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I know how hard it can be to find cookware that lasts. I have spent weeks researching stainless steel cookware to find the best one. I am going to share my findings with you here.
In this article you will learn:
- What you need to know before you buy
- Is it better to buy a set or individual pieces?
- What stainless steel cookware I recommend
You need to know what to avoid and what to look for when it comes to finding a top-notch stainless steel cookware. This will help you weed out the good from the bad.
- Stay cool
- Can't go in ovens above 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Sometimes break.
- Get discolored over time.
- Best handle material
- Stay cool
- Can go from stove-top to oven.
- Stay cool
- Dishwasher safe
- Can go in the oven up to a certain temperature
Handles are either screwed, riveted, or welded onto the cookware. Riveted handles are the most durable.
- light and will not break.
- Stainless steel is the best metal for a lid material.
- Because stainless steel lids are light, when the pressure builds up, they will naturally lift and let steam escape.
- Stainless steel lids will not break, they may dent, but they are much safer to have around young children.
- Professional cooks use stainless steel lids.
- Stainless steel lids are more expensive than glass.
- Can withstand higher oven temperatures than glass.
- heavier and can break (shatter in fact).
- they let you see inside your pot.
- Glass is a better insulator than stainless steel, and work best for simmering.
- Glass lids can fog up, thus defeating the purpose of having a see-through lid.
- Some glass lids have steam vents to reduce fogging, but this offsets their insulation advantage.
- Drilled steam holes and handle holes can retain food particles and harbor bacteria.
- Make sure your glass lids are made of tempered glass.
- Can't take as high of oven heat as stainless steel.
Although glass is nice because you can see inside the pot, stainless steel lids are a better choice.
If a glass lid breaks, you are left with a lidless pot. Stainless steel lids will never break, and will last the lifetime of your pot. Whether you choose glass or metal, look for lids with metal handles, as plastic or silicone will eventually wear out.
Stainless steel by itself does not have good heat retention and distribution properties. Look for cookware that has aluminum or copper surrounded by stainless steel. This type of cookware is called "multi-clad".
It is best if the aluminum or copper is not just in the base of the cookware, but also runs up the sides. This will provide fast heat response, even heat throughout the pan, and prevent uneven cooking.
Multi-clad cookware is more expensive than straight-up stainless steel cookware, but it is worth it. The even temperatures prevent sticking and burning.
I have a pure stainless steel stock pot that I refuse to use. Everything sticks to the bottom, I have to watch it and stir it constantly. I end up with burnt food and a pot that is difficult to clean. Cooking with a high quality, multi-clad pot is a much better experience.
A multilayered pot with an aluminum or copper core is best.
A Lifetime Investment
Your cookware should be seen it as an investment. You only want to buy cookware once. I have the same stainless steel pots that I got for Christmas over 12 years ago. They are still in excellent condition (except for the plastic parts, which is why I recommend buying all metal). The pot that is in the best condition is my large pot with metal handles and a glass and metal lid.
The best prices for cookware are on Amazon. Many of the top quality cookware brands on the market are pricey, so the more savings you can get, the better. High-quality cookware can be as much as 50% off the regular price when you shop on Amazon.
The answer to this question depends on a few factors, such as how many pieces you already own, your cooking style and your budget.
- If you are starting from scratch, you will want a set. A set will generally save you money because it costs less than what you would pay for the same pieces bought individually.
- If you are on a tight budget, purchasing individual pieces may be the best option. A basic saucepan, skillet and stock pot provide a good foundation for cooking just about anything.
- Depending on your cooking style, you may not want all your cookware pieces to be made of the same material. For example, you may want cast iron or enameled cookware for frying and baking.
- great value
- gives you a good variety of pieces
- you may not use all of the pieces
- many of the pieces are too small in volume capacity for a family
- limited to one type of cookware material
- you may end up not liking the construction of the cookware, and then you are stuck with a whole set that you don't like
- buy what you need
- buy pieces slowly and build up your collection over time
- purchase a variety of materials
- allows you to try out a brand of cookware without committing to a whole set
- can be more expensive, especially if you are just starting out
It is hard to pass up the deal that a set can offer. If you find a set that has the pieces you need at a great price, then go for it.
All-Clad offers a variety of cookwares for different budgets but I recommend the D5 Stainless Steel 5-Ply Bonded Cookware.
- Virtually the same cooking quality as All-Clad's more expensive copper core cookware.
- Rolled Brim for easy pouring.
- Makes cooking easy with consistent heating.
- Can be used on any cook surface including induction cook-tops.
- Best Handle Material - Stainless Steel
- Best Handle Construction - Riveted
- Best Lid Material - Stainless Steel With Metal Handles
- Best Material For Even Heating - Aluminum Core For Even Temperatures
- Oven Safe And Dishwasher Safe
- Made in the USA
- Will Last a Lifetime
If you cannot afford All-Clad, I would recommend Cuisinart's Mutli-Clad Stainless Steel Cookware as a more affordable choice.
All-Clad's D5 Brushed Stainless Steel 5-Ply Bonded Cookware
I Recommend the 10 Piece Set
All-Clad offers a 5, 7, 10 and 14 piece set in this model. You will save money buying a set, but as you have read above, a set is only a good deal if it contains pieces you will actually use, otherwise it is better to buy individual pieces. If you are just starting out, a set will give you a great foundation.
