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Tramontina Cookware Review: Tri-Ply Clad Stainless Steel

By trk

Last Updated: November 13, 2023


Tramontina makes several lines of cookware. This review is for the Tri-Ply Clad line, also called Gourmet Tri-Ply Clad. This is Tramontina's All-Clad D3 knockoff and closest to All-Clad in design. Many reviewers consider Tri-Ply Clad to be identical to All-Clad D3 in performance.

We look at the features of Tri-Ply Clad, including heating, durability, safety and stability, budget, warranty, pros and cons, sets vs. individal pieces, and more. We also look at how Tri-Ply Clad actually compares to All-Clad D3 (plus features to consider when buying clad stainless steel cookware).


Table Of Contents (click to expand)

Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad Cookware Summary

Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad, also called Gourmet Tri-Ply Clad, is great quality cookware at an affordable price. It's the best All-Clad D3 knock-off on the market. Brazilian Tri-Ply Clad has stainless lids and Chinese Tri-Ply Clad has glass lids, but are otherwise identical. 

See Tramontina Tri-Ply clad cookware on Amazon

See tramontina Tri-Ply clad cookware at wal-Mart

Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad Cookware Sets at a Glance

These are the Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad/Tramontina Gourmet Tri-Ply Clad sets sold in the US. There is a table for Brazilian Tri-Ply Clad and a table for Chinese Tri-Ply Clad. We discuss the differences below in the section Chinese Vs. Brazilian Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad. (The main differences are glass vs. stainless lids and price, with some differences in piece sizes, too.)  

Open stock pieces are also available--click any of the links to see the entire Tri-Ply Clad line.

We recommend the 12-piece Chinese set. It has larger skillets than the other sets (10"/12"). Unfortunately, this set has glass lids, which are less durable than steel lids. 

NOTE: Tables may not be visible in mobile view.

Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad Made in Brazil 

Set

Includes:

TRK Rating/

Features

Tramontina Gourmet 18/10 Stainless Tri-Ply Clad Cookware Set (made in Brazil)

80116/247DS (8 pc, about $225)

80116/248DS (10 pc, about $320)

80116/249DS (12pc, about $340)


Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad Stainless 12 pc set (Brazil)

8 pc:

2 skillets: 8"/10"

2 sauce pans: 2qt-3qt w/lids

5qt Dutch oven


10 pc:

2 skillets: 8"/10",

2 sauce pans: 1.5qt-3qt w/lids

6qt stock pot w/lid

3qt braiser w/lid


12 pc:

2 skillets: 8"/10",

3 sauce pans: 1.5qt/2qt/3qt w/lids,

5qt deep sauté pan, 8-qt stock pot.

-Fully clad tri-ply

-1.7mm aluminum heating core

-2.6mm thick walls

-Stainless steel lids

-The 8 pc set is a good starter set

-The 10 pc set is a great full set.

-The 12 pc set has three similar sized sauce pans but the deep sauté pan and large stock pot are great pieces.




Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad Made in China 

Set

Includes:

TRK Rating/

Features

8 pc. Tramontina 80116/544DS Stainless Steel Tri-Ply Clad Cookware Set 

About $140

Tramontina TriPly Clad 8pc set China

2 skillets: 8"/10"

2 sauce pans: 2qt/3qt w/lids

5 qt Dutch oven w/lid.

See all Tri-Ply Clad on Amazon

See all Tri-Ply Clad at Wal-Mart

-Fully clad tri-ply

-1.7mm aluminum heating core

-2.6mm thick walls

-Glass lids

-Good starter set.


10 pc. Tramontina 80116/566DS Stainless Steel Tri-Ply Clad Cookware Set
About $210

Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad 10pc set China 2

2 skillets: 8"/10",

2 sauce pans: 1.5qt/3qt with lids,

8qt stock pot w/lid,

3 qt sauté pan w/lid. 

See all Tri-Ply Clad on Amazon

See all Tri-Ply Clad at Wal-Mart

-Fully clad tri-ply

-1.7mm aluminum heating core

-2.6mm thick walls

-Glass lids

-Good pieces but two small skillets.


*12 pc. Tramontina 80116/567DS Stainless Steel Tri-Ply Clad Cookware Set 

About $240

Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad 12pc set China 2

-2 skillets: 10"/12"

-2 sauce pans: 1.5, 3qt w/lids

-5qt sauté pan w/lid

-5qt Dutch oven w/lid

-12 qt stock pot w/stnls. lid or 8qt w/glass lid.

See all Tri-Ply Clad on Amazon

See all Tri-Ply Clad at Wal-Mart

-Fully clad tri-ply

-1.7mm aluminum heating core

-2.6mm thick walls

-Glass lids

-Best set for most cooks.


14 pc. Tramontina 80116/568DS Stainless Steel Tri-Ply Clad Cookware Set

About $300

3 skillets: 8"/10"/12"

2 sauce pans: 2qt/3qt w/lids

5 qt saute pan w/lid 

5qt Dutch oven

8qt stock pot w/lid and pasta insert.

