Cookware in pieces
October 17, 2010 5:09 PM   Subscribe

We're getting married, and we're registering at Bed, Bath and Beyond for the usual housewares, but we need advice about cookware.

We originally registered for a set, but we're thinking that we'd like fewer big-ticket items on our registry and more mid-level items. Breaking up the set seemed like a no-brainer. However, we can't register for individual items in the cookware we chose; it only comes as a set.

Does anyone have a great love for their cookware that is available at Bed, Bath and Beyond in individual pieces? Keep in mind that we're pretty entry-level at cooking, with some interest in adventures in the kitchen--but not too adventurous.
posted by Allenthar to Shopping (30 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I really like the All-Clad cookware, but it appears to only come as a set at BBB. Would you consider registering at more than one location? Most weddings I've attended have had more than one registry. Williams-Sonoma sells All-Clad individually as does Amazon -- both have wedding registries.
posted by melissasaurus at 5:16 PM on October 17, 2010 [4 favorites]

Seconding All-Clad.
posted by gumtree at 5:19 PM on October 17, 2010

nth'ing All-Clad. We have a 3 pieces of kind with stainless inside & out, along with 2 non-stick pans, and after 10 years, they're in great shape.
posted by toddje at 5:23 PM on October 17, 2010

Thirding All-Clad... love it, love it, love it and just bought another All-Clad piece today as a matter of fact!
posted by braemar at 5:23 PM on October 17, 2010

If All-Clad seems a bit like overkill, I've been very happy with my Cusinart stainless which I believe may be sold by the piece at BBB.
posted by pixiecrinkle at 5:25 PM on October 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Just to n'th All-Clad--it really is the best. And most of it is USA made to boot.
posted by buttercup at 5:27 PM on October 17, 2010

Looking at the brands listed on their web site, I would agree that your best bets would be All-Clad or Le Crueset. Sign up for a medium skillet and maybe a saucepan from All-Clad, then maybe a dutch oven from Le Crueset. They're pricey, but if you do get them, you'll never need to buy those items again. Ever.
I would also second registering at another store. Not to go too far down market on you, but you can get Lodge cast iron skillets as well as Pyrex stuff at your local Target. Plus, when you go to Target they give you a little price gun, and you can run around the store zapping stuff you want to add to your registry! It's really fun.
posted by Gilbert at 5:27 PM on October 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

I'm a really big fan of Anolon nonstick cookware. We got, I think, the 12 piece set and I use practically every piece on a regular basis. I'm not sure what BB&B has available individually, but this Anolon set is really pretty much what I've learned to cook on and they've been a great asset. If they have individuals of them, I'd go with that. Particularly I believe the 3 quart saucepan, the 10 inch skillet, and the 3 quart saute pan are things I use basically every day. If you do a lot of boiling of water for pasta, or soups, get the 8 quart stock pot - it's a good weight and it's super easy to clean, unlike regular sticky stock pots where if you leave a stray piece of pasta on the bottom in the starchy residue, it's stuck like glue.

The most important thing for me in the kitchen isn't the cookware at all, actually. It's the bowls. A large variety of mixing bowls, the cheap stainless kind from the kitchen supply, a bunch of nesting plastic ones, lots of little colorful ceramic ones, those are actually what I use the most when cooking and need the most of. You'll probably be able to register for a bunch of those individually, while you're at it.
posted by Mizu at 5:27 PM on October 17, 2010

All-Clad has the most uncomfortable handles in the world, IMO - make sure you can stand using the pans before you register for it.
posted by Dasein at 5:30 PM on October 17, 2010 [3 favorites]

Oh and yes, a Le Crueset anything is glorious. But I find them to be CRAZY heavy, too much for me with my tiny twig arms to handle. If you're just starting out, a dutch oven from them is going to be the most versatile. It'll do soups, stews, pot roasts, baked things, and so-on. Just make sure you can lift it!
posted by Mizu at 5:30 PM on October 17, 2010

If you don't mind registering at 2 places try going somewhere that sells All-Clad, or your chosen cookware, individually.
posted by IndigoRain at 5:41 PM on October 17, 2010

All-Clad stainless - the anodized is a pain in the ass, and the higher-end is no better than the entry-level. But any All-Clad piece is the LAST of that particular piece you'll ever buy again. Love 'em.

If you do decide to go with anything else, riveted handles, at least PARTIAL cladding (a sandwiched layer of metals on the bottom) and no plastic parts at all are all good qualities.
posted by julthumbscrew at 5:48 PM on October 17, 2010

I have All Clad stainless steel pans, bought separately over a few years. Some of them are 21-25 years old, and are literally as good as new, except for normal scratches. The deciding factor in choosing this brand and line was that the pans can be washed in the dishwasher. All these years later, I still appreciate that the dishwasher makes the pans look super-great.

