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I hate my All-Clad - what am I doing wrong?

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Hi! First post, persistent lurker.

I received a SS All-Clad frying pan for Christmas, and frankly, it sucks compared to my two old inexpensive cast-iron pans. It seems like everything sticks to it. I've tried seasoning it like cast-iron to no avail. I was about to chuck it in the Goodwill pile until I realized how much those things cost and how much some people like them. Am I doing something basic wrong?

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  1. I'm not crazy about mine either & look forward to the replies. Maybe I'm doing something wrong, too. My ancient Paderno is much much better. Ditto cast iron, some really old and some fairly new.

    1. I believe this past thread has good feedbacks on the typical sticking problems of SS fry-pans. It is not All-Clad specific though. In terms of non-stick, I too agree that cast iron pans do much better jobs once they are properly seasoned.

      1. stainless pans like all-clad are meant to stick, to form a frond which you can deglaze and make into a pan sauce

        1. iride,

          Stainless steel cookware are like this. Foods, especially meats, will stick to them. They are not cast iron or carbon steel. You cannot season them. You are not doing anything wrong. They are like this.

          Sell them or give them away. A lot of people like All Clad.

          6 Replies
          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

            Thanks. Maybe the better question is, why do people like them then?

            1. re: iride


              Do you mean why do people like stainless or why do people like All Clad?

              Some people like stainless steel because they last for a long time, and they are very easy to take care of compared to cast iron or carbon steel. Nonstick cookware may only last you a year or two, so a $150 stainless steel frying pan is really cheaper than its $30 nonstick counterpart. In additional, like many people suggested, there are some ways to work around this stickiness. Like cooking with butter and using more oil. Do a lot people like stainless steel? Not really, that is why you have many cast iron, carbon steel, aluminum, copper, nonstick cookware fans.

              In the case you asking about why people like All Clad. Well, in the case you prefer stainless steel cookware, then All Clad is considered one of the top. It is constructally stronger. It has better heat distribution.... So I will say if you are already a stainless steel fan, then you will barg about All Clad, but if you don't dig stainless steel, then All Clad will not change your mind.

              A Ferrari is a great sport car, so you will love it if you like sport car. However, if you hate sport cars to begin with, then a Ferrari is not going to make you like sport cars any more. You may hate it even more. Best wishes.

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                What Chem said...I LOVE my AC stainless steel. I do not use the frying pan for eggs or fish, but love it for meat, sautes, etc...I love the even heat distribution, I love the way it looks and cooks and cleans. As someone said, I love the way fond forms in it, and how easily it deglazes. It is not the right pan for everything, again, I don't do eggs or fish in it as they cook too quickly and stick too easily...try it for meat with a pan sauce, or sauteed vegetables or potatoes--also great for roasting a Zuni chicken!

                1. re: Marge

                  That's it exactly. Stainless steel pans aren't necessarily the right pan for everything. I have a lot of All-Clad pans - and i LOVE them!!! But I also have cast iron pans, non-stick pans, enamelled cast iron pans, etc.

                2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  For making something like taré, there really isn't anything better than an All-Clad stainless steel pan. http://indirectheat.blogspot.com/2010...

                  For frying eggs, I can't imagine anything much worse than an All-Clad stainless steel pan. (Hyperbole - a bit. I can imagine things worse, but I wouldn't ever try to make over-easy fried eggs in my stainless steel pan).

                  1. re: Indirect Heat

                    Really? Fried eggs & omelettes/fritattas (sp?) are the easiest egg-y things to cook in my AC. Barely any sticking on the fried OE, & just a bit on the omelettes. Scrambled - now that's a PITA (for me).

              1. re: AndrewK512

                No no no. You should say, "I will pay for the shipping. Sent them to me"

              2. Honestly? I don't use my All-Clad FRYING pans at all, either. And I'm a passionate All-Clad fan. I have 1, 1.5, 2, 3, 4 qt. saucepans, a 3qt. saucier, a 10 qt. rondeau, a 6 qt. stockpot and a 3 qt. saute pan, the large roaster, and the large French skillet, so you can see I'm devoted.

                That said, the frying pans almost are pointless--when I already have Griswold cast iron that works beautifully for searing, frying and baking--and no matter what I do, stuff sticks horribly. Now, when I'm *lightly* sauteeing in olive oil , or braising, and using wine or vinegar, then the SS All Clad works fine (but for that I use the saute pan or the French skillet, anyway, because they have higher sides) because the liquid that I always add not only deglazes the pan but loosens the stuck stuff.

                But for straightforward frying or searing, CAST IRON IS THE QUEEN!

                My 10" and 7" All-Clad stainless frying pans--that came with a set 12 years ago--are almost never, ever used. I should give them away, in fact.

                13 Replies
                1. re: Beckyleach

                  Agree on the 10" frying pan. Mine is still in the original box. Never opened. I also got it as a part of a set, but since I love my 8" Lodge and 10" LC skillet so much, the 10" AC had no chance to be used. I was not happy with my 10" LC skillet but it is becoming more and more non-stick these days. I use it mostly for fish.