See Tri-Ply Clad on Amazon

See all Tri-Ply Clad at Wal-Mart

-Fully clad tri-ply

-1.7mm aluminum heating core

-2.6mm thick walls

-Glass lids

-Great set if you want this much cookware.


If you can't see the table, our recommendation is the 12 piece set from WalMart. It has the best pieces, including a 10" and 12" skillet, a 5 qt. sauté pan, and a 12 qt. stock pot, and 1.5 qt. and 3 qt. sauce pans. The 14 piece set is also good if you also want a pasta insert for just a little more. The smaller sets don't have 8" and 10" skillets and smaller sauté pans and stock pots, but if you want smaller pieces these are also excellent deals. We recommend buying from WalMart because the prices are better than on Amazon (unless you find a good sale going on--so always check both stores.)

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About Tramontina

Tramontina is a Brazilian company that makes cookware, utensils, mixing bowls, induction burners, and other kitchen items. They are best known in the US for their knives and their cookware.

Tramontina was founded in 1911. It is privately owned and currently has somewhere around 7,000 employees. They have several factories around the world. Their cookware is manufactured in China, Brazil, and the US. Most of the Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad stainless cookware sold in the US is made in China and Brazil.

Tramontina has several lines of cookware, including nonstick aluminum cookware, ceramic nonstick, enameled cast iron, and clad stainless steel (disc- and full-cladding). This review is for the Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad cookware line only.

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Tramontina's Other Lines of Clad Stainless Steel Cookware

Tramontina makes a few lines of clad stainless steel cookware. Because of their marketing, it can be hard to tell which line is which: they don't always use the actual name of the line, calling it either "tri-ply" or "tri-ply base." Once in awhile, you'll see the name of the of the line, which can be Prima, Gourmet Prima, or Allegra. There may be more lines, but they aren't listed on the Tramontina website so we're not sure. 

As far as we know, the Tri-Ply Clad line is the only Tramontina clad stainless cookware that is fully clad. 

If the name is not given, then the key phrases to look for are "tri-ply clad" and "tri-ply base." Tri-ply Clad is fully clad, and tri-ply base is disc clad. 

Both Prima and Allegra are disc-clad (tri-ply base). 

You can also look at the photos to see if there's a seam, which indicated disc-clad cookware.

Read more about disc-clad cookware in the next section.

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What Is Clad Cookware?

Cladding is the process that bonds different types of metals together. For cookware, this is usually stainless steel and aluminum but can also include copper.

Cladding was patented by John Ulam, who went on to found All-Clad--the original clad cookware--around 1970. If you want to read more about cladding, see the Wikipedia entry for All-Clad.

Why is clad cookware the best all-around choice for most cooks?

Stainless steel alone has terrible heating properties, but is durable and non-reactive. Aluminum by itself has excellent heating properties but is soft, scratches easily, and can leech into food. 

Cladding capitalizes on the properties of both metals to produce what most people consider the best all-around cookware on the market: durable and non-reactive exterior with an aluminum heating core. 

Let's look at the different options for clad stainless cookware.

Tri-Ply Cladding

The most common configuration of cladding has three layers and is known as tri-ply or 3-ply: stainless-aluminum-stainless, as shown in this diagram for the Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad stainless line:

construction diagram: Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad Stainless Cookware: A Comprehensive Review

The magnetic stainless on the exterior makes the cookware induction-compatible.

Multiple Ply Cladding 

When All-Clad's patent on tri-ply clad stainless cookware expired in the early 2000s, two things happened. One was that hundreds of competitors began making tri-ply clad cookware (including Tramontina). The other is that All-Clad introduced new, multiple-clad products to the market in an effort to stay ahead of their competition.

Today you can find clad cookware with 4-, 5-, and even 7 plies, with alternating layers of stainless and aluminum (or, copper, such as All-Clad Copper Core).

Many people assume that more plies equals better performance. However, more plies do not automatically improve heating. 

More important than the number of plies is the thickness of the heating core. That is, the thicker the total amount of aluminum (and/or copper), the better the heating properties.

Looking at plies means nothing if you don't know how thick the heating core is. Multiple plies can mean more aluminum, as is the case with Demeyere Industry, which has a 2.1mm aluminum heating core (compare to 1.7mm of All-Clad D3 or Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad). But they can also mean the same or less aluminum, as is the case with All-Clad D5 (see our article All-Clad D5 Vs. Demeyere Industry 5 if you want more information).

Many brands of 3-ply clad stainless provide more than adequate heating. Our recommendations on this site will help you know which brands are best, as it can be hard information to find. 

Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad stainless steel cookware is a good brand, with a heating core roughly identical to All-Clad D3 (true for both the Chinese and Brazilian lines). This is Tramontina's best line of clad stainless cookware, and probably the only one that can equal All-Clad D3 in heating and durability.

