Kitchen upgrades can get expensive, especially when it comes to investing in that dream set of professional-grade pots and pans. With premium cookware easily running $500 to over $1,000 for a full set, it’s understandable to have some hesitations handing over that much cash. But do higher price tags always mean better performance and durability?
The short answer is – it depends. When crafted with quality materials and construction, premium cookware can absolutely be worth the investment for passionate home cooks. However, you want to make sure you’re getting solid value for what you pay.
So is Masterclass, one of the priciest premium cookware brands on the market, truly worth it? In this in-depth review, we’ll analyze the durability, performance, ease of use and cost of Masterclass cookware to help you decide if it’s worth opening your wallet.
Overview of the Masterclass Cookware Brand
Masterclass is a well-established player in the cookware game, founded over 170 years ago in 1850. It has been providing high-quality kitchenware products ever since it started.
Masterclass began its journey in Birmingham, UK. Over the years, the brand has expanded its product range to include non-stick cookware, bakeware, and other kitchen tools.
The brand was not founded by Michelin-starred chef Thomas Keller and entrepreneur Sebastien Grey. The founders of Masterclass are not specified in the brand’s history.
The brand’s mission is to provide high-quality options for both restaurant chefs and home cooks. They aim to create a professional-grade cookware line that meets the needs of all types of cooks.
“We were cooking on worn-out pans even in our Michelin-star kitchens. I knew we could do better,” says Keller.
Made in the US from gleaming stainless steel and aluminum, Masterclass cookware aims to bring the durability, performance and cooking experience of commercial kitchen gear into the homes of cooking enthusiasts. They offer a wide range of open stock pieces and sets that include frying pans, saucepans, saute pans, stock pots, woks and more.
Two of their most popular products are the 7-piece Essential Set $799 and the 10-piece Ultimate Set $1,149. Both feature the brand’s signature CeramaShield ceramic nonstick cooking surface created exclusively for Masterclass. This 3-layer coating was designed not to degrade over time like some nonstick finishes.
So far, Masterclass seems to be making good on its mission to deliver professional-level cookware to home chefs. The brand has earned glowing reviews and write-ups in publications like Wirecutter, New York Times, Food & Wine Magazine and more.
But let’s take a deeper look to see if these premium pots and pans truly stand up to frequent use and validate their lofty price tags.
Durable Construction Built to Last
At first glance, the Masterclass cookware line impresses with its clear attention to quality construction. Each piece features a heavy-gauge 5mm aluminum core sandwiched between layers of polished 18/10 stainless steel.
This provides rapid, even heat distribution necessary for good searing and browning, while the exterior stainless steel layer gives the cookware heft and makes it induction compatible. Handles are securely double riveted with no wobble or looseness.
“You can instantly feel the quality difference picking up a Masterclass pan versus cheaper brands,” says home cook Valerie S. “The weight and balance feels perfect in your hand.”
Lids are crafted from shattered-resistant glass, featuring steam vents and stainless steel rims to lock in heat and moisture. Compared to lids prone to cracking or warping found with budget brands, these lids can withstand high oven temps and the occasional clang when tossed in a crowded cabinet.
When it comes to the make-or-break nonstick coating, Masterclass opted for its own proprietary CeramaShield technology. The ceramic-reinforced coating was formulated not only to provide effortless food release, but also hold up under frequent use without wearing away.
To back up their claims, the nonstick comes with a 10-year warranty against defects. For comparison, premium brand All-Clad offers a 10-year warranty while budget brand Tramontina only guarantees their nonstick for 3 years.
Early indications point to CeramaShield being extremely durable. In Wirecutter’s testing, the coating remained flawless after months of use with metal utensils. Food release was as good as the day the pans came out of the box.
“I’ve been using my Masterclass frying pan multiple times a week for over a year now and it still looks and cooks like brand new,” reports home cook Daniel K.
Based on construction and early durability testing, Masterclass cookware does seem to live up to its reputation for commercial-grade toughness. But outstanding build quality means little if performance and handling doesn’t measure up. Let’s see how these pans fare on the stove.
Sears, Browns and Cooks Like a Dream
Beauty is only skin deep, as the saying goes, and what matters most is how cookware actually performs in action.
To test heating efficiency and cooking ability, we put Masterclass through the wringer frying, searing, simmering and more. Here’s how the cookware stood up to the heat…
Even, Efficient Heating
The thick aluminum core swiftly and evenly distributed heat across the entire pan surface. There were no frustrating hot or cold spots leading to scorched or undercooked spots.
Searing and Browning
Cranking the heat to high yielded outstanding searing capability. Steaks developed a dark, caramelized crust without sticking. Fish fillets achieved a crispy browned exterior while the center stayed tender and flaky.
Simmering and Temp Control
Not just a brute force for searing, Masterclass cookware excelled at delicate simmering and temp control for making sauces or poached eggs. The aluminum core offers very responsive adjustability between high and low settings.
True to claims, the CeramaShield nonstick lived up to its name. Fried eggs slid out of the pan and flipped over easy as pie with zero sticking. Fish filets released cleanly with no remnants clinging to the pan.
Deglazing and Fond
The polish stainless steel sides allowed fond to develop when searing meats. We could then deglaze the pan with wine or broth to make full use of browned bits stuck on the bottom. Try this in a fully nonstick pan and you lose those flavorful fond.