I find the 10 piece set to be the best investment.
What are the Lids Like?
The lids are all metal and fit snugly, they cannot break and are oven safe. Professional chefs use metal lids.
What are the Handles Like?
The pans have riveted over-sized handles made of stainless steel. They are durable, comfortable and stay cool.
The handles are ergonomic, U-shaped, stay cool stainless steel. Some people complain that they dig into your palm but I have not had this problem. To remedy this, you can tuck the handle under your forearm and relieve some of the stress on your palm.
The handles have a groove for your thumb to rest on and prevent accidental rotation of the pan. There is also a bump on the underside of the handle to keep your hand from getting too close to the pot.
The lids feature easy to grip loop handles. The larger pots and pans have helper handles for easy pick up.
What are the Rims Like?
The rims have a rolled edge to allow for easy pouring.
Is it Oven Safe?
Yes, this cookware is oven, freezer, and broiler safe. This cookware will withstand heat up to 500 degrees F.
Can You Use Them on Induction Stove Tops?
Yes, they are optimized for induction cooking but work on all cook tops.
Is it Dishwasher Safe?
Yes, this allows for ease of cleaning.
What Is is Made of and Is it Reactive?
All-Clad's D5 collection features a bonded 5-ply construction with alternating layers of aluminum and stainless steel.
A layered construction eliminates warping and creates even heating. An 18/10 stainless steel interior creates a stick-resistant and non-reactive cooking surface.
The whole unit is evenly weighted so it won't wobble around when you are carrying it.
Where is it Made?
90 % of All-Clad's products are made in the USA. Their cheaper brand (Emeril) is manufactured in China as well as their kitchen tools, accessories and non-stick pans. Their bonded cookware is manufactured in the USA for exceptional quality control (more on this later).
What are the Sizes?
Included in the 10 piece set are: 8 and 10 inch fry pans, 1.5 and 3 quart saucepans with lids, 3 quart saute pan with lid, and 8 quart stock pot with lid. People are happy with the sizes of cookware included in this set.
How Much do the Pieces Weigh?
Here is the weight and dimensions of the products that you get in the 10 piece set:
- 8” fry pan: 8 1/2” diam., 3” high; 1lb. 8 oz. with lid.
- 10” fry pan: 10 1/2” diam., 4” high; 2 lb. 3oz. with lid.
- 1 1/2-Qt. Saucepan: 6" diam., 3 1/2" high; 2 lb. with lid.
- 3-qt. Saucepan: 8" diam., 3 1/2" high; 5 lb. with lid.
- 3-qt. sauté pan: 8 1/4” diam., 4” high; 3 lb. 13 oz. with lid.
- 8-qt stockpot: 11 1/2" diam., 5 1/2" high; 5 lb. 11 oz. with lid.
Are They Easy to Clean?
They are easy to keep clean and corrosion free. Pans should be cleaned after each use to prevent them becoming sticky, greasy, or discolored. All-Clad's stainless steel cookware is dishwasher safe and responds well to regular household cleaning products. If you do have a tough stain or mess to clean up, All-Clad recommends using a product called "Bar Keeper's Friend"
Is There a Warranty?
Yes, there is a limited lifetime warranty. All-Clad will replace or repair any item that is found to be defective in construction, material or craftsmanship under normal use.
The reviews on Amazon are 81% positive. Most people absolutely love their All-Clad cookware and do not regret buying it.
Negative reviews come from people who find that their cookware sticks. This can be remedied by following the manufacturers cooking instructions. Discoloration can be prevented or repaired with proper care and cleaning.
Some people don't think that the D5 is worth the extra money and the the Tri-Ply is just as good for a cheaper price. I think the D5 is worth the money as the brim is rolled for easier pouring and it has more layers for even heat distribution.
Where is the Best Price?
At the time of writing this article, at various retailers, the price for the 10 piece D5 set is between: $689 - $899. We regularly check prices and have found Amazon to consistently have the lowest price. This set is popular and often goes out of stock, so if you see it in stock at a good price, it is best to grab it up.
Why is it so Expensive?
There are a few reasons, the main one being that they are manufacturing their products in the USA, which costs more than outsourcing to China. Producing in the USA is more expensive but it allows for exceptional quality control. Chinese imports can be contaminated with toxic or radioactive chemicals. This does not happen in the US, as businesses have to comply with various environmental regulations.
All-Clad sources it's stainless steel locally to ensure high quality. You can rest assured that the All-Clad cookware you are purchasing has been manufactured with oversight at every step to ensure the highest quality possible. You can't get that assurance when you buy products made in cheap labor countries.
is it Worth the Expensive Price Tag?
Yes it is. The outstanding quality, lifetime warranty and professional performance make All-Clad's products worth the money. Remember, "buy cheap, buy twice". When you spend more, you will not have to replace your cookware years down the road. This cookware will last you a lifetime, and can be passed down to your children or grandchildren.
What if You Can't Afford All-Clad?
I would recommend Cuisinart's Mutli-Clad Stainless Steel Cookware as a more affordable choice.
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Amazon has the Best Price
Please leave any questions in the comments below, we answer them all!
This post was originally published on February 27, 2016.