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Help Me Choose a Moderately-Priced Stainless Steel Frying Pan

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I received a gift certificate to CSN Stores and decided to use it to buy a good frying pan. The only good frying pan I have at the moment is a cast iron skillet. Because of health/environmental concerns about non-stick, I've decided to get a stainless steel fry pan. I think I can learn to cook most anything in stainless steel, since I've already gotten to be pretty good with the cast iron skillet.

My main requirements are that:
1) it be relatively easy to clean (though it doesn't need to go in the dishwasher -- I usually hand-wash pots & pans)
2) that it be durable (last at least 10 years, preferable much longer). I don't want it to end up in the dump!
3) that it look good out of the box and stay attractive over the long-term (this is obviously related to no. 1 & no. 2 above)
4) I am in a stage of life where I move frequently. Thus, the pan needs to work well on all types of stovetops, since I can't predict what sort of stove I'll have. (No need for it to go in the oven, though, since the cast iron can do that.)

Although I don't want my pan to scratch easily and won't be buying a dedicated set of utensils to go with it, I do plan to read the materials that come with the pan and care for it as instructed (ie, this pan will get tender loving care)!

I think I have narrowed it down to three choices (all are similar in price).

Choice A:
Frieling Sitram Profiserie
8in - $49.95; 9.5in - $59.95; 11in - $84.95
A lot of people seem to like this line, though some people have found it doesn't work well on gas/electric ranges. Comes with a limited lifetime warranty. Handles are soldered (no rivets).

Choice B:
Demeyere Resto
8in - $54.95; 9.5in - $69.95; 11in - $89.95
A lot of people seem to like this line. Comes with a 2-year guarantee. Handles are soldered (no rivets).

Choice C:
Anolon Chef Clad
8in - $39.95; 10in - $69.95; 12in - $84.95
I haven't found any reviews about this line. I like the fact that the sizes are a little bit bigger (10in and 12 in versus 9.5 in and 11in). Comes with a limited lifetime warranty. Handles are riveted.

Also, would you recommend buying lids separately for any frying pans I may acquire?

If you could give feedback on the three lines mentioned above, I would be grateful. I am unlikely to consider other brands or lines since I am limited by my budget and by where I am going to make the purchase (due to wishing to use my gift certificate).

Thanks for your advice!

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  1. Just an observation, but if you spent as much time picking out a frying pan as you did composing this post, you'd be cooking by now. ;-)

    8 Replies
    1. re: CharlieKilo

      Hmm...
      I do see your point. But I thought writing this post was helping me to pick out a frying pan!

      Anyway, do you have any more thoughts or advice for me? I am a newbie when it comes to buying cookware! And while I realize I should experiment a bit to find out what I like, I'd love to get the feedback of experienced cooks on this site.

      1. re: Capri2

        I don't own any of these, but I figure no one has written to you, so I might as well say what I can.

        First, all of these cookware can be used on an induction stovetop, but I dare to say that the Anolon Chef Clad is not as even heating as the other two when used on an induction stovetop. On a traditional stovetop (electric or gas), Anolon Chef Clad may perform better.

        Frieling Sitram Profiserie has a disc bottom design. At the bottom of the cookware. It is 18/10 stainless steel cooking surface (interior surface), aluminum core, and probably 18/0 stainless steel exterior. The aluminum core is 6mm thick. This thick layer of aluminum will give you better heat eveniness, but it may also slow down heat response:
        "Extra thick 6mm aluminum core base sandwiched between stainless steel "
        http://www.cookware.com/Frieling-A201...

        Demeyere Resto also appears to be a disc bottom clad cookware. The bottom is not as thick as it is 4 mm total:
        "these products are manufactured from 18/10 stainless steel with an applied 3-layer bottom of 4 mm thick"

        http://www.demeyere.be/default.asp?SL...

        Anolon Chef Clad is only two-ply so it is not really a stainless steel cookware by standard definition. It has a stainless steel interior surface (cooking surface) and an aluminum exterior surface. Other important feature is that the aluminum is fully cladded. The aluminum goes up from bottom to top, unlike the your other two choices which only have aluminum at the bottom.

        If you absolutely need a triply stainless steel cookware or focus on induction cooking, you can forget the Anolon. If you like a full clad cookware that has good heat response and heat eveniness, then the Anolon appears to be a very good choice.

