Our guide makes it a piece of cake to find the perfect pots and pans for your kitchen.
|⋅ Learn key differences between designs, like a grill pan and griddle.||⋅ Get important tips - for example, copper is the best heat conductor.|
|⋅ Find out how to season cast-iron cookware in 5 easy steps for maintenance.||⋅ And more!|
|⋅ How well do they conduct heat?||⋅ Do they react with any food?|
|⋅ Will food stick to the surface?||⋅ Are they safe for an induction stovetop and dishwasher?|
A popular choice for its lightweight design and excellent heat conduction (second only to copper). Because aluminum is soft and can react with certain food, it's often mixed with other metals such as magnesium for strength and lined with stainless steel or a nonstick coating. Avoid using aluminum cookware on induction stovetops and putting it in the dishwasher.
The best heat conductor, quickly heating up and adjusting to temperature changes for precise cooking control. Usually lined with stainless steel because copper reacts with some foods. Like aluminum, copper cookware should not be used on induction stovetops or put in the dishwasher.
Lightweight, corrosion and tarnish resistant, and safe for your induction stovetop oven and dishwasher. Often features an aluminum or copper core to increase its heat conduction - referred to as "clad" cookware. Look for 18/10 stainless steel (18 parts chromium and 10 parts nickel), which is considered high grade. The chromium increases the stain resistance, and the nickel adds an attractive shine.
Heavy and durable, cast iron heats slowly but evenly for browning, frying and baking. It's safe for an induction stovetop, but not the dishwasher. If it's not enamel coated, then it requires ongoing "seasoning" to protect it from rusting and add a nonstick coating.
How to season your cast-iron cookware:
- Wash and dry. Hand wash with a soft towel in hot water only, then dry.
- Rub butter or shortening all over the inside and outside.
- Place upside down in the oven with aluminum foil at the bottom to catch any drippings.
- Bake at 300° for about an hour.
- Turn off heat and let it cool before removing it from the oven.
- Repeat steps 1-5 when food starts to stick to the surface or if the cookware appears rusted.
A thin, durable coating used on certain types of cookware such as cast iron and aluminum. The enamel prevents corrosion your cookware from corroding and reaction or reacting with food during cooking. Usually safe for induction stovetops and dishwashers.
Aluminum treated with a special process that coats the metal's surface for extra resistance to corrosion and wear, nonstick properties and even-heat distribution. Safe for an induction stovetop, but not the dishwasher.
These pots and pans are coated to prevent food from sticking, offering easy cleanup. Another benefit - chefs can skip the oil for healthy, low-fat meals. Drawbacks include an inability to brown food as well as other cookware and extra care to avoid scratching the nonstick surface. Use plastic or wooden utensils instead of metal ones. Hand washing recommended.
These handles are welded on to the cookware's exterior for a smooth interior surface. However, they aren't as sturdy as riveted styles because they can bend or break.
Fastened with screws, these handles offer a smooth interior surface. They tend to loosen, but can be tightened for easy maintenance.
These handles are attached with rivets for strength and durability. Carefully clean the interior to remove food buildup around them.
- Select a metal handle to move effortlessly from stovetop to oven. The metal can become hot, so use an oven mitt for protection.
- Pick plastic for an inexpensive alternative. It stays cooler than metal handles, but it's usually unsafe for ovens hotter than 350°.
- Opt for a wooden handle that stays cool. Use it safely on the stovetop and avoid the oven (and dishwasher).
- Consider a set for multi-purpose cooking and overall value.
- Make sure your set includes these essentials: Saucepan, skillet, frying pan, sauté pan and a stock pot.
- Add specialty open-stock pieces like a double boiler to suit your cooking needs.
Asparagus potLike a stock pot, but taller and thinner. With a wire-basket steamer, it's perfectly designed for cooking asparagus, corn and more.
BraiserThink of a stock pot but with lower sides and a domed lid. Heats quickly for sautéing, browning and slow cooking meats, soups and stews.
Casserole panA large, deep pan that goes effortlessly from the oven to the table. Great for slow cooking.
Crepe panSimilar to a skillet, this pan features extra-low sides for easily lifting and flipping crepes.
Double boilerLike two saucepans stacked atop one another with a lid for the top pan. Heated only by the steam from below, the top pan allows you to protect delicate food such as chocolate from direct heat.
Dutch ovenA large round pot with side handles and a heavy, tight-fitting lid. Use it for slow cooking stews, roasts, casseroles and more.
GriddleDesigned with a large, flat surface and very low sides, which allows easy access to the cooking surface. Perfect for making pancakes, french toast and more.
Grill panLike a griddle, but designed with a ridged cooking surface to hold food above oils and fats for healthier cooking.
Multi potA tall pot featuring inserts for steaming vegetables and cooking corn, pasta and other foods in water.
Pressure cookerFeatures an airtight lid and steam pressure for fast cooking soups, beans, stews and more.
RoasterA large rectangular pan with low sides for roasting meats. Use it with a rack for healthy, nonstick cooking.
SaucepanThis pan has tall sides and usually a long handle for simmering, boiling, poaching and more. An essential for any kitchen.
SaucierA broad, bowl-shaped saucepan with slightly curved sides for easy whisking, stirring, sautéing and reducing sauces.
Sauté panA versatile pan with a large surface and sides that are slightly taller than a skillet's. Ideal for searing and browning meat.
SautéuseThis pan features a round design with sloped sides for sautéing and braising on your stovetop.
SkilletAlso called a frying pan, a skillet features a long handle and low, slanted sides to enhance air circulation and make it easy to flip and turn food. Consider this one of your go-to pans.
Stock potPerfect for boiling and simmering, this large pot has two handles and tall, straight sides to reduce evaporation. Use it to make delicious favorites like soup, chili, pasta and more.
WokA versatile, bowl-shaped pan used for stir-frying over high heat. Its round design evenly spreads heat and uses less oil for easy, healthy cooking.