Waterless Cookingware

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Joined Apr 28, 2008

I'm brand new to the forum. I actually discovered this site due to me looking up information on "waterless cookingware". Yesterday, my fiancee and I, attended a presentation by the Simplicity Gourmet company. To be brief, the high pressure tactics, the unclear return policy, and the cost ($2900 for a 25-piece set) scared us off. However, the concept of "waterless cooking" was intriguing.

The way it was described was that it is a concept of low-heat cooking that requires little to no water or oil and cooks with no sticking to the pans. The pans themselves were described as being 7-ply surgical quality stainless steel construction with a "vapor seal" that locked in all the moisture from the food being cooked and a tea kettle like whistle system that when it starts whistling would let you know when your food is cooked properly.

For someone with as little talent in the kitchen as me, I found this VERY promising, however, as I said, I just couldn't pull the trigger because I didn't feel comfortable. Anyway, can some of you people with more experience in the kitchen than me comment on this type of cooking and why, if it is legit, can I not find similar products available in stores?

Thanks in advance for helping out one of the culinary illiterate.
Joined Apr 3, 2008
your intuition is correct--there is no such thing as waterless cooking, and all the promises of higher vitamin content, lower fat content, etc. are just that--promises. If it were true, why wouldn't everybody be using it? If it sounds too good to be true--it probably is!


Staff member
Joined Mar 29, 2002
The use of "surgical' means virtually nothing. Many steels and other items can accurately be called surgical, but it means nothing for cooking. And also for knives.

From your description, it sounds like a pressure cooking system masked in hype and other bogusness.

Joined Apr 28, 2008
That's what I figured. I guess now I will have to consider the differences between the stainless steel and non-stick pans (although it does appear that the part of their presentation about the dangers of the non-stick pans might not be totally false).
Joined Feb 13, 2008
"Waterless" cookware is, as you have surmised, basically a scam for preying on health oriented consumers. There is no evidence that the cookware produces healthier foods than other pots and pans. The logic behind it holds up only as long as the salesman is talking. In fact, the cookware is low-pressure, first generation, pressure cooking technology. Nothing else.

On a related issue, there are in fact several lines of 'non-stick" cookware which hold up well and won't throw TFEs and/or PTFEs in measuarable quantities into your food. A good, affordable expample, residential-oriented line is Swiss Diamond. Don't take that as a recommendation, though. I'm not a fan of non-stick myself.

There are a variety of materials and construction methods used for making good pots and pans for home cooks. For pots, sauce-pans, and other vessels used for cooking liquids the best interior is stainless steel. Any number of metals or combination of metals, including stainless steel, make for good exteriors.

The term "surgical stainless" steel refers to a range of steels with certain minimum percentages of nickel, molybdenum, chromium etc., which is also free from certain reactive materials like titanium. In fact you do want a lot of corrosion resistance -- which is mostly a function of having enough chromium. You also want a hard, scratch resistant surface. Which is why a grade of stainless called 18/10 is usually preferred for cooking interiors. 18/10 means 18% chromium and 10% nickel.

Still with me?

Highly polished, hard interiors can be made relatively non-stick by using heat and a minimal amount of oil.

However, the slickest surfaces are actually cast iron or carbon steel that has been properly cured with heat and oil, then properly maintained. Both of these surfaces allow foods to sear or saute properly without any negative health effects. Although, some care must be taken to control the use of highly acid ingredients in steel or cast iron cookware.

Cast iron has other advantages including heat stability. If you want to cook a lot of tomatoes in a cast iron pot -- you use enamel over cast iron.

And so it goes -- different materials are best for different purposes. "Horses for courses," as the saying goes. And we've by no means covered the gamut, even for home cooks. This means that the best cookware set for any serious home cook is a motley group of several different types of pots and pans.

If you're not serious, but just want something you don't have to worry about, and last a few years, a set of Emirilware or Wolfgang Puck or a similar line will do you well.