        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

          Just realized that you don't want the cookware easily scratched. Well, in that case, Demeyere Resto will be better than Frieling Sitram Profiserie due to Demeyere Resto's mat finish.

          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

            Thanks so much for taking the time to respond to my post! I have a few follow-up questions to what you wrote, and I apologize in advance if I misunderstood you at all or am asking about really obvious stuff. This is all very new to me!

            First off, I should say that being able to use my pans on an induction surface is probably the least of my worries. I will be cooking on gas/electric for the foreseeable future. Maybe when I settle down in a few years, I'll get an induction stove sometime after that, but if that ever happens, it is still a ways off. So performing well on gas/electric is far more important. So maybe the Anolon is best suited to my needs ...?

            I'm a little confused by what you wrote about two-ply vs. three-ply. Confused in two ways, actually. First is that, from reading other posts on this site and doing some other research, I had formed the impression that three-ply pans were pretty much the way to go, if you weren't going for non-stick. But you seem to say otherwise? I was hoping you might be able to clarify for me the circumstances, in your view, under which I would need triply stainless steel, and when the two-ply construction would be just as good or better?

            My second point of confusion is that you say the Anolon is only two-ply. But it is cladded? I guess I thought cladded meant the same thing as "triple-ply". So if cladded doesn't mean triple-ply, then what does it mean? My new understanding, based on what you said, is that 'cladded' means the stainless steel interior layer is covered or cladded by an aluminum outer layer, and thus, it is two-ply. Does two-ply/cladded always mean that the aluminum layer extends up the sides as well?

            So now I realize that my original post listed 2 lines that are 3-ply and one line that is 2-ply/fully cladded. So that is a big difference right there. And another difference (based on your comment below) is that Demeyere Resto doesn't get scartched as easily as does the Frieling Sitram, thanks to its finish. And a third big difference is that the aluminum core in the Frieling Sitram is thicker than in the Demeyere, leading to slower heat response but perhaps better heat evenness.

            Lots to think about ... Again, thanks again for your help! And if you can think of anything else that would help me make a decision, please do let me know!

            1. re: Capri2

              I had also considered Calphalon Contemporary Stainless Steel Omelette Pans and Calphalon Simply Stainless II Omelette Pans, but then I ruled out Calphalon because it seemed like it got a lot of bad reviews, but perhaps I was too hasty?

              The other line I was looking at is BonJour Stainless Clad, but I could never find any reviews about it.

              I'd heard that All-Clad was the best brand, but I don't think I need the best! And there's a limit to how much I will pay for a frying pan! So I never really considered All-Clad, but was looking for cheaper yet similar alternatives to All-Clad.

              1. re: Capri2

                Capri2,

                I don't have a Calphalon Contemporary Stainless Steel cookware or a Calphalon Simply Stainless cookware, but I do have Calphalon Triply Stainless saucepan and I am happy with it. What are the bad reviews about? I don't know much, but the Amazon reviews look good:

                http://www.amazon.com/gp/search/ref=s...

                Before answering your questions, let me just say that aluminum is a better heat conductor than stainless steel (SS). Aluminum heats up faster and provides a more even temperature cooking surface. This makes aluminum very attractive. However, aluminum is reactive especially to acidic foods. For this reason, it is beneficial to have a cookware made of aluminum body with a SS cooking surface.

                Now, to answer your questions, ply means the numbers of metal layers in a cookware. A tri-ply cookware is made of 3 layers, usually "SS-aluminum-SS". A two-ply cookware is made of two layers of metal. In this case, Anolon has an aluminum exterior and a SS interior. The mentioned triply cookwares are easier to take care of because they have SS all around, so the entire surface is nonreactive and durable. Needless to say, the SS interior surface (cooking surface) is more important than the SS exterior surface. By omitting the SS exterior surface, the cookware can respond to heat faster. This is the idea behind the Anolon's tw-oply cookware. Of course, this is a generalization. I am assuming the only difference is the lack of exterior SS surface. If 2-ply and 3-ply cookware are also difference in thickness, then that is another variable. You may want to find out from Anolon the thickness of its aluminum just to be sure.

                I should be a bit more clear about the scratch comment. Since Demeyere Resto and Frieling Sitram are made of 18/10 stainless steel, I don’t presume they will be very different in term of scratch resistance. However, Demeyere Resto has a mat/brushed exterior surface, while Frieling Sitram has a polished exteior surface. I believe the interior surfaces of both cookare lines are brushed, but you should double check on it.

                http://www.demeyere.be/default.asp?SL...

