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need new pots and pans!!


its that time, my trusty first set of post college pots and pans have finally given up the ghost. i'm ready for a new set..

i was hoping for some advice - should i just buy a set? or should i source one piece at a time? is there a brand that's heads and shoulders above the rest? is there a good value to be had with these things?

i saw an all-clad masterchef series that looked great..and spendy...

oh, i do have a small set of le creuset, so i do have a couple of decent pieces already..

tia :)

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  1. I am not a fan of the sets. I think you get more bang for your buck if you purchase the pieces you use the most and/or are the most versatile. Also, if you buy separately, you can choose an expensive line for pieces like frying pans and sauté pans, and go cheaper for things like stock pots.

    I have amassed quite a collection picking and choosing individual pieces. I like All Clad MC2, as well as Calphalon. I got a couple good deals at Target.

    12 Replies
    1. re: jenhen2

      Agree about the sets. I really like Sitram - there are a number of posts on the brand on this board. I made do with a sauce pan and saute pan from them for ages, and still use them all the time.

      1. re: MMRuth

        Never buy sets. You'll end up with pieces you don't neeed and won't use. If you have a Tues. AM , TJ Maxx, Homegoods, Marshalls etc. that is where to go and only buy what you need and will use. They don't have to match at al. Who caresif your Sitram doesn't look like Le Creuset?

        1. re: Candy

          Agree about the not matching - I would fail if that were the test of my cookware.

          1. re: Candy

            oh yeah - i forgot that those spots have housewares....

            thanks for the reminder!!

            1. re: Candy

              Never is too strong a word. When you buy a large set of pricey cookware you get a SUBSTANTIAL discount over the new in-the-box list price. Buying a set all at once ensures that ALL the pieces have the SAME warranty and you'll know for sure which lids interchange of which pieces.

              If you know that there is a piece in the big set that you will NEVER use I strongly recommend it selling it individually on ebay. For certain pieces the ebay sellers are able to command prices very close to retail and that will lower your total net outlay.

              The All Clad stuff is very well made, and the higher prices lines from them are discounted in the sets by a much larger percentage. If you get the big set you get 15 pieces PLUS a bonus panini grill and apron for $2k . http://www.williams-sonoma.com/produc... You could easily sell each unwanted pan for $100 - 200 . I could very easily part with one of the coverd saute pans, the paninni press, and one of the open fry pans. My net would drop to under $1500 ...

              Alternatively you could get a very handsome set of Viking Cookware for about $800: http://cgi.ebay.com/VIKING-VSC1012-11...

              The only downside is that either is a BIG outlay of cash, though either of these is really lifetime quality cookware that is built very very well.

              1. re: renov8r

                Great advice about the sets, etc., in that post.

                A couple things to consider are:

                - Where do you stand with regard to nonstick coatings? Some people consider them an excessive health risk (and if you're hard on your pans you can flake it off). An alternative is hard-anodized aluminum which is also a nonstick but is not Teflon etc.:
                The downside is that some of those (and I don't think the other nonstick either?) should go in a dishwasher.

                Weight's another issue for some people. I didn't like traditional Calphalon because of that. I ended up with hard-anodized (and dishwasher-OK) Analon Titanium, which seem quite a bit lighter-weight. I love the wok fry pan and the tiny saucepan, and particularly like that there's a little handle on the far side of the frypans/woks - makes it easy to put on top of the sink.

                1. re: Cinnamon

                  Te hard annodization wears off with time even if you baby it with silicone and wooden utensils. Most of my hard annodized Calphalon is going to the good will and being replaced with Cuisinart Cuisipro.

                  1. re: Candy

                    Which brings up something I wanted to mention - there's always the aspect of having at least some cast iron! (You can find some well-made ones for not that much at army/navy type camping stores or sometimes big hardware stores... name-brand chain stores that I've seen tend to price a lot higher for this kind of thing from what I've seen.)

                    1. re: Cinnamon

                      You can also get good, cheap cast iron pans at restaurant supply stores for a fraction of what regular retailers charge.

              2. re: Candy

                I **strongly** second the suggestion to go to TJ Maxx, Homegoods, +/o Marshalls (I haven't had good luck at Tuesday Morning). Even check their clearance aisle. I've gotten many a wonderful AllClad and Calphalon pot or pan there for $15-$50. Knives too.

