Boil, fry, roast, and soup it up to your heart's content with these must-have pans for every kitchen.
The Four Must-Haves
What you'll use it for: Boiling, blanching, steaming, and simmering
What to make in it: Pasta, vegetables, soup
What to look for: Weighty heft, with a lid and two handles. Some stockpots have a colander insert that makes it easy to drain pasta and vegetables. Go for at least 8 quarts so that you have maximum flexibility.
What you'll use it for: A little of this, a little of that — this pan is a workhorse and multitasker extraordinaire.
What to make in it: Soup, rice, pasta, noodles, baking tasks
What to look for: Check how the handle attaches to the pan; the connection should be sturdy. Sometimes there's a single small hand-hold to give balance when you use the handle. The lid should fit snugly. A lighter-weight construction may mean that ingredients in your saucepan are more prone to scalding and burning. Start with a two-quart size for ease of use with a variety of cooking needs.
What you'll use it for: Searing, frying, sautéing, and cooking
What to make in it: Meat, vegetables, sauces, one-dish meals, risotto, stir-fry
What to look for: Thick construction helps you avoid hot spots and burnt areas and helps the pan withstand very high heat when quickly browning something. A 10-inch size is a good starting pan, and some people prefer a non-stick finish. Again, a tight-fitting lid (with a heat-proof handle or knob on top) is a must. Make sure the handle on the pan is oven-proof, in case you need to quickly broil or warm a dish. As with a saucepan, check for a secure connection between handle and pan.
Rimmed baking sheet(s)
What you'll use it for: Roasting, cooking, and baking
What to make in it: Cookies, brownies, vegetables, fries, freezer-friendly mains (such as chicken)
What to look for: Go heavier for longer life and even distribution of heat. If your budget allows, buy at least two full-size sheets and one half-size sheet (this makes cooking in batches easier).
The extras you might like:
- A cast-iron skillet: Some people swear by frying, searing, and cooking in this, while others don't like the cleanup (soap is a no-no). But it can be a useful tool.
- A Dutch oven: Go for the nicer enameled versions and use it for day-long braising.
- Miscellaneous baking pans such as a loaf pan and pie pan. These are good building blocks as you start to add to your baking skills.
- Round metal cake pans: 8-inch or 9-inch versions are perfect for layer cakes or biscuits.
Pots and Pans Storage
Pots and Pans Storage
Frustrated by the mishmash of your pots and pans storage? Keep them in good order with these effective storage ideas.