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A pan-lids question that has been bugging me; anyone know the answer?

I bet someone here knows the logical reason (assuming there is one) for this. :-)

Okay: I love having a clear (tempered glass) lid on my pots and pan. I like to be able to monitor what's going on in the pot without having to constantly lift-and-check. My cookware is a mixture of Scanpan Classic (titanium/nonstick surface/glass lids) and various 18/10 stainless brands, some of which have lids and some do not. Some of those lids are stainless, others are glass.

Of the SS cookware, the least expensive (Farberware) is the only brand that has glass lids. The more expensive (Scanpan Steel, Henckels, Emerilware) lines have stainless lids. I see that the high-end stainless brands (AllClad, Calphalon, Demeyere, etc) all have stainless lids.

So here's my question: Is there a FUNCTIONAL (techie) reason that stainless cookware SHOULD have a SS, rather than a tempered glass, lid? If so, what is it? If a SS lid is "better" (in terms of how things cook in said pan or pot) than a glass one, then how and why?

If there's no functional difference, then is it simply a matter of marketplace-trendy appearance, or (cynic that I am, LOL) do manufacturers feel that a SS lid is more likely to support a higher pricepoint for the pan than a glass lid would?

IMHO it's annoying that the range of good SS cookware with glass lids is so limited. But as everyone knows I'm a PITA about handles and lids. ;)

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  1. My guess is that your high-end brands either are professional brands, or market themselves as professional brands. Professional kitchens are going to use all-metal lids.

    3 Replies
      1. re: c oliver

        Less fragile for one. Probably actually cheaper too - ironically, since the high-end professional-quality-at-home brands are mostly way overpriced.

        1. re: c oliver

          Why? Fragility of glass is the answer, but it is not only cost-of-replacement. There are worker and food safety issues as well. Broken glass in food served to the public and in workplaces subject to trial lawyers, workers' comp and industrial insurance--never a good idea, even if it rarely happens. Picture your favorite restaurant pitching the contents of every open container and pan within 15 feet of the dropped glass lid.

      2. just speculation here, but I think it's possibly due to durability if the lid is dropped. Tempered glass is tough but can still crack, chip, or shatter but a dented lid will still function as a lid :)

        1. dessert_diva, one suspects that you have limited your search too narrowly.

          Our Demeyere Apollo pots came with (European borosilicate) Pyrex glass lids. http://www.demeyere.be/default.asp?CI...

          Chantal Copper Fusion pots come with see-through lids. http://www.amazon.com/Chantal-Copper-...

          Several lines of the superb Hackman (same company as iittala) cookware have glass lids -- with vents, even. http://www.hackman.fi/web/hackmanwww....

          There are lots and lots of fine pots and pans that are not sold at Bed Bath & Beyond; expand your horizons.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Politeness

            I would most definitely expand my cookware horizons IF ONLY my budget would expand proportionally, LOL!

            But alas, I must somehow prioritize my somewhat limited allotment of available cash across the wide and varied world of cooking apparatus (pots, pans, knives, appliances, etc). Such is the reality of life when one doesn't practice Deficit (credit card balance) Spending! :D

            1. re: Politeness

              Politeness and DD: And now Chez Target carries Chantal Copper Fusion. http://www.target.com/Chantal-Copper-...

              And here it's marked down 82%: http://www.buycheapr.com/us/result.js...

              1. re: kaleokahu

                Out of curiosity I should see if my local brick and mortar Target has one of these on the shelf, as I'm curious to see what they look and feel like in person.

                I can't shake the resemblance to the enameled metal cookware that my mom used while I was growing up in the 1950s ..... (there, I've dated myself, LOL)

                And yes she had one of those big black-with-speckled covered roasters too!

