Saladmaster is the original direct-to-consumer cookware. Founded over 75 years ago, it is still sold exclusively by the direct sale method today. It is top quality, and people who own it love it. But it is also one of the most expensive brands of cookware on the market.
What do you get for the crazy high price tag? And is it worth it? Find out in this detailed review of Saladmaster cookware.
Who Is Saladmaster Cookware?
Saladmaster was founded by Harry Lemmons in 1947. He founded the company with one product: a hand-operated food processor that made quick work of saladmaking and many other types of chopping, shredding, and grating.
Lemmons had huge success with this product and just a few years later he expanded into cookware. The company continued to have great success and was soon selling cookware nationwide from their headquarters in Texas. They were one of the early makers of tri-ply clad stainless cookware.
In 1979, Saladmaster was bought by Regal Cookware, a large cookware operation in West Bend, Wisconsin. Regal still owns Saladmaster today. All Saladmaster cookware is made in the USA.
Saladmaster is the original brand of waterless cookware, a cooking method that promotes good health and nutrition. This waterless method is largely why Saladmaster demands premium prices; we discuss why this is the case below.
Saladmaster is sold only through the direct sales method. That is, if you want to buy the cookware, you need to contact Saladmaster and request an appointment. A Saladmaster dealer will come to your home or business and put on a cooking demonstration, showing you all the wonderful aspects of the Saladmaster lifestyle.
Saladmaster also sells by putting on demonstrations at trade shows, fairs, and other exhibitions.
You can find a dealer by entering your zip code on their website.
You can't buy Saladmaster products on Amazon or at any other retail outlets. However, you can find several other brands of waterless cookware similar to Saladmaster. You can also find vegetable shredders ("food processors") nearly identical to the Saladmaster design, though they tend to not get the best reviews because they're big and bulky (it's easier to pull out a knife or a grater).
You can also often find used Saladmaster cookware--and spare parts--on E-bay.
Today, Saladmaster is a large and successful company, with about 30,000 distributors globally. There are several other brands of waterless cookware, as well, many of them made by Regal, and many of them sold by the direct sales method.
Waterless cookware is a thriving business, thanks largely to Saladmaster and the vision of Harry Lemmons.
Features of Saladmaster Cookware
Saladmaster is clad stainless steel cookware that uses titanium-reinforced "surgical" steel (316Ti). The internal core is aluminum to provide fast, even heating.
Saladmaster features Vapo-Valve™ technology in which a device in the lid clicks when the food temp approaches the boiling point, making it easy to know when it's time to turn the temperature from medium to low (low temps being a key feature of waterless cooking).
Saladmaster also has removable handles that make it easy to use in the oven, put in the dishwasher, and stack for storage. The handles tend to wear out and break, but Saladmaster provides free replacements for as long as you own the cookware.
Saladmaster cookware has a limited lifetime warranty against manufacturer defects, and are known to have excellent customer service.
What Is Waterless Cooking?
Waterless cooking is a method that uses low temperatures, little to no added water, and little to no added fat. Tight-fitting lids capture steam from the high water content in most foods, and the steam pressurizes the pot, causing food to cook faster, at a lower temperature than it would without a lid. (This is also known as pressure cooking.)
Waterless cooking was developed in the mid-20th century (compliments of Saladmaster). The term came about as a rebellion of sorts against boiling food, which was a popular cooking method at the time.
Boiling resulted in overcooked, soggy, flavorless vegetables and meats (yes: meats, can you imagine?), with much of their nutrient content poured down the drain along with the cooking water.
Since boiling is done at high temperatures, low-temps also play an important part in the waterless method.
Though boiling is no longer a popular cooking method, the term waterless remains popular today, and the origins of it have been largely forgotten.
These are the advantages of the waterless method, according to its enthusiasts:
Low Temps: The advantage of cooking with low temperatures and little to no water is that foods retain more of some--but not all--nutrients. (We talk more about this below.)
Using low temperatures also results in less sticking, so cookware is easier to clean.
No added fat/little to no added water: The advantage of using no added fat is a reduction in calories, although this is not automatically healthier. The advantage to no added water is that you don't drain away many of the nutrients when the food is done cooking; instead, they stay in the food. (We talk more about this below, too.)
Thus, the two major selling points of waterless cookware are:
- It's healthier than other cooking methods (and thus other cookware)
- It's more convenient than other cooking methods (because it's faster, and the cookware is easier to clean).
