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Help Selecting a Few Cookware Pieces

I would like to purchase a few cookware pieces, but don't know exactly what to get. Our current cookware is old and needs replacement so I will be basically starting from scratch. The only piece we plan on keeping is a 10" non-stick pan.

I was looking at All-Clad SS, but have also considered Tramontina and Cuisinart MultiClad Pro. I was thinking of getting a couple of All-Clad SS pieces and maybe some from the other two manufacturers.

To help with suggestions here are foods we typically eat in our 3 person household:

Oatmeal (single serving); hard boiled eggs (4-6 eggs); thinly slice potatoes pan cooked in olive oil; turkey bacon (rarely)

Canned black beans (1-2 servings); canned soup (1-2 servings); frozen peas; steamed vegetables; sauteed vegetables (onions, bell peppers, etc); pan seared and cooked chicken, salmon, halibut with olive oil; boiled potatoes (for mash); rice (brown, brown basmati, brown jasmine); whole wheat pasta; pasta dish with shredded chicken (seared and cooked) and tomato sauce with squash, zucchini, eggplant simmered on low; pan seared chicken covered with tomato sauce and simmered on low; oven roasted whole chicken with onions, carrots, potatoes.

There are other dishes we make I'm sure, but these are the ones we make often.

The 10" non-stick pan I mentioned above is used for omelets, pancakes.

So far I was thinking of getting a 2 qt sauce pan and 12" frying pan. Not sure what else to get.

The slow simmered chicken pasta dish with squash, zucchini, eggplant that I mentioned is cooked in a saute pan, but I'm not sure if something else would be better.

Appreciate any help.

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  1. Three pans I use most are a nonstick for eggs, 3qt saucier (curved sided saucepan), and a cast iron skillet (olvidacookware.com).

    1 Reply
    1. re: mwhitmore

      My lidded saucier is 4 qts but if I could have only one pan, that would be it. It is the best design for multi-tasking.

      I'd add a 6qt or larger Dutch oven to the OP's list. I also like my 8qt pasta pot, which I do not use for pasta. It is great for stockmaking, since you just lift out the perforated interior section and tilt so it drains back into the pot. No steamy splashing of hot liquid through a colander.

      I am resolutely NOT on the bandwagon that craves the elite brands. I was 50 before I bought a good quality nonstick, when I realized I was replacing cheap ones too often to be economical. Lodge or Tramontina cast iron will work just as well as LeCreuset, Staub, et. al. Just don't bang it around, and hand-wash it.

    2. If I got a Dutch oven would we use that for the slow simmered tomato sauce with squash, zucchini? I would get either the Tramontina or Lodge.

      What about boiling potatoes and pasta for 3 people? 4 qt sauce pan?

      I've read quite a few 'cookware essential lists' and just when I think I've got it down I get confused again, lol.

      I think the one piece I'm really unsure about is whether or not a saute pan is needed. Whenever we cook chicken, fish, turkey burgers we use a saute pan because that's what we have. Most of the 'essential' lists I've seen have a 12" frying pan so I thought get one and use that for chicken and fish.

      7 Replies
      1. re: GoodEatsSF

        For enameled dutch ovens, I would suggest staying away from made in China. They have a reputation for chipping, and you never know what could be in the enamel itself, which is glass and often contains cadmium and lead. If you don't want to spend top dollar on LC/Staub (which I would recommend since cheaper pieces may perform the same, but last less than half as long), go for some cheaper French brands such as Fontignac or Chasseur. These are still made in France and are cheaper than the top brands.

        I have never had a saute pan myself, and don't really feel any need for one. I prefer skillets. A good carbon steel skillet is an absolute must in my opinion, and they are cheap. Look at De Buyer's Carbone Plus line, they're available at restaurant supply stores for low prices.

        For boiling potatoes and pasta, any cheap stainless saucepan with a big enough capacity will do. Something you don't care about and can just throw around on high heat without worrying if it discolours/warps etc...

        1. re: Sirrith

          Costco has a very nice Made in France, (I believe made for them by the company that makes Staub,) 6.5 qt. on special right now for $59.00 at our local Costco. I paid $79.00 a couple of months ago and thought it was a great bargain at that price. It seems very well made. I've found the 6.5 qt size to be super if you like some leftovers to freeze for later. Lots of floor space for browning and a great size for large batches of chili, slow simmered tomato sauce or a big pork shoulder.

        2. re: GoodEatsSF

          You need to be very specific about definitions. They vary from brand to brand. Some people/brands call a slope-sided pan a saute pan, some a skillet, some a frying pan. A straight-sided shallow pan holds more oil - and food - than a sloped one, but IMO the slope-sided pan is more practical since it's easier to flip the food, and contents/sauces can tend to scorch in the "corners" of a straight-sided pan. For your size family, a 12" diameter pan is a good idea IF your burners are large enough that the entire bottom, or almost all of it, is in direct contact with the heat source. You won't get efficient cooking with a pan that's too large for your burner.

