Best pots and pans?

Joined Oct 19, 2002
I am looking to buy the very best pot and pan set for my wife. The stores I have visited have sales people who have little or no cooking expierence with good cookware. I thought I would get the best advice here. I have been shown the All-clad and the Calphalon line. How do these compare and are there any other brands that are better? Any beifit to the stainless as compared to the other as we have very hard water here and everything gets spoted. Non-stick or stick?
While I am here what is the best knife brand?

Joined Mar 3, 2002
Unless you are obsessive about everything looking alike, don't buy a set. Different kinds of cooking work best in different kinds of pots. I have some cookware in various materials that work best with certain techniques and/or foods. Another drawback of sets is that most of the pieces are too small. You will wind up buying the larger more expensive pieces anyway and some of the pieces that came with the set may wind up collecting dust.

There have been numerous threads on this board and others (such as Chowhound and eGullet, Bouland's www.alacarte on copper) about the relative merits of the different materials and brands. If you do a search you will come up with more information than you know what to do with.

If you still have specific questions, I'm sure we'll all chime in. Be sure to let us know what sort of cooking techniques you use the most and whether most of your cooking is for 2 or a large family, etc. That way we can be more helpful.
Joined Aug 29, 2000
Hi Steve, and welcome to Chef Talk. This is a topic close to my heart, ever since I bought my first All-Clad pan. I have an MC2 brasier and a 10-piece set of Emeril (All-Clad) I got for an irrestible price (just under $200). But I agree with Alexia: do not buy a set unless you see yourself getting good use out of all of the pans. I was hot for a set of MC2-even steeled myself for the credit card bill to come- only to realize I really didn't want it; too many of the pieces weren't right for my kitchen.

Go to a store and look at the pans. Lift them; handle them. The ergonomocs of the handles, the weight of the pan empty vs. full, whether special utensils are needed, and care considerations should all be part of your decision. Copper, for instance is not for everyone, but may be indespensible for others. Some run away from non-stick pans, others wouldn't dream of doing without them. Will you be the only one using them? Will children also use them?

It's a very personal decision.

By the way, please do stop in at the Welcome Forum to introduce yourself. We're a friendly community and want to welcome you properly.


Staff member
Joined Jun 11, 2001
Well, at the minimum you will need a large dutch oven style pot and a straight side fry pan. Unless you're doing many individual portions for each member of your family you're not going to use that tiny 7" saute pan. Buy a good heavy dutch oven because it can go on the stove, go in the oven, and if the occasion permits, look very good on a picnic table filled with beans. Le Creuset comes to mind.

But then, the best thing is to buy her what SHE wants. :D

There's no best brand anything. For knives, Wusthof Trident for me. They don't farm out their production and the factories produce only Wusthof. Like pots and pans, an 8" cooks and paring knife will work 95% of the time.

Joined Mar 3, 2002
Kuan makes a a good point! What does SHE want? Personallly, I wouldn't want someone else picking out my pots and pans unless I'd given them a very specific list to pick from. Maybe you could go out together to look at everything and let the cook make the final decision, particularly if you both work in the kitchen.
Joined Oct 19, 2002
I use All-Clad stainless, LeCreuset, and old Griswold cast iron. For knives - Wusthof Classic, though you might want to look at the Gran Prix line - try the feel of each. The steel is the same. (Or for that matter, you might like the feel of a completely different line of knives.)

As others have said - don't get a set. Think of what it is you want to cook and go from there. Also, once you've familiarized yourselves with what you want and need, check out Ebay for good prices if you're going to be buying a lot. Otherwise support your local small shop as you add one piece at a time.
Joined Mar 13, 2001
without a good cast iron pan.

Lodge, one of the country's largest manufacturers of cast-iron cookware, has given us Lodge Logic. It has been electrostatically sprayed with vegetable oil and subjected to prolonged exposure to high temperatures.

Lodge Logic can be found locally at many stores that carry traditional cast-iron cookware, including Bed Bath & Beyond, Bloomingdale's, Strosniders Hardware, Sur La Table and Williams-Sonoma stores. Lodge Logic is also available by mail from
Joined May 26, 2001
Kimmie -- sounds like a marketing brochure! ;) Have you actually used one of the Lodge "pre-seasoned" pieces? They cost twice as much as the regular ones! :eek:
Joined May 26, 2001
Ah! Do tell what it's like!!! Inquiring minds want to know. :D

I bought a regular 12-inch skillet (I'm cheap) about a week ago (already have a grill pan, which I ADORE!!!!!) but when I got home I discovered I didn't have any Crisco in the house. :( So it's waiting until I can get some. And then ... :bounce:
Joined May 26, 2001
That's what I use to season cast iron. Yeah, I know there are other veg oils one could use, but that's what I'm used to.

