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May 24, 2007 05:53 PM

Need help choosing all-clad pan

I have limited resources but want to get one really nice pot/pan and can't decide what's best for my cooking needs. I'm leaning toward all-clad stainless steel but am open to other suggestions of brands.

I mostly cook large amounts of sauted or braised vegetables, pan cook fish, and make stews. And I always need more surface area for carmelizing a lot of onions or searing a lot of brussel sprouts at one time and I would ideally like to get a pan with a wide surface area. But the problem is the flame on my gas stove is not very wide so the outer edges of my current large pans (a non-stick generic brand and a huge cast-iron skillet) don;t end up cooking the food there. but I hate having to cook one thing spread over 2 pans. I would think about the regualr 6 qt saute or even the casserole size pan but am afraid the food on the outer edges wouldn't cook. So then I was leaning toward getting the 6qt deep saute pan so i can fit more in, but then i'm concerned about food steaming itself or it being too deep for pan-cooking fish and things like that.

Also, I don't fully get when would would use a fry pan vs. a saute pan? So I'm at a loss. Any advice on what type of pan would be best for my cooking needs would be much appreciated.

And Do I just need to cave and get 2 pans??


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  1. I'm not sure if getting an entirely new pan is going to help you with your problem with the flame on your gas stove. That said, based on your preferences, I'd suggest you get a medium-sized stainless steel saute pan--maybe 3 qts or so. Saute pans are generally used in favor of fry pans whenever more liquid is involved; the sides are higher than a fry pan's so less liquid evaporates off.

    If you like to saute vegetables, pan-cook fish and caramelize onions, the saute pan should fit all of those needs. You can also use it to cook tomato sauces, which you really can't do as easily in a fry pan. And if you do want to use a fry pan, you still have your cast-iron skillet--which is a great multipurpose tool, by the way.

    All-Clad is good stuff, but very expensive. There are many other brands that are a fraction of the All-Clad price, but will do just as good a job. So if you have limited resources but can't decide, you can always buy both a saute pan and a fry pan from a brand like Sitram or Cuisinart, at the same price or less than the cost of one All-Clad pan.

    18 Replies
    1. re: DG14973

      Cuisinart pots are NOT All-Clad clones. They only have the stainless, aluminum, stainless sandwich on the bottom. All-Clad clones, and of course All-Clad, have the thick sandwich walls ALL OVER the whole pan. I had both (I recently replaced the ones without the sandwich on the sides too) and the difference and there is a BIG difference in the heat holding ability and, this is key, when you crank up your stove as high as it will go with a pot that just has the sandwich on the bottom, the inner sides scorch and get black, burned food on them and I have to strain myself with steel wool to clean that damn pot (ha, ha - it's somebody else's problem now that I finally replaced it). What's the deal with the Sitram? 360 ? Or is just the bottom sandwiched?

      1. re: niki rothman

        It's true that Cuisinart pans aren't All-Clad clones (neither are Sitram pans, for that matter), but that doesn't mean they don't do as good a job. All-Clad is good stuff for sure, but it's expensive, and most restaurants will not even bother buying such high-end cookware for their kitchens because it's not cost-effective.

        Plenty of great cooks turn out spectacular food with brands like Sitram, Wearever, and other sandwich-bottomed pots. The far more important differentiator is cooking technique. While it's nice to have really good equipment, it's not essential--and it's certainly not the best option if you're on a budget.

        1. re: DG14973

          I don't know if you saw my other post in this thread but i just found a supplier of an All Clad clone where I got a twelve inch deep covered saute pan, totally sandwiched, thick, ultra-heavy for $69 from

          1. re: DG14973

            Out of curiosity - are Sitram pans thought to be of lesser quality than All-Clad - I'd always understood the opposite. Is All-Clad more expensive?

            1. re: MMRuth

              In general, All-Clad is significantly more expensive than Sitram (although Sitram's Catering line is not inexpensive either). Sitram is great cookware--I don't know if it's necessarily better or worse than All-Clad, but it's certainly a much better value--and it more than meets most restaurants' needs, let alone those of most home kitchens.

