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Jan 31, 2012 09:33 AM

Looking for general purpose pan which conducts well

I already have a Lodge 12'' pan which does not conduct well. I would like to get another pan which conducts well for every day use. I also prefer a pan which will not react to acidic foods (like tomato-based dishes).

I will probably use it to saute/stir fry as well as make omelets. I do not want a non-stick pan. Would the 3 Qt. All Clad Copper Core saute pan be a good choice? I am ok with spending more money on a pan if the pan will last a long time (and will not be throw away like a non-stick pan). I also don't want a pan which is too heavy to handle. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

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  1. Find the All-Clad pan you like, and go pick it up. How does it feel in your hands? I am sure it is well-balanced. Is it the right weight for you? Is the handle comfy? If so, then I don't know any reason not to buy it.

    There are other good stainless pans with and without various cores, that will work well for you as well, probably for less money. But if you want the All-Clad, and you are OK with its price, and if it feels wonderful in your hands, by all means go for it? Nothing to lose, IMO.

    2 Replies
    1. re: sueatmo

      Is there much difference between the copper core and all stainless steel? I am not sure if it is worth it to pay the extra money for copper core. Also, are there pans of other brands which work just as well?

      1. re: shorty68

        Well for the most part there aren't really "all stainless steel" pans, most are aluminum core rather than copper. The catch is the layers are not the same thickness, so it's difficult to make comparisons. Copper is the better thermal conductor and better thermal mass, however typically, the aluminum layer is thicker than the copper layer so this tends to offset the copper advantages. The question is to what extent and the answer seems to be no one really knows for sure.

        In my quest for a new saute pan I found 3 basic technologies: solid metal with a lining (metal could be copper or aluminum, lining could be tin or stainless steel), multi ply (plys range from 3 to 7 and can be copper or aluminum sandwiched between stainless steel), or disk bottom (disk can be copper or aluminum covered with stainless steel and about 2mm thick for copper and 5mm thick for aluminum). From that I can say copper is the best but it's not for everyone, including me. Unfortunately, after that there isn't much hard evidence to evaluate the other technologies and material combinations. Heavy is typically a good thing, but too much of a good thing isn't always the way you want to go. You pay quite a premium for the AC copper core and there are those who question if there is a thick enough core to really make that much difference in the performance of the pan. With that in mind there are a number of manufacturers that make multi ply pans of quality. Although it wasn't on my list until another chowhounder made the reccomendation, I ended up with a 7 ply Viking saute pan. It's very well made in Belgium, but I have no way of comparing its performance to an All Clad of similar consturction. I do find the handle to be more comfortable for me.

    2. Hi, Shorty:

      There is a recent thread by my friend mikie about pondering a new saute pan. Many helpful recommendations were made.

      The AC CC pan you are considering is not a light pan, but what makes it heavy (copper) is also what makes it far more even and conductive than your Lodge. Unless you want to go with aluminum, at some level this is a necessary price to be paid.

      Given Lodge's weight and short handle, the AC pan will feel lighter and better balanced to you.

      As for lasting a long time... Someone here just posted a few days ago about leaving her empty AC pan on a high gas flame ALL DAY. If I remember right, she said it permanently discolored and "changed shape" a little, but is still useable. I would have expected delamination, but apparently that didn't happen.


      4 Replies
      1. re: kaleokahu

        Thanks for your advice. I looked at your friend's posting. I'll probably skip the copper core since I don't want a heavy pan. Pan selection is probably very subjective. I need to go to the store and see which pan feels comfortable in my hand. Probably any saute pan will be better than what I am using right now. I am trying to use a stockpot for my general cooking right now. It is really horrible for making omelets and quesadillas.

        1. re: shorty68

          You're very welcome. Have fun.


          1. re: shorty68

            Good strategy. Handle the pans. You'll be handling whatever you buy for a long time. I use a 12 year old, out of production Cuisinart saute pan, that has a copper disk between the two layers of stainless. The pan works fine, and is not terribly heavy. However it isn't tri-ply, by any means.

