It’s no wonder that Indian restaurants have become such a favorite all across the country.
After all, Indian foods feature a delicious layering of flavors and spices that aren’t quite like anything else.
Imagine making your favorite Indian dish at home, in the comfort of your own kitchen, whenever you want to.
There’s good news, you can do just that.
The truth is that most Indian food isn’t that difficult. Most home cooks are more than up to the challenge of adding vegetables at exactly the right moment and layering spices to create a delicious sauce or flavored rice dish.
The bigger challenge is getting cookware that won’t be harmed by the strong flavors and acids in Indian cooking.
Don’t despair, there are plenty of great cookware options right here in the USA for Indian cuisine. I’ve picked some of the best pots and pans sets for Indian cooking, as well as a couple of individual pieces, that are particularly well suited to Indian cooking.
Read More >> The Best Blenders for Indian Cooking
In this guide, you’ll learn:
- Why you need High-quality cookware for Indian cooking
- How to pick great cookware for Indian cuisine on your own
- And much more!
Below is a quick list of my favorite cookware for Indian food. Keep scrolling to learn my top tips on how to choose and use the best cookware for your favorite Indian food.
Rachael Ray Cucina Nonstick Cookware Pots and Pans Set
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Home Hero Copper Pots and Pans Set -23pc Copper Cookware Set
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T-fal Inititives Initiatives Ceramic Thermo-Spot Heat Indicator Dishwasher Oven Safe Toxic Free Cookware Set
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AmazonBasics Enameled Cast Iron Covered Dutch Oven, 6-Quart
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Craft Wok Traditional Hand Hammered Carbon Steel Pow Wok with Wooden and Steel Helper Handle
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What's in this Guide?
My Overall Top #1 Pick: Rachael Ray Cucina Nonstick Cookware Pots and Pans Set
For my Top Pick I thought it was really essential to give you as much variety as possible.
Indian food is full of variety and there are tons of dishes that need very different equipment.
Plus, if you have a complete cookware set that can handle Indian food, you have a complete cookware set that can handle anything.
This Rachel Ray cookware set is a good option because it’s reasonably priced, durable, and designed to handle the kinds of acids and heat you want for great Indian food.
I also love that it comes with the baking trays because that’s perfect for making naan and baked Indian desserts at home.
I’ll go into more detail why I chose this cookware set in my main review. For now, if you’re in a hurry and just want to go with the best option for price and quality, this is it.
Top 5 Best Cookware For Indian Food
In a hurry? Check out our top 5 picks below! Keep reading to learn more about these pots and pans.
- Rachael Ray Cucina Nonstick Cookware Pots and Pans Set (My Top Pick)
- Home Hero Copper Pots and Pans Set -23pc Copper Cookware Set (Best High-End)
- T-fal Inititives Initiatives Ceramic Thermo-Spot Heat Indicator Dishwasher Oven Safe Toxic Free Cookware Set (Best Budget)
- AmazonBasics Enameled Cast Iron Covered Dutch Oven, 6-Quart
- Craft Wok Traditional Hand Hammered Carbon Steel Pow Wok with Wooden and Steel Helper Handle
What are the Advantages of High Quality Cookware for Indian Food?
I mentioned earlier that you need good cookware to prepare Indian food, but why is that?
There are two main reasons:
- Cooking Temperature
Having both high cooking temperatures and high food acidity is a recipe for disaster if you’re working with cheaper, low-quality cookware. The acids can eat your cookware, etching your pots and pans and making them much harder to clean.
Cooking with acidic food regularly can even strip enough metal to change the way your pan holds and transfers heat. In extreme cases, you can even lose a pan entirely when acids wear a weak spot in the metal and it breaks.
Heat is another problem. Cheaper cookware doesn’t transfer heat easily and might be more likely to scald your food than to cook it. While you can prepare some Indian food at more moderate temperatures, a lot of the best flavors come from cooking with high heat.
Blooming spices and browning onions, for instance, are both best done with moderately high-heat. This is even more so if you’re working with Ghee or a flavored oil (like coconut oil) instead of regular butter.
All of that means that your cookware is likely to last a lot longer if you buy a high-quality set. Plus, you’ll be able to create more authentic flavors when you can use traditionally high-heat for part of your cooking.
Cookware always lasts longer when you take good care of it, so here are some tips from Consumer Reports on the best ways to clean and maintain different types of cookware.
How to Pick the Best Cookware for Indian Food?
There is a ton of variety in Indian food, so I can’t cover the best kinds of cookware for every single dish. Instead, I’ve looked for common traits in the best cookware and versatility. That way you can make more with less.
Here’s how you pick great cookware for Indian cuisine.
There are lots of material choices when it comes to making fantastic Indian food. You don’t need a clay oven or anything too exotic (though it’s awesome if you have one. A pizza oven counts, by the way). Instead, you need versatility, acid resistance, and heat resistance.
You also want cookware that’s easy to clean up since cooking Indian dishes can often mean working with several pots and pans or a lot of prep containers.
Even when you’re making a one-pot Indian meal you probably would rather cook with a set of easy-clean cookware than a pot you know will need extra scrubbing later.
