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what are the best pots and pans????

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my husband is buying me a new set of pots and pans....nonstick? calphalon? copper?
which ones do you recommend????? and why

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  1. I asked this question not long ago on chowhound and am now happy I took the "hounds" advice. I really did not want nonstick but wasn't sure of what type of pots/pans I did want. So, I went to TJ Maxx,Ross,Marshall type stores and bought a few pots and pans to try out. I bought separates and eventually wound up with a set of stainless steel I really do like-Revereware copper bottoms. I use Bartenders Friend to clean them up and it works great. Great idea since I could buy what I really need and use rather than a set.

    2 Replies
    1. re: foodseek

      food seek - I have to agree with you on the Bartender's friend - that stuff works great. A Neighbor told us about it about a year ago and as a result our Calphalon pans which are nearly 10 years old look great. The Calphalon pans are great, they do a good job or distrubing heat, they stand the test of time. We don't have any non-stick pans - and we use them often to sear meat before roasting - easy clean up. All-Clad also gets good reviews, and I've been surprised by the following that Viking has - I've always known they make great appliances, but the cookware gets good reviews as well, the following review covers the calphalon pans we have and viking:

      another good post:

    2. It depends alot on wht kind of cooking you do. If you saute and brown foods then a typical nonstick will not suit you. rather a triple ply or a calphalon hard anodized or a nickle lined heavy copper( if you are willing to spend the price, it's worth it for at least a skillet, saute pan or fait tout) the interior of a saucepan is a lot less important that the thickness of the bottom. for stockpots, the bottom must be thick and the interior must be non reactive. Everyone should have a good cast iron frying pan for chicken and fish, and making a steak when it's bad outside. I have a number of hard anodized calphalon pans, a number of good copper ones and a couple of stainless ones along with an 9 " and an 11" cast iron from the early part of last century that are prized and babied(actually not babied, as they get hard use, but loved) and a host of other special purpose pots and pans. It just depends on what you're going to do with them.

      1. For my money try to find a set of Revere Ware, many brands are more expensive - few are as durable or reliable.

        I heavily use a pot that was a wedding gift to my parents (45 years ago...)

        1 Reply
        1. re: jbyoga

          New Revereware isn't even in the same ballpark as the old stuff. I have a late 40's 2 1/2 qt saucepan with a double boiler insert that was my mother's that still is in great shape and is handy as a pocket on a shirt. but I made the mistake of assuming that they were still being made the same way. I bought a 112" skillet, and aside from being about half the gauge of the old, the handle fell off after about 2 years. I woudn't but and new ones again. If you can find old ones they're okay, but even the old onels aren't thick enough to keep from developing hot spots.

        2. I rec a selection of varied materials rather than a set. Sets are for show kitchens.

          I love my Vollrath waterless cookware for veggie cooking. Use tiny bit (drops) of water, heat pan, then turn down to lowest possible heat, super-tightfitting lid creates vaccuum and cooks quickly with much less loss of nutrients flavor, color, etc. Expensive, but heirloom quality.

          Cast iron skillets (get old ones at a flea market and clean them up--Lodge are not high quality) are invaluable for saute-ing, frying, baking quick breads, toasting nuts and seeds, etc. The most frequently used pieces of cookware in my kitchen.

          Cast iron dutch oven for stews and braises. 8 to 12 qt size.

          Stainless steel omelette pan -8"

          1. check out the thread "5 Must Have Cookware" on this board.

            1. I recently purchased a set of stainless steel pots and pans..a brand by a popular Chef...I see the note about cleaning with Bartenders Friend...is that inside and out? I have quite a bit of trouble with food sticking...any hints?

              1 Reply
              1. re: debiash

                I use Bartenders Friend on both inside and outer shell of pots and pans including copper bottom. Before I "discovered" Bartender Friend I used to clean the copper bottom by letting it sit in apple cider vinegar then rinsing(works great if greasy).