            My advice in a nutshell is to buy good, but you don't have to think you have pay for the best. And there is plenty to choose from.

            Enjoy your search. Keep us posted.

            1. re: shorty68

              I wouldn't necessarily dismiss the AC 3 quart copper core saute pan because of its weight. It's not that heavy, especially compared with cast iron. A lot of stores carry them, so you shouldn't have any trouble finding one to handle. If you're in it for the conductivity, the copper core is what helps distribute the heat efficiently and evenly. I use the 3-quart saute a lot. It's a nice size for three people.

          2. Aluminum pans are fairly light, but a pure aluminum pan will react to acidic foods. A good choice for something light weight and conducts heat well is an anodized aluminum pan. You can also consider the All Clad LTD pan which only has stainless steel in the interior side (cooking surface).

            1. For "general purpose" I suggest look at those pans described as "chef's pans."


              The All-Clad sauté pans are heave and difficult to lift with one hand, especially with the handle design, so I wouldn't call it general purpose. I have a 3-qt, and like it, but I prefer other pans for most things.

              Of the chef's pans listed above, I like the BonJour, except that I can't seem to find important details about it like the diameter and weight and where it's made (almost certainly far east). I don't have one and haven't seen one. It does seem to be a good deal, though, as it is appearing on clearance various places. In fact, if you are really interested in the heat conduction angle, the copper core version is available from for about the normal price of the tri-ply SS/aluminum one.

              1. Shorty,

                Another question for you. What do you want a better conductive pan to do for you? Do you want a higher conductive pan, so it will response heat faster than your Lodge cast iron pan? Or do you want a higher condutive pan, so it will produce a more even heating surface? The two attributes counteract each other. A thinner pan (of any material) will better respond to external temperature and conduct the heat faster from the bottom of the pan to the cooking surface. A thicker pan will respond slower, but produce a more even heating surface.

                16 Replies
                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  The problem I have with the Lodge pan is that the pan is too big for my hob. I don't need the pan to heat quickly. The most important thing to me is that the pan heat up evenly, is NOT non-stick, is not reactive, and is not too hard to clean. It would be great if the pan can go into the oven. I also always hand wash my pans. I am not going to get a copper core pan since I don't want something which is too heavy to handle.

                  1. re: shorty68

                    Just about any SS pan with a SS handle meet those criteria. Even heating is over rated IMO. When you are moving the food around or cooking with fluids in the pan, even heating won't be an issue in most cases.

                    Coming from CI you know heat capacity is important when you are searing. SS pretty much becomes nonstick when you sear properly. A heavy pan will have a high heat capacity. I would lean towards the heavy side but still manageable.

                    If you're getting a 3+ qt saute pan I think a disk bottom is a better choice than full clad.

                    1. re: shorty68

                      A major reason why an All Clad copper core pan is heavy is because it is made thick. A thick pan offers you two things. It allows the heat to have more distance to distribute the heat -- thus a more heating surface, and it gives you more heat capacity.

                      If you have a pan which is larger than the hob, then the pan will be unevenly heat. No way around it. On the other hand, aluminum and copper can make the situation a bit better, making it less uneven. As chuckl pointed out, All Clad cookware are not light, but they are usually not quiet as heavy as the typical cast iron cookware.

                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        Thanks a lot for the comments. I will go to the store and see if I can manage the weight of the pan. On another note, is a copper core pan a lot harder to scrub clean than a SS pan? I have SS pans at home, but don't have any experience with copper core pans.

                        1. re: shorty68

                          The layer you cook on is SS regardless of the core material in a multi ply pan.

                          1. re: mikie

                            Yes. Stainless is pretty worry free unless you use too high a heat and burn something on it. Even then, a Brillo pad works fine in most cases. If you pick up some pans, you'll see. Since this purchase seems important to you, I'd take my time choosing. Visit several places. I make the best decisions when I do that.

                            Also, I can't help mentioning that a smaller cast iron skillet would also work. The stainless is non reactive though.

