Cookware: What Do You Recommend?

by chilihead on August 17, 2007

in kitchen remodel

Update: Thank you to everyone for your wonderful advice! I’m looking into all the options. At least now I have a place to start. I knew I could count on my wonderful readers! Thank you!

Y’all, I have the best husband EVAR. He says that our new kitchen must have new cookware. What we have we have had since before we met in college. A few things we picked up at an estate sale after we were married for a week. So the new cookware? Count me in.

Except I don’t know what’s good. Can you help a gal out? Here is what I do know:

  • I am too lazy to hand-wash. It’s a nice idea in theory, but it will never be reality. Cookware must be dishwasher safe.
  • I need something that can also go in the oven. I’m surprised how many recipes I have that call for putting a skillet in the oven.
  • We have a gas stove and an electric/convection oven. I have no idea if that makes a difference or not, but there ya go.
  • We usually just cook for our family of four, but once or twice a month we have three other families over.

I’ve seen the All-Clad stainless steel cookware, but haven’t heard of anyone who’s used it. Have you?

What do you use? Why do you love it (or hate it)? Why should I buy it?

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

1 peach August 17, 2007 at 1:39 am

The All Clad is a great place to start. Then I’d add a couple of pieces of Le Creuset — especially a big dutch oven for soups, sauces, etc. See GiBee for her faves. She has quite the opinions on cookware if I remember right.

2 Heidi August 17, 2007 at 2:04 am

I have Circulon. Don’t get it. Even though it’s teflon-coated, the food still sticks in the little grooves, and the only way to get the pan clean is with a toothpick.
Also, somebody at some nice-cookware store told me that no teflon is really dishwasher safe. And I don’t even think that handwashing is nice in theory.

3 Sarah Nelson August 17, 2007 at 2:07 am

I love my Ultrex cookware. I think it came from HSN. It was a wedding gift, so it’s about 6 years old. It’s heavy, but it distributes heat well, goes in the dishwasher, doesn’t mind my metal utensils and has great glass lids. I’ve put my frying pan in the oven many times – just cover the handles in foil first.

4 The Pumkin Patch August 17, 2007 at 3:53 am

I got my cookware 2 years ago and I can STILL cook pancakes or eggs without even greasing the pan. Here is what I have. They are AWESOME!!!!
Well, the site is down but here is a review on it from another. It’s from Costco.
Kirkland Signature Hard-anodized cookware (*est. $175 for a 14-piece set) receives a good professional review plus excellent ratings from owners posting to Epinions. The Kirkland set (a Costco exclusive) is made of hard-anodized aluminum with a Teflon interior coating. The stainless steel handles are heat-resistant, and the set is oven safe to 500 degrees (though not recommended for broiling). It is not dishwasher safe (true of most nonstick cookware).

5 Chase August 17, 2007 at 7:12 am

I have NO clue. I have the same old stuff you do.
However, I’m going to keep watching this thread because Tango and I are working on our wedding registry.
(woot!)

6 Jeana August 17, 2007 at 7:33 am

I have one Circulon pan that I like and I don’t have trouble keeping it clean, but I do throw it in the dishwasher. For some reason, though, I don’t like the idea of all my pans being teflon coated. So I put off getting new pans for years, limping along on cheap Reverewear, until…
One day Scott called me from a garage sale and said they had a whole set of pots and pans for $20, it felt heavy and sturdy and seemed like good stuff. Neither of us had heard of the brand name, so I said offer $15. They didn’t go down to $15, but they did throw in a free skateboard if we paid $20 for it.
It’s Saladmaster. And now that I am starting to realize just how well-known and expensive that stuff is, I find it hilarious that I told him to offer lower than $20 for the set.
I love it. There are rumors that you have to hand wash, but when I looked at the website it said you can put it in the dishwasher, just remove the handles or they might fade. Do I care if the handles fade? That would be no. In it goes.
I don’t know about the oven; I haven’t looked into it. For that I would use my iron skillet or baking stone or Corelle.

7 deborah August 17, 2007 at 7:50 am

An old stand-by that I must have, and recommend is actually good old cast iron! I have a great, although heavy, iron kettle that I use from stove to oven. Great for my famous Southern Jambalaya to stews, soups and pretty much anything!
By the way, lucky lucky you.

8 Renee August 17, 2007 at 8:39 am

I use Bella Cuisine and I love it. It was a wedding gift 10 yrs ago so I am not sure if they still sell it. I use it almost daily and it still looks like new. Happy shopping!