Are these valid claims? Yes, actually, they are. But there's a lot more to know about the waterless cooking method if you want to use it in your life in the easiest, most practical, and affordable, way.
How Does Saladmaster Embrace Waterless Cooking?
Saladmaster is the original waterless cookware. They've been around for 75 years and were the first company to promote this low-water, low-fat, low-temperature approach to cooking. Every other company that sells waterless cookware copied the method from Saladmaster.
Their patented Vapo-Valve™ technology makes waterless cooking easy. This is a valve in the lid of every Saladmaster cooking vessel. It makes an audible click when the food is approaching the boiling point, alerting the chef that it's time to turn down the temperature.
The Vapo-Valve is the key to Saladmaster's simple cooking mantra "Medium-click-Low-is all you need to know."
Saladmaster's direct sales is also part of the waterless cookware world. In fact, the major difference between waterless stainless steel cookware and other brands (All-Clad, Tramontina, etc.) is that you can't buy waterless brands at a retail store.
(Saladmaster and the other waterless makers would say there's more to it than this, but in truth, the differences are minor. We'll discuss exactly what that means below.)
Why Is Saladmaster Cookware So Expensive?
The simplest answer is: It's expensive because people are willing to pay for it. (This is the truth for any premium-priced product.)
You have to book a sales appointment and sit through an entire presentation to find out the current cost of a new set of Saladmaster cookware. But this post from 2007 about a Saladmaster presentation says the set they were interested in was $3500 (too bad it doesn't say which set it was). This is dated, but it gives you an idea of the price you're going to pay for Saladmaster cookware.
Here are the main reasons Saladmaster can demand such a high price for their cookware.
The Saladmaster "Lifestyle"
The Saladmaster sales technique promotes an entire lifestyle of good health and good nutrition. In general, people who buy this cookware are deeply health conscious: concerned about the health and well-being of themselves and their families. They believe that Saladmaster cookware is essential for achieving an optimal level of health. They believe that a healthy lifestyle is well worth the premium price they pay for the cookware, and that no other cookware can provide the health-conscious lifestyle they're looking for.
How many people are going to say "no thanks" when asked if they're told a product can bring them excellent health, possibly prevent cancer, and maybe even help them live longer?
It's a brilliant marketing strategy.
Healthy, Non-Toxic Cookware
Related to the Saladmaster lifestyle are their claims that their "surgical stainless" cookware is the healthiest, safest, most non-toxic cookware in the world.
We very much agree that stainless steel is one of the safest, cleanest types of cookware you can use. But whether Saladmaster's cookware is safer than other stainless steel brands is very much up for debate. We talk more about stainless steel quality below in the Saladmaster Claims section.
The Direct Sales Method
Another factor in Saladmaster's premium price is the direct marketing selling technique. Direct marketing, when done well, can command premium prices. Saladmaster has one of the most effective direct marketing sales programs in the world.
There are a few reasons for this, including high pressure sales, emotional appeal, and the impossibility of comparing the product to other brands.
High Pressure Sales Technique
Having someone come to your home and put on an elaborate demonstration--the Saladmaster representative actually cooks dinner for you and your family, plus invited friends--is a great way to create a sense of obligation in a potential buyer.
It's awkward to say "no thanks, I'm not interested" to someone who's gone to all this trouble to demonstrate their product; cooking for a group, or even just a family of four, is a lot of work.
The salesperson will also create some sense of urgency by offering a temporary deal. ("This price is only available tonight...") If you believe them, you will want to buy the product--and, you will believe you're getting a fantastic deal.
Related to the high pressure sales technique is the emotional appeal of the direct sales method. These reps are masterful at pulling at people's heartstrings, and/or invoking fear of what could happen if they don't buy the product.
If a salesperson can get a potential buyer bought in emotionally, they don't have to worry as much about the logical side of their brain putting the brakes on the sale. It's a method as old as selling itself, and the isolated, high-pressure tactics of direct selling makes it easy.
Impossible to Compare to Other Brands
The initial reasons given for direct sales of waterless cookware, after the end of World War II, was that there was no room for their products in retail stores.
This is a ridiculous claim.
The real reason they wanted to sell their products directly to consumers was that it eliminates all avenues of price and quality comparison.
People may know they're paying more, but they don't really know how much more.
They may know the product is similar to other products, but there's no way for them to quantify the differences during the presentation.
You can only take for granted that what the salesperson says is the truth. (And if they're good at their job, it's easy to believe what they say.)