              2. I agree with the previous posters. You might go with a few core pieces in a set, but choose the rest of your pots and pans individually. Most American cooks could use a couple of nonstick skillets, but be advised, you should not heat them up on high heat. Two factors no one else has mentioned is pan diameter and washability. Some cooktops (like mine) are too small to accomodate every size pan. Make sure what you buy will fit nicely on your stove or cooktop. Also, unless you plan to wash pans by hand for the foreseeable future, make sure they can go in the dishwasher.

                I agree Bartender's Friend cleans pans nicely. I also use with success Cameo.

                1. The answer to your question can't be answered until we know what type of cooking you do. I personally have a variety of pans that I use for different things, but if I was just starting out - this is what I would buy.

                  8' nonstick pan for frying eggs - recommend All Clad
                  12' stainless steel with lid - All Clad
                  Dutch Oven - Le Creuset
                  Stockpot/Spaghetti Pot - Emeril Non-stick

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: LisaSD

                    Lisa-- I'm currently in the market for a good stockpot, one that I'll keep long-term. What about the Emeril pot do you like, and what makes you recommend it? I'm off to Linens-n-Things today, and I might just grab one (WITH A COUPON!) if they have his stockpots there.

                    1. re: foxy fairy

                      There is no need to spend more then $40 for a 12 qt stock pot unless appearance is important to you. A stock pot does not need to have a thick bottom, as you do not fry or sauté in in. It only needs to be dimensionally stable with a tight fitting lid.

                      A pasta insert is nice, if you regularly cook more then 1 lb of pasta.

                      Outlet stores, TJMaxx and restaurant supply houses are great place to buy them, and you can save them money to were going to spend on the Emerilware for a really nice sauté or a great new pair of shoes.

                      I have a 8 and a 12 qt Revereware stockpots that I picked up as seconds for under $30.00 for the pair.

                      1. re: Kelli2006

                        Excellent advice. I would much rather the snazzy shoes or sautee pan and the basic stockpot. Thank you!

                  2. One of my first cookwear additions was a cast iron frying pan I got for $3.50 at a Farmers Market. Other than that, I've had a set of Revere Wear for over 20 years. They heat up beautifully, clean up easy and it comes with stock pot (large 2- 3 gallon pot), sauce pan with lit, two 3 quart pots, and frying pan. Lasted more than most relationships and god knows how many roommates. :0

                    1. 5 years ago my wife bought a set of Chef's Essentials hard anodized pans from QVC. I sneered, but soon fell in love. I use them at all levels of heat, because they have metal handles, I throw them in the oven at 500 f. All of them are still non-stick and clean with a swipe of a wash cloth. They have a lifetime replacement guarantee.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: davebough

                        i have a friend who loves Cook's Essentials from the Q. Their hard anodized line is called "technique", however. QVC has outstanding customer service, and the cookware prices are superb.
                        look for "Today's Special Value" in cookware sets - oftern arising pre-holiday season. you can get a daily email of that day's special value product....

                      2. All Clad stainless is alway a good bet. For nonstick, I prefer Berndes. They have a life time warranty and will replace pans, no questions asked.

                        1. Several people have mentioned Bartender's Friend -- where do you buy this?

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: pescetarian

                            Most grocery stores in our area(Charlotte NC) carry BKF. I have seen it some cookware stores as well. Good mild abrasive for lots of cleaning needs.

                          2. Owning a full set of Calphalon, I'd honestly steer you away from them. A few issues:

                            1. In the larger sizes, like the big saute panes, I've found they warp, and either develop a high spot in the middle, or a depression. They'll replace it, but after doing that 2-3 times, I've pretty much had it. No issues with the smaller sizes, though.
                            2. Over time, the anodizing will thin out, and you'll be down to bare aluminum. I've had this problem despite never letting acidic foods sit in the pots for any extended period of time, and again, they'll replace, but its a hassle.
                            3. Finally, it would be nice to throw the smaller pots/pans into the washer, which you can't do with the anodized aluminum.

