7 pots and pans every kitchen needs

July 27, 2015

Buying pots and pans can be confusing— especially when you don't know what you need. Here are seven pots and pans that will help complete your kitchen.

7 pots and pans every kitchen needs

1. Sauté pan

A wide pan with straight sides that are about six centimetres to 12 centimetres (2 1⁄2 to 4 1⁄2 inches) high, the sauté pan usually has a capacity of 2 1/2 to three litres (2 1⁄2 to three quarts).

  • The high sides let you fry foods in fat.
  • A cover allows you to braise or poach foods in liquid, or simmer stews.

2. Skillet

The skillet is shallower than a sauté pan with rounded or angled sides.

  • Made of plain or enamelled cast iron, aluminum, steel or copper, with and without nonstick finishes, skillets range in diameter from 12.5 to 30 centimetres (five to 12 inches).

3. Omelet pan

Usually 20 to 25 centimetres (eight to 10 inches) in diameter with gently sloping, curved sides, the omelet pan can be made of cast aluminum, steel, nonstick aluminum or tinned copper.

  • The shape of the pan allows the cook to fold the omelet over and slide it onto a serving plate easily.
  • Rolled steel or aluminum pans often are seasoned and used only for cooking omelets.
  • These are not washed, but wiped clean or scoured with salt and a paper towel.

4. Dutch oven

  • A large, deep, covered pot that is round or oval, the Dutch oven is usually enamelled cast iron or plain cast iron.
  • It varies in size from two to 13 litres (two to 13 quarts).
  • A Dutch oven is used for slow-cooking dishes, such as beef stew or pot roast, over a burner.
  • The name is appropriate: the sides of the pot heat evenly, keeping hot air circulating around the food, much as it does in a conventional oven.

5. Lidded pots

  • Lidded pots range in size from one to five litres (one to five quarts).
  • Used for cooking foods with liquid, pots need tight-fitting lids to hold down evaporation.
  • A well-designed pot — made of stainless steel, aluminum, anodized aluminum, copper or enamelled cast iron — is twice as wide as it is tall.
  • Kitchens need several of varying sizes.

6. Saucepot

A large, deep pot — from five to 15 litres (five to 15 quarts) — that has handles on both sides, the saucepot is usually made of aluminum alloy, stainless steel or enamelled steel.

  • It's the preferred cooking pot for simmering long-cooking foods, such as soups and stews, and for cooking pasta.
  • Heavy models, which take a longer time to heat up, are excellent for slow cooking spaghetti sauces.
  • Inserts are available for steaming vegetables or shellfish.

7. Stockpot

The tallest pot, and usually as wide as it is tall, the stockpot is often made of either aluminum alloy, stainless steel or enamelled steel.

  • Sizes range from four litres (four quarts) all the way to 20 litres (20 quarts) or more. For standard home use, six to 10 litres (six to 10 quarts) is adequate. Excellent for cooking large amounts of pasta or chili or for steaming lobsters, the stockpot is best for making party-sized batches of soup or fresh soup stocks that you can keep in the freezer for making other dishes.

Don't buy pots and pans you won't use— stick to this list, and keep your kitchen running smoothly with the basics.

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