HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >


I think it is time i get real pot and pans...

Hi guys,

i'm rather young but i like to say i spend plenty of time in the kitchen. i occasionally cook for some friends but usually just for the two of us. I currently have a few pots and pans i've collected in random stores, parents, boyfriend, roommates. since i am well beyond my college years and have a steady income and a fiance to boot, i think it is time (not waiting on gift registry), to get some real cookware, that will hopefully not take my entire paycheck *_*

things i make/ like to make:

omlettes a la julia, w/o spatula - do i need an omlette pan?
crepes - crepe pan?
caramels - heavy bottomed or thin?
soups - i think i'm ok, but like to have an extra
meats and searing fish - oven proof 10-12 inch?
hopefully a skillet or pan deep enough for pasta sauce and tossing of..
and few good handy sauce pans with lid

what do you think of the aluminum all-clad set? do you think i should get something with copper in the middle? noticeable difference? worth the price?


this is cheaper though~ but not the all clad stuff i've always dreamed of...

thanks guys!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. What I'm down to after 30+ years of cooking:
    - 8 inch non-stick aluminum pan (for eggs)
    - 3 qt s/s clad dutch oven, being replaced by enameled cast iron (searing, sweating, one pot dishes)
    - 1 qt s/s clad pot (for sauces)
    - 4 qt s/s clad pot (for cooking pasta)
    - 4 qt crock pot (slow cooking meats)
    - 8 qt Presto s/s pressure cooker (also for searing and sweating - easy to clean)

    I rarely use my 12 inch All Clad skillet - splatters everywhere, sometimes hard to clean. IMO low sided skillets/fry pans are more suited for chefs in a professional kitchen.
    I would like All Clad pots because their construction doesn't scorch as easily, but they are now hideously expensive.

    3 Replies
    1. re: DiveFan

      First, a shopping tip: you can go here and get "seconds" on All-Clad from the manufacturer for great savings. I've done this for years and years and, honestly, can't see any difference between my "bought new from Cooking.com" and "bought seconds from all-clad" stainless, at all.


      Next, for your frying needs, get a good, old, pre-1960 cast iron skillet off of Ebay. I'd suggest a Griswold (either a large or small logo smooth-bottomed skillet) or a WagnerWare (slightly heavier than Griswold, if that matters. I LOVE Griswold and have an entire set of the large logos, myself!) instead of buying a stupendously heavy, scratchy, rough new cast iron pan. The older pans were made of higher quality iron ore (thus much lighter) and they were "machined" by hand (finished off smoothly), something that you'll never see these days. When properly seasoned, they can be smooth as black glass and nearly as non-stick as (toxic) Teflon. For two of you, a good old #8 (actually, about 10") should be fine, and it's the most ubiquitous size, as well....

      I'm 53 and have been collecting good cookware for 30 years, and so, yeah, I certainly have way more than I need, at this point. But I remember the frustration of cooking in Goodwill dented aluminum saucepans that skittered across the stove...I remember never having anything big enough to make soup in....I remember tossing out more "cheap" pans that didn't survive just a couple of years' use than I care to think about.

      Go for quality, if you can. A three quart saucepan w/lid is the best compromise size, right now, I'd say. All-clad IS heavy, and they're just dreamy for caramelizing or reduction, because they have no hot spots and maintain an even temperature. Maybe add the 2 quart saucier, as well, if you can. OR get a 4qt. saucepan and the 2 quart saucier.

      You can get buy with a cheaper stock pot as long as you don't mind keeping an eye on the temperatures. Both my stock pots are just Revereware, bought years ago at an outlet store (a 10qt and a 12 quart) and they work fine, and I make soup nearly every week. An all-clad stockpot over 8 qts in size would require Hercules to lift, when full of soup....

      If you want an omelet pan, why not check out the Le Creuset models--the used ones, with the long, wooden handles--that often sell for as little as $20--$25 on Ebay? I have two, and although they're a bit *heavy*---Julia uses carbon steel in her early omelet shows, instead--they certainly have the correct shape and the long handle makes the flipping and shaking motions easy to accomplish.

      Your good cast iron skillet is the BEST thing on earth for searing meats and fish, so you'd already have that covered....unless you want to add acidic ingredients like tomatoes or wine.

