New Pan Sets

Discussion in 'Cooking Equipment Reviews' started by thenewguyaround, Jun 8, 2017.

  1. thenewguyaround

    thenewguyaround

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    Home Chef here needing to buy a whole new set of pans, not sure if I should be getting a set of Non Stick or Stainless steel, only pans I have left currently is a couple cast irons. If I were to go non stick will  most likely get the costco brand ones and if I go with stainless steel will go with the Cusinart set. Money is not a issue, excluding allclad pans.
     
  2. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    First some Generalizations.

    1. Most here would counsel against a set. You tend to spend money on pans you won't use. 

    2. Most here would recommend stainless clad pans over non-stick for general cooking. 

    Now some questions for you.

    1. What do you like to cook?

    2. What is the largest group you see yourself cooking for? 

    3. What stove do you have currently and what would like to upgrade to? 

    Most sets include an 8" saute pan which is fine for cooking for one but otherwise is of very limited use. A waste in my book. Most sets max out at a 10" saute pan and skip the 12" which is the most useful saute size imho. Most sets include very small saucepans, 1 quart, 1 1/2 quart that again are of limited use for the purpose generally put to sauce pans.  And the stock pot trend is ever smaller as well, often a 5 or 6 quart pot. 

    Clad stainless will outlast non-stick by years and years.  I recommend buying non-stick for what you actually use non-stick for. For me, that's a 10 and 12" skillet. I can buy those cheaply on sale, but there's a caveat.  Non-stick pans are usually coated aluminum. They cook well. But I've become a convert of induction stoves and these all aluminum pans do not work on induction. You can now find non-stick pans with a steel base for induction compatibility, but they cost more. Is induction in your future? 

    So for my cooking purposes, I'd look for 
    • 10 and 12 inch clad stainless skillets, metal handles that can take full oven heat. 
    • 2 and 3 quart saucepan. Clad is nice, but I could be satisfied  with a disk base in my sauce pan and stock pot.
    • 8 or 12 quart stock pot. 8 would be my minimum size, 12 is big, but the most versatile size. If you want one with a pasta insert, get one that comes within an inch or two of the base. Otherwise, you have to boil a lot of extra water to make much use of the pasta insert. 
    You can usually save money shopping carefully for those items directly rather than as a set.  If you're really set on buying a set, https://www.walmart.com/ip/Tramontina-12-Piece-Tri-Ply-Clad-Cookware-Set-Stainless-Steel/22984416  I have a fair amount of Tramontina cookware and find it of excellent quality. 

    If you never cook for more than 4, you can get some smaller sauce pans and stockpot. 

    Then I'd look at specialty cookware separately
    • 10 and 12 inch non-stick skillet with oven safe handles. I want to be able to broil in them if necessary.
    • 12 inch cast iron skillet. There are some things that just need it. 
    • Dutch oven, 6 quart. Most people like enameled cast iron for this. I have one like this. I find I prefer clad stainless as it's just easier to use and clean and store. I recognize my preference here is not widely supported. This pot double as a smaller stock pot as well if needed. 
    • Wok, carbon steel, with lid
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2017
    drirene and kevin oliver like this.
  3. thenewguyaround

    thenewguyaround

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    In the next 2 - 3 months I will be getting a gas stove, in December I had a bad house fire so I need to replace all pans that were non stick and such, I do actually have I believe a 12in all clad frying pan so may go with your suggestion of getting all the pans separate, all clad is a bit expensive for me so may look into the multiclad cusinart pans and just buy the ones you suggest as I will mainly be cooking for around 3 people and like maybe 3 times a month cook for around 8 - 12 people.
     
  4. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    With your group cooking, you'll probably be happier with the larger saucepans and stock pot  I think. 
     
  5. thenewguyaround

    thenewguyaround

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    Does the Tramontina pans warp at all? After reading some reviews for a couple of the multiclad Cusinart ones people say they warp pretty quickly.
     
  6. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    I haven't had that problem.
     
  7. chrislehrer

    chrislehrer

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    I suggest going to one of the big restaurant supply websites -- Prince, etc. That way you buy what you want without a lot of silly advertising garbage to pay for. I suggest heavy steel saucepans, and aluminum boiling pots (stockpots, etc.).

    Since you already know how to take care of cast iron, and are headed toward a gas stove, can I suggest traditional rolled steel skillets? They're remarkably cheap, insanely durable, and with work become totally nonstick. You can't use them for everything -- no tomato sauces, boiled vinegar sauces, and so on -- but otherwise they're amazing. Straight from stovetop to oven and back, all the heat you can use, and cheap as well. If you really screw them up, run them in the "clean" cycle of your oven and start over.
     
  8. kevin oliver

    kevin oliver

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    You would be surprised at the pricing at Home Goods, TJMax, Ross, and Marshalls for some of the quality brands. Costco (as you mention) is competitive in their set pricing, though. I have seen smaller sets there (3 pieces).

    Great info by @phatch  --- thank you for that.  
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2017
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  9. Aaron Pankonin

    Aaron Pankonin

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    I went through this a couple years ago and went with 5-ply stainless set (Spring Brigade series) that I found shopping multiple Homegoods stores. This gave good pricing and found pots/pans I needed vs a predetermined set. I still like properly seasoned cast iron skillets (8,10,12") vs stainless or non-stick.

    I haven't had luck with non-stick lasting more than a year.
     
  10. oldarpanet

    oldarpanet

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    17 years ago I was in a (slightly) similar situation: separated (divorced) and interested in cooking and nothing to cook with.
    I did some looking around and found a huge mall of outlet stores, one of which was Calphalon.
    I went in and the first thing I saw was a set of cookware that had been discontinued and so reduced in price (along with being at an outlet store.) Great deal. 2 skillets, one saute pan, 3 sauce pans lids, stock pot, all for a great price. Yes, it had the 1 or 1-1/2 qt sauce pan, but cooking for one or two, it is a pretty useful pan.
    Pretty good quality (though not shown a lot of love form some on this msg bd...)

    I also got some good life/performance from a couple T-fal Professional saute pans. (I have now (mostly) switched to Scanpan from Sur la Table. Great saute pans with ceramic/titanium coating, ok with metal utensils! though, not so inexpensive)

    One time (not at band camp ;-) ) i was looking for a grill pan/griddle, cast iron. I went to Macy's and as I walked in, on display in front of me was a huge collection of Emeril cookware. Sure enough, a cast iron grill pan/griddle for only $99.99!

    I thought that was a bit much and went deeper into the store. I found some for $50, some for $25 and then one in a plain white box, no name, exactly what I was looking for, for $12.99! I bought that one.

    Summary: decide what you want and: shop, shop, shop.

    Oldarpanet
     
  11. halb

    halb

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    If they were using them on an electric range, warping can be a problem with a lot of pans not designed for electric.

    If I were you I would take the recommendations given here about specific pieces and go to an online site like Webstaurantstore.com. Consumer cookware is often overpriced and you can save a lot of money by purchasing commercial cookware. Unless, that is you are hooked on the status of owning name brand consumer stuff.