My pots & pans stink. Need help choosing new.

I have some non-stick skillets, and the surface is wearing off. Also some black calphalon pots are losing their finish (this isn't supposed to happen!) and I wonder if they are safe to use. I am ready to invest in some new cookware and I need guidance about a brand that will last and not give me these problems again. Should I avoid non-stick completely? What do serious cooks use that's not super-premium priced? Thanks!



Quinciferous November 6, 2012
I recently realized you can get amazing deals on ebay for this kind of thing. I also picked up two amazing copper saute pans from my local Craigslist for only $50. I have been re-stocking my kitchen, and it's been so much cheaper this way! My moral: before you plunk down $300 at Williams-Sonoma, shop around online for the same item.

FInally, my local cookware store recently had a great All-Clad stainless piece available for half its usual price -- the 3-qt saute pan (with lid). I found it for the same price ($99) on Sur La Table. I might have to snap one up for that price...
fredcipes November 5, 2012
Agree with cast iron skillet! Lodge brand from Wally World is fine and made in the USA. Just learn how to "season" and care for it. Not difficult but must-do.
Adrian V. November 5, 2012
I have been fortunate to purchase several pieces of Stainless steel cookware at different places and at different times over the years; very reasonably priced, I purchased "Tools of the Trade " I paid $10.00 at Macy's for a 18inch sautuse I bought 2 and still have one in its box its 3 ply steel I also have a 9inch stainless steel with copper bottom saute skillet I paid less than ten dollars for at a store that was going out of business, also "Tools of the Trade" and a16 x8 Lasagna pan also stainless steel that I roast in and also bake sheet cakes in it was also less than ten dollars. Most recently i paid $12.00 for a 3 quart 3ply stainless steel sauce pan by American Kitchen by Regal Ware it was originally $32.00 at Kroger Grocery store and marked down to less than 13 dollars it came with a heavy steel lid, At the time they had steamers and saute skillets and other size pots for no more than $15.00 dollars. So if you aren't in a hurry shop around and you might find some bargains and good quality cookware without paying alot! Also a good trusted Cast Iron Skillet is always an asset in any Kitchen, either new or reasonably priced or a used one from an Antique store or shop.
fredcipes November 5, 2012
If you are near an Ikea they have enameled cast iron for quite reasonable prices as does WalMart in the Tramontina brand. Both brands are rated highly. You don't need to pay La Creuset prices.
roryrabbitfield November 5, 2012
Jackpot. Nonstick, goodbye.
roryrabbitfield November 5, 2012
Exactly, SKK. Maybe I should forgo non-stick entirely so I can sleep at night knowing that my pans are safe in the DW. The regular (non-nonstock) stainless stell all clad stuff is DW safe, right???
SKK November 5, 2012
sexyLAMBCHOPx November 5, 2012
try the All-Clad d5. If you're buying a et go to Williams-Sonoma. They let you "swap out" pieces you don't want with another piece that a better fit. I do own and use the All-Clad non stick grill pan that I use often, but not so much my non stick fry pan.
sexyLAMBCHOPx November 5, 2012
try the All-Clad d5. If you're buying a et go to Williams-Sonoma. They let you "swap out" pieces you don't want with another piece that a better fit. I do own and use the All-Clad non stick grill pan that I use often, but not so much my non stick fry pan.
sexyLAMBCHOPx November 5, 2012
try the All-Clad d5. If you're buying a et go to Williams-Sonoma. They let you "swap out" pieces you don't want with another piece that a better fit. I do own and use the All-Clad non stick grill pan that I use often, but not so much my non stick fry pan.
roryrabbitfield November 5, 2012
Yeah, the dishwasher thing is a problem. I don't put my cookware in the DW, other people (ahem) in my household do. I have tried to stop this but it is a force bigger than me.
SKK November 5, 2012
I totally understand those forces. I often surrender because having the dishwasher filled by someone other than myself is a win!
SKK November 5, 2012
All-Clad non-stick should not be put in the dishwasher, but hand washed. Dishwashers and incorrect tools ruins them quite quickly.
roryrabbitfield November 5, 2012
I looked over my pots & pans, trying to figure out what to buy. It turns out that one of my non-stick pans is an All Clad. I'm not too impressed with how the non-stick surface is holding up. It's not terrible, but it is showing wear. It might be 8 years old, not sure. Don't know where I got it. So if All-Clad is so great, why does mine look so sad?
Reiney November 5, 2012
All-Clad stainless steel, not non-stick, is the great stuff we're talking about.

(I don't have any experience with their non-stick range, but if you didn't use the right kind of utensils on it that would have an impact on its longevity)
smslaw November 5, 2012
I bought a set of very nice, heavy clad pans at Costco (Kirkland, Costco's brand) for about the cost of one super premium pan. They work just fine. Even if there may be a piece you rarely use, it is still way cheaper than buying individual pieces of premium pans. If money is no object, by all means go for all-clad, etc.
Dea H. November 4, 2012
My advice is not to go with a set. Look at the pans you really need, and buy a pot at a time. I have a combination of porcelain on cast iron (great non-stick surface), non-stick, and good stainless steel. I tend to get my pans at places like Home Goods where a single pan that retails for $200 can go as low as $30.