            2. An interesting perspective. I prefer metal because all of the glass ones I have ever used seat down in a lip and sputter as soon as whatever is inside gets hot (not even to a boil). So I use a metal lid from another pot on the stockpot that came with a glass lid! My absolute favorite lids are the ones that are just a disk with a pigtail handle extending from the center out about 5 or 6 inches past the edge. Of course that means I cannot see what is going on side and so must peek, which means I must taste. O well... I'd gladly give you the glass lid from my W-S generic pasta/stockpot (looks like about 11 qt. so is probably the equivalent of a French # 24, which I assume is diameter expressed in cm). On my larger pans (like 14" fry pan) I use random things (cookie sheets) as lids. You might try an inverted Pyrex pie plate if the pan in question is deep enough to accommodate the dip.

              1 Reply
              1. re: tim irvine

                I've been able to swap lids occasionally too, but in most cases it doesn't end up being a functional fit (i.e., sputters and such).

                W-S used to make a house-brand stainless stockpot with a glass lid? I see they only have brand-name ones on the website currently. It figures they'd no longer have it when I no longer want nonstick. :/

              2. I have never had any problems finding separately sold glass lids (with vents) to fit all my pots and pans. I even have nice vented glass lids that fit perfectly on my Le Creuset dutch ovens. I think that European (and Japanese) pots, pans, and lids are manufactured in standard centimeter sizes, making it a simple matter to buy a 26-cm glass lid for your 26-cm pot.

                PS. I actually like to have three lids for all my pots: glass with vent, stainless steel, and wood.

                1. SS will retain the heat better than glass though I am not sure by how much or if it really matters for most dishes prepared at home.

                  1. Tramontina try ply SS cookware is switching to glass lids. I prefer the current SS lids.

                    1. Both SS and tempered glass lids are available for the excellent Cuisinox Elite line from Canada. (I recently purchased two of their saucepans.) The default lids are the SS ones. I don't know if you can get cookware with the glass lids instead, or if you have to purchase them separately. If it's the latter case, they are relatively inexpensive.

                      1. I would suspect it's the durability and ease of cleaning. I'm rough on my cookware so I avoid using glass. I do have glass lids and they are used when making stock. SS lids are much easier to clean. It doesn't have that hard to reach and clean seam between glass and metal rim. Dries faster as well.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: pabboy

                          I agree, that's why I don't care for the glass lids. Besides that, I've never really been able to see much through them anyway due to the steam.

                        2. I dislike the glass lids simply because, like you, my budget does not support spending a ton of money on cookware: I know that the glass is tempered, but I am still uncomfortable putting a glass lid in the oven (and the cheaper it is, the greater my anxiety). I have a set of stainless lids that I use, and have found that I prefer them for stove-top use as well (for different reasons).

                          I suspect that some manufactures see the SS lid as more durable, less likely to have to be replaced at either a cost to the producer or the consumer, and can also easily be used either in the oven or on the stove without worry.

                          1. I think it has more to do with buyer preferance than anything else. For example, my favorite stainless steel pans are Demeyere Atlantis, and right now they are incredibly expensive for me, as they are made in Belgium. You can buy glass lids for Demeyere as an option -- even though I hate glass lids with a passion and would never consider purchasing one. I only buy Atlantis or even Apollo with stainless steel lids. I don't believe that I ever noticed a difference in the price of a glass versus stainless steel, but if I had to bet, glass is less expensive. You can spend as much on one Demeyere pan as an entire set of Faberware, so I really don't think it is a pricing strategy as much as an effort to attract buyers with different preferences.

                            You may be wondering why I hate glass so much. It has to do with durability and how you store your cookware. I strongly prefer never having to worry about storing glass lids, which I find awkward, and I don't have a problem opening up a lid to check on my cooking if something is going low and slow on my cooktop or in my oven.

                            1. Ok this doesn't exactly discern between glass and SS but there is some logic to it but that logic isn't always used by the manufacturers. There are basically two types of lid shapes, flat and domed. The flat lid is designed to lift off of the pan as the pressure increases thereby releasing the steam. The domed is designed to return as much liquid to the pan as possible.