9 Everyday Mommy August 17, 2007 at 9:07 am

All-Clad is the Mercedes Benz of cookware and worth every penny, but since it’s stainless you will have to do some hand-washing. It isn’t non-stick, but it holds and distributes the heat so well that most chefs choose All-Clad. The chefs and cooks on Food Network use it.
The drawback is that All-Clad will require a second mortgage. It is very pricey. But, there are a few alternatives that will deliver the same quality for less.
I own Calphalon Simply Stainless. You can find it at Bed, Bath & Beyond. Along with this I strongly second Peach and urge you to get one piece of LeCreuset. Make it a 7 quart French Oven. I would be lost without mine. It’s solid cast iron coated in enamel and you’ll pass it on to your grandchildren.
Both the Simply Stainless and the LeCreuset can go from stovetop to oven with ease. In fact, the LeCreuset will do what a crockpot does when placed in a low oven. I make a beef bourguignon in it.
Note: For your LeCreuset try eBay. Much more affordable than retail.

10 Shalee August 17, 2007 at 9:51 am

All Clad is really nice, but super expensive.
If you want it for show, go that route.
However if you want fabulous cookware with a lifetime guarantee, I’d go with Calphalon. Their traditional cookware is fabulous. I purchased mine in ’94 for my graduation present from Mr. Right. I have the Calphalon One Infused Anodized line which works wonderfully on any kind of stove – gas, electric, flat.
As an added bonus, I noticed that a couple of my pieces were showing wear, so I sent them back to the company. I received all new pieces (updated even since they had made improvements in the past 12 years) in excellent time.
To be honest, I’ve found that I don’t need any other lines of cookware. I can get my Calphalon to meet all my cooking needs. So you can add if you want, but it’s an extra. If you feel the need to add, I would look for the “Try Me” pieces at stores that sells Calphalon. They rotate pieces every so often and different stores have different “Try Me” pieces.
In all my years of cooking, I’ve never been disappointed in my cookware. (And why did I pick Calphalon? It’s the brand that all the chefs on the cooking shows use. I figure that THAT had to say something about the brand. Plus, I had a friend who is a chef and when he saw my cookware, he smiled and said, “You, Shalee, know what you’re doing.” And that made me feel just fine.)

11 Shalee August 17, 2007 at 9:56 am

Oh! And I should mention that this Calphalon has great handles that don’t require hot pads for handling. They’ve made it so that it doesn’t get hot when it’s on the stove. Also it can go straight into the oven. You will of course need the hot pads then…
And if Jeana got SaladMaster at $20, she got a steal of a lifetime. That’s good stuff too – just super pricey.

12 Karen August 17, 2007 at 10:01 am

I agree with Shalee. I also have Calphalon – it was a wedding gift from my mom 6 years ago and it still works as good today as it did then. The only drawback is it cannot be washed in the dishwasher. But, there really isn’t any scrubbing involved…food doesn’t stick much, and if it does, a little soak and it’s outta there. I have added more to my original collection – here’s more info if you need it.

13 green3 August 17, 2007 at 10:11 am

Sorry – cookware is not something on my list of “things to be picky about”. So I have no advice to offer.

14 Suzanne August 17, 2007 at 10:17 am

Hi there!
I LOVE my Calphalon Stainless. The key to great cookware are a couple of things: 1.)Full aluminum core (this allows the even heating and conductivity of aluminum with the beauty of stainless). 2.)All stainless – Calphalon’s pans can go stovetop to oven to dishwasher, including the lids. Also highly recommend you get cookware with glass lids. 3.)No teflon. It can’t go in the dishwasher or oven and if you cook at the right temperatures according to the directions and suggestions with the cookware, sticking should not be a problem on stainless.
Here is a similar set to what I have (mine are just an older model): http://www.calphalon.com/calphalon/consumer/products/productGroup.jhtml?catId=CLCat100416

15 Suzanne August 17, 2007 at 10:22 am

So sorry – I forgot one recommendation: The high-sided sautee pan is the biggest suggestion I can make. You can cook anything in them and they are big enough for the largest one-dish meals. Don’t miss getting one.

16 Aunt Murry August 17, 2007 at 11:06 am

I use Calphalon but alas you have to hand wash. It’s the best cookware I have ever used.
http://www.calphalon.com/calphalon/consumer/products/subProductLine.jhtml?catId=CLCat100145

17 Mrs. Pear August 17, 2007 at 4:41 pm

I have the all clad stainless steel, and LOVE it.
I would lend you mine to start with, but you would have to take me with it as I will not part with it. This combined with a couple pieces of Le Creuset for casserole like type thingies has me all set.
Well worth the investiment, and will take tons of abuse. Gets stained? fill it with dishwasher detergent and scalding water and ignore over night.
Throw it in your dishwasher with great glee!
Seriously, I love it and would not trade it in!

18 Shelia August 17, 2007 at 5:29 pm

We have Royal Prestige Cookware, and we love it. The only problem is that is direct sales, I think, but the warranty is great and their product is wonderful, and makes cooking very easy. We will be adding to our collection, since our family has grown.
http://www.royalprestige.com/

19 Jenny from Chicago August 17, 2007 at 5:53 pm

I have crappy old stuff…but here’s a tip: Go to your favorite restaurant and ask to see the chef. When he/she comes out to see you ask what cookware they use.
Thank him/her profusely. THEN spend the money you would have spent on decent/fabulous cookware on eating there every night for the next month. You’ll thank me later.

