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Le Creuset or All Clad 4qt saute pan?

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SusanJH Apr 2, 2010 11:32 AM

I think I've searched on every le creuset, all clad, and saute pan related thread and haven't seen anyone discuss either of these pans specifically, so I thought I'd finally post and ask for some advice.

I'm looking to retire my 4qt saute pan (my most used, "go-to" pan). I honestly use it for just about everything - grilling chicken, pork chops, fish filets, browning beef, etc. etc.

I'm torn between getting the all clad d5 ss saute pan and the le creuset (enameled interior) saute. I currently have pieces from both collections and love them both, but for the life of me I cannot decide between these two.

I love the way my all clad cooks, but it can sometimes be a pain to clean up (it's not non-stick). My le creuset is a breeze to clean, but, man, is it heavy, especially when it's filled with food. But I do love that the le creuset can go straight into the oven without changing pots. Big plus!

Since this is my most used pan, I don't want to have a nagging reason not to use it - either because it's a pain to clean or because it's annoyingly heavy. I've also never seen the le creuset saute in person (only online at W-S), so I can't tell how big it is (if it's too big, I probably wouldn't use it as often). The dimensions of the le creuset on the W-S website are much bigger than the all clad, but this just confuses me since they're both supposedly 4qts.

Has anyone had experience with either pan? Anything you love or hate about them? Thanks in advance!!

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    chuckl Apr 2, 2010 11:59 AM

    I have a number of le creusets as well as several unenameled cast iron, and a 3 quart AC stainless saute. I'd go for the all clad if I were you. Like you say, a 4 quart cast iron is going to be really heavy when you fill it. You can also go from cooktop to oven without a problem with the AC saute pan. I think the frond I get on the AC is better than on the LC as well. Also, you can control temperature better with the AC stainless, which responds a lot quicker than cast iron to changes in temperature. It will heat up a lot faster than CI and cool down faster too, which can be a factor when making sauces.
    ACs aren't that hard to clean and you can make them as shiny as new using barkeepers friend.

    1 Reply
    1. re: chuckl
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      SusanJH Apr 2, 2010 01:21 PM

      Thanks for replying, chuckl! I never thought about the temperature control issue with AC vs. LC. Good point! I think I'm sold on the AC.

    2. hobbybaker Apr 2, 2010 02:19 PM

      Susan. I primarily agree with cuckl . The LC saute pan is very heavy (13 LB ). I was surprised it is even hevier than the 7.25 qt round DO(12 LB)! As you might have thought the long handle of the LC can be hot. (I doubt the hight 5.5 inch on the WS website is from the bottom of the pan to the lid, not the hight of the pan. Maybe, it is a source of you confusion on the capacity?) Based on your description of the AC 4qt saute pan "my most used, "go-to"pan, I would stick to the AC saute pan if you are looking for a "replacement". However, I would take a look at all those pans in person and actually hold and lift them up. I am sure you are thinking about doing so.
      http://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/le-creuset-4-quart-covered-deep-saute-pan_1/?pkey=ccookware-le-creuset%7Cckwlceazr

      During this winter, I also thought about buying a 4qt AC d5 saute pan or other similar SS saute pan but until now I was not 100% convinced. I have no saute pan at the moment and I do not feel much inconvenience from it, frankly. It is maybe because I own a 12" AC fry-pan for things, which needs a quick adjustment for heating like sauteeing vegis and searing chicken breast, and a LC 3.5 qt buffet casserole for things like saute and simmer or short-time braising.
      http://www.williams-sonoma.com/produc...

      I like the 3.5 qt buffet casserole, which has larger surface enough for laying things in one layer with nothing crowded. Also, the buffet casserole is easier to manuver in the oven which has no long handle like a saute pan. Yes, as most people says that the LC needs time to warm up longer but on the other hand on the dinner table it can keep things warm longer time than stainless, which is a big advantage for my entertainment. (I prefer to have the LC on my table to the AC saute pan with its long handle. Although I love AC SS and almost all other pot/pans I have are ACs.) Only one con of the LC buffet casserole to me is a bit heavy lid because of its domed shape but it is beneficiacial for simmering, so it is a trade off.

