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Which Cookware should I get?

Soon I will be moving out on my own and would like to get a good cookware set under $200. I love cooking and cook for my family all the time. My parents have the Paula Deen Cookware Set and I like working with it, but it's not really my preference (other than the nonstick). I see all my favorite chefs cook with Stainless Steal and have been leaning towards getting myself a set. The real issue is I don't know WHAT to get. Should I get all stainless steal, then get a couple Hard Anodized Aluminum skillets for eggs and what not? I really do want a Cast Iron Skillet, but that will be down the road.

In summary, what is a GREAT COOKWARE SET for the hobby cook that loves to adventure out to try new food? Thanks all!

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  1. Cuisinart makes a line of stainless made in France. Also there is Tramontina.

    1. Why do you want to buy a particular "set"? You may be better off selecting different brands of cookware for different pieces. My cookware collection has evolved over time to encompass a variety of materials -- e.g., I like anodized aluminum (Calphalon) for high heat applications like sautéeing and frying, but prefer stainless steel for boiling and steaming, so I've got Calphalon skillets and a sautée pan, but stainless saucepans.

      1 Reply
      1. re: masha

        Thank you! I guess it was because I wanted everything at once haha. Although, I have a feeling I am going to do this. :)

      2. For $200, I'd choose about three or four pans, and get better quality. You probably don't need a set, and will get one or two pans you don't use that much.

        If it were me, I'd want some sort of iron or stainless saute pan, a small saucepan, a med or small non-stick frypan, and maybe a stovetop grill pan. But you need to think about what sort of foods you like to make, and choose your pans accordingly.

        I'd spend the most money on the best quality saute pan you can afford. You will use that pan so often! The only non-stick pan you want is a relatively inexpensive non-stick fry pan, for eggs mainly. And a good quality small saucepan should not cost the earth. I added the grill pan because I use mine constantly, but you might feel you would use another pan more often, so feel free to brainstorm what you would use.

        Most of us on this board don't recommend sets. Aside from getting pans you don't use that much, some sorts of pans are better for some things and vice versa. I recommend visiting BB &B and/or Home Goods to handle pans. Try to handle the best quality at BB&B (or Williams-Sonoma, for really top of the line pans) and work your way down the price points. I also like picking up the pans at Home Goods. You'll be able to tell which ones are made better, have better balance and comfy handles.

        Also, at Home Goods you can find inexpensive non-stick frypans, usually in abundance.

        Good luck and happy hunting.

        1 Reply
        1. re: sueatmo

          Thank you! :) I am so new to equipping the kitchen. I normally just use whatever my parents have. The foods I normally eat/cook are Italian, French, English, and Chinese style food. So, a Stock Pot is essential. And the suggestion of the grill pan is wonderful. I definitely would want one.

        2. I don't think a set is a good idea, particularly since you have mixed feelings about the type of construction you prefer. Decide what you most need to cook, then decide what pan to get for that. Then do the same for the next thing, which might call for a different pan construction.

          For example, if you want to make omelettes, get a pan with that in mind. If you never make omelettes, but just want two eggs fried or scrambled, a different pan would be better.

          1. Usually, a set is not the best approach as others have stated. That being said, the Tramontina set is so inexpensive that they are good bargain even if you use 3 out of the 5 cookware.


            Now, you still have to decide if stainless steel surface cookware are the kind of cookware you want. They have some advantages and some disadvantages. You will have to do a bit research on your own -- like looking up the older posts here or other forums.

            <The real issue is I don't know WHAT to get. >

            This is something you will have to decide. It may seem simple if I just say to get it or not to get it, but that would be a unhelpful advice -- because I don't know you. It is like buying truck vs a seda. Some people get better use of one over the other, but only the person of interest knows.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              I had a chance to handle really good Tramontina at Home Goods recently and had to restrain myself from buying pieces, even though I didn't need any. Just super quality.

              I own a good piece of Tramontina, not as fine as the stuff I went gaga over. So, I'm agreeing. Tramontina is good. If you had to have a set, then that's a good way to go. Does a stock pot come with their sets?

