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Suggestions for Cookware purchase

I need a whole new set of cookware and frankly I am confused and overwhelmed.

I am looking for a good solid set around $600> that will cook evenly on my gas stove.

There are soo many choices, can someone kindly give me a few tips?

Many thanks

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  1. I'm a very strong supporter of All Clad LTD. While it's more expensive than the stainless steel line (and also not dishwasher friendly), it has a significantly thicker core of aluminum which means stronger performance. Plus, it's the best looking of the All Clad lineup.

    I'm, however, not sure that I would spend all $600 on an All Clad set. I'd buy a few key pieces of All Clad LTD (3 or 6 quart saute pan, 12" fry pan, 3 quart saucepan) then buy a good 5-7 quart enamaled cast iron French Oven from either Staub or Le Creuset and a 12" Lodge cast iron skillet. That combination would give you a pretty good foundation of cookware, all of which would last you a lifetime.

    1. Sam Harmon gives some very good advice. I'd add an inexpensive nonstick frying pan, I use a Bialetti I bought fron Target, for cooking eggs, a 4 qt. stainless sauce pan with lid for the times when 3 just isn't quite big enough, and large stock pot with an insert for pasta. You can add these for less than $200. Skip the 4 qt. sauce pan and it's less than $150.

      1. No stick pans have been shown to be a potential health risk. I won't have one in my kitchen, but that's me. When I need non stick I use a well seasoned cast iron skillet that does the same job.

        I also agree with Sam. Don't buy a set, buy what you need. Look at the way you cook, then buy accordingly. Do you make your own stocks? Do you often cook pasta in large quantities? Then you'll need the stock pot/pasta insert combo Cpt Wafer recommends. Do you frequently cook things fast and hot? A good saute pan is what you need. The list goes on from there.

        1. I am extremely happy with the Kitchen-Aid Gourmet Essentials 10-piece set which I got on sale for $200. 18/10 SS with aluminum core base and silicone handles. I was able to get it with a 2-quart steamer insert instead of the 8-inch skillet as shown at kitchenaid.com. I will probably never use the 10-inch skillet from the set, but it looks nice on the pot rack. I added a Kitchen-Aid 12-inch anodized aluminum skillet.
          I researched before I bought and I purposely chose metal lids with silicone handles over glass lids with metal handles, although if you want to put them in the oven you have to watch the temperature. I have cast iron for the oven. These are not dishwasher safe, but clean up nicely.

          1 Reply
          1. re: El Puerco

            i doubt your silicon handles go from stovetop to oven very well, as you imply. For some people, me included, this is a deal breaker. I like to brown on the stovetop and finish in the oven.

          2. You don't need every size and shape, and what you do need depends on the kind of cooking you do.

            I think is the best source around is Bridge Kitchenware. They have an enormous variety and great expertise. Even better, they're totally objective, since they don't have sponsors that require them to push certain items.

            Here's their list of essentials: http://www.bridgekitchenware.com/what...

            It's worth a trip to New York to have them guide you through picking out just what you need. As an alternative, go through the essentials list and then call them to go through what you've picked out.

            With a $600 budget, you'll do best with aluminum-core stainless steel from Paderno or Sitram, which are as good as or better than All-Clad and considerably less expensive. I use them every day.

            Follow the links at http://www.chowhound.com/topics/345997

            2 Replies
            1. re: KRS

              As long as you are not in the habit of turning up the gas so that the flames routinely come up the side of the pot, I have found Sitram and Paderno Grand Gourmet (all from Bridge) the absolute best of the stainless steel pots. I now cook on ceramic, but these pots were great on gas. The whole pitch with clad is that you get even heating up the sides, but I have found that the very thick disk bottoms on the Paderno are unmatched in terms of no hot spots, (with the exception of the best copper, like Falk) as long as you know how to cook, meaning -- you don't jack up the burners to the highest setting and leave them there. The disk leaves nothing to burn, and it is a pleasure to find no familiar burn ring of sauce or rice that you find on the bottom of All Clad SS ,or the even better made and higher-end Demeyere clad. (Note, not all Demeyere is clad, most have disk bottoms, but it is really expensive. All Clad and Demeyere are going to blow your budget quickly). I would seriously look at the professional Paderno line sold at Bridge. For some reason, probably the price of copper, the Paderno with the 1/4" thick aluminum disks cost much less than the Sitram. Call Bridge and ask -- and remember to order lids separately. Professional cookware doesn't usually have them. I love my Paderno rondeux so much I ordered more of them in different sizes.

              1. re: KRS

                I have to mention that I have also read threads on here with glowing praise for the Tramontina stainless sold at Costco, but I have not tried it.