20 Melinda August 17, 2007 at 7:46 pm

LOL… I love Jenny’s idea. :D
I have an older set too, that I’m looking to replace in the next year or three. So I’ve been watching to see what’s recommended. I do know that my parents had SaladMaster growing up and it was nice stuff. It lasted forever. Have fun picking your new stuff.
Hugs,
Melinda

21 Christine August 19, 2007 at 10:07 pm

My 10 year old T-Fal holds a scrambled egg with the best of ‘em. I would be happy to leave the whole (OK, part of one) set on your doorstep. No extra charge for the chips on the inside of the pan. It’s free seasoning.

22 Meagneato August 20, 2007 at 7:33 am

I would recommend going into the restaurant supply section of Sam’s Club or Costco. Many restaurants use supplies from there or something just like it, it’s very heavy duty, and it’s inexpensive. I cook everyday, and have used these products for years, and they are still good. I also put everything in the dishwasher, and the skillets go in the oven, too.

23 Diatribal August 20, 2007 at 7:37 am

Last Christmas, my Grandma got us a new set of pots and pans to replace the ones that I had that were left from college. We chose a big ole’ set at Sam’s. It was their Member’s Mark Tri-Ply Clad Stainless Steel Handle set. It came with 3 sauce pans, a GIANT saute’ pan w/lid 2 skillets, a dutch oven with pasta strainer, a few utensils and measuring cups.
I LOVE my cookware. I can cook anything I want, put all of it in the oven, if I want and then stick it in the dishwasher if I want. All at about 1/4 the price of the almost identical All-Clad set that I was looking at. The Sam’s set is manufactured by Tramontina (who I have always liked).
Here’s what it boils down to (yes, pun intended):
I could have gotten any set that I wanted, regardless of price. I LOVE the Sam’s Set that we chose. (My hubby got into the process too. He LOVES to compare and contrast products. Car shopping is a BREEZE with him.)
They can go into the oven and dishwasher.
If you stain them, you just take a little bit of “Barkeepers’ Friend” and scrub the pan. It shines right up.
For the price, you can get your awesome cast-iron LeCruset pieces too (you know you want ‘em).
The only drawback that really affects me is the fact that I absolutely can not cook an egg in any of these pans. They are stainless inside, and I have NEVER been able to cook an egg on anything except teflon.
Good luck in your search. It’s enough to make a woman go mad. Trust me!! (If you feel ever so inclined, check out ConsumerReports.org. They usually have great review articles for this stuff.)

24 GiBee August 20, 2007 at 1:34 pm

All Clad — Woman, if you get All Clad, I will show up at your front door and DEMAND to see it in person! The jealousy, the drooling, and the crazed look in my eyes will be enough for you to run from the door and dial 9-1-1.
Anyway, the Calphalon is nice. I had done some research on line, and found that many All Clad worshippers (I mean wanters) ended up with “Emerilwear Stainless.” Emeril’s pots and pans are made by All-Clad (just not as heavy as their normal line, which was a plus for me), and I simply ADORE them. They go from stove-top to oven, no matter what the heat medium is. And an EIGHTH the price. Did I mention that they are kinda s@xy, too?
In my eyes, they are a lot better quality than Calphalon, and they have a copper band that maintains the heat — those babies get HOT and STAY hot! While I don’t care for Emeril, I love the cookware that All Clad made with his name on it. You can get a 10-pc set for around (or just under) $200.
http://www.emerilware.com/collection.php?pageID=stainless
Also, you MUST get a Le Creuset. Nothing, and I do mean NOTHING sticks to that stuff — it’s enamel-coated cast-iron. You really don’t need the Le Creuset brand, but it’s the best — and go with Jules’ advice about ebay and size — she’s WAY right with that! She gave me the same advice, but before I could follow it, my husband went and got me a piece for Christmas… LO-HUV it.
Finally, I don’t want to scare you, but be very careful with Teflon coated pans. Teflon is very un-healthy for you when it flakes off. If you MUST have a teflon pan, get a Hard-Anodized one.

25 Pam in Colorado August 21, 2007 at 12:12 am

Salad Master is my choice. It is costly, but well worth it!!! I want all of my kids to have their own set one day. It is that good, and healthy to cook with as well.
I have no regrets and will add a few more pieces in the near future, simply because it is great and I want more!!!

26 dcrmom August 22, 2007 at 7:09 pm

I’m DYING to read all these comments, but computer time is limited here at the camp. SO. I’ll just add my 2 cents. All Clad ALL THE WAY, BABY. It’s all I use. Now if I could just add a couple pieces of LeCrueset, I could live happily ever after.
Oh, yeah. and while we’re at it. Knives? Global. I have Wusthoff. I’ve used Henkel. But my one Global is my baby, and if I could start over, I’d have all Global.

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