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Need to replace one often used pan.. suggestions

Hello chowhounds!

I'm currently in an apartment with a mix mash of pots and pans. One pan (either 10 or 12inch) is warmed and needs to be replaced. This is currently a nonstick pan and is used for everything from sauteing to making an omelete. The sides have a small slope which I believe means it may be an omelette pan.. I don't know the set was already in place as it was my gf.

In any case, it is need of being replaced. We have an electric range (with the coils) and want something that does a good job, doesn't cost an arm and a leg (ahem All-Clad), isn't very heavy, conducts heat thoroughly and will last. I don't know if non-stick teflon matters or if stainless steel wrapped around copper/aluminum would be best. I have a huge cast iron pre-seasoned Lodge, though I've not used it yet because I hear you still need to season it and I don't want to attempt to burn down the house just yet (I only have shortening).

What have people experienced? I think the highest I'd be willing to go would be a Tri-Ply Calphalon and taht is still 80-90 bucks. I don't think I want to spend that much right now and so looking for suggestions for what quality I can get for maybe half that much. Thanks a bunch.

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  1. burgeoningfoodie, are you close to a Tuesday Morning outlet store? Tuesday Morning usually has close-out or discontinued Berndes cookware, which would be a good match for what you express as your needs. There are several lines of Berndes, and the made-in-Germany ones are better than the made-in-China ones, but the latter are pretty good in their own right, and very affordable.

    Somebody else will have to step in on the nonstick issue, as we have ever seen the point. We have not a single "nonstick" (that is, Teflon, Silverstone, etc.) pot or pan in our household, and never have had any desire for one. (We do have cast iron, though.)

    1. Season that Lodge! You don't need anything other than shortening and you don't need extremely high heat. That one pan should do for everything you mention except omelets. Then go out and get yourself a non-stick cheapie. I've had a Wearever that's held it's non-stick finish for a surprising number of years now, but I make practically nothing in it other than eggs and an occasional low-fat fish filet.

      1. foodie, the following is stainless, not non-stick. I've recommended this line on here before as something I think is an exceptional value, and that is Chef Marcus Samuelsson's (sp) stainless cookware line.

        Here is the the 12" version, on sale at Zabar's for $60, and they have the 10" on sale for $45.


        This is clad cookware, substantial enough for my high-BTU Viking burners, but not too heavy to lift, well designed with a stay cool handle that's long enough to get past the heat source and therefore actually stay cool. It goes in the dishwasher but is a breeze to clean by hand anyway. It's all metal, so I can and do use it in the oven, too. I feel that Chef Samuelsson et. al. put a lot of thought into this cookware and I have no reservations at all about recommending it. To put it in perspective, I've gotten rid of most of my stainless cookware, including the All Clad. Just wasn't happy with it. Mostly, I cook with LC now, including the skillets. However, I did keep my Demeyere pans and my Marcus fry pan, which I do use for every type of job from caramelizing onions to browning meat, which it does nicely.

        Here's more general information on the line: http://www.marcuscookware.com/pagesMa...

        Also, I am not a fan of nonstick cookware, at all. So I have not used and cannot offer any kind of assessment of the following, but I see that Chef Samuelsson/Marcusware have now come out with a nonstick line, called Eco-Satin. Perhaps you might want to research users' reviews of that, instead, if you prefer nonstick? http://www.chefcentral.com/Marcus-Sam...

        1. Sam's club has great non-stick skillets. You'll find them in the aisle where they sell restaurant-type equipment. They're cast aluminum non-stick, not too heavy, heat very evenly, have a thick removable silicone grip, and they're really cheap. I purchased a 10-inch skillet for just under $16, and am planning to get the 12-in as well - which I think is right around $20. Sometimes one just needs to use a non-stick, and since the finish does eventually scratch and/or wear off, IMO it's better to buy good quality cheaply. At Sam's Club prices you can easily afford to replace them when or if they do wear out.

          1. Burgeoning,

            I like to second JoanN. It is not that difficult to reason your Lodge cast iron. I won't think you can burn down your house especially if you use the oven method. It is simplier than baking a turkey. If you want to stripe off the original seasoning and put on your own, that is slightly more involving, but that is still nowhere close to "burn down the house". You can use shortening, lard, oil anything to season your cast iron skillet.

            As for nonstick pan, there are two schools of thought. One approach is to get a good one to last. The other approach is to get really cheap ones, so you can toss them out when they wear out without feeling bad. In the case you want to the expensive and long lasting route. The Calphone and Circulon nonstick cookware are considered more stable.

