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What Cookware to get?

I have been wanting to upgrade my cookware for ages. Currently, I am using a non-stick cookware set and it needs to go! I want to replace it with stainless....likely triply or clad....but I have a limited budget so All Clad is out.

I already have a Le Crueset 6.5 Dutch Oven.

To it, I think I would like to add:
10 or 12 inch saute pan
2 qt covered sauce pan
4 qt covered sauce pan

Any recommendations on brand?

Also, I am thinking that maybe I should get a cast iron saute pan instead of a stainless one...?

And, do you think I am missing any pots/pans from the list above? Do I need an everyday pan?


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  1. Especially because of a limited budget, I would get pans one at a time as you decide you need them. The most important is the sauté pan, in my opinion, so I would concentrate on that and spend a little more, if possible, by deferring other pans, in order to get a good one. In fact, that's what I did. I bought my sauté pan, then a year or so later finally replaced my old SS (1-ply) saucepan with the broken handle with a modern saucepan.

    There are many sauté pans to choose from. Look at cutleryandmore.com for some good deals and a large selection.

    1. Get a saute pan or a frying pan first. If you cannot afford All-Clad, then try to look for Calphalon, Cuisinart, and Tramontina.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

        I always recommend the Tramontina stuff on the Wal-mart web site.

      2. I should add that there are so many variations that you should first try to narrow down what you want as far as size and materials. I would not want a cast iron sauté pan, but there are those who think that cast iron is right for everything.

        First, decide what size you need. A very large sauté pan can be heavy. One which is too small can be frustrating. I get by with my 3-qt, but sometimes wish I had the 4-qt.

        For materials, aluminum with a SS cooking surface is what I use, but many have nonstick lining. Most have SS on the outside, but this is cosmetic unless you need magnetic SS for induction heating, My sauté pan is just plain aluminum on the outside, but anodized aluminum (which gives it a dark tone) is more common for pans which do not have SS on the exterior. Copper is nice as a base material, but not something you would likely consider on a budget.

        Happy hunting!

        1. Ok well you already have a great dutch oven. So ... what you really really need - IMO - is one 10" cast iron skillet. Or ... two 10" cast iron skillets.

          I have the 10, 12, and 6 quart dutch oven from lodge. The top for the 10" also fits on a dutch oven BUT - you already have the latter. The 10" is my use EVERY day pan. But ... I usually just cook for two.

          The 12" is great but I have no use for it unless we have guests or I'm cooking a big batch of stuff to take over to friends. I don't have the cover for the 12" - I just use foil if I need.

          So ... I really strongly do recommend one 10" with cover. If you like SEEING your food, then get the 10" without cover and buy someone else's glass cover.

          Please do scrub them clean and then season them at LEAST twice before using them. yeah I know they "come preseason'd". It's NOT good enough. Give it 2-3 more treatments and you won't worry about it rusting at all.

          If I need to do 2 qt, 4qt, etc ... I just use my 6 quart dutch oven. You already own one so ... I'd save that money. There is almost nothing that I can't do with 1 crepe pan, my 10" skillet and my dutch oven. I should seriously get rid of most of my cookware.

          Warning: the 10" lodge is heavy ... but I really like that - it doesn't try and slide around on me while I stir with one hand and not holding the handle.


          1. Maybe there's a WS outlet near you.

            During holiday season and sales, I managed to get a D5 9" French skillet for $30 something and a Copper-core 12" for $90 from the outlet. Not bad ;-


            Some members here get their All-Clad irregular from http://www.cookwarenmore.com/. I don't have any experience with it, but people here seem to be happy with it.

            1. 10 and 12 inch are standard sizes for skillets/frypans. Saute pans are usually measured in quarts.

              Check out your local TJMaxx, Marshalls, and HomeGoods. I always see quality cookware at great prices. IMO All-Clad's SS interior lining is second to none. I have an 8" AC D5 SS skillet that I mainly do breakfast scrambled eggs in. If I tried it in any other SS, I'd have to use twice the butter so the eggs don't stick.

              The cost of an AC skillet over a lifetime is really inexpensive... its the last one you have to buy. I saw the TJ employees put on the rack a 10" AC SS for $50 and a 13" French skillet w/ lid for $78 iirc (which I though they seriously mispriced). Both pieces were gone when I went back two weeks later. AC bargains are out there you just need find them.

