You don’t have to be a budding sous chef to appreciate a great set of cookware or a shiny new sous pot or cast iron pan. The right cookware can elevate your kitchen game, helping you grill a choice cut of steak, steam your vegetables to perfection, or make an amazing sauce.
What to consider before you choose cookware
What’s your cooking style?
There are different types of cookware, and which you choose will depend on the way you like to cook. Cast iron is the way to go for many chefs who like the versatility of pan to table. Stainless steel is great for induction ovens, and non-stick is the pan of choice for someone who wants to quickly flip a pancake or cook up an egg. There’s also a variety of pots for sauces, stews, and soups.
What type of cookware do you already own?
If you’re ready for a whole new set of cookware, you won’t need to take an inventory of your existing pieces. If you do have a great set already, you can choose to add to your own set by upgrading to copper cookware, adding a set of cast iron pots and pans, or choosing a few non-stick frying pans.
Matching your cookware to your existing cooktop
Just like there are different types of cookware, there are different types of cooktops to use your cookware on. Choosing the right cookware for your cooktop can help you cook more efficiently.
Glass or ceramic cooktop
The smooth surface of a glass or ceramic cooktop makes it ideal for most types of cookware including non-stick, stainless steel, and heavy cast iron. Because you’re cooking on glass or ceramic, you may not want to choose a glass pot as that could scratch your cooktop.
When you have a gas cooktop any set of cookware you choose will work, but the best cookware recommended for gas cooktops is either stainless steel, aluminum, or copper.
An induction cooktop will instantly produce heat when you place a magnetic pot or pan on the surface. Because of that magnetic requirement, you must use cast iron or magnetic stainless steel cookware with an induction cooktop.
Different types of cookware material
Not all cookware is created from the same material. You can find several choices of cookware material, and each will cook your food in a different way.
Stainless steel cookware
Stainless steel is known for being durable, and when you choose stainless steel cookware you’ll have a pot or pan with a built-in aluminum layer that distributes heat quickly and evenly.
There are a lot of pros to having stainless steel cookware. It’s a non-reactive type of cookware, and that means it doesn’t interact with certain kinds of foods. It’s not as expensive as other metal cookware like copper, and it’s dishwasher safe too.
Keep in mind when purchasing stainless steel cookware that, unless the pot or pan is reinforced by aluminum or copper, the heat conductivity may not be as efficient than with other materials.
When you have non-stick cookware you have a sheer surface that food won’t stick to. This is the ideal pan for making eggs, flipping pancakes, or cooking fish. Home chefs love non-stick cookware because it conducts heat well. It’s also healthier because it lets you cook without oil or fat.
You’ll want to always use plastic utensils or kitchen tools when cooking with non-stick pots and pans. Keep in mind that non-stick cookware can’t be used in the oven because it may break down in high heat.
Are non-stick pots and pans safe to use?
Some non-stick cookware is made with Teflon. To make Teflon, a chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), is used. When Teflon is placed on pots and pans it makes the surface very smooth, and that smooth surface repels sticking.
Non-stick cookware made with PFOA is non-toxic and safe to cook with, but there are a few cautions to keep in mind. These pans aren’t able to be placed in a high heat oven over 500 ºF as that may cause the pan to begin breaking down. Also, if your non-stick pan is scratched because of use with metal or other heavy duty utensil, you’ll want to replace it.
If you’re shopping for non-stick cookware you can also choose types that are heavyweight and PFOA-free.
Cast iron cookware
With a cast iron pan you can go from oven to table without transferring your food. It’s perfect for baking, roasting, sautéing, frying, and braising your food, and you can make everything from a skillet pie to brownies or the perfect steak in a cast iron pan.
Cooks love cast iron because once it’s hot, it stays hot for longer than a standard pan. It’s versatile enough to use for multiple types of recipes, and it’s durable and long lasting. If you season your pan, meaning you coat it with oil and cook it in the oven for one hour before using, it will be non-stick too.
In comparison to other pans, a cast iron pan is a bit more challenging to clean. Just keep in mind that these pans are heavy and they don’t cook as evenly as other types of pans.