            Triply Calphalon is good. I have its saucepan. I know the 12" Calphon triply pan is being sold at ~$95, but, keep in mind, the smaller 10" is only $40.


            If you must get a 12" triply pan, then the All Clad is not any more expensive. It is at $91


            Finally, you should also consider looking into stores like T.J. Maxx, HomeGoods

            1. Thank you all for the suggestions. I should mention (if I didn't already) that for the next pan I'd like it to be good in the oven. I'm not sure if it would need to be broiler safe as I think if thats the case than I'd be making probably a frittata. If I have nothing better to do over this weekend, I'll get to seasoning that huge cast iron. I think it's 14in. The handle seems too short for the pan. I think I'll have to get a long enough and thick enough glove though as to prevent burning and then figure out how to rub the fat all over (inc. handle) without burning anything either me or the paper towel ;-)

              9 Replies
              1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                If you want a pan that's good in the oven--or under the broiler--you really can't beat cast iron. I cook fish in mine that way all the time.

                I have both a 12" and a 14" cast iron skillet (in addition to a 6 incher and a grill pan) and although I do use the 12" pan more often, I'm usually cooking for one. But my 14 incher gets plenty of use; it's really not too big, especially if it's going to be your one, do-everything, pan.

                Instead of a pot holder or some kind of glove, take a look as these silicone pan handle covers:


                They're easy to slip on and off the handle (I switch one among my various pans), give you a really good grip, and don't have hot spots.

                Why do you want to season the handle of the pan? Not necessary. Just season the inside. Put some of your shortening in a couple of thicknesses of paper towels and and make sure the entire inside of the pan is covered with a thin layer. It won't burn the towel. Honest.

                1. re: JoanN

                  I think I read somewhere to do the whole pan.. maybe it was in Alton Brown's book. The reason why I would want something other than Cast Iron is that the cast iron is super heavy and my gf who cook as often as I do will want something lighter.

                  1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                    Certainly not going to try to talk you out of something you're sure you want, but just fyi. As you can tell from my name, I'm female. I'm also on Medicare (although just barely) and beginning (also just barely) to develop arthritis in my hands. And I have no trouble slinging that 14 incher around--from under the cabinet to stovetop to gas broiler down near floor to upper oven.

                    1. re: JoanN

                      Thank you Joan. I'm definitely going to keep the Lodge (and am even thinking about getting a cheap Lodge Enamel cast iron dutch oven to do some no knead bread with the exception of the quickie versions of Challah). I just know that for my gf it would be too cumbersome a pan. She's made mention of such when just having to move it.

                      I hope you didn't think I was saying that her being female meant she was weak to using it and I apologize if that was what came through. Personally I like the idea of doing frittatas and maybe trying a kugel recipe I saw in the NYT with it as well as cornbread or biscuits.

                      1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                        No need to apologize. Just passing along my experience.

                        CI skillet also really great for roasting chickens and for searing/oven method of cooking a nice thick steak--probably best results short of an outdoor grill.

                        1. re: JoanN

                          If I can find a Kosher steak around here (gf living style not mine), I'll be sure to put that to the test ;-)

                          1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                            Oh. That makes it harder. That kind of leaves you with rib eye and hanger steak, doesn't it? But both of those would be excellent in the CI skillet, although probably no need--unless the rib eye was unusually thick--to cook further in the oven after searing.

                            1. re: JoanN

                              Right... now if I can convince the gf to eat steak. I fault to her probably having a few tough pieces and having to chew them endlessly while growing up as to her dislike in it. That is how it was for me until I had one at a steakhouse and then I was hooked for better or worse.

                2. re: burgeoningfoodie


                  I have two of Lodge cast iron Dutch Ovens, but I don't own a Lodge cast iron skillets because, like you, I find the tiny handle on the Lodge skillet strange. Anyway, if you want a pan/skillet which can go into oven, then nonstick is probably not a good choice.

                  When you season your cast iron skillet, you can flip it upside down in the oven. The idea is let the extra oil drips out of the pan. Of course, you will need something underneath to catch the dipping oil. You can always just lay down a small section of aluminum foil on a different grit. I do not mean laying the cast iron skillet directly (touching) on an aluminum foil.

                  Because you are going to use shortening, you can first heat up the pan slightly with the shortening on a stovetop. It will start to soften before the pan get really hot. You can then wipe the shorterning around the entire pan with a paper towel, including the handle if you like. Now, just pop it in the oven upside down and you should not have to touch it until it is done. If you are using regular cooking oil, then you do not even need to warm up the pan, just wipe.