              Cuisinart's Multiclad and Anolon's Chefclad have above average interior linings. I also have an Emeril SS 2qt sauce/saute which I rank below the other two. The interior pits easily. I'd lean towards heavier pieces because they have higher heat capacity which will help sear meats.

              You should also consider carbon steel deBuyer. With CS and CI you're trying to build up a nonstick well seasoned pan. With SS you're trying to keep the pan as clean and unblemished as possible. For me, SS is a superior cooking surface better suited for my veggie eating habit.

              1. Thank you everyone! I appreciate the advice to take this piece by piece. I am going to go shopping tomorrow and get maybe 1-2 items, see how I like them, and then go from there. AC is out of my range unless I find a bargain....maybe Cuisinart Multiclad Pro...

                1 Reply
                1. re: cute_diva

                  You should also get a can of Bar Keeper's Friend and soft sponges to do the initial clean. I've noticed even brand new SS cookware has an oxidation film, which will appear black on the spong. BKF is available at any super store like Target or Walmart.

                  Bon Ami, is another powder cleaner that is milder than BKF. It's gentle enough so I don't have to use gloves. I keep both around depending on what I'm cleaning. Remember to always move with the grain of the SS.

                  Check out this thread too... SS full clad cookware made in France at very reasonable prices:



                2. Tuesday Morning will have Viking 3-ply cookware for sale when they open March 6th. I believe it's a recently discontinued line. Looks like 50% off. "Selection varies by store" so who knows what my local stores will have, but I'm going to check it out for the covered saute pan alone. They have the riveted handles, which is often a complaint regarding cleaning, but so does All Clad.

                  You can sometimes find old cast iron pans at yard sales for a song. No matter how rusty and awful they seem, they can always be cleaned up and reseasoned. The worse they look, the cheaper they are! The best crepe pan I ever used is my 6" cast iron skillet.

                  1. I'd recommend a skillet rather than a sauté pan as basic - that may be what you have in mind anyway. The curve between bottom and side is friendlier to stirring and flipping, and a 12" skillet has plenty of cooking surface for most uses. You'll sometimes need it to have a lid, which you can sometimes buy as part of the deal.

                    Nonstick or not? If you do eggs, fish, and the like, nonstick really helps. If you do red meat and poultry, you actually want some of it to stick so you can make a pan sauce. I switch back and forth between a 12" clad metal skillet and a 10" nonstick. Some people are devotees of cast iron skillets; don't use them myself.

                    A covered sauce pan is also essential, for boiling and steaming vegetables, making hot cereal, lots of things. The size depends on the quantities of food you expect to cook; I use a 2 quart saucepan and also a 1 quart mini-saucepan probably more often than the larger one. Pasta needs a bigger pot, but I hardly ever make.it, and when I do, it's in the smaller shaped variety rather than spaghetti or linguine, so I can get by with the 2-quart saucepan.

                    My 12" stainless clad skillet is so old that it's not made any more, and I don't remember the name of the maker. Cooks Illustrated magazine is the Consumer Reports for cookware, they really test the stuff; their best buys as of 2007 were the Calphalon Tri-Ply Stainless 12-Inch Omelette Pan, for $64, and the Farberware Millennium 18/10 Stainless Steel 12-Inch Covered Skillet, for $70. Whether these are still made, I don't know. CI recommends against cheaper flimsier skillets, which don't distribute the heat evenly.

                    I also use the Tramontina Restaurant Pro nonstick 10-inch open skillet, for which I've bought a lid; the Calphalon Contemporary Nonstick 2-1/2-Quart Shallow Saucepan with Lid; and the Simply Calphalon Nonstick Hard-Anodized Aluminum 1-Quart Saucepan with Lid. The non-stick skillet doesn't stay non-stick forever, so I buy 'em cheap and replace them every few years.

                    When sautéing in the skillets I use an Amco 13" Splatter Screen, better than the others because the rim curves down to hold it in place. Better than getting oil or fat sprayed all over the stovetop (and me). If you don't find it in the stores, you can order it from amazon.com.

                    Hope this isn't too late to be helpful!