Beginner’s Guide To: Pots and Pans

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Pots and pans: no home can go without these kitchen essentials. From searing steaks to sautéing vegetables to cooking pasta to warming up soup, these instruments are necessary for all of your culinary endeavors.

What are they? 

Pots and pans are food preparation tools intended for use on a cooktop.

I need this if? 

If you have a kitchen in your home, with a stove, and cook even once a month, you need this.

How many do I need?

Pots and pans come in many different shapes and sizes. As they’re quite versatile, many of their uses overlap. If you are an experienced chef, you might need a larger variety of pots and pans (around 6-8) than a beginner cook would require (more like 2-4). We recommend a bare minimum of two pots and two pans—a large and small size of each.

What material is right for me?

Pots and pans can come in a variety of different materials. From nonstick coating to enameled cast-iron, there are many options to choose from. When deciding what is right for you, consider what you value most. If you want easy clean up, choose a nonstick coating. If you want something affordable, consider aluminum (it’s the most common bakeware). If you’re looking for that rustic design, go with copper. If you want something that’s sturdy, order cast-iron.

What styles are right for me?

1. Sauté Pan

Calphalon Classic Nonstick saute pan sold on Zola.comguide to pots and pans_2
Calphalon Classic Nonstick Covered Saute Pan

This is your most basic and versatile pan. It has straight sides and a large surface area to touch the heat. It is ideal for cooking meats and sautéeing vegetables. You should register for at least one of these. Our recommendation? Check out Calphalon’s Classic Nonstick collection: it’s a great starting point for beginner chefs when picking out those first essential pieces of cookware.

2. Skillet 

Calphalon Classic Nonstick Fry Pan sold on
Calphalon Classic Nonstick Fry Pan

Skillets, also known as fry pans, are different from sauté pans in their shape. These have sloping sides so it’s easier to stir ingredients and cook food slower, making them ideal for preparing foods like scrambled eggs and stir fry. If you like easy cooking where you can mix and heat all at the same time, this is the pan for you. We recommend Calphalon’s Classic Nonstick Fry Pan, or browse our collection of skillets here.

3. Grill Pan 
Lodge Logic Cast Iron Grill Pan sold on
Lodge Logic Cast Iron Grill Pan

This is a more specialty piece of cookware. It is perfect for getting authentic outdoor grilling flavor and appearance on an indoor stove. If you love a smokey taste and sear marks on your beef and vegetables, you will love this pan. Lodge’s Logic Cast Iron Grill Pan is a classic choice—it’s actually the most popular registry item in seven different states! Check out all of our grill pans here.

4. Saucepan
Calphalon Classic Nonstick saucepan sold on guide to pots and pans_8
Calphalon Classic Nonstick Covered Sauce Pan

This pan is deep and very rounded, perfect for making reductions. If you and your fiancé are big on Italian food at home, you need this. Its most common use is for boiling water to cook pasta. It can also be used to simmer vegetables, heat up other liquids, and make sauces. Calphalon’s Classic Nonstick Covered Sauce Pan has a straining cover with pour spouts, making it even easier to perfect your Marsala.

5. Large Stock Pot 
Calphalon Premier Space Saving Nonstick 8-Piece Cookware Set sold on Calphalon Premier Space Saving Nonstick 8-Piece Cookware Set sold on
Calphalon Premier Space Saving Nonstick 8-Piece Cookware Set

This is another very versatile piece of cookware. A large pot made with thinner metal, this is perfect for stewing soups, making homemade pasta sauces, or boiling large vegetables. If you cook for large groups often, this will definitely come in handy. Even more handy is this incredible set of stacking pot and pan essentials: Calphalon’s Premier Space Saving collection lets you crush cabinet organization with their stackable design, freeing up 30% more room for your mismatched Tupperware lid collection. The 8-piece set comes with a 6-qt stock pot, plus all the other pieces we’ve outlined above. For other stock pot options, browse our selection here.

6. Dutch Oven
Le Creuset dutch oven in orange with seafood stew inside Le Creuset dutch oven in carribean blue sold on
Le Creuset Signature Round Dutch Oven 

This weighty, lidded pot competes for cabinet space with a stock pot, so you should weigh the pros and cons of each to decide which you’d rather own. A dutch oven is much heavier than a stock pot since it is made from thicker material, and is a bit smaller. However, it is more versatile. Dutch ovens can be used on a stove top as well as in an oven, and can cook just about any stew, meat, vegetable, and even some breads. Cult classic brand Le Creuset is known for their colorful, enameled cast iron dutch ovens; it’s a kitchen keepsake that will last you a lifetime. View all of our dutch ovens here.

7. Roasting Pan
Calphalon Classic Nonstick Roasting Pan with Rack sold on
Calphalon Classic Nonstick Roasting Pan with Rack

If you plan to host Thanksgiving or other holiday dinners, a roasting pan is a must. Even if you’re just a big fan of making roasted chicken for a quiet date night in à la Megan and Harry, a roasting pan is kitchenware essential that will elevate your oven game and expand your cooking repertoire. Calphalon’s Classic Nonstick Roasting Pan with Rack makes your tryptophan-induced clean up easy with a nonstick interior and a nonstick-coated rack to boot.

8. Wok
Calphalon Contemporary Nonstick Wok Sautepan sold on Calphalon Contemporary Nonstick Wok sold on full of bell pepper strips
Calphalon Contemporary Nonstick Stir Fry Pan/Wok

When you’re a busy person who still likes to cook at home, stir fries are practically life. A wok is a large, deep-sided fry pan that provides the maximum amount of cooking surface for ingredients like vegetables and thin cuts of protein that should be tossed quickly on high heat. You’ll never know how you lived without a wok once you incorporate this beginner’s essential into your cookware rotation.

Register for your pots and pans by browsing our full collection of cookware. Don’t want to register for each pot and pan individually? Check out our collection of cookware sets here.


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