Great value stainless steel tri-ply cookware?
November 29, 2016 9:31 AM   Subscribe

I'm look for some really nice and good value stainless steel tri-ply clad cookware. I'm replacing my old worn out teflon-coated nonstick pots and pans. I want tri-ply cookware that cooks evenly, is very sturdy, and can go in the oven and the dishwasher without problems.

Ideally this cookware would last me decades if not more. I cook dinner every night for my family. I regularly use a couple of large saucepans, a large saute pan / stir fry pan, and a frying pan.

I'm currently eyeballing the Kirkland Costco 13-piece set and also the Tramontina sets from Walmart. I briefly looked at All-Clad but it seems too expensive for the value. I'd like to spend less than $300. Do you have any recommendations?
posted by FelineoidEntity to Food & Drink (20 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
If "go in the oven" doesn't include the broiler, I really like the Calphalon Select line. Great value, comfortable silicone handles, super sturdy. Cheap at Target.
posted by advicepig at 9:51 AM on November 29, 2016

I tend to trust The Sweethome and Serious Eats when it comes to these things.
posted by Aizkolari at 9:52 AM on November 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

I have a set of the Tramontina stainless cookware and it seems like good stuff. I think they have more than one series, so you might want to do your homework first.

Cooks fine, solidly made, shines up nicely with a little bit of Bar Keeper's Friend.
posted by Nerd of the North at 9:58 AM on November 29, 2016

Repeating an answer from a previous thread, which you may also want to check out:

I put my Calphalon Tri-ply through its paces and it's still going strong. Bed Bath & Beyond has a smaller set and a larger set, plus additional pieces you can buy separately. I have the smaller set plus a few add-ons, and I use everything--I don't think there were any useless fillers. They range in the $50-130 per piece, and about $300ish for the set, iirc. Solid stuff. It goes in the oven and dishwasher.
posted by Liesl at 10:25 AM on November 29, 2016

My current tri-ply lineup:

Cuisinart MCP33-24HN MultiClad Pro Stainless 3-1/2-Quart Saute

this is my "daily driver" saute pan. It cooks evenly and is pretty easy to handle. It was less than $100 when I got it and is below $50 now. I wish it was a tad bigger in diameter but that's my only reservation.

All-Clad 4112 Stainless Steel Tri-Ply Bonded Dishwasher Safe Fry Pan

great, general purpose fry pan, cooks evenly and handles well. It's bit on the spendy side, but is a really solid pan.

T-fal C836SC Ultimate Stainless Steel Copper Bottom Cookware Set

I use the both the sauce pans out of this set quite a bit, and they are fine and do a good job but the rest of the set went to goodwill since I never used them.

I also have a Costco Kirkland Signature stockpot that's been great and has a thick enough bottom to avoid scorching. I can't find mine on the costco website anymore. but this Tramontina one looks very similar
posted by Dr. Twist at 10:28 AM on November 29, 2016

Vollrath is the brand I've used in every commercial kitchen I've ever worked in. The Vollrath Tribute line is triple-ply, ridiculously durable, oven-safe, dishwasher-safe, and a third the price of comparable All-Clad cookware. Be aware you'll need to purchase your lids separately (though you don't necessarily need the Tribute lids -- I believe you can mix-and-match with their cheaper lids). Depending on the specific pan sizes you want, you can definitely assemble yourself a nice set for $300-ish.

As for frying pans ... I do like having a couple of teflon-coated frying pans around the kitchen for eggs and such, but I regard them as essentially disposable because the teflon finish always dies long before the pan itself. If you're going to go with something teflon, you might as well save yourself a few bucks and go with a cheaper model -- Vollrath has them at several price points. Personally, I favor this type with the slip-off silicone handle, but there are even cheaper models available. Alternately, you could invest in a cast-iron skillet -- a 12" skillet will run you under $40, and it will last for generations with proper care.
posted by ourobouros at 10:46 AM on November 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

I've had a set of the Cuisinart Multi-Clad for almost 10 years, and I totally abuse it, and it's still like new.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 10:53 AM on November 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

About five years ago the Costco set was very, very heavy. Like, good thing it comes with a handle because only men with a firm grip will be able to hold it one-handed. Specifically, it is too heavy to sauté in the literal sense (where the food in the pan is jumping without the aid of a spoon). Also the lids were curved and didn't permit you to stack the pots easily. Durable, though. Not sure if the current set is the same.
Do you have a Costco Business near you? They carry restaurant-grade cookware which is guaranteed to perform well in stovetop/oven/broiler/microwave. It may not be as aesthetically pleasing, but it will last. About fifteen years ago I bought a Sitram Profiserie pan there and have used it probably every other day. I've taken it out of a 500F degree oven and poured cold wine into it, sent it through the dishwasher many times, and it's in excellent condition. It's rated up to 1000F, for induction stovetops. It's not technically a full tri-ply, it has single-layer stainless sides and an aluminum/stainless sandwich on the bottom, but I find that gives much better performance because the heft of the pan is where it's needed. Currently it's very pricey on-line (lid is sold separately) but you may be able to get it at a restaurant supply store.
My sister has a Cuisinart set that's pretty good.
posted by wnissen at 11:02 AM on November 29, 2016

Consider buying individual pieces instead of a set. Inevitably the sets contain random offbeat pans that are less than useful or useful pans in less-than-useful sizes. Beware 'three layer' pans that have only a single layer of stainless on the sides - the whole point of the aluminum core is to bring heat up and around the food, so if it's only on the bottom, then you are missing out. Also beware comically arched/bulbous lids with oversize handles that look impressive but only serve to eat space in your cabinets.