The frying pans are very good for browning things. The straght sides mean more area on the bottom of the pan. The saucepans are thick enough to allow for even heat while simmering. If something really bad happens, like melted plastic or charred rice, they can be cleaned with oven cleaner. The only drawback is that the lids feel flimsy compared to the pans -- but they actually hold up very well. All-Clad's non-stick pans are crap.

The pans I use most, cooking for two:
-12" (6 qt) saute pan with loop. (Loop is oppostite handle to make carrying easier.)
-10" saucepan with loop, used much less often than the 14".
-4 qt saucepan with loop; cheap steamer can fit inside.
-2 qt saucepan, used less often but very useful
-8 qt stockpot for pasta. (separate other-brand collander, lighter and easier to clean than "pentola).

I'd say, start with stockpot, 4 qt saucepan, and one of the saute pans. I started with the 10" saute and was satisfied for a few years, then added a 14". My husband l ikes to buy "interesting" pans like the slant-sided windsor, the butter warmer, the searing pan...we never use them.

For non-stick, you want thick-bottomed ones that are relatively inexpensive. Wearever has some good ones; the ones I just replaced did a good job for about 5 years. (I mostly used them for eggs, pancakes, vegetables.) I recently got a set of 2 very good Calphalon saute/fry pans at a great price ($45?) from Bed, Bath and Beyond. I usually hate sets, but both of these are in useful sizes. The set isn't on the website.
posted by wryly at 5:54 PM on October 17, 2010 [3 favorites]

I just have to say that we received a non-stick cookware set for our wedding and while they were great for the first three years, I ended up getting rid of all of them for stainless steel and cast iron as they got scratched. The chemicals that the non-stick coating is made of can leech into food when the surface is scratched and the idea of ingesting that just skeeved me out. They were great while they lasted, but I just got to the point where I couldn't use them anymore. Now, my cast iron skillet is the star of the kitchen. My iron levels have never been better!
posted by hazel bites at 5:58 PM on October 17, 2010

Also never put pots/pans in the dishwasher. Or knives, for that matter.

posted by Sara C. at 6:00 PM on October 17, 2010

You should not register for anything "non-stick". It's not worth it. An expensive pan that has been treated with non-stick compound will pretty much get ruined as fast as a cheap "non-stick" pan and won't work much better in the interim. Calpholon pans are great for a lot of applications, but don't buy Calpholon with a non-stick coating.

All-Clad makes great cookware and they're worth the money for sure, so I would not argue with any of the people who've suggested them.

For me personally, my ideal cookware collection would be as follows:

From All-Clad: assorted sauce-pans, a 3 or 5 quart saucier, a 10-12 inch Chef's pan and a 12 inch skillet.

From Le Creuset: a Dutch Oven or 2 (or 3)

and some cast-iron from Lodge: a 12 inch skillet, a Dutch oven (yes I like Dutch ovens), and maybe an 8 inch skillet as well.

A Calphalon Frying pan is great for searing meats. Don't get non-stick. Food won't usually stick to Calphalon anyway.

And if you haven't already, register for some good quality knives, I think Bed Bath & Beyond has Henckels and Wustof, don't they?
posted by wabbittwax at 6:14 PM on October 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

All-clad is ridiculously expensive. If you have people willing to shell out the money, I'd say go for it, but your money will go much further with other brands. Most places have house brands that will be just as good, but $20-$50 less a pan.

I really love my 2 le creuset pots.

If you look at knives, please forego the big, expensive names and get good, functional knives that you won't be as worried about if you ding them or stick them in the dishwasher.
posted by TheBones at 6:20 PM on October 17, 2010

Also never put pots/pans in the dishwasher. Or knives, for that matter.


Why? Not meaning to thread drift, but unless you have non-stick pans, or seasoned cast-iron pans then there really isn't any reason not to put pans and knives in your dishwasher.

It IS important to make sure you don't put any wooden cutting boards in the dishwasher, as there is a chance they can warp.

I love to cook and absolutely love my 3" serrated paring knife. I use it and my chef's knife pretty much exclusively. I don't see a cheap one on bed bath and beyond, but here's a link.

