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May 2, 2010 07:21 PM

If you had to buy all new pots/pans....

What would you buy??:)

I ask because I want to get really high quality pots/pans and am trying to figure out which types (brand) to buy and what variety of different types would give me versatility in cooking. I do a lot of cooking but have the old stuff I bought as a student. For my wedding, i'd like to upgrade:) Obviously, the prices can't be ridiculous but you know..i'm registering, i think, at williams-sonoma if that helps. probably macys too. any suggestions would be appreciated!

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  1. Cups,

    You will get so many advices on this. Congratulation on the wedding. I can give you a thousand words answer, but who wants to read something like that, right?

    First of all, your question is very broad. There are stainless steel, aluminum, copper, nonstick, cast iron, enameled cast iron, carbon steel, clay, ... cookware. I personally use fairly inexpensive cookware. I spend more on sharpening stones than my cookware - really. I have two cast iron Dutch ovens, one enameled cast iron Dutch oven (basically retired) , a cast iron skillet, a carbon steel wok, a triply stainless saucepan, a 4 qt clay pot and a small clay pot. I won't mind getting a carbon steel or a triply frying pan.

    For most people, I think cladded stainless steel is a good start. However, it really depends on your cooking style. For example, nonstick cookware is very easy to clean and very clean use, cast iron cookware produce some of the best tasting crust and fonds, copper and aluminum cookware give you very good temperature control with their very fast heat response....

    So what do you desire the most in cookware? Easy of use or good tasting or good heat response or goodheat retention or even heating surface (minimal heat spot)?

    12 Replies
    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

      For casserole pots: Le Creuset. For pots and pans: All-clad. For non-stick: Generic restaurant-supply-store pans.

          1. re: Indirect Heat

            If you're willing to scrounge, you can get GREAT deals on PREMIUM copper. I just got a Mauviel domed fish poacher off of Craigslist for $25 (looks new), that lists in the $300 range; two Gaillard saucepans (best of the best) for $50 on eBay. Gaillards go for many hundreds each to collectors. Plus, it's kinda fun to look for deals like this. But if you have to have new and have it all match, the snobby stores do charge exorbitant prices.

            1. re: Indirect Heat

              Who wants to clean copper? *double sigh*

              1. re: Jay F

                I only polish my copper when I have a ceiling rack to display it from. In this house, no ceiling rack and no possibility, so I don't polish my copper any more and it goes through the dish washer. It still cooks the SAME, and if I ever have another ceiling rack, it will polish up just fine. '-)

                Caroline the Pragmatic

                1. re: Jay F

                  After spending all Saturday polishing the boat (who can afford "help"), all yesterday polishing the kitchen, I was reminded why we are going w/stainless instead of copper; copper tarnishes quicker here and looks ARE important ... to me.

            2. re: Indirect Heat

              +1 to Indirect and Congratulations on your upcoming marriage!

              Emeril-ware is made by All-Clad.
     (See question/answer 15)

              If memory serves me to what I paid for my All-Clad 15+ years ago, Emeril-ware is considerably less-expensive, but verify that.

              I have one All-Clad, NON non-stick, 12" saute pan w/lid that I use when wanting a good caramelization/sear on food. A non-stick will not achieve that because caramelization is produced by slightly burning food/creating a fond and non-stick's goal is to prevent burning - so an investment in a quality gauge stainless skillet/saute pan should be made at some point.

              If you think you may be interested in Le Creuset, I just came from Tuesday Morning and they currently have 3.5 qt dutch ovens for $40 and 6.5 qt for $140. Personally, they're much too heavy for me (before adding the bounty), but they are popular and those prices are exceptional.

              1. re: CocoaNut

                Wow, I never though to look at Tuesday Morning! Do you happen to remember what colors they had?

                I've been checking our TJMaxx but haven't had much luck, just an old yellow color. I am on the hunt for a deal on a white one!

                1. re: mrscox

                  Mrscox - White is hard to get for a deal. I think the best you can now is checking Bloomindales coming this saturday, 1/29/11. As cuetie pied posted, there is a one day home sale. They have many white there. Price is not that sweet as outelet or TJmax but not so bad either. I also recommend to check the bloomindales website on Tursday/Friday/Saturday this week.

