The Very Best Pots and Pans Every Home Cook Needs for 2022

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Cast iron pan on on trivet on counter. Contains chicken and potatoes cooked with lemon and herbs
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk; Prop Styling: JoJo Li

It feels like every time we open our laptops, we have emails telling us about a new cookware company or a new pot that promises to be the best thing since sliced bread. We’re not mad about it: It’s fun to learn about new products, and we’re always excited to try gear that might make our lives easier or our food a bit tastier. Of course, we also love oh-so-many pieces of classic cookware. So when we set out to compile this year’s list of Kitchn Essentials, we had our work cut out for us. There’s just so many pieces of cookware out there! We were serious about the word essential, though.

We tested, tasted, and debated to find the 12 pieces of cookware that we think are truly essential — the pieces every home cook needs in order to cook well in 2022. We have a lot of repeat winners from last year and also a few new winners. Plus, we added universal pot lids because so many of our editors have found them to be nonnegotiable. Let’s take a look.

1 / 12
Best Stainless Steel Skillet
was $129.95

Readers ask us all the time if All-Clad is worth the money, and we tell them that it is — especially when it comes to this fry pan. It has three bonded layers (that's what the d3 means), so it heats super evenly and gives meat that coveted sear. It's also comfortable to hold and doesn't discolor easily. And it'll last for ages.

2 / 12
Best Nonstick Skillet

If you are truly looking for nonstick, only a nonstick skillet will do. This is the one that's at the top of our list. Fried eggs, omelets, and crêpes slide off its surface. Plus, it's one of the lightest we've ever tested, with a smooth, rounded handle that’s super comfortable to hold and stays cool throughout cooking.

3 / 12
Best Cast Iron Skillet
Williams Sonoma

Lodge is a household name for a reason: The brand's budget-friendly cast iron pans are high quality and extremely versatile. "I use mine for anything I want to get nicely browned and crispy: cornbread, roasted Brussels sprouts and other vegetables, and any type of meat," says Senior Food Editor, Megan O. Steintrager. There are definitely more expensive cast iron pans out there, but there's no need to splurge.

4 / 12
Best Dutch Oven
Williams Sonoma

This Dutch oven is "an investment you'll use for a lifestime," says Contributor Patty Catalano. She leans on hers the most during the fall and winter when it's "filled every night with stews, braises, and sauces." We especially love its black enamel interior (which shows less wear and tear), tight-fitting lid, and self-basting spikes that keep moisture in the pot. (It tied for first in our Best List testing.)

5 / 12
Best Braiser
Le Creuset

Don't let the name fool you! This is not just for braises. In fact, we reach for this braiser almost daily. "It's great for one-pot pastas, skillet chicken, sautéed veggies, stovetop granola — this pot does it all," says Senior Contributing Food Editor Kelli Foster. Of course, it is also great for braises.

6 / 12
Best Saucepan
was $83.00

A saucepan is great for sauces, sure, but it also comes in handy for reheating leftovers, whisking up a roux, or making an after-dinner crème brûlée. If we had to pick just one saucepan, we'd pick this one from lesser-known Brazilian brand Tramontina. It distributes heat evenly and holds its own against repeated use and washing. It won the top spot in our Best List testing.

7 / 12
Best Sauté Pan
Great Jones
was $110.00

Part sauté pan, part skillet, this versatile pan is a must-have. It features deep, curved walls and holds up to three quarts. "You can use it like a mini Dutch oven and totally just bring this right to the table for serving," says Editor-in-Chief, Faith Durand.

8 / 12
Best Stockpot
Bed Bath & Beyond

If you've been wondering if your stockpot is big enough, the answer is probably no. You can pretty much do anything in a big stockpot, but you’ll find a too-small one incredibly limiting. This one holds up to 12 quarts and has a solid base layer that manages heat well, comfortable handles, and a snug-fitting lid.

9 / 12
Best Wok
Wok Shop

We have a short list of things all good woks should have. First, it should be made of carbon steel, which is durable, inexpensive, and becomes virtually nonstick over time. It should have a flat bottom and a 14-inch diameter. And it should have wood handles on both sides. That brings us to this stellar wok. Faith has half-joked that this wok is the one thing she'd grab from her house in a fire (once her family was safely outside, of course!). That's how much she loves it.

10 / 12
Best Casserole Dish
Le Creuset
was $130.00

This best-in-class casserole dish cooks casseroles to perfection and has grippy handles and an oven-safe lid that can keep food piping hot for three hours. It cleans easily, too, and has a glazed bottom that doesn’t easily scuff on oven racks. Plus, the whole thing is gorgeous and ideal for serving right at the table.

11 / 12
Best Roasting Pan
Williams Sonoma
was $260.00

If you are going to invest in a roasting pan, this one is well worth the splurge: It cooks beautifully in the oven and on the stovetop and has wide, tall handles that are easy to grip. It comes with a V-shaped rack that cradles poultry easily and has sizable handles that are a cinch to grab. It's dishwasher-safe and easy enough to clean by hand, too.

12 / 12
Best Pan Lids
was $10.00

Please allow us to rave about these universal lids, which come in three sizes, and fit on any pot, pan, dish, or bowl. Drop one on your vessel and it'll magically form an airtight seal. Made from BPA-free, high-quality silicone, they're also dishwasher-, microwave-, and freezer-safe. Rave. Rave. Rave.

How many of these Essentials do you have? Tell us in the comments below.