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Mar 21, 2012 01:04 PM

How do you use all these heavy cookwares?

Hi everyone,

I was looking around William-Sonoma to buy "premium" cookwares such as all-clad pans and pots.

Holy moly.

How are they so heavy? How do you even cook with these?

I'm a fairly strong man whose weightlifting record is in the 99% percentile for my weight class, but I wouldn't cook with these cookwares. Simply too heavy.

My mother who has cooked for around 30 years was shocked at the weight. She can't even fathom how she'll be able to nimbly move around the kitchen cooking with these cookwares. She told me this is the main reason she didn't purchase any of the high-end cookware such as Fissler or All-clad.

I have a fairly heavy Calphalon chef's pan. When I fill that up with water to cook pasta, I can't even pick it up with one hand. It's ridiculous heavy.

I was expecting expensive cookwares to be light and transfer heat evenly. I guess the heavy weight transfer heat evenly, but when it comes to weight, it is a big no no.

So here are my questions.

1) Why are all the expensive cookware so heavy?

2) How do you even cook with those?

I'm itching to hear your opinions.

Thank you

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  1. "How are they so heavy? How do you even cook with these?"

    A lot of metal. Well, if a short skinny woman can cook with it, so can you, right?

    "Simply too heavy."

    Maybe too painful. All Clad handle can be painful to hold on to -- depending how you grab it.

    "She can't even fathom how she'll be able to nimbly move around the kitchen cooking with these cookwares. "

    Yes, a woman in the store said the same thing to me too.

    "I was expecting expensive cookwares to be light and transfer heat evenly"

    No, most expensive cookware are heavy because of thick metal -- which provide even heating surface.

    1) Why are all the expensive cookware so heavy?
    Because of thick metal

    2) How do you even cook with those?
    This is such a vague question which I am not sure if you are looking for a real answer. Assuming you are... well, you cook with these just like any other cookware.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

      Thank all for your responds.

      The reason why I was expecting expensive cookware to be light and distribute heat evenly is because I have a castiron pan which is heavy but very cheap compared to the premium brands and it distributes heat very well. So I was expecting some high tech material that is both light and distributes heat well from an expensive cookware. I guess that's not the case.

      I guess I'll stick with some lower-end products that are lighter and have served me well. At least I get to save some bucks.

      1. re: rubenhan

        Well, if the lower end products are able to provide the specification you need, then that is good enough. The thicker metal simply makes it a bit more even heating, but you may not need that extra evenness. Obviously, the cooking surface will become more and more even as you make the layer thicker and thicker, but the cookware also become unwielding.

        If the thinner cookware work for you, then they work for you. No question about it.

        "I was expecting expensive cookware to be light and distribute heat evenly is "

        To some extend it is true. Aluminum is light and distribute very nice. You can actually get very even heating surface with a thick yet light aluminum pans -- inexpensive too. This is, in fact, what most restaurants use -- simple aluminum cookware. However, residential cookware are usually cladded with stainless steel to keep the reactive aluminum away from water and foods. The stainless steel layer can be thick too. So one by one, the weight adds up.

        Good luck

        1. re: rubenhan

 Berndes Tradition

          "Berndes Tradition cookware is manufactured using vacuum-pressure casting. High-grade aluminum alloys are melted and forced into a mold, ensuring the absence of air bubbles and resulting in a thick base, thin sides, no interior rivets, lightweight construction, and a perfectly flat bottom that never warps. The aluminum base delivers excellent heat distribution and is perfect for gas, electric, and ceramic stovetops."

          German made (last time I checked) cast aluminum. Very light, transfers heat very well. I don't think you should use these on high heat, but I have successfully seared a roast in my Berndes Dutch oven. However, these pans are so lightweight, they slide around on my glass top stove. But for me, this is better than a heavy Le Creuset.

          You might be able to find these locally.

