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The Essential Pots and Pans You Need

par HexClad Cookware

essential pots and pans to stock a new kitchen

Outfitting your kitchen can feel like an overwhelming task. Whether you’ve spent hours scouring the internet, wondering “which pans do I actually need?” or you’re sick of beginning a recipe only to realize you needed a pot you don’t have, we’ve got you covered with the list of the essentials to get your kitchen up to speed.


When choosing the best cookware to stock your kitchen, look for pots and pans made with heavy-duty materials that can stand up to years of cooking, that can be used in the oven, and, if they’re nonstick, that they’re metal-utensil safe and free from toxic coatings.


Here are the 9 essential pots and pans you need in your kitchen


A 12-inch Skillet

If you’re going to start with one stovetop pan that can get you through every meal of the day, this is the one to start with. A large skillet can fry up to 8 eggs at once, can cook pancakes to perfection, and is perfect for searing two gorgeous steaks. Use a large skillet to cook chicken thighs (start them on the stovetop, then move them to the oven), to make quick vegetable sautés, and a few filets of salmon. A 12-inch skillet is ideal for pan pizza or for frying a batch of latkes. Next up: get a 10-inch skillet, which is better for smaller batches.


A little skillet

The 8” pan is the perfect companion to larger pans, and an essential if you’re cooking for 1 or 2. Use a little skillet like this one for making omelets, fried eggs for 1, toasting nuts and seeds, and much more. A small skillet is great for small batch side dishes like quickly sautéed peas, a single piece of meat or fish, or an epic grilled cheese.


A large Wok

Though you might think a wok is just for the occasional stir fry, it’s good for so much more than that. The high sides and rounded shape of a wok make it ideal for tossing vegetables, small cuts of meat, and other ingredients. Use it for small-batch frying, big-batch cooking, and noodle dishes.


A 2-Quart Pot

Small but mighty, the two-quart saucepan won’t disappoint you. This guy is the smallest size you need to keep in your cupboards, but don’t let that fool you. Use it for sauces, to hard-cook a few eggs, or to reheat soup on the stovetop. If you want something slightly larger, jump up to the 3-quart pot, which can handle slightly bigger batches of leftovers (around 4 to 6 servings) or to make grains.


A Dutch Oven

You may think of your 5-quart Dutch oven for soup, stews, and other braises, but it’s much more versatile than you might think. Use it to make chicken en cocotte (a sublime French way of roasting chicken), to make bakery-worthy bread, or to make a Sunday pot roast that will last the whole week.


An 8-Quart Pot

If you like to entertain, then this is the pot you’ll want to have on hand. There’s no better pot for feeding a crowd. Use an 8-quart pot for a classic chili, a chicken soup for cold winter days, to poach a whole chicken, or try your hand at donuts. An 8-quart pot is good for making stock at home, too, though if you’d rather a bigger pot that’s dedicated to stock, we’ve got one of those, too.


A Griddle Pan

The wide, flat shape of a griddle pan is perfect for pancakes, french toast, lentil dosas, and grilled cheeses.

It’s the perfect pan for people who love making big-batch breakfasts or want to recreate the lacy French crêpes after a French vacation.


A Roasting Pan

Though you might think it’s only good for the annual Thanksgiving turkey, a roasting pan is actually a kitchen workhorse worth investing in. Use it for big pieces of meat, poultry, or fish, big batch roasted vegetables, as a hot water bath for soufflés and cheesecakes, or to make breakfast on the stovetops. (Seriously, wait until you’ve made bacon for a crowd in a roasting pan—it’s a game changer!)


Of course, kitting out your pots and pans cabinet is an extremely personal process and you might have a different list of must-haves. Take this list as a starting point from which to build your dream kitchen.

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