The right cookware for your kitchen can make or break your first culinary experience. Due to the broadness of the term, however, it’s easy to become lost and overwhelmed in the vast spectrum of cookware products. While most take “cookware” to mean “pots and pans”, in reality cookware encompasses a broad array of options. Here at FortheChef.com, we’ll help you break down what you need in layman’s terms.First things first: Who are you and what are you cooking?
Are you a Kitchen Newcomer, setting out on the incredibly rewarding journey of cooking for the first time; a Culinary Artist, entertaining regularly and dabbling in all kinds of recipes, or a Professional Chef who runs that popular corner restaurant? An honest assessment of your needs is important here. This guide specifically covers purchasing cookware for a beginner or aspiring chef.
For the Kitchen Newcomer
Generally, for those purchasing their first pieces cookware, we would recommend the Bare Essentials: the five fundamental pieces of kitchen workhorses that will help you cook virtually anything: the Fry Pan, the Sauce Pan, the Saute Pan, the Stock Pot, and the Griddle.
- Fry Pan (aka Skillet): the workhorse of the kitchen, this shallow pan is best for fast cooking with oils over high heat (e.g. frying, searing, browning). With a flat bottom and a long handle, these pans are designed to help cook close to the heat source without getting fingers too close.
- Sauce Pan: pans with tall vertical sides, used primarily for cooking with liquid (e.g. simmering, boiling, making sauces) or reheating leftovers and preparing grains.
- Saute Pan: a wide, flat-bottomed pan with vertical sides and a long handle, (as you can guess) these pans are designed for sauteing (fast cooking while shaking, moving, tossing, or stirring food).
- Stock Pot: a large, deep vessel with a flat bottom used to cook liquid foods. Ideal for sauteing, browning, or adding liquids to make soups, stock, or stews. Alternatively, a multipot is a stock pot with a large perforated insert for cooking food in water and a smaller insert for steaming food above water.
- Griddle: large, flat-surfaced pan with a non-stick finish that sits on a stovetop. The griddle can be used with little oil and is used for cooking breakfast foods (e.g. eggs, pancakes, hash browns, etc.).
- Most popular: look for griddles with non-stick or hard anodized finishes
We hope this guide to the basics helps you embark upon your cooking journey. If you’d like to learn more, please see the links below:
Which Cookware Material is Best? -- a guide to helping you with further buying decisions
Which Cookware is Best for Induction Cooktops? -- making sure your cookware works with modern stovetops in your kitchen