          1. re: sueatmo

            I'm quite happy with cast aluminum pans like this. I have several (not just Berndes) that I got at TJMaxx. They have an induction insert, and nonstick coating. A slight problem is that the interior domes up slightly, causing fried eggs to slide toward the rim.

            I also have Berndes in disk bottom stainless steel.

            1. re: paulj

              Hmm. I have a wok, found at Home Goods, made similarly to the Berndes pans, and I think it is German. I use it at hight heat, even though I wonder if I really should. So far, though, it is fine. I like my Berndes DO, although I don't use it all that much. (Its too big for most of the meals I make.) I haven't noticed a domed interior though on either of my pots.

              I love Home Goods! I find German pots there--and other stuff.

      2. As usual, Chem has hit it on the head, I'm not sure what I can add but to clairify a few points.

        It's expensive because there is more material and/or technology in a high quality piece of cookware, be thankfull you weren't in the copper section at WS. The thickness provides a couple of things, thermal mass and more even heating due to better thermal conductivity. That is the thickness slows the heating enough to let the other areas of the pan heat to near what the part just above the heat source is. The thickness provides the thermal mass and the thermal conductivity of the metal moves the heat to parts of the pan not directly over the heat source. You need both for even heating. A really thin pan would heat so quickly in the area jsut above the flame on a gas stove for example that you would always have a hot spot. Sauté means to jump, but I must say, there isn't much jumping going on when I have a heavy sauté pan on the stove, it's more of a shuffle, that's how you cook with a heavy pan.

        Based on some research I did, here are some sauté pans and their corrisponding weights:
        All Clad Copper Core 6qt. 8 lbs, 0 oz
        All Clad D5 6qt. 6 lbs. 10 oz
        Falk Copper 4.5qt. 8 lbs. 0 oz
        Demeyere Atlantis 4.2qt. 10 lbs. 8 oz
        Fisler Orig. Pro 5qt. 10 lbs. 6 oz
        Viking V-7 6qt. 7 lbs. 0 oz

        These are all priced $250 US or more and the ply units are typically 2-2.5 mm thick or maybe up to 3mm in some cases. Some are disk bottoms which are perhaps 6mm thick.

        Disclaimer: the weights listed above are what I could find on various web sites and may or may not be exactly the weight of your particular pan. Consistant data was difficult to come by and I had no way of measuring the weights of all the pans myself. I haven't even weighed the one I bought.

        6 Replies
        1. re: mikie

          Hi, mikie:

          Add this saute to your list:

          Only 15 pounds (or a dime and a nickel for those in the iron game)!


          1. re: kaleokahu

            Hi Kaleo,

            At 15 lbs. that's why it's not on my list ;) It's also why I told rubenhan he should be glad he wasn't in the copper section at WS. That looks like some of the older stuff from WS, I'm surprised you're not all over that pan.

            1. re: mikie

              Hi, mikie:

              "...all over that pan."

              Well, I would be if money was no object. I already have an 11-inch like this, and can't justify. Right now, I need a cocotte/DO the most. And--I expect it will sell in the $300 range. It's rare- the planishing on the bottom is quite uncommon.


            2. re: kaleokahu

              And we have a NEW champion, weighing in at 17 pounds with a reach of 14 inches!

              1. re: kaleokahu

                Hi Kaleo,

                If you scroll down to other items from that seller there is a polenta pan made in Italy that's unlined, I have one of those, also made in Italy. It's never been used as far as I know, it was my mother's and I don't recall her ever using it.

                1. re: mikie

                  Hi, mikie:

                  Yes, they are specialty pans. The lack of a lining squicks people out, but for a non-acidic dish they should be quite safe. Other pans are commonly unlined--beating bowls, zambaglione pans, preserve and confectionary pans. You should break it out and make polenta.

                  But if you're ever interested in selling it, I'd be interested in looking at it.


