Last Updated Jan 2020 – The Pioneer Woman is a blog operated by Ree Drummond, a self-described middle child who writes about life, memories, and cooking. SInce 2011, she has been branching out into television and starring in a Food Network show named after her blogging persona.
Ree has been getting her brand into other places, too, not just TV. She’s launched her own cookware line, also called Pioneer Woman. Each piece features a bit of rustic charm while still providing plenty of functionality and accessibility to your kitchen.
How Does Ree Drummond Cookware Compare To Other Brands?
The Pioneer Woman cookware sets are functional, durable, and pretty nice to look at. They’ll hold up fairly well when compared to most similarly priced cookware sets (or individual pieces). If you’re comparing to All-Clad or a high-end Cuisinart set, however, you might be slightly disappointed.
When you choose Pioneer Woman, you might not find the same standard of legendary American craftsmanship as you would when you choose All-Clad, at least if you’re an All-Clad fan. Pioneer Woman pots and pans are still beautifully made and will stand up to the test of time for at least as long as their non-stick coatings allow.
This may be shorter than you think. The non-stick coatings in each pan have a fairly finite shelf life. Pioneer Woman’s non-stick line uses Quantum 2, which the manufacturer claims “can be marketed as made without PTFE.” The specific wording makes me question the claim somewhat. While it may be true as written, Quantum 2 is still made with fluorocarbons and behaves very much like a modern PTFE. It can be scratched with metal utensils, it’s fantastically non-stick, and it will eventually degrade to the point of uselessness.
Quantum 2 seems to scratch and flake while retaining its non-stickiness, unlike ceramic coatings, which stay on the pan while gradually becoming stickier and stickier. Similar non-stick pans can have a useful life of 6 months (which tends to only occur if they’re not cared for properly) to three years or more. In other words, you shouldn’t plan on passing down a non-stick Pioneer Woman cookware set to your kids.
This is pretty standard as far as non-stick is concerned.
Luckily, Pioneer Woman has more than one cookware line. Just like with brands like All-Clad and Calphalon, you get to choose between multiple types of cooking surfaces with each cookware set. You don’t have quite as much to choose from as some brands, but you can still get a stainless steel cooking surface instead of Quantum 2 if you’d like.
Other than the lack of choice (and the very normal lack of shelf life; all non-stick pots and pans have a fairly similar useful life), Pioneer Woman cookware holds up pretty well against other brands.
Let’s take a look at a few sets and see exactly how they fare.
Pioneer Woman Cookware Reviews:
Before we get too into things, let’s talk about set contents. This cookware set has a frying pan, two saucepans, a Dutch oven, and a “jumbo cooker,” which is basically a deep frying pan with a lid. It also comes with a pre-seasoned cast iron frying pan.
For many people, the inclusion of a cast iron frying pan will be a major selling point for this set. Cast iron is very much in vogue these days. It’s hard to care for, however, because you have to undergo a fairly arduous process called “seasoning” when you first get your cast iron pan and whenever you accidentally wash it with soap. Not only does this cookware set come with a high-quality cast iron pan, it’s also totally pre-seasoned. This lets you skip the seasoning process at least once. If you’re new to cast iron (or you just don’t want to make your kitchen smell like vegetable oil) this is a pretty big deal.
The cast iron pan is black and made entirely of cast iron. It doesn’t look particularly fancy. The rest of the cookware, however, is made from anodized aluminum and has a vibrant, speckled exterior. It’s available in a few colors. So far, the red set is my favorite, but the more subdued linen set may be more appropriate in some kitchens. In any case, the exteriors of these pots and pans manage to seem decorative, rustic, and very appealing.
The interior of the pots and pans (but not the cast iron pan) bears a gray layer of Quantum 2 non-stick. They’re not red and shiny like some of the cookware sets you might see on TV, but they’re brilliantly effective as far as non-stick goes. You can cook pretty much anything you’d like with no oil whatsoever. Clean up is extremely easy with a bit of soapy water and a sponge.
Lids and handles can be a minor issue with some cookware sets. This set features rubberized handles and glass lids with steam vents. This makes it extremely convenient for stovetop use. Not only can you skip the potholders, you can also let your rice or pasta boil without the lid rattling around and making lots of noise.
There’s a small downside with these features when it comes to oven safety. This cookware set is oven safe to a paltry 300 degrees. Above that, you risk damaging the grips on the handles or even cracking the glass lids.
Functionally, the aluminum in these pans works great. They’re light, they seem to heat up very quickly, and food cooks pretty evenly on a small burner.
Would I recommend this set?
I think it’s great.
Like most other cookware sets, it’s not without both pros and cons. If you like the look and you want a cast iron pan, I think that this frontier woman cookware set is one of the best choices on the market. If you’re not too interested in a cast iron pan and you’re not in love with the speckled exterior, however, you’re probably better off getting a different lineup of pots and pans.
If non-stick isn’t your thing or you just want an inexpensive copper-bottomed cookware set, this Pioneer Woman line might be more up your alley. It’s traditionally beautiful, with bold copper present in the bottom of each pan and burnished stainless everywhere else. It’s fantastically durable since it’s made almost entirely of stainless steel and other long-lasting metals.
Best of all, it’s designed to perform incredibly well in the kitchen.
Like the cookware set above, this set is made primarily of aluminum. It’s got copper on the lower exterior of each piece, however, which helps with heat distribution a little bit. These pots and pans will heat up a little bit faster on the range, cool down a little bit faster when you turn off the heat and will heat up a little bit more evenly than pure aluminum pans.
