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Advice for the Purchase of new Cookware

Long time lurker, 2nd time poster.

My husband and I are building a new house. I've convinced him to let me put most of our upgrade budget into the kitchen. As a result we're getting some really great new appliances, including an induction range (Electrolux, slide in, with the new wave controls).

I do all of the cooking in the house - my husband will cook a grilled cheese or make Kraft dinner for the kids when I'm not home. He *might* re-heat soup once in a blue moon. I would consider myself a decent cook - learned from my mother and grandmother and then from various ethnic roommates throughout university. Like most people, I have dishes that fail from time to time, but I also like to think that for the most part, I do okay.

The thing is, up until now, I've only ever cooked on gas or electric. We got new pots and pans for our wedding 5+ years ago, but they aren't magnetic. They're also all non-stick - see here: http://www.amazon.com/Anolon-Allure-1...

So we're faced with getting new pots and pans for our new stove. I've read with interest all of the posts about All Clad and the like, as well as Le Crueset and other enameled and non-enameled cast iron.

What I would like is recommendations regarding what pots and pans you would suggest I purchase to make a set. I would like a variety of different things, likely a set of stainless steel and then some add-ons - maybe a 4.5qt dutch oven, and a non-stick pan or two, or?

The range we've purchased has elements that are 10", 8", 7" and 6" in diameter. I understand that I can go up to 1" beyond the stated size and still have the stove top work okay.

Any and all suggestions are welcome - including your favorite brands and the pot or pan you can't live without and why.

In terms of price, I've likely got about $1500 to spend (Canadian) on the basics - and will be able to add non-essentials on in the future.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. The very best advice you're ever going to get is never to buy a set. You end up using a few pieces constantly and the rest never or almost never. Think about how you cook, what you use most often now, and what you most often wish you had. Then buy them individually, and different materials and weights for different uses. For stove top, I find large, medium and small skillets get used a lot around here. They are All Clad (very large covered saute pan), cast iron and copper sandwich stainless (discontinued Revere Signature collection I've had 30 years and love). I use my Dutch ovens constantly in fall and winter. Would probably only have one if I'd bought a less huge one first, I like my 5 qt Staub better than my Le Creuset but both are great. I won't have anything non stick in the house, not necessary, and not healthy, I believe. You can use the Dutch ovens for soup but it's heavy, so depending on your habits, you might want a heavy bottomed stock pot for pasta, and for soups. And saucepans, size and number depending on your needs. I've never owned or needed a small sauce pan, but I get a lot of use out of my medium and large ones.

    Congratulations and good luck with your new house!

    1. I sell cookware in a small independent shop so I am not bound by what a suit wants to push. My first choice for induction is Chantal with the copper and carbon steel lining. It is extremely efficient and faster than any other cookware I have tested. Allclad seems to be about 95%+/- . Creuset is good. Regalware is on a par with Allclad. Swiss Diamond has recently introduced induction pieces. Just some good old cast iron with a flat bottom will work well too. Some of my customers who have been worried about scratching the surface have told me that they put down a piece of parchment between the pan and burner. Since the induction process is magnetic, the parchment doesn't even get scorched.

      Do not buy a set. I rarely stock them unless it is a really good deal. You will have to decide if you really want and will use pieces in a set. If you won't then it is not worth the deal (that applies for all sets, flatware, dinnerware cookware etc).

      2 Replies
      1. re: Candy

        I don't have induction, but I can vouch for the quality, durability and performance of my 20 y.o. Chantal stock pot.

        1. re: Candy

          Thank you for mentioning that about the parchment!

          I have an induction cookplate and I was a bit worried about my cast iron pan scratching it but putting baking paper down underneath it is a great idea. My husband suggested putting a wash cloth down under the pots, which I've just tested and it works too. He thinks it might even make the cookplate more efficient because the pot would waste less energy heating the glass.

        2. Although we all have individual needs and preferences in the kitchen, I'd recommend that you consider the following items as a good core set of induction-capable cookware. I won't recommend sizes, because that will depend on how many you cook for. The specific brands I mention are ones that I have found to work well on my induction cooktop.

          Frying pans:

          Cast iron frying pan(s) [I like Lodge (especially Signature) and Iwachu from Japan]
          Maybe a cast iron grill pan or square griddle [same brands as above]
          Carbon steel chef's pan(s) [I use a Japanese commercial brand, but De Buyer is widely recommended]
          Induction-capable nonstick aluminum frying pan(s) [De Buyer CHOC induction, Swiss Diamond, Infinite Circulon]
          Fully clad stainless steel frying pan(s) [All-Clad, Le Crueset Tri-Ply, Mauviel M'Cook, De Buyer Affinity]

          Saucepans:

          Fully clad or disk-bottom stainless steel saucepans [Mauviel M'Cook, Tramontina, Fissler, Calphalon Contemporary, Le Creuset Tri-Ply]
          Stockpot(s)/pasta pot(s), with pasta and steamer inserts [same brands as above]

          Cast iron dutch oven or chicken fryer [Lodge]
          Enameled cast iron French oven [Le Creuset]
          Enameled cast iron brasier [LC]

          Induction-capable tea kettle

          I'm also a big fan of Silit Silargan cookware from Germany. It's ceramic-coated stainless steel. They make everything from frying pans to saucepans to Dutch ovens. Silit Silargan cookware is a lot like Le Creuset (heavy, relatively nonstick surface, easy cleanup), but is tougher and can be used at high heat.

