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Using Wagnerware - What am I missing not having LeCreuset?

I have just about every size of the old Wagnerware roasters and pans. They are heavy and great and I think they have a certain great "character" to them. Some of them belonged to my mother and a few I have happened upon at antique markets, flea markets etc. I use the various sizes for roasting, braising, osso buco,and everything else you can imagine. I truly enjoy cooking with this cookware.

That being said, I often look longingly at Le Creuset cookware. I am in love with their new cassis color. My daughter gave me some of the ceramic bakers and the little cocottes for Christmas and I have enjoyed using them. Now - I would like to have some reason to purchase one or more of the large iron roasters. My question is - what would be the advantage to using these over my Wagnerware? I just want to know what they can do better than what I am currently using. So many people seem to be huge fans of Le Creuset and I just want to know what advantages I am missing out on.
Please give me an excuse to buy some LeCreuset cookware...

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  1. Hi, Mothership:

    Obviously your bare CI reacting with acidic foods isn't bothering you. So the only culinary advantage I can think of is that you can see fonds better against the light enamel.

    Beyond that, the LC colors are... colors.

    1. If you want to spend the money so for it. Any benefits, don't think so!! I have Lodge and Tramontina and am very happy with both.

      1. Well, you can store your foods in a LC. Whereas it is probably not a good idea to store your cooked food in a bare cast iron cookware into a refrigator. Many will also tell you that LC cookware are more presentable, so you can put your LC in the middle of your dinning table.

        1. Actually the Wagnerware to which I refer is heavy, heavy aluminum - bright and shiny silver. It was also sold under the name Magnalite - but I refer to the old stuff, not the newer versions. It is not bare cast-iron, which I do love in skillets, but not in roasting pans, etc, because of acidity issues, as Kaleokahu said and other reasons as well.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Mothership

            Mothership: I'm with janniecooks... This is very fine cookware. There go your excuses.

            There was a time--not all that long ago, either--when aluminum was *the* most precious metal. Bonaparte had a set of Al dinnerware made for himself, and Al figures into the history of the Washington Monument.

            1. re: kaleokahu

              I didn't know that: N. Bonaparte was the one of the first person who pioneered aluminum cookware. Good to know.

          2. I'll gladly take that old wagnerware off your hands! All kidding aside, you aren't missing anything. That's great cookware, and you won't detect any different results using LeCrueset. Some folks are leery of aluminum cookware, and your post will likely elicit responses about the supposed health hazards of cooking with aluminum, but pay them no mind - you have great cookware and there's no reason to replace it.

            1. I've never used Wagnerware, or even seen it in person, so I don't know what specific need a piece of Le Creuset might fulfill, but if I were to pick just one piece, it would be one of the French ovens. The 5.5 qt round oven is generally considered the most universally useful. I use it for making sauces for pasta (Bolognese, besciamella), chili, and different stews and braises.

              I never thought of it as attractive, exactly, until about ten years ago, when Le Creuset replaced the set in Flame I bought in 1979 with equivalent pieces in Jade, under their lifetime warranty (I literally cooked so much in my first set of LC, I wore it out).

              The color wasn't something I thought about, particularly, in 1979. That set of LC just happened to be what I bought as my first set of cookware, on the recommendation of a friend who had owned a restaurant, and was showing and telling me how to make all sorts of things. The color was unimportant. Maybe I chose Flame because it was cheaper that day than the brown or yellow sets that were my only alternatives. I don't recall (I hate the three colors equally, so looks were never part of the equation).

              I found a lot in a color I do like, Indigo, last year at LC outlet stores, where you can save a lot of money. Here's their website. http://lcstores.com/locations.asp . If there's not one near you, call another store, and they'll ship to you. When I bought mine last year, they offered free shipping on purchases over $100.

              1. Well thank you all for your input. I do love my Wagnerware. Interesting about Napoleon. I think I might splurge on just one piece of LC anyway - I'm thinking the 7.25qt round oven. This because all my Wagnerware roasters are oval in shape. (See - I made my own excuse - I have no round roasters... ) And Jay - thank you for the recommendation about the outlet stores as well as about the 5.5 qt size, but my daughters (early 20's in age) have male friends that eat quite substancially. I'm doing 'big' cooking these days several times a week.
                Also, it is quite a relief to know what to do should I ever be forced to rid myself of my cookware - janniecooks, you'll be the first person I look up :).
                Thanks again everyone.

