HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >


What is the oldest, most beat up pot or pan that you use frequently?

Many years ago, my father found himself at work in Manhattan near a street sale being held in front of one of the last Horn & Hardart's restaurants. He came home with two heavy-duty, well-used stainless steel roasting pans, with flared sides and no handles, and gave one each to my perplexed mother and grateful grandmother, who recognized that the pans were of high quality in spite of dings and burnt in stains in the corners that might never come out. The both used those pans for years, and I now have my grandmother's pan. I can't find anything like it from any restaurant supply store because all roasters now appear to have handles. It is still my favorite pan to roast a chicken in, and even an acid bath would never get it perfectly clean. I find it funny that I love this pan although I have a extensive collection of expensive cookware from various manufacters. It sits in its place of honor right next to my Mauviel I think this thing can get handed down like a cast iron skillet from generation to generation. It's been in my family since the sixties!

What old, beat up pot or pan do you like to use?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I have a heavy aluminum 3-quart saucepan with a vented lid, that my MIL started housekeeping with in about 1945. The brand name on the bottom is Laurel, about which I know nothing. I've been using it for 25 years, while other pots have come and gone. For some jobs, such as cooking rice, I reach for it before I reach for the All-Clad!

    1 Reply
    1. re: zorra

      I bought a cast aluminum dutch oven with a tight fitting lid (along with other pots, pans, and lids) at a yard sale 30 years ago. I paid $1 for the box. I have yet to find anything better than that dutch oven, b/c you can cook on the stove or the oven, and nothing sticks. BTW, that same box came with 4 seasoned cast iron skillets.

    2. I have a set of awesome Le Creuset enamel coated cast iron pans that were a Wedding gift to my parents over 50 years ago. The only reason my mom gave them up was that they were getting to heavy for her. They have one or two chips - but work like a charm.
      I also think my beloved cast iron skillet belonged to my grandmother. I have no clue how old it is.

      1. My parents got married in 1945 and purchased a set of Ware-Ever pots and pans that we used forever and ever. These have been some of the most durable cookware I've ever seen. Most of it lasted up until a few years ago. We still have the Dutch oven and that shows no signs of wanting to give up the ghost.

        Ware-Ever is a very commonly found in a lot of commercial kitchens. Next time you're in a restaurant supply store check the line out. It may be exactly what you're looking for, and it may be that they simply added handles to the pan you've already got. We've got several Ware-Ever roasting pans at work (with handles) as well as other cookware and they are exactly as you describe...beat-up, dinged, stuff that doesn't come off not matter how hard the pot washers try. They're great and they keep cooking and keep turning out good food.

        1. Oldest: I have my parent's pre-WWI rice pot made in Japan and made of some weird metal that I use daily.

          Beat up: they've all been thrown under the bus.

          1. The best pans I have that I use for just about everything are my 8 inch and 6 inch "Griswald" cast iron pans that were my Omi's (grandmother in german). I don't know how old they are but they must be at least 50 years old (I've been using them for almost 25 years - she died in 1982). You wanna talk about well seasoned pans!! Also, I get to think about her every time I use them. She was a great lady and a great cook. They will definitely go to my son (10 years old) as he is learning how to cook.

            1. i use my mom's old revereware saucepan more than twice every day. it's dented, and the handle is a little melted in spots, but it's so light, it's so easy to wash right after i use it, and i live in a tiny apartment, so everything has to serve at least 5 functions to earn a spot in my kitchen. i use it as a tea kettle, e.g.

              4 Replies
              1. re: chartreusevelour

                Funny you should mention Revereware. I still have a pot or two, and use them. My mother has been using hers for 50 plus years, and I bought a cheap set almost thirty years ago, with the decorative "copper" bottom, for $80. I have since replaced virtually all with high end professional cookware, but we still reach for that old 4 quart Dutch oven whenever we need to boil water for corn. It's just really light and it does the job.

                1. re: RGC1982

                  Yup- I have two pieces of my grandmothers revereware. Also have a few of her cast iron pans. Love them! She also had a pressure cooker- it is really heavy. Still have the cover- though it is not a workable pressure cooker. Love to cook in it as it is heavy and easy to clean. Use it for rice puddings, risotto, making fudge, etc

                2. re: chartreusevelour

                  Same here, only I picked mine up at a garage sale, mom wouldn't part with hers. I do get all the Revereware in the will.

                  My cast iron is all beat up, but it's cast iron so you can't tell.

