I used to not think about my pots and pans – I just used what I had…. which included whatever had been gifted to me, handed down, or on the Home Goods clearance rack. But now that I have my own kitchen, I figured it’s time to step-up my culinary game with a fresh set of cookware. But what’s the best way to choose the right pan for the job?
You have tons of choices when it comes to pots and pans (and I’m not gonna lie – it’s a very important choice to make!). Different pans have different advantages and disadvantages, and should be used to cook different types of dishes. Pans will also give food a different flavor, so you can bet your end result will be partially depending on which pan you choose to use.
There are four common types of pots and pans available:
Non-stick pans are the teflon coated pans that make clean-up-time super easy. They can be very inexpensive, and since most are made of aluminum, they conduct heat quite well. These pans also let you cook with less fat since you dont need much oil or butter to keep foods from sticking. However, non-stick pans tend to be thin wear easily. The lining can tear if you used metal utensils while cooking, and at that point you will want to think about replacing the pan. I also find that non-stick pans don’t give food a chance to crisp up, as it slides around the pan. I own one large non-stick pan that I use for making eggs to make clean-up a breeze, and reduce the amount of butter I need to use.
Cast Iron Pans
Cast iron is my favorite type of pan, as the thick bottom holds heat well and distributed it evenly. You can give your cooking a crispy texture or a good seer easily in a cast iron pan, as it can get super hot. A well-seasoned cast iron will also act as a non-stick pan and not require too much fat to keep food from sticking and make clean up easy. You can use cast iron when cooking over camp fires, or on the grill, and you can burry a cast iron dutch oven in coals if you want to experiment with a different cooking method. Cast iron requires more care than other pans, and after washing needs to be dried immediately to keep it from rusting.
I can’t wait to design my next kitchen, which will have a cooking fireplace, so I can cook with cast iron pans over a real fire and hot coals indoors! I have three cast iron pans in various sizes, a dutch oven and a large pizza pan – all in cast iron, and I use them all the time to seer, slow-cook and on the grill!
Copper is 1000% on trend these days, and for good reason. Copper pans are beautiful, with their warm metallic color, and graceful minimalist design. Copper conducts heat well, and distributes it evenly across the bottom of the pan so it cooks evenly. However, when you cook with a copper skillet you will generally need to use plenty of fats to keep foods from sticking to the pan. And if you decide to go with copper, be prepared to face a hefty price tag – this type of pan is the most expensive of the line up. Even though these pans are so pretty, I don’t own any, since my other pans have all the bases covered.
Stainless Steel Pans
For my latest set of pans, I opted stainless steel pans with a tri-ply aluminum core. Stainless pans come with and without the tri-ply core, but because aluminum conducts heat so well, the tri-ply core keeps the pan heated evenly …without the big price tag! Stainless steel pans are well designed, attractive, durable, and a tiny fraction of the price of copper – even with the tri-ply core. That said, many brands offer high-end versions of a copper core stainless pan. Do these brands’ pans cook food 10x better than those that are 1/10th the price? Probably not.
I opted for this affordable & attractive set of Cuisinart tri-ply Stainless pots and pans, and I love them! They are pretty easy to clean, though, like copper, I do need to use plenty of fats to keep foods from sticking. I also like to dry the pans immediately after washing them to keep them from getting ugly water marks. They do a great job of browning foods, like the cast iron, but I don’t use them to seer, as foods stick too easily. I use my cast iron for that!
Which kinds of pans do you use? Let me know in the comments below!
*this post contains affiliate links. to learn more, please see our privacy and disclosure policy.