      You may want to spring for a second-hand (or outlet purchased; the prices are often half of retail) Le Creuset "French Oven" for your braising and roasting needs, as they're really perfect for this and will last a lifetime.

      1. re: Beckyleach

        thanks for the ebay tips. that reminds me, that i can get some bigger items and things from ebay and even my local craigslist.

        thank for the resource for all-clad seconds. it is much cheaper and somehow feels more earnest.

        stainless is good enough no? should i invest in one of those all clads with the copper cores? would it benefit from quick saute, candy making, pan frying or is it better for slowly reduced sauces and caramelized onions? in otherwords, how does it responds to say- if i'm trying to making burnt sugar, would it continue to cook once i take it off the heat or is it more responsive vs. stainless?

        it's true, i'm crazy..

        now if i only have a viking range =)

        1. re: Beckyleach

          KNow what you are looking for and *DO* shop thift stores. If you can find a small local one (my *best* deals come from a local church one) you can get some great steals. I got a 12 in griswold for $2 and they were glad I took it, it was So heavy for them.

          If I had to place all my money in one pot, from your needs/likes to cook, I would go for a great saute pan. Pick larger over smaller, as you can cook smaller but you can't cook larger.

          2nd place money: a good sized enameled cast iron dutch oven. I got a Crueset "starter" kit OMG over 30 years ago and and lost the dutch oven in a house fire about 15 years ago. It is still almost the thing I miss the most.

      2. I would only recommend that you not get a 'set' of anything.

        You'll want some of this, one of that, this thing in two sizes in that style of pan, and if you spend big bucks on a set of ______ you'll just wish you had something lighter/nonstick/bigger/smaller/pyrex/whatever. It may not be the kind of assortment that looks good hanging on a rack in your kitche, but as you gain more experience you'll likely see that x works for this, z works for that, and so on. But mostly you don't want to end up with some expensive pots or pans that you have no use for.
        I was that way with tableware too. I hated sets, I always ended up with a bunch of damn matching cups and saucers that I DID not want or use.

        1 Reply
        1. re: EWSflash

          I got a set of anolon pro cookware. I new I wanted most of my saucepans non-stick, and I took the opportunity to have a play with them in a dept. store, then bought them at 1/3rd of the price online. I got a small fry pan and a stir fry too, which don't get used as much, but the overall value is still very good, and I'm very happy.

          If you can save money by getting a set, then it could be wise to do so.

          It sounds like you might benefit from a copper pan too for the caramel
          meat and fish, definitely recommend cast iron, I use enamelled LC.
          skillet for pasta: don't bother, just use one of the saucepans.
          I doubt you need an omelette pan either
          Crepe pan; if you make a lot then I'd say yes. you can make them in other ways, but they'd be better, and the ones I've seen are not particualrly expensive.

          Other things you may want to look at is a dutch oven, and a cheap, big, thin stainless steel stock pot, for stews and things.

          As for the copper lining, I've heard there wasn't much difference. There's a very good article here: http://www.cookingforengineers.com/ar...
          And I've seen tests of various brands. Thick (2.5/3.5) copper is good for gaining heat quickly and cooling quickly, with thick aluminium probably the next best.
          But remember, this is good for some applications, not so good for others

        2. I am deciding what to do about eggs via Julia, and in reading her cookbook, especially the section on equipment, I have noticed the following:
          * Julia mentions that the nonstick pans are perfect for eggs, crepes, omelets, and hash browns
          * The scrambled egg recipe recommends a heavy-weight nonstick saucepan or skilled 7-8 inches in diameter
          * Omelets should be made in a pan 7-8 inches in diameter, have a long handle, and straight-sloping sides 2 inches deep
          * Crepes should be made in an iron skilled or a crepe pan 6.5-7 inches in diameter

          She then has an illustration of all the types of skillets: a french crepe pan, an omelet pan (which looks like a crepe pan but with higher sides), and an american skillet (which looks like a regular cast iron thing with a short handle).

          However, in the accompanying illustrations to crepe making...the pans are the regular american skillet!

          Therefore, I have decided on what she calls an omelet pan for all my eggs, though in reality, it is merely a 7-8 inch heavy nonstick fry pan with 2 inch sides and a long handle.

