The 7 Essential Pots and Pans Every Kitchen Needs

Frying pan

If you’re a professional chef, a cooking enthusiast, a master PB & J maker or just someone who watches 20 second Buzzfeed videos for easy-to-do recipes, you need to make sure you’re using the proper pots and pans in your kitchen.

Foods are different and prepared differently, so using the same old rinky-dink pan for seven meals throughout the week just won’t work.

A musician wouldn’t play a guitar solo on a drum set, so why are you grilling hamburgers in a stockpot?

1. 10-inch Non-Stick Skillet

How many times will the label non-stick fool us? Before getting into this handy pan, let me just remind you this: Research the pan you’re buying before you click delivery. The reviews will tell you if it’s actually a working non-stick pan.

A skillet is designed to cook delicate foods, including fish and breaded chicken breasts—or, most importantly, foods that are likely to stick to the pan like eggs.

A non-stick skillet is the perfect pan to cook an omelet on, but it’s not a good pan to use over a high heat. So, when you’re cooking the egg and about to add the veggies or meats, turn down the heat and let the omelet cook at a lower heat.

Also, remember to season the pan—not just the food. The flavors will get infused within all sides of the food, resulting in a tastier meal.

2. Cast Iron Skillet

The cast iron skillet is the non-stick skillet’s evil twin, but you can like both sides of the family.

It’s perfect for searing steaks, pan-roasting and deep-frying chicken and pork. You can also try your hand at slow cooking over a lower heat on the cast iron or frying a potato pancake, too.

The cast iron skillet is especially good for cooking a small pan pizza or something that requires a golden-crusted touch to it.

Cast iron skillets don’t heat evenly, so make sure you’re checking for the perfect spot to lay your meat.

3. Large Enameled Dutch Oven

This pot is a kitchen essential for anyone looking to whip up a meal that involves heavy searing or slow cooking.

The large enameled Dutch oven pan works well when you’re cooking a pot roast, a soup or a chili, or even when you’re heating meatballs in with a red sauce.

Don’t forget, though, you can even slow cook a whole chicken in this pot—and throw all different ingredients in around the chicken for a flavor explosion.

4. Straight-Sided Sauté Pan

This tall-sided pan contrasts the skillet’s short edges, which makes it perfect for searing foods at a higher heat while avoiding splattering.

But, if you do want to lower the heat, a sauté pan comes equipped with a tight lid that is perfect for smothering the heat and slow cooking meat with a slew of veggies.

While the skillet is perfect for an omelet, this pan is more fit for cooking frittatas, because the ingredients and frittata itself can move around more.

A mix of vegetables with a little oil and a lot of heat is another thing that a sauté pans is good for. Just remember: keep jiggling and shaking the pan around to avoid burning or browning.

5. A Wok

Come on, how many people actually own woks? Not many, but that’s their loss, because this pan is the only pan that will provide you with the perfect stir-fry.

It’s versatile for moving around veggies and meats, and it’s two-handle system allows you to spread the flavor throughout to make sure every part gets that perfect seasoning.

If you’re not in the mood for stir-fry, but still want to shake the pan around like a chef, you’re in luck, because it’s ideal for deep-frying, too. The wide rounded shape and large center can hold meat, veggies, spice and all the oil you need.

A quick meal can include a deep-fried chicken with steamed broccoli—and you only have to use one pan: a wok.

6. A large stockpot

This pot is big, which means: You can cook BIG food.

Do you have leftover chicken, pork or steak sitting around, a beer in the fridge and a spice rack that makes Martha Stewart’s kitchen look like an Easy Bake Oven.

Throw it all in a stockpot, add water and heat up a tasty soup.

Not in the mood for soup, drop in a couple boxes of pasta and serve Sunday dinner. Or, boil sliced potatoes for a killer German potato salad or a whole ham for an Easter dinner. Your choice—either way, it’ll taste great in a stock pan.

7. Rimmed Backing Sheet

One word: cookies! Yes, a baking sheet is essential for baking that roll of chocolate-chip cookie dough you’ve had in your freezer for weeks, but it’s also perfect for crisping potatoes and browning veggies.

While that’s cooking on the top shelf of the oven, you can cook up some chicken or pork on a baking sheet, too.

These baking sheets come in different sizes, so make sure to use bigger sheets and spread out those cookies for better results.