              1. re: MMRuth

                Sitram makes several lines of cookware. So does Demeyere, Mauviel, Bourgeat, Sambonet, Spring, Falk, deBuyer and a dozen other firms. These guys do not have the distribution in the USA that AllClad does. Nor do they have the advertising/promotional/overhead expenses. They all might make some pans in some lines that are higher quality than an equivalent pan from AllClad, and you can probably track down some deals on them. Unfortunately most of them are not sold at retail but "to the trade", where the pricing is far less uniform. For someone wandering into a supply house they will pay a lot more than some one who gets the "favorite customer" discount...

                In general I think with the AllClad Copper Core it is very solidly constructed pan with unique constructionthat gives the most even heating, and not widely discounted.

                The pans from Viking are similarly well marketed, by a firm that has high overhead, but that does not make them inferior.

                The Original Post in this thread asked about AllClad. It it unquestionably the most easily found high quality line of pans in the USA.

                1. re: renov8r

                  It is also unquestionably one of the most overpriced line of pans in the USA, exactly because All-Clad has incredibly high advertising, promotional, and other overhead expenses that brands like Sitram don't have. Ditto Viking. Good marketing doesn't make them inferior, but it does make them overpriced.

                  You can buy Sitram, Bourgeat, Mauviel, and Demeyere on Amazon and many other online retailers, for much less money than an equivalent AC pan.

                  In my opinion, if you care enough about cooking to bother spending a hundred bucks or more on a pan, it's worth the time to track down that one pan that is the best (and the best value) for what you need it for.

                  1. re: Buckethead

                    I don't really know what "overpriced" means.

                    Take for instance when a restaurant is not doing well, and you ask friends why more people aren't going there. Some friends might say: "You can't eat there for less than $50 a person." I'll say that you can't eat at Tru for less than $100 a person and it they are all booked up. It must be more than just the price.

                    Someone else will ask why I spent $200 on an iPod when a Zen is under $100. I'll say I got a nicer total package.

                    When I send customers to a granite shop that charges $70 a sq ft they ask me why not go to the shop that charges $50. I say that I know the work that the $70 shop does, I know that they stand behind it, will warranty their work and make the whole job go better.

                    By the way, I am not crazy. When I bought my last new vehicle I shopped it to literally a dozen dealers. I would not spend more than I had to to get the tool that did the job. I did not want to waste money that I could use for something else. I knew what the factory charges the dealers for the vehicle and what an appropriate level of profit for the dealer was. If more information like that was available we could all probably get a better deal.

                    The overhead that it takes to be able to go a store and feel the pan, have a real warranty, have a something that will perform in a known way and even have some reputation may raise the price the charge, but I don't think it is fair to say this makes it overpriced unless you have more information about the whole marketplace.

                    1. re: renov8r

                      "I don't really know what "overpriced" means."

                      I think you make some good points, but in this case overpriced means that the OP would be better served to spend their money on several different pots, or on something of good quality but more affordable. They say that have "limited resources" and describe two pretty basic (though fine) pans. I think most posters are agreeing that spending money on an All-Clad in this case is overkill, somewhat akin to shopping for a Mercedes when your Honda Civic needs a tune-up.

                      All-Clad is great when you have the money and a well-stocked kitchen with a great range, but marketing had created a mystique around the stuff, people buy it as a status symbol, or because they think it will make their food better. There are probably zero restaurant kitchens that use the stuff, and most skilled cooks know that while nice equipment helps, you need not spend exorbitant $ to acheive good results.

                      1. re: andytee

                        I have to agree with you about All-Clad. I have several pieces and, while they do a good job, they are not easy to clean. They cannot be soaked or placed in the dishwasher, and they take quite some time to clean and polish (with Bar Keepers Friend) when you're done using them. Sadly, my pieces have become little more than kitchen decoration.

                        1. re: borntoocook

                          I'm curious as to why you say you can't soak All-Clad. I have both the stainless and the MC2, and have soaked them plenty of times without any problem ... that I know of!

                          1. re: Miss Priss

                            Presumably the stainless will pit (if you soak it overnight). A quick soaking won't hurt it.

