What are the best nesting pots and pans for a boat or any small kitchen? Whatever cookware you get, this is something that you’ll use everyday and, outside of your galley appliances such as the refrigerator and stove, will probably be the most expensive bit of galley gear you’ll buy. You want to get it right the first time.
Magma Nesting Pots and Pans
I love the Magma Nestable Cookware Sets. The “standard” set comes with 10 pieces (5 pans, 2 lids, 2 handles and a bungee) in several varieties: stainless, non-stick ceramic, non-stick Teflon and stainless that’s designed for induction stoves. Most of these have a stainless exterior although there is also a gorgeous blue exterior available on some (Note: the blue exteriors are no longer available on Amazon but you can still buy them directly on the Magma website.). There is also a 7-piece stainless set.
I used an earlier non-stick version of the 10-piece Magma set for six years aboard Que Tal and loved it. It meets all my criteria for great boat cookware. That set stayed on the boat when we sold her. When we moved ashore and into a tiny house, I purchased the Magma 7-piece starter set which I also loved. I have not used the ceramic nonstick set — one reader reported that they got it and loved it; others have reported it chipping easily. If you’re thinking of getting the stainless pans, read how you can make them nonstick here.
Magma Nesting Cookware Features
The Magma nesting pots and pans have a number of great features, from a good mixture of pans sizes to heavy construction that makes cooking easy:
- Useful Pan Sizes. In 6 years, I never felt the need for another size pan. This set includes a 1-1/2-, 2-, and 3-quart saucepana, with a 5-quart stock pot and a 9-1/2 inch frying pan. For 2 people living aboard, and occasional guests and pitch in dinners, I never needed anything else. The two lids each work with several of the pans, and on the few occasions that I needed a third lid I just used a piece of aluminum foil. Another consideration is that these sizes of pans will fit in almost any pot restraints.
- Easily Stowed. Pans can take an inordinate amount of space in a boat kitchen. These take up a space about 12 inches by 12 inches by 6 inches high, due to the nesting design and the fact that the handles are removable.
- Removable Handles. Those removable handles actually do several things for this set — they make it so that the pans nest together much more tightly so that they take less space; they make it so that the pans can be used in the oven as well as on the stovetop; and they make the pans more suitable for use as serving dishes (for example, the saucepans make nice salad bowls if the handles aren’t attached). When needed, the handles attach securely, so that you’re not afraid of spilling hot food. Many cheaper sets have “fold down” handles that tend to “fall down” next to the burner and get VERY hot in use — I really don’t like those!
- Multi-Use Set. If your space is really limited (and whose isn’t in a galley), this set can serve as your mixing bowls, stovetop cookware, baking pans and serving dishes. For our first three years aboard Que Tal, this was my “one and only” set and it worked fine for everything I made — bread, casseroles, brownies and more. Eventually I added a few more baking pans and serving dishes, but this was a great starting point.
- High Quality Pans. Many nesting “camping” pans are thin metal, prone to hot spots that can scorch your food. These aren’t. They are heavy-duty stainless with triple-clad bottoms. There’s less chance of hot spots and the stainless won’t rust or react with acidic foods the way many cheaper aluminum pans will.
Non-Stick or Not? I had the non-stick set on Que Tal and liked it because it was a snap to clean up. Then, ashore, I bought the regular set and I seasoned the pans so that they are almost non-stick. The Magma Non-Stick set is high-quality non-stick and very scratch resistant, but it’s a little harder to use them as your mixing bowls, as the silicone mixing spoons aren’t as satisfactory as heavier duty ones.
Buying Magma Nesting Pots and Pans
All the Magma sets are available on Amazon and they have the best prices that I know of. Sometimes there is more than one listing for an identical set; in that case, I tried to find the least expensive listing:
- Magma 10-piece stainless
- Magma 10-piece stainless for induction burners
- Magma 10-piece stainless for induction burners with ceramic non-stick
- Magma 7-piece stainless (Note: the 7-piece stainless set is frequently unavailable on Amazon. But you can always find it at the Magma website.)
- Magma 7-piece stainless for induction burners
- Magma 10-piece conventional non-stick
- Magma 10-piece ceramic non-stick
- See all Magma sets on Amazon — various accessories and spare parts, too
Whichever set you get, I think you’ll be happy!
The Case for Buying Good Nesting Pots and Pans
A quick story. Years ago, I bought a cheap nesting pan set for camping — it cost about $20 and I figured I could live with it for a week at a time. Every trip we took, my food would scorch, the pans dented easily and the handles weren’t really usable. I hated that cookware.
When we moved aboard Que Tal, I briefly thought of taking that set of nesting pots and pans. We were spending money left and right to outfit the boat, and I already had those pans. I even went so far as to take the pans to the boat and use them for a week. That made up my mind. I can’t tell you how glad I am that I bought a better set. They really are worth it, particularly if you’re going to be spending more than just an occasional day on the boat.
This article was originally written in October 2010. It was substantially updated and republished on December 31, 2018. Comments from the earlier version have not been deleted but may not apply to the current version.