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Oct 8, 2007 11:53 AM

Looking For A Great Every Day Pot

We’ve been using our same non-stick steel pot for ages. But quite a lot of the non-stick has come up over time and we’ve become concerned realizing that probably all that missing non-stick has ended up in our stomachs.

We want to buy a new pot but are trying to decide what would be best for us. We have no dishwasher, so we like the easy clean aspect of non-stick. Something that doesn’t take a ton of care would be great (I have an awesome cast iron skillet that I love but it seems to demand more attention than I have to give on a piece of cookware). We use our pot pretty much every day, often more than once, so we need something to stand up to that kind of use.

We can’t spend a ton on the fanciest pot available, but we’re willing to buy something that’ll last. We had bought a cheap stainless steel (not a non-stick) before but it very quickly got rice burned into it. We spent a lot of time and effort cleaning it back to usefulness, just for it to get all burned up again so we threw it out. So, we'll spend the money if we have to.

Someone mentioned copper cookware, but I don’t know anything about it. And is Calphalon worth the cost? Will it not scratch up like our non-stick?

I guess a smart investment would be to buy some cooking utensils that don’t scrape up the non-stick…

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  1. You've mentioned a few things: easy clean up, durability, and you say you use it everyday, so versatility is an issue as well?

    I would suggest a clad or sandwiched bottom stainless steel saute pan. The one with straight sides, not curved like an omelette pan. There are invariably going to be some responses here that mention going for a specialized pan of some sort; whether that be anodized, non-stick, etc. Don't listen to them ;-) A solid clad stainless steel pan like Sitram or All-Clad is a great bet. Sitram is cheaper than All-Clad and many say MUCH better than All-Clad. Look for a copper disk sandwiched to the bottom. The Sitram has a completely encased copper disk so you don' have to worry about the copper reacting with detergents in the event you ever get a dishwasher.

    Don't get a Calphalon anodized. It will scratch. Don't get copper, you're going to be spending a bundle.

    4 Replies
    1. re: HaagenDazs

      i agree 110% - the clad pan is what you want. easy to clean, conducts heat very well, but doesn't hold it like cast-iron (which is great for some applications, but not so great for others).

      in addition to the all-clad and sitram, calphalon also does a line of stainless-aluminum-stainless pots. i have a set and they are really great - i'd argue that the quality is the same as all-clad, albeit with a much better price.

      just stay away from the straight aluminum calphalon, as the person above suggested... it will look like hell in a year, unless you really baby it.

      1. re: missfunkysoul

        agree with the previous comments. the most versatile pan i own is an all clad 3.5 quart saute pan. plenty big enough to make sauce and sear meat, and you can put it in your oven to finish. It cleans up pretty easily too.

      2. re: HaagenDazs

        I love my Berndes cookware -- it's nonstick, but not coated. It's made by some kind of unique process that makes it incredibly tough. I've had it for about 12 years, and no peeling. It's completely oven/broiler proof and cleans in a blink. I still keep a cast-iron skillet for searing meat, making cornbread, etc., but the Berndes has been the workhorse in my kitchen for a long time.

        1. re: pikawicca

          I agree. I have about three Berndes pans ( from TJ Max) which are non stick, and they are great. I do love my stainless though, and the 3.5 guart all clad saute pan is wonderful.

      3. What size pot is your current non-stick one?

        1. Copper is a great cooking material, but it's very expensive and requires a lot of maintenance.

          Non-stick has its advantages, including cleanup, but the lining will eventually wear out. IMHO it should be considered disposable cookware.

          Calphalon is pretty good stuff. I own several pieces of their commercial hard-anodized cookware (now discontinued) that get a lot of hard use, and have never had a problem with scratching. IMHO it's not worth the retail price, but Amazon has a few pieces at ridiculous discounts. For example, the 2.5 quart saucepan (MSRP $120) is going for $20 bucks right now. If that's a good size for you, it might be just the ticket.

          Another option is good stainless. Make sure it's heavy-gauge steel, and make sure there's an aluminum or copper "sandwich" in the bottom. The main reason things burn in cheap pots is that the heat is not distributed evenly; heavier steel and a layer of more conductive metal will help prevent this.

          Last, but certainly not least, consider enamelled cast iron. Very even heating, the enamel is low-maintenance, and it should last a lifetime. The pots I use more often than any others are Le Creuset round french ovens. Not cheap, but definitely good stuff.

          5 Replies
          1. re: alanbarnes

            I thought of enameled too, but just as a warning to zep, they are quite obviously heavy and can be a burden to wash by hand everyday.

            Calphalon is good, yes, I have some myself, but it's not for very heavy duty use, IMO. It will scratch if you use metal utensils, or if you stack things on top of it. If you use plastic whisks, great... but it's not my thing.

            1. re: HaagenDazs

              Is your Calphalon from the "commercial hard anodized" line or one of the others? I don't chip debris off the bottom with a cold chisel, but I don't baby the stuff, either. Metal spatulas, whisks, spoons, etc. don't cause enough scratching to bother me. They're not the best pans I own, but they're the best $20 pans I own.

              You're absolutely right that enamelled is very heavy. If you have limited upper body strength or joint/muscle problems, or if you are buying a monster-sized pot, the weight has the potential to cause problems. (Had a friend who developed carpal tunnel syndrome and had to give up using hers.) Even if you can carry the stuff around easily, you still don't want to drop it on your foot.

              As to stainless, I'm all in favor. I get mine at the local restaurant supply. Generally much less expensive than comparable quality stuff from a department store. And you know it's made to stand up to heavy use.

              1. re: HaagenDazs

                My enameled cast iron Le Creuset is heavy, but it's my favorite and it's so easy to clean.

                1. re: HaagenDazs

                  This is exactly why I asked what size pot the OP is writing about. If it's a 2 or 3 qt. something or other, an enameled cast iron might not be too heavy. If it's a 6 quart pot of some kind, it might well be. If it's actually a skillet of some kind all sorts of different considerations come into play.

                2. re: alanbarnes

                  I second the recommendation on the Calphalon Commercial anodized aluminum 2.5 saucepan. It has a bigger cooking surface and is a bit more shallow the normal saucepans, so you can use it for a saute pan, sauce pan, or even a stew, and put it in the oven. And only $20 on amazon. (the "sale" ends today, but every Friday (one day sale) the price on the 2.5 shallow sauce pan drops to $20-25 from the "normal" price of $30.

                3. I've really loved my old RevereWare for even heat and easy cleanup without any coating. There's a recent thread, not specifically about this, but talking a little about the durability of RevereWare.

                  If you don't have an arm and a leg to spend, try eBay for some older Revere. The pots are workhorses of the highest order. Stainless steel, with a copper wrapped bottom. Can't speak for the newer stuff; have heard it's not as good.

                  1. after reading all the comments, i have this to say. if you are buying one pot, enamelled cast iron is the way to go. its heavy but the easy clean up, durability far outweighs the cons. you will probably have it for life compared to non stick which someone mentioned is not very long lasting.heavy stainless is good but i would recommend the cast iron even over that. i have all clad, cast iron and some calphalon for specific tasks. if i had just one pot to buy the cast iron would be the one.