                              1. Aside from the basic materials, glass lids are usually domed sharp, whereas as stainless steel lids are often flat -- a point SanityRemoved has nicely pointed out. Glass lids have the see-through advantages, but glass lids often are more difficult to clean the seam area and glass lids are not as durable as stainless steel lids.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                  I have glass lids that get used alot and have never had one break and cleaning is as easy as metal. I think it's just an irrational bias --- and that's alright :)

                                  1. re: c oliver

                                    Yeah, I have never seen a glass lid broken neither. They are pretty tough, but once awhile I hear accounts of broken glass lids.

                                    Glass is as easy to clean as metal if not more. However, many glass lids are made of a glass surface and a metal rim, and some find it difficult to clean the seamline between the glass and metal:


                                    Now, full glass lids like those from the old Pyrex are very easy to clean, but those are rare these days:


                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                      Wow, I like that FULL glass lid (handle too). Never seen one of those. However, only 3 of my 8 glass lids have the metal rim; the Scanpan lids are all-glass except for the (handily removable) top knob. The Scanpan lids are these, in various sizes.


                                      They are my favorite, although I have to say that the metal rimmed ones (all Farberware) are very tight and I've never had a problem cleaning them. Unfortunately the rims on the Scanpan lids are designed for the Scanpan pots and just do not fit other brands... the Scanpan diameters are apparantly just that 1/8" or 1/4" different.

                                      I also much prefer a domed lid, don't care for flat ones. I find sputtering to be much worse with flat metal lids, and like the almost "self basting" effect of the domed glass lid. The Scanpan lids are noticeably higher (more domed) than the Farberware ones.

                                      That's a REALLY nice Australian lid. Now that makes 2 things Australian that I admire and wish I had/could find. The other is a gem scone pan..................

                                      1. re: dessert_diva

                                        :) Cool. I didn't know you have these glass lids. In that case, your glass lids (without metal rim) will be easier to clean than metal lids. As for glass lids with metal rim being easy/difficult to clean, it really depends on the design.

                                        As for domed lids vs flat lids, I think SanityRemoved has described quite well. The flat metal lids are often lighter and will open and close at a lower pressure -- thus they are not as good for keep the steam.

                                2. DD: I'm late to this thread, but for what it's worth, I don't see any functional difference. As others have opined, shape matters--a little.

                                  Here's a qualified exception to the rule at the extreme margin. Last year I scrounged on eBay a domed copper lid for a #10 Dutch Oven. It was obviously homemade by a skilled machinist, as it is over a quarter inch (6mm+) thick, and has a swaged brass internal rim to keep it--and vapor--in place. This lid alone weighs about 10 pounds! For long, slow, cooktop braises and stews in copper rondeaux, I can tell a difference in outcome and times over those of the past when I used a SS lid from a big, thin Revereware pot. If I know I'll be finishing steaks or eggs, I warm this lid a bit and perch it over whatever whatever pan I'm using, and I like the results.

                                  Happy Holidays.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: kaleokahu

                                    A ten-pound lid?! Gee, if it fit onto your new copper stockpot, the combo would probably weigh more than I do. j/k :D But 50%, definitely...

                                    How was the party the other night? Any comments on your antique English beverage tub? :D

                                    1. re: dessert_diva

                                      DD: The lid in question fits a #10 DO, so it would need to be twice the diameter to fit the Elkington 16-incher.

                                      I did use the "tub" for the party and filled it with ice, bottles and cans. Yes, those who recognized it as a real pot were incredulous.

                                      Happy Boxing Day!

                                  2. I have a Revere pot and pan set (stainless steel, copper bottom). Both the stock pot and the frying pan are the same diameter, yet only one stainless steel lid for them came in the set. So I went to my Corning/Revere outlet store and bought a new lid- in glass. I find the glass lid as durable as the SS one. I throw them both into the back of the cupboard, none the worse for wear.

                                    There is one difference: the stainless steel lid has a handle (u-shaped), the glass has a knob. You could thread the frying pan handle thru the SS lid if you wanted to hang it on a pot rack. You could not do that with the glass lid.