When choosing the best cookware for your kitchen, it’s important to consider the type of material best suited for your cooking style. Stainless steel is a great choice for home cooks because of its durability and heat conductivity, while nonstick is best for those who are not as comfortable in the kitchen. And Cast Iron and Enameled cast iron is a great option for those who want the best of both worlds! In this helpful guide to choosing cookware, I share my experience cooking with each product—plus a list of each product’s pros and cons—to help you cook well and comfortably at home.
Table of Contents
- Best types of pans to cook with
- Open stock vs. Cookware sets
- How often to replace cookware?
- Proper care
- Stainless Steel Cookware
- Pros and cons of Stainless Steel
- Non-Stick Cookware
- Pros and cons of Non-Stick
- Cast Iron Cookware
- Pros and cons of cast iron
- Enameled Cast Iron Cookware
- Pros and cons of enameled cast iron
- Great Cookware Brands
What are the best types of pans to cook with?
Choosing the proper cookware can be a big task when you want the best for your kitchen. You can choose from so many, but stainless steel, nonstick, cast iron, or enameled cast iron are the most common. While each type has its pros and cons, I truly believe that stainless steel is the best cookware as it can be used for everything!
Read on to learn the differences, as well as how to shop for the best pots and pans for you and how to take care of them!
Open Stock vs. Cookware Sets
When you’re figuring out exactly which cookware to choose, you can either choose each piece individually or buy a whole set:
- Cookware Set: This is a large grouping of pots and pans that usually has 8-10 pieces in total. They include stock pots, pans, and lids of varying sizes. This is great want a variety to choose from, but you may end up not using (or loving) some of the pieces in the set. Also, buying the whole set at once can be cost effective.
- Open Stock: Shopping for cookware this way means that you would purchase one piece at a time. This is great for people who know exactly what their cooking needs are.
My personal opinion is to start with the basics buying each piece individually and slowly building your collection over time. This allows you to start understanding your needs in the kitchen, including what types of foods you’ll be cooking and for how many people. For instance, if you are a household of two, you may not want or need to buy a 12-quart stock pot!
How Often Should I Replace My Cookware?
This will depend on various factors. How often are you cooking with your cookware? Are you taking care of it properly and following best practices for cleaning and storage? In this instance, you truly get what you pay for!
- Stainless steel: If you take care of stainless steel properly, it can last well over ten years. In fact, I have been using the same set of stainless steel pots for over 17 years with no sign of stopping!
- Nonstick: Nonstick pans will need to be replaced more frequently as the coating can start to wear off after 3-5 years.
- Cast Iron: If you season your cast iron cookware correctly, it can last for a lifetime!
- Enameled Cast Iron: This type of cookware is also very durable and can last for decades with proper care.
Each material has a different way of caring for it, so make sure to follow best practices.
- Stainless Steel: Clean with warm water and a sponge. Also can be dishwasher safe.
- Nonstick: Use plastic or wooden utensils to prevent scratches. Also, be sure not to overheat the pan, as this can cause the coating to wear off. Do not use spray oils on nonstick pans as it can ruin them. Hand wash only.
- Cast Iron: Season your cast iron semi-regularly and also use warm water for the best results. Dry immediately after hand washing.
- Enameled Cast Iron: Use a soft sponge to clean, and do not use abrasive cleaners, as this can damage the enamel exterior.
Now let’s look at the benefits of each type of cookware!
Stainless Steel Cookware
Stainless steel cookware is my personal favorite choice for any kitchen as it’s durable and can last for a very long time with proper care. It’s best used for searing, sautéing, and simmering. The best stainless-steel pots and pans are usually made of high-quality 18/10 stainless steel, which is a mix of 18% chromium and 10% nickel. This type of stainless steel has excellent heat conduction, doesn’t corrode or rust, and can also be used for cooking with high-acidic ingredients such as tomato sauce or citrus fruits without fear of leaching metal particles into your food.
Pros of stainless steel cookware:
- Long-lasting, classic, reliable, durable.
- Great for browning, sauteing, searing, simmering, and braising.
- Durable, easy to care for.
- Doesn’t react with certain foods.
- Distributes heat evenly.
- Oven and dishwasher safe.
- There’s almost nothing it can’t do!
Cons of stainless steel cookware
Nonstick cookware is coated with a synthetic polymer or another type of material to prevent food from sticking during cooking. The best nonstick cookware is made of high-quality materials that are long-lasting, durable, and safe to use. These pans don’t require much oil or butter when cooking. The best nonstick pans are usually made of anodized aluminum or stainless steel. While nonstick cookware has its benefits, it can get scratched easily, which may lead to toxic chemicals leaching into the food.
Pros of nonstick cookware
- Often people’s choice when they’re not comfortable in the kitchen.
- Effortlessly release even delicate foods such as eggs or pancakes.
- Easy to clean.
Cons of nonstick cookware
- Can scratch easily
- Not all brands are non-toxic
- Not meant for high heat cooking
- Not always oven safe
Cast iron cookware is a classic choice for the kitchen. It’s made of a heavy metal that can easily conduct and retain heat, making it great for cooking foods evenly at high temperatures. It’s also incredibly durable, so you won’t have to replace your cast iron pots and pans often. This type of cookware requires semi-regular seasoning in order to prevent rusting, which can be done by coating the pan with oil and baking it for about an hour. Cast iron cookware is best used for searing food, as well as baking and slow cooking. Learn how to clean cast iron in a few easy steps!
Pros of cast iron cookware:
- Durable and long-lasting.
- Heats evenly and quickly.
- It can be used on any stovetop, including induction.
- It doesn’t react with acidic foods.
- Good for baking and slow cooking.
Cons of Cast Iron
- Needs to be seasoned occasionally
- Not dishwasher safe
Enameled Cast Iron
Enameled cast iron cookware combines the best of both cast iron and porcelain. It is made from a heavy-duty metal that has been coated with an enamel layer of either glass or porcelain, which prevents the metal from reacting with certain foods while also providing a smooth surface for easy cleaning. This cookware can handle high temperatures; it’s best used for browning, baking, and slow cooking. It also doesn’t require as much seasoning or care as regular cast iron does, which makes it easier to use for beginner chefs.
Pros of enameled cast iron
- Good heat conduction and retention.
- Smooth non-reactive surface.
- Easy to clean and care for.
- Versatile and can be used on any stovetop, including induction.
- The durable coating doesn’t react with acidic foods.
Cons of enameled cast iron
- Can scratch easily
Great Cookware Brands
Finally, when choosing the best cookware for your kitchen, it’s important to look into the best brands available. Each brand has a different range of cookware that best suits your needs. Do some research to find the best brand that can match your cooking style and budget. Here are some of our favorite cookware brands:
When choosing the best cookware for your kitchen, it’s important to consider the type of material best suited for your cooking style. Stainless steel is a great choice because of its durability and heat conductivity, while nonstick is best for those who are not comfortable in the kitchen. Cast Iron and Enameled cast iron is a great option for those who want the best of both worlds. Lastly, make sure to do your research and find the best cookware brand that best suits your needs and budget. With these tips in mind, you’ll be sure to have the best cookware for your kitchen!