April 23

Saladmaster Cookware: Okay, Outstanding, or Overpriced?

By trk

Last Updated: September 18, 2021

cookware, review, Saladmaster

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.

Saladmaster Summary

Best Feature: Excellent quality

Worst Feature: Extremely expensive

Who Should Buy: There's other cookware brands just as good for significantly less (recommendations below).

See 360 waterless cookware on Amazon

See titanium stainless (316Ti) cookware on Amazon (made in USA)

See All-Clad cookware on Amazon

See our article Waterless Cookware: A Detailed Analysis

Who Is Saladmaster Cookware?

Vollrath King Kutter food processor

The Vollrath King Kutter Food Processor: a copy of the original Saladmaster machine.

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.

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Features of Saladmaster Cookware

Saladmaster Set with Detachable Handle

See the Vap-Valve lids and detachable handles?

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. 

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What Is Waterless Cooking?

Cooking Chicken Waterless Method

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:

  1. It's healthier than other cooking methods (and thus other cookware)
  2. 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.

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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.)

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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

Saladmaster Dinner Party

Saladmaster dinner party.

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.

Emotional Appeal

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.)

Summary

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. 

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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.

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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 you 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.

Faster Cooking 

Saladmaster Used Lid from Ebay

Used Saladmaster lid from Ebay showing the Vapo-Valve (left of knob).

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.

Better Nutrition

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.

Summary

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.

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Waterless Cookware Vs Clad Stainless Steel Cookware: What Are the Differences?

Saladmaster kettle

Saladmaster sauce pan

All-Clad D3 Sauce Pan

All-Clad sauce pan.

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

Pros
  • Excellent quality
  • Made in USA
  • Vapo-valve technology clicks when approaching boiling temp (this may be a con as well if you hate the noise)
  • Limited lifetme warranty, with free replacement of lid pulls and handles.
Cons
  • Extremely expensive, without being better than a brand like All-Clad
  • Direct sales method uses high-pressure tactics and makes it hard to compare
  • Plastic lid pulls and handles aren't very durable
  • Detachable handles loosen over time
  • The cookware is not very pretty compared to a brand with stainless pulls and handles.

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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

360 Cookware Set - Saladmaster Review Pinterest

See 360 Waterless cookware on Amazon

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.

360 Cookware Set - Saladmaster Review Pinterest

buy 360 cookware on Amazon:

Best Clad Stainless Cookware Brand: All-Clad

All-Clad D3 7 Piece Set

See All-Clad D3 on Amazon

See All-Clad Copper Core on Amazon

See our Ultimate All-Clad Review

See our All-Clad Copper Core Review

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).

All-Clad D3 Skillet - Saladmaster Review Pinterest

buy all-clad d3 on amazon:

All-Clad Copper Core - Saladmaster Review Pinterest

buy all-clad copper core on amazon:


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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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  1. Interesting website and reviews, You may wonder why Saladmaster is so similar to All Clad D Products? All Clads original parent company Clad Metals Inc, based literally next door and started By John B Ulam was the cladded disc supplier, patent holder of our All Clad products and supplier to various waterless cookware manufacturers prior to the formation of All-Clad by John B Ulam Jr.

    Mark Ulam (All-Clad, cookware craftsman, sales & Marketing 1977-88)

    1. Thank you so much for your comment, Mr. Ulam! This is fascinating, but in retrospect not all that surprising. It makes perfect sense that Saladmaster and All-Clad would have the same origins.

      If you have any other input on stainless cookware, All-Clad, waterless cookware or anything else, please feel free to comment. We love having an industry insider reading our site!

      1. I remember my dad selling that in the 70s I have cooked with other cook ware and salad Master is best but to pricy for me

  2. Hi,
    Thank you for the article. Very helpful in term of choosing the right cookware without burning your wallet.
    Do you know the pollution test they do using baking powder/soda? Is the test true that saladmaster cookware does not react or leach any metal/chemicals? What about other brands, Is there any test done for other cookwares such as kitchen craft or other stainless steel brands?
    We tried some on high quality stainless steel, 304 and it actually tasted bitter so it’s a bit concerning if even high quality stainless steel still leach chemicals.

    Thanks heaps

    1. Hi Yen, thanks for the comment. Interesting, we just had this same question a few days ago but due to technical difficulties, we lost it and it never got published. (If that was you, I apologize.) We did a quick google search on this, and found several articles that explain what’s probably happening here: the baking soda lifts food and cooking oil from the older pans, and this is what accounts for the difference in taste. If you tested a different brand of stainless cookware but one that was also new (not cooked on), it would likely taste the same as the Saladmaster.

