So, you just broke up with your roommate and got your own apartment. Or maybe you’re finally moving in with your S.O., or attempting to build your wedding registry. Either way, you’re an adult now, which means you need a grown-up kitchen. Throw away the IKEA pots and pans; it’s time for legitimate cookware.
But where to start? There are so many kinds of pots and pans. Which material is best? Which ones do you actually need, and which ones can you wait to buy until you’re not spending two-thirds of your paycheck on rent? Which brand reigns supreme?
Read on, friends. We’ve got the answers to all your burning questions below.
Photo by Margo Brodowicz on Unsplash
Non-Stick, Stainless Steel or Cast Iron?
This one is tricky because it really depends on what you cook most. If you’re afraid of using oils and fats, go with non-stick—since they’re already coated, you can cook with less oil or butter. If you use a lot of acidic foods, like tomatoes, opt for stainless steel; it’s less reactive so it won’t leave your food tasting like pennies. And if you are really into telling stories about your cookware's history, go with cast iron (although we believe stainless steel is still way more versatile than cast iron). Here are a few more details to help you decide.
Made In 10.5" Nonstick Fry Pan
Basically, non-stick pans can save you time and energy and are perfect for delicate items like eggs and flaky fish. You also don’t need to worry about coating them before you cook, and they’re super easy to clean. While most worries about the nonstick surfaces stem from decades ago, we recommend still opting for high quality surfaces that you trust. If you see your coating breaking down, that is a good sign to replace it. Made In's triple-coated, American nonstick surface is one of the most durable and nonstick surfaces on the market.
Made In 12" Fry Pan
Durable, non-reactive and dishwasher-safe, stainless steel is a pretty fail-safe option and one of the most versatile substrates on the market. Premium stainless steel cookware is layered with aluminum in the middle to combine both durability and heat retention. If were to be stranded on a desert island with only one piece of cookware, we'd recommend a stainless steel frying pan with an aluminum core.
Cast-iron is a kitchen workhorse with a lot of history. Surpringsly to many, iron is actually a very poor conductor of heat, so it takes a while to heat up and can do so unevenly. That being said, it is naturally non-stick when properly seasoned, and lasts forever with proper care. Still, between the seasoning and careful washing, it takes a lot of effort to maintain. While cast-iron pans give a great sear to meat, they should never be used to cook acidic foods—things like tomatoes will erode your seasoning.
Photo By Lodge
The 4 Essential Pieces
First and foremost, you need a skillet for making basic things like eggs. The pan’s slanted sides make it good for quick cooking and techniques like stir-frying, a.k.a. your everyday dinner. We’d suggest both a non-stick and stainless steel version but, if you have to choose one, go with non-stick for quick, easy cleanup.
Made In Stacked Fry Pans
A sauté pan is different from a skillet in that it has straight, tall sides, which create both greater volume and surface area for searing food. The sides also prevent splattering, which is always a good thing when you’re trying to look like you know what you’re doing. Use your sauté pan to fry large batches of food, reduce sauces or, if it comes with a lid, even braise meats.
Made In 4 QT Sauté Pan
To boil vegetables, poach eggs or simply heat soup, you’re going to need a sauce pan. The low sides make for easy stirring and whisking so you’ll look like a master chef without even trying.
Made In 3 QT Sauce Pan
When you’re making stock, sauce or large amounts of pasta, you’ll turn to your stockpot. Tall and narrow, it helps slow evaporation, allowing you to simmer things for long amounts of time without a major reduction in liquid.
Made In 5 QT Stock Pot
The Ultimate Brand
Made In The Core Kit
OK, you know which material you want and pieces you need. Now, it’s time to pick the brand. You could go affordable with Farberware, fancy with All-Clad or get the best of both worlds with Made In. Manufactured in America, the new line is produced in an environmentally responsible way—the company recycles all its materials and either melts and reuses or condenses its excess metal into powder, which is then molded into automotive parts. The cookware is also high-quality and long-lasting, which leads to better recipe execution, which leads to more compliments to the chef.
Made In has smart construction on its side. Instead of just one material, its pans are made of stainless steel with alternating layers of aluminum in the middle. Lined stainless steel is less likely to warp, plus the non-reactive stainless steel exterior prevents against metallic-tasting food. The thicker, 5-ply construction also makes for more even and consistent heat, helping you cook better.
Wait, there’s more. Made In’s non-stick cookware features a chemical-free coating so you don’t have to worry about breathing in toxins. The pots and pans also have heat-resistant handles, are dishwasher- and oven-safe, and come with a lifetime warranty in case you're worried about making the investment.
Buy one of Made In’s kits or create your own set and get just what you need. Whichever you choose, you’ll be well on your way to the adult kitchen of your dreams. Don't trust us? Cuisine Study rated us their best stainless steel cookware.
By Natalie Beauregard