Having different types of pots and pans will make food preparation easier. Sometimes specialty dishes require intricate methods, and cooking instruments designed for certain meals will produce the best results. The different types of cookware materials can also impact the quality of the food.
There are many types of cookware out there, and if you don’t know much about the intended use of each pot or pan, it may seem like an overwhelming task. We’ve compiled a comprehensive list below to help you choose the right pot or pan for your specific food preparation needs.
It doesn’t even matter if food preparation isn’t your forte; having the right tools will make cooking that much easier.
What Are The Different Types Of Pots And Pans?
Each pot and pan serve a different purpose; what you use will vary according to the meal you are preparing. Most households build their selection by choosing essential pieces first and then adding specialty cookware as the need arises. There is no use buying a fancy set if there’s more than one pot or pan you’ll never use.
Basic Pots & Pans
You’ll frequently use basic pots and pans for family breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. Keep these in easy to reach drawers or cupboards; there is nothing more frustrating than having to dig your favorite sauté pan out from under a stack of idle cookware. Here is our comprehensive guide to the different types of pots and pans and their different uses.
|Dutch oven||It is a cast-iron pot (sometimes coated with enamel) that can be used on the stovetop or in the oven to make dishes like roasts or stews.|
|Saucepan||They are available in many sizes and made from various materials; the tall sides are great for keeping moisture inside when you’re making sauces or heating milk.|
|Sauté pan||This pan can have straight, slightly higher walls or slanted walls; sauté pans are used for frying vegetables quickly on high heat.|
|Skillet||It is a versatile, low-walled pan used for cooking (frying) meats or vegetables on high heat.|
|Stockpot||These large, high-walled pots are great for making soups, stews, stock, or boiling pasta.|
|Cast iron skillet||This pan has the same function as the skillet described above but is made from cast iron for better heat retention.|
|Frying pan||Frying pans are either sauté pans or skillets; it is a blanket term for pans used for frying.|
|Griddle pan||There are three options available; round, square or rectangular, but both are large, smooth cooking surfaces with very short walls that assist in flipping things like eggs, pancakes, or grilled sandwiches.|
|Grill pan||Grill pans are available in all shapes and sizes and are usually made from cast iron, but you’ll find some Teflon ones. These are used for grilling meat like steaks or chicken breasts.|
|Loaf pan||Perhaps the most well-known oven pan; they come in different sizes and are used for baking loaves of bread in every variety.|
|Cake pans||Another staple in a baker’s home is a cake pan used for baking cakes; you’ll be overwhelmed by all the available types, but the most common are round or square pans.|
|Sheet pan||A sheet pan is mainly used for baking cookies; the low edges assist in scooping the baked goods from the pan.|
|Baking dish||Manufactured from glass or steel and is used for meals like baked pasta dishes.|
|Muffin pan||Also known as a cupcake tray can have 6 to 12 recesses (ranging from small to large)|
|Pie pan||Pie pans come in various shapes and sizes; some are deep-set, others have wavy edges, pies are usually not removed from a pie pan but served directly from it.|
Specialty Pots & Pans
Specialty pots and pans are for intricate cooking processes that need a little more capability than a standard pot (or pan) has to offer. Specialized cookware is sometimes – but not always – reserved for special occasions like dinner parties, romantic meals, or holidays.