      The bitter taste you’re getting is probably from the baking soda itself.

      Here are a few articles we found: http://www.hoaxorfact.com/technology/saladmaster-are-you-eating-your-cookware-facts.html, https://www.houzz.com/discussions/2337960/salad-master-cookware-question, https://www.reddit.com/r/chemistry/comments/25p6l8/why_would_baking_soda_dissolved_in_water_and/.

      On the Houzz article, if you scroll a ways down the page, there is a comment by awm03 that quotes a scientific study of stainless steel cookware that we think answers the question pretty well.

      Of course, a google search for “saladmaster baking soda test” will also bring up results that claim Saladmaster is cleaner, safer, and less reactive than other clad stainless cookware. So, you will have to do your own research and decide for yourself. One of our staff members is an engineer who assures me that if you understand the science of stainless steel, you wouldn’t worry about this. But again, you have to decide for yourself.

      Thanks again for the comment.

    1. Hi Peter, thanks for commenting. The plastic handles are one of our biggest complaints about Saladmaster (after price). But to their credit, I believe Saladmaster replaces broken handles for no charge for the life of the cookware, no matter how old or used it is, they will send you a new handle or a new pan if necessary. You should contact them to see if you can get a replacement for your sauce pan.

      1. "I believe Saladmaster replaces broken handles for no charge for the life of the cookware, no matter how old or used it is, they will send you a new handle or a new pan if necessary."

        Unfortunately, that isn't the case. For most of Saladmaster's history their warranty didn't cover the handles at all. If a handle broke your only option for a new factory original replacement was to buy one (about $15 for the long handles and about $9 for a pair of the short handles). The current version of the handles are detachable via a button-release mechanism, and those are covered by their warranty, but they didn't retroactively apply that to the older screw-on handles. I actually emailed Saladmaster about this recently and here's an excerpt from their reply:

        "This warranty you are reading is for the newer style detachable handle with button release. This style handle is not the handle for your cookware.

        If you have a warranty from your cookware purchase that states different then the details we have provided, please forward this warranty to us.

        The lifetime warranty you received with your Saladmaster product does not include parts, they are available for purchase through our web site"

        (That was an annoying reply because I'd asked WHY the button-release handles were covered by their warranty while their screw-on handles weren't, and instead of answering the question she just stated what I obviously already knew; if I hadn't already known it I couldn't have possibly asked that question.)

        To their credit you can still buy the type of handles from them that they used on their pans starting in the late 1950s, and which they haven't used on their new pans for over 40 years. I can't think of any other company that still makes and sells new parts that they stopped using on their products during the Carter administration. On the other hand, they are overpriced, i.e., $15 for a piece of Bakelite is pretty steep (plus whatever they charge for shipping). It may not seem like much if you just need to replace one handle, but what if you have a whole set of their pans that are ~50 years old; all of the handles have cracks in them; one recently broke when you picked it up, and for safety's sake, you should replace all of them? That's going to add up fast.

        By the way, with regard to the person that you replied to; it sounds like his welded-on handle mounting bracket broke off, in which case, that is covered by their warranty regardless of how old the pan is. In 1996 they warrantied one of my mother's pans from the early 1970s because one of the four spot welds on the handle bracket was broken. You could still mount a handle to it but it always felt loose no matter how much you tightened the screw because of that broken weld. They sent a brand new pan free of charge (though Mom had to pay for shipping).

  3. I purchased my set around 1984 and still use it daily. Only reason I happened upon this article was that I broke a handle on my 2qt pot and was searching for replacement. I know I paid an astronomical price at the time (I was 22) and had easy monthly installments. But since I am 58 and still use them daily, they were a deal.

    1. Thanks for the comment Tracy. There are a million Saladmaster customers like you who love their cookware. That’s great! Agree, the cost-per-year-of-use of Saladmaster (something we talk about a lot when buying cookware) is low, and they have a lifetime replacement on the handles, so you should be completely covered.

      1. Beautiful and excellent tools, and I would like to buy one bowl, and for those of whom my capabilities are weak .. I hope to find someone to help me with that, and thank you very much

  4. I bought a set of Saladmaster in 1971. I cook with it every day. I had to replace a handle on the pot which I use the most. Other than that, those pans are as good as the day I bought them.

