The Tramontina 8-piece 18/10 Stainless Steel TriPly-Clad Cookware Set is the best value we've seen in stainless cookware. It has the durable construction, even heating and lifetime warranty that are hallmarks of much more expensive sets. The stainless cooking surface offers superior browning, although it lacks the convenience and easy cleanup of nonstick cookware. Also, its smallish pans may not be ideal for larger families.
The Tramontina cookware's performance rivals that of much more expensive sets. In tests conducted by one foodie magazine, it offered the same slow, even heating found in the much pricier All-Clad Tri-Ply Stainless 10-piece Cookware Set (*Est. $700). Like the All-Clad set, this cookware has tri-ply construction, with a core of aluminum sandwiched between two layers of stainless steel. The pans are also fully clad, meaning that the aluminum core extends all the way up the sides of each pan. This construction helps with heat retention and even distribution.
Shoppers at Walmart.com (the only site that sells the Tramontina cookware set) wax lyrical about its performance. "Browning is amazing … and the food is excellent," says one. A few users are frustrated that food tends to stick and scorch, but a more experienced user explains this happens because stainless cookware requires use with a lower heat setting. The user also suggests being aware of the appropriate amount of oil and flipping meats at the proper time to best avoid sticking.
Small pans make these pans less user-friendly. The editors of Cook's Illustrated say the ideal set should have 10- and 12-inch skillets, 2- and 4-quart saucepans, and a 6-to-7-quart Dutch oven. This set, by contrast, features 8- and 10-inch skillets, 2- and 3-quart saucepans and a 5-quart Dutch oven. Some owners at Walmart.com say they use all the pots often, but others complain that they are "not practical for cooking more than single servings." However, a more common complaint among users concerns the pan handles, which are very narrow making it difficult to hold a pan with one hand while pouring or washing. An additional design issue is the straight edges of the pans that also lend to pouring dribbles. Another complication of the long, narrow handles is that the smallest saucepan can tip easily, especially when empty. On the plus side, the handles do stay cool during cooking, a feature that users like.
Users love the Tramontina cookware's mirror shine. We read multiple reviews raving that these pans "look great on the pot rack"; indeed, one user explains, "one of the main reasons I purchased these pots was for the look." However, several users complain that it takes some "babying" to maintain this shiny finish. Although the pans are dishwasher-safe, one user suggests drying the pots by hand to maintain their look. Others complain that the pans quickly develop a brownish discoloration with use, which requires some serious scrubbing to remove. The manufacturer notes that "prolonged exposure to high heat settings may cause your cookware to discolor" and recommends a cleaner called Bar Keepers Friend (*Est. $3 for a 12-ounce can) to remove the stains.
For their price, the Tramontina pans are astonishingly well made. They are reasonably but not uncomfortably heavy, and their riveted handles are sturdy. Their outer surface is made of 18/10 stainless steel, an alloy containing 18 percent chromium and 10 percent nickel. The high nickel content helps the pots resist corrosion and maintain their shine. (Many cheaper stainless cookware sets are made with "100 percent stainless steel," which contains no nickel. Reviews of these sets tend to include many complaints from users about pitting and staining of the surface.) In more than 300 user reviews, we did not see any durability complaints, although one user does say that the set was damaged upon delivery. In the event that any problems develop, the set is backed by a lifetime warranty. However, like many manufacturers, Tramontina requires the consumer cover shipping costs for cookware repairs or replacement.
1. Cook's Illustrated Magazine
Review Credibility: Very Good In this review, editors narrow the wide selection of cookware on the market to six sets that offer what they consider the most useful pieces. The Tramontina 8-piece 18/10 Stainless Steel TriPly-Clad Cookware Set goes up against much pricier sets from brands like All-Clad and Calphalon. In addition to cooking tests, reviewers consider the cookware's construction, the weight of the pans and whether the handles get hot.
Review: Cookware Sets, Editors of Cook's Illustrated magazine, May 1, 2009
Review Credibility: Good The Tramontina 8-piece 18/10 Stainless Steel TriPly-Clad Cookware Set receives about 350 reviews from users at Walmart.com, the only site that sells this cookware set. Overall, it receives a rating of 4.7 stars out of a possible 5. Owners call this cookware set a terrific value, with praise for its even heating, stay-cool handles and attractive looks. Most users are satisfied with the assortment of pans, though some say they are a bit too small. There were also some complaints that the handles are too thin, the lips are hard to pour from, and the skillets have no lids.
Review: Tramontina 8-Piece 18/10 Stainless Steel TriPly-Clad Cookware Set, Contributors to Walmart.com, As of December 2012