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Essential pots and pans for every kitchen

Without overcrowding your drawers and cupboards, there are eight cookware essentials that go the extra kilometre when it’s time to get dinner on the table. Here is what you need for a well-stocked kitchen…

8 pieces of cookware your kitchen needs

1 Cast-iron grill pan

For use on top of the stove, a grill pan has ridges that are similar to the grates of a grill. These ridges give food those enticing grill marks and they let fat drain from meat. You can cook pretty much anything in a grill pan—even fruit!

Cast iron is the best choice because it heats well and will cook your food evenly. If you’re grilling up enough for the whole family, choose a larger pan that fits across two burners.

2 Cast-iron skillet

An old-fashioned cast-iron skillet is the perfect pan. It’s durable, versatile, and affordable, and works especially well for searing, sautéing, and baking. Yes, you can use is on the stove and in the oven!

The heavy pan holds heat and distributes it evenly, browning food rather than scorching it. It is nonstick, without a surface layer to scratch off, and will last a lifetime (or longer).

Look for a heavy skillet at least 1/8-inch-thick, and 10 to 12 inches in diameter. A new one will look gray and raw, but will turn black once it’s seasoned.

3 Dutch oven

This type of pot has a thick bottom and thick sides, with a snug, tight-fitting lid that traps moisture and flavour.

With the lid off, it’s perfect for browning meat and vegetables on the stove, and can easily transfer to the oven for baking.

Look for one made from enameled cast iron. The sides and bottom need to be thick in order to retain and evenly distribute heat. Handles and knob should be easy to grip, sturdy, and ovenproof.

4 Large sauté pan

A large sauté pan (12-14 inches) won’t collect dust in the cupboard. This multi-purpose pan is perfect for frying, sautéing, and braising.

Look for a pan with straight sides to allow more surface area for ingredients and to keep those liquids from sloshing out of the pan. Don’t forget a tight-fitting lid!

5 Non-stick frying pan

A non-stick frying pan is excellent making eggs (think omelette and frittata) and stir-fry.

A non-stick pan will have a shorter lifespan than a stainless-steel pan, since the coating will eventually wear out. To extend the life of your non-stick pans, avoid using metal utensils that scratch the coating. Opt for wood, silicone, and plastic spatulas, spoons, and tongs.

6 Roasting pan

Sturdy and practical, a roasting pan is great for large pieces of meat, like a whole turkey or chicken, brisket, and pork loin.

A roasting pan’s size allows you to roast meat and vegetables together—and it can be transferred to the stove to make gravy.

You could also use a roasting pan to bake large lasagnas and casseroles when you need to feed a crowd.

To prevent scorching and warping, choose a heavy-bottomed pan. One without a nonstick surface is better suited for sauce-making. Just be sure to purchase a size that fits your oven, with easy-to-grip handles.

7 Small saucepan

A small saucepan is perfect for reheating leftovers, making sauces, and cooking small amounts of grains and pasta. Look for one with a comfortable handle and a curved edge that allows for easy pouring.

To cover all your bases, buy a small, a medium, and a large saucepan as a set.

8 Stock pot

Every kitchen needs a large stockpot for big jobs like pasta, stock, and batch cooking.

When choosing a stockpot, look for a 6-quart to 12-quart pot with a lid. Choose one with a thick, heavy bottom to help prevent burning when simmering all those soups and sauces.