you’re only partially interested in waterless cooking and see yourself cooking in the “regular way” half of the time, then a regular cookware set is probably going to be just as worthy of your money and kitchen space.

You can still steam food using regular cookware, so you won’t be missing out on the steamed food process if you don’t opt for a waterless cookware set.

Waterless cookware brands

  • Maxam
  • Chef’s Secret
  • The Cookware Company
  • 360
  • BNF

Final thoughts

Waterless cooking is useful for people who prefer to add a little liquid or fat as possible to their food, using the natural moisture within the food instead.

One of the fantastic things about waterless cookware sets is that they’re constructed with multiple layers of aluminum and stainless steel, with super-thick and heavy bottoms for amazing heat retention.

They’re also constructed with sealed, tight-fitting lids and some have steam valves too. This allows you to control the steam levels in your cooking process. The tightly-sealed lids allow for 360-degree vapor circulation to cook your food perfectly.

The sets we have reviewed here are all very high quality, with layered metals and sealed lids for retaining heat and vapor. If you need a full set to replace your existing collection, the Maxam, BNF, The Cookware Company and Chef’s Secret sets are a great option.

For a couple of super high-end, long-lasting pieces to supplement your existing set, the 360 Cookware 4-piece set is perfect.