A friend of mine also swears by nespresso. I haven't tried it and I'm not sure I like the idea of capsules, so I can't comment, but I do want a good espresso maker.
posted by TheBones at 6:29 PM on October 17, 2010

We got Calphalon non-stick pots and pans from BBB for our wedding and it really has been nice stuff. You just have to make sure your cooking utensils are all plastic or wooden so you don't scratch it. The non-stick coating does wear off after awhile, but ours have a lifetime warranty so when the coating wears off, the factory will replace the pans at no cost (other than shipping, I think). Just a data point.
posted by beandip at 6:34 PM on October 17, 2010

If you have a restaurant supply store near you, skip registering for pots and pans and take $200 of your wedding gift money to go pick up everything you need there. That's what we did. We got some awesome stuff at BB&B (like way nicer sheets and towels than we'd ever buy ourselves), but not overpriced cookware.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 6:41 PM on October 17, 2010 [4 favorites]

I didn't want to suggest what peanut_mcgillicuty did, but I agree 100%. Personally, I say pots and pans are functional tools, not pieces of art. If you have to worry about not putting them in the dishwasher, AND spend an extra 30% on them, put that money toward something that you will be able to enjoy. I say buy a couple of really nice le creuset pots, and a nice roaster for big birds (thanksgiving, a whole chicken once a month, and maybe- when you feel more comfortable- a duck).
posted by TheBones at 6:50 PM on October 17, 2010

The BBB near me sells All-Clad by the piece, although they don't have the selection that a place like Sur La Table or Williams-Sonoma has. I will be the umpteenth person to recommend the AC stainless cookware to you, because it's amazing. The youngest piece of AC I have is now ten years old (I have about six pieces of it, from a Dutch oven to a small saucier, back when I was making tech-writer rather than grad-student wages), and it still looks like it just came from the store. I cook a lot and the All-Clad pots and pans I have still don't really look like they've been used. I fully expect this stuff will outlive me.

(Also, I've put mine in the dishwasher without any problems.)
posted by heurtebise at 6:51 PM on October 17, 2010

Wusthoff knives. A big chef's knife or a santoku knife, a bread knife, a paring knife, and some kind of sharpener should be all you need.
posted by pittsburgher at 6:56 PM on October 17, 2010

I found Alton Brown's Gear For Your Kitchen super helpful when I was choosing my cookware. And I ultimately went with the Calphalon Contemporary Stainless line and registered individual pieces instead of a set.

Also, I picked some two-loop (less expensive) pieces over their more expensive handled versions.
posted by mrsshotglass at 7:06 PM on October 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

I love this roaster:

and this peeler:
(it has made peeling veggies a pleasure, seriously!)
posted by beyond_pink at 7:09 PM on October 17, 2010

I haven't used the Tramontina brand, but this rigorous review by Serious Eats seems to indicate that its performance is nearly as good as All-Clad, at a fraction of the price.
posted by misformargaret at 8:44 PM on October 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

i second going somewhere else to register for cookware. if people want to buy something 'lower level,' they may not want to go to bed bath and beyond at all; we registered there and at target to give a wide range of 'level' comfort.

if there's a set you know you like, leave it at bed,bath beyond and then put your individual pieces on wherever you can. even if someone doesn't know about the second registry, etc. at least they'll know what you want from the set and probably *somewhere* it can be got. i have to give props to bbbeyond on their return policy, so i won't say to drop them just based on the cookware.

our hard anodized calphalon set has been perfect in performance -- the first pot i started with is 12 yrs old and only becomes more comfortable to cook with. but totally not available to register for when i was looking....and i went to one of their huge stores in manhattan to do so. avoid non-stick anything like the plague -- no matter how careful we've been, there are scratches on everything that has the coating....
posted by Tandem Affinity at 9:17 PM on October 17, 2010

I can definately say what not to get--Caphalon.

Thank god they were a gift because I would have been really peeved I paid so much money for something that isn't non-stick. It's supposed to be non-stick but hell I can't even cook French toast in them w/out it turning into cement even with non-stick spray.

Total garbage.

Good luck in finding the pot of your dreams.
posted by stormpooper at 8:56 AM on October 18, 2010

Amazon, Amazon, Amazon.

I have my grandmother's Guardian Service Ware which is going on eighty years or so and I love it beyond all reason. Found FOUR pieces of it last weekend at Goodwill for thirteen dollars.

Friends who were not lucky enough to inherit Guardian swear by All-Clad.
posted by cyndigo at 10:49 AM on October 18, 2010

No love for T-fal here? I have T-fal sauce pans, skillets, and an absolutely indispensable dutch oven. I expect these items to be available at the estate sale after my death. Their site claims BB&B as a source, but not sure if they are available there a-la-carte. (As others have commented regarding All-Clad, go for the basic line--the fancier variants are of questionable value.)

As for the nonstick debate, please get thyself a big 'ole cast-iron skillet for scramblin' eggs and searing meats. Nothin like it, and easy to clean as well. Also good exercise hefting it about.

If you feel you absolutely must have a nonstick skillet for convenience's sake, buy an inexpensive one that you won't be hesitant to trash when the coating starts to come off, which they all do eventually.
posted by dust of the stars at 11:41 AM on October 18, 2010

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