Monica Hewitt is an accomplished chef with an extensive background in setting up kitchens around the world. From selecting kitchenware and kitchen utensils to menu planning, Monica has been responsible for establishing complete restaurants from the ground up. As the Kitchen and Cooking Expert at Homesthetics, Monica is in charge of reviewing and curating all cooking and kitchen-related content on the platform. In her free time, Monica is a good sport, enjoying critiquing our homemade meals around the clock and telling us what could have been improved in sandwiches.
Your cookware can be made from different materials. Each has pros and cons, which you need to know when looking for cookware to add to your kitchen.
Understanding their differences is important, from how they conduct heat to how you’re supposed to clean them. This will help you make the most of each piece of cookware.
These are the different types of cookware and when you should use them.
Best For: Precision and control while cooking; normally used by the pros
Professionals usually use copper cookware because of its precision. However, you, too, can learn to work with this type of cookware.
Copper has excellent heat distribution, letting it heat and cool down efficiently. This factor makes it easier to control how you cook your food. You can easily find this in a sauté pan, fry pan, or similar cookware.
Unlike other cookware pieces, copper is extremely sensitive and easy to damage. It’s best to keep it out of the dishwasher and clean it the old-fashioned way.
They should also be regularly polished to maintain their features. It can develop a natural patina if you cannot establish a proper polishing routine.
When looking for a copper pot or pan, it’s best to look for a heavy-gauge one for durability. It can be a bit pricey compared to the other cookware, but it’s worth the investment.
This cookware material is also incompatible with induction cooking because of its sensitivity to heat and electricity.
What I like
Used by pros
Great for working with high heat
Can be safe for ovens
Superior heat conduction
What I Don’t Like
Not compatible with induction cooktops
Cast Iron Cookware
Best For: Searing, frying, slow-cooking
Cast iron is another famous cookware material that is long-lasting and thick. It’s so durable that you can easily find a vintage cast iron still being used today despite being passed down for generations.
It usually takes a while to heat a cast iron skillet. However, once they’re ready, it distributes heat evenly and helps you get the perfect sear and browning for meat.
Another exciting feature of cast iron is how it can improve your food. It naturally adds iron to your food while cooking, an essential mineral for the body.
Cooking with an uncoated cast iron isn’t the most ideal. One of the reasons why it’s so well-known is the intensive care required. You must season cast iron properly to get the best results.
Cast iron cookware is one of the most high maintenance out there. However, given its properties and how it can improve your dish, it’s a great investment in any household.
An enameled cast iron is practically the more colorful version of plain cast iron. However, they’re not as high-maintenance and can work without seasoning.
This type of cookware lets you easily transition from a stove top to an oven because of it retaining heat well. It’s great for braising, stewing, slow cooking, and working with very high heat.
Its colorful exterior makes it great for serving food directly from your pot or pan compared to your typical cast iron skillet. The most common type of enameled cast iron is the dutch oven, which will be discussed later.
An enameled cast iron tends to be heavier than other cookware materials, so you must be careful when bringing it around.
It’s also common for the more affordable options that the cast iron easily chips and cracks, especially when exposed to high temperatures. Investing in a more expensive one that will last a long time is best.
The light color of its interior may show some discoloration over time. However, this does not affect your dishes. It’s so durable that you can easily pass down an enameled cast iron to your children.
Nonstick cookware is another famous material for those planning to cut their fat intake. It allows you to cook with little to no oil.
Its nonstick coating prevents food from getting stuck to the surface. It helps the pan or pot easily release delicate food, like eggs, crepes, and pancakes.
It’s best to avoid using metal utensils when working with them, so you don’t damage the nonstick coatings.
Nonstick cookware is also easy to clean since the surface allows it to dispatch any residue. However, it’s important to be careful when cleaning these types of cookware, so the nonstick surface doesn’t get damaged.
When looking for nonstick cookware, it’s best to double-check the quality. Many may be affordable but have questionable nonstick surfaces.
