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Cookware - what to get my wife?

Jim_Piaszynski's picture

Help! I want to upgrade our pots and pans for my wife's birthday, but I have no idea as to what would be considered a quality set, and why. Right now we have a mix of whatever we had when we married, some good, some cheap.

What sort of pots and pans do you like? Any way to keep the set under $500? Thanks for the help!

Chiffonade_'s picture

(post #53658, reply #1 of 16)

People used to kid my husband (XH-1) that he was the only person they knew who could bring his wife a pot for her birthday and not have to dodge it on the way back. I think it's great you want to give your wife some new cookware...just be sure she wants it. (Expecting a diamond ring and getting even an
i All-Clad
set can be considered a disappointment.)

In your case, a set would be a good idea. Try to get one with no bullsh*t pieces (like a steamer insert). Check out All-Clad and Cuisinart sets. Calphalon pits and stains but a piece or two certainly couldn't hurt.
i The Chef's Catalogue
sometimes runs sales, or check the
catalogue. Their websites are and, respectively. Stay away from non-stick, augmenting the set later on if you need to.

Hope she enjoys it and you don't have to outrun any pieces after presenting the gift!

ExNYer_'s picture

(post #53658, reply #2 of 16)

I would highly recommend Scanpan 2000+. I know that it sounds like a TV Commercial brand, but they are some of the best pots that I have. There made in Denmark and have a Titanium Ceramic coating that makes them non-stick and you can use metal tools and never wear the coating off. You can buy them directly from the distributor at

CLS's picture

(post #53658, reply #3 of 16)

Jim, I absolutely love my Le Crueset pots. They aren't cheap, but they are so wonderful.

All-Clad is something I want to replace all my saute pans with.

Chiffonade_'s picture

(post #53658, reply #4 of 16)

CLS...I too love my Le Creuset. However, it helps to be Ms. Olympia at "lifting" time, especially with some of the larger pieces.

I love to do long-cooked stews in my Creuset - and sugar work. I find the heavy-bottomed pans are wonderful for this. Thank God for my biceps. ;)

MEAN_CHEF's picture

(post #53658, reply #5 of 16)

PCD is currently advertising a 9 piece All-Clad set for $479.99

EM_'s picture

(post #53658, reply #6 of 16)

Unless you do a lot of the cooking yourself, meaning more than 50% of it, it might be wise to let her pick out the cookware herself. Of course, if this is the case, the gift is really for the both of you rather than her birthday. ;-) My husband gave me a set once, and they turned out to be ones that I would never have picked. It's difficult to be gracious about a gift if it is something you really don't like. Someone is bound to get their feelings hurt. I didn't have a problem with getting cookware for Christmas, in fact had mentioned that it was time to replace pieces...just knew what I wanted along that line. BTW, I used what he bought, his heart was in the right place. There were a few grumbles until it was replaced again some years later, I'll have to admit...

Chiffonade_'s picture

(post #53658, reply #7 of 16)

Has she mentioned she wants new cookware? Dropped any names? If so, this is definitely a great gift. If she's been bucking for a trip to Hawaii (or Graceland) cookware probably won't be as well received.

I'm dying to know the tell us after the big day!!

Jim_Piaszynski's picture

(post #53658, reply #8 of 16)

Thanks for the help so far. My wife doesn't have and particular brand in mind, and we do need a new frying pan, so I thought I'd help her a little by giving her a high quality, low maintenance set of cookware.

What are the pros and cons of the non-stick all-clad? I think a non-stick frying pan is a must, while the rest of the pans can be stainless. Also, what's the best size for a frying pan? What kind of a pot is best for sauces, boiling pasta, etc? Help! I'm a rookie at this, and my wife deserves the best. Thanks!

EM_'s picture

(post #53658, reply #9 of 16)

Scroll down on this 'Kitchen equipment' folder and see the thread about "AllClad Recommendations". There's a lot of info there about non-stick, stainless, etc. AllClad is the best there is, IMO, and in the opinion of the pros here. I wasted my money buying nonstick on a 10 inch AllClad saute pan. Love the pan, but wish I had not bought non stick. The stainless doesn't stick anyway. ;-/

If I could have only three pots or pans, I would pick a 3 qt. sauce pan, a 10" skillet (cast iron), and an 6 qt. stock pot (as a home cook).