Enameled cast iron
You know those gorgeous cast iron dutch ovens and roasting pans you’ve seen on Pinterest and coveted from afar? That type of cookware is known as enameled cast iron, and these colourful pieces are known for their flexibility in moving from stove, oven, table, and storage. You can stew, roast, slow cook and more in these pans, and they look great on your shelf when you are between use.
Enameled cast iron tends to heat slowly and evenly, and they retain heat well so you can keep your food hot once placed on the table. The enameled coating isn’t reactive, and they are oven safe and dishwasher safe.
The only drawbacks to enameled cast iron is that they tend to be heavy, and on occasion, the enamel can chip.
Copper cookware is eye candy for your kitchen. These gleaming, gorgeous pots and pans are coveted among gourmet cooks, and that’s not just because they look great: copper cookware is the best heat conductor available. Because they heat very quickly they are perfect for steaming, braising, or sautéing your food.
Copper cookware will not work on induction cooktops, and they do require a good polish to keep them looking their best.
Hard anodized cookware
You may not have heard of hard anodized cookware, but if you choose this type of cookware you’ll wonder why you waited. It’s made of an aluminum base that’s treated with an electrochemical process to make it durable, oven-proof, and non-stick. Hard anodized cookware is very easy to clean and a great heat conductor for faster boil and cook times.
Hard anodized cookware is heavy, and because it contains aluminum, it may react with acidic food. Unlike cast iron pans that can go from oven to table to the fridge to store your food, you can’t store food in hard anodized cookware. You also can’t place this type of cookware in the dishwasher as the chemical detergent may damage the coating.
Aluminum cookware is a lightweight, affordable option that has excellent heat conductivity. It will also resist any sort of rust or erosion from use.
When using aluminum cookware you’ll want to keep in mind that it can have reactivity to some types of food, and because this type of cookware is made from a very soft metal it may scratch easily so it is not as durable or long lasting as other types.
Types of cookware you can choose
You don’t have to commit to one type of cookware. You can mix, match, and add a new pot or pan whenever you’d like to experiment with a recipe or try something new.
The best cookware sets come with everything you’ll need to set up your kitchen. From stockpots to skillet pans and sauce pans, you’ll find it all in one box. You can find complete cookware sets from your favourite brands including Paderno, Cuisinart, and Lagostina.
Frying pans and skillets
Every kitchen needs a frying pan or skillet, and these flat bottomed pans are great for searing, frying, and cooking with oils. Normally sold without a lid, you’ll find frying pans in all types of different sizes.
Cast iron skillets
A cast iron skillet is similar to a frying pan, but it tends to be deeper, heavier, and may be available in standard cast iron black or in different enameled cast iron colours.
A sauce pan is usually the first pan you add to your kitchen. This versatile piece of cookware has tall, straight sides so you can boil water, slow cook sauce, or reheat food quickly and easily. Sauce pans come with lids and are available in a variety of sizes.
A sauté pan is for sautéing, and although it’s similar to a frying pan, it has straight sides to contain the food as you move it around the pan. You can use a sauté pan for sautéing foods, but you can also use it for deep-frying or making sauces. These types of pans generally come with a lid.
Roasting pans are used in the oven for roasting. You can cook up a turkey, small chicken, or portion of beef while adding vegetables and broth, all in one pot. You can find roasting pans in enameled cast iron or clad in aluminum, and they are generally oven safe up even at high temperatures.
For casseroles, stews, and pasta, a Dutch oven is a must-have. They can be used on the stove or in the oven, include lids, and because they are made from cast iron, can be quite heavy.
Large quantity cooking is easy when you have a stockpot. You can sauté, brown, or make large portions of pasta or stew. Because they are tall, wide, and have lids, they’re also great for jobs like canning.
Pressure cookers or Instant Pots
There are a few styles of pressure cooker including stovetop pressure cookers and electric pressure cookers, and they offer even heat distribution while cooking your food 70% faster. That cooking process also keeps vital nutrients and vitamins in.
Take the next step
Adding a new set of cookware or just a new pot or pan is simple, fun, and can elevate your cooking game. Take a look at all of the cookware available from Best Buy and set up your kitchen for culinary success.