    1. Hi Donna, thanks for the comment. There are a lot of people just like you who love their Saladmaster cookware. And for good reason, because it’s very high quality cookware. I love to hear from people who get so much use out of any product: no matter what you paid, you got a great deal, because your cost-per-year-of-use is probably pennies per year. I wish everyone was willing to invest in high-end products! If they did, our landfills wouldn’t be nearly as big of a problem as they are now. 😉

  5. I like the original stainless steel clad Saladmaster cookware (second-generation, marked "18-8 Tri-Clad"; first-generation was just plain aluminum). It's different than anything you can buy today because it has a carbon steel core rather than aluminum. Most of it does anyway; some of the later second-generation pans have an aluminum core. You can tell the difference with a magnet. Since a magnet won't stick to 300-series stainless steel, it won't stick to the aluminum core pans at all (and since induction cooktops weren't common back then, no one was using magnetic stainless steel outer cladding like they do today). Of course, a magnet sticks strongly to the carbon steel core pans, which means they can be used as-is on an induction burner.

    Aluminum is a much better thermal conductor than carbon steel is, but carbon steel is better for heat retention; its thermal characteristics are very similar to cast iron (cast iron and carbon steel are both iron/carbon alloys). The real gem of the bunch in my opinion is the 9" skillet (saute pan might be a better name for it, but Saladmaster called it a skillet), which seems to be a little heavier/thicker relative to its size than other second-generation Saladmaster pans. I use mine all the time (originally bought by my parents in the early 1970s).

    The only downside (which has never been a problem for me, but it might be for some people) is that the carbon steel core Saladmaster pans don't have a flat bottom. They have a slightly raised circular island stamped into the center. I don't know what it's for, but Saladmaster isn't the only company that made pans that way. I've even seen a cast iron skillet that was made that way, and there's at least one pan that I know of that's still made like that today (the thin aluminum pan that comes with a Whirley Pop stovetop popcorn maker). The only guesses I can come up with are: it's to add rigidity to the bottom to make it less likely to warp, and/or, since the center of a pan usually gets the hottest, raising the center away from the burner may result in more even heating. Whatever the reasoning behind it, Saladmaster ditched the idea for their aluminum-core pans, which, as far as I know, are all made with flat bottoms.

    1. Thanks for the history lesson on Saladmaster, Maxim. Very interesting. I think I would disagree that carbon steel is better than aluminum for heating, but that all depends on thicknesses of material and what you’re looking for as a cook: i.e., retention vs. even distribution. Most clad cookware today has a too-thin layer(s) of aluminum that provides only a mediocre heating core, but people have become accustomed to it. Carbon steel has become hugely popular in the past couple of years, I think because it’s a cheap material that’s touted as “nonstick,” which it is not. Companies like Made In are making huge profits on it. But you really get the best heat retention from cast iron, with carbon steel being a bit of a distant second, due primarily to its lighter mass. Heat retention is largely a matter of mass, thus, a thick aluminum or copper pan (at least 2mm) is really the best of both worlds. Cookware like Demeyere Atlantis is the best on the market, with extremely even heating as well as excellent heat retention. Most people don’t want cookware that heavy, so they settle for other brands of clad stainless or worse, nonstick aluminum. I really think if you’re looking for inexpensive-but-good-quality cookware, cast iron beats the heck out of carbon steel.

      1. "I think I would disagree that carbon steel is better than aluminum for heating"

        I didn't say that it was. I said:

        "Aluminum is a much better thermal conductor than carbon steel is, but carbon steel is better for heat retention"

        "but that all depends on thicknesses of material and what you’re looking for as a cook: i.e., retention vs. even distribution."

        Yes, aluminum has more even heat distribution (for a given thickness) than carbon steel because it's a better thermal conductor.

        "But you really get the best heat retention from cast iron, with carbon steel being a bit of a distant second, due primarily to its lighter mass."

        Carbon steel is actually slightly heavier than cast iron for a given volume. They are both iron/carbon alloys and have almost the same density, but carbon steel is a little denser (7.86 versus 7.2 g/cm3). The reason a typical cast iron pan is heavier than a typical carbon steel pan of a similar size is that cast iron pans usually have a 3/16" wall thickness while carbon steel pans are usually a little less than 1/8" (3 mm) at best.

        "Heat retention is largely a matter of mass, thus, a thick aluminum or copper pan (at least 2mm) is really the best of both worlds."

        Aluminum, and especially copper, have poor heat retention, which is why nearly all heat sinks are made of aluminum or copper, with copper being better due to its higher thermal conductivity (the highest of any metal except for pure silver, which is only slightly higher than copper). The purpose of a heat sink is to transfer heat from the heat source to itself and from itself to the surrounding air as quickly as possible, which cools the heat source that it's mounted to, and this is the opposite of good heat retention. Materials with the best heat retention would be considered thermal insulators like the bricks that they make brick ovens out of. This gives aluminum, and especially copper, great thermal response (in both directions, heating and cooling), as well as even heat distribution, but if you want cookware with good heat retention, you want cast iron or steel. The tradeoff is that cast iron and steel are comparatively poor in the areas of thermal response and even heat distribution.