The exterior and interior of this Pioneer Woman pot set are covered with a thin layer of stainless steel. This makes it very resistant to rust, discoloration, and damage. Stainless steel is very hard and difficult to chip or crack. It’s also an incredibly safe cooking surface that’s pretty easy to clean, too. You definitely don’t have to worry about PTFE or PFOA, nor do you have to worry about your non-stick coating going bad over time. It’s likely that you will use this cookware set for many years to come.
This cookware set isn’t non-stick, of course. For some cooks, this is a bad thing. If you don’t mind using a bit of oil, however, and carefully managing the amount of heat in your pots and pans, you’ll find that stainless steel is still a pretty forgiving surface to cook on and clean. You can still cook eggs over-easy with a bit of practice, or brown chicken, or do just about anything else that might stick to the pan. In most cases, proper lubrication and temperature control will enable you to easily flip “sticky” foods and keep your pan easy to clean when you’re done using it.
The glass lids and stainless steel handles on this cookware set are very well designed. The handles stay cool for a pretty long time, although you may need a potholder for longer cooking jobs. The lids fit well and have vents that keep them quiet while you simmer. Overall, this is a very pleasant cookware set to use.
While the cookware set above has a cast iron frying pan as its 10th piece, this cookware set has a steamer insert instead. Personally, I’d rather have a steamer insert than a cast iron frying pan. It’s an invaluable tool for many types of dishes I enjoy preparing. If you’d rather sear a steak on a crazy hot pan, however, you’ll probably prefer the cast iron frying pan.
Overall, this set is absolutely amazing for the price it’s offered at. You get a durable, beautiful copper-bottomed cookware set that will last for many years with a bit of care. If you’re used to non-stick it may take a bit of work to get used to cooking with stainless steel, but it’s a fun, delicious learning process. If you’re tired of replacing your cookware every few years or you don’t want to deal with any safety hazards associated with PTFE, this set is a great choice.
Pioneer Woman Pots and Pans Reviews:
These frying pans are very similar to the ones you get in the first cookware set above. They’re dishwasher safe, with aluminum cores and Quantum 2 non-stick coatings. They’ve got coated handles that easily stay cool to the touch and a rustic speckled aesthetic that’s completed by butterflies on the bottom of the pans.
Again, these pans are very nice to cook with. They heat up nicely, they clean effortlessly, and the non-stick is quite functional.
I think these pans are worth considering over a full set in a variety of circumstances. If you already have a stainless steel cookware set (or you’re purchasing the copper bottom set above) you might want a non-stick pan just for eggs. You can cook an egg on a stainless steel cooking surface, sure, but it takes a lot more time, energy, and effort than it does to just crack it open into a non-stick pan. With these pans you can be fairly sloppy when it comes to cooking temperature, cooking time, and the amount of fat that you use. They might not be necessary to cook most dishes, but they’re sure as heck pretty convenient.
Alternately, you might simply want an extra frying pan. Many modern cookware sets (including the first Pioneer Woman set above) don’t come with very many frying pans. If you want to toast spices in one pan and brown meat in a second, you need at least two pans. This set of two pans can help you have enough to occupy as many burners as you need to use.
This two pack of frying pans is priced quite competitively and offers great value and quality. It’s a great choice if you’re looking to supplement an existing cookware collection with something easy and non-stick.
If you’re after the cast iron skillet from the first cookware set and you don’t want the rest of the set, this is your chance to get it on its own! This 10″ skillet is made of solid cast iron and can help with preparing many specialty dishes that require high-heat. It requires a little bit of extra care, however, which means it might not be suitable for all kitchens.
Cast iron skillets like this one require that you season them occasionally in order to prevent food from sticking. While this skillet comes pre-seasoned out of the box, you may find that you get better results from re-seasoning it yourself. In any case, you’ll have to season your cast-iron frying pan every once in a while when someone accidentally uses soap with it or you simply think the old seasoning is wearing out. Since cast iron frying pans can last decades, you’ll have plenty of time to get used to this process.
Personally, I find that cast iron skillets are primarily useful for searing meats at high temperatures. If you’re not trying to get your pan up to a crazy high temperature you can totally get by with a regular non-stick or stainless steel pan.
You’re free to disagree, of course!
I have several friends who swear that their properly seasoned cast iron pan is much easier to use than a non-stick pan for cooking eggs or performing other kitchen tasks.
If you’ve caught the cast iron bug, this skillet is a great way to get started. It’s pre-seasoned, so you can use it right out of the box, and it’s very solid and durable. Best of all, it features a tasteful butterfly motif that helps set it apart from the more generic competition.
Is Pioneer Woman Cookware Worth It?
Pioneer Woman makes cookware in two major styles. The first style involves a bright speckled exterior and a Quantum 2 non-stick cooking surface. This cookware is pretty comparable to PTFE non-sticks from other brands. The rustic aesthetic and cast iron frying pan might make it the best choice for some kitchens. Even if these factors aren’t very important to you, it’s still a great cookware set that’ll fit right at home in your cupboard.
The copper-bottomed stainless steel line is in a similar boat. It’s not going to blow a comparable All-Clad set out of the water completely, but it’s very good value for money and performs excellently in the kitchen. It’s an excellent choice for any kitchen that wants a stainless steel cookware set with excellent heat distribution.
Image Credit: thepioneerwoman.com