I’m not a fan of cookware sets. Although you save money per piece, you end up being stuck with one style or type of cookware, when if you want a good range on your cooking you need a variety of different tools to get it done.
Everyone has their own favorites, and you might find you don’t need or use everything on this particular list. I’ve found this a great basic list to start with if you are just starting to build your collection, or if you want to get more serious about cooking. Let me know what you think.
- Nonstick Fry Pans
Nonstick has come along way from where it used to be. The coating is free of the toxic chemicals they used to use and now they bake the coating into the pan. So unless you crank up the stove too high with nothing in the pan, or use metal utensils in it they are safe to use. Nonstick is essential to do eggs properly, or if you want to use less oil and butter in your cooking.
Calphalon Contemporary Nonstick 10- and 12-Inch Omelet Pans, Set of 2 are a good set, and are relatively inexpensive. Bonus, they are dishwasher safe.
2. Cast Iron Skillet
A cast iron skillet is a great way to get a sear on meat or vegetables, without the use of a ton of butter or oil. When well taken care of it develops a seasoning that will render it nonstick and give the consumer a healthy dose of iron.
Lodge L10SK3ASHH41B Cast Iron Skillet, Pre-Seasoned, 12-inch” comes pre-seasoned, and you only use water to keep it clean. The 12″ is perfect for a small family.
3. Sauté Pan
Not only is a saute pan great for searing and braising meat and vegetables, it’s also a great way to make sauces from the juices of the meat. The large flat body allows sauces to be reduced with ease and the higher sides to prevent spills.
4. Sauce Pan
I would say get two sauce pans, usually in the range of 1.5-4qt. Anything smaller than a 1.5qt is really only functional only for one person, and what happens when you have company?
Cuisinart Chef’s Classic brand is a good starting brand for your basic sauce pans and they have a range of sizes in both stainless steel and nonstick.
Woks aren’t just for Asian cuisine. They are also amazing for steaming food and deep frying. The shape is perfect to keep hot oil from splattering out, and takes up less space then an electric fryer. The best type to get is carbon steel, look for a pan as thin as possible. Woks are designed to heat quickly and require the food to be as close to the flame as possible.
Helen Chen’s Asian Kitchen 14-inch Carbon Steel Flat Bottom Lidded Wok Set is a good brand available on Amazon, it also comes in 12-inch and a choice of with or without the lid. Like cast iron pans they require only water to clean them, and need to be seasoned. If not properly taken care of it could rust. If it does rust fear not, taking a good scouring pad to it to take off the rust. Rinse the pan in water and restart the seasoning process.
6. Stock Pot
For making large pots of soup, stock, or steaming vegetables (if you have a steamer insert) this is a great accent to any kitchen. Bonus points if you get a multi-cooker, which has a pasta insert to drain your pasta (no more pouring hot liquid over strainers) along with a vegetable steamer.
Cuisinart 77-412 Chef’s Classic Stainless 4-Piece 12-Quart Pasta/Steamer Set is a good basic brand that will hold up over time.
I hope this list helps you in building up your cookware collection. Let me know in the comments below if there is a cookware piece that you can’t live without!