Joined Apr 28, 2008
Wow! Thanks! Actually, thanks to everyone who has responded. It has been a big help. As I said, I'm a relative novice in the kitchen so I know very little about any of this stuff. Being a guy, I really don't care about having a "set" of cooking ware that matches or looks pretty. In the kitchen, I sort of take a construction worker's view of cooking. I don't care how it looks, I just want the right tool for the job...within reason.
Joined Jan 8, 2006
Boar d laze most excellent advice. No single cooking vessel will do it all. I never recommend buying a set of cookware, and I always stress to have some copper, some cast iron, a bit of enameled cast iron, etc.
This is but one rack of cookware in my kitchen, a real potpourri, if you will, of different styles and different materials, and represents years of collecting.
Joined Mar 21, 2008
Anodized aluminum for non-stick. Stainless for any high heat searing and tomato based foods.
Joined Feb 13, 2008
With all due respect, IMO no. I use anodized aluminum (1st and 2d generation Calphalon) and it is not non-stick. It cannot really be seasoned either. Anodized aluminum is good for "high-heat searing" and "tomato based [i.e., acid] foods." It's perceived weakness as a searing material is its dark color which makes seeing fond a bit difficult. At least according to Cook's Illustrated and a few other reviewers who've downgraded it for its color. Personally, I think that's BS. The real weaknesses of this type of cookware -- which is indeed very good cookware -- is a tendency to warp and to eventually scratch.

Some truth there. Stainless as an insert for acidic foods, mos' def. As an insert in an aluminum or multiple "ply" shell, or as a shell sitting above a heavy aluminum or multi-ply disk, it prevents warping -- well, the multiple ply construction does. Plain stainless is very prone to warpage. Plain stainless tends to be sticky relative to the true high-performing sear surfaces.

Best for searing when acid is not an issue are well cured carbon steel cast iron -- nothing else is as good. Not even tin or stainless lined copper. They have enough mass to hold heat and not drop temp when the (relatively) cold meat is added to the pan. They have just enough stick to develop good fond. They release quickly and completely at exactly the right moment. The surfaces take aggressive handling and metal equipment without any problems.

Best for saute is carbon steel -- See above, plus light enough to toss the food. Plus cheap as chips. Copper lined with stainless and the multi-ply stainless wonders are a close second -- as long as they're heavy enough for good heat distribution and light enough to toss. Expensive, though. Aniodic aluminum -- good stuff. Fallen way out of favor for whatever reason. Lincoln/wearever makes a good line FWIW. Plain aluminum. I love plain ol' cheap commercial aluminum. It's so light, you can toss-turn so easily, yadda yadda yadda. Too bad about its reactive nature, eh? Still, nice to have a couple of pieces. All of this saute stuff is true for searing too, except weight isn't quite the issue.

Woks, paelleras, etc. -- Carbon steel. Whatever's next best is a lot more expenive. What's the point.

Omelette, crepe, etc. -- Carbon steel. Ditto.

Sauce pans -- the multi-ply pans kick butt.

Joined Feb 16, 2009
I have read your post and the replies and am always amazed how quick people
like to use the word "scam" with something. Equally, I am amazed that most often
they have never used the product or concept or have taken the time to really look at the facts for that matter but somehow the "too good to be true" is thrown up as the end all. It's a shame because a really terrific concept potentially takes a hit in the process.

Here is where I agree; the promoted cookware, though I am sure is of good quality, is
going to be overpriced, for obvious reasons. The concept however looks solid. You do
most of your cooking in 1/4 inch of water, which is used (among other things) to create
a seal between the pan / pot and lid. They had to call the cookware something in order to set it apart from the rank in file. Much like "non-stick" is the cookware truly non-stick? No it is not, especially with someone who does not know how to properly use the product, true?

If you go to the Amazon site, you can get a set of Maxam cookware for about $227.00
and it's going to be about as good as anything out there, I know, I have checked.

NO! I haven't bought a set, yet, but will. I have tasted the end product and while I cannot testify as to the nutritional quality, I can say the taste is beyond anything else I
have experienced. That alone is worth the cost of the set (my opinion).