                            1. re: borntoocook

                              Restaurants keep vats of stock and other liquids in stainless all the time and for more than overnight. I don't think overnight soaking would pit good stainless.

                              1. re: borntoocook

                                You are totally misinformed about AllClad or most stainless cookware, for that matter.
                                I have even used oven cleaners on mine! NOTE: Do not do this if you have anodized Limited Edition, which I do. My point is, it did not hurt the interior one iota! I have soaked stuff in mine for days, left acidic food in mine... and to no ill effects.
                                In my mind, my Allclad will be passed down to my son, who has his own set.....
                                There might be a better, all-purpose cookware out there, but I am not aware of it. After all the crap I had when I was young and the stuff that can't be put in the oven, or is so heavy that you have to have really strong wrists, I'll take my AllClad any day and pay their prices.

                                1. re: borntoocook

                                  I have almost exclusively All-Clad pots and pans (with a smattering of Sitram and cast iron) and have never experienced pitting with them at all. And, lazy clean-up person that I am, they've sat overnight soaking on many occasions.

                2. re: niki rothman

                  I have at least one of all of these brands, and I can tell you that All-Clad is not going to solve the problem. The problem here is that Zaftig's burner is too small, and there is a cold circle around the edges because the bottom of the pan doesn't distribute heat well. There is also a hot little circle in the middle of the pan. If heat retention were the issue, a cast iron pan would be the best choice, not an All-Clad. The problem will be the same regardless of whether All-Clad or similar clad pans such as the Demeyere Atlantis are used. (BTW, Demeyere clad models put the All-Clads to shame -- you should try one.) The only way to avoid the hot little circle and cold outer edges on a small burner is to use a thick aluminum disk bottom pan or to spring for professional gauge copper. At 2.5 mm, the heat disburses beautifully in a Mauviel or Falk copper pan, and there is no hot circle/cold edge on a large pan. Unfortunately, they are even more expensive the the All-Clad models, and you have to wash them by hand. If you can spring for a good 4 qt. or larger copper saute pan, go for iron handles that stay cooler than brass and stainless lining for longer life than tin. I have tin and stainless lined and don't notice any difference. If you don't want to spend $300 plus on a good copper saute pan, the Paderno thick bottomed aluminum is nearly as good on a small burner at 1/3 the price. I highly recommend Paderno from Bridge -- it is made in Italy and has a 1/4" aluminum sandwiched to the SS. Really heavy ss, nice stuff. Just beware of cheap Padernos from Canada -- they are not nearly as good as any of these.

                  1. re: RGC1982

                    I agree, Paderno stuff is great. Make sure you are getting the Paderno Grand Gourmet line, though. Be aware that the only place you can buy it in the US (last I heard) is through Bridge Kitchenware, so if you see it somewhere else, it's not what you want. The Paderno that comes from Canada is made by a whole different company than the stuff that Bridge imports. It's a little more expensive than Sitram if I remember correctly, but my 14" saute pan is built like a tank.

                  2. re: niki rothman

                    The Cuisinart Multiclad line of stainless has the aluminum cladding ALL OVER the pan, including up the sides. That was the pan someone was referring to as being the All-Clad clone. Those are great pans!

                3. Not sure how many you are cooking for. I think a three qt saute pan or 12" skillet with lid would cook large amounts even up to family size quatntities. SS is a very sticky cooking surface but fine for braising and sweating, you might be happier with NS for the pan frying. I am very happy with my Calphalon 12" NS skillet with lid for multipurpose pan frying, sweating etc and they can be had reasonably. Aluminum is a very good conductor and should heat evenly.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: dijon

                    The key, and I only recently discovered this, to frying and browning with the ss (All-Clad clone admittedly - better than just ss), is to turn the heat up to brown, then down before you turn the food. Let it sit for like under 5 minutes and the food will let go of the surface and you can then turn it without anything sticking to the surface of the pan. I have no idea WHY this works but it is a magic technique that I have never heard mentioned prior to my just accidentally discovering it. It works even with delicate breaded filets. Just turn up the heat, brown, turn down the heat WAY DOWN, even off - and WAIT a few minutes, then flip the food and turn way up to brown, turn way down, wait - take out the food totally intact. With my compliments!