                3. I've been very happy with Calphalon non-stick. You can get a 10" + 12" set for $50 or less

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Jack_

                    I agree with Jack. You simply need a decent non-stick pan for every day: eggs, fish, whatever. Check out the Macy's ads for their sales plus coupons. They rotate their kitchen items through their sales about once a month or so. On the right weekend you might pickup that Calphalon set (or Cuisinart, etc.) for $30 or less.

                  2. Probably, like most everyone else, I have reduced my intake of eggs overall, so I cook them at most once a week. I do not have a space problem to consider, so I have lots of commercial grade pots and pans....along with a very nice matched home set. Even with all that, I have an additional fry pan dedicated just for eggs.....it's a cheap Cooks Brand I purchase whenever they go on sale at my supermarket for exactly $4.00each, and I normally purchase 2-3 at a time. Every pan has lasted me over a year and I do not have to worry about caring for it like it is a family heirloom. When they get a little questionable, I simply break out a new one and the old one gets tossed or reserved as a cover/lid option. I know you have space constraints, but I relay this to you only to say the cheap pans cook eggs quite well....and they are oven safe.....no need to purchase an expensive pan.

                    If you are looking to purchase a single multi-use pan to cover a wide range of tasks, my recommendation is you should consider a saucier/chef's pan similar to the one in the link. If you purchase one with a cover, you can make almost anything. It's serves as a fry pan, sauce pot, soup pot, dutch oven and a wok. If you purchase one without a teflon coating, it can also be used to do shallow deep frying (or if you purchase a larger size, you can deep fry most items). If you go to a restaurant supply house, you can purchase a very good stainless steel or aluminum pan for around $50. These pans can also go into any oven as well.


                    1 Reply
                    1. re: fourunder

                      I'm in the triangle area of NC and will have to look for a kitchen supply store. Though I believe Macys does have this product in their store.

                    2. got a 14" De Buyer steel pan for a gift this Festivus. I rubbed it in bacon fat and threw it in a 425 F oven for about three hours to season. It is an absolute joy with which to cook. I sprinkled with kosher salt, got it good and hot, and threw in some tenderloin steaks for steak au poivre. When they were nice and crusty and ready to turn they came up without a trace of sticking. I deglazed with brandy and finished with cream to make a pan sauce, catching all of the pepper, and it came clean very quickly. It gives every appearance of being indestructible. It certainly does not have the temperature control that a copper pan has, but for frying most anything my real criteria are can I can it REALLY hot (not with my other pans which have tin linings) and can I scour the heck out of it to make a pan sauce that catches all the fond (again, no with tin and probably a no with nonstick, which would not have produced good fond anyway). Yes, it is kind of heavy, but heck, it is 14"! They come in all conceivable sizes and are not that pricey.

                      1. Okay so with the Pre-Seasoned Lodge it is suggested that I wash it first.

                        What is the general consensus on soapy water vs. kosher salt/oil (or water)?

                        Can I put tinfoil on the lower rack of the oven to catch dripping fat when seasoning or do I need to put a cookie sheet below instead?

                        Is the order of operation..

                        Dry thoroughly
                        Heat oven
                        Oil/put fat on pan
                        Turn pan upside down
                        Bake in oven
                        Take out wipe off excess
                        Wash with just water
                        Store (with paper towels)

                        13 Replies
                        1. re: burgeoningfoodie


                          I would do both if you like. If you have to pick one. I would do the soapy water and there is a good reason. Soapy is a detergent, so it can remove both water-soluble (hydrophilic) and oil-soluble (hydropholic) substances. In the Kosher salt/oil method, the salt act as abrasive and the oil is to remove oil-soluble substances. In short, the salt/oil method will not effectively remove water soluble substances.

                          You definitely want to put tinfoil or something underneath the pan to catch the dripping oil. It is not the end of the world if you do not, but then you will have to turn on the self-cleaning oven mode later. Two rack. Top rack for the pan. Bottom rack for foil or pan.

                          0) Heat oven (start any time really)
                          1) Wash (soapy water)
                          2) Dry pan (with papertowel and warm up on stove top at low heat)
                          3) Apply a thin layer oil/lard/shortening on the pan.
                          4) Turn the pan upside down and put it on the rack
                          *** Depending on your oven temperature, you will bake for different amount of time***
                          5) Wear an oven mitts and take out and wipe off excess, apply a new layer of fresh oil if you want to repeat
                          6) Put if back into oven
                          7) Wear oven mitts, take out and wipe off excess and turn off oven
                          8) Cool pan
                          9) Wash with salt and oil
                          *this is where I will use salt and oil. At this point, there will be excess carbonized materials (charcoal) on the pan and partially un-carbonized oil (gummy oil). You will need the salt to act as an abrasive to remove the excess carbonized materials. You will need the oil to remove gummy oil which is oil-soluble and not water-soluble. Consequently, I do not believe you need water to clean at this point.*
                          10) Wipe off
                          11) Store

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            Can I use my pan on an electric range? I read that could be an issue. Thanks for the clarifications on procedure.

