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Buying a new set of cookware... what are your favs?

My random collection of pots and pans I've collected since college is on its way out so I'm doing some spring cleaning and opting to buy a brand-new set. I like non-stick just for ease of cleaning, but I'm not sure if I should go for stainless steel for endurance. I'm looking to get an 8-10 piece set for around $400-500, so what do you guys suggest?

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  1. I personally really like the Cuisinart Multiclad line. The price for a 12 piece set ranges from $199 to $299 on Amazon. (You can frequently find the lower price on weekends.) The cookware is well-constructed, cooks wonderfully and cleans up easily. I haven't had any problems with food sticking on it, as long as I pre-heat the pan properly. I also own a set on non-stick cookware which I don't use as often. They are Anolon Titanium and perform extremely well. I went with sets in both cases because I found them for excellent prices. If you don't need all the sizes, I'd suggest picking up individual pieces as necessary.

    1. look out for the tramontina made tri-ply set at costco.

      its branded as Kirkland and on the box it will say made in brazil

      1. For a set with both uncoated and non-stick (fry pans), Consumer Reports top-rated Calphalonm Simply Calphalon.

        For all uncoated, the pick was KitchenAid Gourmet Essentials Brushed Stainless.

        1. i'd suggest not getting a set. different cookware does different things better. You'd want a few cast iron pieces including at least one enameled cast iron. you'll also need some stainless with either a disk or sandwiched aluminum or copper from the likes of sitram, pedrano or all clad. These will stick. If you season the cast iron, though, it's almost non stick, but you can always pick up a cheapie non stick fying pan cheap. You don't need non stick sauce pans. Copper is out of your budget, though it's the best conducter. Cast iron takes longer to heat up but stays hot and cooks evenly. Get a good size saute pan, at least 3 quarts, with a sandwiched sluminum bottom from Sitram or all clad and a cast iron 10 inch frying pan and maybe a smaller one too (i'd recommend getting a lodge cast iron for about $25 and seasoning it) you'll also need a couple sauce pans, including one with a steamer insert, a braiser that can go from stovetop intio the oven (enameled cast iron like le creuset or staub are great for this). if you like making soup, you should also budget for a stock pot, at least 12 gallons.

          11 Replies
          1. re: chuckl

            > you should also budget for a stock pot, at least 12 gallons.

            More like 12 quarts... a 12 gallon stock pot is 48 quarts, which is huge.

            Cast iron is always a good value, and teaches patience ;-)

            1. re: ttriche

              What you can't lug around 100+ pounds of pot and stock? Lol. I am with the Cuisinart Multiclad rec earlier and the price leaves you with cash to buy a couple cast iron pieces and a dutch oven if you shop well. I got 12 or 14 pieces and use every one of them. They look good and keep nicely.

                1. re: ttriche

                  My father has a 25 gallon iron cauldron which I expect to inherit. We use it to cook Brunswick stew in once a year, but there isn't anything you could really substitute. Yes, it is heavy, we typically use 2 men to move it.

                2. re: chuckl

                  I'm starting to agree with you, Chuck. I can't seem to find a set that fits what I need, so I'm going to try and pick and choose some pieces. A nice cast iron skillet, a non-stick restaurant pan, a good deep stainless steel stockpot. I'd love to get a nice 5 qt le creuset pot, but theyre so expensive. Any suggestions on a more frugal replacement?

                  1. re: reubensandperrier

                    > Any suggestions on a more frugal replacement?

                    Lodge Colors enameled cast iron. Very difficult for most people to tell one apart from a Le Creuset of the same color; it's the same shape, weight, and finish, and thus far my 6qt has held up very well. It was $50 at Amazon. Highly recommended for value.

                    1. re: reubensandperrier

                      The Tramontina dutch oven from Walmart is supposed to be nice - at least according to Cooks Illustrated. I'm still waiting for mine.

                      1. re: reubensandperrier

                        a 5 qt is a good idea, maybe essential. It's a versatile size. Make sure you get one that can go from stovetop to oven. I like to use mine (i have and LC) for braising mostly.

                        1. re: reubensandperrier

                          I am madly in love with my 6-quart Mario Batali enameled Dutch oven. Very similar to Le Creuset but much cheaper (I have a lot of creuset and copco enameled iron pots as well). Plenty of room for a lamb shank or a few pounds of short ribs, very heavy and easy to clean.

                          1. re: Freida

                            I actually ended up buying the Batali 6qt dutch oven after reading some great reviews on it in the boards. I am so happy I did it! It rocks! Great heat distribution, nice and heavy and just overall fantastic.

                        2. re: chuckl

                          I 100% agree with Chuck. When I worked in Product Information for Williams-Sonoma (and in the test kitchen), we always told people that the best "set" of cookware isn't a set at all. If you walk into any famous chef's kitchen, he's got a little of everything. Each type of pan has a purpose and each type of pan MATERIAL has a purpose.

                          If you MUST have a set, I always used to recommend All-Clad because it's anodized aluminum on the exterior (which is quick-heating) and 18/10 stainless on the interior (which is even-heating and an easy clean-up over anodized aluminum).

                          That said, I have and All-Clad saucepan, a Calphalon stock pot, a small copper saucepan for sauces (i.e. hollandaise or bechamel), a non-stick skillet, a cast iron skillet, a Le Creuset enameled iron dutch oven, an aluminum roasting pan...etc. You get the drill.

                          If you are willing to invest in "lifetime" cookware, I really think it should be the best for each job and not just a complete set that looks pretty hanging over your work island, but that underperforms in a clinch.

                        3. I have a mix of All-clad and restaurant supply store stuff..

                          You can often find seconds for All-Clad at discount home store chains