A Complete Guide to Pots and Pans

Great cookware is one of the best investments you can make, but there are so many choices and picking the right product can be difficult. The first thing you should determine is what kind of cooking you want to do, how many people you are most likely to cook for and your level of expertise. You should build your selection by choosing basic pieces first and then adding specialty pans that you desire.



  • Durable nonstick coatings easily release even the most delicate foods
  • Requires little or no oil for cooking, great for healthy cooking
  • PFOA-free; most pieces are dishwasher safe



    • Great for healthy, high-heat cooking & searing with minimal oil.
    • Ultra-strong nonstick coating provides fast, easy release.
    • PFOA-free; most pieces are dishwasher safe 


    • Heats slowly and evenly, then retains heat extremely well.
    • Excels at high-heat tasks like searing, sautéing, browning and frying.
    • Exceptionally durable – can last for generations with proper care.



    • Beautiful pieces go from stovetop or oven to your dining table.
    • Responsive aluminum or copper cores for rapid, even heating.
    • Dishwasher, oven and broiler safe.


    • The best material for conducting heat and responding to changes to temperature.
    • Heats rapidly and evenly and cools down quickly, providing maximum control.
    • As beautiful as it is functional – perfect for both cooking and serving.


    • Combines the precise heating of copper with the easy care of stainless steel.
    • Five bonded layers with a copper core for maximum responsiveness.
    • Select pieces have a PFOA-free nonstick finish for effortless cleanup.


    FRY PANA flat-bottomed pan with a long handle and low, flared sides that promote easy flipping and turning – and encourage air circulation.

    BEST FORFast cooking: frying, searing, and browning.

    CONSIDER THISChoose at least one classic and one nonstick fry pan.

    SAUCEPANA heavy pan with a flat base, tall sides and a long handle. Larger sizes should have a "helper handle" on the far side of the pan.

    BEST FORSimmering, boiling, cooking grains and making sauces.

    CONSIDER THISIf you have to choose just one size, select a 3 or 4 qt. pan.

    DUTCH OVENAlso called a French oven or cocotte. A large pot with vertical sides, sturdy loop handles and a heavy, tight-fitting lid.

    BEST FORLong, slow cooking for stews, braises, roasts, casseroles.

    CONSIDER THISFor a quick calculation, count one quart of capacity for each serving.


    ESSENTIAL PANFor a versatile piece you'll use every day, this pan combines the best qualities of a French skillet and a deep sauté pan.

    BEST FOREverything from stir-frying and sautéing to simmering and braising.

    CONSIDER THISBecause this pan is so versatile, you might want to have more than one.

    BRAISERA versatile low-sided pan with a wide, flat cooking surface and heavy, domed lid that provides extra room for larger roasts.

    BEST FORBraising, slow cooking and pan roasting.

    CONSIDER THISSelect a braiser that can go directly from the stovetop or oven to your dining table.

    ROASTING PANA large rectangular pan with low sides that allow the oven's dry heat to contact as much of the food as possible. Often used with a roasting rack.

    BEST FORCooking in the dry heat of the oven at relatively high temperatures.

    CONSIDER THISA nonstick finish is great for easy cleanup; classic surfaces yield better gravy.

    STOCK POTA large pot with a flat base and tall vertical sides that are designed to minimize evaporation – plus two sturdy loop handles.

    BEST FORSimmering soups and stocks; boiling lobster, corn or pasta.

    CONSIDER THISStockpots with a capacity of 8 qt. Or larger are the most useful.


    MULTIPOTA multipot is a tall pot with peforated inserts for cooking food in water (e.g.,boiling or blanching) or steaming food above water.

    BEST FORLarge insert is ideal for cooking and draining pasta or corn; use the steamer insert for veggies.

    CONSIDER THISPot can be used on its own for stock, soup or stew.

    GRILL PAN - A pan with a ridged cooking surface that resembles the grates of an outdoor grill. Low sides allow increased air circulation.

    BEST FORHigher-temperature cooking like grilling and searing.

    CONSIDER THISTo achieve the best grill marks, select a cast-iron or enameled cast-iron grill pan.


    A set of two nesting pans with a lid that fits both pans. Bottom pan is about the size and shape of a small saucepan; top pan is slightly smaller.

    BEST FOR - Cooking sauces, custards, chocolate desserts and other delicate foods.

    CONSIDER THISChoose a double boiler that quickly reacts to changes in temperature. 

    WOKAlso called a stir-fry pan. Versatile pan has a rounded bottom and high, gradually sloping sides. It may have a long stick handle or two loop handles.

    BEST FORStir-frying (rapidly tossing and stirring small pieces of food over high heat). Use with a lid for steaming.

    CONSIDER THISUse a flat-bottom wok on gas or electric burners; round-bottom woks with a ring are great for gas burners.

    DOUBLE BURNER GRIDDLEA broad, flat pan that fits over one or two burners. For efficient cooking and easy cleanup, choose a griddle with a nonstick or stick-resistant finish.

    BEST FOR - Pancakes, eggs, bacon, thin steaks, grilled cheese sandwiches – and much more.

    CONSIDER THISIf you plan on cooking meat, choose a griddle with a well around the rim to catch grease.

    Click here for full article by Williams Sonoma


    Leave a comment

    Please note, comments must be approved before they are published