          Again, a 3-4 qt saucier is very versatile. Pictured is the shape I mean. Again, the name can apply to more than one style.
          Can also be called a sauteuse or a chef's pan.

          1. re: greygarious

            greygarious, I was referring to the straight-sided shallow pan when I said saute pan. And slope-sided when I said frying pan.

            I think I want to get the All-Clad 12" frying pan from Cookware and More. Maybe the All-Clad 2 qt sauce pan as well, which I could use for oatmeal, canned soup, canned beans, maybe hard boiled eggs.

            For boiling potatoes and pasta a cheaper sauce pan would do. We've been using a 3 qt sauce pan and it's a bit small for spaghetti. Maybe a 4 qt sauce pan, which could also be used for steaming vegetables, with or without an insert.

            Is that red saucier you posted enameled? SS or cast iron? It could take the place of a Dutch oven maybe?

            1. re: GoodEatsSF

              I know nothing about the red saucier, it's just an image I googled. My own saucier is hard-anodized aluminum and can certainly be used as a Dutch oven and for spaghetti.

              I take it you don't use a microwave? I use very little canned foods that aren't ingredients in other dishes. When I want to heat contents of a can, I nuke them. I have a 2qt saucepan and haven't used it in decades. Oatmeal's a microwave item for me, as well. I steam fresh vegetables in the saucier, over a stock pot, or in the microwave, depending on the season of the year and warmth of the kitchen.

              1. re: greygarious

                Our microwave failed 2-3 years ago and we decided not to get another one. At first it seem liked more effort, more time to cook oatmeal, soup, black beans, heat water for tea on the stovetop, but I prefer the stovetop now. Don't miss the microwave at all. I wasn't keen on the idea of nuking my food to begin with.

          2. re: GoodEatsSF

            A sauté pan came with my set and I used to use it until I got a 12" frying pan. I find it more useful. When we had company and I was browning two pans full of pork chops, the frying pan did a better job than the saute, and I just don't pull the sauté out often unless we have a crowd. It's a nice pan, just not as helpful for the type of cooking we do. I do have a deep 4 qt saucier like Gregarious mentions that I use several times a week. It's deep, so helpful for sauce with pasta added, chicken and sauce, swiss steak, sausages with peppers or potatoes, large batches of risotto, reheating chicken soup and such. It has a flat base about the same as a 10" fry pan for browning.

          3. I think the choice of cookware is such a personal preference. I would go through all your current cookware and work out which ones work really well for the dishes you make and which ones don't.
            Think about times when you've been usIng a pan and you've wished it was bigger/non-stick/smaller/ovenproof/had double handles/taller/shallower etc and use this as your criteria for selecting new cookware.
            With the pieces of your in cookware that you find ideal, just replace it with better quality pieces with the same properties.

            1. This is a good article to read to understand how various metals used in cookware work.

              1 Reply
              1. re: wekick

                ...and here is Sam Kinsey's excellent treatment of understanding the materials and shapes:


              2. Several years ago I got tired of cooking with scratched up non-stick cookware. I began to acquire stainless steel tri-ply. My first purchase was a 12" Tramontina skillet and then I bought a 5 quart Tramontina sauté pan at Goodwill. We now have other sized skillets and sauce pans of various brands.

                If I was going to do it over again, I think I would buy a set of Tramontina SS Tri-ply. This set includes SS lids as well. I dislike glass lids on cookware.


                1. My favorite is a Lodge 10.5 in cast iron pan. I use it for almost every inside meal.

                  1. OK, here's where I'm at...

                    buy separates, which would include an All-Clad SS 12" frying pan, Cuisinart MultiClad Pro 2 qt and 4 qt sauce pans, and try to find a discounted Le Creuset Dutch oven. I'd consider a Lodge or Tramontina Dutch oven, but I have concerns over durability (chipping) and metal toxins.


                    buy one of the Tramontina sets, either the 8 piece, which would mean that I would buy a Tramontina 12" frying pan separately, or a larger set that has the 12" frying pan. If I go this route I'd sell the pieces I don't want and try to find the Tramontina separates that I want.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: GoodEatsSF

                      All sounds reasonable to me. If you want to go with option 1, then please note that you don't have to buy all of them at the same time. For example, you can buy the 2qt MultiClad first, and see if you like it before buying a 4 qt MultiClad. As for Dutch Ovens, are you concern about the enameled chipping? They are all prone to chipping. It is just that Le Cresuset is probably a bit more stable. Just type "old Le Cresuet" and you will see cookware with chips.


