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Kirkland 18/10 SS cookware, All-Clad, or Cuisinart Professional tri-ply

I am looking to replace my 10+ year old set of Kirkland hard-anodized aluminum cookware with something new. My old set has been a steady friend, but has definitely seen better days. Also, I recently got a new Blue Star range, so I'd like to get some new pots and pans to get the max potential out of my cooking. I love to cook and hope to have this new set for a long time.

That said, I'm not the type of person to just buy the brand name if there's something else that works just as well for less money. I know All-Clad seems to be the brand to buy, but am also wondering about the two sets available at Costco: Kirkland 18/10 SS cookware and Cuisinart Professional Tri-Ply. The Cuisinart Professional looks suspiciously similar to the Cuisinart Multiclad, which seems to get good reviews on Amazon. I've also read plenty of good reviews for Tramontina Tri-Ply, but I'm trying to avoid giving my business to Wal-Mart. (I have family members in unions that would not be very excited to see me shop there.) Cost is not a huge issue, but something to consider given the price differences between All-Clad and these alternatives.

http://www.costco.com/Kirkland-Signat...

http://www.costco.com/Cuisinart%C2%AE...

Any help/guidance you have to share would be appreciated. Thanks!

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  1. Hi, Ames:

    Neither these Costco sets nor the A-C is likely to have an aluminum layer as thick as your hard-anodized set. They won't say how thick the conductive layer is, which I always find suspect.

    I finally finagled out of Williams-Sonoma how thick *their* aluminum in their new Thermoclad line is (2mm), which is decent but hardly high-performance. ONE of those pans would be almost 2/3 the cost of either Costco clad set you're considering.

    My take is that if you're after the convenience of fully clad pans, great. But your performance is likely to actually decrease. Same with A-C.

    Knock yourself out with the Blue Star!

    Aloha,
    Kaleo

    1. Ames,

      All Clad stainless steel cookware are pretty much the reference standard for full triply cookware. They are build to be very durable. The stainless steel triply construction is a very different design than your hard anodized aluminum cookware construction. One of the greatest differences you will notice right away is the stainless steel surface vs hard aluminum surface. Stainless steel surface can take a lot of abuses ranging from temperature to chemicals to physical. Hard anodized is very strong too, but not as chemically inert, which is why you should not put them inside a dishwasher. As for foods, they tend to stick to stainless steel more readily than to hard anodized aluminum. So you will have to adjust your cooking style -- if you have not had used stainless steel surface cookware before.

      Back to the two cookware sets you are looking at, the Kirkland set is a disc bottom cladded cookware. This means that only the bottom is cladded with aluminum. The side is not. The Cuisinart set is fully triply, which means the cladding is up to the side. Typically speaking, fully cladded cookware are more expensive than disc bottom cladded cookware. However, one is not better than the other. They are different. The cladding for disc bottom is usually much thicker as well.

      If you are not exactly sure what you are looking for, then I would suggest you to lean toward the fully cladded Cuisinart Professional Triply.

      If you want to look at higher end stainless steel cladding cookware, then Demeyere has several high end lines:

      http://www.demeyere.be/

      If you want to look for something reputable but less expensive than All-Clad, then there are the Calpahlon Triply, Cuisinart MultiClad, and of course the Tramontina triply (which you don't want to get).

      11 Replies
      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

        I want to add that I'd lean toward Cuisinart too, especially at the higher end. Based on the performance of my older Cuisinart pans, and the way they are constructed, I'd be very inclined to by that brand again, but at the highest price point.

        I respect the OP's reasons for not buying from Walmart.

        1. re: sueatmo

          From all reports, the old Cuisinart cookware was great, the newer stuff (past decade at least) not so much. Like a lot of things. :-/

          1. re: mcf

            I've looked at newer Cuisinart, and it looks and feels solid. I'd buy it again, except for the handles. I prefer a fat rolled handle, but the newer pots have narrower handles.

            I may buy some anyway, since I'm considering going induction. I found a decent deal on the Cuisinart site.

            Knowing what I know now, I'd buy fewer pots, but better.

            1. re: sueatmo

              Yes, I unloaded numerous expensive pans on my DD when she moved out due to having used them so rarely. I still have one soup pot I could stand to get rid of, too.

              Definitely tend to use the same few pieces over and over.

              1. re: mcf

                I've already given thought as to who would get my old pans!