              3. re: MMRuth

                cool - thanks for the sitram advice. i'm googling like a fiend ;)

                1. re: winedubar

                  I've never used AllClad, so I can't compare, but I was convinced at a tender age by Fred Bridge that Sitram was the way to go. He established Bridge Kitchenware in Manhattan - they have a website too, and often pretty good deals. I have the Sitram with the copper core. Note that the lids are sold separately.

            2. For a good set that won't break the bank, check out the Cook's Essentials line on QVC. They are available in sets and as open stock. I was extremely surprised at the quality and the way they conduct heat. An added bonus is the lifetime warranty which they actually honor. I received a large set as a gift and they have performed as well if not better than my calphalon for a fraction of the price.

              1 Reply
              1. re: baseballfan

                Yeah i shirked at the "QVC brand" but mom bought me a set for xmas of their "professional grade" line a few years back. It has performed well for me and all pieces have held up well. They're oven safe and the set includes pieces that I always use. Plus, they're miles cheaper than All Clad and IMHO very comparable.

              2. I followed consumer reports advice and got a set that has pots I use all the time - they are from Costco - http://www.costco.com/Browse/Product....
                Consumer tested against more expensive sets and pots and determined this set to as good as any of the higend sets - and I agree

                FOr Stainless Steel they recommended the Sams Club brand -


                2 Replies
                1. re: weinstein5

                  Unfortunately, according to CR, neither the Kirkland nor the Sams Club line is available as open stock. One that is is KitchenAid Gourmet Essentials, at a very reasonable price, IMO. It was top-rated among uncoated cookware.

                  1. re: weinstein5

                    I'm also a CR follower and got the Costco set for my wedding last summer- they are wonderful!

                  2. A non-stick brand that I really like, and came across by accident, is Swiss Diamond - I have a huge skillet and use it all the time.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: MMRuth

                      Where can you buy Swiss Diamond?

                      1. re: mojoeater

                        Well, I bought mine in a little kitchenware shop in New Bern, NC, because it was the only skillet of the size I needed to cook Christmas Eve dinner. So I'm afraid I don't know - and don't recall seeing it around generally (in Manhattan).

                        1. re: MMRuth

                          True - and I can only speak to the kirkland set from Costco - I use all the pots - the small sauce is the one I use the least - but you can not beat the price of $179.95 -

                    2. I agree with weinstein5 on non-high end stuff and with those who say don't get a set.

                      I have European bashed and battered stainless that I expect to get another 30 years out of, and then I've picked up pots and pans as needed from Target (and made in China or Thailand) as needed for $20-25 each.

                      Check weight and feel of pots and pans. See if they are comfortable. I don't know why people pay a lot of $ for pots and pans. Mine get a lot more use than most people's; and I've never felt under-potted and panned.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                        I have to confess that I've not bought non-high end stuff - but I've certainly been able to produce good meals in other people's kitchens with lousy knives and non-high end pots and pans.

                      2. Another possibility: All Clad factory irregulars are available from the source below. I bought a saute pan with a scratch that you wouldn't notice unless you were looking for it.


                        1. I recommend patience. Get the minimum you need, and collect the rest as opportunity presents itself. I like the fact that each of our pots has a story, and we have some beautiful pots and stories. On the other hand, don't delay in acquiring good knives. I'd rather have a good knife than an expensive pot. I should have bought the knives years ago.

                          By the way, cookware manufacturers often have individual sample pieces that are priced very low, and once in a while someone like Cook's Illustrated recommends a pot/pan that is a great value (All Clad Roasting/lasagna pan I think).

                          1. I agree with Leucadian; buy what you need, as you need. That will also give you time to do more research and find other brands, rather than putting all your eggs in one basket.

                            I'm not that familiar with Sitram, so based on the high praise in some of these responses, I checked out some of their products on the official web site. It looks to me like many (if not all) of them have welded handles. I would avoid anything that does not have a riveted handle. I have had the handle of a 3 quart sauce pan (welded) break off when being washed vigorously! You don't need to buy All-Clad to find tough construction (I do buy All-Clad, but that is just as much about design for me), but I would definitely insist on riveted construction. And make sure they are all oven-safe (no wood or plastic anything).