There are just a few cookbooks out there, so you'll need to adapt. A major plus is that
you will get a first rate cookware set for barely more than the cost of a single all-clad pan (one or two at the most).

Check out the facts and make your own decision. Best of luck to you.


Staff member
Joined Mar 29, 2002
What facts?

I can't turn up any independent testing or blind testing of results. Certainly no nutritive comparisons either.

The health claims are similarly unsupported and likely unsupportable. Vitamins and other nutrients will still be altered by cooking and water as with all other cooking systems.

All of the claims I've seen could be surpassed by anything cooked sous vide.
Joined Feb 13, 2008
I worked for the LA County DA in Consumer Protection for the first year I was out of law school, I'm comfortable with the word and don't use it loosely.

The OP was asking about a $3,000 set of cookware including roughly some pans, lids and other accessories.

Your amazement is poorly taken. You presumed. My ex-MIL had a set, I'm all too familiar

Which terriffic concept is that? Pressure cooking?

What are the obvious reasons? How and why are you sure the product was of good quality? And if the product is overpriced is it not a scam to the degree to which it is overpriced?

Which concept? Pressure cooking?

The expression is "rank and file," not "rank in file." I wasn't, and neither (I'm sure) was anyone else criticizing "waterless cookware" because water is employed.

You're babbling.

If a similar product, and no better as you state, is sold for more than ten times the cost on the basis that it's better and more healthful -- isn't that a scam?

You really need to get out more.

Everyone has one.

"Check out the facts, indeed!" Your post was interesting for a number of reasons. Among them were these two: Not only did you respond to a question so old (10 months) the OP was clearly beyond needing further advice, you failed to cognize the excessive price of the product at issue, nor of the claims made by the specific marketer.

Joined Jul 28, 2006
The cookware under discussion is definately NOT any sort of pressure cooker. Pressure cookers are completely sealed units which require a stated amount of water or some other steam-producing liquid in order to function. Therefore they cannot in any way be regarded as "waterless". In addition, the lid of a pressure cooker cannot be removed at will due to the locking safety system.

Before I got married in 1963, there was a brand of "waterless cookware" called "Incor". Some of the selling features were +fuel savings because of lower burner setting, + less loss of nutrients because only a tablespoon of water was required + you could cook an entire meal on one burner, because the lids would invert into the pan and allow other pans to sit on top. I was impressed, especially with the way the lids would do a kind of "floating spin" when the proper heat & steam were achieved. So I bought them for my hope chest. It took me over a year to pay for it. As a new bride, I was all excited about the marvelous meals I could produce in practially no time flat, using these miracle pans. In their defense, they were very well made, but I never did produce anthing near the results I saw the demonstrator do! Until very recently, I still had one of those pots.

I have been to state fairs and similar venues, and have seen the type cookware under discussion being demonstrated. The demonstrators are very well-trained and slick. Typically at least one of the foods being cooked will have a high moisture content, to facilitate the demo. Other foods will have a marvelous aroma profile. They will show you how to make desserts as well. Older and wiser now, I wouldn't make the same purchase again. You can get a lot of quality cookware for a lot less than $2,500. The world is full of good cooks that don't own good pans. There are also a lot of bad to mediocre cooks whose kitchens contain fabulous cookware. My advice would be to learn to cook first, and don't purchase any new cookware until you know your way around the kitchen and know what sorts of pots and pans you need for the types of food you want to prepare.
Joined Oct 9, 2008
Here is a relevant website: waterless cookware.com. The page I've selected is the one that describes "the waterless way," i.e. how the stuff is supposed to work. It's not very coherent, but...

1. The stated quantity of water is 1/4 inch;
2. You run it until the valve whistles, then lock it down and run very low;
3. If you try to open it too soon, it's locked, and you have to depressurize.