              2. re: sueatmo

                That's my plan, fewer pans. I seldom use my sauté pan, never use my big stockpot anymore. I do need a DO, a couple of saucepans and one more SS fry pan. I sure don't think I'll buy a set, unless it's a killer deal.

                I've been doing more research on Cuisinart, and have found a nasty thing about their warranty. It seems they require the customer to pay shipping both ways on warranty service. Even on out-of-the-box defects. That's not nice. That said, I've never needed replacement on any of my Calphalon SS in 11 yrs. So as long as you're not shipped a dud, and the pans hold up, it should be fine. Or buy from a source that will replace a bad pan with no time limit.

                1. re: DuffyH

                  Or buy the pan in person. I did have one pan go bad on me in my old Cuisinart line. I don't think that mailing the pot back with a lifetime warranty is that onerous.

                  I do use my saute pan, and that is a must for replacing, but I don't use the larger saucepans very much, and so, could use a lesser quality if it comes to that. I also need a non-stick pan, but that shouldn't cost so much. The saute pan and a large stock pot will be my heaviest expenses.

                  I've been looking at the Vollrath Centurion line tonight. But I think it is a little out of my price range, and besides we need to decide on the cooktop next.

                  We looked into Bosch cooktops yesterday at Lowe's. I would rather have a Bosch than a Jenn Air. But we would also rather buy from locals than from Lowe's.

                  1. re: sueatmo

                    < I don't think that mailing the pot back with a lifetime warranty is that onerous.>

                    I really do think that paying postage, BOTH WAYS, on any warranty pan is asking a bit much. And it's plain insulting on a pan that's found to be defective when you open the box. For all but the largest and most expensive Cuisinart pans, you'd be better off to simply buy a new one, possibly something Cuisinart is betting people will do.

                    Bosch makes good stuff. I've owned Miele and Bosch dishwashers, and although both are excellent, I'll take the Bosch any day. I hope you can find a local vendor. :)

                    1. re: DuffyH

                      We bought an excellent Bosch dishwasher, and then we moved!

                      On the Cuisinart, I think you make a good argument for buying locally if at all possible. If you get a defective pan, you can just return it. Of course if you get one through Amazon or an online cookware store, that doesn't necessarily apply.

                      We received, in due time, a new coffee maker from Cuisinart once when ours died. But we had had the coffee maker for a while.

          2. re: Chemicalkinetics

            You said to stay away from the Tramontina. Why? I have not read any negative comments on it.

            1. re: Treble

              I believe the Tramontina comment is referring to my original post, which says that I would prefer not to support Walmart by purchasing Tramontina from them. It's not a negative comment about the quality of the product.

          3. The Kirkland set is not fully cladded, but has a bonded disk. I've lately begun to notice some small rust spots at the seam of my 2 disk-bottom pans. Both are about 6 years old. Something to think about. The Cuisinart is fully cladded.

            Another to consider is Emerilware try-ply by AC, priced close to the Kirkland and Cuisinart. The handles on the Emerilware are VERY comfortable.

            http://www.amazon.com/Emeril-All-Clad...

            1 Reply
            1. re: DuffyH

              <Another to consider is Emerilware try-ply by AC>

              Almost forgot, the Pro-Clad set gets good praise.

            2. If you do decide on All Clad go to the Cookware and More website -- they sell slight cosmetic seconds for much cheaper, particularly when they are on sale .

              I have many pieces from them, some going on 20 years and all look and perform perfectly.

              2 Replies
              1. re: C. Hamster

                What size are your hands? I have been getting AC since the first year they came out. The old handles are rough, pitted, and rusty. A great grip. The new handles are smooth, stainless, and loaded pots and pans have turned in my wet or greasy hands.

                Even with learning how to cook starting with AC, at least 30% of my kitchenware is from other sources that could be done by AC in my kitchen. Carbon steel woks, tinned copper pots and pans, cast iron pots and pans. I enjoy the variety.

                1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                  My handles are perfect after 14 years. The pans themselves are perfect as well.

                  I don't mind the handle design but some do, I know.

              2. Costco's Cuisinart Professional Tri-Ply is pretty much the same as Multiclad except the glass lids. Make sure the size of the pans in the set suit your needs. Otherwise buy individual pieces.