                1. re: Indirect Heat

                  +1 although I don't use non stick anything in my house since I have parrots.

                  I love my all clad pots and pans and my Le Creuset dishes are great. My sister looked at one that I had cooked au gratin potatoes in and was certain I'd have to soak it for hours to get the crud off. The burned stuff came right off and it went straight into the dishwasher and came out spotless.

              2. Thanks for the response:)!

                I definitely will go for one nonstick piece just for ease of use however I am more into good taste and heat response. I also cook in bulk (large quantities for the hubby:)) and find that small pieces are a total waste since I can never use them. I definitely think I will need some cast iron pieces as I don't have any now and can't wait to get something like a le cruset (sp?).
                Do you think william-sonoma is a good place to register for this type of stuff?

                2 Replies
                1. re: cups123


                  How do you cook in bulk for your "hubby" before the actual wedding? :)

                  I agree with Indirect Heat. You don't want to spend way too much on nonstick cookware because they don't last very long. There are two camps on the enameled cast iron cookware. The Le Creuset camp and the Staub camp. You may want decide between the two:


                  You can often find Le Creuset at reduced price in Home Goods, Marshall, TJ Maxx.

                  To be honest, I have not gone through that registration thing, but I believe Williams Sonoma is a good place for this sort of thing. I have many friends did their registrations there. Williams Sonoma has a good selection for cookware.

                  1. re: cups123

                    Cups, one important question: Are you the sort who is willing to handwash your pots and pans, or do you prefer to toss them in the dishwasher? Copper, enameled cast iron, cast iron, carbon steel and aluminum MUST be handwashed. You really shouldn't even leave cast iron with food in it for very long, let alone overnight in the sink. If you are committed to taking care of these things, go ahead. If not, go for stainless steel with a non-stick skillet for eggs. Yes, LeCreuset says you can put their stuff in the DW, but you have to dry it or it can rust. Leaving in a damp DW overnight is not a good idea.

                  2. An assortment, as CK and IH have already indicated.`But yes, Willimas-Sonoma carries high quality pots--various All-Clad lines and Le Creuset (and top-of-the-line copper, too, if you've got big spenders on your guest list).

                    You can get plain old Lodge cast iron in hardware stores, probably Wal-Mart, even sporting good stores. I have a lot of Le Creuset, almost always purchased as "seconds" during the semi-annual sales at Le Creusert stores--much cheaper. As others have noted, you can often find them (as well as the odd All-Clad now and then) at Marshall's and T. J. Maxx. Macy's carries the more inexpensive Martha Stewart line, and for the money (esp. b/c of frequent sale specials), the MS enamelled cast iron is a pretty good buy.
                    I don't know how much cooking you do, but if it's a lot and you want the best pot or pan for the particular task, forget the matched sets.

                    1. cups123, take into account that, sooner or later, you will convert to induction.

                      Wait, wait, don't object; trust me, if you are resistant, it may happen later than sooner, but the day will come. If you purchase expensive pots now that are not induction ready, they will become planters when you convert to induction. But for every non-induction-ready pot on the market, there are several alternative induction-ready pots that perform just as well as the non-induction ready pot on resistive electric or gas hobs, and usually at as low a price. (One possible exception: round woks, unless you get a dished induction cooktop.)

                      Were I starting out today with a clean slate as you are, I would look long and hard at the Chantal Copper Fusion line -- along with an assortment of cast iron, of course. And you can never go wrong with Demeyere Apollo or Atlantis or Mauviel M'Cook.

                      11 Replies
                      1. re: Politeness

                        Why and how would a person be forced to go to induction?? Am I really that clueless? I made dinner at a friend's house and they had induction and they said that they had not had to purchase special pots or pans. I know they used to have gas. Both stoves performed stellar. With the same pans.

                        In my house we have a couple of non-stick, some stainless big pots and one enormous cast iron. I've had them forever and the non-sticks are starting to give up the ghost.

                        1. re: JerryMe

                          Induction is so much more energy efficient, it is likely that most households will eventually move that way. Induction is used greatly in Europe, and so most believe that it is only a matter of time before it is adopted here. Having said that, if you are, say, 60 years old and just moved into your retirement house, it probably won't be an issue for you.

