The nitty gritty on what to buy for new pots and pans please help!

Joined May 12, 2011
Im in the market for new pots and pans don’t know what to buy and totally baffled any help? Plus i did read that buying a set is not a good idea. I do like to make pastas,sauteed dishes and stir fries, steaks etc.
Joined Apr 3, 2010
Caliphon makes a fairly good 13 piece set, as does Circulon . Bed bath & beyond and home goods stores  are cheaper then most. Or you can buy restaurant grade in a restaurant supply depot.
Joined Feb 1, 2007
Welcome to Cheftalk, Mels Kitchen.

The problem with sets is that unless you know exactly what you want, you often wind up with items that you never use. For instance, when my youngest got married 6 years ago they recieved an 11 piece set. To date they've only used five of them, and the rest just take up space.

Another consideration. You may like the overall design, handles, etc. of a pot, but like the handles on another brand's skillet. Buying individual pieces enables you to custom-build exactly what you want in terms of items and comfort levels.

As to what kind of cookware I'd advise that you first use our search engine. We've had numerous discussions about materials, designs, and brands, and you'll more than likely gain some insights from those threads.

That said, here are some thoughts you might find useful.

1. Stir fries. Nothing, absolutely nothing, works better than a wok for stir fries. Get one made of carbon steel, cure it as you would cast iron, and never wash it with soap. Cast iron woks look intriguing but you'll find them the next best thing to useless in actual use.

2. For pasta, consider one of those pots specifically designed for that purpose. They usually come with an insert for the pasta, and a steamer basket as well. Get the largest one you can find, and it can double as a stock pot. Bring a ruler with you when you shop, and confirm that the insert extends to just off the bottom. Some of them sit way to high, which requires bringing too much water to a boil, on one hand, and doesn't leave enough room for the pasta, on the other. Pasta should have enough room in a pot to actually swim around.

3. Sauteing and searing requires a pan you can heat super hot. Balancing everything, the best choice for this, IMO, is a carbon steel pan. Cast iron certainly is ideal for this, but the carbon provides all the benefits of cast, but at only 2/3 the weight. One thing to keep in mind: Carbon steel pans have a relatively steep sloop on the sidewalls. But they're measured rim to rim. So get the next largest size than the one you want. That is, if you really want 8 inches of cooking surface, choose a 10" pan.

4. All things considered, buy cookware with metal handles. That way they can do double duty on either the stovetop or in the oven. Steak is often cooked that way, for instance. You sear it on top of the stove, then finish cooking in the oven.

5. Many people suggest getting one non-stick pan for eggs. I'm not one of them. I abhor non-stick cookware, and never use it. And my eggs never stick in either by carbon- or stainless-steel pans. And if you avoid non-stick you don't have to have a second set of utensils.
Joined May 17, 2011
Personally, I would suggest the following if you are interested in a minimal approach:
  1. You need a good large casserole. Enameled cast iron is a good choice. 4 litres is a minimum. This will be useful for pasta or large braises.
  2. A selection of saucepans, about 4 - 5, in various sizes from slightly smaller than your casserole (above) to the smallest possible (for small sauce batches, heating cream for ganache, etc).
  3. A large, deep, non-stick saute pan. A seasoned metal pan will certainly do an excellent job of acting as a non-stick pan, but nothing is quite as good as a proper non-stick item.
  4. A solid non-enameled cast iron pan (which you must season correctly) that is almost too heavy to lift. :)
  5. Totally agree about metal handles.
  6. I respectfully disagree with the use of woks in 'western' kitchens: a wok is designed for a specific heat source and housing. A cast iron pan heated until it is frighteningly hot will do the job (or else, a carbon steel frypan like the ones used in professional kitchens is perfectly serviceable). Stir-frying is a technique that can be applied to conventional cooking apparati if you do not have access to the specific heat sources and equipment available in asian kitchens.
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