But since that's the ONLY use I make of Crisco, and it eventually starts to look weird in the can, I don't have it in the house sometimes when I need it, like now :(
Joined Dec 30, 1999
Hello rfamliy1st,

You may find the following thread informative, Buying Cookware

For information on knives, check here.

If you have further questions after browsing these discussions, feel free to post.

Joined Nov 13, 2002
25 years ago I sold Salad Master Stainless Steel Waterless Cookware and I've owned my set for longer than that. My parents set was purchased in 1967 and is still looking great. Pots and pans are what you have when you have a combination of types. When you get into paying THAT much money, it's called cookware ;) Stainless Steel pays for itself over the long run if it's good quality.

I'm into "Slow Food" and try to keep cooked foods to low-temperature cooking and that's something I can successfully do with Waterless Cookware. I consider it the most nutritious cooking method and it creates a vacuum seal and oxidation is practically eliminated.
Joined Oct 28, 2008
I'm resurrecting what appears to be a VERY old post!

I remember my parents buying the cookware I am now using back in the early 70s in someone's home in Sheboygan Wisconsin. Volrath I believe is the brand/company name. Every 13 years or so my Mom would order replacement handles since these are a resin of sorts that would grow brittle and brake around the screws that held them on. She passed them to me in the 80's and I later ordered handles as well.

The Stainless Steel, however, is still going strong and I've been using them with my kids and husband cooking with them as well over the last 23 years. The handles are all just about gone now, and the company seems to have sold out to another and I've lost the trail. I'm finally realizing I need to leave them behind, (unless someone out there knows something I don't.) I use cast iron skillets of every size, so buying a set would be silly. My Stainless Steel Small and Large saucepans and my dutch oven, however, are necessary to my kitchen.

I'm not wealthy, nor do I care to be cheap. What is the best midgrade purchase for my money. I know I'm looking at buying maybe two large saucepans, and two small, (with the medium in my inherited set rarely used.) A Dutch Oven is mandatory as well.
Joined Oct 27, 1999
For a non-stick pan, I suggest having your wife take a look at Swiss Diamond. It is more non-stick than any non-teflon non-stick pan I've used (better than sitram, for instance). In addition, unlike teflon, you can use any utensil you want on the surface -- that includes metal spoons!
Joined Nov 5, 2007
Earlier this year, or maybe last fall, on a sunday morning I was working on preparing for a dinner party later that day. As I was filling a saucepan with water the handle fell off. It was a fairly old stainless steel set that served us well for years, can't remember the brand. The attachment for the handle was NOT stainless, it had rusted away. The rest of the pieces in the set are still in daily use, I did check the handle attachments.

Anyway, for whatever reason I really needed a 2 quart, covered, oven proof pot for something I was preparing. Ran down to someplace like Shopko or K Mart, since none of the real cooking stores around here are open on sunday. I purchased a 9 piece Farberware set for something like 45 bucks, rather than just getting the one pot I needed for $25.

A few of the Farberware bits are still untouched and unused in the box somewhere in the basement, a few of them actually get fairly regular use. I'm pleasantly surprised that such flimsy stuff has worked longer and better than I expected.

Joined Feb 13, 2008

I'm pasting this from Vollrath's website:

Hope this helps.

OTOH, If you're looking for new high-quality, mid-priced cookware your best bet is to search for sales and seconds of the really good stuff at the big box stores, internet sites like QVC, discount stores, etc. With the condition of the economy, there will be lots of sales as Christmas approaches and passes. Otherwise, there are quite a few fairly high quality, mid-priced cookware lines around like Emerilware and Wolfgang Puck, to name two. But again, wait for the holiday sales. Discounts will likely range from substantial to panicked hysteria.

By the way, Vollrath is still going strong making the best professional cookware. If I were buying stainless, I'd buy their tri-ply Tribute in a heartbeat.

Hope this helps,
Joined Feb 20, 2012
What type of pots and pans work well with the new smooth, electric cooktops... not the magnet type? We care about good cooking and preserving our new surface.

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