|Brazier pan||(Also, Braiser or Rondeau) Its length and functions fall somewhere in the middle of a sauté pan and stockpot; you can do many things with this pan, from oven roasts to making stovetop casseroles.|
|Frittata pan||There are a few options here; it can be a regular cast-iron skillet or a specialized pan that resembles the omelet pan.|
|Crepe pan||It is similar to the griddle pan we described above, with a flat, smooth surface and low walls that make turning the crepe over easier.|
|Omelet pan||It is a functional double pan with interlocking handles to make flipping omelets easier by transferring them from one pan to another. There are many types of omelet pans available.|
|Paella pan||The pan has a flat surface, low walls (shallow), and oversized looped handles. This pan is used to make paella.|
|Pressure cooker||It looks a little like a stockpot but has a long handle on the lid and the pot. These handles, when aligned, serve a particular function; it seals the pot to build up pressure which helps to reduce cooking times and enhances the flavor. French ovenThis oven is the same as a Dutch oven, only coated in enamel to make cleaning easier. Steamer potThis pot has three components, the base that you fill with water, a colander-like fitting that goes on top, and a lid. A Steamer pot is mainly used to steam vegetables for an al dente texture.|
|Double Boiler||These pots have what appears to be two pots; it works the same as a steamer pot where you have to pour water in the base, only here the steam heats the solid base pot above it instead of letting steam through holes. These are great for making delicate sauces or melting chocolate.|
|Wok||It has a small base but high slanted walls that assist in tossing instead of stirring; it is used mainly for stir-frying vegetables, strips of meat, or rice.|
|Egg poacher||The pan works the same way as a steamer pot; only the egg poacher’s top fitting has four recesses where the eggs cook. The pan also has a lower wall than the steamer pot. Soup potSoup pots and stock pots are fundamentally the same things. However, you do find some soup pots with a rounder bottom.|
|Fondue pot||There are so many varieties of fondue pots – even electrical ones –generally, these pots have a small burner to keep the cheese nice and gooey. They also come with long forks for dipping food into cheese or fruit into chocolate.|
|Roasting pan||It is a large, deep pan with a rack where the meat rests. The rack has a dual purpose, so the roast is not directly on the surface and keeps it out of the drippings. And secondly, it provides for more even cooking as the heat can circulate the meat.|
|Lasagna pan||It is very similar to a baking dish but is typically rectangular to accommodate the lasagna pasta’s shape.|
|Casserole pan||It is also called a casserole dish, the umbrella term for pans and dishes for cooking/baking in the oven.|
|Springform pan||A specialized, round cake pan with a lever, that when flipped, expands the form to release the cake.|
|Gratin baking dish||Another type of casserole pan is used to make potato gratin in the oven. It is available in various shapes, sizes but generally oval and less frequent square.|
|Tart pan||These pans have separate pieces to remove the tart for better presentation, almost resembling the function of a springform pan.|
Why Do You Need A Variety Of Cookware?
While a cast-iron skillet is one of the most versatile pans in your kitchen, you’ll have a hard time boiling an egg in one. Of course, many pots and pans are universal; you’ll soon discover that a deep-set saucepan works great to boil eggs. However, you’ll need more options as your dishes become more complex.
Taking the well-known muffin pan as an example, a baking pan with depressions will prevent the cake batter from running all over the sheet when you want to bake cupcakes. Well, you could always just cut them into squares – like brownies – but if you need a specific form, you’ll need a special pan.
The size of the meal you need to prepare is another reason why you need more than just one standard pot or pan. If you plan on making dinner for more than two people, you’ll need bigger pots and pans to accommodate the extra servings.
Apart from functionality, different product materials will impact the quality of your meals. Each material has strengths and weaknesses. Some work great on gas, while others are useless on induction stoves.
Some of the various materials used to manufacture cookware include aluminum, copper, iron, lead, stainless steel, Teflon (non-stick), ceramic, and carbon steel – among other less frequently used materials.
Selecting The Right Cookware For Your Needs
Stop for a moment and consider which meal you put in the most effort each day. Do you love hot breakfasts each morning, or do you grab a banana from the fruit basket on your way out the door? Maybe lunch is your biggest meal, or your family prefers a hearty dinner?
If breakfast is your priority, you probably won’t need a special pan for lasagna, but you’ll need a few good pans for frying eggs and bacon. If you like oatmeal or hot porridge, you’ll need a heavy-based saucepan or a medium-sized pot.
Dinner time would call for a wide variety of standard pots and pans, including a few specialized ones. Home bakers will need more specialized oven pans for cakes, muffins, cookies, and all the temping tarts and sweet things.
The best you can do is start with the basics and keep a list near your stove. Each time you think, “there must be an easier way to do this!” consult our list of cookware and write down what pot or pan would have saved you all the hassle.
Selecting The Right Cookware For Your Range
For gas and electric stoves, you may get away with using the cookware you already have. But, if you want the best results, select your primary set of cookware based on the type of stove you have. The best pots and pans for gas stoves can withstand high direct heat and can distribute that heat throughout the pan quickly and in a relatively uniform manner. If you’re looking for the best cookware for an electric stove, you want pans that have a flat surface that will match up with the flat surface of the electric stove.
Induction stoves are a bit trickier; only certain types of cookware will work because they need to create a magnetic field between the pot and stove. Your best bet here is to use cast iron (enamel-coated cast iron works too); most stainless steel options work as well.
Some Cookware Materials Are Harmful To Your Health
According to Medline Plus, there is more to consider when choosing pots and pans than just the quality it produces. Some manufacturing materials can be harmful to your health.