                  1. re: chartreusevelour

                    I also have two of my mother's RevereWare pans, now about 50 years old, and the dutch oven is still one of my favorite pans. Another favorite oldie is a shallow iron frying pan, bought in SF Chinatown and given to me as a present, that I have had for 30 years and use exclusively for omelets and crepes. It' is finally wearing out, alas, and I've never been able to find another one like it.

                  2. I have my Grandmother's bread board that was new in 1943.
                    I bought an enameled fry pan in 1973 and I still use it at least weekly. Can't tell if it's Copco or Le Creuset. It was yellow (unfashionable color then, so on sale) and now it's still yellow but a patina of burnt-ons on the outside.

                    1. They're old, but not beat-up. I have a cast-iron spider, which is a frying pan with little feet for use on a coal stove, another cat iron frying pan, and a dutch oven. They belonged to my grandmother's mother and date from at least 1870. It's easy to keep them in good condition with proper cleaning and seasoning after use. They're great for pan-grilling meats (OK, you don't get grill marks, but you do get good caramelizing) and frying chicken and fish. They hold and distribute heat better than the new ones I bought a few years back. Also, there's nothing better for use over a campfire than cast iron -- the fire won't mess them up a bit. My kids have been good-naturedly arguing over who gets which piece for years now.

                      1. My oldest pan is a large cast-iron skillet which I bought in 1961 in Iowa City, Iowa for about 2 bucks. It is well seasoned (!) and I use it often. My sister has our mother's cast-iron dutch oven from the 1940s.

                        1. does a pizza pan count? I have a Appianway pizza pan that is warped and has a cut in the edge of the metal, but NOTHING makes a better crust than that thing! Sure wish I could find another one. Anyone?

                          Oh, I meant to say it is well over 30 years old, possibly 40.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: leahvh

                            Too funny! I was just thinking the same. My pizza pan! A family friend does metalwork for all sorts of industry (and non-industrial) needs. He made my mom pizza pans - and lucky me has one. Perfect, perfect, although it has been used so much it is ugly.

                          2. I'm the queen of hand-me-downs. Started with a cast-iron skillet my mom gave me forever ago. I think she brought it to me in her suitcase once when she came to visit me in Oregon. (This was pre-9/11 or I don't know what airport security would have done.) It may have been Gram's, or she may have gotten it somewhere else. Then she bought herself a whole new set of pans and I got two nice old stainless pans of hers. They're Regal Ware "Duranel." I have no idea what that means, but she had them forever before she gave them to me.

                            When we moved into this house we found a really grungy cast iron skillet that the previous residents had left behind in the cabinet. Whether they meant to or not, it's mine now. (The house was empty for quite awhile before we moved in; if they missed it, they had opportunity to get it back.) It's a little smaller than the one I got from my mom, which is the perfect size for making pineapple upside down cake.

                            I just inherited a few pans from my aunt Edna, but I can't say they're old or beat-up. She had nice things and took good care of them.

                            My favorite is a huge saucepan from the cafeteria. The bottom of it is warped, so it sits weird on the burner (at the cafeteria it didn't matter because they were gas burners, but mine are electric). I think it's one of the ones I used to make the cream gravy in when I was cooking there in college, so that makes it at least an 8-quart size. We used to use a slightly smaller one that had its handle broken off for a water dish for the dog.

                            1. During college when I moved into my apartment, I was dumping some trash and noticed two pots sitting by the trash chute. Lacking any pans, I took both of them, and were surprised by how heavy they were. After some examination and cleaning, I discovered I had found a 4qt sauce pan and a 6qt stockpot from allclad's cop-r-chef line. They are old though, the handles aren't stainless steel and look brass-like (cop-r-chef is engraved on the underside of the handle, and allclad isn't engraved anywhere either (unless it's been worn away from use).

                              Anyways, the 4qt sauce pan still gets the most use out of me. Kind of a fait-tout pan for me. I can pan fry meat and then make the sauce in there, and it's big enough to make a stew or soup for a one-pot-wonder meal, and roast stuff in the oven.

                              1. jfood's mom was married in 1947 and received a set of club aluminum pots and pans. The saucier had a wood handle that after 40 years started to spin. When it spun with a hot cherry sauce in it that went all over jfood's legs, the pan was thrown out (probably not a good decision). What remained is a 7 quart sauce pot. Several hundred batches of sauce have been made in this pot and it is jfoods favorite pot in the kitchen.