                So Demeyere Resto’s can better disguise light scratches. Kinda of like how people say black cars get dirty easier than a grey car. In reality, both cars are equally dirty. It is just that the grey car hides the dust better.

                Best wishes

                1. re: Capri2

                  Just to comment:

                  Calphalon Contemporary is a fully triply cookware (the cladding goes from bottom to the rim of the cookware). Calphalon Simply Stainless is a disc bottom (the cladding exist at the bottom only).

                  I don't know BonJour. I know you said you are not looking outside of the three mentioned lines, but in the case you are looking outside for a cheap and good triply cookware, then Tramontina Stainless steel cookwares have very good reviews from this website (you can search for older posts) and from Cooks Illustrated and others. I don't own one, but I have rarely read anything negative about them. They are fully triply and they are very inexpensive.

                  You can get a 8-piece set for $150 or you can get 2 frying pans for $44.

                  http://www.walmart.com/ip/Tramontina-...

                2. re: Capri2

                  Let me preface this by saying I'm not familiar with the brands you specified.

                  What size do you want? How many people do you cook for? If it's just you, are you more likely to fry two chicken breast halves and eat the other one tomorrow?

                  I wouldn't get an 8" pan as my first frying pan, so I'm kind of trying to determine whether you should get the 10" or the 12".

                  I see that CSN stores has an All-Clad 12" with a lid for $120: http://www.csnstores.com/All-Clad-511...

                  They have the 10" version with a domed lid for $90: http://www.csnstores.com/All-Clad-511...

                  I have All-Clad. I like it. It takes a little while to get used to cooking on stainless. I practiced a lot on filets of fish Meuniere, breaded boneless/skinless chicken breast halves, then deglazing with lemon juice or wine.

                  I didn't get a lid with mine. I wish I had.

                  I don't know how much your gift certificate is for, but maybe you could kick in a little more?

          2. I have had a very good experience with Cuisinox 3-ply 18/10 frying pan. They come in different sizes.

            1. Capri12: "Frieling Sitram Profiserie 11in - $84.95 ... Demeyere Resto 11in - $89.95 ... Anolon Chef Clad 12in - $84.95"

              Another option: http://www.chefsresource.com/11-fry-p... 11 in. $89.00

              1. Capri2, I don't have your specific brands, but I have used both encapsulated disk-bottom SS frying/omelette pans (older 9" Rachael Ray) & fully-clad pans (3-ply 10" Calphalon & 5-ply 10" All-Clad). There have been discussions here about construction types of pans that may be useful.

                Briefly, I don't care for the disk-bottom style. The heat stays on the bottom of the pan & I prefer the heat to travel up the sides for the kind of cooking I use it for. If you'll mostly sear & pan-fry things, then a disk-bottom may work okay. A fully-clad pan will cook more like the cast iron you're used to.

                I'd suggest going with one of the Calphalon options over the first three you selected.

                1. Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to weigh in on my dilemma.

                  These are the impressions that I am forming from everyone's comments.

                  -that fully clad (up the sides) is probably preferable to an encapsulated disk-bottom type pan because the pan heats up better for most types of cooking

                  - Politeness suggested a Kuhn Rikon Circolo pan, but unfortunately, this line is not carried by CSN stores.

                  - Eiron and Jay F mentioned All-Clad, but I really think this is out of my price range.

                  -Carissima likes Cuisinox. CSN Stores carries 2 lines of Cuisinox frying pans that I will further investigate: Cuisinox Elite and Cuisinox Gourmet. I think the Cuisonox Gourmet pans may have the disk bottoms. (I'm not sure, it's hard for me to make sense of the descriptions. Can anyone tell me for sure?). Cuisinox Elite is quite a bit more expensive.

                  -Jay F asks how many people I'm cooking for. Two, usually (my husband and myself). We love leftovers, so if I can make enough for two nights, that's great. So, yeah, a bigger pan is probably better. Especially for the long term ...

                  - Chemical Kinetics tells me that Calphalon Contemporary is fully tri-ply (up the sides), so maybe that is the way to go. Is it worth paying a little more for the tri-ply fully cladded versus the Anolon two-ply fully cladded?

                  -Chemical Kinetics also mentions Tramontina as being good, but alas, again CSN Stores fails to carry this brand.

