Best affordable cookware set?

I have pots and pans with mismatched lids etc etc

29 Answers

  • Chemicalkinetics Mar 22, 2021

    First, I am not a big supporter for cookware set because different materials/construction designs are good for different cookware. For example, a cast iron skillet is really nice for searing steaks, while a nonstick pan is good for eggs.

    • madeliner Mar 22, 2021


      I so appreciate the links-good advice on what is good quality and affordable even if I don’t buy the whole set(s)

      will look for the brands

      • Chemicalkinetics Mar 22, 2021

        The Tramontina set is very affordable, so you can always get it as a back up cookware — assuming you have the space and the extra money. If money is tight, then don’t worry about it.

        <I am just looking for few nice pots and pans that can sit on the stove or put in the oven in various sized>

        For pots, stainless steel cladded pots are always a safe choice. They are nonreactive, and relatively easy to clean and can be put in a dishwasher. Disc bottom stainless steel cladded pots are usually cheaper than fully cladded pots. For pots, either disc bottom or fully cladded will work.

        Nonstick pots are also nice. They are also nonreactive and easy to clean. The aluminum base of the nonstick pot allows for nice heat transfer. The nonstick coating may not last a long time for pans, but these pots will last a long time for pots (where the temperature won’t be too high).

        Make sure there are no plastic components on the pots, so you can put them in the oven.

        For example, something like these:……

        For pans, stainless steel is still a good safe choice. It can handle relatively high heat, and nonreactive to foods, but foods tend to stick on stainless steel surface. Also, here I recommend looking for fully cladded stainless steel pans. I would also look at carbon steel pans. Carbon steel has some strong advantages and some considerations. Carbon steel pans can handles high heat, and at the same time, almost as nonstick as Teflon pans. However, they require seasoning process and the seasoned surface is unstable under acidic solution.

        For example:…

        • Eager6 Mar 23, 2021

          The Tramontina 10 pc “AllClad” knock-off cookware set is “the bomb” (it’s good). I needed/wanted to effectively “start over” with my cookware recently, so I got that after some study, and first wanting to buy one high quality peice at a time. It’s awesome. I use every peice in the set all the time. There are no “dud” peices. And each peice has a good lid. I’m really happy with that set.
          You have to order it on-line. I had it sent to nearby walmart. I think I saved on shipping this way. They email when it’s in, and you then go to a desk in the back of walmart and they give you a big box.
          Look! It’s the 10-pc set is less that $200 right now, and you may not even have to pay shipping. An unbelievable deal. The AllClad 12 qt stock pot costs $330 ALONE!

          I also have a 6.5 qt Tramontina (Le Crueset knock off) enameled dutch oven that is a must have, and that I use lot. I also have a cheap non-stick fry pan for makin crepes and stuff that I don’t want really oily or to stick, which I consider also a must have. And I have a old lodge cast iron fry pad, which is good to have.

          • Sid Post Mar 24, 2021

            The Tramontinia set with the enameled Dutch oven has tempted me a few times. While I don’t need it, I would certainly buy it for newlyweds or a niece/nephew moving out of the family home for the first time.

            • Chemicalkinetics Mar 24, 2021

              I really think Tramontina is a very smart company. Maybe even too smart for some consumers. It is probably the only brand will set mix set like you said. I wonder how many consumers appreciate this.

              Like you said, this set has an enameled cast iron Dutch oven:


              There used to be a set with one bare cast iron skillet mixed with the fully triply set.

            • Chemicalkinetics Mar 24, 2021

              <The Tramontina 10 pc “AllClad” knock-off cookware set is “the bomb” (it’s good)>

              🙂 I appreciate the “It’s good”. While I most certainly will read it as a positive comment, I can also understand it can be interrepted as bad. “It is the bomb” vs “It bombed”

              <The AllClad 12 qt stock pot costs $330 ALONE!>

              Yeah, I know. Like most things in life, the improvement you get by putting in more money is mariginally less and less. I think the Tramontina triply set is not a bad set for people to start with. One can gradually add in/substitue more expensive pieces, but one has to start somewhere, and the Tramontina set is a good place to start.

