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May 9, 2011 09:05 AM

Choosing Cookware -- Help?


I posted this in the wrong section earlier, thanks to those who let me know about the Cookware section :)

I’m looking at purchasing all new skillets, pots and pans for my kitchen, but I’m not sure which brand to invest in. I am torn between T-Fal, Calphalon, Paula Deen and Le Creuset.

I realize this is a wide price range, but I was basing my options off of the best selling items on Amazon.

Speaking in terms of my budget, I've been saving up for this purchase for awhile and am braced to spend upwards of $1,000 on my new cookware set.

I already plan on picking up some un-seasoned Lodge pieces, as I have the most experience with cast iron. However, the Lodge pieces will be in addition to a nice set from one of the four above-mentioned manufacturers. Most of the items in my kitchen are black or chrome, so I would like whichever brand I go with to have a wide range of items in either color. But if it’s a matter of quality, color is not important.

Any personal experience, stories and advice involving these four manufacturers is appreciated greatly.

Additionally, I’m looking to purchase some clay cookware and I am leaning towards Romertopf. Does anyone know of a better company or have experience with Romertopf?

P.S. I apologize if this post is elsewhere, I am new to the site and not very acquainted with the search function.

  1. From the original thread in the home cooking forum, I see you are planning to get some individual pieces and not an entire set. That's a good idea.

    I wouldn't touch a Paula Deen pan with a ten-foot pole. Pretty colors, cheap manufacturing, not made to last. Ditto T-Fal.

    Le Creuset enameled cast iron lasts a lifetime and beyond time if taken care of (use wooden or melamine utensils, let it cool down before soaking, hand wash with non-abrasive scrubbie). Items that make good use of the material are oval gratin pans (a large one, #36 or #32 can be used as a roaster), Dutch ovens (3.5-7 qt round or oval), and braisers (3.5-5 qt). Some are available in black, but it's my guess you'll be happier for longer if you go with white or one of the beautiful colors.

    I have a forty-year-old Romertopf that gets used about once every two years, just fine for what it does. Don't have any experience with other makers of clay pots.

    I had a Calphalon 2 qt saucepan, heavy aluminum w/anodized surface, that I loved for its responsiveness and proportions -- but after a few years the surface wore through. I haven't bought anything but all-metal or enameled cast iron since. Calphalon sells made-in-China tri-ply stainless, of which their 3-qt saucier is the most appealing item.

    Pay less attention to what sells at Amazon and more to what kinds of cooking you like to do (or want to do but are limited by your current equipment). Heavy, clad pieces are best for frying pans/skillets and sauciers (rounded saucepans). Stainless with aluminum or copper disk bottoms are best for straight-sided items: saucepans, saute pans, and soup pots (4- to 8-qt pots wider than tall).

    1 Reply
    1. re: ellabee

      Thank you for your in-depth answer :) I’m so glad I decided to ask here (blunder and all) before I made my purchase. My fiancé and I sort of fell in love with the Paula Deen look and almost bought a huge set of them. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your direct feedback on them.

      Sounds like I’ll be going with Le Ceuset and Calphalon. It’s a big investment, I’m equally excited and nervous about making my purchase. I’ll wait for a week or so to get as many replies here as possible, I really want to make the right purchase the first time.

      Now, headed to my Amazon Wish List to delete all Paula Deen and T-Fal items. :)

    2. The original comment has been removed
      1. Hi, all. Please refer to this duplicate thread. We'll be locking this one,