Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >
Jul 15, 2014 04:13 PM

Help with a la cart cookware set

Hi all, looking for some help with a cookware set. I have been doing research on this great site for a few months, found some similar threads, but nothing exact.

I tend to cook lots of pastas, asian foods, mexican food, "american" food, fried food, and steaks/chicken and fish. I cook for no more than 6 people. I had a calphalon nonstick set for a few years, and it was great...but its 5 years old now, a little warped, and damaged (it was my "learning" set). It also gave me some pots and pans I rarely used due to their awkward size.

I am looking to upgrade and change up my set, but keep it to just the essentials. I don't want excess pans/pots, but I also want the right tools for the job. The thing is, I am not sure if I am overlapping too much. I do tend to get gear happy which is why I want to buy it all at once and not piece by piece over time.

Let me know if there is anything I am missing out on here..Ive never owned any of these types of pans, just nonstick and cheap-o ones.

1.carbon steel 8 inch (debuyer)
2. carbon steel 11 inch (debuyer)
3. Cast iron 10 inch
4. 2 quart saucepan (mauviel stainless)
5. 3 quart saucier (mauviel SS)
6. 4.5-5 quart saucier (mauviel SS)
7. Stock pot
8. crock pot

(or as close to those sizes as possible)

le creuscet and a wok

My thinking was the carbon steels are good for everyday use, the cast iron for steaks and fish, the sauciers for pastas, rice dishes, beans etc, the 2 qt for soup and small meals. I am not sure if the saucier and the saucepans are both needed. The crockpot is for chili and soup, the le creuscet for braising and when I want to make good chili ;-). And of course, everyone needs a stock pot. Is my thinking sound? Am I getting too much stuff or too little? Could I get less or combine pans? Is it a waste to have a crock and a creuscet?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. This is great. It sounds like the Calphalon set has lead you to learn a lot about what you need and what you don't need.

    <1.carbon steel 8 inch (debuyer)
    2. carbon steel 11 inch (debuyer)
    3. Cast iron 10 inch>

    You may able to get by two of the three in case you want to cut down.

    <4. 2 quart saucepan (mauviel stainless)
    5. 3 quart saucier (mauviel SS)
    6. 4.5-5 quart saucier (mauviel SS)>

    Mauivel cookware are excellent. There are many different line M'heritage is copper exterior with stainless steel interior. M'Cook line is 5-ply stainless steel and aluminum layer cookware. M'Basic is disc bottom cookware. What are you looking at. Again, you may able to cut one of the three out.

    <7. Stock pot>

    Good choice. You may consider a pressure cooker since it can double as a stock pot.

    <8. crock pot>

    I personally do not use a crock pot, but everyone has a different cooking routine.

    le creuscet and a wok>

    A Le Cresuset what? Pot or pan or...?

    As for a wok, it is very important if you want to stir fry.

    <carbon steels are good for everyday use>

    Carbon steel is very good, unless if you like to do a lot of deglazing. In that case, I highly recommend you to switch out of one of your carbon steel/cast iron pan into a stainless steel cladded pan.

    <Am I getting too much stuff or too little? Could I get less or combine pans? >

    It entirely depends on your budgets and your kitchen size. You can definitely get by with fewer or more. It is up to you.

    1. If it were me, I'd make that 10" cast iron skillet a 12". I would also have an 8" or 10" pan for frying eggs and omelets.

      1. Hi, red: "I do tend to get gear happy which is why I want to buy it all at once and not piece by piece over time."

        I urge you to get past this non sequitur. There's nothing necessarily wrong or unwise with your wishlist or your analysis, but where you're coming from (a nonstick clad set) tells me you're unfamiliar with carbon steel, bare cast iron, better clad, and enameled cast iron. I think you might ultimately be happier--and richer--if you tried ONE piece of higher-maintenance stuff like bare cast iron or CS to see if its maintenance or grunge/seasoning factors bother you. Why buy THREE without knowing? The same principle applies to the Mauviel clad you're considering--buy ONE until you're sure the SS cooking surface is to your liking.

