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Alternatives to All-Clad for a weakling like me

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My parents have All-Clad and I love it, and I am sort of (not completely!) used to cooking with it. Naturally I registered for it as I am getting married soon. Thanks to this website I realize that there are many other wonderful types of pots 'n pans out there. Can you please recommend something equivalent to All-Clad in quality that is more lightweight or just easier to handle? I am petite and frequently have to use two hands if I am moving a pot to the sink to pour out something. If there is not I will manage my own way!

Also want to add I love this website! I was fortunate enough to grow up with two parents that enjoy cooking so I have been spoiled with All-Clad, Emile Henry, French porcelain bakeware that I can't pronounce, all the tools I ever needed, old-school vintage tools and corningware meanwhile thinking all of it was the norm. It's fun to learn about all of the other great cookware out there. My fiance has really crappy nonstick cookware, he eats the soup straight out of a pot with a metal spoon. His only other tools were cheap plastic spoons and spatulas with melted spots on them. The blender leaks. I have been chopping food for 3 years with dull steak knives with warped wooden handles. He asked me why the All-Clad is necessary, and what is wrong with the pots you can get from Walmart! Fortunately I work for a company that is a Foodservice distributor so I have been able to collect some things. He will appreciate my expensive cookware choices in the end I think.

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  1. Which All Clad line? I have a Copper Core 10" frying pan that's quite heavy, but I also have a Calphalon Tri-ply 10" frying pan that's about half the weight of the AC CC pan at maybe 90% of the performance (& only 1/5 the price).

    1 Reply
    1. re: Eiron

      I don't know what my parents have, I know I can't see copper on it so it isn't that. I am registering for the Master Chef line, with the brushed exterior. Theirs is regular shiny stainless, with one Master Chef pot that I love. It's that pot that made me want to go with the MC line.

    2. Hi, Mojave:

      You've come to the right place. You will get a lot of advice here, I bet. Mine to you will be limited.

      If you struggle with AC's weight and you want to be a good and self-satisfied cook, I think you must focus on cookware (at least the larger pieces) that are all or mostly aluminum. Thin cookware is generally substandard, and only thick aluminum is light, ergo.... The alternative is strength training.

      My other main piece of advice is to never develop the habit of thinking you need to buy *sets* of cookware, for it is a hard habit to break. Buy ad hoc, the best piece for the job. No company makes the best piece for all things, let alone in the same line.

      Minor disabuse: WallyWorld actually carries some pretty good clad and CI cookware these days. Don't reject that source without digging into the details.

      Congratulations, I Wish You a Lifetime of Happy Cooking.
      Aloha,
      Kaleo

      3 Replies
      1. re: kaleokahu

        I don't struggle horribly with AC but it is awkward for me. Part of it is also that I am 5' tall so counter tops are always just a tad too high for comfort. I frequently find myself on my tiptoes when I am chopping food or really concentrating on what I'm doing, just to get that extra inch or two. It may just be something I have to deal with! Reaching for the top shelf at the grocery store is always a pain, but I do fit on airplanes!

        Thanks for the tip on the aluminum - probably would not go with all aluminum but maybe some in the core.

        I didn't realize Walmart carried that stuff. Last time I was in it was all Paula Dean and teflon.

        1. re: Mojave

          Have you tried wearing clogs? I'm a little taller than you but have slightly higher countertops and find clogs helpful if I'm standing doing a lot of chopping or something where being just a smidge taller gives you better leverage.

        2. re: kaleokahu

          Oh! And forgot to add, you are right about the sets. I did find one that had what I needed, but I also will need a 12" fry pan.

          http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/produ...

        3. Well, congratulations on the upcoming nuptials.

          I think you're more or less screwed when it comes to the weight, but there's nothing quite like a little strength training to deal with the current lack of upper body strength.

          There are different All-Clad lines and the later ones (e.g. D7, Cop-r-Core) have different handles which you might find more comfortable. Or you can do the carbon steel thing, or go the other way and pick up Demeyere. The MC2 is stainless inside and aluminum outside so theoretically slightly lighter than Stainless.

          Its only weakness, which it shares with all-aluminum, is its inability to be used on induction, but if you're using another heat source that's irrelevant. I think everyone's already told you to pick only the items that you need.

