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Dec 26, 2009 06:57 AM

anodized aluminum with stainless interior vs multi-ply cookware

searching for a new 5 quart saute pan. I had decided on Cusinart multi-ply(like the price and lip over all clad) then saw a Cusinart anodized with a stainless interior. Now wondering what the actual benefit of the outer stainless ply on the multi-ply is other than looks? Since aluminum is the major heat conductor for both, would the anodized with stainless interior be just as good, or maybe even better given the durability ? the pans are identical, same warranty etc, the aluminum goes up the sides to the top of the pan in both cases.
thanks for any opinions

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  1. You are correct, the anodized aluminum with stainless interior should be just as good as the fully-clad brands. Keep in mind that anodized aluminum can be hard to keep clean/scratch free (it often actually stratches other things and leaves traces of them on itself, like pencil lead).

    If I were shopping for new cookware I would be looking at aluminum with stainless inside, and save 60%+ over the fully clad companies.

    1. Jan,

      The anodized aluminum saute pan you describe basically has two layer: an aluminum exterior layer and a 18/10 stainless steel interior cooking layer. The mutli ply is a triply of stainless steel - aluminum - stainless steel. As you said, the aluminum is the heat conductor metal here. In term of evenly heating, they will probably be about the same, if anything the anodized one is better because it has a thicker layer of aluminum. In addition, the anodized aluminum one certainly will have faster heat response as you can guess. The triply one will remain more attractive in the long run. The anodized aluminum surface will eventually get scratched up, mostly the bottom of the pan. This will leave bare aluminum exposed. It will look old and will not be auto dishwasher safe at that point. This will not alter cooking performance. Whereas the triply one, you can always buff and shine to make it looks new.

      I think if you are looking for purely performance the anodized one may be a bit better because of the faster heat response, but if you are looking for a pan to look good nd dishwasher 5+ years down the road, then the triply one is better.

      1. jann100333, are there really that many "janns"?

        On most multi-ply pans (there are exceptions, but they are rare) the thickness of the "sandwich filling" going up the side of the pan is lass than a millimeter. If you took a pair of measurement calipers and measured the thickness of the full sandwich, it usually will be less than 2 mm, part of which will be the outer stainless steel layers.

        Now, consider the thickness of the bottom disk on disk-bottom saucepans. If the disk is mostly copper, it will be 2 mm - 2.5 mm thick, but if it is mostly aluminum, it will be 5 mm to 7 mm thick, because aluminum, while a more efficient heat conductor than stainless steel, is much less efficient than copper, and the additional thickness of aluminum is necessary to spead heat as fast and as evenly as the thinner layer of copper. The glass-half-empty version of the previous sentence is that a whole lot of pan engineers have decided that 2 mm of aluminum is insufficient thickness for a good heat-spreading disk bottom on a pan. A fortiori, then, one millimeter of or less of aluminum (as found in the middle layer of most multi-ply pans) is even less efficient.

        For structural integrity reasons, the anodized aluminum pan with a stainless steel lining is likely to sport a much greater thickness in its aluminum portion than the thickness of the aluminum "sandwich filling" layer up the sides of most (not all) mullti-ply pans, so -- in general -- one should expect that the anodized pan should heat more evenly overall.