              • GH1618 Mar 24, 2021

                It’s true that the A-C stock pots are a poor value, but they are not representative. Only someone obsessed with having a matching set would buy such a stock pot. A cost-conscious consumer buys only a particular piece when it seems the right choice at a reasonable price.

                • INDIANRIVERFL Mar 24, 2021

                  I must be obsessed. I have a 40 Qt All-clad stock pot.

                  • GH1618 Mar 24, 2021

                    There’s nothing remotely close to that size on the A-C website, so I expect they didn’t sell many large pots. What line is it and how old, if I may ask?

                    • INDIANRIVERFL Mar 24, 2021

                      Back in the 70’s All-clad sold only through restaurant supply stores. Our neighbor owned one and gladly sold to those who wanted it. The factory also got rid of their bent, broken, returned items once a year. Mom called me and asked if I wanted a 40 Qt or 60 Qt or both. They were like $20 each. Probably less.

                      They would try and get rid of the failures which these were. The copper clad oval pans were also a bust. I got some great roasting pans that started as oval pans but they had a flaw before they attached the handles.

                      If you are looking for the original restaurant grade All-clad, there are three rivets in the handle and the rivets are made of aluminum. The handles will also be larger than present, and rusty. The handles for the stock pots are basically a bar of SS mashed flat on the ends and held in place with 4 rivets. This stuff was made for use, not display.

                      Something else you will be hard pressed to find is the pasta cooker with 4 inserts so you can cook 4 servings in one 20 Qt pot. Mom loves to shop and cannot pass up a bargain. I was the only guy I knew looking forward to birthdays and Christmas for the cookware I would be getting.

                      • GH1618 Mar 24, 2021

                        That’s different. I take it this is the original MC line, so it is an aluminum pot with SS lining. Is that right? That sounds like a bargain if you really need a 40 qt pot.

                        • INDIANRIVERFL Mar 24, 2021

                          You are correct. And if you have ever slung a 40 or 60Qt pot around the kitchen, you will understand why these heavier pots did not succeed with the trade.

                          Great for crab boils.

        • John E. Mar 22, 2021

          I normally usually agree with Chem about all things relating to cookware, but this time I’ll add my opinion. I too recommend the Tramontina Try Ply from Walmart but while knife sets are usually too much knife (knives) for too much money, I think this set of Tramontina has pans which will all get used, depending on your own cooking style of course. The link below is a set that includes a 12″ and 10″ skillet instead of 10″ and 8″ skillets. We switched from mostly non-stick to stainless steel like these several years ago and wish we had done it sooner. We still use three non-stick skillets occasionally, small, medium, and large.

          The 12″ Tramontina skillet is $50 alone without a lid if you buy it separately. The kettle is great for soup, pasta, etc. And the saucepans are handy as well. If you already have some pans you like, you might not need an entire set.

          • diamond dave Mar 23, 2021

            I too will agree w Chem on the Multi clad fm Cuisinart but later on add the 12″ fry pan AND the 6qt pot which is the one we use the most. Oh and one more thing, if you can get the Chefs Classic (Cuisinart) 1.5 qt saucepan w lid cause I have never seen a pan or tea kettle BOIL water faster.

            • GH1618 Mar 23, 2021

              I’m not keen on sets, either. I like to get a particular pan for a particular purpose, and I have pots and pans of several different construction types.

              As for multi-ply with stainless interior, I have a few of those, but I would not call them “affordable” (although clearly some people can afford them). $200 does not go very far buying multi-ply unless you get the lowest-end stuff, which I don’t advise. I do like my multi-ply saucier, one of my favorite pans. But my other pieces are a bit of an extravagance — I could do just as well for less money.

