I always enjoyed baking and cooking as a kid. There are plenty of memories swirling around in my head that involve my froggy-adorned kid-sized apron and helping my mom in the kitchen.
While I didn’t grow up to be a kitchenista of any sort, I still love whipping up new recipes or circling back to old favourites (many of which are written on cue cards in my mother’s handwriting, circa 1980), and having good cookware has been important to me for most of my adult life. I say most because in university, I was happy enough with a $20 Teflon-coated pan in which I cooked just about everything. (Side note: I wonder how much Teflon I’ve consumed?)
When we did our wedding registry, pots and pans were the first thing that went on our list. Unfortunately, we didn’t choose wisely and ended up with Swiss Diamond cookware; this load of baloney came with big promises to match its equally big price tag. But it didn’t deliver, nor did the customer service. I’ve been planning to write a complete review but I still need to calm down to be as objective as possible. To say we felt robbed by Swiss Diamond is an understatement.
Thanks to the incredible generosity of William Ashley, however, we ended up with a great Le Creuset stainless steel set. Yet if you’ve ever gone from non-stick to stainless, you know the transition is a hard one. Everything is much more well-oiled or -buttered now and the cleanup is a bit more labour-intensive.
So while I needed another pan like a hole in the head, when Circulon invited me to review a few pieces from its new cookware line, I thought I could at least provide a really good foundation for those of you thinking about what kind of cookware you want next. We received a covered straining stockpot (a.k.a. pasta pot), 12-inch skillet and the covered jumbo cooker.
What we love about stainless steel cookware that is historically the issue with non-stick cookware is the ability to use metal utensils when needed. A whisk, for example, isn’t something we have kicking around in silicone. Circulon cookware offers the best of both worlds: a non-stick surface that can handle metal utensils. Just note that using “sharp” metal utensils may void your warranty.
All of the Circulon pieces look great. Very sleek, very contemporary. Now, red happens to be the accent colour in my kitchen but who wouldn’t love the bright greeting of a red skillet cooking up a pound of bacon for Sunday brunch? Tell me, who? No one. That’s who.
These pieces will work on any type of stovetop — electric, gas and even induction.
They can go in the dishwasher. I repeat: THEY CAN GO IN THE DISHWASHER!
And unless you’re cooking on very high temperatures, Circulon cookware can go from stovetop to oven. This is great for keeping things warm or if you need to braise or sear meat but then let it cook internally at lower temperatures.
Everything we’ve cooked has been done evenly and exactly the way we intended.
I love the glass lids; they all fit extremely well and being able to watch a pot is every control freak’s dream. The stockpot gets a special shout-out here because the lid actually locks in place, which means when you need to strain out your excess water, you just tip it over with the lid on and you never have to worry about it falling into the sink, breaking and filling your dinner with shards of glass. I’d call that a good thing. (This lid is truly what makes the pasta pot my favourite piece in the Circulon lineup AND in my entire cookware collection).
All of the Circulon cookware we’ve tested (and we’ve been using them for months now) has remained non-stick, scratch-free and is incredibly easy to clean — use after use.
We’ve also pushed the limits in terms of cooking temps, pan-frying and boiling water on extremely high heats just to see if any flaking would occur. We’ve seen no such flaking but will definitely update this review in a year’s time should any occur. You probably don’t want to cook beyond medium-high since it may impact your warranty, though.
Pricewise, I find Circulon quite reasonable. That said, you’ll get a steal of a deal if you buy a whole set (as I look at the 11-piece hard anodized set online, it’s 70 per cent off and only $199.99*). But if you just need a pot here or a pan there, 12-inch skillets (griddles, pans, whatever you want to call them) are in the $100 range, while the jumbo cooker (which doubles for me as a wok) and pasta pot are about $170 each. This is MUCH less than our old Swiss Diamond cookware and even slightly less than our Le Creuset pieces. The way I see it is this: if the cheaper non-stick pans cost an average of $30, but you have to replace them annually, then even if the Circulon skillet gives you just five years, you’ve saved $50 — not to mention all that time going to and from stores to buy new skillets!
The handles on the pasta pot and all of the lids get extremely hot, barring you from picking them up with anything less than very good oven mitts. It would be great if these were silicone-coated so you could use your bare hands. The pan handle isn’t too bad if you’re cooking at low to medium temperatures.
I’m not a huge fan of the clear silicone (glue?) that sits between the rivets and handles. I think there could be a more seamless look here that matches with the otherwise upscale appearance of the Circulon cookware pieces.
So…where can you get it?
- Available exclusively at Canadian Tire
*Apologies if by the time you read this, the sale is over. However, sales come along all the time, so keep watching!