                  1. re: hobbybaker

                    Hobbybaker, I love my AC. I have both 2 AC nonstick and 2 regular standard AC skillets. I started buying my additional pieces from the seconds place and saved a lot of money too. They say not to buy nonstick and pay that much that it does not hold up, but it does if you are very careful. I have the 10 and 12 inch. They regular ss may stick but when I get tired of them, I go to the old standby Hoover square electric stainless steel/ aluminum pan and fry away as they hold more than even my 12 inch SS AC.. They may have been made in the seventies, but they really handled frying and worth finding one. They wash up quick!!!!! Bought one last month for my son and he loves fried chicken in it. Eventually, I go back to SS AC when cooking anything else. . They are super. And I just pour in some wine and work that old frond about with no problem. Lodge is great but if they are not handled carefully they start sticking and can be a pain until the enterior coating is perfected once again and no soap of course. I can clean up my SS AC with Barkeepers in less than two minutes and they look like a million. I have had my cast irons close to 40 years and I would not give them away for anything.

                    1. re: Tinker

                      Hi, Tinker. I love my 12"AC SS with a lid, too. As you mentioned, in terms of maintenance, stainless steel is sooo easy. I love the small lodge, too. It is a so cute and rustic egg pan and I even use it for baking a small cake and a cherry clafoutis for two :)

                  2. re: Beckyleach

                    Why is cast iron the queen? Why isn't cast iron the king? Cast iron sounds like a man to me.

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      CK, you are so funny. As a matter of fact, in German, a pot is a male (Der Topf) and a fry-pan is a female (Die Pfanne). So, Becky is right. A cast iron pan is a woman and a queen to me :) However, I do not know how it goes with French or Spanish. They also have male/female going on with nouns and sometimes they do not agree on the distinction of female/male for one specific noun.

                      1. re: hobbybaker

                        Same in French. Pot is masculine. Pan is feminine.

                        1. re: hobbybaker

                          I would think the fry pan is male as it has an ..umm...appendage, while the pot would be female. Anyway, wouldn't it be nice if they could work things out and reproduce in your cupboard....LOL! Would save us all lots of $$$!

                          1. re: blondelle

                            Hahahaha! That's the best thing I've ever heard.

                        2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          No, no, something that sensible, durable, efficient and modest simply HAS to be female. Sorry, Chem. After all, we *are* the stronger sex, in most ways. :-)

                          1. re: Beckyleach

                            You two are wrong. My cast iron and carbon steel cookware and I get along very well. We don't speak to each other much, but we work together nicely and we understand each other very well. It is totally male bonding I tell you.

                            I just want you two to know. It is very impolite to call a man "Queen". So apologize to your cookware while you can. :P

                            P.S.: It is better to call a woman as a King, then call a man as a Queen -- FYI :)

                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                              CK - A good news for you. A wok is male in German. Der Wok. However, unfortunately, a knife is nuetral, Das Messer. Well, at least your carbon steel wok is your mate:)

                              1. re: hobbybaker

                                It is impossible a knife is neutral. The Germans are totally confused on this.

                        3. You are probably searing wrong. For one you need to buy into using a decent film of oil in the pan. For 2, the food will stick initially but then come of once the crust formed.

                          You don't really have to season it.

                          That said, for potatoes, eggs and some flaky fish I am typically using a non stick.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: jk1002

                            Fully agreed with jk1002. You need to be patient with stainless. I cook with a whole array of AC stainless and it yields incredible results. You need enough oil and you need to leave it alone until its ready to be moved. Plus, you need sufficient heat. Thomas Keller has a very good breakdown of this in his latest book, Ad Hoc at Home.

                            That being said, eggs and fish are definitely better in non-stick and cast iron is great for a steak or burger.

                          2. I'm not fond of my All-Clad, either. And I don't think it's a SS issue. I've got a few very old (25+ years) pieces of Cuisinart SS cookware, and the two saute pans I have perform much better than the A-C. I've been tempted to sell my A-C on Craig's List.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: CindyJ

                              all uncoated stainless cookware will stick to some extent. It's different horses for different courses. They all have their advantages and drawbacks

                            2. It sounds like you are not getting it hot enough. You heat it up add a little oil until it shimmers then add your meat and leave it alone for 2-3 minutes then it won't stick. If you don't have it hot enough or not enough oil or don't leave the meat alone for the first 2 minutes, it will stick.

                              1. We've been using our 12" SS AC fry pan and it's been great. We haven't cooked any meat yet, but my omelets are incredible- the heating is very different: the edges never get dried out/overcooked, and omelets come out much more tender, light, fluffy. And I didn't follow any fancy Cooks Illustrated frozen butter cubes blah blah. Just olive oil, eggs and cheese/filling. This is compared to the caphalon or the cast iron I've used for years.

                                I too was worried about sticking, but I find the instructions helpful: heat your pan, but not too hot, then add oil, then add your food. I'm so psyched about it I want to get an 8". I don't like the handle too much, but I'm hoping on the 8" it's more bearable. HTH.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: lonepine

                                  good point. hot pan, cold oil is the mantra for SS

                                2. It's overrated. You can't season stainless steel. Try a de Buyer carbon steel pan for a pan you can get blistering hot and which will run circles around AC for frying.