                      The other thing is a simple but an important question. I see you are mainly considering stainless steel cladded cookware. They are great, but have you used a stainless steel cladded fry pan or saute pan before? Do you know how they work?

                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        I believe our old cookware set is clad, at the very least stainless steel. Although no expert, I'm familiar with how to cook on clad stainless steel cookware. I've cooked my fair share of chicken and fish.

                        As to your comment about not having to buy all at the same time for option 1, that's what I intend to do. I'd buy the All-Clad 12" frying pan and Cuisinart 2 qt/4 qt first and wait on the Dutch oven. Cutlery & More has $20 off if you spend $100 so buying the 2 qt and 4qt saves some money.

                        1. re: GoodEatsSF

                          <Although no expert, I'm familiar with how to cook on clad stainless steel cookware>

                          Great. Just want to make sure you are not switching from nonstick to stainless steel. There are many who switch from nonstick to stainless steel, especially for potential health reason. Many of them have never cooked in stainless steel surface cookware and were later (upset) surprised by certain attributes.

                          Good luck.

                    2. I replaced my chef's pan first, when I bought induction. A good chef's pan is very versatile and I use mine a lot.

                      Any of the cookware lines you mentioned would be fine. If you price and pick up the pans you are interested in, you might be able to pick the ones you are most comfortable with.

                      You can steam veggies in the micro. In fact I recommend that. But you can also purchase a metal steaming basket to be used in any pot.

                      For boiling of 4 to 6 eggs all you need is a medium sized pot. I'd spend less on that, and more on the chef's pan. I wonder if a 1 1//2 qt pot might be better for you than the larger? I actually use a 1 qt frequently, including when I boil 2-4 eggs. But in general you should fit the pot to the burners you have, so that is a factor too.

                      13 Replies
                      1. re: sueatmo

                        We currently have a 1 1/2 qt sauce pan (needs replacing) which I use for boiling 4 eggs, oatmeal, heating beans/soup, but I thought a 2 qt would be more versatile. The 2 qt is what I'd use for cooking rice in addition to the above tasks.

                        We also have a 3 qt sauce pan, but it's too small for steaming vegetables for 3 people, which is why I want the 4 qt. The 4 qt could also be used for boiling potatoes/pasta, larger amount of rice, etc.

                        I plan on getting a steam insert as well.

                        1. re: GoodEatsSF

                          You might want to consider the pentola type 8qt. pasta pot - Cuisinart and Chef's catalog have them and I think I paid under $30 a decade ago for a stainless one from Bed, Bath, & Beyond. It has the deep strainer insert that is intended for pasta but is wonderful for making stock since you just lift out the solids. It also has a shallower steamer basket that would be perfect for multiple portions of vegetables. It's large for that purpose, true, but if you are just steaming all you really need to do is give the pot a good rinse. It works as a soup pot and could even serve as a Dutch oven.

                          1. re: greygarious

                            Just yesterday in Costco I ran across the 8 qt. Tramontina tri-ply fully clad stockpot with pasta insert and steamer basket on top with metal lid.
                            Made in Brazil, 18/10 stainless, not induction capable but oven safe to 500. Only $49.00.

                          2. re: GoodEatsSF

                            It sounds as if you have thought this through very well. I do think that any of the pots you mentioned would work well, but if you want to save a little money, I'd skimp on the saucepans, and splurge on a chef's pan. Get a good saucier though if you buy one of those.

                            I like greygarious's rec too.

                            You could also consider using a couple of cast iron pieces.

                            1. re: sueatmo

                              I'd like to have 2 (sauce) pans so that I could cook rice and then use the other for steaming vegetables. If I buy just one (quality) saucier it would limit my cooking.

                              The reason I'm looking at the 2 qt and 4 qt sauce pans is due to cooking experience as well as the several cookware 'essential' guides that suggest those two pieces.

                              I'm set on getting a 12" frying pan, but the others I'm not absolutely sure about.

                              1. re: GoodEatsSF

                                If it were me, I'd but the Tramontina tri-ply 12" SS skillet instead of the $180 All-Clad version of basically the same pan.

                                1. re: John E.

                                  I considered that, but the Tramontina Tri-Ply 12" skillet that's sold in the sets is not in stock as a separate at Walmart. The one that is is not the same skillet. It has a smaller flat surface area. If I bought one of the sets that had the 12" skillet I'd end up selling a couple of pieces that I wouldn't use. I'm still considering the Tramontina set.

                                  I have until Dec 31 until the $20 off $100 Cuisinart deal expires so I want to make my decision before then.

                                  I do agree that $180 is a lot for a single pan. Fortunately it's $105 at Cookware & More.

