When it comes to essential kitchen tools, pots and pans are up at the top of the list. With so many different sizes and styles available, knowing which are the must-haves for your kitchen can be challenging. Here are five essential pots and pans that are up to almost any task:
Every kitchen needs a large stockpot for big jobs like making stock, batch cooking or feeding a crowd. When choosing a stockpot, look for a 6-quart to 12-quart pot with a lid. Opt for a pot with a thick, heavy bottom to prevent burning (remember, the pot will be on the stovetop for hours when making stock or soup — the last thing you want are scorched ingredients).
2. Large sauté pan
A large sauté pan (about 12-14 inches) will be one of the most-used tools in your kitchen. This multi-purpose pan is perfect for frying, sautéing and braising. Look for a pan with straight sides as this gives you more surface area for ingredients and will keep liquid from sloshing out of the pan. Additionally, choose a pan with a tight-fitting lid, as this is essential for braising.
3. Small saucepan
Perfect for reheating leftovers, making sauces or cooking smaller amounts of grains and pasta, a small saucepan is essential to any kitchen. Look for a pot with a comfortable handle and a curved edge that allows for easy pouring.
4. Non-stick frying pan
A non-stick frying pan will make making omelettes, frittatas and stir-frys a breeze. Keep in mind that non-stick pans have a shorter lifespan than stainless steel, as the coating will eventually wear out, however, they are essential to a well-stocked kitchen. To extend the life of your non-stick pans, avoid using metal utensils, as they will scratch the coating. Instead, opt for wood, silicone and plastic spatulas, spoons and tongs.
5. Enamel Dutch oven
These heavy pots, often made out of cast iron, are long-lasting gems that can go from the stovetop to the oven. Look for a 5 to 6 quart Dutch oven with a tightly fitting lid, and thick sides and bottom for retaining heat.
When shopping for cookware, knowing which material will suit your needs will help you make the right choice. You can find stainless steel, aluminum and copper styles available, each with their own pros and cons.
Pro: Stainless steel is nonreactive, which means you don’t need to worry about acidic or alkaline foods reacting with the material.
Con: Stainless steel is one of the more expensive materials on the market.
Pro: Aluminum is a budget-friendly option that is known for heating up and cooling down quickly.
Con: Aluminum is reactive, meaning you must avoid cooking highly acidic or salty foods, like tomato sauce or sauerkraut. However, this can be avoided by using anodized aluminum cookware but it is still prone to warping and scratching.
Pro: Copper is one of the best materials for conducting heat, meaning it heats up quickly and distributes heat evenly.
Con: Copper is expensive and like aluminum, it is reactive. Due to the copper compounds it can also discolour light foods.