Disc Cladding

Some clad cookware is clad on the bottom only: a thick tri-ply disc is bonded to stainless steel sides. This type of cookware is called "bottom-clad," "disc-clad,"  or "impact-bonded." You can tell a bottom-clad pot by the seam where the disc is welded to the pot: 

disc clad callout: Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad Stainless Cookware: A Comprehensive Review

Tramontina makes several lines of disc-clad cookware, including their Gourmet Prima.

If Tramontina doesn't include the name of the cookware on Amazon or elsewhere, look for the phrases "tri-ply clad" or "tri-ply base." Tri-ply base is disc-clad cookware. 

Bottom-clad cookware ("tri-ply base") is usually cheaper because it's cheaper to make. Is this bad for heating? It's not what you want in a skillet, which you use primarily for solid foods. However, for pots you cook liquids in--stock pots and sauce pans--disc cladding isn't a huge drawback. Liquids create currents, so they heat evenly even if the only heat source is the bottom. 

saute pan: Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad Stainless Cookware: A Comprehensive Review

What about sauté pans, which many people use as a skillet? It depends how you'll use the pan. If you use a sauté pan like a skillet (as many people do), you'll want one that's fully clad. If you use it more for poaching and braising, you can get away with disc cladding. 

The upshot? If you don't care about a matching set, you can save a few bucks by buying disc-bottomed stock pots, and possibly sauce pans and sauté pans. Put that money saved toward a high-end fully clad skillet. 

Most disc-clad cookware is cheaper than fully clad cookware, and if the disc is thin or too small, it won't spread heat as well as a fully clad pan. 

Don't buy a disc-clad skillet, but stock pots and other pots used just for liquids are fine, and can save you some money (if you don't mind having non-matching cookware).

If you're not sure whether cookware is fully clad or disc-clad, look at the photos: a seam on the bottom always indicates disc cladding.

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How Does Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad Compare to All-Clad D3? (A Buyer's Guide to Clad Stainless Cookware)

All-Clad introduced clad cookware to the world, and it is still the brand against which all other brands are measured. A few brands are better (e.g., Demeyere), most are worse, and a few are very close--so close that you almost can't tell the difference.

Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad cookware is a brand that's very close to All-Clad D3 in construction and heating properties.

In comparing Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad to All-Clad D3, these are the factors we looked at:

  • Heating properties
  • Stability and Safety
  • Durability
  • Design (pan shape, handle shape, rims, weight, overall aesthetic)
  • Ease of Cleaning
  • Country of Origin.

We'll compare Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad stainless cookware to All-Clad tri-ply cookware (D3) in each category. 

These are also the features to consider when buying clad stainless cookware in general, so you can also use this section as a buyer's guide.

See our All-Clad Cookware Review

Heating Properties 

Assuming safety--we do not recommend unsafe cookware--heating properties are the most important consideration when buying cookware. No heat source provides perfect heating, so there are always going to be hotter and cooler areas. A pan's job is to spread heat evenly throughout. 

Cheap pans do a poor job spreading heat. If you've ever used a pan where your food burns in some spots while it barely cooks in others, or your sauces bubble around the edges while the interior just sits there, you know how frustrating bad cookware can be.

Good quality cookware solves this problem to a large degree (though no pan provides perfect heat). 

How well a clad stainless pan spreads heat depends on the amount of aluminum (and/or copper) in the heating core. Some manufacturers use thin layers of aluminum, so the pan won't spread heat very well. 

Weight is a good indication of how well a pan will spread heat: cheap pans are light; better quality pans are heavy. Weight isn't the only way to pick out quality cookware, but it is a major factor. In fact, we recommend that people buy the heaviest cookware they can comfortably handle.

What's a good weight/pan thickness? All-Clad D3, the industry standard, has a total wall thickness of 2.6mm and an internal aluminum layer of 1.7mm. An All-Clad D3 12-inch skillet weighs just under 4 lbs. This is enough aluminum for even heating, enough steel for a durable exterior, yet not so much of either that the pan is overly heavy. (Heavier cookware, like Demeyere, heats better, but is too heavy for some people to handle.)

The Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad 12" skillet has nearly identical stats: it is  2.6mm thick with a 1.7mm layer of aluminum and weighs 3.5 lbs. Testing shows that Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad heats slightly less evenly than All-Clad D3, while Tri-Ply Clad retains heat slightly better. This indicates that All-Clad has slightly more aluminum and Tramontina has slightly more stainless steel. 

However, the differences are so small that you are unlikely to notice them in daily use.

With All-Clad D3 costing so much more--more than twice as much in some cases--this small difference in heating performance makes the Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad an excellent option.

See the Tramontina tri-ply clad skillet at Wal-Mart.com

See the Tramontina tri-ply clad skillet on amazon

Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad skillet.