                            1. re: burgeoningfoodie


                              What kind of issues are you thinking? I use my cast iron skillet and cast iron dutch oven on my electric range and I do not have any issue. Now, I know some people complain about cast iron cookware scratching glass stove top. Is that what you mean?

                              Ok, I just read that there may be heat spots create on cast iron when heated on an electric range. Is that what you are referring? Yes, that is probably true when compared to gas range, but there will also be heat spots on gas range as well. I think that is just a trade off. A cast iron skillet will have more uneven heating than aluminum pan, but foods sear better on cast iron and stick less on a cast iron pan than on an aluminum pan. I think "heat spot" is less of an issue because you can remedy the problem by moving the foods around. For fragile foods like salmon, I rotate my cast iron skillet 2-3 times during cooking to even out the heat spots. There is not much you can do about foods not searing correctly or foods stick readily on an aluminum pan. Don’t get me wrong. I think aluminum is great for many more things like sauce pan and sauté pan. If you are absolutely worry about even heating, you can always get a heat diffuser:



                              It is basically a thick aluminum disc which will diffuse the heat evenly and so your cast iron pan can sit on top of it. The tradeoff is that your heat response will be slower.

                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                Yeah I was worried about the hotspots as the post I read (Not on here I don't think) mentioned that this could cause the pan to crack. I thought cast iron was better at even heating and heat retention which is why people love it so much. Aside from being put in the oven.

                                I don't have the glass flat tops just the old school coils. I need to scrub it a bit first as even though I haven't used it there appears to be a reddish-brown powder in a spot or two on the sides (this may be the start of a rust). I have plastic brillo and a nylon brush per the manufacturer's website and will use little to no dishsoap. WIll either season with Crisco or canola.

                                1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                  Yes, reddish brown powder is rust. You want to remove as much rust as possible before you reason the cast iron pan.

                                  My cast iron pan and Dutch oven is used on an electric range. It is fine. Cast iron cookware do have good heat retention because of their weight, thus heat capacity. The even heating from cast iron cookware probably is not true, in my opinion.

                            2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                              Alright so I think it is seasoned properly. It is still a little warm but sitting inside the oven. Doesn't feel gummy but does feel unnaturally smooth. However, when I was down there was like a small spec of a sulfur yellow build up on the lip/rim. Not sure what this is as I scrubbed the pan and rinsed and dried thoroughly before greasing it up in the oven. I tried oil and salt but maybe I'm uppose to mix it up before applying it. I tried it once before a 2nd seasoning and the salt tried to stick to the pan.

                              1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                Hi burgeoning,

                                Yeah, it is pretty difficult to get the salt off with oil. At the end, you can always rinse the pan with water. The water will get the salt off effortlessly because salt dissolves in water. You will have enough seasoning and oil on the pan that the water will not harm it. Just rinse the cast iron Dutch Oven with water.

                                Yellow thing on the rim, right? I had that too. It is just oil residue which was not carbonized. Around the rim, there would have been more oil there, so it would have been more difficult to completely carbonized there. No big deal. You can use a brush and paper towel to clean up as much as you can -- or use fingernail.

                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                  Yeah okay I didn't think it was rust because it started flaking off with my fingernail. It's a 12" skillet not a dutch oven (though I will be looking for the Target/Lodge Enamel cast iron in the future to make decent bread in).

                                  1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                    The yellowish thing that you saw is probably softer too. Mine was. Rust is very dry and it is either solid or powder-like. Good luck.

                                  2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                    If I have a sticky residue from using oil to season the pan. How do I clean that off. I tried a salt paste with hot water and s stiff brush and I've tured a dobie pad, but neither has worked. I'm giong to redo it with Crisco when I can figure out how to get the stickiness off.

                                    1. re: burgeoningfoodie


                                      Like sticky oil residue? That is incomplete seasoning. You can physically scrap it off old credit card or metal spatula. Baking soda does a good job of loosening sticky oil. Put some baking soda on the grease and put minimal amount of water and you can start scrapping it away with a strong paper towel, spatula or cheap scotch pad.

                                      Alternatively, you can just heat the pan and that sticky grease/oil will slowly carbonized. If the sticky greasy surface is minimal and very thin, I think it is easier just heat the pan up and turn this sticky substance into your seasoning surface.

                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                        Good I was bout to take a steel wool to it and just start over. I'll try the reheating.