        In any case, if you want carbon steel cookware that's clad with stainless steel, second-generation Saladmaster is the only thing that I know of (though there may have been other companies back then that were making cookware from the same Clad Metals, Inc. tri-ply discs that Saladmaster used), but it hasn't been manufactured in over 40 years.

        1. Hi Maxim, yes, I apologize for misinterpreting your first statement about aluminum and carbon steel.

          Carbon steel may be slightly denser than cast iron, but pans are always thinner due to the limitations of cast iron (i.e., it's brittle). These thicker walls give cast iron more mass, and thus better heat retention than carbon steel.

          This is not to say that carbon steel doesn't have good heat retention, because it does; certainly better than aluminum or copper of similar thickness. It just isn't as good as the thicker cast iron. I know carbon steel skillets are hugely popular right now, but if you're looking for a steak searing pan, cast iron is really the better option.

          Heat retention and thermal conductivity are basically opposites, which is why it's weird to think of aluminum or copper pans providing any heat retention at all. But mass really is a major part of heat retention–a thick piece of any material will retain heat longer than a thin piece of any material. This means that thick aluminum, such as the 4mm thick Demeyere Proline, will provide good heat retention (some people believe it's as good as cast iron).

          The upshot of this is that if you want excellent thermal conductivity as well as good heat retention, a thick aluminum (and we're not talking All-Clad here) or copper pan is the way to go.

          Your heat sink analogy doesn't really apply, as heat sinks are designed quite differently from cookware; if heat sinks were just thick pieces of aluminum, they wouldn't work all that well. But because they are thin pieces with gaps between, they dissipate heat quickly, not unlike thin, cheap aluminum cookware does.

          I realize it's weird to think about this way, but it's actually quite logical. If you'd like some other sources, let me know and I'll be happy to give them to you.

          1. "Carbon steel may be slightly denser than cast iron, but pans are always thinner due to the limitations of cast iron (i.e., it's brittle)."

            Not always. Older cast iron pans, Griswold in particular (which is among the most desirable brands along with Wagner), were quite thin and light, due to being machined for a smooth surface after casting. Some of the modern "boutique" brands of cast iron pans are the same way. For a #8 skillet (~10" diameter), they are in the 4-pound range. For example:

            "I checked skillets from all different manufacturers and different time periods and this one is unusually lightweight. It weighs only 3.77 pounds. Most Griswold skillets this size, from this era, are just over 4 pounds. Given how much of the manufacturing process back then was done by hand, they varied quite a bit from one skillet to another.

            So what does that tell us? It is likely that this skillet must have been ground thinner after casting than the other skillets cast from the same pattern. So I measured it, and this one is about 0.105 inches thick at the base. It’s even thinner along the side wall, only 0.069 inches in some spots."

            That's a quote from Stargazer's site; they are one of the modern boutique manufacturers of cast iron pans. Note that 0.105" is slightly less than 3mm, and there are plenty of 3mm carbon steel pans out there. 0.069" is only slightly over 1/16" (about 1.75 mm). They also said:

            "We found that the ideal thickness for a cast iron skillet is about an eighth of an inch, or 0.125 inches. It’s heavy enough to retain heat well, but not so heavy that it’s a struggle to lift and pour from."

            1/8" is 3.175 mm, which is about the same thickness as many carbon steel pans. Only inexpensive / low-end cast iron (e.g., modern Lodge, which, due to them being the "last man standing" from their era, is by far the most common today) is particularly thick/heavy (about 3/16" thick) because they don't bother to machine them after casting.

            "This means that thick aluminum, such as the 4mm thick Demeyere Proline, will provide good heat retention (some people believe it's as good as cast iron)."

            I don't believe that it would even come close to the heat retention of a similar sized cast iron pan. It would be easy to test though, if you have a way of accurately measuring the temperature of the pans. Just heat them both to a certain temperature, say, 400 degrees F, and then remove them from the heat source at the same time and see which one reaches room temperature first. I believe that the aluminum pan will reach room temperature first by a significant margin; I'd wager a fair amount of money on it even.

            "Your heat sink analogy doesn't really apply, as heat sinks are designed quite differently from cookware; if heat sinks were just thick pieces of aluminum, they wouldn't work all that well. But because they are thin pieces with gaps between, they dissipate heat quickly, not unlike thin, cheap aluminum cookware does."