                                  1. re: GoodEatsSF

                                    I was fortunate enought to buy our 12" Tramontina skillet at the store before it became an online only
                                    piece. I was also lucky enough to find a SS lid at a thrift store for three bucks.

                                    1. re: GoodEatsSF

                                      Macy's has been having some good buys on AC too. Not the 12" fry pan, but the French skillets and some of the saucepans.

                                  2. re: GoodEatsSF

                                    You can cook rice in a pot and simultaneously steam other things above the rice.

                                    1. re: greygarious

                                      Never thought of that. Good tip. Thanks.

                                      1. re: greygarious

                                        Does anyone know when Cookware & More has their two yearly 20% off sales?

                                        1. re: GoodEatsSF

                                          One is in March, I bought a birthday gift last year in March and it was 20% off any item.

                              2. I ended up purchasing the 8 piece Tramontina set from WM.

                                I'll either gift the 8" frying pan or sell it on ebay. Will purchase the All-Clad 12" frying pan at some point soon.

                                I'm indecisive about keeping the 5 qt SS Dutch Oven that comes with the Tramontina set. I might keep it or sell it and get an enameled cast iron one, either Tramontina, Lodge, or discounted Le Creuset.

                                Thanks for all the help. :)

                                8 Replies
                                1. re: GoodEatsSF

                                  Thanks for the update. Have you looked at the cookware yet? They look reasonable to you?

                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                    Not yet. I ordered online to pick up in-store. Won't pick it up until after New Years.

                                  2. re: GoodEatsSF

                                    I would keep the stainless dutch oven if you have the storage space. You can boil up your potatoes and mash in the same pot with no worries, or a soup can have the stick blender go in without fear.

                                    If I'm making a large batch of either in my Le Cruset, I have to transfer out of that to protect my pan. It's a big pain and makes more dirty dishes.

                                    Enjoy your new "toys"!

                                    1. re: GoodEatsSF

                                      <I'm indecisive about keeping the 5 qt SS Dutch Oven that comes with the Tramontina set. I might keep it or sell it and get an enameled cast iron one, either Tramontina, Lodge, or discounted Le Creuset.>

                                      After many, many years I decided to "upgrade" from my SS dutch oven to a enameled cast iron. I bought the French one from Costco, it developed a pinhole in the interior enamel after just 2 uses.

                                      The thing is, it was a bear to lift and I saw no advantages over my SS version. Try the one that came with your set, I think you'll find it's very useful. It's good for big pots of chili or soup, rendering down a chicken carcass, pasta or corn for a crowd, and for making a big batch of stovetop popcorn.

                                      1. re: DuffyH

                                        Same advice as autumm and DuffyH. Enameled cast iron Dutch Ovens (or French Ovens) are beautiful, and they do work well. However, they don't work better than stainless steel cladded Dutch Ovens. In addition, a stainless steel cladded Dutch Oven is much more resistance to damage -- a point I mentioned earlier in a different thread.

                                        From a practical/functional point of view, there are not a lot of things that an enameled cast iron Dutch Oven can do that a stainless steel cladded one cannot. Sure you can do no-knead bread with an enameled cast iron Dutch Oven, but that is really an exception.

                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                          <Sure you can do no-knead bread with an enameled cast iron Dutch Oven, but that is really an exception.>

                                          Not an exception at all. I've made NK bread in my 4.5 quart clad saucepan with excellent results. I chose the saucepan over the DO for it's narrower base diameter, to ensure a more rounded, taller loaf, as the DO variety tend to be a little flat for my preference.

                                          1. re: DuffyH

                                            <I've made NK bread in my 4.5 quart clad saucepan with excellent results.>

                                            Ok, I was wrong then. :) I know one can use regular Dutch Oven (cast iron) to do no knead bread instead of non-enameled cast iron Dutch Oven, but I didn't know about the cladded cookware. Thanks.

                                      2. re: GoodEatsSF

                                        I'd keep the 5 qt. too. I succumbed to an enameled cast iron pot and just don't use it hardly ever due to worries about scratching it. I have a 14" SS deep sauté pan that's my go-to for braising, frying, and large batches of stew.

                                      3. A note in favor of the 1 qt. saucepan...

                                        I have unremarkable SS saucepans, including a 1 qt. that is the go-to pot for my daily oatmeal, for heating up a can of something (kids after school), or steaming/boiling a small amount of veg. In fact, when I saw a Farberware 1 qt at the thrift store, I grabbed it up so now there are two (mismatched). Often, they are both in use. Family of 4.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: tcamp

                                          I'm with you on this. My 1 qt s/pan is used often, but my slightly larger one, not so much. I don't seem to use s/pans much anymore.