The All-Clad tri-ply 12" skillet weighs 3.7 lbs and has a wall thickness of 2.6mm. The Tramontina tri-ply 12" skillet weighs 3.45 lbs and has a wall thickness of 2.6mm. These near-identical measurements result in near-identical performance--with Tramontina a fraction of the cost.

Stability (Safety) 

Stability refers to how cookware reacts with food and other substances (e.g., air, water, cleaning solutions, etc.). You want cookware that won't react with foods or its environment; this is what makes it safe for cooking.

Most clad stainless cookware is made with an 18/10 stainless steel cooking surface, including Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad. 18/10 is one of the most stable, non-reactive grades of stainless steel and one of the safest cookware materials available. 

New stainless steel can leach tiny amounts of chromium and nickel, but not in unsafe amounts (our bodies need trace amounts of both). If you want more information about safe cookware, see our article Safe Cookware: The Definitive Guide to Healthy, Non-Toxic Cookware.

All-Clad D3 and Tramontina provide extremely similar safety and stability.

Durability

Durability refers to cookware's ability to hold up to heavy use and last for decades. Stainless steel is one of the most durable materials used to make cookware. 

Not all stainless steel cookware is created equally. Chinese-made cookware in particular can sometimes be made with inferior grades of stainless steel which are more prone to rusting, corrosion, and warping. 

If you want to read more about Chinese stainless steel can, check out this thread on Reddit

Not all Chinese cookware is low quality, but it's best to go with a known brand (like Tramontina).

All-Clad D3 and Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad provide nearly identical durability. 

Design

Design looks at overall usability and aesthetics. Is the cookware easy to use? Is it attractive? We look at handles, lids, rims, pan shape, weight, and overall aesthetic.

Many elements of design are subjective, and you should buy cookware you like. But some design elements do make cookware more functional. The elements we think are important are the handles, lids, rims, pan shape, and weight.

Handles

Handles can make the difference between a pan being easy to handle or awkward--and even dangerous--to handle. 

A lot of people dislike the handles on All-Clad tri-ply; they say the U-shaped groove cuts into their hands and is uncomfortable to use. It looks like this: 

All Clad D3 handle closeup: Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad Stainless Cookware: A Comprehensive Review

Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad cookware handles are very different. They're hollow stainless, which keeps them cool, and they're a roundish shape that most people like. In fact, Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad handles tend to get higher marks from most reviewers than All-Clad handles.

Tramontina handles are also forked where they attach to the pan. This means air flows through the handle near the burner, aiding in keeping the handle cool:

Tramontina Triply Clad handle closeup: Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad Stainless Cookware: A Comprehensive Review

The short handles--such as those on stock pots--and lid handles aren't as critical, but they should be easy to grasp and hold. Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad handles have a good shape:

Tramontina Triply Clad lid closeup: Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad Stainless Cookware: A Comprehensive Review

Lids 

Lids can be either glass or stainless. Some people prefer glass lids but we recommend stainless. Glass lids are heavier, more fragile, and have a lower oven-safe rating than steel (usually 300F vs. 500F). Glass lids are cheaper to make, so they're usually (but not always) seen on lower quality cookware.

All-Clad and Brazilian Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad have stainless steel lids. Chinese Tri-Ply Clad has glass lids.

This puts us in a bit of a bind about our recommendations because we prefer the pieces in the Chinese sets (12 piece in particular), but prefer stainless steel lids. 

Rims

Some cookware has curved rims/lips for easy pouring. This is a nice feature because it reduces drips.  

The Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad skillet has a lip, but the rest of the pieces have straight sides. 

Here you can see that the skillet has a lip, while the sauce pan does not:

Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad Stainless skillet
Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad Stainless sauce pan

This is a small issue, but it matters to some buyers.

All-Clad D3 has the same: a rimmed skillet, but all the other pieces have straight sides.

It's not a deal breaker for most buyers, but it's something to be aware of. Grooved lips tend to pour better than straight rims. 

Pan Shape

Pan shape is an important consideration, especially for skillets.

Some skillets have long sides and a small flat cooking surface. Others have steep sides and a larger flat cooking surface. At one time, the Tri-Ply Clad skillet had very sloped sides, but Tramontina has updated the style to straighter sides, which gives the pan more flat cooking surface:

Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad skillet 12

Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad skillet: steep sides, lots of flat cooking surface.

The new design provides more cooking surface than All-Clad: 

All-Clad D3 skillet

All-Clad D3 skillet: more sloped than the Tri-Ply Clad skillet.

Most cooks want their skillets to have as much flat cooking surface as possible, because this can mean the difference between cooking in one batch or having to do more than one batch.

Weight

We already discussed weight in the Heating Properties section above because weight is an indication of good heating properties. It's one of the most important features to consider because you want heavy cookware for good heating, but if it's too heavy, it will be hard to use.

Our recommendation is to buy the heaviest cookware you can comfortably handle--which means different things to different cooks.