                                        1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                          Steel wool works too, but baking soda+litte water+steel wool works better.


                                          Let me know if the heating or the baking soda method works out for you. Either way, you shouldn't have to start all over again. You may have to cook couples of fatty meals, but you shouldn't have to restart from the very beginning.

                            3. Everyone has an opinion. Here's mine.

                              Keep the cast iron. It has its uses. For example: you can put it in the oven. The short handle that some people complained about makes that easier. It's easier to put a 14 inch pan with a four inch handle in the oven, than the same pan with an eight inch handle. It fits better in smaller ovens and lets you put other things in the oven alongside it.

                              Season the cast iron. There are plenty of people posting here with instructions on how to do with. In my experience, the key is getting the oven temperature correct for the type of fat you're using. I have used either Crisco with the oven at about 400 deg. F or coconut oil with the oven a bit higher. Spread an even layer all over. Put it upside down in the pre-heated oven for about an hour. Turn the oven off and let the pan cool completely. The surfaces should be blacker and more shiny than when you put it in, but not sticky. If it's sticky, turn the oven back on and cook longer. If it's not noticeably blacker or shinier, repeat the entire process.With a new pan, using it will also add to the seasoning.

                              BUT ... also buy a new lighter weight pan like the one you have. As good as cast iron can be, it's not a substitute for an 10 inch lightweight pan that you can flip around and make an omlette in easily. I don't believe non-stick is either necessary or a good idea. You can keep eggs and other things from sticking by just using butter or the fat of your choice. And the non-stick coating on these pans does not last. Where does it go? Into your food? I don't know about you, but I don't want to eat this stuff. There are plenty of good manufacturers out there. In my experience, tri-clad conducts heat more evenly than pans with disk bases, but this probably is not necessary.

                              1. So I was in a TJ Maxx earlier and found an All Clad 3 qt sauce pan (looks a little like a saucier) from their Copper Core collection for about 150 and couldn't resist. Anyone have any experience with AC and care for stainless or this particular line of theirs?

                                1. Depends on the kind of cooking you do. Sometimes you want the meat to stick to the pan, a bit, to create the brown bits for your sauce or gravy. Nonstick pans are useless for that. I cook for myself with the occasional guests, and get along just fine with a non-nonstick 12" skillet for most stovetop work and an 8" nonstick frypan for eggs etc.

                                  The cookware makers are constantly adding and dropping models, so it wouldn't be any use to name what I have. Calphalon makes reasonably priced pans that I've liked; the Tri-Ply Stainless 12-Inch Omelette Pan was rated a Best Buy at $64, and as it's all metal it should be oven- and broiler- and dishwasher- and everything-safe. Hard-anodized aluminum pans are lighter and well spoken of but I don't have any.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: armagnac

                                    I do all sorts but mostly sauteeing and browning with some things requiring cooking in a liquid. Thats why I opted for the sauce pan in stead of the fry pan or skillet. I though AC had a good reputation and give than the price for this piece is usually $300+ I thought I should grab it...

                                  2. I don't like to spend money on non-stick pans, cause they do eventually get damaged. So the one non-stick we keep in the house is some generic brand from a restaurant supply store. $10, and it has a nice thick bottom made of aluminum. It's not a pretty pan, but who cares? In 5 years when it chips, we'll replace it.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Indirect Heat

                                      Yeah, 've had my anolon for nearly a year now, and they're still going strong. When they do eventually die though, I paid £90 for 5 pans, so I'll have had my use out of them (I go by £ per hour of use, with £1 per hour being the line of good value :D)

                                    2. So my girlfriend wants to replace her skillets (right now they are nonstick generics) that I think she has had since college. They have started to warp badly. She doesn't want a set and the ones to be replaced are 12inch and I think 8inch. I have an All Clad that she likes, but I don't think the money needs to be spent on such things right now. A lot of the recipes we use call for nonstick pans so that we don't have to add additional fat (as oppose to pan spray). Are there any brands/models that people would recommend if they had to choose nonstick? We don't do much frying and I've only come across a few recipes that call for a pan to go into the oven. Mostly it's putting a breast of chicken on the pan for roughly 3-4 mins on each side on say Med-High heat to give you an idea of the type of cooking that goes on.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                        For nonstick, you can go with Teflon nonstick. You just don't want silicone. Calphalon nonstick is considered very good, but you can go by any other. For stainless steel, you can consider Tramontina stainless steel. Just read the online reviews on them. They are considered probably the highest quality stainless steel cookare at the very affordable price range. There are several lines of Tramontina cookware though.


                                      2. HEY BURG...