BUT...would want to add a couple of 2 qt. sauce pans, a 4 qt. sauce pan, an omelette pan, a stainless saute pan (3 qt.), several more cast iron skillets in various sizes, a 12 qt. stock pot, a LeCrueset oval 4 qt., ....and the list goes on.....;-)

chiqui_new_orleans's picture

(post #53658, reply #10 of 16)

All Clad.....Hands Down!!!!!!! I've found peices of it at TJMaxx way below retail!!!! Check them out first to see if they have any......Also, Chef's Catalogue has sales all the time and even "get Acquainted" 6 or 8 " skillets for $30.00!!!!!

I have several Circulon peices, too that I find a 12" WOK that I LOVE.....and a small skillet for omelets.

For Large roasters, oval roasters I like the Magnalite Professional....much like the Calphalon but much cheaper....mine are in constant use on a restaurant stove and are as good lookin' as the day after I got them!!!!! Lucky Wife.....Precious Husband....BTW...does she have a 12" black iron skillet and 10" black iron Grill pan?? Couldn't exist in a Southern Kitchen without these!!

Rebecca's picture

(post #53658, reply #11 of 16)

IA, EM (BTW, we loved your Chocolate-Sour Cream Pound Cake, DD made it for my birthday it ahd a lovely, soft crumb & was delicious!)

As for the cookware, maybe a gift certificate & a date to go choose would be good (if you mail-order from PCD or anywhere else, still go to a store to look in person). A big factor for me is the comfort/size of the pot/pan handles. Some of them are uncomfortable to hold and you can only tell if you check out all the pieces in person. This will be a wonderful gift! Great idea...

Chiffonade_'s picture

(post #53658, reply #12 of 16)

Jim - an entire set of non-stick cookware is definitely not necessary - there are actually drawbacks to it. Yes, augmenting the set with one individual nonstick saute pan is a good idea.

When one cooks in a pan intending to get the "browned bits" at the bottom of the pan so they can deglaze it to make a sauce, the "browned bits" never occur on a non-stick pan. You miss one important flavor step. The non-stick finish eventually wears out - and this happens in
i all
non-stick coated-types of pans. A high quality stainless steel set is the way to go. Stainless is a non-reactive metal (so tomato products and acids won't be affected by it). Go for an All-Clad set with no limited use pieces (like a steamer insert)
i and
augment the set with one non-stick frypan (All-clad has them too...).

As CLS said, Le Creuset is also wonderful - and even though it's cast iron, it's non-reactive because it's enamel coated. If your wife does not appreciate hefting very heavy pots, Creuset is probably not for her. Even empty - some of those pots are incredibly heavy. (I love mine!!)

CLS's picture

(post #53658, reply #13 of 16)

i my wife deserves the best

I like the way you think! (LOL)

You should have one non-stick skillet at least. You should have at least one 10" all-purpose skillet with 1 1/2 inch sides. You should have an omelet pan. You should have sauce pans in various sizes, pint, quart, 2 quart and 4 quart. You should have at least 1 SS stockpot - I like my 12 quart, it works great for all my big jobs.

I recommend the LeCrueset because I like to do things like roasts in them - I can brown the roast in the pan on top of the stove, then add wine, herbs and veg, put the lid on and stick it in the oven. No switching pans.

Personally, I don't care for non-stick with the exception of having one skillet. They don't brown things as well, IMO. Just my feeling, though. I'm sure lots of people disagree with me.

EM_'s picture

(post #53658, reply #14 of 16)

Glad you enjoyed it!

Jim_Piaszynski's picture

(post #53658, reply #15 of 16)

Thanks for all your assistance. At this point I'll go to some local shops to see what they have, and to learn the difference between a saucier, sauce pan, and saute pan.

I'll let you know how well the gift was received, and what I chose to give. Her birthday is in three weeks, so it will be a little while. For the record, she will get a little more than cookware, to help ensure that I wont have to deal with any "gift returns" to my head.

Thanks again for all the help!

nutcakes_'s picture

(post #53658, reply #16 of 16)

EM, this is a very good point. I was glad to get the Kitchen-Aid Pro Stand Mixer for xmas, but I really was not happy about getting the second bowl for Valentine's Day (I don't even expect a present for V-day). Especially since he ignored the discount coupon that would save $15.00 AND get my initials engraved on the bowl. That is aside from the point that I mentioned I wanted one.

I was happy, of course, and I was not overlooked, even though I (we) got two dozen roses, I would have like a piece of jewelry, even earrings that cost $100 would be better than a mixing bowl. I guess I have been dumb enough to act like I was happier with kitchen equip for a present.

Kitchen equip is for everyone who eats in the house. My advice is to buy her a gift AND then offer to shop together for the pots and pans.