All-Clad D3 is designed to provide the best heating in a fairly light package. There is heavier (and better heating) clad stainless cookware out there (Demeyere, for example), but All-Clad D3 is a marriage of light weight and great heating.

Since Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad is so similar to D3, it also provides a good combination of light weight and good heating performance.

Buy the heaviest cookware you can comfortably handle.

Ease of Cleaning

Stainless steel can be sticky, especially if you don't use the right cooking technique. But if you know how to use stainless steel cookware, you can avoid much of the stickiness issue.

Here are some tips:

How to Cook with Stainless Steel (and Keep it Easy to Clean)

  • Heat pan, then add oil, then add food when the oil is shimmering (but not smoking). The hot oil creates a barrier that helps food to stick less.
  • Cook food without disturbing long enough for it to form a crust, which helps it release from the pan without sticking (and also adds flavor).
  • Deglaze the pan with water, stock, or wine after removing the food. This helps to remove cooked on bits of food to make cleaning easier, and makes a delicious sauce to serve with your meal, too.

This is the easiest stick-free method, but there are other methods you can try, too:

  • Some people swear by seasoning stainless cookware, much like you can make cast iron practically nonstick by seasoning. This article on Epicurious explains how. (We haven't tried it, so we can't say whether or not it actually works.)
  • You can try the Leidenfrost Effect: if you add food to a pan when it's at exactly the right temperature, it won't stick--you don't even need to use butter or oil. It works, but it requires a fair amount of practice to get right. Here's a video on the Leidenfrost Effect for more information.

If you do have a messy pan to clean--which will occasionally happen--let it soak in hot soapy water before cleaning, which usually does the trick. You can also use abrasive scrubby pads and cleansers on stainless steel; it's tough, so these things won't hurt it. 

Once you get the hang of cooking with and caring for stainless steel cookware, you probably won't want to ever use nonstick again (except maybe for eggs and pancakes).

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Why Is Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad So Much Less Expensive than All-Clad D3?

Cost is a major factor for most people when they buy cookware. We all want the best product we can afford, without paying more than necessary.

Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad cookware is economically priced, yet its quality rivals that of All-Clad D3 (as we've already stated).

How is this possible? 

One reason is that All-Clad D3 cookware is made in the USA, so production costs are higher. All-Clad has shipped many of their products overseas to cut costs, but their clad cookware is still made here in the US.

It's an important part of the All-Clad prestige that it's made in the USA. People who buy All-Clad want an American-made product. 

You're probably also paying for the All-Clad reputation, which is excellent. This cookware really does last forever.

But if you don't mind buying cookware made elsewhere than the US, you can find good quality at a great price.

Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad (also called Gourmet Tri-Ply Clad) certainly falls into this category.

And if you absolutely don't want Chinese-made cookware, Brazilian Tramontina is an excellent option. 

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Chinese Vs. Brazilian Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad

Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad 12pc set China 2

Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad Chinese 12 piece set: glass lids.

Tramontina 12pc set Brazil

Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad Brazilian 12 piece set: stainless lids.

Up until a few years ago, the vast majority of Tramontina stainless tri-ply cookware sold in the US was made in China. This has changed, and we're not sure why. You can now find both Chinese and Brazilian Tramontina cookware on Amazon and at Wal-Mart, as well as at other retailers. You may not even know what you're buying unless you read the fine print.

Both Chinese and Brazilian Tramontina stainless cookware are induction compatible, made from 18/10 stainless, NSF certified, and come with a lifetime warranty (which Tramontina has a reputation for honoring).

Here's a comparison of the Brazilian Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad and the Chinese Tri-Ply Clad:

Feature:

Brazilian 

Tramontina

Chinese

Tramontina

 18/10 Stainless

 Induction Compatible

 NSF Certified

 Lifetime Warranty

 Stainless Lids

(check individual pieces/sets to verify)

 Riveted Handles

 Premium Build Quality

 Precision Cast Riveted Handle

As long as you get a pan or set that has the features you want, it doesn't matter where the cookware is made. Brazilian and Tramontina cookware are identical in quality.

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Buying Sets Vs. Buying Individual Pieces

Since this review is primarily for cookware sets, and because sets are a good way to buy clad stainless steel cookware because it's so versatile, we thought a section on how to pick out sets would be helpful.

Advantages of Buying a Set

  • You'll get the best price-per-piece of cookware.
  • You get a lot of cookware at once--good option if you're just starting out and need a lot.
  • Your cookware matches.

Disadvantages of Buying a Set

  • It's a bigger outlay of cash.
  • You won't get every piece you need (e.g., a roasting pan)
  • You could get pieces you won't use.

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What to Look for in a Cookware Set

Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad 12pc set China

No cookware set is going to have everything you need. For example, sets rarely come with a roasting pan. And you may want other pieces, like a nonstick skillet for eggs and an enameled cast iron Dutch oven for braising.

If you can't get everything, then what should you look for? What's the best mix? 