                            My advice would be to go with a stainless clad aluminum line like All-Clad's (or copper cored, if you want to go big). I'd avoid the AC Ltd and master chef lines, which arethe black anodized and unanodised, respectively, for the same reason as Calphalon, #3, above.

                            The AC items I've bought have never warped, and as I replace the beat Calphalons, I'm shifting over the entire set.

                            Finally, get a couple non-sticks, for fish and eggs...maybe a big saute, and an omelet pan...

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: ChefBoyAreMe

                              i thought anodization was structural throughout the metal? i did not realize it would wear out or wear thin.

                              1. re: alkapal

                                No, it's just a hard surface coating. Anodizing, or is an electrolytic passivation process used to increase the thickness and density of the natural oxide layer on the surface of metal parts.

                                  1. re: alkapal

                                    No problem, my one and only self-identified reader fan!

                              2. re: ChefBoyAreMe

                                My All Clad LTD Griddle just warped yesterday. After checking it out on their web site thoroughly, it is aluminum indeed, just like the Calphalon. I think large pots and pans that are aluminum can warp if they are not very thick. This appeared to happen from heat. The LTD griddle and grills are 4.5 mm thick, versus 5 mm for the Paderno or 7 mm for the Sambonet disk bottoms, which are much smaller and don't appear to warp -- ever. Agreed. Go with stainless steel.

                              3. I'll agree with those who say no single brand or type of pan can meet all your cooking needs. Over the last forty years of cooking, I've gone through all sorts of pans. I'm still in love with Le Creuset for braising in the oven and cast iron for corn bread and chicken frying. Recently, DH and I had to replace a number of Calphalon and Emeril ware pans. We bought a new product: Copper Fusion by Chantal. It is NOT traditional copper; its name refers to the copper core fused between metal and a porcelain interior. We've been using it for about two months now. We LOVE it. It heats up relatively slowly but retains heat very well. It's stick resistant and does a great job with both browning and delicate, milk-based sauces and puddings. And, it looks terrific and is very easy to clean. Worth checking out.

                                1. eGullet has done a very nice article on the science of stovetop cookware design and materials. A worthwhile read for anyone spending money on a bunch of Pots N' Pans. The first part is the whys and wherefores.


                                  The Q&A session contains a lot of specific and not-so-specific recommendations about brands, types, materials, and pricepoints.


                                  To boil the advice down to a soundbite, in general, thick bottoms are better. And copper doesn't do any good unless it's at least 1/8 inch thick.

                                  RevereWare copper bottom is electroplated, and microscopicly thin. This copper plating has no practical effect on the cookware's performance on the stovetop; it's an appearance item only. I owned and used RevereWare for many years and was quite happy with it. At least I thought I was until I replaced it with some inexpensive aluminum-disk bottom cookware that cost about the same, (This: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000...) and performance-wise, it's a world apart. Good cookware won't magically make you a good cook, but will make it easier to do your best consistently.

                                  1. Iludra.

                                    I picked up the Kirkland 13 piece SS set from Costco last Christmas and it's excellent.
                                    I believe it's made by Kitchen Aid but sold under the Kirkland label and for the money it can't be beat.

                                    Here is a picture from the Canadian site:

                                    If I had no budget, I'd go with Paderno (I like the welded on handles. No rivets on the inside) or All Clad but I don't. So for about $200 I got a real nice set.
                                    I'd also recommend you get 1 non stick for making eggs and stuff at breakfast. Something big enough you can make pancakes and omelets and whatever. Good an versatile.


                                    1. lludra, I STRONGLY agree with posters who recommend NOT buying a set of cookware, but instead suggest you judiciously and slowly choose individual pieces that suit your cuisine and other personal priorities.

                                      I've had my own household for thirty years now. On several occasions, well meaning relatives have generously gifted me with cookware sets that they'd like to have. With those sets, I've generally ended up with a couple of items that I don't use (wasted storage space!) and without one or two pots or pans that I need.

                                      Every one of us here cooks differently, has different priorities for handling, storage and clean-up, and our kitchens are unique.