              2. Also, look into Sur La Table's house brand of stainless steel/aluminum/stainless steel cookware. It's fully clad, and I've heard very good feedback. It is also significantly cheaper than All Clad SS. Here, you could buy a full set and still have the $200 left over for a top of the line Staub or LC French Oven.


                If you decide to go with All Clad, the stockpot is one area where you can save some money. For most stockpot uses, you only need a good, thick aluminum disc on the bottom of the pot not full cladding. The only exception to this would be that some people use their 6 or 8 quart All Clad stockpots as a braiser/French Oven in which case the full cladding would definately come into play.

                1. I just picked up a 12 quart All Clad stock pot for $99.00. Sales rock.

                  1 Reply
                  1. Is there a reason why I would want a Lodge cast iron pan, and not an enamel-coated cast iron pan? Would that be a lot easier to clean?

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: dartmouth05

                      Plain ol cast iron's a lot cheaper than brand name enamelware. You'll also have the benefit of adding marginally more iron to your diet

                      You're right in that a good quality enamel coated one like Le Creuset can be easier to clean, provided that long use and high heat haven't micro-cracked the enamel coating. If you're willing to shell out for LC, that's a valid reason to do so.

                      1. re: Professor Salt

                        High heat shouldn't crack the enamal coating of your Le Creuset. I've had mine for a long time and it is as good as new. I've used it from stove top to oven and from various temps., the enamel is as good as new. I'd say go for the Le Creuset!

                      2. re: dartmouth05

                        I have some Lodge and some Le Creuset. I use both, but I probably use the LC more frequently, That said, the Lodge is dirt cheap, and the LC is more of a splurge. You can do fine with Lodge, but it does require care & attention.

                      3. Wow, thank you for so many great ideas.

                        I will check out all the links and suggestions, many thanks you have all saved me many headaches & time.

                        1. Here are best buys in cookware sets from a “leading consumer publication”:

                          Nonstick, Kirkland Signature (Costco), anodized aluminum, 14 pieces, $150.

                          Uncoated, Member's Mark (Sam's Club), steel over aluminum, 11 pieces, $150.

                          Mix of coated and uncoated, Calphalon (Simply Calphalon line), steel over aluminum, 8 pieces, $150.

                          7 Replies
                          1. re: mpalmer6c

                            I have the costco set and absolutely love it - heats and cooks evenly - just a dream and unlike a lot of sets I use all the pots -

                            1. re: mpalmer6c

                              I bought both the anodized from Costco and the stainless from Sam's. The anodized is great. Heats very evenly. The stainless from Sam's is fully clad tri ply all the way up the sides, not just on the bottom. Excellent value for the price. The Costco set came with a steamer insert while the Sam's set came with a pasta insert. They both fit in either pot. Really, excellent value for people who want both nonstick and fully clad stainless for $300.

                              1. re: wendy8869

                                gotta agree with you on this one. I LOVE my set from Sam's! I keep eyeballing the nonstick at Costco. Can't beat the price. As you said two full sets for $300.00. Takes care of everything I could possibly need in cookware.

                                1. re: wendy8869

                                  I also need new cookware as we just moved into a new place with a ceramic top stove. Are either/both of these true flat bottomed?

                                    1. re: medford

                                      What ever you buy, do not put it in the sink and add water while it is still hot. This is the primary cause of warped pans, and warped pans are worthless on a ceramic stove.

                                2. I am not an All-Clad fan. Agree with those who suggest buying individual pieces rather than sets, which contain things you don't really need or want. Going to Bridge or other supply house is good, as you can get good aluminum cookware, including no-name stuff. I do own some very expensive pans from Demeyre that I really like, but many of my favorite pans are inexpensive. I will say my most-used pan is what is sometimes called a "chef's pan." It is an open, slope sided saucepan that is amazingly versatile for sauces, soups, jam-making, pasta, small braises, everything. I highly recommend having one of these.

                                  1. I find Emeril's 12" no-stick frying pan as good if not better than the All-Clad one I also have. Emeril is made by All-Clad.

                                    I have both Paderno and Sitram skillets and I like Emeril better. Also agree - Bridge Kitchenware is a fabulous store. The original owner was a famous curmudgeon and not that helpful, but maybe the staff has changed.

                                    1. Whatever you opt to buy, I'd suggest that you make sure a magnet will stick, minimally, to the bottom of the cookware, and ideally to the sides as well. The latest trend in cooktops is magnetic induction, and while it may no be something you are going to get now, it's pretty clear that it'll become the replacement for electric cooktops in the near future when it becomes less expensive. Gas will remain around as it enables some cooking techniques that are not possible with magnetic induction. How soon will magnetic induction become relatively ubiquitous? Well, I don't know exactly, but when you start seeing major discounts on all manners of aluminum cookware and the stainless and iron stuff starts to get pricey (pricier), you'll know why...