              Lately, I’ve been interested in Calphalon Commercial, which is anodized aluminum. I have one piece and may soon buy another. For comparison, they are selling their set of eight pots and pans plus five lids for $400, or an average of only $50 per pot or pan. These pans are affordable (especially the ones on special discount), and durable.

              But I suggest you first approach it more systematically. Decide what things you are most interested in cooking, and in what quantities. Then decide what types of pans will have the characteristics you need. That way you can optimize the use of your limited funds.

              • Eager6 Mar 23, 2021

                <As for multi-ply with stainless interior, I have a few of those, but I would not call them “affordable” (although clearly some people can afford them). $200 does not go very far buying multi-ply unless you get the lowest-end stuff, which I don’t advise. >

                Not true, anymore:



                • GH1618 Mar 23, 2021

                  That’s an interesting comparison. Thanks for the link. I happen to dislike SS frying pans, however, so even though I have and like my A-C, I don’t have any of their frying pans.

                  • Eager6 Mar 23, 2021

                    here’s another big comparison, where the tramontia “AllClad knock-off” compares very well to the very nice AllClad stuff:


                    • Sid Post Mar 24, 2021

                      Demeyere Atlantis/Proline skillets are really nice. The Calphalon Triply is a pretty good “cheap” skillet.

                      • Jay F Mar 24, 2021

                        Why do you dislike SS frying pans? Do you mean tri-ply in this case?

                        • GH1618 Mar 24, 2021

                          I mean SS-lined, whether tri-ply, bi-ply, or five-ply. It seems to me that some food sticks more readily. I do have a couple such pans — a sauté pan and a French skillet. But I only cook things in them which have liquid. I would never want one to fry an egg, as other materials seem better suited.

                          I used to sear chicken breasts in my French skillet, but they would stick. Now I sear in my steel grilling pan, then transfer to the SS skillet to finish (with other ingredients). More work, though.

                          My latest frying pan is anodized aluminum, which I am developing renewed appreciation for.

                          • Jay F Mar 24, 2021

                            I have found that when things stick to my All-Clad frypan, it’s because they’re not ready to let go yet, and I need to wait another couple of minutes.

                  • GH1618 Mar 23, 2021

                    If you do like tri-ply, though, this Tramontina set seems to fit your price range:


                    I have no experience with Tramontina, though. They have several lines, and this one may be made for Wal-Mart. I’m not recommending it, just correcting my statement that multi-ply tends not to be “affordable.”

                    • Sid Post Mar 24, 2021

                      I have some of this and it is really good cookware, especially when you consider the price. It’s also made in Brazil for those who want to avoid Chinese products.

                      • Jay F Mar 24, 2021

                        Does the tri-ply-ness go all the way up, or is it just on the bases?

                        • Chemicalkinetics Mar 24, 2021

                          Tramontina has both versions. In fact, there are two verison of disc bottom. One version of disc bottom is inexpensive — more inexpensive than its fully triply series. The other verison of disc bottom is more expensive than even the fully triply version.

                          This is the more expensive disc bottom line:


                          The one which people talk about most — and the one being discussed here, is the fully triply version.

                          • Jay F Mar 24, 2021

                            Thanks, Chem.

                            I’m looking for a tri-ply 4 quart casserole to replace 3.5 and 4.5 quart LC ovens. I like the one AC has. It’s essentially their 4 quart saucepan with two small handles instead of a long one. I have a small oven, and this handle issue is critical.

                            Tramontina has a 5 quart edition for $80, but it’s 13″ wide. I’d wanted something that fits right on top of my (small) burner without too much overhang. The AC is perfect in this dimension, too. I’ve found one for $130. I think they usually go for $169 or $189.

                        • Eager6 Mar 24, 2021

                          It IS made in China. It is clearly marked as such on the bottom of each piece. I have the 10-pc “All-Clad knock-off” set.

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