To splurge, or get a variety of cookware? So many questions!
I'm sure this topic has been covered here ad nauseum but I would like some advice. We just bought a new induction range and will need a bit of new cookware. All of my current stock have been gifts, so I've never had to do any research on brands/quality before! I'm finding the process very exciting, yet stressful and confusing.
I am wondering whether to buy a small set of all-clad (7-piece), or to buy piece-by-piece. We have a few cast iron skillets and some cheap SS saucepans, so sets may give us a few items we don't need. I am torn between splurging on all-clad (is it really worth the $$?!) or going with the Tramontina set from WM. The Tramontina SET has good reviews, but the individual pieces, not so much. All-clad always has good reviews but we would probably only be able to afford a few pieces of this. We have a budget of around $350-400.
We live in a small town, so going out and physically touching the cookware will require a 4 hour drive or so.
Basically my questions are:
- Variety or a set? I would probably splurge on the fry and saute pan, but need to cut back when it comes to stock pots and/or dutch oven.
- Stock pot or dutch oven? Or both?
- Should I go with the regular tri-ply 12 inch skillet, or the d5 for induction? Do you think the 10" would be sufficient in a set?
- All-clad or another brand?
Thanks in advance!
piece by piece. variety. that's how i did mine. one brand/line/set was not perfect for me. nor could i afford a set at one go. they make great gifts one piece at a time. 12 inch saute pan from all clad was the first thing we got. i gifted it to dh years ago.
i'd go dutch oven rather than stock pot
i don't have an induction
and i like all clad
Proper cookware is an investment, so proceed accordingly. I'm not a big fan of sets unless there's a really nice assortment of usable pieces in it, or if that's all you can realistically afford.
That said, my first real cookware as an adult was a set of Cuisinart Everyday from Costco (with the copper disk on the bottom), which I added to with open stock from that line that I'd find at Ross and Marshall's. I still use some of the pieces 20+ years on.
But, I've added to it over the years and swapped things out for specific uses as I learned to cook properly (like I prefer saucier pans instead of saucepans now, so I'd never be interested in a set again, since you get saucepans). My really big skillet is a Scanpan. My non-stick is Berndes. My roasting pans are the Sur La Table house brand.
I'm not OCD enough that everything has to match. I'd rather think about how I cook and match the cookware to it. I honestly wish I'd known I would have grown that way when I first bought some "real" cookware of my own to replace the hand-me-downs from my parent's kitchen and stuff I bought just because it was on sale when I setup my first kitchen in my late teens.
And yes, All-Clad is worth the money. :)
You waited 3 whole hours before buying? My, you're eager.
I would caution you that with induction, you can have as much as a 30% variation in how one make of compatible pan performs vis-a-vis another on your new range. This is a powerful argument for finding what works best on your particular appliance before jumping in on a whole set.
Another argument has to do with economy of scale. Sets are generally priced such that they are not too expensive--which sometimes means they are not especially top quality. For many people who want really good stuff, it makes sense to pick off one piece of quality wares at a time, because otherwise it would be prohibitive to drop $150-$250/piece.
If you like your cast iron, you will probably continue to like it on induction, so you might consider only replacing your non-CI pieces.
I'd go with the best clad you can afford for the rest. If the budget is so small as to not include a set of the best, I'd go with picking off pieces as you go. Resist the temptation to have to get matching pieces.
PS +1 on Sid's rec of the Atlantis 5* Proline skillet. It's really the best in class.
Yes, patience is definitely not my strong point when I get excited. Thanks for the info on induction. I really hope I like my new pans, whatever they may be. It makes me almost sick to think that I am dropping that kind of money on something that I may not like - but I guess that is a part of life.
For the pieces you use most, spend the most money. Period. Educate yourself so your money is spent wisely.
Personally, I find Demeyere Atlantis to be priced similar to All-Clad but, I find my Demeyere to be superior.
For a stainless steel skillet, Demeyere *5 all the way for me though, I have others that perform well. It is just better.
Lodge cast iron my not be classy nor sexy but, it flat works well for most things. For things it doesn't do well I initially went with Le Creuset but find I like my Staub enameled cast iron even more.
For basic needs, there are many induction compatible options that perform adequately for Campbell's soup, boiling pasta, etc.
I would suggest high quality pieces where they will have the greatest impact, sauté pans, sauce pans, and Dutch oven. Lesser quality is fine for boiling water and other less demanding tasks.
I'd second the advice of the Chowhounds who are suggesting you explore other brands. The Demeyere that Kaleo and Sid mentioned is really good. Plus, as I mentioned on your frypan thread, look at Mauviel and Zwilling for 5-ply.
If you want high function and don't care about looks, look into Vollrath Tribute. It's a commercial tri-ply line that's thicker than All-Clad but costs much less. I've got the 2 quart saucier and find it works very well, with quick response and nice even heat on my GE induction range.
FWIW, you may find yourself not having much use for a large frypan. I use my 3 quart sauté pan 4-5 times a week, so I think you'll be very happy. I don't think I've used my 12" frypan since I got it over a month ago. YYMV, but you might want to hold off on the frypan until you know whether you need it. A 10" pan might serve you better.