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Jul 5, 2011 06:14 AM

Best 12" chef/saute pan?

Hello -

Looking to buy a reat 12" pan. I liked the Le Creuset, but...wife said it is too heavy. I saw a very nice looking pan someone called a "black steel" pan, but have never seen one for sale. Has anyone used a Chantal, All-Clad, etc pan?

Thought welcome.


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  1. The All-Clad saute and simmer pan is what you need. It's a little larger across the top at about 12.75". It's an awesome pan. Very versatile and comes with a cover.. Williams Sonoma has it, and Amazon. The WS outlets had them for $65 in the stainless. That was months ago, but worth a call. It's a combination of a saucier, skillet, braiser, and saute pan.

    1. Le Creuset is probably not a good choice for a saute pan in my opinion. The black steel pan you refer is probably something along the line of the blue steel pan of DeBuyer pan. Not saying that you were looking at a deBuyer pan, but that they are probably similar cookware:

      As for All Clad, it produces various different lines of cookware, but most people, without specification, refer to the triply stainless steel-aluminum cookware, which is aluminum core cladded between two layers of stainless steel. As for Chantal, they are known for its enameled on steel cookware.

      I think you are asking a very wide range of cookware designs and brands. Before deciding what brand you want, it is much more important to know what design you want. It is like deciding that you want a sedan or a truck, before deciding the a Toyoto or a Ford.

      I can make an argument for a carbon steel pan, but I can also make an argument for a stainless steel-alumium cladded pan. I also know many people love copper-based pan, but it is ultimately what you want. For example, a seasoned carbon steel pan is fairly nonstick and can handle very high heat; a triply stainless steel-aluminum cookware has reasonably good heat conductivity and therefore produces an even heating surface, and it can go into an automatic dishwasher without problems. A good copper based cookware has extremely good heat response and very even heating surface, but it is expensive.

      23 Replies
      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

        Thanks Chem! Good points.

        I cook over electricity, do NOT want a non-stick finish, need a pan that can hold enough chicken pieces for 4 without crowding, do not want to deal with a copper finish, use it mostly for sauteing and braising, it must be oven-proof, but no need for it to be broiler-proof.

        Does the above help?

        1. re: Westy


          The nearly nonstick like surface from the black steel or blue steel pan is not the telfon nonstick surface. It is seasoning surface like what people refer for cast iron cookware. The downside of a carbon steel pan is the same as a cast iron pan. It is not the best heat conductor, so the heating surface is less uniform. It is not a problem if you move the food around. It is oven proof.

          A triply pan has a lot what you are looking for. It usually has an aluminum core, and it has a relatively good even heating surface. Its surface is very easy to deal with. You can put it in a dishwasher. You can put into a sink without washing it in days. Most triply cookware are oven proof: stainless steel and aluminum can handle oven without any problem. You just have to find one without rubber or plastic attach to the cookware, which is not difficult. The only downside for a stainless steel surface cookware is that meats (proteins) tend to stick to it, but if you use the correct technique, then you can avoid/minimize this.

          So it sounds like a cladded cookware is the way to go for you. Obviously, All Clad is very well known in this area. Cheaper alternatives included the Emerilware Pro Clad, Calphalon Triply, Cuisinart MultiClad Pro, Tramontina TriPly...etc.

          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

            Chem, do you think the following statement, from bakedeco's web site you linked above, is a mistake?

            "Note: Blue steel pans can be used only with induction" ( I thought you had the blue steel one and have used it on a regular stovetop w no problem?

            (I have one too but have been waiting for bakedeco to switch mine out due to cracked handles, as you might recall -- they were waiting for a new shipment to come in from France -- so haven't tested it yet).

            Not sure if this is relevant to the OP anymore if s/he goes with triply, but just in case wanted to clear it up and you are the expert-in-residence. :-)

            1. re: iyc_nyc


              Hey, I posted the link without read that. Very good catch. That statement is definitely incorrect. There is no way this pan can only be used with induction cooking. I am certainly no expert-in-residence, but I don't think it takes an expert to know that statement is false either.

              Man, it is taking bakedeco too long to switch your pans. I bet it has been 6 months by now. Have you shipped your pans to bakedeco already? They should have just give you back the money and let you shop elsewhere.

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                Thanks, Chem - that's what I thought, but seemed odd that bakedeco would mistakenly post such a definitive statement like that (in clear contrast to their descriptions for the regular steel de Buyers, which they explicitly mention as being suitable for all sorts of cooktops and ovens). I'll probably write them to flag for them.

