Kitchen cookware is one of those purchases where you get what you pay for. Cheap pots and pans might seem like a good deal at first, but they quickly lose their non-stick coating and warp under heat. On the other end of the spectrum, premium cookware can cost a small fortune. But with high quality materials and craftsmanship, these pieces truly last a lifetime.
This brings us to the premium French cookware brand Masterclass. With their trademark beechwood handles and 5-ply stainless steel construction, Masterclass pans command luxury prices. But are those wooden handles really worth paying over $100 for a single fry pan?
After extensive testing, our verdict is yes – for the right buyer. The wooden handles offer superior comfort and control during cooking. Combined with durable materials and quality construction, Masterclass cookware will serve even professional chefs well for decades.
Below we cover every detail in our in-depth Masterclass cookware review including:
- Overview of the Masterclass brand and product lines
- Hands-on impressions of the 5-ply material and wooden handles
- Where Masterclass excels compared to competitors
- Downsides and areas for improvement
- Key factors to consider before buying for your kitchen
- Care and maintenance tips for Masterclass pans
By the end, you’ll have all the info to decide if the premium price tag is justified for your needs and budget.
Overview of Masterclass Premium Cookware
Masterclass cookware is designed and manufactured in England by Emmy, a family-owned company dating back to 1840. Their products are used in Michelin star restaurants, culinary schools, and discerning home kitchens worldwide.
Masterclass uses high grade materials like 18/10 stainless steel and 5-ply aluminum cores for efficient heating. But their signature feature is the beautiful beechwood handles sourced from French forests. These handles stay cool on the stovetop while providing an ergonomic grip.
In addition to traditional French cookware styles, Masterclass offers modern innovations like non-stick ceramic coatings. Their product lines include:
- Tradition – 5-ply stainless steel cookware with beechwood handles
- Cation – Non-stick ceramic with titanium reinforcement
- Induction – 18/10 stainless steel optimized for induction ranges
- Heritage – Colorful enamel-coated cast iron Dutch ovens
Pan styles span fry pans, sauté pans, saucepans, stock pots, grill pans, and more. Masterclass products are luxury kitchen investments sold open stock, so you can buy exactly the pieces your cooking requires.
Reviews from customers highlight the exceptional performance, quality craftsmanship, and beautiful aesthetics of Masterclass cookware:
“I absolutely love my Masterclass fry pan. The wooden handle is perfect for tossing veggies and meats while staying cool. These are built to last a lifetime.” – Sara A.
“We outfitted our whole kitchen with Masterclass because nothing compares to the 5-ply construction. They heat so evenly, it’s improved our cooking.” – Daniel S.
But such high performance comes at a cost. Let’s look closer at the pros and cons of this premium cookware line.
Pros of Masterclass Pans
Beautiful and Ergonomic Wooden Handles
The beechwood handles set Masterclass cookware apart from all others. These handles are designed for both form and function.
The wood comes from sustainable French forests and is hand-polished to a smooth finish. The grain patterns give each handle a unique look. Three sturdy rivets attach the handles firmly to the pans while allowing rotation for control.
During cooking, the wood stays much cooler to the touch than metal handles which conduct heat. You can confidently hold and maneuver Masterclass pans on the stove and easily toss food. The curved ergonomic shape also reduces wrist strain for comfortable cooking.
While most cookware handles get hot to touch quickly, Masterclass owners can stir, flip, and grab pans off the stove with ease. The beechwood truly enhances the cooking experience.
Durable 18/10 Stainless Steel Construction
Masterclass pans are built from professional-grade 18/10 stainless steel, the optimal balance of chromium and nickel for performance. This makes them highly durable as well as:
- Non-reactive – Food won’t absorb metallic flavors during cooking
- Brushed finish – Stylish while hiding scratches and fingerprints
- Oven and dishwasher safe – Withstands up to 550° F
The aluminum core runs fully up the sides, not just the base, for superior heat conduction. This 5-ply construction rivals that of All-Clad but is lighter than many competitors.
Versatile for All Stovetops and Oven Use
Masterclass cookware works on all modern stove types including induction and gas. The 5-ply material also makes it extremely oven safe up to 550° F.
The vented glass lids let steam escape while allowing you to monitor food. And the entire set is dishwasher safe for easy cleaning. With open stock purchasing, you can get the exact pan sizes and types needed for your cooking style.
In summary, the Masterclass line excels in 3 key areas compared to mainstream brands:
- Precision cooking performance – 5-ply material evenly distributes heat
- Comfort and control – Wooden handles stay cool while cooking
- Heirloom quality – Durable enough to pass down generations
Let’s look at the downsides next.
Cons of Masterclass Cookware
There’s no denying Masterclass pans are an expensive investment. A 10″ fry pan will cost over $100. Compared to mainstream brands, you’re paying a 2-3x premium.
The unique wooden handles and 5-ply construction clearly add manufacturing costs. Masterclass prices are inline with luxury brands like All-Clad, Le Creuset, and Staub that use premium materials.
This cookware is priced for serious home cooks and professionals, not average households. You have to cook frequently and care about quality materials to justify the expenditure. For budget buyers, lower cost stainless steel sets are readily available.
Handles Require Maintenance
While beautiful, the beechwood handles do need proper maintenance. Allowing moisture inside can cause cracking or loosening from the pan over time.
It’s recommended to oil the handles every few months using foodsafe mineral oil. This keeps the wood sealed. Immediately dry handles after washing to prevent water damage.
