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Waterless cookware

I have never heard of such a thing. Then in some of the threads I found here on chowhound Allclad and others were said to be waterless cookware. Here is a link to some waterless cookware - http://waterlesscookwaresystem.com/

Is it worth getting? Are there other cheaper alternatives?


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  1. Hi, JB:

    Beware the snake oil claims these manufacturers and their shills make. They've been fleecing folks for a long time. When it's pointed out that there's nothing special about "waterless" cooking (it's merely steaming after all) except the *exorbitant* prices charged, the defense is usually either: (a) "Well you CAN cook in it"; or (b) "They replaced my broken handle for FREE!"

    For a laugh, search out "Zepter" or "Zepterware" on this Board. If you can figure out and explain what "Zepter technology" is, you're smarter than Mr. Zepter.


    1. I asked this question here once and someone posted, "yeah, you can cook without fat or oil, but why would you?"

      I tasted the goods from a demonstration at a county fair. The poster was correct. It is basically steam cooking. There are cheaper ways to steam vegetables, and as for the chicken...well, it wasn't worth eating.

      1. JB,

        Remember me? One of the person who recommended the Messermeister knife. To answer your question here: No, it is not worth getting in my opinion. It is nothing but low temperature steam cooking, which you can actually do so in most cookware. Moreover, if you cook the way they advertised (without adding oil and adding water), you can stick your foods to the pan big time. Have you ever cook meat on a stainless steel surface without any additional water or additional oil? Try it.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

          I never add water ,,except to rice even then its stock so i have waterless cookwear already

          1. re: Dave5440


            How do you boil eggs?

            Cook pasta?

            Or, gulp, make coffee?

            1. re: Dave5440

              If you don't add water and you don't add oil, then you are "Bi-winning"


          2. JB - Waterless cookware is a cooking vessel like any other pot or pan. The major difference, hype aside, is the design of the pot rim and the lip or flaring of the lid. Any waterless cookware site can show this. Basically moisture from the food becomes steam and is somewhat trapped between the lip of the lid and the pot rim, forming a seal, more or less. And some of the cookware may exhibit a somewhat convex bottom interior. You can spend in excess of $2000 for a set of All Clad or 360 waterless cookware, both made in the USA, so to say one is more expensive than the other is sort of moot. You can also spend less as well as more. We have had a modest set of "waterless" for nearly 40 years (lustrecraft) and use it like we use our other "non-waterless" cookware: a vessel in which we cook our meals. Oil, butter, water, whatever we feel like. Cookware and the food that goes into it is a matter of taste (no pun intended) and budget.

            1. lol, that is funny!!!!

              waterless cookware, but it uses "vapor" what is vapor if not water!!!!

              Looking at the amazon link, you can buy the pots for $215, 79% off regular price!!! I'm certain they still make a hack of a profit on those tin cans.

              In 1 word : Worthless.


              2 Replies
              1. re: Maximilien

                I don't know if worthless is the right word, but overpriced for sure. They seem, by design, to be somewhere between a pressure cooker and a regular pan. The thickness of the metal and the lid that fits a bit tighter than a regualr pan seem to be the features.

                I'm not interested in cooking without water per se, it was just a novel approach. And when they say waterless they mean adding additionla moisture beyond what you're cooking already has. I like Max's take and if I ever bought or more likely have willed to me, as I'm unlikely to pay these prices, I'd use whatever seemed to work the best and make the tastiest food.

                Hey CK, I haven't forgotten about you. I am still using and loving the Messermeister. I hone it every time I use it, but it is starting to lose a bit of it's edge. The Epicurean Edge, where I bought this, will give me one free sharpening and I think it's time to take advantage of the offer. I am still a bit nervous to try out my neophyte, sharpening skills on such a nice blade. Next time.


                1. re: JuniorBalloon

                  From time to time (all the time) you see these pieces on eBay - and many for a fraction of the original price. If you REALLY want to take one for a spin....

