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.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT MATERIAL
- 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.
BUILD YOUR COOKWARE COLLECTION - CHOOSE THE RIGHT COOKWARE FOR THE TASK
FRY PAN - A flat-bottomed pan with a long handle and low, flared sides that promote easy flipping and turning – and encourage air circulation.
BEST FOR - Fast cooking: frying, searing, and browning.
CONSIDER THIS - Choose at least one classic and one nonstick fry pan.
SAUCEPAN - A 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 FOR - Simmering, boiling, cooking grains and making sauces.
CONSIDER THIS - If you have to choose just one size, select a 3 or 4 qt. pan.
DUTCH OVEN - Also called a French oven or cocotte. A large pot with vertical sides, sturdy loop handles and a heavy, tight-fitting lid.
BEST FOR - Long, slow cooking for stews, braises, roasts, casseroles.
CONSIDER THIS - For a quick calculation, count one quart of capacity for each serving.
BEST FOR - Everything from stir-frying and sautéing to simmering and braising.
CONSIDER THIS - Because this pan is so versatile, you might want to have more than one.
BRAISER - A versatile low-sided pan with a wide, flat cooking surface and heavy, domed lid that provides extra room for larger roasts.
BEST FOR - Braising, slow cooking and pan roasting.
CONSIDER THIS - Select a braiser that can go directly from the stovetop or oven to your dining table.
ROASTING PAN - A 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 FOR - Cooking in the dry heat of the oven at relatively high temperatures.
CONSIDER THIS - A nonstick finish is great for easy cleanup; classic surfaces yield better gravy.
STOCK POT - A large pot with a flat base and tall vertical sides that are designed to minimize evaporation – plus two sturdy loop handles.
BEST FOR - Simmering soups and stocks; boiling lobster, corn or pasta.
CONSIDER THIS - Stockpots with a capacity of 8 qt. Or larger are the most useful.
MULTIPOT - A multipot is a tall pot with peforated inserts for cooking food in water (e.g.,boiling or blanching) or steaming food above water.
BEST FOR - Large insert is ideal for cooking and draining pasta or corn; use the steamer insert for veggies.
CONSIDER THIS - Pot 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 FOR - Higher-temperature cooking like grilling and searing.
CONSIDER THIS - To achieve the best grill marks, select a cast-iron or enameled cast-iron grill pan.
DOUBLE BOILER - 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 THIS - Choose a double boiler that quickly reacts to changes in temperature.
WOK - Also 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 FOR - Stir-frying (rapidly tossing and stirring small pieces of food over high heat). Use with a lid for steaming.
CONSIDER THIS - Use a flat-bottom wok on gas or electric burners; round-bottom woks with a ring are great for gas burners.
DOUBLE BURNER GRIDDLE - A 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 THIS - If 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
- Kate Carpenter