Is expensive cookware worth it?

When to Spend

While not all of us can have all of the cookware we want, many of us can have some of it. Which pieces you invest in has a lot to do with the type of cooking you do.

For instance, do you love to braise? If so, you definitely want to spend on a braising pan, since hot spots can really ruin your work. A braising pan with a heating core that extends up the sides for even cooking is worth the money.

If you sauté every night, a pan with excellent conductivity is essential, because rapid temperature adjustments are so important in this type of cooking. While aluminum is a great conductor, it's not a high-quality metal. But a stainless steel pan with an aluminum core gives you the benefits of a tough exterior along with superior heat conduction. Stainless steel with a coat of copper on the underside is also a great way to go.

You can feel secure spending here.

For sauces, both temperature control and non-reactivity are fairly essential -- and if you cook a lot of sauces, chances are you're pretty into your food. So upgrade here. The stainless steel with a copper bottom or aluminum core will do you well.

And then there are the times when, for you, the splurge may not really be worth it …

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