            A "thick" piece of aluminum would work very well as a heat sink, as long as it had a high surface area to mass ratio. The reason that heat sinks typically have fins is to increase the surface area. Typical pans already have a high surface area to mass ratio. If you melted down an aluminum pan and molded it into a cube the size of a typical computer CPU heatsink, it wouldn't be great as a heat sink without cutting a bunch of fins into it to increase the surface area (though it would still be a lot better than no heat sink at all). But if you mounted, say, a 12", 4 mm thick aluminum skillet as-is to a computer CPU, it would work great as a heat sink, and a copper pan would work even better. But a typical PC case doesn't have room for that, so compact heat sinks with fins are used instead. Note that the base of a typical heat sink is as thick or thicker than any pan; it's the fins that are thin, because the thinner they are, the more you can fit, and the more there are, the more surface area there is.

  6. Good Afternoon Sirs,
    I purchased a set of cook wares back in 1988, the handle on the pots are broken or they came off
    but I still have them and using them most of the time. I still have most of them but I just need to have
    the side handles replace,

      1. "I do know that Saladmaster will replace handles on all their cookware."

        As I said in a previous post, they won't replace the older screw-on handles (only their newer button-release detachable handles are covered by their warranty), at least not for free. Sarah's pans are from 1988 and they didn't introduce button-release handles until 2008. She can buy replacement handles from their website though, assuming the type of handle she needs is one that they still sell. I know of at least one type of old Saladmaster pan that has an unusual handle that they don't sell a replacement for: 11" square griddle from the 1980 to 1994 era. Its handle has an angle and curve where it mates with the pan which is nothing like the normal long handles for sauce pans and skillets that they still sell.

  7. I believe that salad master is a top quality brand. What bothers me is tche way they pressure you to buy there stuff.my girl friend went to a party and ended up buying a set. We are both on disablility so a fixed income. Ill be suprized if they are paid off befire we die. I mean 5000 dollars for a cpl pans and lids.we live in our camp trailer and it didnt cost 5000 dollars.

    1. Hi Jim, thanks for the comment. Yes, we totally agree with you on Saladmaster. It’s excellent quality, but we don’t like the hard sell. They sell this way so people can’t compare prices and see that they’re paying too much. I suppose as long as it works, they’ll continue doing it. But it is great cookware and should last you a very, very long time.

  8. It's very useful review. If you look at the quality apart from the price, I wonder if the Saladmaster cookware is of good quality compared to high-end products such as All-Clad. Also, I wonder why only Saladmaster uses titanium among these high-end products.

    1. Hi JW, thanks for the comment. Saladmaster is very high quality cookware. Our only issue with it is their high-pressure direct sales tactic that does not allow consumers to compare with other brands–that, and the extremely high price, which simply is not justified.

      As for the titanium, Saladmaster uses 316Ti, which is stainless steel with some titanium in it, and they are not the only maker to use this steel. Heritage Steel, another American maker, also uses 316Ti, and it is also a popular steel in Europe, so you may find some European brands that use it. We did some research on 316Ti and have found that it has about the same durability as 316 stainless at normal cooking temps and is slightly more corrosion resistant, especially at very high temps (higher than you will probably see in a kitchen). So there’s no huge benefit to the 316Ti, but there’s certainly no drawback, either.

      We recently did a review of Heritage Steel cookware if you’re interested. (Hint: It is also very high quality and priced comparably to All-Clad.)

  9. I bought a set of saladmaker cookware when I was 18 years old. That was in 1965. I am now 75 and I'm still using it 57 years later. I still love it because it was one of the best purchases I ever made. Several people in my family bought a set also and we have all been more than satisfied and happy that we did. Thank you saladmaster….
    WOOHOO.

  10. I am in desperate need of a power cord for a salad master frypan with the oil incased in the bottom. it is one that was bought in the early 40's and is still as good as new but the cord has somehow gotten misplaced. I would really like to know where I could get a cord fot it the cat. # is 17815 for the frypan. I ordered one from ebay and it is not the right one but was sold for that skilit. If you know where I can get one please let me know I spent $40 for something I can't use. This is as good as new after all these years it was bought for my mother ;in the 40's an airloom to be handed down to the grands. lokks and opered like new before the cord disapeared.

    1. Hi Arnoldine, wow, that’s really impressive that the pan is still going after almost 80 years! I would try contacting Saladmaster.com. They’re very good about supporting old product lines, so they’re your best bet. If they can’t help you you may be out of luck. 🙁

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