                  Based on everyone's advice so far, I'm leaning towards the Anolon and taking another look that the Caphalon Contemporary Stainless line and maybe the Cuisinox Elite line. Overall, Anolon is a little cheaper, but I can get a Calphalon Contemporary Stainless 12 inch omelette pan for $69.95. Lid would be extra. Still, seems like a good deal.

                  - Jay F advises getting a lid with my pan.

                  Thanks for your help! I am going to continue to consider my options and will check back to see if anyone has left any more comments. Best wishes to all.

                  11 Replies
                  1. re: Capri2

                    I don't want to overwhelm you with too much more information, so I will keep it short.

                    1) some people believe fully cladded cookwares are better, some don't. It is a personal choice, and many people debate about this on this site.

                    2) Calphalon has three lines of stainless steel cookwares. a) Calphalon Contemporary Stainless Steel -- it is fully cladded, b) Calphalon Triply Stainless Steel -- it is also fully cladded and usually cheaper, c) Calphalon Simply Stainless Steel -- disc bottom cladded and cheapest of the three.

                    An example of Calphalon Triply Stainless 10" steel pan ($40) vs Calphalon Contemporay 10" ($90):

                    http://www.csnstores.com/Calphalon-17...
                    http://www.csnstores.com/Calphalon-LR...

                    Interestingly, the Calphalon Contemporary 12" ($70) is cheaper than Calphalon Triply 12" ($95) just because the Contemporary 12" is on sale.

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      If you do want to take it a step further and read up on different materials/uses and such.. here is a very informative link.

                      It's not brand specific but rather compares materials and shapes.
                      I'm not familiar with CSN but understand you are looking at lines they have readily available since that is where your gift certificate is for.

                      Hope this is helpful in picking your size/shape/material:

                      http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?/...

                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        Chemicalkinetics: "some people believe fully cladded cookwares are better, some don't. It is a personal choice, and many people debate about this on this site."

                        That is, I think, TOO simple. Capri2 is asking about frying pans, which typically are used for the cooking of solid foods within which there is no convection to speak of; the disagreements about clad construction apply mainly to the proper construction of saucepans ("casseroles"), which are used almost exclusively for heating liquids -- which efficiently support convection currents. Casseroles typically have vertical sidewalls to encourage that convection, and for cooking liquids in a pot with vertical walls, clad sidewall construction mainly heats the kitchen with the energy that better could be used to heat the contents of the pot and satisfies the status yearnings of the uninformed.

                        Frying and sautéing are a wholly different mode of cooking than the kind of cooking for which saucepans/casseroles are indicated. In the Demeyere lines of cookware, for instance, the vertical-wall pieces uniformly are of disk-bottom construction, and the curved bottom/side pieces are uniformly of clad construction. Before WMF acquired Demeyere, the old Demeyere website had extensive explanation why the company used different methods of construction for different kinds of cookware; perhaps someone with more time than I have could retrieve that discussion from webarchive.org (Wayback Machine).

                        FWIW, the Kuhn-Rikon Circolo frypan that yr obdnt srvnt suggested earlier in the thread that capri2 look into -- capri2 seems to have ignored the suggestion -- is of clad construction.

                        1. re: Politeness

                          "That is, I think, TOO simple"

                          It is not about being too simple. It is just a fact of life. Some people prefer fully cladded cookware, while others don't care. Some people prefer a single solid carbon steel frying panm. Now, you may not agree with the logic behind it, but it is what it is. I don't think a knife has to be forged bolster to be a good knife, but frankly some people care for it, others don't. It is just a fact of life.

                      2. re: Capri2

                        I forgot to say that I, too, recommend using a lid for many cooking operations. I didn't buy a separate lid simply 'cuz I have lids from other pans that also fit my 10" omelette pans. If you don't, then yes, I'd recommend buying one. ( A cheap "universal" lid could work for both the new pan & the cast iron.)

                        I don't recommend All-Clad in your situation. The price simply doesn't match your requirements. I do recommend Calphalon over Anolon. The SS exterior provides much greater wear resistance (sliding across burners/grates will wear thru the hard-anodized coating of aluminum in just a couple of years, exposing raw aluminum that will oxidize & transfer during use & washing), & the SS/Al/SS triple-layer construction should distribute heat better than the Al/SS two-layer construction.