                Cuisinart Professional Tri-Ply Includes:

                One 8” Skillet
                One 10” Skillet
                One 12” Skillet
                One 1.5-quart Saucepan with Cover
                One 3-quart Saucepan with Cover
                One 4-quart Saute with Helper Handle and Cover
                One 8-quart Stockpot with Cover
                Pasta Insert

                1. ames,

                  I personally own All-Clad Copp'r Core-Regular-and whatever they call their aluminum stuff (plus a 12 quart multi-pot), Tramontina FULLY clad from Wal-Mart, and Demeyere Atlantis and some Emeril-ware/All-Clad.

                  I hate the All-Clad handles .... PERIOD, they are terrible IMHO. Cooking in the All-Clad is good but not WOW better, just good.

                  Emeril-ware is pretty good, better when you factor in the price versus regular All-Clad.

                  Tramontina from Wal-Mart was a WOW. Cooks every bit as good as my All-Clad at what? ~20% the price of similar All-Clad sets!!!

                  The Demeyere Atlantis - OUCH to the wallet but, WOW it does cook nice when you use the right pan. Their pans are specialized for each function. Want a great saucepan? Skillet? ... If you have the money for All-Clad, research Demeyere Atlantis. And, they have welded handles which I love more each time I hand wash a pan with or without welded/riveted habdles.

                  14 Replies
                  1. re: Sid Post

                    <I hate the All-Clad handles .... PERIOD>

                    I forgot to mention this very important information. :) Thanks for mentioning it.

                    At one point, I seriously thought about getting All Clad, but the handle pushed me away.

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      I have a couple of All-Clad fry pans and saucepans, and I don't mind the handles at all. And, because of advancing arthritis, *everything* hurts my hands. They fit just right.

                      I grab from underneath, though. Some may grip from above, and that's what hurts. But that's just speculation on my part. Anyone who's thinking of buying All Clad ought to try lifting them by the handles when they're full.

                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        +1. I avoid AC like the plague for that very reason. As I'm shopping to find my next, induction-ready, pans, I'm paying VERY close attention to handle comfort. The handles on my current Calphalon TP are beginning to bother me. I've had to really choke up on them a few times lately to prevent turning and losing a pot of pasta sauce.

                        My current handle faves are the Cuisinart MCP and FC, Cuisinox Elite and Emeril PC by AC. I'm hoping to find a really fat handle in cladded SS, but not holding my breath.

                        1. re: DuffyH

                          <My current handle faves are the Cuisinart MCP and FC, Cuisinox Elite and Emeril PC by AC>

                          Ok, that is another mystery. No one (or very rarely) complains about Emerilware Pro Clad handle design. It is partially similar to the Classic All Clad handle design, but Pro Clad handles are wider, fatter, and smoother. I have handled Pro Clad handles, and they feel fine to me.

                          So the mystery is: Why won't All Clad the company put the gentler handle on the classic All Clad cookware? It isn't like All Clad does not know how to do it.

                          Anyway.

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            Why, you ask? The answer is obvious, Chem. Well, at least to me. :)

                            If the handles were more comfortable everyone would like them and AC would lose it's cachet. Follow me, here. You see, if the handles were more comfortable, more people would buy the pans, which would then become commonplace and ordinary. This would not alter the pan's excellent quality one jot, but IMO those handles just scream "serious cookware" and I think AC likes it that way. You don't mess with a classic.

                            1. re: DuffyH

                              Do you hold your All-Clad with an underhand or overhand grip, Duffy?

                              1. re: Jay F

                                I try not to hold AC, Jay. At least, not by the handle.

                                That said, I use an underhand grip, thumb in the groove. And don't you know I had to go check, because I've never thought about it before. :)

                                1. re: Jay F

                                  You probably know. I hold it underhand. (Hand below the handle, palm facing up).

                            2. re: DuffyH

                              Hi, Duffy:

                              Re: handles, have you hefted the Williams-Sonoma Thermo-Clad? The skillet I'm evaluating has a very comfortable SS handle in both palm-up and palm-down positions, and is quite fat (except near the pan body, it tapers). To me this is the best-shaped handle I've found.

                              Aloha,
                              Kaleo

                              1. re: kaleokahu

                                Hey, Kaleo :)

                                I haven't seen those before, and you're right, those handles do look easy to get a good grip on. The prices are a bit steep for me, but it looks like these might hit all of my other criteria, including:

                                Rolled rims on the saucepans
                                Metal lids (this is not a deal-breaker, just another plus)
                                Big, easy to grip handle loops on the lids
                                Good-size helper handles on the 4-qt sauce and sauté pans.