Here's what to look for in a cookware set.

Pan Types

Make sure that you'll use all the pans in a set. Do you really need two skillets and a sauté pan? (Hint: it's best if they're all different sizes: a 3- or 4-quart sauté pan is roughly the same size as a 10-inch skillet, but with more flat cooking surface.)

Will you use a pasta insert? (If you own a colander or strainer, you don't really need it.)

How many small sauce pans do you actually need? Does it make sense to get a 1.5 quart sauce pan and a 2 quart sauce pan? Wouldn't you rather have one small one and a bigger one? (You can't easily boil pasta in anything smaller than 3 quarts, especially long pasta.) 

Make sure a set has a good mix of pan types that you will actually use

For more information on pan types, see our article Should I Buy a Skillet or a Sauté Pan (Or Both?)

Pan Sizes

We talked about this already, but look at the pan sizes, too.

When you're considering a cookware set, pay close attention to the sizes of the pieces in the set.

One of the biggest drawbacks with cookware sets is that the pan sizes can be smallish. This is true no matter what the price point: even expensive cookware brands tend to have too-small skillets so that when you're ready to add to your set, you have to buy the bigger, more expensive 12-inch skillet (for example) rather than the smaller, less expensive 8-inch skillet.  

Most of the Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad stainless cookware sets, like other brands, have standard pieces such as 8-inch and a 10-inch skillets. If you're cooking for more than one person, the best all-around skillet size is really a 12-inch. A 12-inch skillet ensures that you've got plenty of flat cooking surface.

Remember: you can always use a larger skillet for a smaller amount of food, but you can't use a smaller skillet for a larger amount of food. 

Sets often come with two smallish sauce pans, too. The Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad 12-piece Brazilian cookware set comes with two small sauce pans: 1-quart, 1.5-quart, and 2-quart are all considered small.

3-quarts is a more usable size for a sauce pan. A good mix of sauce pans would be a 1.5-quart and a 3-quart, or a 2-quart and a 3-quart. A set shouldn't have a 1.5-quart and a 2-quart; they're both small, so you'll probably need to buy a larger one at some point.

When sets have two or more smallish pieces, these are called filler pieces. That is, you get a lot of pieces so it sounds like a great deal, but the truth is that you don't need a 1.5-qt and a 2-qt. sauce pan. One of these is a filler piece.

Check the sizes of pans in a set before you buy: they may not be what you want or need.

As for the larger pieces in a set--e.g., Dutch oven and/or stock pot--what works for you depends a lot on your cooking style. You may get more use out of a 5- or 6-quart Dutch oven than a6- or 8-quart stock pot, for example. But both are good pieces for what they're for.

If a set has one or the other, you have to decide which one you'll get the most use out of.

We prefer a set with a stock pot, because an enameled cast iron Dutch oven is better for braising than a clad stainless one. You don't have to buy le Creuset, but if you like to do braises, deep frying, stews, and soups, you should definitely own an enameled cast iron Dutch oven. 

Tips for Buying a Cookware Set

  • Pay attention to the pan types AND sizes. A lot of cookware sets have filler (small) pieces.
  • You're better off buying a small set and adding to it with new pieces as you know you need them. Don't buy a set with pieces you won't use. 
  • We think the Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad set with the best sized pieces is the Chinese 12-piece set. It has 2 large skillets and a 5-qt. sauté pan. The Chinese 14-piece set has the same great pieces, plus a pasta insert.

What Individual Pieces Do You Need After Buying a Set?

The answer to this question will depend on which set you choose and on your cooking style. 

roasting pan: Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad Stainless Cookware: A Comprehensive Review

But no matter what your cooking style or what set you buy, you will almost certainly need to buy a few more pieces, such as:

For more information see our article The 5 Must Have Cookware Pieces Every Cook Needs (Plus a Few Nice Extras), plus our reviews of cast iron and carbon steel skillets.

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Best Set Overall: Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad 12-Piece Set (Chinese)

See the 12 piece set on Amazon (other set sizes at this link, too)

About $280

Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad 12pc set China

Our favorite set of Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad is the Chinese 12-piece. It's hard to find any cookware set that doesn't have at least one or two filler pieces.

But every piece in this set is usable.

If you need a lot of cookware, this is the set to get. It has everything you need and nothing you don't.

This set includes:

-10" skillet

-12" skillet

-1.5 qt. sauce pan with lid

-3 qt. sauce pan with lid 

-6 qt. deep sauté pan with lid (a very versatile pan)

-5-qt. Dutch oven with lid

-8 qt. stock pot with lid.

The two large skillets alone are more than a third of the price of this set (about $110) if purchased separately--and these are the right sizes for most kitchens. 

The 8-quart stock pot is an excellent piece that most cooks will get a lot of use out of.

