Tag Archives: stainless steel

Stainless Steel Cookware

The key with buying stainless cookware is that you want to make sure it is clad.  Let me back up a little.

All Clad 2qt. saucier
All Clad 2qt. saucier

All stainless cookware isn’t actually just stainless steel.  That would take forever to heat up.  So there is generally at least one layer of a different metal between the layers of stainless that is a better conductor of heat, typically aluminum.  Aluminum detractors, never fear—the aluminum cannot get out unless you sawed these things in half, no matter what style of pan it is.  (Unless it’s an all-aluminum pan [not cast aluminum, not anodized, straight up aluminum!] with no stainless, which you’d maybe find in a camping store.  Even then only really acidic foods like tomatoes should scare you.)

CIA stock pot - you can't clad a pot larger than 16 quarts
CIA stock pot – you can’t clad a pot larger than 16 quarts

What you will see in less expensive cookware, or very large pots (anything over 16 quarts, to be exact), is a disc that has been attached to the bottom of the pan.  Some people think that the thicker this disc, the better the pan will distribute heat, but that isn’t exactly true.  To get a more even distribution of heat, you want something called clad cookware.

What clad means is that the metals are actually laid together like a sandwich, then bent into the shape of a pan, meaning the conductive interior is all over the inside of your pan.  See the awesome drawing I made below:

Clad cookware DNA
Clad cookware DNA

Some brands will have multiple interior layers with various metals inside.  The best conductor is copper, which is pretty expensive.  [Note to folks with glass stovetops—the majority of glass stovetops take a really long time to heat up, so getting copper cookware won’t help alleviate this issue much, unfortunately.]

The most well known clad cookware is All-Clad, a lot of which is still made in the USA.  They have several lines and are the original clad cookware manufacturer.  It’s hard to clad anything larger than a 16 qt. but I think the even heat distribution issue is far more important for frying pans and saucepans, anyway.  If buying something made in the USA is your priority, please note that not all All-Clad items are made at home anymore, including all lids and accessories.  (Note that accessories come in black boxes, making it easier to tell it’s made in China.) 

Cuisinart Multi-Clad cookware
Cuisinart Multi-Clad cookware

Viking saucepan
Viking saucepan

Cuisinart’s Multi-Clad line is consistently top-rated as a great alternative to All-Clad, and I have heard this repeatedly from its users.  All-Clad is five-layers of steel (they have other lines now, but nothing is less than five) around an aluminum core, and Cuisinart’s Multi-Clad is three layers.  Both clean very nicely. Moving in the opposite direction price-wise, Viking cookware is seven layers of steel around an aluminum core.  (Viking no longer produces cookware or appliances.)

All Clad copper core saute pan
All Clad copper core saute pan
All Clad copper (aluminum core) cookware
All Clad copper (aluminum core) cookware

If you’re looking for something with a copper core, All-Clad’s copper core line has a stainless exterior.  This is a tad on the expensive side, but beautiful cookware.  (Do not confuse the copper-core with the copper-exterior line! The copper cookware has an aluminum core, just like the stainless lines do. Apparently they don’t manufacture the copper line anymore, as it’s not listed on their website.)  CIA cookware is relatively new to the game, lowering their price point in order to compete, and it has seven-layers of steel around a copper core for about half the price of All-Clad.  CIA stands for Culinary Institute of America, which is the only school that can designate someone a Master Chef.  Everything in their product line came from ideas vetted by master chefs to make sense in the kitchen.

CIA 2qt. saucier
CIA 2qt. saucier

One thing I have discovered I dislike about stainless cookware is the rivets.  Most cookware have rivets so when I do make a mess in the stainless pieces I own, the rivets drive me nuts.  On the pro-side, you can use metal utensils, which I think are just great.  I’d never been able to use them my whole life until now.

Click here to return to “Buying Cookware” to compare to other types of cookware!

Buying Cookware

This is an extremely broad shopping category and is completely based on personal preferences. It’s very difficult to switch away from something that you have been cooking with for most of your life, particularly if it’s what everyone in your family before you also used. I find it best to start this conversation talking about my own personal experience and have discovered that a lot of folks can relate.

My family are a people of the nonstick nature. It’s the only type of cookware I ever experienced anywhere I ever went in my life when visiting anyone, as well as at home. Stainless cookware is for the chefs on TV that know how to make things not stick when you cook. 😉

I now know this isn’t quite exactly true; you just have to have the right stuff and know how to use it and take care of it. One of my favorite reasons for a person returning a piece of cookware was that it “burned their food”. You wouldn’t believe how often we heard that! Most issues with cookware, especially good cookware, are unfortunately the end-user’s fault, not the pans. Sorry! I burn stuff all the time in my fancy cookware. I don’t follow the rules that I tell people! But I know not to blame the pan, and have lots of tricks for getting things clean.

For myself, I still had to ease into trying stainless. I opted to move from nonstick, which I was sick of chipping and having to replace every few years, into a line called Chantal. Their enamel-on-steel patent essentially makes the surface into glass, so it’s non-porous, but acts like a nonstick. Most of my cookware is now Chantal, but I have some really nice clad stainless pieces that I also love.

To make it easier to read, I am breaking up cookware into the various types of cooking surface into single blog posts, containing information about specific brands I am the most familiar with utilizing.



Depending on what type of pan you are using, the use and care can vary, so please click on the individual links at the bottom of this blog post to get more detailed information about your type of cookware. However, there are a few things that apply across the board that I thought everyone should know if they don’t already.


1. Frypans never come with a lid, because if you put a lid on something you are no longer frying it, but sauteing it.
2. Saute pans have deeper, flat sides, whereas a frypan will have angled sides
3. Most cookware manufacturers realize people love having lids for everything, and therefore will make the lids that fit the saucepans also fit the frypans.
4. If all else fails, reputable manufacturers will make a lid that you can buy separately, but often you will need to find a vendor who can custom order it for you or purchase it direct from the manufacturer.
5. You can find a plethora of universal lids to purchase, too.


All cookware manufacturers agree that stove manufacturers make the heat settings too hot on residential stovetops. Therefore, any use and care guide you read for any brand of cookware will tell you to not use the pan on the “high” setting. You should be able to sear perfectly on medium-high; patience is a virtue!


1. Do not put salt in a pot of water until it comes to a rolling boil. If the water isn’t boiling yet, the salt will immediately fall to the bottom and cause pitting in the bottom of your pan.
2. Do not heat a pan without oil or butter. Generally this is said to decrease the amount of people who turn a stove on and walk away, so you can most likely get away with not following this rule if you are only doing it for a minute or less.
3. Do not use a scouring pad like Brillo on ANY type of cookware, ever! Even on stainless steel it will put deep gouges in the steel that become food traps and make the pan unsafe to utilize.