                6 Replies
                1. re: Mothership

                  The round 7.25 qt should be a very usefull size. We have 2.5, 5, and 8.8 quart French ovens and the 5 is sometimes a bit small and the 8.8 always seems a bit bigger than what we really need.

                  1. re: Mothership

                    Mothership: Before you go, and this thread is buried, would you post photos of your Wagnerware so those unfamiliar with this beautiful stuff can see it?

                    1. re: kaleokahu

                      I would love to, and actually tried to earlier, but I am semi (well, actually majorly) computer-illiterate. I will try again in a bit. If a picture doesn't show up, I will have to wait for one of my daughters to do it for me :o
                      So sad...

                      1. re: Mothership

                        Hopefully there is a picture attached here. If so, the big behemoth pan in the back is about 21 inches from handle to handle - perfect for a big batch of ossu buco. I use them all the time and (maybe) you can see that they clean up so very well. No seasoning necessary like cast iron or a wok, which I also love to use.

                        1. re: Mothership

                          Mothership: Thanks!

                          If this photo doesn't twang the modern SS crowd into some sort of salivary frenzy, all hope is lost. Older and USA sometimes IS better.

                          These are beautiful--in all senses. Let me be #2 in line to buy them if you ever decide to replace them?

                          Thanks again.

                          PS: Do you have an alarm system?

                          1. re: Mothership

                            I thought Wagnerware are cast iron cookware, but obviously these are aluminum cookware. I guess Wagner produced more than just cast iron cookware. I bet your daughter does not like these aluminum cookware since they cannot (should not) be put in a dishwasher.

                    2. This is definitely a case of the grass is always greener. That is some gorgeous cookware you've got there. Buy the LC if you want it cause it's pretty, but it sure doesn't look like you NEED it.

                      1. Sorry about the delayed response. I've been in my car driving from south Florida to New York (straight through - I'm pooped).. Thank you for the kind words. I love the look of this cookware too, but just thought there was some advantage to LC that I was overlooking. And there is always the something special about cooking in something that you watched your Mom cook in as you grew up and something you know your daughters will be cooking in after you are goine.
                        Kaleokahu - Yes on the alarm lol. But the bigger worry is that my "protective" pomeranian and shiba inu will slobber you to death and invite you in to give them a biscuit...
                        Chemicalkinetics - My daughters don't mind hand-scrubbing these. Now if I could just get them to take care of my actual cast-iron for me.
                        Grenish - Thank you. And like I said, I think I'll just go get the one pretty piece. I haven't quite mastered the theory of "Need it" in the kitchen. I work on the principle of "can I fit just one more thing in my kitchen?". :)

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Mothership

                          Just a quick comment on NEED. I remember my mother's cooking and kitchen very well. I grew up in a small house, commonly refered to by my mother as "a cracker box." Her kitchen was very small, but she was a fantastic cook. She didn't have anything fancy, or even really all that nice for that matter, old, cheap, dull knives, Revere pots and pans, about a half dozen of them, a hand held mixer, and a couple of cast iron frying pans, Pyrex pie pans and baking dishes, and that's about it. There were no LCs or even WagonerWare in our house, still she was able to cook some very good meals and the best pies ever.

                          When I look back on her kitchen, I don't ever try to justify a purchase on NEED, but if I want it, and I think it will make me half the cook she was, I don't feel bad about buying it.

                          1. re: mikie

                            "When I look back on her kitchen, I don't ever try to justify a purchase on NEED, but if I want it, and I think it will make me half the cook she was, I don't feel bad about buying it."

                            I think that is a great attitude to have. I absolutely agree with you. My Mom too was the same. Nothing fancy needed to cook wonderful meals for her family. And I don't think all the beautiful cookware in the world could make me the cook my mother was.

                            Now that my daughters are grown and I am finding myself with more time to spend in the kitchen, I love to be surrounded by first of all, my family and friends. Next, fresh and beautiful ingredients and finally tools and utensils that make my kitchen time more fun. And of course, the adventure of learning new techniques or finding a new cuisine to learn about makes it all the better.

                        2. Over the years I've tried every "Cookware du Jour" and always gone back to my vintage Magnalite by Wagner... it just does a tried and true better job! :) Perhaps it is the overall thickness of the unique magnesium aluminum blend or the convenient size or maybe just the versatility?

                          1. I have the enemaled cast iron Le Creuset au gratins and their roaster. They cook evenly, brown food wonderfully and the food stays warm in them nicely for serving.