                  2. Hi zaftig,
                    PLEASE (sorry, I seem inescapabley drawn to the use of capital letters) please (there, that's better) scroll down and check my post on the wonderful, cheap All-Clad clone I just found. It is sold at HSN.COM. Search "kerry simon" (the meaningless brand name for the cookware find of my lifetime.

                    Now, for WHICH pan? Twelve inch saute's with cover. I paid $69.90 plus about $6 shipping. If you just want to cut to the chase and trust me, just get your phone right now and dial 1 - 800 - 284 - 3100.

                    The difference between a fry pan or skillet and a saute' pan is the curved bottom angle in the fry pan or skillet. The saute' pan has a 90 angle between the bottom and the side. And you are totally correct that the All-Clad (clone) will, because of the thick ALL sandwiched pan, not just a sandwich on the bottom which is very common on cheap pans, will enhance the heat capabilitiy of your stove and do a better job with a big fry up of whatever. You want a fry pan or skillet if you feel it's important to have the more forgiving curvy angle to help you get your spatula under your delicate big omelet or frail filets of fish in order to carefully flip them. Also, a saute' pan MAY be deeper and make it easier, therefore, to make something where you are combining frying and then adding a liquid, like paella - where you saute' veggies and then add a lot of liquid to cook the rice.
                    Personally, if you are going to buy only one of the two, I advise you to get the saute' pan. It can do stuff, as I mentioned, that are more difficult with the fry pan, like holding boiling liquids more safely.

                    1 Reply
                    1. Here is a dirty little secret that the high-end range makers and the high-end cookware companies don't like to share: the better your stove the less likely you are to notice the performance of your cookware. The inverse is true too: A crappy stove makes a crappy pan even more of pain.

                      SO, in your case you can remedy this! You have both a crappy stove and crappy pans.

                      You say you MOSTLY cook LARGE amounts of food so I am going to focus on the 4-qt and larger size pans. You say you want to SEAR or CARAMELIZE. You say you want LARGE SURFACE AREA.

                      My numero-uno choice for you:
                      Pluses: HUGE surface area. Has lid.
                      Disadvantages: not real deep, no long handle

                      Alternate #1:
                      Pluses: easier to store, deeper
                      Disadvantages: still no handle, not as much surface area

                      Alternate #2:
                      Pluses: handle, still lidded, great surface area
                      Disadvantages: have to be built like Lou Ferrigno to use this beast, very hard to store, won't fit in many ovens.

                      AllClad is a smart company. The way the made the 4 qt braiser is to give a domed lid and dual loop handles to this pan: , but I don't find it particularly useful as a fry pan... I would go down to 10 inch for most uses of a slope sided fry pan. By making the braiser you can use it in many more ways, stove top, in oven, serving piece. Not as big the the others but more flexibility.

                      NOTE: These are ALL from the Copper Core offerings. I do think that the copper is more responsive than the regular Al stuff and is the ultimate in even heating across the bottom. I really doubt you'd give up the ability to sear/brown at any area in the pan unless you have some sort of really crappy electric stove. While these selections are VERY pricey, some are about $500 -- BUT as you'd need to spend about 10X that a new range it is a bargain (of course the range would probably put out more BTU and have a burner that better spreads the flame to the edges of the pan and have control valves that would reliably be capable of making fine adjustment in heat, all which is less noticeable with good pans...


                      Good Luck!

                      1. Given your current stove and pots, I would think you might be better served by investing in some more cookware that is nicer than what you have but cheaper than All-Clad. Also, you might try cleaning out your stove, checking gas lines, etc, to see if you can crank a little more performance out of what you have.

                        Get a slightly smaller cast iron skillet. They are cheap and really great, and if yours is too big, downsizing is easy. Cast iron is really as good as it gets for carmelizing onions, searing brussel sprouts, fish, etc. Then, look into a few different saute pans from lines like Calphalon and Cuisinart (try shopping online or look at stores like TJ Maxx or Marshalls) to fill in the holes in your collection. All this should cost the same or less than an All-Clad and as long as your stove is as it is, you are not likely to feel much difference in your cooking.