The Very Best Pots and Pans for 2020

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Lodge Cast Iron Skillet
Credit: Product: Courtesy of Lodge Cast Iron

We know that many of you are cooking more meals at home than ever before these days. (We’re professional home cooks and this is even true for us!) And so, we’re taking a look through our list of Kitchn Essentials, the tools and gadgets we honestly think will make us all better cooks in 2020. (You can browse the whole list here.) Today, we’re doing a deep dive on the cookware. Because you could have the best chicken recipes on the internet, but if you don’t have a proper pan to cook things in, well, you’re kind of going to be out of luck.

If you’re stocking up, here are our picks for the very best pots and pans for today and for the rest of the year to come.

The Best Cast Iron Skillet: Lodge Chef Collection 12-Inch Skillet

We gift this essential skillet to every beginner cook and newlywed couple, because it’s sure to become an heirloom. Lodge is the name in cast iron cookware and makes all these skillets in Tennessee. Use this pan in your oven, on the grill, for Saturday morning pancakes, and weeknight dinners. Note: Caring for it isn’t as hard as people seem to think; you just need to know a few simple things.

Buy: Lodge Chef Collection 12-Inch Skillet, $40 at Sur la Table

Credit: Product: Courtesy of Staub

The Best Dutch Oven: Staub 5.5-Quart Dutch Oven

A Dutch oven is the perfect vessel for practically anything (not to mention a kitchen status symbol). There are lots of Dutch ovens out there, but this will forever be our favorite. It has a black enamel interior (instead of a smooth white one), which gives meat a better sear and helps develop those brown bits that add so much flavor. It’s also got a tight-fitting lid and self-basting spikes to keep moisture in the pot. We get that it’s expensive, though, so our runner-up is the $100 Milo.

Buy: Staub 5.5-Quart Dutch Oven, from $215 at Williams Sonoma

Credit: Product: Courtesy of Anolon

The Best Nonstick Skillet: Anolon Advanced Home 10.25-Inch Nonstick Skillet

When it comes to nonstick skillets, it’s hard to beat anything by Anolon. Our long-time favorite is being phased out, so we’ve been testing out this newly launched option and love it. The company says it’ll last 16 times longer than traditional nonstick, and we’ve found that it releases pancakes, eggs, and burgers even better than our old pick.

Buy: Anolon Advanced Home 10.25-Inch Nonstick Skillet, $120 at Macy’s

Credit: Product: Courtesy of All-Clad

The Best Stainless Steel Skillet: All-Clad d3 Stainless Steel 12-Inch Fry Pan

Readers ask us all the time if All-Clad really is worth the money and we think it is — especially when it comes to absolute everyday essentials like a frying pan. This skillet has three bonded layers (that’s what the d3 means), so it heats super evenly and gives meat that coveted sear. Some pros will suggest the 10-incher, but you never want a too-crowded pan, so we think bigger is better here.

Buy: All-Clad d3 Stainless Steel 12-Inch Fry Pan, $130

Credit: Product: Courtesy of All-Clad

The Best Sauce Pan: All-Clad d3 Stainless Steel 3-Quart Sauce Pan

Meghan Splawn, our Associate Food Editor, says her 2-quart saucepan is the best piece of All-Clad she owns. For this roundup, though, we suggest sizing up to the 3-quart just to make sure you have a pot that’s big enough for whatever you’re making (oatmeal, boxed mac and cheese, caramel, etc.!). You can always work with a not-full pan, but that’s not the case with an overflowing one!

Buy: All-Clad d3 Stainless Steel 3-Quart Sauce Pan, $110

Credit: Product: Courtesy of Great Jones

The Best Sauté Pan: Great Jones Deep Cut

When cooks shop for gear, sometimes they focus on frying pans (very important) but neglect the sauté pan (also essential!). A sauté pan is a deeper skillet, like a saucepan and a skillet met in a perfect middle. It has enough surface area to sear, and enough depth to then add some liquid and braise low and slow. “You can use it like a mini Dutch oven and I’d totally just bring this gorgeous number right to the table for serving,” says Faith.

Buy: Great Jones Deep Cut, $75 at Great Jones

Credit: Product: Courtesy of Cuisinart

The Best Stock Pot: Cuisinart MultiClad Pro 12-Quart Triple-Ply Stainless Stock Pot

When it comes to a stock pot (you know, the pot you boil pasta and steam potatoes in) bigger is definitely better. You can pretty much do anything in a big stock pot, but you’ll find a too-small one limiting. This one holds up to 12 quarts and, while you might not fill it up every day, you’ll be glad to have such a big option waiting in the wings when you need it.

Buy: Cuisinart MultiClad Pro 12-Quart Triple-Ply Stainless Stock Pot, $133 at Walmart

Credit: Product: Courtesy of The Wok Shop

The Best Wok: Wok Shop Carbon Steel Wok

A wok just might be the most fun piece of cookware and several of editors argued passionately for its role as an essential in their kitchens. Faith has joked (but was it a joke?) that this wok is the one thing she’d grab from her house in a fire (after everyone was safely out, of course!). It’s made of carbon steel, which is durable and inexpensive, heats quickly and evenly, and can become glassily nonstick. Plus it has wood handles that won’t overheat.

Buy: Wok Shop Carbon Steel Wok, from $30 at The Wok Shop

Credit: Product: Courtesy of Chicago Metallic Bakeware

The Best 13×9-Inch Pan: Chicago Metallic Uncoated 13×9-Inch Pan

What’s more everyday and essential than a 13×9-inch pan? What gets made in one? What doesn’t. This basic metal dish is our go-to for brownies, blondies, sheet cake, tuna noodle casserole, lasagna … you get the idea. It heats up quickly and is really good when you want to brown the edges of whatever you’re cooking (ahem, ziti!). It’s especially good for anything that requires straight edges for presentation.

Buy: Chicago Metallic Uncoated 13×9-Inch Pan, $19

Credit: Product: Courtesy of Le Creuset

The Best Casserole Dish: Le Creuset Heritage Rectangular Dish

One more 9×13-inch pan is a good idea (we often are using two at once). So for your second, invest in a pretty dish that goes to the table with style. Le Creuset’s stoneware casserole dish can go in the oven, microwave, freezer, dishwasher, and even under the broiler, which comes in handy if you want to brown the cheese on top of your baked pasta or you want to crisp up the topping on your green bean casserole.

Buy: Le Creuset Heritage Rectangular Dish, $50 at Le Creuset

Credit: Product: Courtesy of Made In Cookware

The Best Roasting Pan: Made In Blue Carbon Steel Roasting Pan

Meghan got one of these carbon steel roasting pans last fall and quickly declared it “the $99 pan that everyone needs.” Yes, even those who have no plans to host Thanksgiving. She likes it for roasting veggies, braising, baking, making deep casseroles, and more. “It’s lightweight, heats well, and is nonstick.” Plus, it’s smaller than those too-big roasting pans out there.

Buy: Made In Blue Carbon Steel Roasting Pan, $99 at Made In

Credit: Joe Lingeman