                        1. re: Eiron

                          "the SS/Al/SS triple-layer construction should distribute heat better than the Al/SS two-layer construction."

                          Won't the aluminum be the main metal for heat distribution and therefore the additional stainless steel layer actually decreases heat response without providing significant increase in heat distribution?

                          Anyway, I do agree. The SS/Al/SS will have greater wear and corrosion resistance

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            Only assuming the aluminum is markedly thinner in the 3-ply pan than it is in the 2-ply pan. If they're close, then I believe that the heat should diffuse more evenly as it passes from material boundry to material boundry. (Of course, I've been mistaken before...) ;-)

                            1. re: Eiron

                              Eiron,

                              If you say so, I will believe you (for now anyway). :D Nevertheless, even the heat distribution maybe better (let's just say you are right), the heat response will be slower for sure -- due to the addition layer of stainless. :)

                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                We're back in that thermodynamics class again aren't we? How thick or how thin is that outer layer of SS anyway? If it's as thin as I'm guessing, I doubt it would significantly alter the reat response, but that will also depend on the thicnkess of the aluminum. Heat response is about two things, thermal conductivity and mass. Well three things, BTUs. If we hold the BTUs constant, then a change in the mass of the pan will change it's heat response. Again, I think we are probably talking about a change that most cooks are not going to be able to quantify. Just like a thin copper pan and a thick copper pan, even though they are both copper and good conductors, the heat response will be faster in the pan with less mass. If the outer SS layer is thin enough and the overall mass of the pan is not significantly changed, I don't think a perceptable change in heat response will be made.

                                The technical stuff is so fun for the engineering types ;) probably doesn't make a rats patutty in cooking though. Haha

                                1. re: mikie

                                  I think the technical stuff keep us honst though :)

                                  Yes, I agree, if the stainless steel layer is thin enough, then it won't matter in the conductivity part nor the thermal mass part.

                        2. re: Capri2

                          Judging by the picture on the website, mine is Cuisinox Elite.

                        3. Wow, lots of information here! Again, thank you! Some of it's going a bit over my head, but that's okay ...

                          It's getting late where I am, so I won't reply at length. I'll try to stop by again tomorrow.

                          I am now thinking that the Anolon line is NOT the way to go, since durability is a big concern of mine. It also sounds like the consensus leans towards fully clad SS/Al/SS versus disk-bottom SS/Al/SS. Going with a fully clad SS/AI/SS pan would actually rule out my 3 original choices, but that's fine. I didn't even fully understand their construction when I made those choices.

                          I'm now leaning towards the Calphalon Contemporary Stainless pan on the assumption that of the two Calphalon lines mentioned that are fully clad (Calphalon Contemporary Stainless Steel and Calphalon Tri-Ply), the Calphalon Contemporary is (usually) more expensive and thus better? (Actually, in this case, with the sale, it could be cheaper, so all the better.) At full price, Calphalon Contemporary is out of my price range, but on sale, it's doable. I should take another look at the Cuisinox lines, too.

                          To answer the person who was asking what my price range was, I was hoping to pay about $50-$70 for a good SS frying pan but can go a bit higher (but really don't want to go any higher $85 or $90). I would prefer a larger size, but if I can't get a larger pan that meets my criteria that's in my price range, then I'll get a smaller one for now, with the idea that this probably won't be the last pan I ever purchase!

                          Also, Politeness, just wanted to say sorry if it seemed like I ignored your earlier suggestion re: a Kuhn-Rikon Circolo. I certainly didn't mean to ignore your suggestion! -- it's just that CSN Stores doesn't carry this line, and I want to buy from CSN Stores in order to use a gift certificate. (I wouldn't be buying a pan at all right now if it weren't for the gift certificate.) But, believe me, I am squirreling all this advice away for the next time I am in the market for a frying pan, as well.

                          I really appreciate everyone's excellent advice and observations, even if sometimes there isn't perfect agreeement. And I'm definitely learning about fry pan construction. It's not quite so mysterious anymore.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Capri2

                            "the Calphalon Contemporary is (usually) more expensive and thus better? "

                            Not sure about better, but many people find Contemporary more attractive. You don't see a huge difference in look from the frying pans, but you can see a different look for sauce pans and stock pots. Like:

                            http://www.amazon.com/Contemporary-St...

                            vs

                            http://www.amazon.com/Calphalon-Tripl...