                            1. re: sueatmo

                              I can't use another cast iron skillet since I need to be able to cook some Indian food in the pan (which is normally tomato-based).

                              1. re: shorty68

                                Ah! I think a good stainless pan will work well for you.

                          2. re: shorty68

                            Hi Shorty.

                            "On another note, is a copper core pan a lot harder to scrub clean than a SS pan? I have SS pans at home, but don't have any experience with copper core pans."

                            There are rarely any pure stainless steel cookware out there. Most so called stainless steel cookware are cladded with aluminum in the center, like this picture:


                            The All Clad copper core has a combination of aluminum and copper in the core area, so it will not be any more difficult to clean than your stainless steel pans (which again are not purely stainless steel).


                        2. re: shorty68

                          Hi Shorty,

                          Please forgive me if I'm reading incorrectly between the lines. But what I am actually hearing is that what you want would be very well handled by a 10" lodge skillet, with cover, that has been REALLY well-seasoned. I'm kinda guessing that your 12" is not merely a bit large for your daily use (I have one also but only use it when we have guests over) but also isn't quite seasoned well enough.

                          My daily, use for nearly everything pan, is a lodge 10" with cover. I have seasoned the heck out of it, inside and out. It is non-reactive and very easy to clean. I clean it with dish soap and let it drip dry afterward. I don't dry it off or oil it for storage. No rust ...

                          The lodge 10" is my daily pan for NEARLY everything. Including omelets and scrambled eggs. But not for over easy eggs - I do those in my non-stick crepe pan if I'm doing over easy. Omelets in it are amazing. I get it nice and hot, lightly coat the inside with ghee (clarified butter). Then pour in my eggs, cover it, turn it down to low and walk away. After about 5 min, the eggs are fully cooked through and super light and fluffy. No mess no fuss.

                          Once seasoned correctly, your cast iron will be both Non-reactive and Easy to clean. You will be able to let it soak, let it drip dry, use dish soap on it, whatever. And it won't rust on you.

                          The only downside ... is even a 10" may be "heavy" for you ... I don't think so but I'm well over six feet tall. Just my 2 cents.


                          1. re: jkling17

                            If the seasoning starts coming off, do you just rub some oil on it and bake it to season the bottom, or do you need to remove the seasoning off the entire bottom of the pan and season it again? Did you use vegetable oil or something else like flaxseed oil to season your pan?

                            1. re: shorty68

                              Hi, Shorty:

                              Put. The. Cast. Iron. Down!

                              You're wavering here, Dude. What happened to the Shorty who wanted even heat, non-reactivity and light(er) weight? Now you're thinking of doing *exactly the same thing* as made you unhappy before? Why, so you can be unhappy with TWO pans?

                              Put. it. down.

                              1. re: kaleokahu

                                I still need to fix the seasoning on my cast iron pan in any case. I use it mainly for french toast and pancakes. I don't see myself using it as an every day pan for various reasons which you can imagine.

                              2. re: shorty68

                                I've used flaxseed oil, but just using your pan to cook with seems to season it well. I use cast iron all the time, but I also use a stainless saute pan. Once you leap into CI, you will find a host of CI devotees who tell you which vintage CI is best, or is Lodge OK? and you should never buy CI from China, and all sorts of stuff that make threads on this topic enormous and somewhat contentious.

                                Whichever you buy will work for you, but the stainless will be fine for tomato based dishes, and will be safe to pour some wine into. The stainless is much easier to care for, but the CI--once you get a few concepts down--isn't that hard.

                                1. re: shorty68

                                  "If the seasoning starts coming off, do you just rub some oil on it and bake it to season the bottom, or do you need to remove the seasoning off the entire bottom of the pan and season it again? "

                                  It depends. Most of the time, you can just reseason it without taking the original seasoning off. On the other hand, if the original seasoning was not done correctly, then it is probably better to restart.

                                  "Did you use vegetable oil or something else like flaxseed oil to season your pan?"
                                  Most oils will work.

