The Ultimate Guide on How to Choose Stylish Cookware and Cooking Pots
Whether you’re just starting a home or revamping your kitchen, picking cookware is extremely important. These are tools you’re going to use every day to feed yourself, your family, and your guests. There should be joy in using them, not frustration that they don’t do what you need.
To choose the right cooking pots, you need to know what material you want and which pieces you need. It won’t do you any good to have a giant cast-iron Dutch oven if you never make soup and you want to put everything in the dishwasher. Read on to learn how to pick cooking pots that will bring you joy every time you step into your kitchen.
The first thing you need to take into consideration when choosing cookware is the different materials available to you. Each material offers different benefits and aesthetic options.
Stainless steel, aluminum and carbon steel are three of the most popular material options for cookware. Ceramic, cast iron, and copper offer beautiful cookware with different heating qualities. You may also have some cookware made from non-stick material, glass, or a hard-anodized material.
Which material you choose will depend on factors like your type of stove and what you like to cook, which we’ll discuss more below.
Coated vs. Clad
When you’re looking at materials, you may discover that some say things like “non-stick stainless steel” or “copper-clad stainless steel.” Different materials can be mixed in different ways to provide different cooking properties. Primarily, this mixing takes one of two forms: coating and cladding.
Coating involves putting a non-metal material such as non-stick onto a base metal material. Cladding involves sandwiching one type of metal, usually aluminum or copper, in between two layers of a different type of metal, usually stainless steel. This helps to take advantage of the cooking properties of both materials.
Types of Cookware
There are also some basic types of cookware that you should be aware of when you’re looking to fill out your kitchen. In the pan department, we start with frying pans, skillets, and saute pans, which are wide, have straight sides, and vary in depth. You also have woks, large bowl-like cooking devices, and griddles, flat rectangular frying pans.
In the pot department, we get into saucepans, stockpots, Dutch ovens, pasta pots, and double boilers. There are also grill pans, roasting pans, chef’s pans, casseroles, baking dishes, milk pans, paella pans, crepe pans, maslin pans, and egg poachers. And in the multi-functional department, we have pressure cookers, multi-pots, and slow cookers.
Think about your cooking needs and decide which types of cookware you need in your kitchen.
When you’re starting to narrow down your list of materials, you need to take the care requirements of each into consideration. For example, you can toss stainless steel pots in the dishwasher without a worry. But cast iron pans need to be seasoned, hand-washed, and heat-dried.
Stainless steel, glass, ceramic, and silicone cookware is usually fine to go in the dishwasher, though you should check your particular cookware to find out how to clean them. Hard-anodized cookware, non-stick cookware, cast iron, and copper are usually better off being hand-washed. And unless you like a patina on your copper, copper cookware will need to be polished every so often to keep looking its best.
Types of Stove
What type of stove you have will also make a difference in which cookware you choose. If you have a glass top, for instance, you may not want to go for cast iron, as it could scratch or crack your stovetop. The primary types of stove include induction, gas, glass-ceramic, electric, solid hotplate, and halogen.
If you have an induction stove, you may need some sort of metal cookware in order for them to work properly. Glass-ceramic and electric stoves can work well with lighter cookware that’s unlikely to leave scratches. Gas and halogen stoves are compatible with just about any type of cookware you want to throw at them.
What You Like to Cook
A major factor in choosing your cooking pots should be what you like to cook. If you love Asian cuisine, having a wok could help you get that perfect stir-fry without having to pay a delivery guy. But if you primarily grill burgers, a wok isn’t going to do you much good.
Start making a list of every meal you cook at home and look at which cookware will work best for those foods. If you grill a lot, get some good frying pans and a griddle; if you’re more a soup person, you’re going to want a Dutch oven and a stockpot. If you’re the sort of person who brings casseroles to everything, get some good saute pans and several casseroles and baking dishes.
Your Overall Aesthetic
The last thing you need to consider when choosing your cookware material is your overall aesthetic. Maybe you have a gas stove and you don’t mind washing dishes by hand, so stainless steel or copper would work functionally the same for you. The factor of whether your kitchen is more modern and sleek or more old-world classic could swing the decision for you.
If you have a colorful kitchen, ceramic and non-stick dishes can add a great pop of color. Glass can bridge the gap between a modern and rustic aesthetic. And cast iron can bring you some of the homier aesthetic without the price tag of copper.
Find the Best Cooking Pots for You
Finding the best cooking pots for you is a matter of knowing your needs and your style. Take an honest look at what you like to cook, how you prefer to clean, and what sort of kitchen you have. You’ll wind up with a set of cookware that you can use and love every day for years to come.
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