      That being said, I know advantages/disadvanrages of both pans and I myself will soon buy a SS saute pan when time comes:) Good luck for your search!

      11 Replies
      1. re: hobbybaker
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        SusanJH Apr 2, 2010 02:43 PM

        Thanks for chiming in, hobbybaker. I had not noticed the weight on the LC saute pan! I actually have the 7.25qt round DO and barely use it because of its weight. I'm definitely no longer considering the LC 4qt saute. That's way too heavy for me to be taking in and out of the cabinet on a daily basis.

        BUT, now you've piqued my interest in the 3.5 qt buffet casserole! I had considered it for a short time, but thought that it might be too small (3.5 qt vs. 4 qt) and that the sides were not high enough for all I like to do in my saute pan. It sounds like it'd be perfect for browning and searing, but how full does it get when you add some liquid or chopped veggies? This is another piece I've never seen in person (my local W-S only has skillets, grill pans and DOs), so it's hard for me to judge from the picture online how much I could fit in there.

        I also like having my LC on the table, so that would be a plus for me, but you mentioned that there are some disadvantages to the pan and that you will probably eventually buy a SS saute pan. Can I ask why? What can't you do between your SS fry pan and LC buffet casserole?

        1. re: SusanJH
          k
          knet Apr 2, 2010 02:56 PM

          It is the temperature control and response time that makes these two very different tools. As chuckl pointed out, LC will not respond quickly to temperature changes. LC is unbeatable for those times that you need its heat retention and steady temperature but not at all for any dish that requires changes in temperature.

          1. re: SusanJH
            hobbybaker Apr 2, 2010 03:12 PM

            Susan, you can cook a recipe like below with 3.5 qt buffet casserole even though the recipe says 4 qt. I use it most of short-time braising recipe from "All About Braising".
            http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html...

            I have never had any experience that the side is too short or any liquid over flown from the pan. (Interestingly enough I doubted at the beginning the side is too short, too:) We are two and the pan provide us usually with leftovers for extra two to three, meaning 5-6 people. Sometimes I would like to cook for 8 for entertaining, so I thought about 5qt buffet casserole but the lid is just simply too heavy to me.

            You are right, I can basically do without a SS saute pan with my other pans. If I buy a suate for me, I will buy a larger 6 qt or so with two handles which I can use in the oven and on the table, too.

            I totally agree with the responsiveness of the temp which chuckle mentioned before. I use my AC fry-pans for the recipes which require to better response to the change of temparature. I do not use my buffet casserole for those at all. But, I believe if I cook recipes requiring the best responsiveness to heat change, like stirfry, the best pan is a blue steel pan, like a wok, not a stainless pan. However, I do not cook many of those either.

            1. re: hobbybaker
              k
              knet Apr 2, 2010 05:34 PM

              It's a very good point - every person must choose cookware based on what they actually cook. However the OP is replacing a saute pan and since it is her most used pan, I assume the recipes are those that suit a saute pan. Not to be presumptuous of course but if that is the case, it's not as likely that a piece of LC will turn out to be a satisfactory replacement.

              1. re: knet
                hobbybaker Apr 2, 2010 08:39 PM

                Knet :) I appreciate your comments to my responce to the OP.
                However, as you might notice from my first response, I clearly said " Based on your description of the AC 4qt saute pan "my most used, "go-to"pan, I would stick to the AC saute pan if you are looking for a "replacement". In my second response, I only mentioned what I cook trying to answer the OP's follow-up questions on the piece I actually have and use.

                I basically believe there are no clear-cut right/wrong answers for many of the questions here in this board. To me all that we do here on this board is to share own actual experience on the actual piece you have ever used or you did serious researches for your own future/past purchases. When I post a question, there were answers I have not even thought about and I enjoyed the part very much because it helps me think closely on my real needs. I know ,as a only one person, we have a limited experience on limited peices unless you are a cookware expert and many of us are not an cookware expert or anything including myself.

                I appreciate the chuckl's comment: It will heat up a lot faster than CI and cool down faster too, which can be a factor when making sauces.