The 6-quart sauté pan is also a great piece. You can use it like an extra skillet, as a sauté pan, as a small stock pot, or as a large sauce pan. The lid will also fit the 12-inch skillet, so that saves you from having to buy an additional lid. (The Dutch oven lid fits the 10-inch skillet.)

You're going to be hard-pressed to find this many great pieces in any set. We don't normally recommend a 12-piece set because they inevitably have pieces you won't use. But this set is an exception. 

Tramontina offers: NSF certification, a lifetime warranty, induction compatibility, a mirror-finish, and performance very close to All-Clad. It's also oven and dishwasher safe.

Compare to Tramontina's other 12-piece sets: 

12 Piece Brazilian Set: (see it on Amazon for the best price) This set has smaller skillets, but also has an excellent 6 quart deep sauté pan and three sauce pans (1.5/2/3qt). Most people would consider one of the small sauce pans a filler piece, but it's still a decent set (and we love the stainless lids). But if you want a 12-inch skillet, you'll have to buy it separately.

Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad Stainless 12 pc set

Buy the Tramontina tri-ply clad Chinese 12 piece set:

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Best Runner Up Set: Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad 14-Piece Set (Chinese)

Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad 14pc set China 2

This is the same set as the 12-piece, but with a small 8-inch skillet and a pasta insert for the stock pot. This is a nice set and all the pieces are usable. We like that the set has three skillets rather than three sauce pans (that are too similar in size).

The 14 piece set includes:

-8" skillet

-10" skillet 

-12" skillet

-2 qt. sauce pan with lid

-3 qt. sauce pan with lid

-6 qt. deep sauté pan with lid (great piece!)

-5 qt. Dutch oven with lid

-8 qt. stock pot with lid and pasta insert.

The 14 piece set really has no filler pieces. The biggest difference between this and the 12-piece set is the stock pot with pasta insert (also called a "3 piece multi-cooker"). 

If you buy the pasta insert separately, you will pay about $50--considerably more than the cost here. So if you have a need for all the other pieces, it's a great set at a fabulous price.

As with the 12 piece set, Tramontina offers: NSF certification, a lifetime warranty, induction compatibility, a mirror-finish, and performance very close to All-Clad. It's also oven and dishwasher safe. 

Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad 14pc set China 2

Buy Tramontina tri-ply clad Chinese 14 piece set:

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Best Small Set: Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad 8-Piece Set (Chinese)

Tramontina TriPly Clad 8pc set China

If you're looking for a smaller set, the 8 piece set is a decent option. The Brazilian and Chinese sets have identical pieces in them, with the Brazilian set costing quite a bit more (though you do get stainless lids). 

This set includes:

8" skillet

10" skillet

2 quart sauce pan with lid

3 quart sauce pan with lid

5 quart Dutch oven, with lid.

It's a great basic set, though you will probably want a larger skillet at some point.

Remember that Tramontina offers NSF certification, a lifetime warranty, induction compatibility, a mirror-finish, and performance very close to All-Clad. It's also oven and dishwasher safe. 

Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad Stainless 8 pc set

Buy the Tramontina tri-ply clad 8 piece set:

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10 Piece Tramontina Clad Tri-Ply Cookware Sets: Brazilian Vs. Chinese 

Here is a side-by-side comparison of the Brazilian and the Chinese 10 Piece set:

Brazilian 10 Piece Set (80116/248DS)

Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad Stainless Brazilian 10 pc set

See the Brazilian 10 piece set on Amazon 

About $320

The Brazilian 10 piece set includes:

8" skillet/10" skillet

1.5 quart sauce pan w/lid/3 quart sauce w/lid

6 quart stock pot w/lid

3 quart braiser w/lid.

buy tri-ply clad brazilian 10 pc set:

Chinese 10 Piece Set (80116/566DS)

Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad 10 pc set Chinese

See the Chinese 10 piece set on Amazon

About $230

The Chinese 10 piece set includes:

8" skillet/10" skillet

1.5 quart sauce pan w/lid/3 quart sauce w/lid

8 quart stock pot w/lid

3 quart sauté pan w/lid.

BUY TRI-PLY CLAD Chinese 10 PC SET:

Both the Brazilian and Chinese 10-piece sets have 8"/10". The 3-quart brasier in the Brazilian set is a nice piece but it's a little small. But the same goes for the 3-quart sauté pan in the Chinese set: it's a nice piece, but on the small side (they're the same piece with different handles).

So the options are similar, with the main difference being a long-handle vs. a short handle on the 3-quart pan--and of course, glass lids on the Chinese set.

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Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad Open Stock Recommendations

If you want to buy pieces rather than a set, or want to supplement a set with a few more pieces, here are our recommendations.