                                      For example, I love my cast iron and hear many cooks and chefs swear by it. But it may not be for the cook who has a back problem or, for other health reasons, can't lift heavy items; isn't interested in seasoning the pans regularly; or needs a vessel for tomato-based or other acidic foods.

                                      Another example, other than Lodge cast iron, I will not buy cookware that can't go in the dishwasher . I don't mind cleaning it by hand first, if it has some baked-on gunk, but I want my cooking utensils sterilized, and the only practical way I know how to do that is in my dishwasher.

                                      I looked at your profile and it seems that you like the kind of food I like to cook.

                                      Here are pieces I've chosen for myself and have come to love using, after finally deciding to donate the stuff that's not right for me.

                                      FYI, I have a high-BTU gas rangetop, but electric ovens.

                                      Also, I buy things that multi-task. My skillets, frying and saute pans are used on the burner, but also in the oven to roast meats, bake a corn bread, etc. I also don't want to buy tons of special cleaners or polishes, and I try to "clean green". The pans/pots I've ended up with I can scour with baking soda or kosher salt. Easy clean-up!

                                      1. A DeMeyere Atlantis stainless steel 2.6 quart saute pan.

                                      My best pan EVER; if I could, I'd marry the darn thing!!!

                                      The Atlantis line of Demeyere is pricey...more expensive than All Clad, but less expensive than Bourgeat and probably even Viking.

                                      But I can honestly say in this case, for a serious cook, you get what you pay for. It's a heavy, copper/silver/stainless interior that's clad in stainless steel. The cooking surface is lined with Silvinox, some space age concoction DeMeyere came up with that's durable like stainless, but cooks better, and is unbelievably easy to clean up. I never thought I would gush about a cooking utensil, but this one, I will. The handles are (invisibly) riveted and stay cool on the burner, but--warning--not in the oven. Puts a great sear on meats and caramelized veggies beautifully. If you're lucky like me, you'll find a non-damaged display sample at about 50 percent off. ;-) I like it so much, I'll pay retail if I have to for the next size up. I won't spend that kind of money for a sauce pan to simmer veggies in, though...so that's why I won't buy sets!

                                      2. Two Staub enameled cast iron Dutch ovens

                                      One 2-quart and one 5-quart. Great for slow-cooking on the burners or in the oven. I can brown meats in them and then move them to the oven; only one pan to clean up. The small one is great for cooking rice. Generally easy clean up. Worst case with sticky foods or some proteins, a brief soak and then a little rub with kosher salt or baking soda. I bought the Staub (instead of Le Creuset) because they had the metal handles that I can use at any temp in the oven.

                                      3. An All-Clad stainless flat bottomed open stir fry pan

                                      Another versatile pan I can use for stir fry, small batches of tomato sauce, roux-based sauces (rounded interior great when using a whisk), or even to bake round yeast- or quick-breads in the oven.

                                      4. An older Revere Ware 9 inch skillet. Some folks don't seem to think the newer Revere Ware is made as well as the old stuff, but I don't know. This I inherited from someone. Like the even heating of the copper bottom.

                                      5. Good old Lodge Cast Iron!

                                      I've got a round griddle I bought somewhere for about $9.95 that's so well seasoned by now that a fried egg will slide right off of it. I also have a large skillet/grill pan I use for burgers, to grill salmon, veggies, sandwiches, etc. Still one of the world's best bargains.

                                      The collection is rounded out with a few smaller sauce pans I kept from the sets...fine for simmering veggies, melting butter, etc.; an inexpensive Farberware stainless steel frying pan that, for some reason, makes better omelettes than any omelette pan I ever owned; and a couple of French ceramic covered casseroles that I also love for slow cooking, including roasting without the lids, in the oven.

