Pots and Pans Buying Guide

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Buying Preparation

If you have ever gone out shopping for pots you may have been tempted to buy packaged deals. While this is an inexpensive way to get a whole set of pots without much thinking, often times they are selling low quality products. The misconception about pots and pans is that they are all the same. Believe me, they are not. Low quality pots and pans leave your food burnt, undercooked or just plain bad. If you are looking to buy a new set, try to go to the store and judge for yourself what product is best for you. These are some questions you want to answer:

  • Am I looking for high or low maintenance cookware? Some cookware can be very difficult to clean. Depending on what your pot is made out of depends on how easy it is to clean.
  • How heavy should my pots and pans be? The thicker the pot or pan, the more even the distribution of heat. However you don't want to break your wrist while cooking. Try out individual pots and pans to see what's right for you.
  • What type of food will I cook most often? If you are buying pots and pans for the first time, get the basics. If you are individualizing your home collection, try to ask this question in order to figure out exactly which pot or pan you actually need.
    • For even cooking of saucy dishes or omelettes, you'll need a pan with a wide flat bottom and high sides.
    • For soups, look for a heavy duty stock pot--the heavier the better. There will be less sticking on the bottom.
    • Pasta is the easiest thing to cook. For this task, you can use that cheap pot!
    • Sauces need to be closely monitored. You need a decent grade sauce pan that is a light colour on the inside so you can see when the sauce starts to brown.
    • Stews and pot roasts cook the best in cast iron pans. These pans heat well and make those recipes mouth-watering.
    • Pork chops and thick fish stakes are best made on cast iron because you can start on the stove top and directly transfer it into the oven.
  • Want less fat? Go for a non-stick pan so that you can drain all the fat out of your recipe!

For information on different materials for pots and pans, check out our Guide to Choosing Cookware Materials

Must Haves for the Kitchen

Don't skip these must haves--you really can't do without them. While there are many things in kitchen stores that you can probably live without, these are not they. Choose carefully so that you can make a really good investment in your pans and in your food.

Necessities

Saucepan 
A versatile saucepan can have many uses, including boiling water for pasta or vegetables, making soups and sauces or braising. Make sure to test the handle so it is comfortable for you!

Saucier  / Chef's Pan 
The saucier or chef's pan is characterized by its sloping sides. It is designed for easy whisking for sauces and creams that need it.

Frying Pan  / Skillet 
A frying pan, also known as a skillet, is used for what it is named after--frying food. Its flat, wide bottom and shallow, sloping sides are ideal for this job.

Sauté Pan 
A sauté pan has slightly straighter and higher sides than the skillet, and is usually heavier. Its job is to brown and sauté meat. It may come with a loop handle on the opposite side to make it easier to lift.

Dutch ovens 
If you love stews, this is the pot that makes it all happen. The heavy metal used to make it allows for slow even cooking and the tenderizing of your meats. A wonderful manufacturer is Le Creuset .

Useful Additions

These pots and pans are not necessary to create your culinary masterpieces, but certainly make your life easier! Take the same, if not more, care in choosing these tools because they often have very specialized uses in the kitchen.

Good Additions

Roasting Pans 
This pan has a rack (that may or may not be removable) to lift the meat off of the bottom of the pan to allow it to cook evenly, and it prevents the meat from cooking in fatty drippings.

Stockpot 
This deep, deep pot is used to cook large amounts of pretty much anything. It is most often associated with large portions of soups and stocks.

Braisers 
This large but generally shallow pot is used to roast tougher meats in liquids. It is a good pot in which to tenderize your meat.

Double boilers 
These nested pots with one lid are designed to have simmering water in the lower pot. This cooks what's in the top evenly and slowly. Ideal for melting chocolate!

Griddles cook top grill 
This flat, usually rimless pan is designed to use dry heat to cook food with very little oil. This pan is perfect for breakfast foods, such as bacon or pancakes!

Paella Pans 
This very large, shallow pan is used to evenly cook the Spanish dish paella. Pieces of meat and shellfish are buried deep within rice to cook evenly and blend flavours.

Fish Poachers 
This pan is specifically designed to handle delicate fish while gently poaching it in a court bouillon.

Pizza Pans 
This completely flat pan is used while making pizza. It allows the bottom to firm up while keeping the top of the dough nice and fluffy.

Butter Warmers 
These pots are especially designed to warm butter or other sauces evenly and slowly. Do not melt anything over high heat, it will burn!

Crêpe Pans 
These wide, flat pans are ideal for creating perfectly fluffy crêpes! If you wet the wand it will help keep the batter from sticking to it.

Lasagne Pans 
This dish is to help those who love deep dish lasagne. This way you have the room to make your dish without worrying about spilling over. And it's sturdy.

Sauteuse 
This wide, flat pot is similar to a frying pan, but has two small loop handles. It is easy to store and to transfer straight into the oven.

Stove top Smokers 
Don't have a grill? Don't worry! You can still get that smoky flavour for your meats with a stove top smoker.

Tagine 
This Moroccan style pot is designed to simmer all of the meal's ingredients all in one dish. The cone top allows the cook to remove it without being burnt.

Multipots 
This one large pot is similar to a double boiler and comes with several different inserts. They fit inside to make cooking certain foods slightly easier!

For the Ultimate Kitchen

If you really want some fun, or you feel that you need everything possible for your kitchen, these are the products you are looking for. These highly specialized kitchen helpers are not used often, but if you want that creamy fondue or perfectly grilled panini, these products will help.

Just for Fun

Maslin Pans 

This teacup shaped pan is commonly used to make jams and marmalade. It is very durable and can be placed in the oven if need be. It is also convenient to use when making soups.

Zabaglione Pans 

Zabaglione (pronounced za-by-own-ee) is a special pan which makes a fine whipped dessert. The dessert is made of eggs, sugar and wine. The pan tilts when not held, so be careful.

Panini Presses 

If you've ever had a panini made on a special panini press, you know there is nothing quite as delicious. This specially-formed grill helps to make all the sandwich ingredients melt together

Fondue Pots

Want to have a party with all your friends, fondue is the way to go. It is fun, fast and casual. A truly hands-on experience for every one of your friends.

Woks  / Electric Woks

Woks are a unique, rounded frying pan made for Asian style cooking. Sometimes they are hand made. They require a certain type of stove top, so if you would like to stir fry but don't want to go through the hoops to set it up on your stove, try an electric wok.

Pressure Cookers 

This genius invention reduces cook time substantially! If you want roasted style food or delicious and perfectly cooked veggies (especially potatoes), get a pressure cooker. It also seals the nutrients into your food, so you get flavour and health!

Related Buying Guides!

Choosing Cookware Materials

Cookware Racks

Bakeware

Kitchen Utensils