Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >
May 30, 2012 07:06 PM

Why do I own my All-Clad stainless saute pan?

I already own a dutch oven for braising, but I was thinking of buying an enameled cast iron saute pan to replace my stainless pan. Is there anything my stainless can do that my potentially new cast iron saute pan can't?


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. <Is there anything my stainless can do that my potentially new cast iron saute pan can't?>

    Yes. Your All Clad stainless steel cookware can (1) endure metal utensils, (2) respond quicker to the burner temperature, (3) create a more even heating cooking surface, (4) go into a dishwasher, (5) better handle thermal shock, (6) be more easily used to shake and toss foods....etc. I think the better question is the other way around. What can your future enameled saute pan can do that your All Clad saute pan cannot? Bare cast iron is a different story, but enameled cast iron saute pan?

    I don't know about Dutch Oven (actually I do), but for sauting, I am betting on a stainless steel-aluminum cladded saute pan over an enameled cast iron saute pan.

    12 Replies
    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

      Very helpful. Thank you. I wanted to brown some chicken and finish it off in the oven. Can my stainless do that?

      Again, thanks for the knowledge.

      1. re: eps1977

        To be honest, with the right skill and good patience, you can brown your chicken and finish it off in either your All Clad stainless steel pan or the enameled cast iron pan. It can be done in either cookware. However, it is easier to do so with the All Clad because the heat response is better and the heating surface is more even too.

        For what you described, you can do it in your current All Clad stainless steel-aluminum cladded saute pan, a bare cast iron skillet, a carbon steel frying pan, or a plain aluminum pan...etc. The carbon steel and bare cast iron cookware would be a bit more nonstick. The stainless steel-aluminum and the pure aluminum would be more even heating. However, if you like to deglaze to make sauce, then your All Clad stainless steel-aluminum cladded pan has the advantage over all the others. Overall, I think you have a decent saute pan. You can get a different pan for sure, but you may not like your new pan anymore.

        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

          Yes, definitely want to deglaze. The reason this question came about was because I tried to brown some chicken in the stainless and it burned within 30 seconds of touching the pan. Heated the pan up and the oil before the chicken touched the surface, so I thought I would be safe, but the opposite happened. The chicken was ruined and it took oven cleaner to get the burnt stain off the pan. Always have great browning in my cast iron before I braise, so I thought a cast iron saute pan would be a good choice. Advice on browning in a stainless so it doesn't stick or burn? Thanks in advance. All the posts are very helpful.

          1. re: eps1977

            <Always have great browning in my cast iron before I braise>

            Bare cast iron or enameled cast iron?

            Bare cast iron skillet works well, but bare cast iron cookware can form a seasoned surface which minimizes sticking.

            <the reason this question came about was because I tried to brown some chicken in the stainless and it burned within 30 seconds of touching the pan.>

            Stainless steel cookware do not burn foods much more easily, not in the literal sense. What usually happens is that foods (especially meats) get stuck on the stainless steel and therefore prolong the cooking and leading to burning.

            So I absolutely agree with you that stainless steel cookware have one major learning curve in term of "prevent sticking". It is the main reason why Teflon/nonstick cookware are so popular now because Teflon cookware require zero learning curve to keep the foods nonstick. Stainless steel cookware have the toughest learning curve in this area, but it can be done.

            One trick is to use butter, or a bit of butter mixed with your regular cooking oil. Butter tends to reduce sticking.

            Rouxbe has one of the best illustrated videos on this. Unfortunately, now you have to pay to watch it (used to be free)


            <Heated the pan up and the oil before the chicken touched the surface>

            You want to heat the pan until it is relatively hot. When you sprinkle water on the pan, it would form water beads and dance on the pan. At the very least, these water droplets have to give off sizzling sound. Once this happens, you can add oil. Only then you can add your meats. Once you put the meats in. Wait for it to brown before turning and flipping. Once the foods are cooked. They will release themselves from the pan. In other words, you don't want to force the foods to move and tear them off. You simply push and tug with a gentle force.

            Here is a video on a guy frying an egg on a stainless steel pan. Notice that he did not force the egg to move.


            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              That's a disgusting-looking fried egg! (a consequence of the high heat) I'm sticking (so to speak) with my T-fal.

              1. re: GH1618

                <That's a disgusting-looking fried egg!>

                :D Ha ha ha.

                <I'm sticking (so to speak) with my T-fal.>

                Eggs are tough on a stainless steel pan. Give the guy a break, but I do agree he probably over cooked it a bit.

            2. re: eps1977

              Lucky. I found this video on the water test on stainless steel pan. This is the closest video I have seen since the rouxbe video.


          2. re: eps1977

            Just get yourself a 12 inch bare cast iron skillet from lodge. Should set you back less than $20. It works great for browning on the stovetop and finishing in the oven. I would prefer to do this with ci than stainless steel because the ci will be easier to clean up after and the ci will keep its heat better in the transfer from stove to oven.

            Edit: I noticed that you also want to deglaze. In that case, just stick with stainless steel when you want to deglaze and create a pan sauce. It will be just fine in the oven. To avoid burning, control your heat on the stovetop. You probably don't need to go beyond medium when browning your chicken.