Translation: low-pressure pressure cooking, with precisely the characteristics Grace describes. The stuff you got years ago may have been different, but this is presumably what BDL is describing.
Joined May 29, 2006
Anyone who would spend $3000.00 for a set of pots has got to be mad. It is not going to make you a better cook.
For $3000.00 I would buy a pro -tilting kettle brassier and have it installed in my home, this would be the only pot or pan I would need.
Joined Feb 9, 2009
I confess I have never used "waterless pans", but I remember they have been flogged for at least 50 years (if memory serves)
If they were so great don't you think that All-Clad etal would have capitalized on the method. None have.
Joined Oct 24, 2009
I just found this site and it looks really good. I hope to learn a many things from all you experts.

However, with much embarrassment and regret, we did buy the cookware a few months ago. We have the biggest case of buyer's remorse you could imagine.

Americraft/Kitchen Craft and other waterless cookware brand really knows how to prey on people. They go to fairs like the PNE, home shows, and in-home demos--their main source of sales. Most people only go once to a fair because there is usually an admission charge and they dont have the time to do their research. They then tend to make an impromptu and uninformed purchase. The "cooling-off" period is virtually nothing, maybe a day or two.

This cookware is nothing special. While it retains heat very well, the manufacturer's claims are "almost" disputable. Almost because I'm no attorney. There is no waterless cooking. Cooking vegetables such as broccoli or carrots requires the pan/pot to be 2/3rds full of water and it takes almost 30 minutes to cook. The cookbook and manufacturer Americraft heavily promote healthier living and cooking sprays as a method of non stick and low fat cooking. PAM and it's clones are suppose to be a "healthier" alternative. However, ingesting butane, IMO is hardly healthy. Plastic cooking sprays often contain BPA. This cookware is suppose to be oven safe to 350 degrees, yet the plastic handles will blister if exposed to direct heat. For cookware that costs this much, why the plastic handles?

Frying is really tricky and it messes up easily and stains the pan unless you use a lot of oil, probably more oil than a conventional stainless steel pan, in my experience. We have some heavy stains after making fried eggs and pancakes on the skillet...all while following the directions. We just can't get rid of them. We never had that problem before.

The pitchman, in our case Dan Gauthier uses his bbq all year round, but not the cookware. What does that say? He claims the cookware is made in the USA so buy American! However, even though it may be assembled in the USA, the steel I would bet is from China. Who knows how much lead is in there?

Customer service with Americraft is almost non existent. Once they have your money, it's good bye sucka. I sent them an email, giving my feedback, but I never received a reply back. Others have had similar complaints. Americraft Kitchen Craft dont care. The cookware likely costs them less than $200 for our 11 piece set but it cost us almost $2500!

Any how, this is my rant. I hope people googling waterless cookware, daniel gauthier, americraft, and kitchen craft find this thread. Don't buy this insanely overpriced cookware! :mad:
Joined Nov 5, 2009
I, too, went to the fair and saw the demo for Americraft Cookware, a product of West Bend.

We purchased the set for $3,000. Later that night I realized we just could not spend this amount of money on a set of pots. I looked at our receipt and learned we had 72 hours to cancel the order.

I called the number on the receipt and was told I would have to send a written letter to cancel the order and it must be postmarked within 72 hours, or send a fax.

In the post office, the clerk questioned me about the address. I was sending the letter of cancellation to a completely different address than the main office, which was in Florida. The person I spoke with never even informed me where this letter was to be sent and it was not on the receipt.

If it were not for an alert postal clerk, the letter would not have been received by the proper authorities in time to meet their 72 hour deadline.
Joined Oct 24, 2009
missyjean, i'm glad to read that you got your money back. i just did a search of this company on the better business bureau. they give them a rating of A-. this is another example of how one should only use the BBB as just one point of reference.

i would post a link but I need to have 5+ reviews.

Business Name: Americraft
Kitchen Craft Warehouse
Business Address: 245 N. Trenton Rd.
West Bend, WI 53095

Original Business Start Date: 7/13/2004 Local Business Start Date: 7/13/2004 Type of Entity: Limited Liability Company (LLC) Incorporated: 2004 in FL Principal: Craig Weinand, Vice Pres.
Phone Number: (877) 335-7267
(262) 306-1171
Fax Number: (352) 483-7603
BBB Accreditation: This business is not a BBB Accredited Business
Type of Business: COOKING UTENSILS
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