The materials that work best for those requirements are:
- Well-seasoned cast iron
- Enamel-coated cast iron
- Non-stick coated pots and pans
- Ceramic coated pots and pans
- Ceramic-copper coated pots and pans.
I don’t recommend pots and pans without a protective coating, or copper-coated pans. That’s because Indian food tends to use tomatoes and other high-acid foods that can damage other materials.
Cast iron is also harder to maintain than any of the other options, with the exception of enamel-coated cast iron, which is usually the lowest-maintenance option.
There are a few important design features that you should look for when you want to cook Indian dishes.
Thick bottomed pots and pans will hold and distribute heat more evenly than thin bottomed pans. Thicker pans mean more consistent results, higher heat tolerance, and less risk of scorching part of your meal.
Depth is another important consideration since many Indian dishes consist of a chunky masala sauce over rice. You need room to make enough of the sauce, and to stir with large chunks of vegetable and meat.
Depth is also important if you don’t have a deep-fryer since a fair amount of Indian food (especially appetizers and desserts) need to be fried for the best flavor.
A good pan for Indian food needs to be wide. That’s because Indian dishes that don’t rely on sauce do rely on evenly cooked vegetables and spices in large quantities. To get the best results you need a lot of space for stirring.
A lot of the best Indian food need to be cooked on relatively high heat. That means that you need to stir more and stir faster to prevent the ingredients from burning. With vigorous stirring, you’ll want a little extra space to avoid spilling ingredients over the edge of your pans.
I’ve mentioned Indian spices a few times now, and you’re not ready to cook Indian food until you understand Indian spices. Here’s Padma Lakshmi’s guide to Indian Spice, plus a delicious vegetable-heavy recipe to help you get started.
The last feature you should look for is non-stick. That can be in the form of a true non-stick coating on your pans, seasoning on a cast iron, or a ceramic and copper coating over your pans.
Non-stick is important because of the high heat for cooking Indian food. But it’s especially important if you’re looking to cut fats from your diet. Indian food is usually fairly low fat, except for the ghee or butter used to sauté some ingredients.
Reducing how much ghee you use can make the dish even healthier, but it’s only possible if you have a good non-stick coating.
My Reviews of the Best Cookware for Indian Food
This set of cookware is one of my favorites because of its extreme versatility and completeness.
There are a few additional pots and pans I might add to this collection, but only a few.
I also appreciate that the whole set is non-stick. The bakeware is all oven safe up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, which is great for high-temp food like naan.
The pots are big enough for making enough of a great Indian sauce, like the national dish of India — chicken tikka masala. I also appreciate that these pots and pans all provide very consistent heating, which make browning onions, melting ghee, and even simmering a sauce much easier.
The slotted spoon and spatula are a nice addition to this set, but not my favorite. I still think that you’ll need a relatively complete set of cooking utensils to compliment this set, and I’d have liked the included utensils to be just a little stiffer so that they don’t bend as much while you cook.
I also thought that the price on this set was very reasonable for what you get. It’s a good complete cookware kit for a smaller kitchen, and a great core set for a large kitchen.
The durable coatings and thicker metal of these pots and pans is a bit part of what makes them good for cooking Indian food. It also means that they are more durable and will last that much longer.
|PROS (+)||CONS (-)|
|+ Effective and durable non-stick coating|
+ Even heat distribution
+ Good core set of kitchen cookware
+ Bakeware included
+ Attractive design
|– Included utensils are a little on the soft side|
– Cookware isn’t oven safe, only the bakeware is.
If you’re looking for an even more complete set of cookware, or want an improvement over non-stick with a more natural finish, this set may be a good fit.
For my high-end pick I wanted both a higher quality of pan as well as more variety.
This set, with virtually every cooking surface you need for a well-appointed kitchen, fits both bills.
Its high-quality copper and ceramic construction gives you several advantages.
The copper conducts heat well, while the ceramic helps to make sure you get even distribution. Ceramic also holds heat slightly longer, which is perfect for entertaining and cooking elaborate meals that might not be finished all at once.
The copper ceramic coating is also non-stick. It’s just as effective as most traditional non-stick coatings, but without the environmental and health consequences. You’re also much less likely to scratch or damage this coating.
Best of all, this set is also induction compatible, which means you have more options for how and where you cook, not just what you cook.
The ceramic copper coating is also a good option for more acidic foods. The ceramic helps counteract reactions between acidic tomatoes and other common Indian ingredients and the copper, while maintaining it’s non-stick properties.
The roasting rack is perfect for baking yogurt-marinated chicken at high temperatures to mimic a tandoor oven. It’s just as well designed as the rest of the set, so, while I can’t go into the properties of every pot or pan, trust me that this whole set will live up to your highest expectations.
I also love that the cookware in this set is oven-safe with only one exception. You might not be able to put the egg-pan in the oven, but everything else can be used for stove top and oven cooking.
|PROS (+)||CONS (-)|
|+ Very complete set|
+ Ceramic and Copper nonstick coating
+ Cookware is oven-safe
+ Wide variety of pot and pan sizes
+ Frying basket (perfect for samosas) included
|– Rivets can catch food and need extra cleaning|
– Only one cake pan and loaf pan included (each)
For my budget set I didn’t want to get too stingy. This is a more affordable collection than either of the other two, but it’s still designed to let you cook whatever you’d like.
