The Kitchn’s Guide to Essential Cookware
As in our last guide, we’ve offered a few product recommendations in each category based on personal preferences, experience, and editor and reader reviews. Most of these tools can be bought on Amazon, but a terrific and cost-effective resource for basic kitchen tools is a restaurant supply store. Just buy the best quality you can afford!
1. Small 2- to 3-Quart Saucepan with Lid: The saucepan is your kitchen’s workhouse. Use it for boiling or steaming vegetables, making sauces, or cooking grains and pasta.
• All-Clad Stainless Sauce Pans ($89.95+)
• Cuisinart MultiClad Pro Sauce Pan ($43.97)
2. Large 4-Quart to 2-Gallon Saucepan or Pot with Lid: Every kitchen should have at least one really big pot! Use this for making pasta sauce, or chicken stock, or a large pot of soup you plan to freeze and have on hand for future meals.
3. Medium 10- to 14-inch Sauté Pan with Lid: a sauté pan has straight sides and a larger surface area, which makes it great for searing meat or reducing a pan sauce. The taller sides also mean sauces and slices are less likely to slosh out!
• Calphalon Unison Sear Nonstick Sauté Pan ($99+) – read our review here
• All-Clad Tri-Ply Stainless Steel 3 qt. Saute Pan w/Lid ($224.95)
• Cuisinart Multiclad Pro Triple Ply Stainless Steel 3.5 qt. Saute Pan ($79.99)
4. Medium 10-to 12-inch Cast Iron Skillet or Heavy Skillet with Lid: While a skillet and a sauté pan are almost interchangeable, a skillet has slanted sides instead of straight, which make it perfect for quick cooking techniques like stir-frying.
5. Medium 10-inch Nonstick Skillet: Yes, cast iron should be nonstick, but if you’re still working on creating the perfect seasoned pan, then try one of these non-Teflon nonstick options. They’re good for egg and breakfast dishes, like frittatas, omelets, and pancakes. DO NOT use them over high heat.
6. Medium 5- to 6-Quart Dutch Oven: A Dutch oven is a heavy metal pot, usually made of cast iron, with thick walls and a lid. Durable, versatile, long-lasting, you can use them for everything from braising to bread baking.
Readers, what are your essential pots and pans? Tell us below!
The Kitchn’s Other ‘Essentials’ Guides
• The Kitchn’s Guide to Essential Prep Tools and Utensils
• The Kitchn’s Guide to Essential Cooking Tools and Utensils