                                      1. I bought a set of calphalon a few years back, and read that they wear thin. That's kind of depressing. I'm holding out for a red Le Creuset, maybe I'll get that 15" skillet for Festivus. I also believe that there is no one "set" for everything. No one brand can hit all the marks.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: sausagefinger

                                          For what it is worth, I recently bought a Demeyere Sauce Pan, and Falk Copper Saucier (different sizes). I like both Pans, the quality of each is excellent, as is the cooking performance. Since the Falk is virtually the same price as the Demeyere and is 2.5mm solid Copper bonded to Stainless, it seems to me the Falk makes more sense to be buying. I agree with the other posters, I have a different pots and pans for different cooking methods, I would not recommend buying a set.

                                        2. I don't think I have one complete set of anything. I have several All-Clad pans that I love; my 12" is the kitchen work horse. I have 2 Staub 51/2 and 7 Qt. A LeCruset Buffet Casserole, love, love it. Lodge cast iron there is a 10" 12" fry pan 12" chicken fryer, small square grill pan and the large 2 burner grill pan. I have just purchased one of the ceramic non-stick pans but I haven't used it enough to tell if I'm going to like it.
                                          I like being able to personalize my selection of pans to my needs.

                                          1. All-Clad Copper Core & Le Creuset anything ! (Williams-Sonoma)

                                            1. I love All Clad and Le Creuset. I have had a lot of my cookwear for about 12-15 years and looking at it, you'd think it's only a couple of years old. This is what I have. I have never felt I am missing a piece. It's mainly just my husband and I that I cook for(no children). Occasionally, a dinner party. If I had a large family, I would opt for a larger dutch oven or even a large stock pot.

                                              1qt saucier- all clad stainless
                                              2 qt saucier- all clad
                                              4 qt sauce pan- all clad
                                              5.5qt dutch oven- all clad
                                              8" fry pan- all clad nonstick
                                              10" fry pan- all clad nonstick
                                              12" saute pan- all clad
                                              5 qt dutch oven- le creuset

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: Gelato_in_Roma

                                                Gelato - I couldn't agree with you more; in fact, my most prized possession in my "skillet collection" is one from my late grandmother - an All-Clad circa '74 - I was just a mere child & I still today use it exclusively for good old-fashioned grilled cheese sandwiches, just the way she prepared them when I was a child. It has aged/seasoned well.

                                                By-the-way, I featured one of your favorite restaurants, Roaring Fork in Scottsdale last month. I'm normally not a dessert fan; however, I had one of the best desserts that I've ever expereinced there, the Hot Huckleberry Bread Pudding
                                                Drizzled with Huckleberry Sauce, Crème Anglaise And Vanilla Bean Ice Cream - it was truly devine !

                                                1. re: JayVaBeach

                                                  I had the bread pudding the last time I was there. Simply delicious.

                                              2. Different metals have different quality. Stainless steel is a hard and durable alloy but it does not conduct heat very well and therefore heats unevenly. Copper is considered as the best cookware material as it heats quickly and uniformly, making it best suited for braising and browning but being a soft metal, copper dents and scratches. Cast iron heats slowly and uniformly, and also cools down slowly but It requires some care, as it is prone to rusting, and food can get stuck to its surface.
                                                For this reason, most cookware pots and pans are not made of just one metal, but from a combination of metals to create a more functional product. Considering the qualities of each metal you can decide which pots and pans are best for you.

                                                Here are two links that might be useful:

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: Veselin

                                                  I think many of us are too involved with the copper/stainless/cast iron way of thinking. Cookware that combines the best qualities of all types is titanium.I have a few pieces (12" fry pan and a saucier) by a company called Titanium Elite. The pans are fantastic - truly non-stick, impervious to high heat, and clean with a wipe. I don't know much about the particulars of the cookware except that they are somewhat pricy.

                                                2. I also agree with the a la carte approach. I've been slowly replacing older sets and I've been choosing pieces that I know I will use. So far I've purchased clad stainless steel, enameled cast iron, bare cast iron, non-stick (for eggs only) and one piece of blue steel. I've been enjoying buying a good piece at a time.
                                                  I also agree with all the other posters - you need to consider what kind of cooking you do. If you could change anything about any of your current cookware now's the time to think about it and bast your choices on your previous experience and cooking style. Have fun!