The sense of urgency is a powerful deterrent to comparison shopping.
However, it's unlikely that if Saladmaster products were sitting next to All-Clad or Demeyere cookware at a Williams-Sonoma that the salesperson could convince you that it was better to the tune of thousands of dollars. (Because it really isn't.)
While it's true that waterless cooking is a healthy method and that clad stainless is one of the healthiest cookware choices you can make, the truth is that much of Saladmaster's marketing is just that: marketing. And their direct sales approach makes it possible for them to charge over-the-top prices for what is basically a good quality brand of clad stainless cookware.
Is Saladmaster a Multi-Level Marketing Scheme?
No. Saladmaster uses some questionable sales strategies, but the product is real. The salespeople are selling a real product, and it is a high quality product.
We are not questioning the quality of the product, or its use in healthy cooking. We are only questioning the claim that Saladmaster is alone in its ability to help people live a healthier lifestyle.
Saladmaster Claims: True or False?
Here, we will look at Saladmaster claims in detail to help you understand what exactly they're selling, and why we think the cookware is overpriced.
Surgical Stainless Steel
Claim: "Saladmaster selects only the finest materials for its products. The 316Ti Titanium Stainless Steel is of a much higher grade and sheen than the stainless steels used by other cookware companies. In fact, 316Ti is widely known and respected in the medical field for it’s high performance and durability, and is used to make the world’s finest health equipment."
The Truth: All 300-grade stainless steel is considered "surgical stainless steel." "Surgical" is a marketing term that's been used by waterless cookware companies for a long time now. However, this stainless steel is no better, safer, more stable, or less toxic than other 300 grade stainless used by other cookware companies: 18/8, 18/10, 304, and 316 are all types of 300-grade "surgical" stainless steel.
The additions of titanium and molybdenum do sound as if the steel would be stronger, and therefore probably more stable, than regular 300-grade stainless. But this is not the case. According to this alloy website:
The reason for the popularity of 316Ti in Europe is really an historical one...Although it can have a higher carbon content, there seems to be no mechanical property advantage to 316Ti since there is no difference in minimum yield stress for the three variations 316...In the final analysis, for typical aqueous corrosion applications, there is no advantage to 316Ti over dual certified 316/316L.
This doesn't all apply to cookware, but the upshot is that 316Ti may be slightly more resistant than 316 to certain types of corrosion. However, the main difference seems to occur at temperatures higher than you will see in any normal kitchen.
All 300-grade stainless steel is excellent for use as cookware. 316Ti is just as good, but probably not any better, than other grades of "surgical" stainless steel.
We recommend that before you purchase clad stainless cookware, you should do some research on steel quality. Our article Stainless Steel Cookware Sets: A Detailed Buying Guide has some good information, but we encourage to do even more research.
Also: Other brands of cookware use 316Ti. Heritage Steel, another excellent (non-waterless) brand made in the USA uses 316Ti. You may also find it in European brands, where 316Ti stainless is more popular.
Heats Evenly Every Time
Claim: "Saladmaster's heat-conducting thermal core provides one of the highest standards for even heating across the bottom and up the sides of any dish. It is the secret to exceptional cooking."
The Truth: "Even heating across the bottom and up the sides" simply means that the cookware is fully clad, as opposed to having an aluminum-clad disc only on the bottom. You can find both types of cookware in the US cookware market--fully clad and disc clad--with full cladding in the better, higher quality brands such as All-Clad.
Thus, Saladmaster's "heat-conducting thermal core" is the same technology found in All-Clad, or any brand of fully clad stainless cookware. There can be differences in the thickness of the heating/aluminum layer(s) that will affect the heating properties (thicker is better), but in general, all fully clad cookware uses the same technology--including Saladmaster.
"Protects the Flavor"
Claim: "Saladmaster cookware is constructed of 316Ti stainless steel, a premium material that is non-reactive to the acids and enzymes in your food. This, combined with our cooking method, protects the purity and flavor of the ingredients you cook for healthier, more nutritious, flavorful food, every time you cook."
The Truth: Back to the "surgical stainless steel," 316Ti is a good alloy, but not really any better than other 300-grade alloys used in cookware manufacturing. All good quality stainless steel cookware "protects the purity and flavor of the ingredients."
Some cheaper brands of stainless cookware may use cheaper grades of stainless--namely, 200-grade or possibly 400-grade, which is nickel-free--but good quality brands all use 300-graded "surgical" stainless steel. This includes All-Clad, Demeyere, Tramontina, and many more.