Re: All-Clad and 'value' - all I can say is that I've had a stockpot and a small saucepan and a saute pan of theirs (the mc2 line I think) for almost 20 years now and they are rock-solid. They still look great & work like no one's business - and I work them, believe me.
posted by gyusan at 11:17 AM on November 29, 2016

My Farberware classic pans are 38 years old. The handles are starting to show wear, but they're otherwise in perfect shape.
posted by FencingGal at 11:18 AM on November 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

Have you looked at IKEA's products? Their new high end line looks good, with a 25 year guarantee, and I'd guess this is a field where they might be doing very well, because Sweden has a long tradition for great steel cookware. There are more products in this series. I don't have a lot of three-ply, but what I have, I bought in Sweden (a short 30 mins from here). I also bought my favorite carbon steel skillet there, for a crazy 6 dollars. This was 21 years ago, and it shows no sign of dying. For your stove-top to oven uses, you might find carbon steel far better than three-ply. Not for the dishwasher, but after a short while where the seasoning hardens up, cleaning is no problem, I just use a soft sponge and a little detergent and it needs no scrubbing or soaking ever. I have a lot of teflon still, but comparing the durability and usefulness of teflon with my carbon steel and cast iron pans, the teflon will be replaced eventually. I don't like three-ply much for frying.
posted by mumimor at 11:51 AM on November 29, 2016

Tramontina, absolutely, and I'm fairly certain the Kirkland line is secret Tramontina as well. Got mine for our wedding in 2004 and I've blackened the bottoms with my array of gas and crappy electric stoves but they are otherwise pristine, dentless, tight-handled, and I don't anticipate ever replacing them unless there is some kind of serious revolution in cookware material science.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:15 PM on November 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

I have this set of the Cuisinart Multi-Clad Pro.

I've had it for coming up on 10 years now, and it's going strong. Light wear, but no damage to speak of. I like the metal lids (rather than glass) because that allows the pots and pans to go in the oven without temperature restrictions. The rolled edges mean you can pour without making a horrid mess. While the pots and pans in that set may not constitute 100% of what you'll ever need, there are no useless pieces in there and they cover a hell of a lot. Basically with this and one nonstick skillet in which to cook eggs, you're close to set. (I also use a cast iron skillet a LOT, but YMMV)

In my older pots, which had the tri-ply disk bottom but were not tri ply up the sides, I always got a ring of burned stuff around the top edge of the disk. That stopped the day I switched to these.
posted by telepanda at 12:38 PM on November 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

I love the Cuisinart multi-clad tri-ply cookware. I've had a few of their pans for years and they're still cooking. I bought mine individually, though, because I use cast-iron for a lot of my cooking, so I can't speak for the set as a whole.
posted by kerning at 12:41 PM on November 29, 2016

The Tramontina Walmart set is an exceptional value if you can stomach buying from Walmart. It's less of a deal bought elsewhere, though holiday sales may make it reasonable. It's mostly made up of smaller pots and pans, so it's more appropriate for cooking for two than a family, so it may not line up with your needs.

Make sure that you look at the ones that are full tri-clad - some of them are only tri-clad on the bottom and won't heat up the sides as evenly.
posted by Candleman at 12:45 PM on November 29, 2016

I also got rid of my teflon except for one egg pan. I have that Costco/Kirkland stainless steel set and I love it. It's clear at this point that it's easily going to last a decade. If I have a complaint, it's that the outsides are really shiny and tend to get scratched up. We use them constantly, and the cooking surfaces are perfect after a few years. Highly recommended.
posted by cnc at 3:30 PM on November 29, 2016

Tramontina tri-ply, no question. Great pans, very reasonably priced.
posted by ssg at 5:53 PM on November 29, 2016

The MultiClad set I have is this one: Cuisinart MCP-12N Multiclad Pro Stainless Steel 12-Piece Cookware Set

I use all the pieces at least 3 times a week except the big pot and strainer, but we do use that too. The only thing I use in addition to this set is a large cast-iron frying pan for bacon and such. I soak them for days, throw them in the dishwasher, and burn things and they're still just fine almost a decade after I got them. And, that set is on mega-sale on Amazon right now so I think it's well worth buying the set rather than individual pieces.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 5:42 AM on November 30, 2016

Vollrath, Vollrath, Vollrath. As ourobouros said, Tribute is their full tri-ply line. They are primarily a commercial brand, which is a good thing if your goal is to buy a good and seriously durable tool for a fair price.
posted by musicinmybrain at 5:50 AM on November 30, 2016

Thank you for all your replies. I ended up buying Costco's Kirkland clad try-ply set of 13 and it's fantastic.
posted by FelineoidEntity at 8:58 PM on December 17, 2016

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