The wood handles also make Masterclass pans unsuitable for outdoor cooking like camping or grilling where the handles would be exposed to weather.
With 5 layers of metal, Masterclass pots and pans have noticeable heft. Large stockpots can weigh over 5 pounds empty. The weight improves durability but can also cause fatigue during cooking.
People with wrist or arm issues may find these heavy pans difficult to lift and maneuver. It’s a trade-off of quality materials for convenience. Those who prefer lightweight cookware will find Masterclass too heavy.
Is Masterclass Worth the High Price?
So should you invest $100+ for a Masterclass fry pan or stock pot? Here are the key factors to consider:
How Often Do You Cook?
Frequent cooks who prepare multiple meals daily get the most return from premium cookware. If you only cook occasionally, cheaper mainstream brands are likely sufficient.
But for cooking enthusiasts who spend meaningful time in the kitchen, the performance and quality of Masterclass pans make them worthwhile.
Think of it like purchasing a luxury vehicle – it’s hard to justify for basic transportation, but rewarding for those who care about the driving experience.
Does Hand Comfort Matter?
The wooden handles deliver such comfort and control while cooking. For those who find metal handles difficult to grip when hot, the beechwood is a game changer.
People with arthritis or other hand/wrist conditions can especially benefit from Masterclass. But the value depends on if handle comfort is a priority for you.
Are You a Serious Home Chef?
Professional chefs and very avid home cooks have an easier time justifying premium cookware. If you frequently cook for crowds or want restaurant-level performance, Masterclass is likely a fit.
For beginner or casual cooks, mainstream mid-range stainless steel sets are probably sufficient. Don’t overspend relative to your experience.
Can You Afford the Investment?
Premium cookware is ultimately a luxury, not a necessity. Even cheaper pans will get the basic jobs done.
Before splurging, honestly assess your budget. Make sure spending $100+ per piece is within your means and won’t sacrifice more important financial goals.
Do You Cook on Induction Ranges?
With their 5-ply stainless steel design, Masterclass pans are optimized for induction which not all cookware works with.
If you have an induction range or plan to switch to one, the Masterclass line is a smart long term investment that takes advantage of induction power.
Masterclass Cookware vs Competitors
How does Masterclass compare to other premium cookware brands in its class?
The renowned All-Clad is the most direct Masterclass competitor, known for quality and performance. All-Clad pioneered 5-ply cookware and also comes with a lifetime warranty.
However, All-Clad lacks Masterclass’ signature wooden handles. The metal handles get just as hot. All-Clad is frequently rated less comfortable and lacking the craftsmanship of Masterclass.
For pure cooking performance though, All-Clad and Masterclass are comparable. You pay extra for the French craftsmanship and handles.
Known for colorful enamel cast iron Dutch ovens, Le Creuset sells premium stainless steel cookware as well. But again without the benefit of wooden handles.
In terms of materials, Masterclass and Le Creuset stainless options are similarly high-end. Le Creuset’s Disorderly range has a modern textured look while Masterclass aims for timeless elegance.
Owned by Newell Brands, Calphalon makes quality mid-range stainless steel and non-stick cookware widely available in stores.
Calphalon offers good performance and durability at a lower cost, but nowhere near the quality and comfort of Masterclass. Expect to replace Calphalon much sooner.
For budget buyers, Tramontina provides restaurant-grade stainless steel at affordable prices. Their tri-ply construction lacks the heat distribution of 5-ply.
But Tramontina delivers reliable performance for a fraction of the cost. They’re a good option on a tight budget. Just don’t expect the refined experience of Masterclass.
No mainstream cookware brand truly replicates the Masterclass formula of handling, craftsmanship and materials. You pay a premium for their attention to detail.
Caring for Your Masterclass Cookware
To get the most out of your investment, proper care and maintenance is key. Here are tips to keep your Masterclass pans looking and performing like new:
- Oil wooden handles – Every 2-3 months, rub handles with foodsafe mineral oil to maintain moisture and prevent cracking.
- Dry thoroughly – Always dry handles and surfaces fully after washing. Don’t let moisture linger.
- Use low-to-medium heat – High heat can damage the stainless steel and warp pans over time.
- Avoid metal utensils – Wooden or silicone utensils help prevent surface scratches.
- Clean with non-abrasives – Gently wash by hand or dishwasher. Avoid scouring pads.
- Store carefully – Use pots and pan organizers. Don’t stack items directly inside each other.
With proper care, your Masterclass cookware should serve your kitchen for a lifetime and beyond. The next generation may be enjoying these pans decades from now.
Masterclass premium cookware stands at the pinnacle of quality, craftsmanship and performance. The 5-ply construction rivals the best French restaurants while the hand-polished wooden handles provide superior comfort.
For cooking enthusiasts who can justify the premium cost, no other brand matches the luxurious Masterclass experience. The pans handle like a dream and distribute heat perfectly even.
But more casual cooks will find the price hard to swallow when mainstream brands cost a fraction as much. Make sure to assess your budget, cooking habits, and priorities before investing.
While certainly not cheap, keep in mind Masterclass cookware should quite literally last generations when properly cared for. That helps justify the higher upfront cost. Few pots and pans constructed today make that durability promise.
Our verdict? While expensive, no other cookware combines professional-grade materials with artisan craftsmanship like Masterclass. For serious home cooks, it’s money well spent. Just be ready to pay a luxury price for the best.