What Pot Do You Need

There are a multitude of choices of pots, pans and skillets to choose from along with a number of different materials they are crafted from. What to use for what task should not be too difficult however. So determining what things you want to do will go a long way toward deciding what array of cookware you should select for your kitchen.

Identify the task at hand and always match a pot or pan to that task. The shape and proportions make all the difference in how well it will perform for you. Some cookware is designed by its versatility and will be very useful for a wide range of tasks or recipes. Other pieces are designed more for a particular task.
Here are the primary pots and pans along with brief description of each one’s purpose.

Skillet or Fry Pan

Use for fast cooking using higher heat usually with lipid of choice. The fry pan are now available in oval as well as round shapes. Some of the larger sizes have two handles instead of the one.

Crepe Pan

A special form of fry pan with low, sloped sides which make is easy to swirl and flip crepes.

Sauce Pan

A kitchen staple, the saucepan has myriad uses, from making sauces to cooking vegetables, rice, cereals and soups. It should be noted that sauce pans are not the most optimum for sauces as the straight sides are not conducive for rapid evaporation frequently needed for sauces. A variation of the sauce pan has flayed sides which slope outward providing a much better shape for reducing liquids.

Saute Pan

Saute pans are used for braising, browning and searing foods over high heat. These differ from Sauce Pan in the diameter to height proportions. Saute pans tend to be a bit wider and shallower.

Chef’s Pan/Saucier

This pan has a flat bottom for gentle, even heating and sloped sides to facilitate stirring—ideal for making risotto and sauces.

Braiser/Everyday Pan

A fry pan and casserole in one, this pan goes from stovetop to oven to table with ease. It’s great for browning and then slow-cooking.

Dutch Oven

The ultimate pan for all kinds of slow-cooking, a Dutch oven is used to prepare everything from tender braised short ribs to savory stews. Because of its versatility this is one item that could be considered indispensable for most kitchens.

Stock Pot

This pot helps to produce flavorful stocks and soups by keeping ingredients submerged and slowing evaporation. These pots start at two or three quart size and go up to very large sizes for big families.


The indoor griddle is useful if you enjoy cooking breakfast. The griddle is item of choice for preparing pancakes, French toast, eggs and other morning meals. It is also useful for searing meats and other items that would be grilled outdoors.

Double Boiler

A double boiler is a must-have for preparing delicate sauces, custards, chocolate desserts and other foods that require indirect heat and precise temperature control.

Roaster with Rack

With high sides to reduce spattering, this roasting pan is designed to roast meats, poultry and vegetables to perfection.

Paella Pan

This wide, shallow pan is the traditional one for cooking the famous Spanish rice dish. This style pan is also used for steaming shellfish or for bouillabaisse or cioppino.


A wok is one of the most versatile cooking pans. It can be used for frying, sautéing, stir frying and many other applications. With the lid on it can also be used for steaming and slow cooking. However, it is best known for the preparation of oriental style dishes.

Cookware materials

The other choice for cookware of course is selecting the material the pots and pans are constructed from. There are several choices which need a separate discussion.

Metal pots are made from a narrow range of metals because pots and pans need to conduct heat well, but also need to be chemically unreactive so that they do not alter the flavor of the food. Most materials that are conductive enough to heat evenly are too reactive to use in food preparation. For these reactive metals they are normally combined with an inert metal. The alternatives include:

Cast Iron
Stainless Steel
Carbon Steel
Enameled cast iron
Enamel over steel
Clad aluminum or copper

And of course there are many cookware products not made of metal. There are a wide range of bakers and sauce pots made from ceramics. So while this article was meant to make the selection process more understandable, there are still many variables to be considered and discussed.

Terry Retter
Your Smart Kitchen

Your Smart Kitchen locates the best cooking products in the world for your use and benefit. We hope to become your source for both quality products and information regarding cooking and kitchens. Your SMART Kitchen makes it easy for quality oriented, brand focused, and value-conscious shoppers to find the merchandise they love and prices they will love as well.
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