Claim: "Our Vapo-Valve™ technology and semi-vacuum cooking method makes cooking more efficient and precise. When the temperature exceeds the optimal cooking temperature, the built-in Vapo-Valve clicks, letting you know it’s time to reduce the heat to avoid overcooking. Our cooking method also substantially reduces cooking time – so you can get out of the kitchen faster to enjoy your food."
The Truth: The clicking valve may make it easier to use the low-heat, waterless cooking method because it alerts you to when the food is approaching boiling temperature so you can turn it down. There are several brands of waterless cookware that have similar technology.
However, you do not need special cookware to use this cooking method. All you need is cookware that has a lid. Any well-fitting lid will create a small vacuum in the cooking vessel, which will help your food cook faster (as long as you don't peek).
And we probably don't need to state the obvious, but you can use low temperature cooking with any cookware you own. You do not need special cookware--or even stainless cookware--to keep your burners at medium and low settings.
You also do not need special technology to know when it's time to turn the heat down. It's easy to tell by how the lid "dances" slightly to let you know the vacuum has been created. Once you're in the habit of using this method, you will know when it's time to turn down the heat.
A valve that alerts you is a nice feature, but it simply isn't necessary to cook in a more healthful way. If you think it's worth the higher price, then this is the only valid reason we've uncovered for buying Saladmaster over another good quality brand of clad stainless cookware.
Claim: "The Saladmaster waterless cooking method allows you to cook without the need to add and drain-off water. This maintains the optimal amount of vitamins and nutrients in your foods while also protecting the natural flavor of ingredients. A study from the University of Wisconsin Department of Food Science demonstrates that food cooked in Saladmaster retains up to 93% of its nutrients."
The Truth: Once again, you do not need special cookware to use this cooking method. You can use low heat and no oil or added water with any cookware as long as it has a well-fitting lid.
The boiling point is a crucial factor, because this is the point at which food can begin to lose a lot of its nutrients. As long as you keep the temperature below boiling, you can retain the maximum amount of the food's nutrients.
That's all you need to do.
Flavor without the Fat
Claim: "Because there’s no need to add butter, oil or excess fat to flavor your food, your favorite recipes can be made healthier without sacrificing the taste you love. Our Vapo-Valve creates a semi-vacuum cooking environment that locks in moisture and maintains food's natural flavor."
The Truth: First of all, we want to dispel the myth that fat-free cooking is healthy. The truth is that several nutrients require fat to be absorbed by the body. So if you're cooking with no fat at all, you are depriving yourself not only of added flavor, but of many essential nutrients. (You can read more about this here.) You don't need a a lot, but a little healthy fat (we like avocado oil) is actually beneficial, and adds flavor to your food.
It's actually a pretty bold statement that you can cook on stainless steel cookware without any added fat. But if you try this method--that is, using low heat--with any cookware, it should work. There's nothing more nonstick about 316Ti stainless than other 300-grades of stainless. Once a crust is formed, most foods release naturally from stainless steel. A small amount of oil will help, but you can get it to work with none--on any good brand of clad stainless cookware.
The semi-vacuum cooking environment does help to lock in moisture and maintain food's flavor, but it doesn't really add any flavor to your food, so this is a questionable claim.
The same is true for "frying foods without oil." All food will brown at sufficient temperatures. You do not need oil to brown your food. The huge popularity of air fryers is evidence of this.
If you watch this video, you can easily see that cooking on Saladmaster with no added fat looks to be about the same as other stainless cookware. (It's not what they mean to show, but you can see it, nevertheless.)
Quick and Simple Cooking
Claim: "Saladmaster cookware uses a simple heating process for most foods. Place fresh or frozen foods in the cookware and place the cover on the cookware. Begin cooking over medium heat, and when the Vapo-Valve on the cover clicks, reduce heat to low. This method of heating creates a semi-vacuum environment, locking in moisture, reducing the time it takes to cook meals and making it possible to accomplish traditionally time-consuming tasks faster."
“Medium – Click – Low”, it’s all you need to know."
The Truth: Once again, you can use this method with any cookware that has a reasonably tight-fitting lid. Waterless cookware does not have the market cornered on "quick and simple cooking."
You may get a tighter seal with waterless cookware than with some other brands, but in our experience, any lidded cookware will produce very similar results.