                Yes, they finally got new pans in from France (as of a month or so ago) but said they had the same cracking problem, on every singleone (!) -- so I might just stick with what I have. Haven't had a second to think about it so was going to deal with once I could pull out the pans again and make sure I could live with the cracking. :-)

                1. re: iyc_nyc

                  "so I might just stick with what I have"

                  Can you just ask them for money back? Tell Bakedeco that this is not an acceptable product (which I am sure believe they agree) and that you have already waited for more than reasonable amount of time for a replacement (which I surely believe they would also agree). Then take the money and buy your pan in a store which you can walk in and check out the product. Sure, you will probably have to add a few dollars here and there, but it would be a pan you envision.

                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    Chem, they offered to take them at the beginning of this saga and wld pay return postage too . :-) But unless I get mineral, don't tk the straight carbon steel pans anywhere else will be any better, bc they are straight from de Buyer??

                    I'll probably try cooking in them for a while, and if I fall in love w the pans, I might 'upgrade' and try to find them (or mineral) with intact handles. The mineral ones at WS unfortunately don't have a helper handle for the 12" and I tk it'd be too cumbersome to use.

                    1. re: iyc_nyc

                      I bought the debuyer "carbone plus' pans from and they are the best pans I've ever used.The 12" pan comes with the helper handle.These pans are less expensive than the "mineral" but just as good IMHO

                      1. re: petek

                        Petek, thanks for this report. Does the helper handle on your 12" carbone plus have any cracking where they're attached to the pan, like the cracks on the attached photos?

                        That's what Chem and I were discussing -- my 12" carbone plus have these cracks and jagged edges and I'm trying to figure out if I can find them w/o cracks anywhere. If not, I'll likely keep mine.


                        1. re: iyc_nyc

                          icy_nyc:: I just took a closer look at my pan, and what do do know, it has almost the exact same crack,mine are almost in the middle.I never noticed it before so I'm not sure it's due to"normal"(I use mine in a very hot oven for extended periods of time) wear&tear or that I just never noticed because of the dark patina that has formed over the entire pan.
                          Your pan looks a lot newer than mine.Did you notice the cracks before you used it?

                          1. re: petek

                            Sadly, the pans are new and I haven't used them at all yet. I'll spare you the saga, but the short version is that I've been waiting for the retailer (bakedeco) to replace them due to the cracked handles, but apparently all the new inventory that just came in is more of the same. So it sounds like the de Buyer carbonne plus helper handles are just made this way.

                            My guess is that yours have always been that way too. Wonder if they've worsened over time, if your crack extends to the middle (?).

                            I likely will just keep mine at this point!

                            1. re: iyc_nyc

                              "Wonder if they've worsened over time, if your crack extends to the middle (?)."

                              Sorry,what I meant to say was the crack isn't as high up as your,it's more in the center.

                              I'd keep it if I were you,like paulj said,it's more of a cosmetic defect than a structural one.But I also agree with kaleokahu,these pans shouldn't have left the factory with this kind of glitch,poor QC.Luckily for me I don't use the helper handle much(thanks to my huge Popeye like arms :D)

                              1. re: petek

                                "thanks to my huge Popeye like arms :D"

                                You sure it is not Popeye's wrist. :P

                                I am sure most people have enough arm muscle to hold a pan with one hand, but lack the wrist strength to keep the pan straight. :P

                                Yeah, the QC is pretty bad. You are not buying a $5 pan.

                          2. re: iyc_nyc

                            Hi, iyc_nyc:

                            I'm astounded by your photos. This is 2011, not 1911 or even 1811. This is very sloppy, retrograde work and finish. Is de Buyer a ISO 9000 company? What excuse are they making for putting these mistakes on the market? I mean, the modest price of the pan is no justification for poor workmanship or CQC.


                            1. re: kaleokahu

                              My guess is that those cracks were caused by excessive clamping force in the spot welding jig. They are cosmetic defects, not structural. Their restaurant clients probably don't worry about that sort of defects, since the pans will get mistreated by cooks and dishwashers anyways. The same goes for scratches caused by stacking the pans during shipping and handling.

                              1. re: paulj

                                All makes total sense - don't care as much about cosmetic so keep them I will. From another thread posted recently on these boards, it sounds like the mineral De Buyers have problems with the handle coating discoloring/peeling - -plus the 12" don't seem to have helper handles - so will just stick w these.

                                My arms are more scrawny than popeye-ish so I sorta need the helpers.

