T-fal Ultimate Stainless Steel Copper-Bottom Cookware – An Affordable ‘Touch of Copper’
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Let’s face it.
When you think of stainless steel cookware, T-fal is not the first name that comes to mind. T-fal is best known for affordable non-stick cookware. After all, they take the credit for pioneering the whole non-stick cookware category when they marketed the first non-stick frying pan in 1956.
So when it came time to review T-fal stainless steel cookware, I didn’t know what to expect. Or where to begin.
T-fal offers a wide range of stainless steel cookware, each designed to suit a different budget and desired performance level. For the purposes of this review, I’m going to focus on the T-fal Ultimate Stainless Steel Copper-Bottom Cookware Set.
This is a 13 piece set which includes:
- 1-quart saucepan with lid
- 2-quart saucepan with lid
- 3-quart saucepan with lid
- 5-quart stew pot with lid
- 8-inch fry pan
- 10.5-inch fry pan
- 12-inch fry pan with lid
WHAT IS IT MADE OF?
This copper bottomed stainless steel cookware is made of a multi-layer stainless steel construction. The base has a thick-gauge aluminum core sandwiched between two layers of stainless steel, along with a copper disc on the bottom for better heat conductivity. T-fal describes the copper bottom as ‘heat channels’ at the base of the pots and you can see it in the visuals provided.
Now if you’re wondering what gauge means, it refers to the thickness of the metal and is an indication of the quality of the cookware. Heavy gauge means the pans will be able to deliver even heat without warping with usage.
The advantage of this multi-layer of aluminum and copper is that the pans will heat up very quickly and evenly, without using as much high heat as you normally would in cooking.
It is important to note that the copper is ONLY present as a thin disc on the bottom of the pans and not up the sides. This is what allows this set to be affordable while still imparting some of the heat conducting properties of copper. If you are looking for a copper clad (i.e. on the base and up the sides) this is not the set for you. You are better off with an All Clad Copper Core set.
WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE?
I have to admit, the stainless steel cookware set is one good looking set. The pots have a good weight to them, giving them a solid feel. The interior is brushed stainless steel and the exterior is a brushed and polished stainless steel which gives the set its contemporary and sophisticated look. The copper grooves at the bottom are an added touch, both functionally and aesthetically.
The lids are glass and the rims of the saucepans are slightly flared. A really useful feature of these pans is that it has liquid volume marks inside the saucepans.
WHAT ABOUT THE HANDLES?
T-fal Ultimate Stainless Steel Copper-Bottom Cookware has riveted stainless steel handles which are designed to provide a secure and comfortable grip. They are also easy to clean and don’t get hot if you cook according to instructions, which is medium low heat and the right sized burner. If, however you do cook on high heat specially for a longer time, they can get hot, so be sure to use pot holders to remove them.
What I like about the handles is that they are sturdy and solid, adding a nice heft to the lids.
WHAT ABOUT THE LIDS? IS THERE ONE FOR EACH PAN?
I’m a big fan of glass lids so I was delighted to find that this T-fal stainless steel cookware set has them. Not only do they look good (to me at least) but it also allows you to look at the food without releasing all the steam. Each lid also has a vented hole which lets excess steam escape. This prevents a vacuum from forming so the lids always come off when you want.
Note: If glass lids is not your thing or you worry about shattering a glass lid, then you would be better off with a set with stainless steel lids. Consider another set like Cuisinart MultiClad Pro.
If you’re wondering about the lids and whether each pan has a lid that will fit, here’s the deal: The lid of one of the saucepans fits the smaller fry pan. However, when it comes to the larger 10.5 inch fry pan, there is no lid that fits well. You can use the lid from the stew pot but it is a bit smaller than the width of the pan.
CAN YOU USE THESE IN THE OVEN?
Yes. T-fal Ultimate Stainless Steel Copper-Bottom Cookware pans can be used in the oven with the lids up to 500 F. This is a great feature as it means you can sear something on the stove and finish in the oven or just put the pans in the oven to keep food warm.
WHAT ABOUT THE BROILER?
Yes, these pans are safe to be used under the broiler, especially since the handles are stainless steel without any silicon cover. Just make sure you use oven mitts to remove the pots!
IS IT DISHWASHER SAFE?
According to the manufacturer, these pans are dishwasher safe, however they do recommend hand washing. Many users report washing in the dishwasher with no issue but some also comment that the pans get whitish spots after a dishwasher cycle (which are easily removed by a vinegar rinse). Even T-fal says that while the pans are dishwasher safe, “….stainless steel EXTERIOR finishes may discolor and become dull due to the abrasive nature of dishwasher detergents”.
As always, as the Cookware Advisor, I would recommend washing any cookware by hand. All you have to do is soak the pans in soapy water and then wash with a nylon or soft scrubby and everything comes right off.
CAN IT BE USED WITH INDUCTION COOK TOPS?
Yes, the T-fal Ultimate Stainless Steel Copper-Bottom Cookware set can be used on induction stoves along with any other kind of stovetop.
DOES IT INCLUDE A WARRANTY?
Yes, it comes with the usual limited lifetime warranty against defects and workmanship.
WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING
This set has a lot of satisfied users. It’s a top choice, according to Goodhousekeeping.com, whether you cook on gas, electric, or induction.
Many people are pleasantly surprised as they weren’t expecting to get such good pans at such a reasonable price. One user who researched a lot before buying said that this set is as good, if not better, than sets that cost double of this one!
Others were happy with the even heat distribution and how there was no need to use high heat as the pans heated up quickly.
And almost unanimously, users reported that the set maintains its shiny, beautiful appearance even after months or years of use.
Overall, these pans are highly recommended for the daily/frequent home cook who wants the durability and performance of good stainless steel pans without breaking the bank.
ARE THERE ANY COMPLAINTS?
Most users love their T-fal Ultimate Stainless Steel Copper-Bottom Cookware set. There are some minor complaints which really are more ‘nice to haves’ and not deal breakers by any means.
- The most common complaint is not even complaint, it’s a wish that the lid of the pot fit the medium skillet perfectly (it’s a bit smaller). Let’s be honest, at that price, the set already gives great value for money and as one user said : “You can’t have everything”.
- Handles can get hot but only with extended cooking. Nothing that a good set of potholders won’t solve!
- The copper plating at the bottom gets discoloured after use. That’s something to be expected and can be restored with any non-chlorine cleaner like Bar Keepers Friend. T-fal warns not to use oven cleaners, bleach or harsh scouring pads.
If you’re looking for cookware that is affordable yet has a ‘touch of copper’, then T-fal Ultimate Stainless Steel Copper-Bottom Cookware offers great value for money.
It is durable, quick to heat, thanks to the multi layers of aluminum and copper, and looks sophisticated.
With T-fal, you can be sure you are getting decent quality at an affordable price.
The Cookware Advisor gives it a seal of approval.
WHERE CAN YOU BUY IT?
I found that the best price for the T-fal Ultimate Stainless Steel Copper-Bottom Cookware is on Amazon.