          2 Replies
          1. re: E_M

            Unless I find a nice crepe pan with slightly higher sides! That's the thing...none of these dimensions are standard. So I've seen crepe pans with slightly higher sides, some with no sides, etc. This is why it's best to buy individual items. Sometimes the best sizes for you can be found across many manufacturers.

            1. re: E_M

              I do all these things easily in a 10" nonstick saute pan, but I have the 8" too because Calphalon sells a 2-pack (always during holiday season, sometimes other times too) at places like Bed,Bath&Beyond. It's around $40-50, maybe less with a coupon, which is leass than the regular price of the 10". Sometimes it's a 10"/12" set. Sooner or later, I know I'll goof and ruin one, so there's always a spare set put away. I use the pan almost daily, and usually have to junk it after 3-4 years.

            2. i went out and tried holding all kinds of pans. on an impulse and because i got a dandy gift card from sur la table i got:

              1 quart sauce pan, all clad MC2 - it is on sale because this style is going out. i like it. very cute... i made a quick chocolate custard sauce it turned out well, however, i didn't realize the interior is so delicate that my wire whisk scratched the insides of the pot. I hope it's only visual and not permanent damage. does this mean i have to get one of those silicone coated whisks? i don't like them, they never seem clean enough..

              2 quart saucier, sur la table brand, i like the shape and think it will work well with caramel and candy making since the bottom edges are rounded. i made a caramel sauce last night, it was fantastic, no burning, i didn't need to stare at the sugar pot like it is giving birth... =) woohoo! although i wonder if i would be better off with a copper based version of the same pan (3x of the price though).

              i got a #10 grisgold cast iron on ebay. please elaborate on the cast iron (as i've never used one before) - i can't use anything acidic or wine? does it mean i can't deglaze on this? i wish to re-season this when i get it in the mail next week. any tips?

              Interim, I’m thinking for getting this set from WS, it turns out to be a good deal: http://www.williams-sonoma.com/produc...

              and this one, i think it will serve great for pasta tossing and stir fries.

              on my wish list is another 3 or 4 qt sauce pan, a Staub ~6 qt and a chocolate tempering machine.

              Thank you guys, you are awesome.

              7 Replies
              1. re: jeniyo

                i second the 4 qt saute/simmer pan from all-clad. it is a williams-sonoma exclusive and is a pretty good value for all-clad. i used it last week to make a quick angel hair dish with shrimp, fresh tomatoes, spinach and wine. i also use it for quick stir-fries when i am too lazy to look for the wok.

                1. re: jeniyo

                  Uh oh... I'm worried about your pan. Did it come with instructions? I should have said something about that. I got silicone stuff when I got my new pans, it's kind of necessary when you have non-stick pans.

                  The Griswold, I've heard good things about, I think it depends on the age. I think they'er unenameled, so yeah, it needs to be seasoned occasionally, and you can't really cook acidic things like tomatoes. There's a few good topics about seasoning cast iron that you should look at first, and maybe ask questions after.

                  Good luck!

                  1. re: Soop

                    the saucepan i got is NOT non-stick, it is also aluminum/stainless. there were just streaks across the bottom of the shiny polished pan.

                    1. re: jeniyo

                      Phew, that's fine then. It's enamelled/Hard anodised/non-stick you need to be careful with.

                      1. re: jeniyo

                        Jeniyo, your All-Clad 1 quart saucepan is just fine. Stainless steel can always be scratched by metal utensils but that is how it is supposed to react. It will in no way hurt the performance of the saucepan--it just means that it is being used instead of simply looking pretty on a pot rack. Happy cooking!

                      2. re: Soop

                        Is your #10 Gris a large logo or small logo? Not that it'll make MUCH difference, but the LL pans are older and often *slightly* higher quality.

                        Yes, you will want to avoid tomatoes and wine and more than a dash of vinegar, but otherwise anything goes and you'll find--once properly seasoned (ignore those who say season on low heat; you MUST hit the smoke point on your oil or the carbonization that is the hallmark of proper seasoning won't occur. Your pan should go in the oven wet and oily, but by the time you're through seasoning it should be dry and black)--that the seasoning should last and last. Just avoid soap when washing (I used hot water and a plastic scrubby for most clean up. Really difficult jobs are handled by sprinkling kosher salt and a little oil in the pan and scrubbing with a paper towel) and remember lightly oil the interior of the skillet till your next use.

