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With the right tools, supplies and ingredients, you can create delicious gourmet meals without stepping outside your front door. Cooking pans are among the most important supplies in any cook’s cupboard, so it’s important that you choose the right ones for your needs. Our collections include a wide variety of different cooking pans in various materials and finishes. Browse items from classic companies you trust, including Calphalon pans, Le Creuset Dutch ovens and our own Williams Sonoma brand cookware.
Types of PansThere are many types of pots and pans out there, and the ideal options for your kitchen depend on what kinds of meals you like to cook. Essentials that every kitchen should have are fry pans and saucepans. A fry pan is a shallow, flat-bottomed pan that you can use for browning, sautéing and frying. If you sauté foods often, you should also consider purchasing a sauté pan, which has larger vertical sides that make it easy to toss and brown food. Saucepans are basic pots that come in many different sizes. These work well for cooking foods in liquid, making sauces and steaming grains.
If you frequently make your own sauces from scratch, a saucier can also come in handy. These pans have shallower sides than saucepans and feature rounded bottoms to make stirring sauces easier. Other handy pans are Dutch ovens, soup pots and multipots. Dutch ovens are heavy-duty pots that you can use on the stove or in the oven. They include lids, which make them ideal for low, slow cooking of casseroles and stews. As the name suggests, soup pots are ideal for making soups and stocks. These pots are very large, which lets them accommodate bones, vegetables, meats, herbs and lots of liquid. Multipots are great for cooking pasta and steaming vegetables. These cookware items include inner pots with holes in them – similar to what you’d find on a colander – so they’re like pots and strainers in one.
Common Cookware MaterialsCommon materials for cookware include stainless steel, cast-iron, copper and nonstick finishes. Stainless steel pans are shiny, durable and easy to clean. Their finish doesn’t stain easily, which makes them appropriate for cooking a variety of foods. Cast-iron cookware heats up evenly, so it’s great for making meals that you cook over long periods of time. Cast-iron fry pans come in handy for searing and browning meat, as the material can withstand higher heat levels than nonstick cookware can. Because iron can rust, many cast-iron pans include enamel coatings that protect the metal from acidic ingredients and cleaning supplies.
Copper is a very useful material for preparing a variety of dishes, as it heats up quickly and evenly, and it can heat up to very high levels. Copper reacts with certain ingredients, such as acidic tomato sauce, so look for items with stainless-steel coatings if you want lower-maintenance cookware. Nonstick pans are popular for making fried foods. The nonstick coating keeps ingredients from sticking to the bottoms and sides, so you can fry using less oil and clean up in record time.
Cleaning Your CookwareProper cleaning and maintenance of your cookware depends on the materials incorporated in the pieces. Stainless-steel pots and pans tend to be easiest to clean. Most items can go in the dishwasher, and you can scrub the surface with scrubbers and brushes. Cast-iron cookware requires a bit more care. If your pieces are uncoated, you need to season them with several coats of oil before you use them. Detergents can strip uncoated cast-iron pans of their protective oil coating, so be sure not to clean them with water and abrasive materials. If your cast-iron cookware includes enamel coatings, you may be able to clean pieces with regular dishwashing liquid and a soft brush.
Copper is a softer metal, and therefore, it’s not dishwasher safe. Hand-wash your copper pots and pans with gentle dishwashing liquid and a brush. Nonstick cookware is easy to hand-wash, as the coating lives up to its name. However, some pieces are also dishwasher safe. When cleaning nonstick pans, avoid using abrasive materials; these can scratch the coating.