                                  1. re: shorty68

                                    Hi Shorty,

                                    >> If the seasoning starts coming off, do you just rub some oil on it and bake it to season the bottom, or do you need to remove the seasoning off the entire bottom of the pan and season it again?

                                    My seasoning never "starts coming off" - ever. However, it used to be "bad". Before I finally figured out that "factory preseasoning" isn't that good, I had to be careful and dry my pans and then oil them. I finally figured out that they weren't seasoned well - about 2 1/2 years into owning them. Embarrassing, I know - since I'm an engineer. My personal shame is here for your amusement. :-)

                                    Now, It is a pretty consistent deep rich black coating. If your seasoning is flaking off or whatever then I would really recommend that you clean the heck out of it, with steel wool and salt to get it clean and then redo it.

                                    If I happen to notice that it isn't "quite as non-stick" as it should be, then I'll figure that perhaps it could use a little touch-up. The surface LOOKS fine when this happens. It doesn't rust, etc. But since I use the pan everyday, I have a feel for when it is "still awesome" or "hmmm ... I think this pan could use a quick bit of maintenance". It takes about 4-6 months for me to go from "man this pan is freak'n awesome" to "ok I'm going to give it some care".

                                    In between "real seasoning sessions" - the pan gets no special care at all. I let it soak as I like. I use dish soap and water to clean it (and it cleans easily). I let it drip dry and never oil it unless I'm cooking something.

                                    >> Did you use vegetable oil or something else like flaxseed oil to season your pan?

                                    I use canola oil. Mostly because I have it around and it is known to be good for this application. Never tried vegetable oil or lard - the latter is supposed to be good.

                                    Yes - I did once try pure flax seed oil but I did not like it. We had bought it because it was supposed to have loads of omega 3/6. But ... it tastes nasty ... so scratch that. By the time that I got around to trying it for seasoning it was probably a year old and probably rancid - perhaps that's why it didn't work well? Anyway, it left a filmy feel - so i scrubbed all that off and went back to canola oil. I don't need expensive nasty tasting oils in my kitchen.

                                    COOKTOP SEASONING
                                    When I need to give it a touch-up - I'll give the inside a quick light cleaning with salt and steel wool. Then scrub it with hot water, dry it, then use my gas cooktop to give the additional seasoning. Here's what I do - and this was stolen from youtube. It works really well.

                                    1. Set cooktop to Medium, place uncovered skillet on it and walk away for a bit. Here I'm merely heating it to about 300 - to 100% completely DRY out the surface.
                                    2. When surface is 300+ degrees I cover it with a piece of foil (reflects back 97% of radiant energy), then turn the heat up to high and give it a few more minutes.
                                    3. The pan should be REALLY HOT - like 500 at the center and 450 at edges and 400 one the inside sides. I have a infrared thermometer - they are only $20-25 now and a great deal. Mine was $45 at the time and I love it.
                                    3a. If you do not have one - you can just drop a tiny bit of water onto the pan - near the side, not the center (we KNOW the center is hot - we want to KNOW that the sides are hot) - if it dances around violently and then dies ... it is probably hot enough.
                                    4. TURN THE HEAT OFF. At these temperatures, you don't want your oil exposed to open flames at all, ok?
                                    5. Keep your face and eyes AWAY from the pan. Quickly brush a light film of oil onto the inside of the pan. It will take very little oil to do this. Perhaps 1/2 tsp? Start on the bottom and work it around the bottom completely and then up the sides to the rim. You can use a paper towel held by tongs - or a basting brush as you see fit. Depending on my mood I've used either.
                                    6. Cover pan with the piece of foil
                                    7. Walk away and let it cool slowly - this will take quite a while. Cast iron holds heat pretty well.
                                    8 Once temperature is below 100, repeat process one more time.

                                    FYI - I only use the oven for the 1st two seasoning sessions, so that i can do both the inside and outside. All other sessions I do strictly on the gas cooktop and only do the inside of the skillet.