                        1. re: Beckyleach

                          i think it is the smaller logo ones. (still waiting for the mailman). the guy that sold it to me said that it is from the 40's...

                          thanks for the seasoning tips. i live in a small condo so hopefully i won't smoke out the neighbors!

                    2. The sets sold at Costco get good reviews on this board. They are a bargain, if you really want a matched set.

                      I like my 4-qt covered chef's pan, also called a saucier. It is like a wok with a flatter bottom. It is ideal for braised greens, soups, and stews. It doubles as a wok, of course. But I have also sauteed in it, and even used it as a pasta pot. The helper handle is a bonus. In a kitchen where space is at a premium, a chef's pan is ideal.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: greygarious

                        i was very tempted to get the costco set... but it wouldn't all fit in the house... =)

                      2. For saucepans, the Tramontina tri-ply set you can get at Wal-Mart gets very good reviews by Cooks Illustrated. They cut one of them in half and the thickness of metal difference between them and a corresponding AC pan was minor.

                        I've used them at home for the past month and they are great pans - and much much less expensive than All-Clad, which equivalent performance. I have the 2qt and 4qt saucepans..

                        I've never heard copper described as necessary - its an improvement in terms of conduction, but the price differnence is so large that most reviewers tend to say no thanks..

                        I wouldn't go after a set though.. but if I had to describe what I've ended up with, here it is - and some of these I use far more than others..

                        1, 2 and 4 qt tri-play saucepans, a small non-stick covered saucepan (2 qt I think) for rice and the like, a couple of stainless skillets (10" and 12"), a cast iron skillet, a 3-qt saute pan, an enamled dutch oven (5.5 qt, I splurged and got a Le Crueset at Tuesday Morning, but cheaper ones get good reviews as well), and a big stockpot for boiling water for pasta and the like..

                        1. This is what I got
                          Except I got a stir-fry instead of that small pan (I'd rather have the small pan).
                          But I'm very, very happy with these pans. They heat up very quickly (somehow they boil water nearly as fast as my kettle*) are incredibly non-stick, and thus very easy to clean, and I don't even need to use oil to fry an egg.
                          I think they look smashing too. I paid about the same price for them (£90) when they were over £250 in the shops.

                          *I put some water in the pan and some in the kettle to speed up the boiling time

                          1. Here is what I have and I find it suits all of my needs:

                            Small wagner ware cast iron skillet
                            all clad french skillet ( i use a splatter screen but it's not a big deal)
                            4 quart all clad soup pot also doubles as large saucepan for caramel, sugar based things and deep frying & steamer insert for it
                            le creuset dutch oven
                            2 quart all clad saute pan sometimes doubles as a saucepan
                            2 quart all clad saucier
                            1 carbon steel wok
                            1.5 quart cuisinart multi clad saucepan - always useful to have a small one for re heating, oatmeal, etc
                            3 quart cuisinart multi clad sauteuse pan which is fantastic and kept me away from the $399 mauviel that was calling to me
                            12" calphalon tri ply everyday pan that I can't say enough about - roaster, stovetop, very versatile and it's only flaw is that it's not induction ready
                            stock pot because i make all of my own stocks/lobster/corn onthe cob
                            cast iron grill pan
                            7 inch blue steel crepe pan - also perfect for omelettes
                            4 commercial quality half and quarter sheets which are invaluable in the kitchen for baking, roasting, drying pasta, etc
                            2 le creuset stoneware baking dishes for lasagne, and other things
                            6 apilco gratin dishes kind of optional but i'm at that place in my collection
                            bread loaf pans, flan dishes, cooling racks and stainless steel mixing bowls which are essential and double up as double boilers also essential if you plan to do chocolate
                            that's about it and there is not a thing i have found yet that i can't manage, which in a way is sad because it's seriously stopping my compulsive kitchen buying!

                            start with the best quality you can afford and the basic pieces and build and most of all - keep enjoying your kitchen!