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: marzeth

                              I looked at more of the Sitram pans, and many of them are riveted. Should have looked more before posting. :-)

                              1. re: marzeth

                                The Sitram welded stuff is used in commercial kitchens, and I've read that it's better than a lot of other welded stuff. I have a welded large (4.5 qt, I think) saucepan, and it has been great so far. I third (fourth? whateverth) the suggestion to buy stuff as you need it. In general, kitchen supply stores often have great deals on good quality, utilitarian cookware. Look for stuff with heavy bottoms.

                                A good frying pan or medium saute pan (and / or a cast iron skillet), a 3.5-4.5 qt saucepan, maybe a stock-pot will go a long way. I also really like the All Clad copper core chef's pan I got - shaped almost like a wok. It's great, though given how much it cost, I'm not totally sure if I'd do it again.

                              2. re: marzeth

                                I think your experience with welded handles probably reflects more on the manufacturer of the cookware and the quality of the weld they used rather than the simple fact that it's welded instead of riveted. Personally, I can't stand riveted handles because they are hard to clean (on the pan's interior), and I can't make a clean sweep around the inside of the pan with a spatula. I much prefer the smooth interior of a pan with a welded handle. Sitram has been in business for decades and offers a lifetime warranty on their stuff, if a handle breaks off due to a welding failure they'd replace it.

                                1. re: marzeth

                                  I know it's a small sample, but of the 21 pots/pans with welded handles that I own (yes, I counted), none have had weld failures. Some of them I've had for 15 years, and some are rather large - 11qt. braiser, 10qt. stock pot. Brands are Sitram, Paderno, Demeyere, Bourgeat, none of them really well-known in the US, since their lines target pro kitchens. YMMV.

                                2. everyone - thank you for the great advice and info, i really appreciate it...

                                  i didn't think about the whole non-stick dilemma. personally, im not a fan, mostly because from my experience it inevitably scratches. however, that could be my not excellent equipment..

                                  i'm going to buy one at a time, per suggestion. i think that makes the most sense!!

                                  i heart chowhound and chowhounders :)

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: winedubar

                                    Just a wrap up comment. Try hard anodized and stainless. Pay a lot for status; pay a bit for good kitchen tools.

                                    1. re: winedubar

                                      I'm in the "teflon is bad" camp but the one place I absolutely cannot do
                                      without it is the 8-inch frying pan. A morning with non-stick eggs is just
                                      so much more pleasant than dealing with the post-scrambled mess on
                                      a non-non-stick pan.

                                    2. Just adding my two cents, though much of this has been covered.

                                      If you have some LeCrueset, thats great. Don't replace those, and don't buy a set. They aren't always a terrible deal, but don't sound like what you need.

                                      Nonstick should generally be avoided, IMO - but I think it is worth is to have one quality nonstick pan for eggs. I use a Calphalon 10" crepe pan, which works great and only costs around $20. Make sure you get a good spatula to use with the non-stick, metal will ruin it. Can't put it in the dishwasher, but it's not hard to clean.

                                      I'd also get a good cast iron skillet. Cheap and versatile, you can buy one for $10-20. One of the best and most used things in my kitchen.

                                      Other than that, you need a big stockpot. Check out the TJ Maxx/Marshalls stuff, I got a Cuisinart pot there recently for a good price, well made and sturdy too. Mostly you are just boiling in these so don't spend too much.

                                      If you have those three, depending on your Le Creuset collection, that may be all you need. A couple small saucepans might round things out, But I would start with those three and expand as needed. Total initial investment well under $100. You could probably by a handled saucepan with lid and still keep in that price range.

                                      Good luck and happy cooking.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: andytee

                                        I would agree with the previous poster, only adding that a good quality 3-quart covered saute pan would be a good addition and quite versatile. All clads are good of course, but a good Sitram saute from their Catering line (copper sandwiched in stainless) would probably serve you just as well for less money.

                                      2. Call me old fashioned, but I actually really like my Revere Ware pots and pans. I've had my large saute pan, and various sauce pans and soup pots since I was in college (which was a long time ago!) and they have stood the test of time. I bought them very inexpensively at a Revere outlet in the early 90s. I don't think Revere has their own outlets anymore, but I think you can get it at Corningware outlets.