                                Thanks again to all of you for your help. Saga over, hopefully - and I can now just enjoy the pans!

                                1. re: iyc_nyc

                                  and I can now just enjoy the pans!

                                  And I'm sure you will! I can't believe I waited so long to buy these pans,and I cook for a living! Just be sure to get a nice seasoning going,hand wash(no dishwasher) and keep them lightly oiled in between uses.

                                  1. re: petek

                                    Thanks, Petek -- can't wait! And lucky you that you're a pro - if i had a second life, that wld be top on my list. :-)

                                    1. re: iyc_nyc

                                      Sometimes I think I'm lucky,other times not so's a living :D

                                    2. re: petek

                                      Thanks, petek -- can't wait to finally use these things.

                                      Nice that you're a pro -- if we had a second life, that wld be top on my list. :-)

                                2. re: kaleokahu

                                  Haha, i'm just going to relish the imperfections. Next to my 1911 Griswolds (that are perfectly made :-)).

                    2. re: iyc_nyc

                      On the DeBuyer site, the Blue steel pans do NOT have the induction symbol, while Carbone Plus does. Looks like they think induction should only be used with pans thicker than 2mm. I suspect they have high power restaurant induction burners in mind. I have no problem using a Force Blue at 1500w. With higher power (that includes a high power gas burner) there is more chance of warping thinner pans.

                      I'd say Bakeco has the induction warning backwards.

                  2. re: Westy

                    I usually use my Le Creuset buffet for that purpose. I like the loop handles better than a long one. I like my All-Clad also, but I don't have their saute pan, just the fry pan with lid.

                2. The LC...are you referring to their enameled cast iron or stainless? I agree with Chem, the ECI would not be my first (or second) choice for a saute pan. If you refer to the stainless, you won't be able to get much lighter. Cookware needs to have some heft to it. If it is too light it means that there isn't a lot of medium to conduct or retain heat.

                  Anyway, black steel is a completely different material than stainless, as Chem says. You will have to provide more information as to what you are looking for. Or, Blondelle's AC recommendation is a very good general all purpose pan. It would be worth trying out to get a feel for the handles, the size, the weight, etc.

                  1. I think the pan you are looking for is the Tramontina Tri-ply stainless steel saute pan.


                    It has nearly tge performance of the All-Clad at a fraction of the orice.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: John E.


                      While at it and talking about Tramontina, an equally interesting choice is this one:


                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        Sorry about the typos. When I post on here using the iPhone that happens but I prefer my own typos to what shows up on the auto-correct, that's why I shut it off.

                        We actually have both the Tramontina 12" tri-ply SS saute pan ($38 at Walmart) and the jumbo cooker with SS lid ($20 Goodwill) and love them both. After getting them, the question I came up with was why did we wait so long? We still use nonstick for some things but these get used all the time.

                        1. re: John E.

                          :) Don't be sorry about the typos. I had a lot more than you do. I just thought I could get to you to edit the post before the post was locked. Yeah, I dislike auto-correction as well.

                          Good to know that you have good experience with both Tramontina pans. I am sure this information will be very useful for the original poster as well as others in the future.

                      2. re: John E.

                        Yes, the Tramontina tri-ply stainless-steel sauté pan is excellent, and I don't have it but I imagine the "jumbo cooker" would be great too. Extremely well made, especially for the price. I use mine several times a day, over high heat and in the oven; it's indestructible and easy to clean.

                      3. My first piece of All-Clad was the 4 qt saute/simmer in the d5 line. It sold me on AC, and I quickly acquired additional d5 pieces. I cook a lot of chicken recipes in it, and have used it to make chili too. I highly recommend it. I usually reach for it in place of my stainless (non All-Clad) 12" fry pan, as it just holds more. Makes terrific pan sauces too. I also use it for a few pasta recipes, and like that I can finish things off under the broiler if need be. My only reservation is that the pan itself is a little too large for the largest hob of my ceramic stove. I have to adjust for this when cooking chicken. If you decide to go with AC, I think you should check out the d5 as the handles are different from the regular AC stainless line, and much more comfortable to hold, especially when the pan is full. I'm not sure if AC is changing the handles on the new and improved "regular" stainless line they are supposed to be introducing. Just yesterday I handled a few pieces of the regular AC at Macy's, and I was surprised at just how uncomfortable the handles were. The d5 4 qt. saute/simmer is about $150 at WS.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: primarycook

                          I have the 4 Q saute/simmer d5 and love it too -- tk it'd meet your (OP's) specs nicely.