What I like
Less oil when cooking
Easy to clean
Can be used with any cooktop
What I Don’t Like
Less browning on food
Not good with the high heat of dishwashers
Stainless Steel Cookware
Best For: Everyday cooking for all types of food
Stainless steel is one of the most common materials for cookware, given how lightweight and durable they are. They’re also versatile, making them a preferred material for cookware.
Since they’re a poor heat conductor, they’re usually constructed with a copper or aluminum disc at the bottom. These materials help the cookware heat up more efficiently and evenly.
Cooking with a stainless steel pot or pan usually requires vegetable or canola oil to keep the food from sticking to the surface.
Since its material doesn’t react to other substances, you can easily cook on its surface, regardless of if they’re harsh or acidic foods.
Cleaning and maintenance for stainless steel are easy. You can scrub any stubborn residue and finish it in the dishwasher. Any stain and discoloration can be removed with a stainless steel cleanser.
While it does take a while to get used to cooking with stainless steel, it’s one of the most accessible materials that can help you adjust to others.
What I like
Extremely durable for different kinds of food
Safe for dishwashers, ovens, and broilers
What I Don’t Like
It can be tough to clean
Much low-quality stainless steel cookware
It might take time to get used to
Best For: Baking
If you’re a fan of making cakes, cookies, and more, you might need a wide variety of bakeware.
These come in different shapes and sizes because of the different kinds of baked goods available. You may need a separate pan for each kind of baked good.
While variety does have its pros, it can be difficult to store so many kinds, especially if you work with different kinds of baked goods.
These can be made from different materials, like aluminum or silicone. Each also has its pros and cons when baking.
While most are nonstick, you may have to line them with wax paper and spray oil to ensure your pastries don’t stick.
When baking, it’s great to have a good supply of bakeware in your kitchen. While these types are restricted to one purpose, it’s essential if this is your cooking medium.
What I like
Variety of materials
Comes in different shapes and sizes
What I Don’t Like
Only for pastries and cakes
Not all are nonstick
Can be hard to store because of the shapes
The Kitchen Essentials
Now that you’re more aware of the cookware features of your pots and pans, you’ll need to know a few kitchen essentials to add to your kitchen.
This guide will help you determine what you need for your cooking style and the kind of food you want to work with.
Here are the essential pots and pans you can work with.
While you may know precisely what a pan is and what it’s used for, different kinds of cooking exist, as do different kinds of pans.
They can be made of different materials or used for specific types of cooking. From pans for broiling or frying to the different specialized pans for specific dishes, the pan possibilities are endless.
Here are the different types of pans you might need for your kitchen.
A general frying pan is used for everyday foods, from meat to vegetables.
They can be made from different materials, like stainless steel, carbon steel, and more.
If you’re looking for a pan with a more specific purpose, we’ve also gathered the other types you might be interested in.
Nonstick pans are the go-to when working with delicate dishes. This type of fry pan lets you cook without using much oil.
Omelet pans are nonstick pans specifically made to help you easily cook omelets.
These pans are extremely easy to maintain. However, it’s best not to use a metal utensil when working with them.
Cast Iron Skillet
The cast iron skillet has been gaining popularity because of its versatility. You can easily rely on this skillet for deep frying, searing, or other processes.
Modern cast iron pans don’t have the same smooth nonstick finish as the vintage ones. However, if finding a vintage one is challenging, you can easily get a modern but reliable cast iron.
Unlike the previous fry pan, you can use metal utensils with a cast iron skillet. Be careful when using them since the utensil can also conduct heat.
Le Creuset is one of the most famous cookware brands, with the best cast iron pans in their selection.
A sauté pan is a wide pan that lets you hold different liquids while cooking. It’s great for deep frying, sautéing, and more.
Anodized aluminum is a popular material for a sauté pan because it distributes heat.
If you work with many sauces, it’s best to have a pan that can specifically hold liquids and keep cooking at a constant low heat.
These pans are made explicitly for delicate sauces to keep them from burning.
A griddle or grill pan is a particular type that allows you to grill burgers, sausages, vegetables, and more.