                Now I notice another reason why I do not feel inconvenient without a saute is maybe I use my saucier for making a sauce, which is SS not a enameled cast iron LC. It is a very specific example and helpful to me rather than just saying a word "heat responsiveness" in the description of the cookware description at Amazon or so. I appreciate the insight very much to clarify my wondering.

                So, if you want to share your own answer and experience a bit further, why don't you give your feedback directly to the OP so that the OP can benefit from it. Chao!

                1. re: hobbybaker
                  s
                  SusanJH Apr 3, 2010 09:33 PM

                  Thank you all for your responses! I really appreciate all the great feedback. I've decided to go with the AC saute since I think it will be a more similar replacement for my current saute (and since I do think heat responsiveness is an issue).

                  The LC braiser is definitely on my wish list now, though!

                  1. re: SusanJH
                    b
                    blondelle Apr 3, 2010 09:56 PM

                    There's another option which is the All-Clad 4 qt. 13" braiser. It's a bit deeper than a fry pan, has two loop handles which make it a gorgeous serving piece and no long handle makes it easier for oven use. It also takes up less room than a saute pan, gives you more bottom area than the 3 or 4 qt. A-C saute pan. It's also more versatile as you can use it as a roaster.

                    If you're not going to do that chefie flip you don't really need the straight sides to contain the food, and the domed cover lets you braise higher cuts of meat, and makes for better braising. It's also gorgeous!

                    1. re: blondelle
                      hobbybaker Apr 4, 2010 07:18 AM

                      blondelle, I am considering to buy the 6 qt AC SS buffet casserole, which has a bit larger diamter and a bit lower side than the AC 13" braiser. I think it can accomodate 8 people's of what I cook in the LC buffet casserole (which is up to 5-6 people), which can be beneficial for my dinners with guests. I usually prefer LCs for my enternaining pieces due to the fact that keeping things warm on the table but the 5.5 buffet casserole and 6.75 wide round are simply too heavy to me and I appreciate a bit lightness especially in the oven as those piece are big. Do you have any insight on this piece? As it is backorder at cookwarenmore.com, so I am not in hurry at all, but your insight is very much appreciated. (Since my local bloomies does not carry it, I cannot check it in person.) My next shortlist is the Cusinart multiclad pro 5.5 qt buffet casserole. I have the AC 6qt stockpot so I guess the AC 6 qt braiser (larger one than the 4 qt braiser) is kid of a duplicate so I crossed it out. Thanks alot.

                      1. re: hobbybaker
                        b
                        blondelle Apr 4, 2010 08:37 AM

                        The 6 qt. stockpot is the same diameter as the 3 qt. and 4 qt. saute pans. It's not that wide on the bottom. The A-C 6 qt. French braiser with the domed lid is similar to the 6.75 low wide LC without the weight. The problem with the 6 qt. A-C casserole is that it has the flat lid which limits you. If you don't mind the higher sides on the French braiser it's a much more versatile pan than the 6 qt. buffet casserole with the round roasting rack and domed lid. It's $199.99 but you can catch a sale at WS or Bloomies which has it.

                        The MultiClad pan is great. No induction capability though.

                        1. re: blondelle
                          hobbybaker Apr 4, 2010 09:00 AM

                          Blondelle, yes, I look for something with wider bottom than 10+". thanks for your input. I will think about the french braiser but the newer multiclad pro is induction ready though. I tested with the magnet in my neighborfood cookware shop, and read many reviews on it too. I was kind of sold to the piece, but I have never used cusinart (all my SS is AC) and doubt that the lid is lighter than the AC, which is a negative to my oven uses.

                    2. re: SusanJH
                      hobbybaker Apr 4, 2010 07:28 AM

                      Susan, I think it is best choice for the replacement. I am glad that my comment on the LC Saute pan, your initial candidate, can prevent from your buying it and finding out it is too heavy for you. Happy Cooking!

          2. k
            knet Apr 4, 2010 06:15 AM

            Great suggestion Blondelle I have a 4 qt Tramontina try-ply 'casserole' pan which is the braiser shape and is a great multi purpose pan.
            HB: my apologies both for inadvertently replying to you instead of directly to the thread and also for sounding like an "Amazon" reviewer!

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