                                I also like that they're made in Italy. I've got nothing against China; I love my Mac, iPad and iPhone, but it's the whole trade imbalance. If I can find what I want from the US or Europe, I'm happier.

                                Thanks for the tip! :)

                                1. re: DuffyH

                                  Duffy, did you buy any of those Canadian triply pans we were looking at about a month ago?

                                  1. re: Jay F

                                    The Cuisinox Elite? Not yet, Jay. I heard from the Mfg. that they are made in China, but you know that won't put me off. Sometime in the next 6 months going to try to find and handle some of the various pans I'm interested in. I could buy, evaluate and return them on Amazon at no cost with Prime, but that would be abusing Amazon's generous return and shipping policies. Something I won't do.

                                    1. re: Jay F

                                      Jay, I just saw a newer amazon review on the Cuisinox 2.8 liter (3 qt) pan. The reviewer complained that pouring was a 3-handed operation because because of the handle. It's the same problem I have with my current 4.5-qt. pan. Here's an excerpt:

                                      "Much as I love cooking with it I find I do not use it because the handle is so narrow, it is impossible to pick up and pour with one hand. The narrow handle twists in your hand because of the weight with any contents. Even my husband (a big boy) found it very difficult."

                                      So that's a big old NO for me. I'm thinking of ordering a Vollrath Tribute 4.5 qt, despite the price tag. It's got a nice silicone grip attached.

                                      Smaller pans don't give me trouble, so handle isn't as critical. Even my 3.5 qt is no problem for me. Or maybe I'll stop obsessing over handles and just keep making Mr. H help with pouring from the big pan. :)

                                      1. re: DuffyH

                                        Thanks, Duffy, for letting me know. I guess I'm lucky. The All-Clad handles cause me no pain. And I have the loop handle on the 3 qt. saucepan (though I don't always use it).

                          2. Thank you everyone for all of this helpful info!

                            Does anyone have any thoughts on hard anodized aluminum vs. fully clad pans? (Thanks Kaleo and Chemicalkinetics for bringing up some of the differences.) I hadn't really give a lot of thought to how these types might differ in cooking performance. My parents had stainless steel pans growing up (albeit a cheap set) and food stuck to the pan more. I wasn't thinking this would be a big deal, since I'd get better fond for things like pan sauces. Are there any other significant considerations in deciding between fully clad SS pans vs hard anodized aluminum?

                            Thanks again!

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: ames999

                              < Does anyone have any thoughts on hard anodized aluminum vs. fully clad pans? >

                              Specially are you looking for something? Hard anodized aluminum is very much like pure aluminum really. It conducts heat very well -- better than fully cladded triply construct. On the other hand, fully cladded triply cookware are very convenient. They are chemically and structurally tougher. Some people even prefer the stickiness from stainless steel cookware where they can develop better fonds (bits).

                              <since I'd get better fond for things like pan sauces.>

                              Exactly.

                              < Are there any other significant considerations in deciding between fully clad SS pans vs hard anodized aluminum?>

                              It really depends what you want out of the pans. If you want faster heat response and more evenly heating surface, then hard anodized aluminum cookware are usually better. If you want something which you can use metal tools, metal scrub, and put into dishwasher and develop nice fond, then stainless steel cladded cookware are better. It really depends on your priority.

                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                Thanks for your comments. I guess I just need to mull over the pros and cons for a bit. Your comments are helpful in making my decision though.

                                1. re: ames999

                                  Ames,

                                  As you have stated, you do want to use dishwasher. Usually, I would still warn people about the sticky surface of stainless steel cookware -- a lot of people are unpleasantly surprised by it. On the other hand, you have used stainless steel surface cookware, so you definitely know what you are getting into. You will have to decide what works best for you.

                                  As for Monch, I have read about his unfortunately experience. As you may have read from the old post, I agreed with him that the pan should able to handle the high heat setting for boiling water. Anyway, there are two things to take out of his story. First, the Cuisinart customer service is not as good as it should have been. Second, the failed cookware discussed by Monch is disc bottom cookware (probably Cuisinart Chef’s Classic). I have noticed that disc bottom cookware have more complaints. This really does not mean disc bottom cookwares are inherently poor. It is just that many manufacturers have lower standards when they make disc bottom cookware. This is an entirely different topic. Nevertheless, it is something for you to consider.
                                  Keep in mind that you were considering Kirkland Signature and Cuisianrt Professional. While you rightly correct to have said that “that definitely makes me think twice about giving my business to a company with such poor customer service”, you should also not forget that that Kirkland Signature is the disc bottom cookware.