Tri-Ply Clad 12-Inch Skillet

Tramontina Triply Clad stainless skillet

This skillet is durable and the price makes it well worth your consideration: highly polished stainless, induction compatible, lifetime warranty: everything you need in a piece of clad stainless steel cookware.

buy tramontina tri-ply clad 12-inch skillet:

Tramontina Triply Clad stainless skillet

Tri-Ply Clad Nonstick Skillet

Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad nonstick skillet

Tramontina makes several nonstick skillets, and most of them get good customer ratings, as well as recommendations from review sites like Wirecutter. We like this one because it has no rivets on the cooking surface, a nice shape, and a high grade, PFOA-free coating. (Which means it's PTFE, so if you don't want that, check out this ceramic nonstick skillet from Tramontina, which also gets excellent reviews).

This particular skillet isn't always available at Wal-Mart, but you can check out all of their Tramontina nonstick products by clicking here.

For nonstick skillets, we think a 10-inch is large enough, unless you're routinely cooking eggs for a crowd. 

For nonstick, we also recommend the inexpensive aluminum skillets rather than the clad stainless because the nonstick coating is going to wear off about 50x sooner than the clad stainless construction is going to wear out--so why pay clad stainless prices?

For more information, check out our article The Best Nonstick Skillet: Everything You Need to Know Before You Buy.

Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad nonstick skillet

buy tramontina tri-ply clad nonstick skillet:

Tramontina Gourmet Prima Roasting Pan

Tramontina Gourmet Prima roasting pan

Unless you're a vegetarian, you need a roasting pan large enough to cook any cut of meat.

There doesn't seem to be a Tri-Ply Clad roasting pan, which is fine because you don't need cladding in a roaster. This makes this Tramontina Gourmet Prima roasting pan is an excellent option. It has roomy handles--very important when you're grabbing the heavy pan from a hot oven. It comes with a couple of racks, and you can choose from other size and depth options at this link, too.

BUY TRAMONTINA gourmet prima roasting pan:

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Drawbacks of Tramontina Clad Tri-Ply

While overall we really like Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad cookware, no cookware is perfect. Here's what we don't like about the Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad cookware:

  • Most sets have standard piece sizes, which means smallish skillets and sauce pans. The sets we recommend have larger pieces than most sets you'll find from any brand.
  • Glass lids in the Chinese sets (stainless lids in the Brazilian sets).
  • Tramontina has updated their skillet design, but the older ones have very sloped sides and not a lot of flat cooking surface. (This should no longer be an issue.)

If you're on a budget, these drawbacks are small in comparison to the value and quality you get from the Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad stainless steel cookware.

Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad Stainless Brazilian 10 pc set

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Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad FAQs

Here are some commonly asked questions about Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad cookware.

Is Tramontina Good Quality Cookware?

Yes, Tramontina makes good quality cookware. Their Tri-Ply Clad line is their top-of-the-line clad stainless steel cookware.

Is Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad as Good as All-Clad?

Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad is almost as good as All-Clad D3. Different independent testers have found that the heating and durability are nearly identical to All-Clad D3 at a much lower price.

Is Tri-Ply Clad Safe to Use?

Yes: all clad stainless steel cookware is a safe choice. Stainless steel is one of the most stable, non-reactive cooking materials you can choose.

Is Tri-Ply Clad Dishwasher Safe?

Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad is dishwasher safe, but we recommend hand washing to prevent dulling the polished surface. 

Is Tri-Ply Clad Oven Safe?

Yes, Tri-Ply Clad is oven safe to 500F.

Where is Tramontina Cookware Made? 

Tramontina has factories around the globe. Tri-Ply Clad is made in Brazil and China.

Is Tri-Ply Clad Induction Compatible?

Yes: Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad is compatible with induction cooktops.

What Is the Warranty on Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad Cookware?

Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad has a lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects (as does all Tramontina cookware and most other Tramontina kitchen products).

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Final Thoughts on Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad Cookware

For the price, Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad stainless steel cookware offers exceptional value. It performs almost as well as All-Clad D3 (the industry standard) while costing less than half the price, offers induction compatibility, a lifetime warranty, NSF certification, and a beautiful aesthetic. 

Our recommendation is the 12-piece or 14-piece Chinese set, which has two large skillets, a deep saute pan, large stock pot, and no filler pieces--but it has glass lids. The 14-piece set also has an 8-inch skillet and a pasta insert for the stock pot.

The Brazilian sets all have two smaller skillets (8"/10"), but have stainless steel lids (which are more durable). 

Wal-Mart often has better prices than Amazon on the Chinese pieces and sets, while Amazon usually has better prices than Wal-Mart on the Brazilian pieces and sets. But check both to make sure you're getting the best price, as prices can vary quite a bit on both sites.

Thanks for reading!

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  1. It seems that only the Brazil made line with the stainless steel lids are showing NSF certified on Amazon now. All the other sets are not claiming NSF certification. Does this mean anything? Could the China made sets have lower quality standards?

    1. Hi Stephanie, we can’t say for sure, but it’s possible that because the Chinese Tramontina has glass lids, it is not NSF certifiable. But that’s just a guess. We’ll put the question to Tramontina and if they give us an answer, we’ll let you know.

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