                  FTR - I am the proud owner of one such piece: a "Lady Pryce Waterless Cookware" dutch oven that I bought for all of $8 with free shipping. It is made of aluminum.

                  Today's modern shill touts waterless cooking in conjunction with magical "surgical steel" - but in days of yore the selling point was the lid type and covers that made such cookware stackable. (In theory, with this first gen aluminum cookware you could stack it all over one burner and cook Thanksgiving.)

                  I've never attempted to cook in any special waterless fashion with this piece. The size of it makes it perfect for streaming a large batch of veg with a stainless steel steamer. That's what I use it for.

                  I bought it because (1) it was $8 (2) I was drinking (3) it looked cool (4) it really was $8 free shipping (5) it's kind of a fun quirky piece of Americana.

                  The sticker was a joke I played on Better Half. ("Wait till you see the factory second LC I picked up today!") went to work, left THAT on kitchen counter.

                  I'm a stinker.

              2. Went to the Western Washington State Fair last night, and there were SEVEN booths from the same "waterless" cookware hawker there, giving demos and making the hardsell. The deluxe set *only* cost $4,300 ("Fair Special, don't'cha know!").

                The graphic showed the stuff is supposed to be 7-layers, but none of the seven vendors could tell me how thick the layers were. The graphic just appears to show 7 equal layers. They all looked at me like I was a space alien when I asked to look at a cutaway ("A cut-A-WHAT?"). I looked at THEM like they were the Seven Dwarves.

                The good news? The four-pan starter set is iny $1,950! "Step right up, get your waterkless cookware right here."


                4 Replies
                1. re: kaleokahu

                  "I looked at THEM like they were the Seven Dwarves."

                  Don't be mean.

                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    Hi, Chem:

                    Well, I tried not to be mean, I really did. The folks I talked with were all franchisees, not carnies hired for the demo booths, so they should have (a) known better; and (b) come prepared. Nobody knew the thicknesses. What really got my goat was the put-on air of cooking superiority: "Well, the folks who're unhappy with our ($4,300!) pans just didn't learn to cook in them." The best I could do is get the phone number of "The Engineer" who supposedly can answer real questions (It may be the Wizard of Zepter himself). I'll try the number and report back.

                    It *was* quite heavy, which I thought boded well (fat copper interior?). But nope, the two conductive layers are "pure aluminum" and "aluminum" I could tell by handling them the bottom thickness was appreciably less than Demeyer Apollo, which means they're mostly steel.

                    On the learning side, I did get one thing figured out (if not answered). The inner- and outermost layers are claimed to be 304 SS. This alloy I believe is not ferritic, yet the pans are claimed to work well on induction. The layercake graphic identified "magnetic steel" as comprising the penultimate layer. So...however thick the bottom 304 layer is (and I'm guessing quite thick, given the pans' weight and the cheapness of 304), someone has decided that the induction field is capable of working through that incompatible layer.

                    Final observation? Pairing a $3,000 induction stove with a $4,300 set of compatible pans to do waterless, fatless cooking must make sense to someone. Ow and ick.


                  2. re: kaleokahu

                    Funny that you should mention the Puyallup Fair. It was a co-worker, that had just been to the fair, that mentioned this whole idea to me. Said he saw the demo and thought, "Hey, I have a pan like that at home, think I'll try it out." He cooked a cut up chicken with some onions, carrots and potatoes and really liked the way it came out. I think I could do the same thing in my dutch oven.


                    1. re: JuniorBalloon

                      Hi, JB:

                      I say give it a whirl. If it works, you saved $4,300! "Slow and low" works for a lot of things.

                      There is also a cool old cooking technique, whereby you form a rim of pastry crust around the pan/lid juncture to hold in vapor. This dough probably does a better job than the "hermetically sealed" waterless pans' DOUGH.


                  3. First thing I noticed were the plastic handles. Plastic handles means they are NOT oven safe. This means their cookware is a joke.