                              2. re: ames999

                                Hi, Ames:

                                IMO, fully-clad pans exist only for purposes of convenience. The SS is more inert (though not completely inert) than is even anodized aluminum. But SS is a terrible conductor of heat.

                                Another way of looking at it is that clad pans generally can only *approach* those made of straight-gauge conductive material (aluminum or copper), and the degree of approximation depends largely on what the clad manufacturers put between the layers of SS. Most of the clad makers play hide-the-ball on this issue, and 95 times out of 100 the conductive layer is much thinner than you would find in good non-clad. It is not difficult (or expensive), to find 4mm aluminum pans, but it is next to impossible to find fully-clad pans containing a 4mm layer of aluminum.

                                Now then, it is reported here that HA pans can "silver out", i.e., lose the anodizing in the presence of highly acidic foods. Have you experienced this with your old set? If you have not, it is unlikely you would with a new set, unless you suddenly shift your cooking toward the strongly acidic.

                                How important is it for you to be able to: (a) wash your pans in the DW; (b) scour them using strong abrasive powders; and/or (c) use metal utensils? If these 3 convenience factors weigh heavy for you, then you will probably think it's worth the small downtick in performance to have clad. But if the maintenance over the last decade with your old set was no big deal, then why trade down?

                                Regarding fond, I think either HA or SS will *form* fond just fine. The difference would come in how you get the fond into your integral sauces. I'm habituated to deglazing by waiting an extra minute or so, and then using a light hand with the utensils. But if you want to attack the fond immediately and very aggressively with metal tools, then clad might suit you better.

                                Since you're getting a new (and great) gas range, induction compatibility is not an issue.

                                Finally, there's aesthetics to consider. Many people prefer shiny stainless because it appears cleaner, newer, higher-tech, healthier, etc. I suggest to you these things are *only* appearances.

                                Aloha,
                                Kaleo

                                1. re: kaleokahu

                                  Thanks for your comments, Kaleo. This is very helpful. I've gotten very used to the way my HA pans perform, but they've also suffered a ton of abuse (from myself in my early years of cooking and not understanding how to properly care for my pans and also my various roommates over the years). They've been in the dishwasher for periods of time over the years, the coating on the outside of the pan has worn off . . . they look terrible! I'm used to not using metal utensils, so that's not really much of a factor and as you've mentioned, I've habitualized to cooking with HA. The convenience of the dishwasher is probably the only thing that I'm now considering heavily.

                                  Sounds like I just need to mull it over and make a decision. Thanks again for all of your input! Much appreciated.

                                1. re: Monch

                                  ugh, that sounds like an awful experience! well, that definitely makes me think twice about giving my business to a company with such poor customer service. at the very least, if i decide to buy anything made by Cuisinart, i'll have to buy from somewhere like Costco where I know I can return it without problems. thanks for sharing your experience.

                                2. Sur La Table has a nice line of tri-ply stainless you might want to consider.

                                  http://www.surlatable.com/category/ca...

                                  Most of mine is either All-Clad or Tramontina (bought, luckily, from TJMaxx or the like) all stainless tri-ply. I don't see much difference in them at all, except for the dreaded AC handles which don't really bother me. I do have a small SLT roasting pan which is great and an equal to my larger AC roaster.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: Leepa

                                    I have a very large AC saute pan with lid. If I hadn't read it here, I wouldn't have known that the handle was an issue. I can see how, it's kind of narrow, but it hasn't been in issue in my life, anyway. And it's a very large, heavy pan.

                                    1. re: mcf

                                      Does it have a helper handle? This makes it a non-issue for me. Both of my large A-C pans have this feature.

                                  2. I also have an old Kirkland hard annodized set. I would buy another. It has served me well. I also have a Tramontina skillet set... bought from Costco a while back. I wouldn't shop at WalMart regardless of the cookware they carry but Tramontina can be obtained elsewhere if it's what you seek.

                                    1. Considering their generous return policy, I'd try either offering from Costco and take them home for a week or two for test drive.