          2. A heavy pan is a good thing! Well, actually there are limits. On a recent visit to WS, I saw a ginormous dutch oven. I mean huge and when I picked it up I swore there was a dead body in there.
            If the pan is heavy, like my largest All Clad pan is, make sure it's got 2 handles.

            13 Replies
            1. re: monavano

              "I mean huge and when I picked it up I swore there was a dead body in there."

              Did you open the lid to check?

              1. re: monavano

                Ah that was probably the 13 qt Staub. That baby's 25 lbs, bone dry. You gotta be an NFL lineman to use that thing when it's full. ;)

                1. re: mikie

                  Yup, it was the Staub. No thanks, I don't need to tear a bicep!

                  1. re: mikie

                    "You gotta be an NFL lineman to use that thing when it's full. ;)"

                    You also probably be crazy to use an 13 quart enameled cast iron cookware. -- what is point anyway?

                    1. re: monavano

                      The 10qt(or 13 or 15 not sure) Stub I looked at a x-mas was 35lbs , and the 2, 7 qt (round and oval) I ended up buying are 17lbs 8oz for the oval and 17lbs 4oz for the round , my wife has no problem cooking in them I just have to wash them.

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          Ya it only cost 25.71$ per pound, what a deal.

                          1. re: Dave5440

                            Ha ha ha. I have never heard of cookware being described in "$/weight". This is awesome.

                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                              HaHa there is a first for everything, I only thought of it after I weighed them, considering what CI costs there is a goood markup on those pots.

                    2. Hi,. rubenhan:

                      You must be in a *very* light/aged weight class if you can't lift the wares at W-S. More protein + heavier pans = stronger rubenhan. Try to work in the 3-5RM range until you can handle A-C.

                      As for mom nimbly mincing about the kitchen with full pans, well, if dance-ability is her #1 priority, it *will* save you money.


                      4 Replies
                      1. re: kaleokahu

                        lol Kaleo

                        I squat 600lb, DL 500lb, and BP 315lb. So no, I don't need more protein and more strength to lift Allclad. I rather not have to lift heavy weights if I don't have to. By the way, my father who is an extremely strong man by nature (used to be a wrestler) finds those cookwares heavy.

                        And if you are going to be smarty pant with your words, just don't contribute.

                        1. re: rubenhan

                          You are really strong. Well, like I have written above, everyone has different requirement for their cookware. Yours will be different than others. So maneuverability may be much more important for you, and that is great. For others, they seek fast heat response, and then for others they seek even heating. Everyone is different.

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            Thank you ChemicalKinetics for your sincere response. I really appreciate it.

                            1. re: rubenhan

                              Not a problem at all. We appreciate your post. It really get us to rethink some of our assumptions. In recent years, there is a push for "heat evenness". Unfortunately, there is a trade off. As you make a cookware material thicker, it will produce a more even heating surface, but it will also weight more and it will also heat up slower (slower heat response).

                              All of us have different expectation and criteria. Just like some people like a sedan and some people like a coupe. We all have different needs. While I can tell you for sure that a thinner pan does not produce the same even heating surface as a thicker one, I cannot tell you what is optimal for you. I think some may have stepped over that boundary.

                      2. 1) Why are all the expensive cookware so heavy?

                        Weight = heat capacity, good cookware will be heavy. Thick gauge aluminum, copper, or steel is what you're paying for. Would you rather cook in a cast iron skillet or disposable aluminum pie pan?

                        American labor produced goods will cost more. AC uses a unique interior SS lining.

                        2) How do you even cook with those?

                        When you're cooking, you're leaving it on the stove not holding it in your hands. The weight of the cookware is irrelevant. Even food cooked in skillets shouldn't need frequent flipping.

                        "I have a fairly heavy Calphalon chef's pan. When I fill that up with water to cook pasta, I can't even pick it up with one hand. It's ridiculous heavy. "

                        Try picking it up closer to the center of mass. Or it could be poorly designed which helper handle could be handy.