                    Their shapes and design look very old fashioned. I don't want my guests thinking I still use cookware passed down from my grandparents.

                    1. I can cook waterless AND cookwareless. Just bung the stuff on a plate and nuke it in the microwave

                      1. haha zombie waterless thread revived

                        I have some "waterless" cookware

                        a set of Vita Craft lidded pans that stack made of "nichromium steel" which looks surprisingly like standard multicald SS/AL/SS they are neat - the lids spin around and act as trivets - they stack nicely into each other and they come in incremental sizes so you can "waterless cook" each piece/type of food in its very own pan :)

                        I have funny double pot - sort of stock pot with a roundeau for a lid by Prudential ware made of "titanium" it seems to have a layer of carbon steel between the "titanium layers" making it "Tri Clad" or whatever fancy name it has - it is pretty neat looking to be honest I have never used it.

                        Then there is the big old West Bend skillet with a big thick aluminum disk base - this thing is a hoss and worth every penny I spent on it, I think $5 I use it for meatballs in tomato sauce. It is pretty much exclusively a meatball skillet :)

                        what they have in common aside from lids that spin - (or vapo-seal) is that they are sturdy built (except for sucky plastic handles that the market must demanded for them) - they were also shockingly expensive new and amazingly cheap at the thrift store

                        the better of it is not "bad" stuff - its surprisingly functional cookware - American made and pretty solid as good as any of the mid-range commercial brands out there - but just does not warrant the prices or validate any of the claims made by its purveyors

                        I have yet to try to actually cook a waterless meal with them because I just cant bring myself to.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: JTPhilly

                          Hi JT,

                          I have a piece of waterless cookware, too. It's made by USA Pans, which touts it's "vapor seal cover design". It doesn't really say it's "waterless", but we all know what they mean. Mine is a deep frypan that doesn't have a lid so isn't precisely waterless, but still, it's the thought that counts. Well, for me, it's the 5 ply construction that counts. But still. And to be fair, they do sell a lid for it, but I have lids that fit plenty tight already.

                          USA Pans is really missing the boat, though. They brag (a LOT!) about the construction of their pans, but never mention how much healthier it is for us. Their lack of vision is my gain, since I got my 10" pan for under $100. If they marketed it properly it would likely go for about $400, and I'd never have bought it.

                          I've discovered that it's really easy to hack a set of waterless cookware without all the cost and hype. Vollrath Optio lids (and a great many others, I imagine) can form a REALLY tight seal. So tight that I can lift the entire pan by the lid. So tight that I have to reheat it to pop the lid. That's the sound it makes when it releases, too. Pop. Sadly, they don't spin. Do I have to stop describing them as "waterless"? :-(

                          1. re: DuffyH

                            Here is the funny thing about "waterless" cookware - quality wise it runs the gamut - I have seen some real junk but I would say the construction of the Vita Craft is on par with Cuisinart multi-clad - not quits as thick as All Clad, but decent - the only real difference is the shape of the lip (to Vapo Seal - which is BS, they hold a bit more steam in maybe) and the black handles (welded not riveted)

                            what is really is all marketing - marketing cookware to the food-phobic - this is why there are incremental sizes - nothing touches, cook/steam one thing at a time. Of course you can Sauté, deglaze, pan fry, caramelize, etc in these pans - the Vitacraft in my example are just a bunch of lidded. shallow, ss clad aluminum sauce pans - but they are marketed to people who fear food and fear cooking - its all about put food X in pot Y with Z amount of water (yes, water - the key ingredient in waterless cooking) and PRESTO! safe, healthy, low fat, low flavor, texture-free food :) Have a few glasses of wine and watch some utube demo's they are priceless

                            1. re: JTPhilly

                              its really a great scheme actually getting people terrified of food and cooking to spend a fortune on cookware - the ani-cookware really - like the opposite of the AllClad/LeCreuset scam getting people obsessed with food and cooking t spend a fortune on cookware

                              1. re: JTPhilly

                                Hi, JT:

                                Actually, it's worse than that. These hucksters mostly prey on people who are already terrified they'll die from eating the wrong, miscooked foods. A large segment of this cohort really *does* have health problems/worries, and so are easily fooled into parting with their money. It's very close to peddling quack cures.