              1. re: sueatmo

                <Does a stock pot come with their sets?>

                I think it depends what sets. The small 8-pieces set has a 5-quart Dutch Oven, but not a larger stock pot. The 10- pieces and the 14 peices sets come with a 8-quart stock pot.


            2. As for hard anodized aluminum, my experience is that it is not so great for fried eggs, but excellent for "whatnot." Many years ago, I bought a small Calphalon Commercial fry pan thinking it would be good for fried eggs. I was never happy with it for that purpose, and mostly gave up frying eggs until a few years ago, when I discovered a small T-Fal pan was perfect for eggs. I kept the CC pan, and still have it, but have hardly ever used it.

              Recently, however, I bought another (new) Calphalon Commercial pan, the 10" omelette pan. I have no idea if it's good for omelettes, compared to nonstick, but it is excellent for a vegetable sauté.

              The new CC differs from the original CC in that the old line had a smooth surface. The new pans have a matte finish. I decided to season my new pan with Crisco, exactly as I would do with cast iron, and it worked out well. If you get one of these, I recommend it.

              1. I like the Cuisinart saucepans, but I'd go to a restaurant supply place for a stockpot and get a carbon steel fry pan to start out. If you start out with well chosen items that don't match you will not have a little voice in your head scream "It doesn't match!" when you chance upon that Le Creuset or copper piece that is just too cool and too good of a deal to pass up.

                1. Tramontina TRIPLY, the solid stuff like Walmart has that is not just a disc on the bottom but TRIPLY all way to the edge. It cooks very much like the All-Clad I have owned at a fraction of the price. A nice set will run ~$200~$250. Add a non-stick skillet for eggs or Lodge cast iron skillet and you are pretty well set for most cooking needs.

                  1. I went to Costco to buy a set ok Kirkland pots and pans for about $175 8 years ago when I moved out of the nest. I still use the pots today, the frying pans I have only in the last two years replace with all clad and LC.

                    1. Thank you all! :) I have, over hours of pondering, come to the conclusion that I am going to get the Tramontina 12-Piece Gourmet Tri-Ply Base Stainless Steel Cookware Set. Many people compare it to All-Clad. Alongside this set, I am going to pick up a Porcelain Enameled skillet for the sticky stuff, a larger stock pot for Soups and Stocks, a Dutch Oven from Tramontina (since it's apparently comparable to Le Crueset), and a Lodge Cast Iron Skillet. Thank you all for your help! :) In the future, I will slowly gain my dream customed cookware set, but, until then...

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: NykoSkye

                        Good choices. For the small increase in money, consider getting the full TRIPLY over the encapsulated base cookware. It's not that the clad-base cookware is bad, it just that the full TRIPLY is better for a relatively small incremental increase in price.

                        Regarding skillets, I own an LC but find I use my Lodge cast iron (searing steaks/roasts/meat today), Demeyere Atlantis/5 Star and, De Buyer Mineral the most.

                        1. re: NykoSkye

                          Triply stainless steel cookware are good all-around cookware.

                          <I am going to pick up a Porcelain Enameled skillet for the sticky stuff>

                          I don't think enameled skillet is known for nonstick ability. On top of that, enameled cast iron skillet usually is not the best fry pan/skillet anyway.

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            Yes, to that. I prefer a non stick for eggs or an occasional other task. You don't need really expensive either. Just use it on medium or lower heat. No exceptions! A non-stick pan does eggs beautifully.

                          2. re: NykoSkye

                            Sounds good! Those pans seem great to me. I hope you have years of good cooking with them.

                          3. If there's a Bed Bath & Beyond near you, why not browse around in its kitchenware department? That way you'll know how heavy or light a piece is, how comfortable its handle, what kind of lid, etc. And you can buy your basic batterie all at once from a variety of makers.

                            Cooking for one or two, I use four pieces almost all the time: a 12" anodized aluminum skillet (Cuisinart 621-115P), a 10" nonstick skillet (T-Fal), and a universal lid for them; a 2 1/2 quart and a 1-quart anodized aluminum saucepan (both Calphalon) with their own glass lids. There are a few other pots and pans in the cupboard but I hardly ever use them.