I also really appreciated that this set came with a couple more cooking utensils.
The ceramic non-stick coating is another nice addition, especially since it’s a healthy and effective choice for Indian cooking.
The heat spot technology behind this cookware also helps make sure the heat is well distributed through your food.
It’s not induction cooking safe, but that’s one of relatively few weaknesses with this more affordable set. The pans are safe up to 570 degrees of heat, more than enough for hot cooking and blooming Indian spice mixtures.
It’s also dishwasher safe, which makes cleanup even easier than just the non-stick coating alone.
The largest pot in this set is a 5 quart dutch oven, which is a good size for simmering Indian sauces for your whole family. I also like that the handles on the dutch oven are set a little further away from the pot than average, the distance helps protect your hands from burns.
|PROS (+)||CONS (-)|
|+ Good non-stick|
+ Good core kitchen set
+ Acid and heat resistant
+ Distributes heat well
|– Not as many pots and pans as other sets|
– Plastic utensils aren’t quite as sturdy
Full sets are a good thing for your kitchen since they tend to make storage easier and give you more versatility.
But there is a place for individual pots and pans as well, and I think that this large 6 quart pot is one of them.
Also available even larger, as a 7.5 quart dutch oven, this pot is big enough to make cooking for guests simple.
This dutch oven is perfect for one-pot chicken tikka masala, butter chicken, and even large batches of vindaloo. You can also use this pot to cook ahead and place the finished dish in a warm oven to wait for the rest of your meal to finish cooking.
Cast iron is also one of the better materials for Indian cooking thanks to its high heat tolerance. But bare cast iron is vulnerable to acid damage if it isn’t properly seasoned. The enamel coating on this cast iron dutch oven neatly avoids the problem while also minimizing maintenance.
|PROS (+)||CONS (-)|
|+ Low maintenance|
+ High heat and acid tolerance
+ Large capacity
+ Oven and Stove Top Safe
+Attractive color and design
|– Slightly more expensive for a single pot|
– Enamel coating can chip if handled too roughly
The last pan I want to include is a wok. While more traditional for Chinese and other far eastern cuisines than Indian, it’s still a useful addition.
You’ll find that stir-frying some of your vegetables especially peppers, garlic, and onion, gives you better flavor and crunch.
Woks are also a fantastic choice for fried rice dishes and any drier Indian dish. They aren’t ideal for sauce-y masalas though.
This pan is more for adding versatility to your kitchen than anything. It’s a good choice for gas-burner stoves, or anywhere you can use fire as a heat source. Woks are fantastic for blooming spices and cooking richly flavorful foods quickly. But they do take a lot of heat and constant attention to work well.
I recommend this pan to anyone looking for more authentic flavors and the ability to make a wider variety of traditional foods.
It’s not a good fit for cooks who have an entirely modern kitchen, including a glass top stove, or for cooks who like meals that don’t need a lot of attention while cooking. Woks are best for meals cooked quickly and with a lot of heat, not slow-cook meals that rarely need stirring.
|PROS (+)||CONS (-)|
|+ Great for authentic flavors |
+ Helps make dry rice-dishes more easily
+ High heat tolerance
+ Very durable
+ Works for many different traditional cuisines
|– Rounded bottom doesn’t work on glass top stoves|
– Needs constant attention
Of all of the pots and pans on this list, I think that the Rachael Ray Cucina Nonstick Cookware Pots and Pans Set is the best balanced. Its non-stick surface is perfect for working with sautéing vegetables and blooming spices, both critical steps in most Indian dishes.
It’s also a complete enough set that you’ll only need one or two other things to make virtually every Indian dish you can get a recipe for. You might need other kitchen accessories, like cheesecloth or a spice grinder, but you won’t need extra cookware.
While I would prefer a ceramic or ceramic-copper non-stick coating to the chemical non-stick this set uses, it’s still a relatively healthy option. The set is good for putting together small single person meals all the way through to preparing large meals for a whole family.
Most importantly, it can handle the heat and acids of great Indian cooking. You won’t need to get a new set in a couple year with this set, unlike with cheaper options.
Final Thoughts on The Best Cookware for Indian Food
Indian cooking can seem really intimidating when you first get started. There are usually long ingredient lists because of the many spices in every recipe. Worse, if you have a low spice tolerance you might be wondering if you can even eat a richly spiced Indian dish.
The good news is that Indian cooking uses fairly straightforward techniques at the core. Once you have the equipment you can start simple and add more complicated techniques like marinating and baking at extremely high temperatures later.
You also don’t need a great spice tolerance to cook and eat great Indian food. The point of the spices is flavor, not heat. There are low-heat versions of most curries and Indian spice mixes, and while some extra chili flakes can add to the flavor, they aren’t necessary.
So, now you know what kind of cookware you need for great Indian food, and you even know a little more about the spices and have a fantastic Indian recipe to try courtesy of Padma Lakshmi. There’s just one thing left…