            1. re: wiselad

              It seems that everyone is put off by deglazing in a CI pan. Frankly, I don't understand this. I understand that, theoretically, deglazing can deteriorate the seasoning, but in my experience deglazing does not impact the seasoning at all. I use my CI skillets, inter alia, for searing steaks, which I finish in a very hot oven. I usually follow this by pouring 1 cup to half a bottle of red wine in the pan and boiling it down over high heat to a thick syrupy pan sauce, scraping up all the bits in the process. There has been no harm to my pan's seasoning. If all you ever do is deglaze, and let the liquids sit in the pan for a long time, maybe you will see some problem, but I do a lot more in my skillet than make pan sauces, and the deglazing takes only a few minutes. Don't avoid CI just because you want to deglaze in it. It will hold up to it. I think the best suggestion you've had so far is to keep your Dutch Oven, keep your Stainless Saute, and get an inexpensive CI Skillet.

              1. re: jljohn

                In my experience, deglazing on a carbon steel or cast iron pan is not a big deal if I do it once awhile. However, it may be problem if I do it every single time.

                Another thing I have noticed is that it is a very person taste thing. I use a bare cast iron (seasoned) Dutch Oven all the time, and have a cast iron skillet and a carbon steell frying pan. I love them. I do not ever taste any "metal" or "iron" from my dishes, and if I did, it was so faint that I do not care. However, for some people, they are very sensitive and hate the iron taste from a cast iron cookware. I can only imagine the same during deglazing when more iron ge to leach out of the cookware. Some people may able to taste the "iron" a carbon steel or cast iron frying pan. Again, I am not bother by it, but many people claim the taste is very offensive.

          3. re: Chemicalkinetics

            Good, except for the part about tossing food. I have the smallest size All-Clad sauté pan (3-qt) and it's pretty heavy. By the time it's full of food, tossing is out of the question. I stir with a wooden tool, not metal.

            1. re: GH1618

              <By the time it's full of food, tossing is out of the question.>

              I do agree that All Clad is not the best pan for tossing because it is pretty heavy, and man, do I hate the handle, which makes it feels heavier. :)

              That being said, an All Clad pan is still better for tossing than an enameled cast iron pan.... if anything the All Clad pan will not shatter when you hit the pan against the stove.

              <I stir with a wooden tool, not metal.>

              But you could use a metal tool on an All Clad, right? Whereas I think it is a very bad practice to do so with an enameled cookware.

          4. It can save you the cost of buying another pan. But if you don't like it and would prefer something else, go for it.

            1. For me, the answer would be all about conductivity and a more evenly heated cooking surface. If I am going to saute, I don't want to have to rotate the contents of the pan to prevent uneven cooking. I would want the saute pan that provides the most conductivity, and in your case, that would be the All-Clad.

              Basically, I think Chem's advice above is right on.

              1. Hi, eps1977:

                Unless your hobs are exceedingly even, you would be wasting your money buying an ECI saute. And unless the ECI is dramatically different in size than your AC, you'd *still* be wasting your money.


                1. I think the biggest reason you do not need a cast iron saute pan is because of the weight. you can do anything with the SS saute pan that you can with an enamel over cast iron pan and more because it weighs less. Heck, I don't often use our enamel Dutch oven because of the weight while we have SS kettles that can do the same thing.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: John E.

                    I scored a 5 qt All Clad SS saute pan at Marshalls a few years back for around 60 dollars with a lid! It had a few cosmetic scratches on the lid, but other wise it was in perfect shape. I think they retail for over 2 hundred dollars which is crazy. It develops a rich golden fond like no other pan I've ever owned. I love my cast iron and use it often, but if I'm going to be browning large batches of meat and then deglazing, my All Clad is my go to pan. As for burning, they tend to not need quite as high a heat as my other pans do to get a nice sear, so be aware of that. The first batch of meat will tend to stick pretty good once it hits the hot pan, but as it sears it will loosen up and you can flip it. Each subsequent batch of meat that you brown will tend to stick less as the fond develops, just add oil as needed to keep the pan from going dry. Pour out excess oil. Deglaze. They also work great for sauteing vegetables or braising things. I'm not a big enameled cast iron fan simply because of the weight, but I love bare cast iron for its nonstick properties and versatility. Good luck! Just don't give up on your All Clad. They are great pans if you use them properly.

                    1. re: gourmandonater

                      You may have misunderstood my post. I am a big fan of SS and try-ply in particular. We don't have any actual All Clad pans/kettles but do have the same thing in Tramontina and Cuisinart. An interesting thing I have noticed since switching from mostly nonstick cookware is that I actually kind of enjoy washing these pans as opposed to seeing the nonstick surface disappear every time I washed the Teflon pans.

                      1. re: John E.

                        I can't imagine how you must be washing your Teflon pans! Mine are completely unaffected by washing.

                        1. re: GH1618

                          I was exaggerating for effect when I said I was seeing the nonstick surface disappear every time I washed the Teflon pans. I suppose I should remember to use ; ) more often when I write things like that.

                          We still use an 8 inch Teflon pan that is quite worn out. Of course the pan is about 8 years old as well, which I have found is long past the useful life of Teflon.

                        2. re: John E.

                          Sorry. I ment to reply to the original poster. I hear what you are saying though. Weird exotic plastics don't jive with the kind of cooking that I do for my family. I suspect that they are relatively harmless, but I can just as easily do with out them. I just bust out my cast iron! Sorry for the confusion. All clad is over priced, but it really does work exceedingly well. So does Demeyere. Never pay full price though. That's for squares. Tramontina and Cuisinart make good cookware. There is a marginal difference, and if you cook a lot you will notice it , but its very subtle, and not at all worth full price.