Better Tasting Food
Claim: "Using the easy-to-learn, low-temperature cooking methods taught by Saladmaster, customers can find simple ways to make food taste better and to prepare it faster. Foods can cook with little or no oil, reducing calories and fat in meals, while maintaining flavor. Cooking without water and using lower temperature settings help foods to maintain texture, color and flavor, while preserving nutrients in vegetables up to 98%."
The Truth: And yet again, you can use all of these methods with any lidded cookware. And you should, if retaining nutrients is important to you. But please use a little healthy fat, not only to add flavor but to increase the nutrient profile of the food.
The low heat, low fat, low-temp cooking method called waterless is a healthy way to cook (although we suggest some fat, not no fat). However, you can achieve similar results with any lidded cookware. It doesn't even have to be stainless steel, although that is one of the healthiest cookware choices you can make.
Waterless Cookware Vs Clad Stainless Steel Cookware: What Are the Differences?
Well, if you read the last section, on Saladmaster claims, you should have a good idea of the differences between Saladmaster and other brands of clad stainless steel cookware.
The biggest difference is in how the brands are sold. Cookware sold by the direct sales method makes some bold claims that you will not find in the retail cookware world. They claim better nutrition, better health, disease prevention, and even longer life. You won't find any of these claims in the retail cookware world. Because of the direct sales method, they can get away with this. It's not exactly a lie; it's just an omission: the claims they make apply to other brands of stainless cookware.
The one real difference is in the vapor valve technology. Not all brands sold as waterless have this, but many do. These pans alert you to when it's time to lower the heat; no retail brands (that we know of) have anything like this.
Whether you think the valve technology is cool or gimmicky may be what separates the waterless buyers from the retail brand buyers. While the alerting technology is kind of cool, we at TRK don't think it's worth the extra cost you'll pay for this cookware. It's largely a gimmick that promises better a surefire way to get better results in the kitchen. But you can get the same results with any decent quality lidded cookware, just by paying attention to what you're doing and getting a feel for how the waterless method works.
The truth is that Saladmaster is really no better than a brand like All-Clad. Their primary marketing strategy is to make you believe it is, but we assure you, the differences are minimal.
Furthermore, we much prefer the stainless lid pulls and handles on the major retail brands: they're more durable, and (we think) much prettier, too--as you can see if you compare the two photos above.
Pros and Cons of Saladmaster Cookware
Which Brands Are as Good as Saladmaster? Our Recommendations
Saladmaster is good quality. But you can find other brands for significantly less. These brands also have a lifetime warranty and will last just as long as Saladmaster. The best part may be that you don't have to sit through a high-pressure sales pitch to buy any of them.
We like these brands, as well as several others. If you want to learn, check out our Cookware Archives for a listing of stainless steel cookware reviews.
Best Waterless Cookware Brand: 360
See our more detailed review in our Waterless Cookware Analysis (we also review other brands of waterless cookware, including the less expensive Chinese brands)
360 cookware is made in the USA in West Bend, Wisconsin, presumably at the Regal ware factory--the same factory that makes Saladmaster.
It has all the claims of waterless cookware: surgical stainless steel, "vapor-lock" technology, and the price is high, too--but nowhere near the prices you'll pay for Saladmaster. We love that the handles are all stainless steel, so no worries about them wearing out before the rest of the cookware does.
For an equally good brand of waterless cookware, we highly recommend 360.
buy 360 cookware on Amazon:
Best Clad Stainless Cookware Brand: All-Clad
For great all-around quality, it's hard to beat All-Clad. They've been around for more than 50 years and all their clad lines are still made in the USA. Their limited lifetime warranty is as good as anything offered by Saladmaster or other waterless brands.
We like D3, their standard tri-ply line. It's great quality, heats fast and evenly, and is less expensive than their other lines. We also like Copper Core, which is more expensive--but if you're thinking about Saladmaster, Copper Core is still going to be a smaller investment, with no sacrifice in quality or performance (in fact, it's probably going to be better).
buy all-clad d3 on amazon:
buy all-clad copper core on amazon:
Final Thoughts on Saladmaster
Saladmaster is high quality cookware, but we don't like their high pressure direct sales tactics, and we do not believe that you need to buy special cookware to cook in a low-fat, low-water, low-temperature method.
Saladmaster promises better health, better nutrition, and even longer life if you follow their cooking method. But you can have all these things and follow these methods with any cookware that has a lid. You just have to use low heat and cover your food.
Thanks for reading!
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