I used to buy sets, but then I found that I didn't use all the pans. Or the pans were not of the greatest quality. Now, I have pans that have lasted for decades, and they are still in great shape. By the way, hand washing (no dishwashers!), de-glazing, and Bar Keepers Friend are a the best ways to preserve really good pans and pots.
miss J. November 4, 2012
I have one Chantal sauté pan & I really like it as well as a few All-Clad & Le Crueset. Think about a cast iron fry pan as well. Lodge are very affordable. If you buy something cheap, That's what you get & you'll just have to buy it again
roryrabbitfield November 3, 2012
Thanks, everyone. I'm going to put all my cookware out on the counter tonight and do a review. I think I'm ready to buy 1-2 really good pans/pots now to replace my worst offenders, and build from there.
Reiney November 4, 2012
That's a really good idea - you don't need to replace everything all at once!
QueenSashy November 3, 2012
I agree with other folks -- an investment in good equipment will go long way. I use (and like) Mauviel stainless steel a lot. I had bad experience with All Clad customer service, and since then do not buy any All Clad products. Also, if your funds permit, you may want to consider investing in one piece of Le Creuset cast iron, depending on your cooking needs. They are a must have and will last a lifetime (should I also mention good looking?). Enjoy your purchase!
bigpan November 3, 2012
Consider that you might remodel in the future and go to an induction stovetop. Not all pots work with induction, so whichever you choose, I would make sure they are induction compatible.
Kristen W. November 3, 2012
I have an All Clad 5 ply nonstick fry pan (which I actually did get for half-price from William Sonoma on a Hotline tip from Chef Ono), and I love, love, love it! I also have an All Clad stainless; both are great.
ChefOno November 3, 2012

Acknowledged that some people worry about Teflon being toxic, confusing whatever wears off during cooking with smoke from overheating it. Manufacturers prey upon such needless fears in their attempts to sell you their products.

Teflon has one of the lowest coefficients of friction known to man and it is pure, meaning there are no stabilizers, lubricants or plasticizers that would contaminate food. The only danger is from overheating (in excess of 500F).

Robert Wolke, professor emeritus of chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh, author of "What Einstein Told His Cook", gives his opinion:

"In terms of practical performance in the kitchen…Teflon coated pans have lasted up to 7 times longer as ceramic pans. Ceramics are by definition brittle, they eventually crack. They are simply not as long lasting or as well performing as Teflon."

Greenstuff November 3, 2012
Just a little clarification on the notion that Teflon is completely inert and non-toxic...there are people who worry about that. It breaks down at high temperatures, so if you use it, it's better not to heat it really hot when it's empty and you're in an enclosed space. Newer non-sticks, like the titanium/ceramic coating used on Scanpan, don't have that issue.
SKK November 3, 2012
The advice from Sarah, Greenstuff and Chef Ono matches my experience. Especially Ono's "Buy the best, cry only once." All Clad is my all time favorite. I also bought a 5 ply 5 quart all stainless saute pan with lid at Costco some years ago for $50. Best purchase I ever made.

Voted the Best Reply!

ChefOno November 3, 2012

Regarding safety of your current equipment: Teflon is completely inert, i.e. non-toxic, so no worries there (outside of food sticking). If your Calphalon is worn down to a bare aluminum cooking surface, that could pose a problem if the aluminum reacts with acidic ingredients (e.g. tomatoes, vinegar, etc.) Not a safety issue, but one which can affect the quality of your cooking.

There are many approaches and many brands from which to choose. My motto is "Buy the best, cry only once." My kitchens are stocked with a selection of All-Clad and Mauviel tri- and five-ply stainless, some of which are now 40 years old. I fully expect they will last a lifetime (and they're warranted to do so).

Stainless is inherently non-stick but I do own a few non-stick fry pans, which I use for eggs and fish. Not necessary, I've never had such a luxury in any restaurant I've worked in, but certainly nice to have.

Dealers like Williams-Sonoma always seem to have one or two pieces of All-Clad for special sale prices (half retail or even less) to entice you to start your collection, knowing once most people get some experience with it, they'll stick with the brand.

Greenstuff November 3, 2012
Sarah Reinertsen's suggestions are excellent, except that they sure don't meet the "not super-premium priced" criterion! If you can start slowly, take her advice. Otherwise, look for bargains at places like Costco, and just know you'll probably be replacing them too.

As for the black coating on your Calphalon, you're right that it wears away. The first time it happened to me, I got rid of that pot. Now I keep them, and it doesn't seem to affect performance, except that the bare aluminum is a reactive surface. When Calphalon was first popular, some people worried about possible links between aluminum cookware and Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia. But those concerns have been debunked.
Reiney November 3, 2012
If you want to stay in the non-stick range, Scanpan or Circulon are both good options. Because they don't have the teflon coating you never have to worry about it chipping off (both toxic & resulting in losing the non-stickiness), and both are quality brands. I've used both and prefer Circulon but it comes down to what feels good in your hands.

Stainless steel - such as All Clad or Demeyere - tends to be the choice of serious cooks, but to have that work for you it's essential to regulate the heat properly so that food doesn't stick (and also you have to be willing to use enough oil/butter in your dish!).

Generally then it depends on how much you want to buy. If you're going all out, a good nonstick (Circulon, Scanpan) or two, a few SS saucepans and maybe an enamel-lined dutch oven (such as Le Creuset) would be a good selection to start.
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