When you are shopping for cookware, you will come across a broad spectrum of prices for the same sized pot or pan. For a set, you will have those that cost around $50 for more than 10 pieces and you also have those that cost over $1,000 for the same number of items. So, what is the difference between cheap and expensive cookware? Is it worth it to invest in a better cookware? Let’s explore this in further detail to enable you to arrive at a better buying decision.
Differences Between Cheap vs Expensive Cookware
There are, of course, key differences in this two types of cookware:
- Material – The material used to make the cookware will certainly have a bearing on the price. For example, a copper pan will generally cost you a lot more than an aluminum one. Copper is known for its superior heat conductivity and professionals use it because it can give you very precise heat with no hot spots unlike other types of cookware. Even for cookware with the same material, there are also different grades used and this reflects on the price.
- Construction – With research and technology comes the different ways a cookware can be constructed. For instance, a stainless steel pan may have different layers in its construction. Commonly, there is the tri-ply whereby an aluminum core is sandwiched between two layers of stainless steel. For this, the Duxtop Whole-Clad Tri-Ply comes to mind. But now, there are also 5-ply and even 7-ply pots and pans whereby different elements are added into the mix to give more optimal cooking results.
- Coating – For nonstick cookware, the coating could play a role in determining the quality and hence, the price. A smoother and more scratch-resistant coating like the one used by the Anolon Advanced Bronze set would generally cost you more than one which is less durable.
- Overall quality – Expensive cookware will generally be better made overall with attention also given to the details. For instance, the handles could be sturdier and the lids a better fit.
Is Expensive Cookware Worth It?
Some people believe in buying expensive pots and pans. To them, price is a determinant of quality and they feel a more expensive cookware will be more durable and will give them a more pleasant user experience such as ease of cleaning, less sticky surface and using less heat.
But on the other end of the spectrum are people who think cheap cookware can also be as good as the more expensive ones. After all, it is not the cookware that you use that will determine the quality of your cooking, but it is your cooking skills that make that difference.
So, which should you choose? A cheap or expensive cookware? Well, high end cookware will be worth it if:
- It’s durable -Durability here refers to stainless steel, cast iron and other types of cookware that usually last for years. Comparatively, nonstick cookware don’t last as long and as such, it makes little sense to spend so much on something that needs to be replaced after a short period of time. Even top range brands have problems with interior coating that peels and flakes. So, if you have money to spend, invest in types of cookware that have proven to last.
- It’s function you are after – Go for function over style to avoid disappointment. Some people buy cookware for the looks and display the pieces in their kitchen. The Paula Deen Savannah Collection comes to mind when it comes to style. But even expensive cookware could lose their shine and show stains after a while. If you are particular about the style and looks, you are probably better off with mid-range pieces that are more economical to replace after they show signs of wear and tear.
- You know what you are getting – While an expensive pan may be well made and of good quality, it doesn’t mean you will like using it. So, before you buy, check it out closely in a store. Lift it up and feel it in your hands. Is it too heavy? Does the handle feel right in your hands? Is the lid a good fit? In other words, a high end cookware is only worth it if you enjoy cooking with it.
- You have experience – There are people who think that high end cookware means trouble-free cooking. It is not, especially when you are switching from one type of cookware to another. For instance, you cannot expect a stainless steel pan to perform like a nonstick. So, a $200 stainless steel pan is only worth it if you have experience cooking with stainless steel and you know you will like this type of cookware.
- You will use it often – There is no point in buying a $300 pot if it hardly gets used. If you do not have the funds for the whole set, pick one or two pieces that you will cook with everyday and look for the better brands for those. Cooking can be more enjoyable if you like your cookware and they perform up to your expectations.
Does Cheap Cookware Has A Place?
Yes, cheap pots and pans still have a place in the kitchen because they do have their own special advantages. Generally, cheap cookware like the Concord 7-piece stainless steel are lightweight pieces and they are a good fit for those with weak arms and arthritis. They are also perfect starter sets for teenagers if you cannot trust them with your more expensive cookware.
Since it does not cost a lot to replace, you can also subject it to rougher treatment compared to your top end piece like washing it immediately after cooking rather then waiting for it to cool, dumping it into the dishwasher and using metal utensils. Basically, you will be less inclined to take care of it like you would an expensive piece that using it could feel a lot easier.
The disadvantage is because they are generally thin pieces, food tend to get burned easily. They are also more easily dented because of the thin construction. But most importantly, cheap cookware carries a safety risk, especially those from unknown brands. You don’t know what kind of materials is used to make the cookware and you could be ingesting harmful chemicals, especially for nonstick pieces with interior coating that flakes.
While not everyone can afford expensive cookware, you can still settle for cheap ones that has an established presence in the market. For example, the T Fal Initiatives isn’t perfect but it is highly affordable and comes with a reputable brand name.