They have a unique shape designed to let you grill on your stovetop.
Stir Fry Pans
These types of pans are specifically for stir-frying, which is a famous style typical of Asian food.
Much like a cast iron skillet, this type of pan would require proper seasoning to get the best results for your food.
This type of pan is a large dish specifically used for making paella. They’re traditionally made with carbon steel because their thinness can help with heat distribution.
Since it’s carbon steel, you must adequately season paella pans like cast iron to keep your ingredients from sticking to the surface.
Roasting pans are versatile pieces of cookware used to roast meats like turkey and chicken, staples for any feast.
This cookware material can also be used to roast vegetables, depending on the accessories included.
This type of dish is a type of ceramic cookware that’s best used for casseroles, as stated in the name.
It’s deep enough to hold sauces and thick enough to retain heat.
Baking pans are made for pastries and cakes in particular. There are different kinds, depending on what you’re baking.
They’re generally nonstick, but you would still need oil or lining to make them easier to remove.
Just like pans, pots can also come in different sizes. Each can help you with specific dishes and meal types.
While there are automated cooking pots, like slow cookers and crock pots, there are times when you just want to enjoy the good old fashion way of cooking.
Here are the most common types of pots you might need for your kitchen.
If you have any leftover bones or vegetables, you might want to make stock out of them. That’s where a stock pot comes in.
A stock pot is the largest type you can work with, making it great for making stock and broth for your other dishes.
A stock pot can also be used for pasta, sauces, and other dishes, making it versatile.
A pasta pot has strainers to make cooking and draining noodles easier.
It’s usually made from stainless steel, making it easy to maintain. It’s best for those who eat A LOT of pasta.
Originating from the Netherlands, Dutch ovens are a type of enameled cast iron that’s best known for its colorful exterior. They’re best known for slower cooking styles.
A Dutch oven is easy to clean and maintain. However, keeping it out of the dishwasher is best to allow it to retain its features.
Le Creuset is also best known for its colorful and durable Dutch ovens. While they may be pricey, a Dutch oven is excellent for all cooking styles involving sauces and soups.
A Dutch oven is also known as a French oven because of French brands like Le Creuset that made the cookware popular with their cooking.
If you’re working with a lot of sauce, it might be best to level up from a sauce pan to a pot.
You can create more sauce for feasts and larger servings using a deep pot.
These can come in stainless steel or copper, making them great for acidic foods like tomato sauce.
Much like a Dutch oven, a pot roast is made specifically for those slow cooking processes requiring a lot of heat retention.
As a result, you get meat that falls right off the bone.
Copper is a great cookware material to work with when it comes to pots because it allows you to have better control over how your food cooks.
Its heat distribution allows your food to cook evenly, especially when working with soups and sauces.
Different Cookware Accessories
Besides the enormous pots and pans, it’s also essential to consider the different accessories that can make the cooking process much easier for you.
While they’re not essential for the kitchen, they can help make cooking much easier. They can also help with specific processes and techniques the cookware can’t achieve.
These are the following cookware accessories any master chef must have to keep their kitchen ready for cooking:
Pot and Pan Covers – These are ideal for covering your pots and pans while cooking to reduce splatter and speed up the cooking procedure.
Wok Rings – These are placed directly on the burner to support a wok better. Besides accommodating the wok’s unique shape, it directs heat evenly across it.
Steamer Basket – This versatile tool lets you steam vegetables and chicken into a pot. You can also use it to blanch vegetables.
Splatter Screens – These mesh screens help prevent oil and grease splashes without blocking your view of the food. Unlike a full cover, it allows your food to breathe while cooking.
Egg Poachers – This tool helps you easily poach an egg, ensuring it’s evenly cooked. It’s available from 4 to 15 cups, depending on your preference. They usually come with egg cookers to make it easier for anyone to make eggs.
Handle Covers – These covers are often made of silicone and can be easily slipped onto your handles to add comfort while cooking.