                          In order for induction to work, the cookware must be ferrous, which basically means that it contains iron. So cast iron, stainless steel (as an alloy), etc. are all induction compatible, while aluminum and copper are not.

                          1. re: E_M


                            I don't think induction cooking is much more energy efficient. The argument for induction cooking is that it loses less energy between the stove to the pot, and that is true. However, it is not more energy efficient when the entire process is accounted for. A gas stove uses a raw energy source, whereas an induction stove uses electricity. Electricity is not a raw energy and needs to be generated. Usually, there is a >60% energy loss to convert gas/oil/coal to electricity, and that is not including the electricity power loss during the transmission from the power plants to grid to your house.

                            In other words, most of the the energy loss in using a gas stove is at your stovetop, whereas the energy loss in using an inudction stove is at the power plants and the transmission lines.

                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                              Gas cooking IS becoming increasingly less energy efficient as renewable energy sources become more popular.

                              1. re: cutipie721


                                I don't think it is possible for gas cooking to be less energy efficient. As of now, heat transfer from gas stovetop to cookware is about 40%. Unless you think our technology is going backward, that number is not going down.

                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                  That was my relative speaking, especially if you want to "account for the entire process" of energy production and delivery. My point still stands. As renewable energy becomes more popular by the day, energy efficiency of all things using electricity goes up. Hence gas cooking becomes dirtier and less efficient in comparison.

                          2. re: JerryMe

                            Hi Jerry,

                            Well, I am not sure if any one is literally forced to use induction. A lot of people like the heat response in a induction cooktop. Induction cooking is based on alternating magentic field to induce heat in your cookware, so your cookware need to have a strong magentic response. Cast iron and carbon steel cookware will certainly work. 18/0 stainless steel cookware will work. 18/10 stainless steel will not work. Neither will aluminum, copper, clay, stone, glass, ....

                            1. re: JerryMe

                              Most stainless steel and cast iron is induction compatible. Just look for it on the box when you buy your pots and pans.

                              1. re: RGC1982

                                Better than looking for "induction compatible' on the box, when you go shopping just take a magnet along with you. Any old refrigerator magnet will do, even those pliable plastic kind. If you pay attention, you will find that it sticks "stronger" to some pots and pan than it does to others. You want the ones that it is strongest with. It will have greater interaction with the induction cook top.

                                1. re: Caroline1

                                  Actually, you do want to use a weak magnet like those refrigerator magents. Like you said, there are magnetic pans, and there are MAGNETIC pans. A weaker magnet would do a better job in distinguishing them (for most people).

                              2. re: JerryMe

                                JerryMe: "Why and how would a person be forced to go to induction??"

                                Why would a person be forced to use electric fueled interior lighting instead of gas lamps? No one was, but over the past century gas lamps have declined into desuetude. Just from a functional superiority for purpose standpoint, induction cooktops have advantages over both resistive electric and gas cooktops as great as the advantage that electric lighting enjoys over gas lighting.

                                However, at least in commercial settings, and perhaps one day in residential settings as well, there is a fair possibility that differentials in insurance rates will provide powerful incentives ro switch to induction. No one ever caught his or her sleeve on fire from an induction "burner"; no spilled-over pot contents from an induction heated pot ever caught fire. No one has died from the enrichment of carbon dioxide inside the kitchen occasioned by the operation of an induction unit. The premiums of rational insurance companies will reflect the probabilities that claims may be filed.

                                Insurance companies give reduced automobile insurance rates to non-smokers, impose higher rates on physicians who perform obstetrics than physicians who practice other specialties, and charge higher malpractice insurance rates to lawyers who engage in the issuance of securities (stock offerings). Rational insurance companies at some point will commence to impose a surcharge for homes with gas or resistive electric cooking surfaces and will offer discounts to homes with only induction cooking surfaces. You can book that.

                            2. Gimme a D! Gimme an E! Gimme an M! Gimme an E! ...

                              I like Sur la Table, and if you are in the Philadelphia area, Fantes.

                              Also remember that the shape of a pot/pan is just as important as the construction. So, you may find a (lesser) brand that has the most versatile shape that you end up getting a lot of use out of.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: E_M

                                E_M wrote: "Gimme a D! Gimme an E! Gimme an M! Gimme an E! ..."

                                What is D...E...M...E?