          As for the 30" height countertops, you can contend with that when it comes time to purchase a house and renovate the kitchen. In the meanwhile, cooking clogs?

          1 Reply
          1. re: wattacetti

            She may have trouble with the Demeyere. It it even heavier than the AC. I have several pieces and love it but my wife ( when she does cook) thinks it is too heavy. I think it is the best SS cookware available.

          2. "Can you please recommend something equivalent to All-Clad in quality that is more lightweight or just easier to handle"

            It is tough, and I will tell you why it is tough to get lighter and keep the same quality. The reason people like All Clad (triply stainless steel-aluminum) is that it is a cladded cookware: stainless steel exterior, aluminum core, stainless steel interior, click the link below:

            http://a57.foxnews.com/static/managed...

            The aluminum core provides the quick thermal response and even heating surface. To make it ligher is to make it thinner and it will make the surface temperature less even.

            In all honesty, I am not sure what do you mean by All Clad quality. Can you explain? If you like its heat eveniness, then you simply cannot get thinner. If you like its heat response, then yes, you can go thinner and get even better heat response. Is it because you like All Clad being fully cladded cookware than disk-bottom cookware? Or is there something else you like about All Clad?

            There is a way to get a lighter cookware with equal and better cooking performance, now that is go copper. Copper has a better thermal conductivity. This means you can get the same cooking performance with a thinner layer of copper.

            Finally, many people hate All Clad handles, there are way to get more comfortable handles than All Clad. In fact, almost most cookware out there has round/smoother handle.

            Let us know if we have answered your question.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              Hi, Chem:

              I'll leave it for you to quantify, but IMO, you can't get to "equal or better" performance with cladded copper and AND get lighter weight than SS-cladded aluminum. You would have to have such a thin conductive copper layer that it would be a *poorer* performer. Don't you think?

              Aloha,
              Kaleo

              1. re: kaleokahu

                I would have to agree. Copper is sooo heavy, it's about 3 x the density of aluminum, so to get the same weight you would need 1/3 the thickness, however copper does not have 3 x the thermal conductivity. But copper has a specific heat (thermal capacity) of 0.092 vs a specific heat for aluminum of 0.215 cal/g/°C, so it doesn't take as much heat to change the temperature of copper. I would guess it would be a wash at best and more likely the clad aluminum would win on a lb per lb basis. As you say, there just woldn't be enough copper to make a difference.

                1. re: mikie

                  You and kaleo are correct. Thanks for the correction. I overlooked. Yes, the mass density of copper is more than 3-folds of aluminum. Yet, the thermal conductivity of copper is about only about 2-folds of copper. So from a pound for pound situation (which the original poster cares), the aluminum will win out.

                  Now, what about diamond? Diamond has a thermal conductivity of 5 times of aluminum and yet it only weights slightly denser than aluminum.

                  http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/...

                  I strongly suggest a diamond pan.

            2. I think you'll find balance and handle design overrule the weight issue. I've got strength issues and have amassed a collection of terrific cookware over the years that are heavy yet still very easy to handle. Look also for pans with a helper handle (loop handle opposite the long handle), it's so much easier than grabbing a long handle with two hands.

              Almost every piece I've ended up loving has been made by Meyer (they make Circulon, Kitchen Aid, etc.). My favorites have been Anolon (clad SS and nonstick) with contoured silicone handles and Technique (QVC's nicest line). Laugh at the Technique if you must, but with constant customer feedback they are frequently tweaking the pieces and making them better, and they are surprisingly some of my favorite pans. I'm a little embarassed, but ever since I got my Technique stir-fry pan a year ago I haven't put it away and do almost all my every day cooking in it -- it's a multitasking wonder. Maybe not so exciting for a wedding registry...lol....

              Don't be too hard on your guy about the cheap pans; after you've collected cookware over the years you'll be surprised to find some very cheap cookware can become your most beloved for certain tasks and it's always nice to have a pan you can bang around without worrying about ruining it. He'll likewise come to learn that having a high quality pot for certain things prevents burning foods and gives his steaks a beautiful golden sear instead of a charred crust ;)