- Ceramic cookware can contain lead, mainly imported items that do not carry FDA approval. If you buy any ceramic cookware, make sure it has passed the necessary lead-testing for safe cooking.
- Uncoated or unlined copper cookware can be harmful to your health – even when lined, this lining doesn’t last forever, and you’ll need to replace the pots and pans to prevent the possibility of becoming ill. When copper gets into your food, it can cause stomach issues such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Medline Plus recommends using pots and pans made of metals or alloys – like stainless steel or cast iron – that are easy to clean. According to research, the best cookware materials are:
- Stainless steel may just be the best thing you can have in your kitchen; there are no health risks attached to stainless steel. However, you’ll want to invest in the high-prices ranges here. (Learn about the pros and cons of stainless steel cookware.)
- Cast iron is another excellent option for cookware; it has excellent heat retaining abilities, is non-stick, and you can even stick it in the oven. The great thing about this material is that you can get an entire range of different pots and pans made from cast iron.
- Anodized aluminum is a safe option – you may want to make sure you’re not buying uncoated aluminum. Still, even then, the amount of aluminum that gets into the food is not high enough to cause any concern.
- Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) – commonly known as Teflon – is the non-stick coating found on many pans. It would be best to use Teflon pans for dishes that call for low-heat settings; using non-stick pans on high heat can release fumes that may irritate humans and pets.
Different Ways You Can Use Different Types of Pots and Pans To Make Cooking More Fun!
Getting new things is exciting! It is perfectly acceptable – and encouraged – to share your enthusiasm with others. Having proper cookware is only half of the fun; check out our guidelines and suggestions below to make cooking a trouble-free experience with your new pots and pans.
How To Make Mealtimes A Breeze
Cooking can seem like an overwhelming, endless task, but the situation doesn’t have to look this dire. There are more than a few things you can do to make mealtimes easier.
- Make weekly meal plans and shop according to your menu for the week
- Prepare your vegetables in advance by blanching and then freezing them to cut back on meal prep in the evenings
- Clean as you cook because nobody is ever in the mood to clean the kitchen after enjoying a meal
- Explore quick one-pot recipes during the week – keep the fancy dishes for your day off from work
- Search for recipes based on the cookware you have
- Take a cooking class with your significant other to learn how to use your new cookware effectively
Breathe Life Into Your Kitchen
If you want to have more fun using your new cookware, you can try several things to liven up mealtimes.
- Host a dinner party for your friends – you can even make it a fancy dress party to give it extra spice
- Draw up a schedule to allow each member of the family to cook a meal
- Explore the different cuisines around the world
- Host a private “cooking show” for friends and family
- If you are cooking for yourself, get into the mood with a glass of wine and your favorite music
- Have cooking competitions between family and friends
Preparing meals doesn’t have to be a one-person job; if you feel that cooking for your family is more of a chore than anything else, you need to get creative and bring the joy back to your kitchen.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you have more questions about all the different pots and pans out there, look at the frequently asked questions; perhaps you’ll find the answers below.
What Are The Most Common Types Of Pots?
Stockpots are the most common pots found in every home; they come in various sizes, and households can use them for boiling pasta, potatoes, or corn. They are also great for one-pot meals like soups and stews. Ironically, a saucepan is another staple pot in most kitchens.
What Is The Safest Type Of Pots And Pans?
The safest cookware is stainless steel, cast iron, and anodized aluminum. It is best not to use pots and pans made from uncoated copper, as there are health risks attached. Also, avoid cooking in non-FDA-approved ceramic cookware.
What Is The Difference Between A Saucepan And A Pot?
While both have high, straight sides and retain moisture well, the difference is that pots have two looped handles on opposite sides, whereas the saucepan has one long handle that makes pouring liquids easier. Some saucepans also have small spouts on one or both sides.
What Is A Heavy-Bottomed Saucepan?
A heavy-bottomed (or heavy-based) saucepan has excellent heat retaining abilities due to the thicker base. Heavy bottomed pots are generally better options as they provide even heat distribution and prevent burn spots while heating milk or making sauces. Burn spots are common for thin-based pots with a slight unleveled base; certain sections will receive more heat than others.
Cooking can be a fun experience when you know what cookware works best for the meal you want to prepare. While it is unnecessary to have every pot and pan available on the market, some are better suited for certain dishes. Start with the basics and add to your collection as your culinary skills (or adventurous spirit) develop.
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