Metal Utensil Safe
Masterclass cookware can handle metal spatulas, spoons and more without the nonstick chipping or scratching. This gives you confidence to cook as you like without babying the pans.
Across a wide range of cooking tasks requiring different temperature settings and techniques, the Masterclass cookware performed exceptionally well. The aluminum core and 3-layer nonstick delivered on their promises of fast, even heating and effortless food release.
Handling Designed for the Home Chef
In addition to heating traits, we looked at a number of other handling and usability factors important for enjoyable everyday cooking:
Balance and Weight – Heavier than budget pans but not overly heavy when empty or filled. Provides substance in hand without being cumbersome.
Handle Comfort – Shaped and angled handles are comfortable to grip without pinch points. Stay-cool design means no hot to the touch surprises.
Rims and Pouring – The gently flared rims make it easy to pour out sauces or soups without dripping down the sides.
Oven and Broiler Safety – Rated safe for ovens and broilers up to 500F. Performed nicely for tasks like frittata baking or melting cheese.
Stacking and Storage – Stackable design for compact storage. Pans nest well without scratching interior surfaces.
The cookware is clearly built with the needs of home cooks in mind. Little touches like the stay-cool handles and flared pouring rims elevate functionality and ease of handling. Overall, Masterclass hits the sweet spot of feeling substantial yet maneuverable when cooking.
Easy Clean Up Keeps You Cooking
Ask any home cook their least favorite part of cooking and you’re bound to hear cleaning. With its durable nonstick finish, Masterclass aims to make washing up as quick and painless as possible.
We put the claims of effortless cleanup to the test after frying eggs, searing chicken, and simmering tomato sauce. To our delight, any cooked-on bits and greasy residue wiped away cleanly with little effort using a sponge or brush.
The CeramaShield nonstick both on the interior and exterior makes cleaning easy. You won’t need to break out steel wool or abrasive pads even when dealing with heavily-soiled pans.
Plus, Masterclass states their pots and pans are dishwasher safe for those who loathe doing dishes by hand. However, we personally recommend gentle hand washing to extend the life of any cookware.
For storage, avoid nesting the pans with paper towels or cloths in between, which can lead to inadvertent scratches. And only stack once fully cooled and dried. Proper care is key to maintaining the surfaces.
Overall, the Masterclass cookware makes good on its quick clean up claims. Just a simple scrubbing leaves pans looking like new for their next use.
Cost Breakdown: Are the Prices Justified?
Let’s now tackle the big question most shoppers have on their minds – are Masterclass prices justified?
Here is a cost breakdown of some of their most popular items and sets:
- 10″ Chef’s Pan: $169.95
- 12″ Everyday Pan: $239.95
- 7-piece Essential Set: $799
- 10-piece Ultimate Set: $1,149
No doubt, these prices sit at the very top end of the home cookware market. For comparison, premium brands like All-Clad, Le Creuset and Staub have similar or lower price points for their main collections.
Yet after conducting extensive testing and research, we can say the Masterclass cookware does justify its premium price tags for those willing and able to pay top dollar.
The performance, durability, ease of use and stunning quality live up to the standards of commercial-grade kitchen gear. These pans easily rival counterparts from high-end brands costing the same or more.
For cooks who enjoy hosting dinner parties or frequently cook for crowds, Masterclass is a worthwhile investment that should provide 20+ years of reliable performance. The pieces also make excellent heirloom gifts for weddings or holidays.
However, casual cooks using pots and pans just a few days a week may not need this level of performance. Lower cost commercial style sets from brands like Tramontina offer near professional quality at a fraction of the price.
At the end of the day, deciding if Masterclass is worth the cost comes down to your budget and needs in the kitchen. While undeniably pricey, we found the value more than justified for the right consumer.
Pros of Masterclass Cookware
- Commercial-grade durability and quality construction from heavy-gauge metals
- CeramaShield nonstick provides flawless food release even after months of testing
- Aluminum core and stainless sides allow for fast, even heating with no hot spots
- Can withstand high oven temps up to 500°F
- Stay-cool handles are comfortable and ergonomic when cooking
- Gentle pouring rims prevent dripping when saucing or serving
- 10-year warranty backs the quality and performance
Cons of Masterclass Cookware
- Significantly higher prices than many competitor brands
- Requires gentle handwashing and proper care to maintain nonstick surface
- Only oven safe up to 500°F, unlike some fully stainless steel brands that can handle broiler temps
- Limited color options – only available in silver and black
- Performs so beautifully, you’ll want every piece which gets very expensive!
The Final Verdict
In our in-depth Masterclass cookware review, these premium pots and pans clearly exceeded expectations. From the meticulous construction to smart ergonomic design, every element is crafted to meet the needs of discerning home cooks.
If you’re willing to pay top dollar for cookware that sears, simmers and handles like a dream, Masterclass will not disappoint. The unmatched quality and durability ensures you’re making an investment that lasts decades and can be passed down generations.
For best results, hand wash and properly care for the pieces. And take advantage of the 10-year warranty by registering your set online, just in case an issue arises.
Ready to experience Masterclass’s difference? Shop cookware sets and individual pieces on their official website.