Culinary Baskets – These versatile tools come in coarse or fine mesh. They allow you to fry, blanch, skim, and boil at a safe distance from the heat.
Stove Top Griddles – It’s a tool that turns your stovetop into a griddle or grill for pancakes, burgers, and more.
Steamer Racks – These racks can go into your pots, pans, and pressure cookers to limit your food’s contact with your cookware. It lets you steam vegetables, seafood, dim sum, and other foods easily.
It’s best to invest in accessories you’ll undoubtedly use when cooking. Some can use the cookware bought as a set, while others are sold separately.
Choosing the Best Cookware
Whenever you cook, it’s important to choose the best cookware since it can affect your end product.
These are the things to consider when choosing your cookware materials.
Hand-pick Your Pieces
When choosing cookware, it’s best to have a variety on hand. Your pieces should fit what and how you cook since they contribute to the final product.
While many produce cookware sets, cookware brands tend to have many items that might clutter your cabinets.
Their sets usually include the accessories, utensils, and even the cookbook that they add on there.
If you plan on getting a cookware set, ensure you’ll use each item to make the most out of the set. If not, it might be best to purchase individual pieces instead.
Treat these cookware as an investment since they’re tools you must use daily, especially if you cook your meals.
Go to a Retail Store
Nowadays, it’s become common for us to buy everything online. While it’s easy to scroll down to the review section of a listing, it’s always better to go to an actual retail store and try the pieces for yourself.
It can help you get a feel for the product before purchasing it. You can check its weight and see which is manageable for you.
Observing the attachments while the cookware is in your hand makes it easier to see if they’re sturdy or ergonomic.
The best part is having someone from the store advise you on the materials. You can easily ask them about their recommendations and the specifics of each piece.
Besides aesthetics, glass lids are a great way to keep an eye on the food you’re cooking without lifting the lid. That simple action usually interrupts the cooking process.
However, these tend to be heavy, making them easy to drop and break. When this happens, it can be dangerous, especially for households with kids.
When cooking, there are times when you’d have to transfer your cookware from the stove to the oven. If you’re unaware of your cookware’s features, exposing it to certain temperatures suddenly becomes dangerous.
Even if the box says it’s oven safe, we recommend double-checking the specifications before purchasing it.
The main question is, “What temperatures can this cookware be safely exposed to?”
This information is usually provided on the packaging. You can also double-check with consumer comments to get insight from someone who has used it.
See how much heat your cookware can take. Some can only withstand up to 350ºF while others can take up to 500ºF.
Types Of Cookware FAQs
You might have some questions about the types of cookware options you can have at home.
We’ve cooked up the most common ones to help you with your research.
What Type of Cookware Is Best?
The best cookware usually depends on your cooking style and the food you work with. Some may need specialized cookware material to get the best results.
However, some of the best cookware is usually made of stainless steel. It’s versatile and can work with most foods, making it easy to work with once you get the hang of it.
Most of the best cookware sets in the market are made from stainless steel, making them accessible as well.
When looking for a stainless steel cookware set, don’t compromise quality for the price. While many affordable sets exist, some might work with low-quality stainless steel to compensate.
Which Cookware Is Best for Frying?
When it comes to frying, a stainless steel pan is the most reliable and standard.
It’s versatile and can work with most kinds of food. It’s also a great item when learning the ropes around the kitchen.
However, cooking with stainless steel may entail a lot of oil and fat, depending on your cooking.
For more delicate foods, you can cook them on a copper or nonstick pan. These can lessen the chances of your food sticking to the pan without adding much oil.
Which Cookware Is Dishwasher Safe?
Stainless steel is one of the most dishwasher-safe cookware types on the market, which is excellent, as they’re one of the most common cookware used.
Nonstick cookware is generally not dishwasher safe. However, nonstick Teflon pots and pans are safe in the dishwasher.
When working in the kitchen, there are many things you can use to make the best dishes. While it can be overwhelming to learn about these things, it’s essential for cooking.
It’s best to know yourcookers and kitchenware to make the most of every cooking experience.