                        2. The term " Surgical Stainless Steel," used alone, is meaningless marketing speak.

                          Conversely, the term " 304 18/10 Surgical Stainless Steel " is far more descriptive and is more accurate. 304 indicates that this is part of the Group 300 series of food grade kitchen products, with the 18/10 describing the Chromium (18%) and Nickel (10%) in the steel.

                          304 18/10 by the way, is not necessarily used in surgery or surgical devices. It is accurately a very high grade of stainless steel in cooking, depending on the design and engineering of the cookware item itself. Some are good, some less so. A good heavy lid seal, with good handles, and a 15 mm core, probably equals a good cookware pot or pan.

                          By the way: Induction magnetic stainless steel ?

                          That may or may not be 304 18/10. More likely it will be from the Group 400 series, or more accurately 430, which is magnetic.

                          Take your time to learn these differences, and the characteristics of various metals, ply, and thicknesses, used in cookware. As this thread illustrates, CHOWHOUND is one of the best English forums online today to cut through the hype and marketing fantasy in favour of accurate and experienced information.

                          Carnivals, Fairs, and the weekly marketplace are fun, and great for vegetables, flowers, fish, and meat, but personally my wife and I do not but new cookware there. The chap with the microphone on his chest or lapel only gets our attention if he is demonstrating cooking menus, or techniques. All the others we just keep walking by and away from, wallet or pocketbook intact.

                          Save your hard earned money, as yes, there are much better alternatives, including price.

                          1. Waterless is not totally waterless. You wash the vegetables and do not dry them. Cookware that is "waterless" has some sort of design that causes the lid to adhere very tightly to the pan. When in this state, you can't get the lid off. I guess it is steaming, but it's easier and I think it's quicker... more like pressure cooking, I guess. I had heavy duty pans in the 60s that were relatively expensive. I still have Ecko waterless cookware from the 60s, as well. These were less expensive, have a copper core, and I have been using them all these years. The trick to the waterless, is that you heat them on medium, then when the lid twirls effortlessly, you reduce the heat to low and then it seals. I have recently ruined the three-quart and I do not see that I can replace it for under $200.00. I never like cabbage until I had it cooked in the waterless cookware when I was 19.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: caseycm

                              Have you attempted this style of cookery with a regular pan with heavy lid? I'm just not buying the idea that one needs a special type of cookware for low temp steaming beyond something with a tight fighting lid. Can't see any reason why you couldn't cook your cabbage in a stainless or enameled dutch oven.

                              1. re: CaliforniaJoseph

                                Agree. My Vollrath Optio lids regularly form a seal on any pan they fit. I've had to learn some tricks to keep them from sealing tight all the time. It was most annoying.

                                I'd note that they're also very lightweight. Stainless steel, but no thicker than your average stainless pan wall. Lids needn't be heavy to form a tight seal.

                                1. re: CaliforniaJoseph

                                  Hi CJ,

                                  Yes you could could anything in a stainless or enameled Dutch oven. You might get just slightly different results. If I braise in an aluminum roaster covered with tin foil, I get one result, usually a slightly greater variance between the meat submerged and the exposed meat. If I cook in an ECI Ducth oven, I get a similar, but slightly more uniform result. When I cook in my Silga and Demeyere stainless pans that have a tighter seal, I get yet another result. The differences aren't always staggering, but they exist. And depending on the dish, you can't really say which one is better or worse. It all depends on the aesthetic you are going for.


                                  1. re: randallhank

                                    I'll readily acknowledge the variance - I've noticed as much in dishes I've prepared in different wares...

                                    My point was that one need not spend $$$$$ & a first born on special "waterless" cookware.. One can (if so inclined!) engage in this type of cookery sans special waterless cookware.