          Other brands that I haven't personally tried, but which are often said to be good for induction cooktops are Demeyere (Atlantis, Apollo, Proline), Cuisinart Muliclad Pro, Calphalon Tri-Ply, Viking, Berndes, Scanpan CTX, Staub, and many others.

          Enjoy your cookware shopping spree!

          1. mcf is dead on. In most circumstance (except a very few), buying a preset of cookware with the same construction is a poor way of spending money. You said you have been using gas and electric. Are you going to ever use induction? If not, then don't worry about about induction capability. If yes, then you should plan ahead.

            Since you have only cooked with nonstick cookware before, I would advise you to try out something new. At the same time, I also suggest you to move out slowly. Some people learn to love other types of cookware, while some people have trouble beyond nonstick cookware. It would be a waste of money to buy a brand new set of stainless steel cladded cookware to only find out you hate them.

            Nevertheless, here are some very basic good cookware to consider:

            A cast iron skillet or a carbon steel frying pan (maybe two sizes). Both of which can take on very high heat and can acquire a nonstick-like surface overtime. Brands are not so important as long as the construction is good. You can start with a Lodge cast iron skillet or a DeBuyer steel fry pan

            A Dutch Oven. Either go with a bare cast iron Dutch Oven (Lodge) or an enameled cast iron Dutch Oven (Le Cresuset, Staub, Lodge Color, Tramontina). Both have their advantages and disadvantages. The list of pros and cons are long for this one, but there are numerous past posts on CHOWHOUND discussing their differences in details.

            A saucepan. A triply stainless steel construction is nice. Calphalon Triply, Calphalon Contemporary, Tramontina, Cuisinart MultiClad and many other brands.

            A stock pot if you like to make stock -- this one the requirement is not so straight. Stainless steel triply or anodized aluminum are good choice.

            By the way, there are many many more choices.

            1. You'll get a confusing range of ideas. I'd certainly
              go along with those who advise against buying
              a set. FYI Consumer Reports tested pans a few
              years back and rated Cuisinart as best. Personally,
              I love my Cuisinart Multi-Clad.
              Sizes depend on how many people you cookfor,
              but you'll probably want up to 6 saucepans with varied
              capacity, and perhaps 4 frying pans. Note that
              cast iron dutch ovens are very heavy when full.

              9 Replies
              1. re: mpalmer6c

                "I love my Cuisinart Multi-Clad"

                Interestingly, the few local Bed Bath and Beyond stores stopped carrying the MultiClad.

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  I've been using the Cuisinart Multiclad Pro for three years now and I love it! I just convinced my mom to order a set and we found it on amazon in less than five minutes. It was just over $200 and the set doesn't have *too* much extra junk. I use all my pieces, except maybe the tall, straight sided fry pan. I would normally use that as a braiser, but now I use my Le Crueset. I prefer the Cuisinart to the other options because I like the steel lids better than glass. As far as non-stick is concerned, I would go with Scanpan. They are the only ones that are PFOA free, and the non-stick surface is baked on instead of glued. They say that you can even use metal utensils, though I would still stick with silicone and wood.

                  1. re: MelissaMachete

                    My All Clad saute pan has a steel lid, not glass. If that's what you were comparing to.

                    1. re: mcf

                      Woops, I wasn't comparing the Cusinart Multiclad Pro to the All Clad. I was comparing the Cuisinart to the other fully clad cookware that are also less expensive. Many of these other less expensive options have glass lids, which I personally don't like. Sorry I wasn't clear!

                      1. re: MelissaMachete

                        Can I ask why do you like steel lid? Is it for cleaning? for safety? for what?

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          I'm sure Melissa will be along with her answer, but for me it's: lighter weight, unbreakable, and (because lighter and unbreakable) can easily be stored on back of cabinet door with my jerry-rigged "hillybilly Hafele" of small bungee cords strung between pushpins.

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            Sort of all of the above. The lids are more durable, less noticeable hard water stains (in my area that is important), but mostly ease of cleaning. There are fewer parts with the SS lids, which maker for easier cleaning and more durability. After culinary school I guess it's what I got used to. Another bonus is that with a hanging rack, your SS lids can be hung with your pots via the handle (lid handle around the pot handle, hanging from the rack) which saves so much space and clanging around.

                            1. re: MelissaMachete

                              If it were me, it'd be because I like to see what the food's doing while it cooks. :-) But I don't find even very large metal lids heavy or hard to clean or store, either.