        Now, let's get into your list. Overall, I think it's fine. These choices are personal, but I would suggest (1) subbing a larger saute for your largest frypan; (2) omitting the crockpot (unless you're wedded to the cook-while-at-work idea); and (3) finding an French or Dutch oven in the 5-7Q range.

        As to my last suggestion, the benefit-to-price ratio of Le Creuset isn't patrticularly favorable. At least until you get more experience with ECI (see my first point above), I think you'd be better served with a less expensive/status brand. I would splurge elsewhere, e.g., on the finest saute you can afford.


        PS: None of the stuff on your list is in danger of disappearing from the market, so why not deliberate based on your own--the best kind of--feedback?

        1 Reply
        1. re: kaleokahu

          Geez, I wish I'd written that! The only slight disagreement I can come up with is the ECI, I'm a fan of buy it once, buy it right the first time. The French (Le Creuset and Staub) cocottes/French ovnes/Dutch ovens have a status because of the quality of construction, not the quality of food they produce versus the low cost made in the Pacific Rim products.

          I really like the idea of adding or subbing a large sauté, mine gets used a great deal and I appreciate the extra realestate on the bottom that you sacrifice with a frying pan. The enameled cast iron (mine are Staub) have become a staple in our kitchen, we may or may not own a crockpot, I really don't know.

          It's a rare day when Kaleo stears you down the wrong path, so I'd give those suggestions serious thought.

        2. I think it's great that you're getting away from the cookware sets that everyone is trying to sell.

          Here are some of the things that came to my mind when I saw your post:

          1. Amazon delivers most of this stuff in 2 days, and if your in a real pinch, you can buy most of it locally for decent prices. So start off small, and if you want to make a recipe that would really be helped by a new addition, go out and buy the piece in that moment.

          2.The difference between cast iron and carbon steel is essentially the thickness, the cast iron ones retain a lot of heat and let you get that high heat sear on a lot more food than you would otherwise be able to. The trade off is that they weigh a freaking ton. With that in mind, I'd go from a 10 inch to a 12 inch on the cast iron, that way even a meal for 6 can be comfortably done in one pan.

          3. There is not very much difference between carbon steel pans other than the thickness (which matters) and the handle designe (which matters a lot less). So skip the 80 dollar debuyer and get the 25 dollar lodge version. Or go for a bit thinner and probably not as long lived 5 dollar offering (


          4. You should cook your pasta in a 10 - 13 qt stock pot not a saucier. Get one with a steamer insert.

          5. You should get a second even bigger pot for stocks, if your going through all the trouble of making a stock it may as well be a big one. I usually save up stock materials (chicken and beef usually) in my freezer until I fill a 5 gallon pail and then I make one big stock in my 35 qt stock pot and freeze the stocks in 1qt portions in ziplock bags. Ofcourse if you don't have a ton of freezer space this won't be an option for you

          6. Why a crock pot? Just use the oven.

          7. If you get a wok, get the lodge heavy cast iron version.

          If i think of anything else, ill add to this. Best of luck.

          1. I bought a very similar Calphalon nonstick set to complete my wedding registry 9 years ago. My cooking style has evolved since then, but I would echo @Kaleo and caution with jumping into new cooking mediums. They just act different than the "set" and before investing on a lifetime "set" I would rather learn if I like something or don't.

            Me personally, I don't have the patience/desire/ability it seems to maintain a good seasoning on bare cast iron. Everyone who spouts the non-stick properties of a good seasoned cast iron pan, more power too them. I just bought a new 10 inch Calphalon non-stick skillet. It's the devil in the details, and while your list seems very well researched, I would suggest some home trials of carbon steel, cast iron, and stainless to see what works for your cooking and life style.

            And I while I don't do the all day cook in slow cooker, it's a great tool to have around, especially for holding hot foods for parities.